private school pay divorce

Private School Education: Luxury or Legal Necessity?

private school pay divorce

Clients of Cordell & Cordell often ask their divorce lawyer if they can be legally forced to pay the costs of sending their children to private school.

Usually it’s the ex-wife insisting on private school education at the cost of the father, who argues that a public school is just as good a fit for their children as a private institution.

Case law sheds significant light on this issue in providing that only under certain conditions and circumstances can a court force a party to pay for private schooling on behalf of the minor child.

Case Law

For instance, in Drury v. Racer, 17 S.W.3d 608 (Mo. App. E.D. 2000), the court reviewed whether the trial court erred in increasing father’s child support obligation to include costs of parochial school. The court provided that “a child’s educational need is a relevant factor that the trial court may consider in awarding child support.” Id. (quoting In re Marriage Glueck, 913 S.W.2d 951, 955 (Mo. App. 1996)).

Moreover, “the decision to increase child support that requires noncustodial parent to pay a portion of private school tuition rests within the sound discretion of the trial court.” The fact that a parent does not agree to send a child to private school or does not want to pay for it is not by itself sufficient to deny child support for educational expenses. Id. (quoting Shiflett v. Shiflett, 954 S.W.2d 498, 494 (MO. App. 1997)).

Cordell & Cordell understands the concerns men face during divorce.

However, a parent’s lack of willingness to pay for the same is a relevant favor for purposes of the court’s analysis. Shiflett 954 S.W.2d at 495. Accordingly, the “test for determining whether a court should order private schooling over the wishes of one parent is when such schooling will meet the ‘particular educational needs’ of the child.” Id.

Upon application of the above, the Drury court found that the mother failed to prove that private schooling met any particular education need of her children. Specifically, her child had no special educational needs and was found to be able to do well at any school.

Moreover, the local schools were admitted by the mother to be “fine schools” and as such, not educationally inferior to the parochial school. As a result, the trial court erred in ordering father to pay one half of the parochial school expenses.

Otherwise stated, “in order to compel payment from father, mother must prove the parochial school meets the particular educational needs of the child.” This, according to the court, mother had failed to do.

Case Example #2

Similarly, in Shepard v. Shepard, 47 S.W.3d 412 (Mo. App. S. D. 2001), the wife maintained that the trial court erred in the amount of child support it ordered because the husband failed to include private school for the parties’ daughter.

At trial, the wife testified that the child had always attended a private school and that “all of her friends are there.” The father countered by asserting that he did not feel that it was in his daughter’s best interest to continue at a private school because she needed to be more rounded.

In its final judgment, the trial court noted that the child did not have any special educational needs that could not be met at the local public school and also, that being traumatized by having to leave a school is simply not enough to force father to pay significant private school costs.

Consequently, the court did not increase the basic amount of child support for private school expenses, noting that it has “the discretion to include a portion of private school tuition in child support paid by a non-custodial parent.”

The court looked at numerous factors in rendering its decision, including the fact that the cost of the private school per year, which was in excess of $6,000, was hard for husband to afford in light of his $2,684 per month gross income.

The court noted that “the cost of education is a proper factor to consider, and including costs for private education is conditional upon such education being within the financial means of the person or persons providing support.” Id. (quoting Marriage of Manning, 871 S.W.2d 108, 111 (Mo. App. 1994)).

Hence, the court concluded that the trial court did not err in refusing to include the cost of private schooling in husband’s child support payments.

Private School Benefits

private school divorceNotwithstanding the Shepard and Drury rulings, the court in Garner v. Garner, 973 S.W.2d 513, 15 (Mo. App. 1998) ruled in favor of the parties’ children attending a single-sex private school.

Specifically, the father contended that the trial court erred in including the cost of the private high school on child support Form 14 because the mother had insufficient evidence to show that this was a necessary expense. Id.

However, the mother testified that she had selected the private education for the children given that they would benefit academically from the structured atmosphere with fewer distractions associated with a single-sex private school.

The mother also asserted that she anticipated that by enrolling the children in this school and its corresponding athletic program, the children’s future opportunities would increase. The mother further testified that the younger child would benefit emotionally from attending the same private school as the older child.

Moreover, the mother also wanted her children to attend private school in order to increase the children’s chances of receiving scholarships for their post-secondary education due to its specialized athletic program.

Since there was sufficient evidence demonstrating the benefits of private education meeting the children’s particular educational needs and as to athletic activities enhancing their well being, the court ruled that the father must financially contribute towards the costs of the children’s private school. See also, Leslie v. Leslie, 948 S. W.2d 458 *Mo. App. 1997) (The court accepted evidence that the local public school environment was particularly hostile, lacked air conditioning, and was shown to aggravate children’s asthma).

Conclusion

Overall, it is important to keep in mind that for the court to force you to pay for your children’s private school depends upon a lot of factors, including but not limited to, your income, your children’s specific needs, whether you agreed to a private school arrangement when you were divorced, etc.

Accordingly, it is important to speak with a men’s divorce attorney who can further advise you as to what your potential obligations are in this regard, especially when being asked to cover private school expenses.

While the above decisions demonstrate a spectrum of situations that may arise in this regard, keep in mind that each case is unique and as such, there are no guarantees as to a specific outcome in your case.

The post Private School Education: Luxury or Legal Necessity? appeared first on Dads Divorce.

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female sales clerk standing next to a cash register

Going Back To Work: How To Come To Terms With The Idea

female sales clerk standing next to a cash register

 

Are you a stay-at-home parent looking at divorce?  Most of my mediation cases involve a stay-at-home parent, usually Moms, but sometimes Dads. It takes a while to emotionally come to terms that your lifestyle will change during and after your divorce.

Going back to work

Going back to work is a change that is scary and hard to accept. There is the loss of prestige, loss of your social life, and your way of living. Fearing rejection from potential employers and lacking confidence in your modern work skills is normal. You may feel that a “deal” was made that you would not have to work, and you feel that deal should be kept. You will have to trust someone else to watch your kids and that’s hard for both you and your kids to accept.

The reality is that most women who were stay-at-home Moms don’t recover their standard of living after divorce.  Sadly, many end up living close to the poverty level upon retirement. Going back to work is a reality you need to face sooner rather than later. Existing assets will be depleted if you remain unemployed or underemployed. Making smart divorce decisions like going back to work will provide you a better chance at a secure retirement.

Should you go back to work before the divorce is final?

Attorneys will sometimes tell their clients not to go back to work during the divorce so they can get more support. This may work for some but it can also backfire.  Judges expect a physically able woman to return to work. I have seen judges impute income (at least minimum wage) for purposes of determining child support and spousal support when a non-working spouse is young and healthy enough to get a job (and has children over 3 years of age).

North Carolina child support guidelines only cover basic expenses.  When a parent chooses not to work, the children’s financial support suffers.  The litigation process can also take years; years during which your financial situation suffers and years wasted not getting experience, raises, and generally improving your job situation. If your attorney doesn’t “win” for you, it can be a financial disaster.

Should your ex be forced to support you?

In mediation, the working spouse usually tells me that they would find it unfair to have their lifestyle severely decline to support an ex-spouse who wants to continue to stay at home. In my “grey” (over age 50) divorces, the children are in college or in their late teens. In those cases, staying at home is seen as unfairly “retiring”, often in their early or mid-fifties.  The working spouse envisions themselves working until they are 70 or beyond. For these reasons, the working spouse asks that some level of job income be “imputed” upon the non-working spouse.

Try to look for the positives and rise to the challenge!  Technology has probably changed a lot since you have been out of the workforce but that knowledge can be learned in a short period of time. There are online courses on YouTube, Thinkific, and LinkedIn Learning where you can learn the skills you need for little or no money.

You can get a jump start by learning those skills while you are still at home. Getting formal education may not be financially smart or necessary because it postpones the inevitable, uses up resources, and may not necessarily result in enough additional income to be justified. Going back to school is sometimes just a coping mechanism because working or seeking work is much scarier than going to school.

Childcare while at work

Leaving the kids in someone else’s care is hard to face!  Realize that many kids with working parents grow up to be successful adults. There are many safe and trustworthy people out there who provide quality care for children and today having working parents is the norm.

Going back to work can help build your self-esteem and after divorce, everyone needs that boost!  Being a stay-at-home parent can be thankless!! Your kids don’t often thank you for a job well done and there is no paycheck. Being told by your boss that you are doing a great job and getting a raise can be a huge boost for your self-confidence and self-esteem. Women who rise to the challenge – even if they build up careers that result in a fraction of their ex-husband’s income – seem to be much happier and well-adjusted post-divorce.

Finally going back to work can improve your social life. At work, you will have new activities and challenges to think about. Plus you will be meeting new women and men and start new friendships, maybe even find romance!

The post Going Back To Work: How To Come To Terms With The Idea appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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Someone is Mentally Ill, an Addict, or an Abuser: The Vastly Different Response in Family Court and in Life: Essay by Barry Goldstein

“Shared Parenting” Places Ideology Over Children

by Barry Goldstein

Just as custody courts developed responses for domestic violence at a time when no research was available, early proponents of shared parenting sought to experiment when there was no research about shared parenting. Initially, parents seeking shared parenting did so voluntarily, in situations where they were able to communicate and cooperate. There is now legitimate research that found co-parenting benefits children only under the best circumstances. This requires the arrangement to be voluntary; an ability to communicate; neither parent is afraid of the other; and they live nearby. There is other legitimate research that found shared parenting is harmful to children because of the constant disruptions. There is no valid research supporting shared parenting without the necessary favorable circumstances. Unfortunately, this is a mistake courts frequently make.

Most custody cases, like other litigation, are settled more or less amicably. The problem is the 3.8% of cases that require trial and often much more. Court professionals have been taught to use a high conflict approach that assumes the parents are angry with each other and acting out in ways that harm the children. The research found 75-90% of these cases are really domestic violence cases that involve the most dangerous abusers. These are men who believe she has no right to leave, and who seek to use custody disputes to regain control. These are the last cases where shared parenting should be considered, but courts that have been slow to integrate important scientific research or use a multi-disciplinary approach, have trouble recognizing abuse in these cases. The use of shared parenting increases the bias to minimize or deny abuse in order for the case to be eligible for co-parenting.

The use of shared parenting has been encouraged and promoted by three groups based on their preferences and personal benefits, divorced from the well-being of children. Male supremacist groups support shared parenting because otherwise the safe, protective mother would have a strong advantage. Court professionals promote shared parenting because it creates the need for lucrative services, particularly to help hostile parties communicate. Court officials like shared parenting because they must respond to overcrowded dockets, and believe shared parenting is the only compromise both parties can be pressured to accept. In domestic violence cases, the abuser would never agree to anything reasonable, so they need to pressure and sometimes threaten the victim to settle cases. In my articles, I often need to explain problems that occurred after victims were pressured to accept co-parenting with their abuser.

Shared Parenting was Never Intended for Domestic Violence Cases

Most people, including court professionals, are unaware custody courts are having severe problems trying to respond to cases involving domestic violence or child abuse. Many protective mothers believe the courts are corrupt because the decisions and process are so unfair and catastrophic. While there is corruption with the cottage industry, courts are making harmful decisions because of their failure to use evidence-based research and unintended bias. Court officials would vehemently deny the system works poorly, but the factors that influence courts demonstrate their denials are wrong.

There is something undeniably wrong with a system in which a theory based on no research; but only the belief that sex between adults and children can be acceptable; and twice rejected by the American Psychiatric Association because of the lack of supporting research; has more influence over courts than two studies from the most credible sources, that go to the essence of what courts need to decide in custody cases involving possible domestic violence or child abuse.

Domestic violence is about control, including financial control. This means that in most contested cases the abuser controls most of the financial assets. Unscientific alienation theories were concocted and continue to be used to help cottage industry professionals make large incomes helping abusive fathers. The cottage industry lobbied to include alienation in the DSM which is the compendium of all valid mental health diagnoses. I am not aware of any other court that continues to consider a theory twice rejected by the leading professional association.

The ACE (adverse childhood experiences) Studies are peer-reviewed medical research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. ACE found that children exposed to domestic violence, child abuse and other traumas will live shorter lives and face a lifetime of health and social problems. Most of the harm is not from any immediate physical injuries, but from living with the fear and stress abusers cause. Clearly, this knowledge goes to the essence of the well-being of children.

The Saunders Study is peer-reviewed scientific research from the National Institute of Justice in the US Justice Department. Saunders found court professionals need knowledge of specific subjects that include screening for domestic violence, risk assessment, post-separation violence and the impact of DV on children. Professionals without this knowledge tend to focus on the myth that mothers frequently make false reports and unscientific alienation theories. These mistaken approaches lead to recommendations and decisions that harm children. Saunders recommends a multi-disciplinary approach that would include experts in domestic violence and child abuse when those subjects are important to the custody decision.

I think it is significant that ACE is used by medical doctors to diagnose and treat patients, by therapists to treat patients, by schools to help traumatized students, and by health officials to improve public health. In contrast, the only purpose of alienation theories is to help abusive fathers gain custody. Without ACE, courts inevitably minimize domestic violence and child abuse and without Saunders, courts rely on the wrong experts and so disbelieve true reports of abuse. ACE and Saunders demonstrate that many standard court practices are mistaken. This is not neutral in the sense it applies to both parents. All the mistakes from failing to consider ACE and Saunders tilt courts in favor of abusive fathers and towards risking children. Significantly, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges seeks to train other judges about ACE and Saunders.

The research differs on whether shared parenting is helpful or harmful in cases involving two good and loving parents. Decisions in these cases are less consequential because either parent or both parents will do their best for their children. Cases involving possible domestic violence or child abuse are very different. I interviewed medical doctors working with the ACE Research for my Quincy book. I asked them the most important question for courts to consider in these cases. When a child has been exposed to multiple ACEs, is there something we can do to save the child from the awful consequences? We can save these children, but standard court practices, particularly when promoting shared parenting prevent the responses the doctors said are necessary to save children from the awful consequences. Saunders found abusers use decision-making to block needed treatment and especially therapy because they are afraid the child will reveal his abuse. When courts require unprotected visitation without requiring the abuser to change his behavior, the child cannot heal and is doomed to a shorter, less healthy life. These contested cases are often the last chance to save the child.

Stop Using Shared Parenting in Abuse Cases

The combination of high conflict approaches and shared parenting is dangerous and too often deadly. High conflict creates a false equivalency between victims and abusers. Courts typically immediately demand co-parenting and take risks before they have time to consider the evidence of abuse or the critical context. Many court professionals immediately start promoting and pressuring for shared parenting. Victims are routinely punished if they object to cooperating with their abusers. Victim’s lawyers often tell clients not to raise abuse issues and not to object to dangerous arrangements. This results in courts making harmful decisions without ever learning about the history of abuse. This approach also serves to silence children who are exposed to the abuser. In the process, the importance of primary attachment is minimized and in some cases breast feeding is short-circuited to make sure the abuser has a “fair” amount of the child’s time.

Court professionals have repeatedly been told that children do better with both parents in their lives. This is true but is based on having two safe and loving parents. This is often not true in contested custody cases. Children need their primary attachment figure more than the other parent and the safe parent more than the abuser. When children have two good parents, they certainly benefit from a relationship with both parents. There is no valid research that children do better with 50-50 than say 70-30 or some other division.

The original idea behind shared parenting was made in total good faith. Unfortunately, it is often used for harmful purposes that bad-faith actors seek to hide. Male supremacist groups promote shared parenting as a first step towards taking children from their best parent. This is based on the ideology of “father’s rights” and a strong desire to avoid child support. The use of shared parenting often limits the needed inquiry about the history of abuse.

The biggest problem with shared parenting is that it is routinely used in inappropriate cases. Saunders found it should never be used in domestic violence cases. Even in the rare instances that a mother makes a false report, this is not the kind of case where parties are able to communicate effectively. Shared parenting was never meant for abuse cases, but with present outdated practices, courts are destroying children’s lives to promote an ideology and sense of entitlement.

Courts and legislatures need to address the failure of custody courts to integrate evidence-based research and consider the specialized expertise about domestic violence and child abuse that would help courts avoid dangerous mistakes. Until the present problems with the courts’ approach to the most consequential cases can be fixed, the last thing legislatures should focus on is expanding co-parenting arrangements that are already dangerously overused.

Some legislatures have recognized the serious problems discussed in this article. They have passed piecemeal solutions that would help children if they were properly implemented. The problem is that judges are often comfortable with familiar outdated practices and defensive about their mistakes. Repeatedly, we have seen courts work around instead of with the piecemeal reforms. Legislatures that want to protect the children in their states must support comprehensive legislation to create needed reforms. The legislation should specifically tell courts to stop using the outdated practices that harm children. The legislation must make the health and safety of children the first priority. The use of the word health requires courts to use the ACE Research because otherwise judges cannot recognize the full range of health risks. The legislation must promote the integration of important research like ACE and Saunders. The legislation must promote a multi-disciplinary approach that Saunders recommends. The legislation should provide for an early hearing limited to abuse issues to avoid distraction with less important issues and tactics. The legislation must also provide training in domestic violence as recommended in Saunders for judges and preferably other court professionals. The legislative solution is called the Safe Child Act. It is the comprehensive solution to court decisions that too often take away our children’s last chance for a full and healthy life. When legislators are ready to respond to the custody court crisis, it is much better for them to finally solve the problem rather than make it worse by further expanding shared parenting that is already overused.

Barry Goldstein is a domestic violence author, speaker, advocate and expert witness. He is the author of six books concerning domestic violence and child custody. Barry is the author of the Safe Child Act which is a comprehensive plan based on current scientific research that can fix the broken court system and make family courts safe for children.

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woman in work apron standing in front of a florist

15 Very Important Reasons You Will Want To & Need To Work After Divorce

woman in work apron standing in front of a florist

 

This is a subject that has been on my mind lately…why do some women not feel the need to work after divorce? The vast majority of us understand the need to become self-sufficient and able to provide financially for ourselves and our children.

Some, however, feel their ex-husband should continue to bear all the responsibility post-divorce or, they have the skewed belief that alimony and child support frees them up from having to worry about their future financial security.

I see this belief played out in my Facebook timeline constantly. Women divorce, spend years living off child support and alimony, and then BAM, those funds run out, and they pay the consequences of not planning ahead.

And they justify this behavior by saying, “I was a stay-at-home mom, and I’m going to continue to be a stay-at-home mom. That is all fine and dandy until your children are no longer at home, the child support comes to an end, and alimony runs out.

What then?

Why aren’t these women wondering about who will send them monthly checks when the ex no longer has to or starts refusing to?

I understand the fear associated with lifestyle changes that can come along with divorce. I was a stay-at-home mom for 16 years before my ex left, and if all really were “fair in love and war,” he should have been made to take care of the woman he abandoned. It isn’t fair, though, and it does none of us any favors to hold onto the way things should be instead of facing the reality of how things now are.

Thanks to no-fault divorce laws, women who are left behind can no longer depend on the man who left them to continue to take care of them. And there is no excuse for not taking care of ourselves.

And, women who leave a marriage certainly should not expect a man they no longer want to be married to, to support them after divorce. Seriously, no!

Women, whether they have children or not, need to return to work after divorce. If they want to survive financially, there is no other way to conduct their lives post-divorce.

15 Very Important Reasons You Will Want To Work After Divorce

1. You Earn

Financial independence and freedom can be one of the most important variables that influence the quality and quantity of a woman and her children’s lives. It means better food on the table, a better roof over their heads, and a bit of money in the bank after the bills are paid.

It can also be one of the most liberating aspects of a decent quality of life and respect.

2. You Learn

Learning is one of the foundational pillars of personal and professional growth and life, and the sky (rather your view of the sky) is the limit to what you can learn when you work. The most important thing you’ll learn is that you can be self-sufficient.

3. You Become Independent

You have an identity of your own – independent of your personal relationships and associations. There’s no telling how important it is in your own self-confidence and self-worth.

4. You Improve

Your general knowledge improves – just by being part of a world outside of the 4-walls, you observe, listen and comprehend a lot, lot more. You become more than a mother!

5. You Appreciate Equality

You appreciate the differences and nuances of the world within the 4-walls and outside the 4-walls. Trust me, this bursts your bubbles in terms of what it takes to be a working woman!

6. Your View Changes

You get to see how fair/unfair life is beyond the 4-walls. And that changes the way you view your own life and the way you live your life

7. Your Self-Esteem Increases

Your own self-esteem increases significantly – you just feel so much more surer of yourself.

8. You Get Recognition

Your family and society view you in a new light – many times, this translates into more respect and value they associate with you.

9. You Get Empowered

You are better enabled, equipped, and empowered to make decisions – simply because you know that you have a choice.

10. You Can Shop

You can “buy” things for yourself – yes! You’re a good prospect for (m)any business. You pump money into the economy and boost money circulation. You don’t have to do without things you need if you’re part of the workforce.

11. You Become a Role Model

You can be a role model to someone, especially your daughters! I know many of my role models are everyday working women who balance life and work every single day.

12. You Learn Life Skills

You learn a lot of key “life skills.” Top among them are time management, communication, negotiation, and saying NO.

13. Learn To Let Go

You tend to let go of a lot of excess baggage. Many times it is simply because you don’t have time to delve into the past or worry about the future.

14. You Inspire

You can inspire someone somewhere. Just by being a live example of “It is possible, you can do it.

15. Your Family Prospers

Your work will directly / indirectly play a significant part in your children’s standard of living. There is no better reason to work after a divorce than that!

The post 15 Very Important Reasons You Will Want To & Need To Work After Divorce appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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5 Tips for Successful Co-Parenting During the New School Year.

5 Tips for Successful Co-Parenting During the New School Year.

Co-parenting can be easier with these 5 tips for a successful New Year.  August is here, school is starting… NOW WHAT?

Whether you are newly Divorced, or a few years removed, it seems every school year raises new issues with parenting plans. 

 SCHOOL CALENDARS

The first step for successful co-parenting for back to school is reviewing the school calendar with your parenting plan.

Before school starts sit down -hopefully, face to face and with the kids (depending on age) to look at the school year. When are the 3-day weekends, when will holiday exchanges be, what extracurricular activities are the kids doing and who needs to take what kid where.

Get the kids excited about school. Show them you are dependable and FOLLOW THROUGH.

Consider apps such as Talking Parents or Google Docs to be able to share the kids calendars and schedules between parents and kids.

Realize in August that the school already planned your entire year!!!  Make sure each parent has login to school calendars, events, grades, and attendance.  Each parent must participate in holding kids accountable ESPECIALLY in two households!!

MEET THE TEACHERS & STAFF

The second and very important tip for successful co-parenting during the school year is taking the time to meet your child’s teachers and staff.

Appreciate that your child is 1 of 20-30 kids in her class. By seeing a face, understanding where your child is when and knowing what your parenting plan and expectations are, your child will have a much better year. Set your kid up to succeed!

Make sure you know how to login to the child’s school portal or online information.

Make sure your child’s teachers know how to contact you both, or as orders specify, and the best way to communicate with you. Understand the homework and project expectations clearly. Most importantly take responsibility for your role in parenting your child during the school year.

VACATION TIME

Whether Christmas or Spring Break, the third tip for successful co-parenting for back to school is planning your school year vacations at the beginning of the school year.

Some parenting plans are particular about who has what school breaks and holidays. Others are TERRIBLE – no pickup drop times, not date specific, sometimes not even mentioned – yet in the emotions of the holidays some make the special time a nightmare for the kids.  Don’t be that parent.

Especially if you take the time to review the school schedule in early August, figure out who the kids are with each holiday for the year, talk about if you pl. to travel or not, consider the kids’ concerts, parties, tournaments, and social events. #Communicationiskey

Vacation time is meant to be quality time, less stress, and a time to reconnect with family.  YOU can make that happen by planning in advance!

REVIEW THE PARENTING PLAN

Co-parenting is easier when you review the current language of your parenting plan to see if changes are needed or at least make sure everyone is on the same page for the year.

So often parents amend the court orders out of convenience or need without drafting, signing, and filing a Stipulation with the Court.  If anything happens, the Court will rely on the existing orders.

August is a great time to review your current parenting plan, assess the child support needed to properly support the children, and see what changes you need to help your children.

 WHO IS PICKING UP THE KIDS?

The fifth and final tip to successful co-parenting for the school year is to coordinate your personal and professional calendars with your children’s school and activity calendars. Regardless of whose day it is to parent, your children may need you both to participate in and enjoy their school year and activities.

I strongly suggest that the parent with the children should take the kids to the other parent if there is not a “meet in the middle” location. The other way usually seems to have the kids feeling the other parent is taking them away.

Kids these days engage in so many activities!  Some parenting plans are super clear on what parent is responsible. Other parents take the activities as “bonus” time to be with the kids, and are happy to coach, drive carpool or participate with the kids – regardless of who is parenting that day.

Do what is easiest!  Who lives closer? Whose work schedule is more accommodating? Who does your kid want to be with for that specific event? Jack loves playing basketball with me but likes having his dad at football practice more.  Anni would rather have her dad pick her up from school but prefers our girl lunches and show time together.

August is hard for everyone. Summer ends, school begins, and transition and stress is inevitable.  I hope this blog is helpful for you and your family!  Happy New Year!

The post 5 Tips for Successful Co-Parenting During the New School Year. appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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what you need to know about mortgages: woman's hands holding a model home

Mortgages And Divorce:  What You Need To Know

what you need to know about mortgages: woman's hands holding a model home

 


Audio: Listen to this article.

In most marriages, there is a marital home and it’s often the largest or one of the largest assets.  Particularly if there are kids, one spouse often wants to keep the marital home. In any case, at least one of the spouse has to find a new home, and the goal may be to buy a new house or condo.

What You Need to Know About Mortgages:

Unfortunately, most lenders will not simply allow one spouse to assume the existing mortgage.  If both spouses are on the mortgage, refinancing will probably be required to take one spouse off the mortgage?  Why is that important?  Because no matter what the settlement agreement or divorce decree says, if you are on a mortgage, the lender WILL hold you responsible for the mortgage payments.  The mortgage will also continue to show up on your credit report as an obligation which may keep you from getting a loan you need for other purposes.

Refinancing comes with a cost.  Fees for refinancing can be 2-4%, interest rates may have increased and your credit score may have gone down which in most cases, will make the overall cost of the mortgage higher.  Refinancing is a time when you want to be smart and you want to learn about what mortgages are all about so you know what to ask when you shop and what to consider.

Another setback when buying a home after divorce for many women is they have little work/pay history.  No matter your net worth, most banks today want you to have a J.O.B.   If your plan is to refinance or buy a home, there is some planning and waiting you should expect.  Talk to a mortgage professional early in the process.

If you are depending on alimony, child support, or other payments made under the separation agreement to qualify for a loan, you should prepare yourself for a delay.  Don’t be surprised that a certain amount of payments must be made both in the past and into the future to qualify for a loan.  The number of payments required will depend on whether a conventional loan or an FHA loan will be used.

If you are a senior age 62+ and are facing divorce, you may find a reverse mortgage beneficial tool when settling with your partner.

Conventional Loans:

With a conventional loan, income from alimony, child support, or separate maintenance payments may be considered qualifying income if the documentation shows that the payor was obligated to make (and consistently made) payments to the borrower for at least the most recent six months and is obligated to make payments to the borrower for the next three years.  Evidence (documentation) is required.

With a FHA loan,  if using a final divorce decree, legal separation agreement, or court order, income from alimony, child support or separate maintenance payments may be considered qualifying income if the documentation shows that the payor was obligated to make (and consistently made) payments to the borrower for at least the most recent three months.  If receiving voluntary payments from an ex-spouse, the borrower must provide proof of twelve months of timely payments.  In both cases, proof that payments to the borrower are required for the next three years is required and evidence (documentation) is required.

If you are the payor of support obligations, these payments will be considered debt obligations and will be counted when considering the ability to pay unless those obligations end in 10 months or less.

Existing Mortgages:

An existing mortgage will be counted even if court docs say you aren’t responsible for the mortgage.  A few years back, if the separation or divorce documents stated that a party is relinquishing their rights to the home and that the other party is responsible for selling or refinancing the home, a bank would sometimes not consider the mortgage as part of your outstanding debt. No more. Any mortgage debt that anyone is obligated on now has to be counted against them as a debt (regardless of what court docs show) for most mortgage types.  Even when jointly owned real estate is owned free and clear…..the taxes, insurance, and applicable HOA dues have to be counted as a debt.  Refinancing to remove the financial obligation (and, of course, relinquishing all rights & interest in the property which is required by the refinancing) is the only option now.

The above loan standards applied at the time of this article. Mortgage guidelines can and do change at any time. What is important is to know is that divorce creates a time period in which obligations to or from a former spouse are taken into account and may delay the time in which you can qualify for a loan.

If you are keeping, selling, or buying a home because of a divorce, consult a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst who can help you avoid tax and other pitfalls that can occur when this important financial decision is being made.

The post Mortgages And Divorce:  What You Need To Know appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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Time To Divorce: Do You Know What To Expect During The Divorce Process?

Time to Divorce.jpg

 

By its very nature, divorce is not a pleasant experience. Involve divorce attorneys and Family Court Judges and the unprepared person, the situation becomes much more stressful. In most cases, a person is so emotionally worn down by the time they decide it’s time to divorce they’ve not had the wherewithal to consider what the legal process of divorce entails.

Once the legal wheels start spinning, there may be no turning back. The moment those papers are filed, everything you’ve worked for sweated for, and planned for during your marriage is at risk. The wheels spin fast at first, then slow down to an agonizing pace. Days can seem like weeks, even months!

You find yourself smack in the middle of the divorce process with the sinking feeling that things might not go as planned. That great idea that you had…to divorce and move on with your life might not have been so great after all. In fact, it has turned into an absolute disaster.

Welcome to the wonderful world of divorce and its cast of supporting characters…lawyers, judges, interrogatories, continuances, custody disputes and high expectations. Most parties to a divorce have never been involved in legal litigation, used an attorney, or been inside a courtroom. For them, divorce is their first sobering involvement with the world of legal litigation. Divorce is both an end to a marriage and the beginning of an education in family law.

If you aren’t emotionally prepared to maneuver the choppy waters of the legal divorce process, you are not ready to divorce.

Can you answer the following questions?

  • How is custody of children decided in your state?
  • How does the court divide marital property?
  • Can I move to a new location after divorce?
  • What do I need to know before hiring a divorce attorney?
  • Who has to move out of the marital home?
  • What is divorce mediation?

If you are confused by the above questions, you are not ready to enter the legal process of divorce. You’ve got some learning to do! And until you’ve done your homework, believe me, you don’t want to find yourself tangled up in the legal process of divorce.

There are 3 things you should do when it is time to divorce.

Once you’ve come to terms with the emotional ending of your marriage and gotten yourself financially prepared, you will need to do the following:

1. Understand Divorce Law:

Most will tell you that your legal education begins with a divorce attorney. I strongly disagree! No one is prepared to hire a divorce attorney until they have an understanding of their state’s divorce laws which will give them a better understanding of what they should and should not expect from a divorce attorney.

Divorce in the United States is governed by laws that are particular to each state. State divorce laws deal with all aspects of the divorce process, from residency requirements to child custody to the division of marital property.

2. Be Prepared:

There are documents a divorce attorney will need to get your divorce underway. Gathering these documents and having them ready before you hire an attorney can help keep those “wheels” spinning and allow you to feel more prepared.

This is not fun, but you will be glad you took the time to compile these documents at the beginning. You will need copies of tax returns for the last three years. If you filed separately, you will need copies of your tax returns and your spouse’s tax returns. Make copies of all bank accounts, joint accounts, and individual accounts for the last year.

Credit card statements for accounts held jointly and separately should be copied and provided to an attorney. You will also need at least three paystubs or proof of monthly income for yourself and your spouse, a list of all monthly expenses, a list of all marital assets and debts, and a brief description of how parenting duties are handled between the two of you. Once you’ve put together these documents, you are ready to hire a divorce attorney.

3. Hire a Divorce Attorney:

This is the person who will promote your best interest during the divorce process. You won’t find a divorce attorney who has as much invested in your divorce as you do BUT with a little research, you can find one who is invested enough in his/her legal reputation to make sure that you are legally protected.

A look at the divorce process

Below is a loose outline of 8 things that happens during the divorce process. I say loosely because each state and local district handles divorce differently. Regardless of your state’s laws and your district’s legal procedures, you will experience each step in some form or another.

1. File for Divorce:

A divorce or dissolution usually begins with the filing of a form, typically referred to as the original petition for divorce. This must be filed with the court that deals with marriages in the county where you live, which may be called the Family Law Court. After the petition has been filed, a copy must be served on (or delivered to) your spouse.

2. Divide Marital Property:

You will need to either work out an agreement on how your marital property is to be divided or argue about it in divorce court. Courts prefer that the parties work things out for themselves, and some states or counties require mandatory mediation, which means meeting with a neutral third party who will help you resolve conflicts over who gets what. If the parties can’t agree on a way to divide their property, the court will decide.

3. Distribute Marital Debt:

Debts incurred during the marriage need to be divided between the spouses along with the property. Joint debts may be deducted from the amount of property the spouses own together, or some debts may be considered the responsibility of only one spouse. This depends on the system your state uses for dividing marital debt.

4. Negotiate Spousal Support: 

Support paid by one ex-spouse for the support of the other used to be called alimony but is now often called spousal support or maintenance. The laws for spousal support vary a great deal from state to state, and you should be sure you know what your state requires. Spousal support can be awarded to both husbands and wives.

5. Decide Child Custody/Visitation:

The single most important thing parents need to work out in a divorce or dissolution is the way they will continue to raise their children and what kind of custody they will use, and it’s always best if they can work out this plan cooperatively. Some states call this a parenting plan and no longer use terms like custody and visitation.

There are many questions that must be resolved, such as where the children will live, how much time they will spend with either parent, where they will spend holidays, or which parent will make decisions about the children. One or both parents might make legal decisions, such as where the children will go to school and what medical care or medication they will receive. Parents also have to resolve issues about the religious training and activities of the children.

If the parents can’t agree on these issues, the court will consider the best interests of the children in resolving the conflicts. The court will look at the gender of the parents and children, their physical and mental health, emotional bonds, the effect on children of changing their living situation, and—if a child is around 12 years or older—the child’s preference.

The court also considers practical matters such as the ability of the parents to provide the necessities of life, such as shelter, food, and clothing. Court orders involving children are never final. They can always be changed if the best interests of the children require it.

6. Calculate Child Support: 

After a divorce or dissolution, both parents remain responsible for supporting the children. Divorcing parents need to negotiate child support or the courts will use state guidelines to do so. There are several factors to consider in working this out, such as the income and assets of the parents and whether one parent has primary childcare responsibilities. If the parents can’t work this out agreeably, the court will make the decision and order the parents to comply.

7. Mediation:

Divorce mediation is a process where the divorcing parties sit down with a mediator (a neutral third party) to work out and resolve conflicts over property division, finances, debts, and support and/or child custody/visitation. If the state is paying for the mediation, the mediator often reports back to the court with information about the mediation session(s).

The parties can also arrange their own privately paid mediation sessions, which will be completely confidential. Decisions reached in mediation aren’t legally binding but can be included in the court’s final order or decree. Attorneys usually don’t attend mediation sessions, though they may be available to advise the parties on legal issues.

8. Final Judgment of Divorce: 

The final judgment of divorce is the final order of the court that legally ends the marriage. The final judgment can also contain legally binding orders about other issues, such as child custody, child support, visitation, spousal support, property division, and how property division is to be carried out. It can also restore the pre-marriage name to one or both spouses.

Filing for divorce means stepping into the world of the Family Court System.

It is a world of legal rules and, at times, extreme emotional stress. It can change the way you live, the way you think, and the way you do things. Ignorance of what takes place in the system and how to take care of yourself can be the mistake that kills your chances of a successful post-divorce life.

I’m sharing with you information about the divorce process and the negative aspects of the legal process not to dissuade you from leaving your marriage. My concern is that you fully understand the process before putting yourself in the middle of the process.

Knowing when or if it is time to divorce means having a comprehensive understanding of exactly what it means to divorce. Unless you are in a situation where divorce can be handled in a civil manner between you and your spouse having full knowledge of what to expect in a conflicted divorce scenario is the only way you will be able to protect your legal rights.

The steps that I’ve shared above may seem simple, cut and dry but if you are divorcing a spouse who is angry, hurt over your decision to divorce or is unable to accept the idea of divorce you will become involved with a system in which no one wins but the system.

Understanding the emotional, financial and legal aspects of divorce before deciding to divorce means you will be making an informed decision about how and with whom you want to spend the rest of your life.

After Thoughts

I’m not someone with “standard” views on marriage and relationships. I do however have traditional views when it comes to choosing to divorce once you’ve committed to a marriage. It is my opinion that if you get married you should put in the appropriate time and attention to the marriage and do everything possible to save the marriage before making the choice to divorce.

When you take the vow, make the promise to stay with someone for the rest of your life, “for better or, for worse,” it is no small thing. I’m keen on folks keeping promises but for every promise made there is a price to pay and when the price you pay in your marriage becomes too high it is better to break your word than do harm to yourself by keeping it.

Here is the problem as I see it…people get married for a lot of foolish reasons. Some marry because they think society expects it of them. Some marry because they think it will solve some problem they are grappling with. Some believe marriage is the natural end to any relationship, that something is wrong if a relationship doesn’t culminate in marriage vows. Some marry because marriage confirms them as a person.

None of us marry without the expectation that the marriage will last “until death do us part.” But, that doesn’t always happen; our expectations about marriage are not always met. Nothing is more evident of that than the 40% divorce rate we experience in this country. In my business as a marriage educator and divorce consultant I often wonder why people don’t take more seriously the high rate of divorce. Could it be they don’t because there are some very, very good reasons to divorce?

The decision to divorce should only be made if something is radically wrong in the marriage. What do I mean by radically wrong? Well, there is abuse, infidelity, broken trust, disrespect to name a few examples of marital problems that might not be overcome with hard work.

We don’t take lightly the decision to marry; we should not take lightly the decision to divorce!

The post Time To Divorce: Do You Know What To Expect During The Divorce Process? appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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Court Ordered Life Insurance

During the divorce settlement, one spouse may be ordered to get or maintain an insurance policy to secure support obligations such as child support or alimony. Here’s what you need to know.

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Men’s Divorce Podcast: My Wife Says She Wants A Divorce

Men’s Divorce Podcast: My Wife Says She Wants A Divorce

In part 1 of a four-part series, Cordell & Cordell CEO/Managing Partner Scott Trout and divorce attorney Drew Williams discuss the steps a man should take after finding out his wife wants a divorce.

Divorce catches many guys off-guard, and that shock can contribute to costly mistakes that have long-lasting ramifications. Mr. Trout and Mr. Williams provide tips and strategies to help guys facing divorce ensure their most important assets are protected.

After listing to this episode, you will have a much greater knowledge of the road that lies ahead in divorce and have the information necessary to make educated decisions about your future.

Click the link below to listen to the full episode. Also make sure to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or whichever podcast app you prefer.

The post Men’s Divorce Podcast: My Wife Says She Wants A Divorce appeared first on Dads Divorce.

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No One Can Touch My Retirement For Child Support or Alimony, Right?

No One Can Touch My Retirement For Child Support or Alimony, Right?

Retirement funds are not all safe from being taken to satisfy child support or alimony/spousal support obligations.

The post No One Can Touch My Retirement For Child Support or Alimony, Right? appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

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