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We are here to listen.

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Family Law FAQ

I want a divorce from a same-sex marriage. What are some challenges I might face?

There are some important issues facing same-sex couples when it comes to divorce in Maryland, now that gay marriage is legal. Since this law is new, it remains to be seen how the Maryland courts will deal with these pending issues. It is therefore very important to work with an attorney, who can help guide same-sex couples in their divorce.

  1. Alimony tax treatment.  Same sex couples do not receive the often favorable tax treatment of Alimony as deductible to the payor and includable in the gross income of the recipient. Instead, same sex alimony payment may give rise to unfavorable gift tax issues.
  2. Social Security Benefit elections are restricted.
  3. Federal Tax Filing Status is different.  Same sex couples cannot file jointly and therefore are denied those financial advantages.
  4. Payments of Marital Settlement Awards – This means that property transfers between same sex couples could give rise to whopping tax liabilities, such as gift taxes in cases where one spouse pays the other a lump-sum settlement.
  5. Transfer of a Family Home – This may give rise to capital gains taxes where heterosexual couples enjoy tax-free transfers.
  6. Division of Retirement Interests – Where one spouse seeks to transfers part of a qualified retirement plans or tax sheltered annuity to the other spouse, heterosexual couples avail themselves of a court’s order called the qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) in accordance with the federal Employment Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). Unfortunately same-sex couples end up with tax liability and penalties for early withdrawal.
  7. Adultery as Grounds for Divorce – Adultery in Maryland is defined as sexual intercourse, which involves the male and female genitalia under current law.
  8. Adoption/Paternity – Laws relating to presumption of parentage for a child born to one party during a legal marriage and laws relating to adoptions might also have a special impact in certain same sex cases.

I’m getting divorced. Do I need an attorney?

We get asked this question all the time. The short answer is that if you are able to afford an attorney, you should have one.

At Diamant Gerstein, LLC, we will work with you in any way necessary to make a lawyer affordable for you.  We use payment plans, credit card plans, extended payment plans, monthly plans, and so forth.  Whatever your financial situation is, there is no reason why a lawyer should not be a realistic option for you.

The answer to whether you need a lawyer is simple.  Divorce is not a simple area of law.  Unlike other areas of law, divorce relies on expertise in tax law, like Innocent Spouse Relief, contracts, rules about retirement accounts and pensions, 401-K’s and stocks.  It relies on knowledge of custody laws, both as to physical custody and legal custody and what the courts look at when determining should have primary physical custody of a child and which parent should have legal custody of a child.  Physical custody refers to where the child is actually going to reside.  Legal custody refers to decision-making as to the serious issues that come up in life: in what religion should my child be raised? Jewish? Catholic? Protestant? Muslim?  If my child is involved in a terrible accident, who decides whether to continue the child on life support? If my child needs major dental or orthodontia, who decides whether the child gets braces, and other expensive dental implements?  And, who pays for such things?

Divorce law requires knowledge of property law, real estate law and implications of property and asset division.  Maryland is a tenancy by the entirety (TBE) State.  This means that you and your spouse, if you own your home, are presumed to own it as tenants by the entirety.  Who lives in the home? Who gets use and possession of the home? If you choose to “buy out” your spouse, the home must be appraised. There are special appraisals done solely for divorcing couples who need to find out the fair market value of their home, and fast.

There are also property issues to decide.  Who takes what furniture in the home? How do you know if the property within the home is marital property or separate property? How do you know whether you are getting 50/50 of something or whether the court would divide the property in a different way? Maryland Divorce Courts sit as courts of equity.  This means that they have the power to divide assets in a way that is equitable, which may not always be 50/50.

Was there excessively cruel conduct in your marriage? Did someone cheat and commit adultery? Did one spouse either actually desert the home or constructively desert the home, making the marriage no longer viable?  These are all questions a lawyer can help you answer, and a lawyer can further make sure you get what’s fair.  That is the real goal: to get you what is fair.

What are the legal grounds for getting a divorce in Maryland?

To obtain an absolute divorce, one spouse must first prove that at least one “ground” (a legally accepted reason) for absolute divorce exists. There are two types of grounds.

  1. “No Fault” grounds; and
  2. Grounds based on the “fault” of a spouse.

You may claim more than one ground for divorce when you file. Some grounds may require a waiting period. If you are considering divorce, a lawyer can help you decide which grounds fit your situation.

No Fault vs. Fault Grounds for Divorce

There are two types of grounds: a “no fault” ground for divorce, and grounds based on the “fault” of a spouse.

What’s the difference?

  • Proof: To obtain a fault-based divorce, you will have to prove to the court that your spouse acted in certain ways. Fault grounds include adultery, desertion, imprisonment for a crime, insanity, cruelty of treatment, and excessively vicious conduct. If you can’t prove a fault-based ground for divorce, you may still be eligible to file for divorce based on the “no fault” ground of 12-month separation or mutual consent. The person filing for a “no fault” divorce does not have to prove that their spouse committed any misconduct (i.e., cruelty, adultery, etc.)

Why does the difference matter?

  • Alimony: A fault ground can be one of several factors in determining the right to alimony (financial support that one spouse pays the other) or how the court divides marital property.
  • Custody: A fault ground does not usually affect custody, but it can be one of many factors considered by the court if the fault ground is harmful to the children.

Residency

One party must be a resident of Maryland to file for divorce. How long you must have lived in Maryland before filing for divorce depends on the where the ground (reason) for divorce occurred.

If the grounds occurred in Maryland, you only need to be currently living in Maryland when you file for divorce. If the grounds for divorce happened outside of Maryland, then at least one of the parties must have resided in Maryland for at least six months before filing for divorce.

Corroboration

In the past, Maryland law required corroboration of the testimony of the party filing for divorce. Corroboration was usually provided by the testimony of a third party. This is no longer a requirement. A court may enter a divorce decree on the uncorroborated testimony of the party seeking the divorce.

No Fault Grounds

12-month separation is a “no fault” ground for absolute divorce. Before filing for divorce, the spouses must have lived separate and apart without cohabitation (living together or having sexual relations) for 12 months without interruption.

Mutual consent is a newer “no fault” ground for absolute divorce. A court may grant an absolute divorce on the ground of mutual consent, without a waiting period.

Adultery

Adultery is a fault-based ground for divorce. There is no waiting period for adultery. If a party claims and proves that his or her spouse committed adultery, the court can grant the divorce right away.

To prove adultery in court, you do not need to show actual intercourse occurred. However, you must prove that the offending spouse had both the disposition and the opportunity for intercourse outside of the marriage.

  • Examples of an adulterous “disposition”: Public displays of affection, such as hand-holding, kissing, and hugging, between the guilty spouse and the non-spouse.
  • Example of an adulterous “opportunity”: Proving that your spouse was seen entering the non-spouse’s apartment alone at 11 p.m. and not coming out until 8 a.m. the following morning.

It is not enough for your spouse to simply admit to adultery. You must prove it using evidence (examples: text messages, photographs, emails, etc.) that your spouse committed adultery. However, if the offending spouse is the husband and a child is born outside of the marriage, this is usually enough to prove a claim of adultery.

The law is not completely clear about how adultery relates to same-sex marriages. However, the Maryland Attorney General has issued an opinion suggesting that adultery should include “a spouse’s extramarital sexual infidelity with a person of the same sex.” See the Opinion here.

Adultery may be a factor in determining the right to alimony. It may be a factor in awarding custody of the children only if the court determines that the adulterous behavior had a harmful effect on the children.

Desertion – Actual and Constructive Desertion

Desertion is a fault-based ground for divorce. Desertion may be actual or “constructive.”

Generally, in actual desertion, the deserting spouse abandons the marital home without justification. In “constructive” desertion, the spouse who leaves is justified and the court will consider the leaving spouse the deserted one.

Actual Desertion

To prove actual desertion, the spouse seeking the divorce must prove ALL of the following elements:

  • The desertion has continued uninterrupted for 12 months.
  • The deserting spouse intended to end the marriage.
  • Cohabitation (living together or having sexual intercourse) has ended.
  • The deserter’s leaving was not justified.
  • The parties are beyond any reasonable hope of reconciliation (making up).
  • The deserted spouse did not consent to the desertion.

The fault-based ground of desertion may be a factor in the award of alimony and custody.

Constructive Desertion

Technically, “constructive” desertion also requires proof of the above elements. The most common justification for constructive desertion is cruelty. If a spouse’s actions cause the other spouse to leave the home, the court may consider the spouse who remained in the home to have deserted the relationship because of how he or she acted.

For constructive desertion cases, the court will consider the following factors:

  • The nature and duration of the misconduct;
  • The length of time the leaving spouse endured the misconduct; and
  • What attempts the leaving spouse made to try to save the marriage.

Generally, the court will allow the spouse to leave and obtain a divorce for “constructive” desertion if remaining in the home would make them lose their self-respect or put them or their children in danger of either physical or mental harm.

Considerations

If you are thinking about leaving the home, before you leave, consider the following:

  • Does your spouse’s conduct justify your leaving? If not, he or she may be able to get a divorce against you for actual desertion (and potentially be awarded alimony and child custody). Consider consulting a lawyer before leaving the home.
  • Will your own conduct prevent you from getting a divorce on a fault-based ground? If you want to seek a divorce for your spouse’s adultery, the court may not grant it to you if you are also at fault (for example if you commit actual desertion without justification).
  • Practical considerations:
    • Do you have somewhere to go?
    • If you are thinking of taking the children with you, will you be able to meet their needs alone?
    • Will you be able to financially support yourself (and your children, if taking them with you)? Even if you are entitled to alimony or other money from your spouse, it may take a long time to receive those funds.

If your spouse has left the home without cause and you want to use actual desertion as a ground for divorce, remember the following:

  • Once your spouse has left, you must not have sexual relations with your spouse. A single act of intercourse or a night spent together under the same roof will interrupt the 12-month continuous desertion requirement and will also violate the requirement of no cohabitation.
  • You must not consent to your spouse’s desertion. If you consent, it is not desertion but rather voluntary separation, a ground for divorce not involving “fault.” There is a difference between consenting and giving in to something you cannot avoid. “Giving in” to your spouse and accepting the desertion will probably not be considered consent.
  • You must not be guilty of any misconduct that would justify the desertion.
  • If your situation does not meet the requirements for desertion, you may still be able to obtain a “no fault” divorce if you have lived separate and apart without cohabitation for 12 months.

What if your spouse deserts you but then returns? 

  • In the past, the court favored “good faith” attempts at reconciliation (making up), and a failure to see or listen to your returning spouse could result in a divorce against you for desertion. This is not a requirement anymore. An attempt to reconcile or a refusal to reconcile is no longer a defense or hurdle to a divorce action.
  • However, to prove desertion, you must still show that there is no reasonable expectation of reconciliation. The court may consider any attempts or refusals of reconciliation in determining this.

Cruelty of Treatment and Excessively Vicious Conduct

A spouse’s cruel treatment can be a fault-based ground for divorce where the conduct endangers the life or health of the other person or their minor child, and makes cohabitation (living together) unsafe. Often, physical abuse is involved.

A single act of cruelty can be a ground of divorce if it shows the party intends to do serious bodily harm or is severe enough to threaten serious danger in the future.

Cruelty as a ground for divorce can also include mental abuse. The spouse’s conduct must show that he or she planned to seriously impair the health or permanently destroy the happiness of the other spouse or their minor child. The cruel conduct puts the other person’s safety or health in danger or causes that person to think that their safety or health is in danger, to the point that it is physically or mentally impossible for the person to stay in the marriage. There must be no reasonable expectation of reconciliation (making up).

Marital neglect, rudeness, and using profane and abusive language do not constitute cruelty or excessively vicious conduct. Usually, a pattern of serious domestic violence or other severe actions are required for these grounds of divorce.

There is no waiting period for these grounds. A party may file for divorce based on cruelty of treatment or excessively vicious conduct right away.

Conviction of a Crime

To obtain a divorce based on conviction of a crime, you must show that your spouse:

  1. was convicted of a crime in any state; AND
  2. received a jail sentence of over 3 years (or an indeterminate sentence); AND
  3. has served 12 months at the time of filing for divorce.

Insanity

Permanent and incurable insanity is a fault-based ground for divorce. In the context of absolute divorce, a spouse is considered permanently incurable if:

  1. the spouse has been confined in a mental institution, hospital, or other institution for at least three years prior to filing for the divorce; AND
  2. at least two physicians competent in psychiatry testifies that the insanity is permanently incurable and there is no hope of recovery; AND
  3. one of the parties has been a resident of Maryland for at least two years before filing for divorce.

If your spouse is not competent (i.e., your spouse does not have the legal capacity to make their own decisions), you may need to ask the court to appoint a guardian.

Defenses to an Absolute Divorce

For fault-based grounds, an offending spouse can claim certain defenses. These defenses are factors for the court to consider when deciding whether or not to grant the divorce. The defenses to fault-based divorce include:

  • Condonation: The offending spouse claims that the other spouse forgave their bad conduct. This defense can only be used in an absolute divorce based on adultery. It does not apply to any other ground for divorce.
  • Recrimination: The offending spouse claims that the other spouse also behaved badly rising to the level of a fault ground. (The two wrongs cancel out the fault-based divorce.) This defense is only considered in an absolute divorce based on adultery. It does not apply to any other ground for divorce.

Reconciliation is no longer, on its own, a defense to a ground for divorce.

If the defense is successful, then the court will not grant the divorce on a fault-based ground. Unless the other side can prove the grounds for divorce, the court may decide not to award the divorce.

Can my spouse keep me from getting a divorce?

The short answer is “no.” Your spouse can’t force you to stay married.  The term is called involuntary servitude and it’s not legal.

Who determines how assets are divided in a divorce?

The first step in the division process is deciding whether property is marital or separate property. Spouses who entered into a prenuptial agreement before marriage may have specified that certain property is marital or separate.  If there is no agreement, then marital property includes all of the assets and debts the couple acquires during marriage. Property is separate if a spouse owned it before marriage or acquired it during marriage by gift or inheritance. Separate property also includes any property that one spouse can directly trace back to property that began as separate property. Real property held by the couple as “tenants by the entireties” is always marital property unless the couple has a valid agreement stating otherwise.

Marital and separate property can be mixed together—sometimes called “commingling of assets.” For example, both spouses may pay the mortgage on a house that one spouse owned separately before the marriage, or one spouse may deposit separate funds into a joint bank account.  Separate funds commingled in joint accounts will remain separate property only if the owner is able to trace the separate funds through financial records, or bank records. If marital funds are used to pay the mortgage or expenses on a separately-owned home, or another separately owned asset that has appreciated in value, a court will apply the “source of funds” rule, which requires determining the value of the separate and marital property in proportion to the contributions. These situations can be very complicated and you’re likely going to need a lawyer who will help you figure out the separate/joint allocation. If spouses aren’t able to decide what belongs to whom, a Judge will have to decide how to apportion the separate and marital interests.

After determining which property is marital property, the couple, or the Court, will generally assign a monetary value to each item. Couples who need help determining values can hire professional appraisers.  Some financial assets, such as retirement accounts, can be very difficult to evaluate and may require the assistance of a financial professional, such as a C.P.A. or an actuary.

Spouses can divide assets by assigning certain items to each spouse, possibly with an equalizing payment if one spouse gets substantially more than the other so that the division isn’t equitable, or by selling property and dividing the proceeds. They can also agree to continue to own property together. While this isn’t a very attractive option for most people, as it requires an ongoing financial relationship, some couples agree to keep the family home until children are out of school. Couples who end up in court could find themselves in a similar situation. Maryland law provides that a court may award one spouse the temporary exclusive use not only of a family home, but also certain items of “family use personal property,” such as a vehicle or home furnishings, for up to three years, or until the spouse with exclusive possession remarries.

The couple must also assign all debt accrued during the marriage, including mortgages, car loans, and credit card debts, to one of the spouses.

Couples who don’t manage to resolve property issues on their own will end up going to court to ask for a decision from an arbitrator or a judge. A Maryland court will consider all relevant factors in deciding what kind of property division is fair, including the following:

  • the length of the marriage,
  • each spouse’s age, health, and physical and mental condition,
  • whether a spouse is receiving maintenance (alimony), or has been awarded the use of a family home or other family use property,
  • each spouse’s contributions, monetary or nonmonetary, to the well-being of the family,
  • each spouse’s economic circumstances,
  • either spouse’s contribution of separate property to real property held by the couple as tenants by the entirety,
  • how and when one or both spouse acquired specific property, and
  • marital misconduct that contributed to the divorce.

How is alimony decided?

Very simply, the Court looks at the need of the receiving spouse and the ability to pay of the paying spouse.  Maryland has several types of alimony: temporary, short-term, and long-term or permanent. Temporary alimony lasts only during the divorce proceedings, prior to the final judgment of divorce. This is also called alimony “pendente lite,” which means the award is effective only while the case is pending.

The court may award short-term alimony for a limited time to help one spouse adjust after a divorce. It may award permanent or long-term alimony when one spouse shows that he or she won’t be able to make substantial progress in becoming self-supporting due to age, disability, or illness, or that the spouse’s living standards will be unconscionably disparate even after that spouse has made as much progress as possible towards becoming self-supporting.

When determining whether to award alimony, a Judge may consider a number of factors, including:

  • the length of the marriage—anything over ten years is considered a long marriage in Maryland
  • the couple’s standard of living during the marriage
  • each spouse’s age and mental and physical condition
  • the financial needs and financial resources of each spouse
  • the requesting spouse’s ability to become self-supporting, and whether further education or training will be required to meet that goal
  • each spouse’s contribution to the marriage, whether financial or otherwise, and,
  • whether the spouse from whom alimony is requested will be able to meet his or her own needs while paying alimony.

Even though Maryland is a no-fault divorce State, the Court may also consider fault when granting alimony awards. A “fault divorce” means one spouse is at fault for the breakdown of the marriage due to actions such as adultery, abuse, or abandonment. Finally, the court may consider an alimony agreement between the spouses.  To calculate the amount of support, the Court may look at both parties’ incomes, standards of living, and monthly expenses. It may also look at each spouse’s investment and retirement opportunities as well as potential tax consequences.

Alimony in Maryland ends if the alimony recipient remarries, either spouse dies, or the court finds a change in circumstances. You may also ask the court to modify the award if you can show that circumstances for you or your spouse have changed so substantially that the current order is no longer appropriate.

Do grandparents get visitation rights? Do grandparents get custody of grandchildren?

The issue of grandparents’ rights is a hot area in family law right now. In fact, Diamant Gerstein, LLC is currently involved in a groundbreaking custody matter involving a grandparent’s right to custody of a grandchild.  Grandparents may have a right to visitation with their grandchildren in Maryland under certain circumstances. The governing Maryland case on this issue is Koshko v. Haining, 398 Md. 404 (2007). The rule of law articulated in Koshko provides that, in order for a Maryland court to issue an Order providing for visitation by a grandparent, the grandparent must satisfy a two-pronged test. First, the grandparent must put forth evidence of parental unfitness or exceptional circumstances demonstrating a current or future detriment to the child without visitation from the grandparent. Second, the grandparent must prove that visitation is in the best interest of the child.

In Koshko, the Maryland Court of Appeals first analyzed the case law governing Maryland’s Grandparental Visitation Statute, Md. Code, Fam. Law § 9-102. The court recognized that, from 1993 until July 2000, Maryland courts consistently held that the best interest of the child was determinative when ruling on grandparental visitation rights, and that there was no need to show parental unfitness or exceptional circumstances. This appeared to change in July 2000 with the Court of Special Appeals’ decision in Brice v. Brice, 133 Md. App. 302 (2000), which required a showing of parental unfitness in addition to analysis of the best interest of the child. Thereafter, Maryland’s highest court – the Court of Appeals – required a showing of parental unfitness or exceptional circumstances, prior to any analysis of the best interest of the child, in Shurupoff v. Vockroth, 372 Md. 639 (2003).

How much does it cost to get divorced?

The short answer is: it depends.  Depending on the complexity of the issues in your case, divorce may be expensive.  On the other hand, if you and your spouse have largely agreed to most of the issues in your case, you may only need the assistance of a lawyer to calculate child support, or to come up with an alimony payment, or to assist in dividing remaining property.  At Diamant Gerstein, LLC, we pride ourselves on working within every budget, no matter how large or small, to satisfy the needs of the client.  Clients are not rubber-stamps. Every client is different, and the issues involved in each divorce are varied.

I’ve heard of this type of divorce called Collaborative Law. Can you tell me a little bit about what it entails?

Collaborative law is a way to divorce amicably, peacefully and with dignity.

The collaborative law process puts you and the other side together to essentially mediate and come to an agreement, on all decisions surrounding your divorce.  This includes: child custody, child support, property settlement, retirement funds division, alimony and all other issues surrounding your unique case.

If you choose to use collaborative law to resolve your issues, you and the other party must both agree in writing:

  • That any exchange of information will be complete and honest, for fully-informed decision-making, there is no hiding-the-ball or making the other chase you for documentation,
  • Not to litigate or go to the courthouse and file for divorce during the collaborative process; and, should either side decide to file in court, then each collaborative law attorney must withdraw representation and cannot represent their respective clients in the court proceeding
  • To engage in open, free and respectful communication with one another
  • To work in a collaborative way toward a written agreement on all issues related to your dispute without resorting to court intervention.

The First Step: Agreeing To Collaborate with One Another

In Maryland, the collaborative law process begins when you and the other side agree to resolve your case outside of court litigation. You each meet with and retain a collaborative law attorney who will give you legal advice and address your individual needs and concerns.

The Second Step: Collaborative Negotiation with Attorneys, and Sometimes Others, Present (A parenting coordinator, a financial coordinator)

Following your agreement to collaborate, all parties and their attorneys participate in a series of 4-way meetings aimed at crafting a resolution that suits each of your needs and concerns, as well as those of your children in a collaborative divorce. The good news is that there is always food and drink available at these meetings! It is supposed to be a friendly process.  If both sides decide additional information is needed, they decide together which experts to select and include in the collaborative law process.

The Third Step: Collaborative Resolution/Coming to an Agreement

Throughout the collaborative law process, you and the other party have the ultimate decision-making authority, but you each have the protection of your own attorneys who can give you legal advice and advocate for what is in your best interest.

By committing to the collaborative law process, both sides agree to work out their differences in the manner that best suits them, while still receiving the expert advice of an attorney. This is an important step toward an amicable resolution of your dispute and establishes cooperative and respectful communication between both sides, whether in a collaborative divorce or general dispute.

Sharon T. Diamant is a collaboratively-trained divorce attorney and is certified by the Administrative Office of the Courts, Family Administration Division.  She participates in the low bono and pro bono Collaborative Divorce Group and regularly assists clients seeking a collaborative divorce.

I have a child support order and I need to change it because I lost my job. What can I do? What happens if I need to modify child support?

Child Support and Child Support Modification

Diamant Gerstein, LLC handles hundreds of child support cases each year.  Sometimes, circumstances change that require a modification, or a change, in child support. Even though child support is usually decided by a mathematical formula, we help our clients gather the evidence to ensure the correct numbers are applied using the latest appropriate software.  Child Support calculation is based on:

  • Parental Income
  • Physical Custody (whether both parents have more than 128 Overnights)
  • Child’s Health Insurance Costs.
  • Out-Of-Pocket Medical Expenses.
  • Psychological Counseling.
  • Monthly Day Care & Camp Costs

Modification Of Child Support

When income, the child’s needs and/or physical custody of a child changes in a material way, it might be time to recalculate child support.

Child support contempt matters are typically heard by a Magistrate before proceeding to a Judge.

Office Of Child Support Enforcement Hearings (OCSE)

The Office of Child Support Enforcement can file cases to modify support, or an individual can file to change support in the Circuit Court.   The Office of Child Support in Montgomery County, Maryland is located at 51 Monroe Street, Rockville, MD 20850.  Usually, the child support agency will summons both parties to appear for an initial hearing in front of an agent working for the Office of Child Support. Having an attorney is helpful for the purpose of effective negotiation. We have a track record of obtaining favorable results for clients based on negotiation skills and knowledge of the local procedures.

I want to sit down with my spouse and negotiate our divorce at the kitchen table. What are the basic areas of divorce I need to cover with him/her?

At the outset, if you have children and/or property issues in your divorce, you should seriously consider hiring a lawyer.  A lawyer will help you figure out all issues relevant to your unique situation, and at Diamant Gerstein, LLC, we pride ourselves on making it as affordable as possible to have competent, zealous, legal representation.  Below, you will find a general list of topics to consider:

Parenting Plan

  • Access to Information & People:  Educational and medical records; teachers, doctors, pediatricians, therapists
  • Medical Emergencies: Decision-making, notification, legal consent in case of emergency
  • Daily Schedule: Children’s living arrangements for a typical week, homework, sports schedule, dance, etc.
  • Holidays: Secular and religious holidays, birthdays, reunions, Jewish and Christian holidays
  • Vacations: Summer vacations, winter and spring breaks, travel
  • Transportation:  Pick-up and drop-off arrangements
  • Parental Change of Residence: Restrictions, notice to other parent
  • Decision-making (legal custody):  Major decisions about education, medical treatment, religion, discipline, safety
  • Renegotiation:  Periodic review of parenting plan, building in flexibility as the children get older
  • Conflict Resolution:  Structure for settling any future disputes

Division of Property

  • Full Disclosure: Gathering and sharing of financial information and documentation concerning all assets and debts
  • Procedure for Division: 
    Identification
    • Valuation
    • Marital vs. non-marital
    • Division
  • Some Categories of Assets:
    Household Furnishings
    • Vehicles
    • Other Personal Property
    • Bank Accounts
    • Accounts Receivable
    • Stocks, Bonds, Funds
    • Real Estate
    • Life Insurance
    • Business Interests
    • Pensions, IRA, 401(k), etc.
    • Patents, Stock Options, etc.
  • Some Categories of Debts:
    Mortgages
    • Bank Loans (e.g., car loans)
    • Loans on Life Insurance
    • Personal Loans
    • Credit Cards

Child Support & Alimony

  • Budgeting:  Children’s expenses and parents’ expenses
  • Income: Identifying all sources of income, from all sources
  • Child Support:  Calculating basic support level, school tuition, extraordinary medical expenses, childcare expenses, camp fees
  • Alimony:  Amount and duration
  • Adjustments:  Cost of living, changed circumstances

Other Financial Issues

  • Medical Insurance
  • Life Insurance
  • College Tuition & Expenses

Taxes
• Joint or separate returns?
• Dependency exemptions
• Dividing refunds & liabilities
• Alimony vs. child support