IS A 50/50 POSSESSION SCHEDULE RIGHT FOR YOU—
Many divorcing parents feel they should be entitled to see their children at least half of the time. Most of them are surprised when I tell them this is not necessarily the case.Courts determine parents’ possession schedules based on what they feel is in the best interests of the children. In other words, you do not (and should not) get a 50/50 possession schedule just because you want it.
Why do you want 50/50?
Many people want a 50/50 possession schedule because they think they will not be ordered to pay child support. Even if the parents see the children equally, a court may still make a parent pay child support. Especially if there is a significant disparity in income between the parents.
Additional Factors the Court will Consider:
1. How well do you and your ex get along?
To make a 50/50 possession schedule work, the parents will often have to set their conflict aside for the sake of the children. If they are not able to do that, the schedule may not work.
2. How far apart do you and your ex live?
The closer, the better. If both parents live in the same school district, the transitions will probably be easier.
3. What are the kids’ schedules?
The kids’ schedules are also a factor in whether 50/50 works. The more activities a child is involved in, the harder the 50/50 possession schedule becomes.
4. What kind of 50/50 possession schedule works best?
The most popular 50/50 possession schedules are week-on, week-off.
Holiday Custody Arrangements for Divorcing Parents
Family courts become busier around the holidays due to disputes regarding which parent the children spend time with during the season. To avoid circular arguments about promised holiday custody agreements, it is best to get both parents to agree on an arrangement in writing.
Holiday parenting negotiations often involve agreements in which the children may spend Thanksgiving with one parent and Christmas with the other, then alternate the following year. Alternating year arrangements also make it possible for one parent to spend Christmas Eve with the children and another Christmas Day. Split time arrangements are viable for parents who maintain strong communication with each other. These agreements allow children to enjoy the holiday with both parents and are ideal for parents who live close to each other.
Some parents choose to change the date on which they celebrate a holiday. While most parents want to spend the specific day of a holiday with their children, custody arrangements where one parent celebrates the holiday before or after its official date are often successful. Flexibility makes it easier to avoid frustration over holiday visitation rights. Negotiation of any parenting plan requires a willingness to compromise.
Child custody is a difficult legal matter for most parents at any time of year, but the holidays often present special challenges. Drafting a custody agreement that is fair and takes the interests of the child into account. Obtaining a holiday custody arrangement in writing can help prevent disputes in the future.
How do I get ready for my divorce?
Rarely do married couples get “quick” divorces. There are many reasons for this, such as the legal requirements of the state. But also, divorce is often a complex matter, the details of which take time to negotiate and finalize. Moreover, even if you are more than ready to end your marriage, you are better served by taking careful steps to prepare for the next phase of your life.
So what measures can you take to better situate yourself post-divorce?
Well, one basic thing to do is to start putting money aside. You need to separate your finances from your spouse’s, so it is a good idea to open a checking and savings account in your own name and start to build a nest egg that could help cover your expenses for the next year. You also want to extricate yourself from any credit accounts that you share with your spouse. If possible, you should get your spouse’s name removed from any such accounts. If you have a joint credit account, you may need to resort to freezing the cards. This way your spouse cannot run up debts that you will be partially responsible for.
And to prepare for your settlement negotiations, you can start to gather up all the documents related to your finances, such as deeds, tax returns, bank statements and investment statements. These documents could be more difficult to get a hold of once the divorce process starts, so it’s best to get them in hand as soon as possible.
HOW LONG CAN MY CHILDREN RECEIVE CHILD SUPPORT?
In most cases, the normal duration of child support is until the child turns 18 or graduates high school (whichever occurs later). Once your child is 18 or has graduated high school, you will no longer receive child support payments. However, there are a few important exceptions to this rule.
If you have a child who has a disability that is known of before or on their 18th birthday, the child is eligible to receive extended child support. This extension of the responsibility period is due to medical bills and long-term care needs that your child may have. In cases of disability, a parent may be able to receive child support for a beyond the age of 18, and possibly for the child’s lifetime. However, if at any point the child is able to manage finances and take care of him or herself, child support will cease after the age of 18, even if there is a mental or physical disability. These are case-by-case matters and will be determined by the court.
If your child is eligible to receive support beyond the age of 18 or graduation from high school, either you or your partner will need to provide health insurance for your child. This is required by law to ensure he or she receives proper medical care. The court will decide who will bear the cost of the medical insurance for the child. The court will look at any available employer-sponsored insurance to see if the cost is reasonable, and that the policy provides quality coverage.