While divorce is never a situation one wants to plan for, it’s one of the more common cases seen in family law and related legal areas. Many couples will seek out a mediator before approaching the legal side of a divorce, but this isn’t the case with everyone. Sometimes, you’ll be asked to assist in mediating the case while also handling the legal components. In these situations, here are just a few components of a divorce that should be discussed as part of the legal proceedings or before the legal divorce process begins.
Children And Custody
One of the first elements a couple should consider when seeking a divorce is who will have custody of any children or underage dependents in the family. In 29% of custody cases, the decision will be made without any third party involvement; however, it’s still important to remain ready to assist in these situations. These are often some of the most fraught and complex decisions made during this legal process. While many couples will be able to arrange respectful co-parenting arrangements, sometimes it is clearly in the children’s best interest to remain in the sole custody of a particular parent. About one-third of all adoptions in the United States happen in single-family homes, and there is no single-family structure that is right for all families. Major life changes are already stressful for children, and adding changing living situations will impact how they cope. Few situations will resolve the same way, and each needs to be handled delicately to protect the safety and development of the child.
Homes And Living Situations
Living with a spouse who you’ve separated from is incredibly distressing and awkward in most cases; therefore, it’s important to consider a plan for future living situations. This is especially true for couples who have purchased a home together during their relationship. Around 65% of homeowners have a mortgage, meaning that it’s likely the couple will owe money jointly to their mortgage lender. Negotiating house payments, as well as finding new living situations for anyone who does not wish to remain in the marital home, should be discussed during any divorce. There may be some disputes over who remains in the previously jointly owned home, particularly if both parties have been paying equally for the home. With the right mediation and assistance from a third party, couples can make the right decision for everyone involved.
Finally, one of the broadest categories to sort out includes the couple’s finances. This can include joint bank accounts (or, as is sometimes the case, secret bank accounts set up prior to a divorce filing), jointly-owned assets, spousal and child support payments, joint debt, and more. The individual careers of both parties will impact how finances are arranged, particularly if the couple has previously been living off a single income. In these situations, it’s likely that one partner will have to support the other, at least for a brief period of time while they establish their own source of income. Having an understanding of the cost of living in your area, as well as getting to know the separating couple in question and their needs, will help determine how much each spouse will be responsible for financially.
Divorce is a complicated and often messy affair, emotionally and financially. Even with the right legal counsel, divorcing couples may often feel stressed, confused, and hurt during this process. Understanding some of the complex factors surrounding separating couples can help you assist your clients going through this difficult time.