Divorce and Custody Battles
Divorce is hard on everyone, especially if children are involved. Custody battles make it difficult for children to deal with the divorce of their parents in a healthy way; they see their parents angry, fighting, they are being asked hard questions, and in uncomfortable, unfamiliar, and unfriendly courtroom environments. Custody battles can get messy and involve child therapists, lengthy meetings and discussions in chambers with judges, and possible leaving the child to feel responsible for legal outcomes and decisions. Parents care deeply about their child’s feelings and emotional health; divorce takes its toll, taking over and making you unable to think past your own pain and emotional strain. It doesn’t mean someone is a bad person; its means they’re human.
“Kids Count” is a program designed to give children going through a divorce and possible custody battle, an outlet for their unfamiliar and difficult feelings, other children going through something similar to talk to, and parents the opportunity to see how their marital issues are actually affecting their children.
The program puts children in contact with trained professionals that can help them with emotional strains, and help the parents look beyond the issues they have with one another, in order to decide what is truly best for the child.
Paying for College
When two people divorce, it is not just two people ending their marriage, especially if children are involved. Changing a family dynamic is tricky and emotionally trying; it’s just complicated. Bottom line. Many decisions have to be made when one of the providing members of the family is moving out of the home, and thereby shifting financial responsibilities. Questions like: how are the bills going to get paid, who is going to do the holiday shopping, and of course, one of the hardest and most stressful —who is going to pay for college—have to be answered, in order to avoid a painful or complicated situation for the child/family later on.
The law takes certain things into account when it comes time to make legal decisions about the families’ finances and about which responsibilities will be assigned to which parents. Who pays for college, or how much each parent will be expected to contribute to the child’s education, is decided by a number of factors, including: what each parent is actually capable of contributing financially, if the child will be working during college and contributing to their own expenses, whether financial aid will be an option, and whether a college education is something that is even feasible for the child, or something they are interested in.
Having a fractured relationship with your children is not usually considered by a judge when financial decisions are being made. Making sure a child is cared for should not depend on how you, the parent, is feeling about the situation. The child, their needs, and their goals are what matter most.
Early Settlement Panel
After the discovery period is completed, you have the opportunity to go before the “early settlement panel.” This panel is made up of three extremely experienced marital attorneys who will hear both parties’ positions and advise each spouse’s attorney based on, in their opinion, what they think a judge’s ruling will be on the case.
Before appearing before the panel, you and your spouse exchange settlement proposals which give both parties and their attorneys an idea of their spouse’s suggestions on how to resolve issues surrounding child custody, dividing of the assets, etc. There should be no surprises at the early settlement panel hearing; both attorneys present their client’s settlement proposals and then the panel gives their opinion as to how to resolve the case—which is non-binding and confidential..
If you and your spouse can come to an agreement at the early settlement panel you can be divorced that very day, saving time, money, and more emotional strain. If you decide not take the panel’s advice and settle that day, while the process could go on for several more months, you will at least have a better idea of where you and your spouse stand on the important issues, and how much more negotiating you will have to undergo. Communication is always a good thing.