Divorce is never easy. Regardless of the amount of assets, the reasons, the length of the marriage, the willingness of the parties, their earning power, divorce is hard, emotionally draining, financially challenging, and foreign territory for most. If children are involved, regardless of how many or their ages, the challenges are multiplied. It isn’t supposed to be easy. But knowing what to expect and being well prepared can make it tolerable.
The emotional impact of divorce on children is real, lasting, and unavoidable. And chances are that they will react differently than you imagine and that their real thoughts and feelings may remain a mystery for years. No matter what you do or how you do it, the fact that parents are no longer together affects children regardless of their ages. Experts will tell you that children learn how to model their future relationships with significant others by watching their parents’ interactions. So, couples who choose to stay together in a bad relationship probably aren’t doing their children (or their future spouses) any favors. But there are some things that can be done and others that can be avoided which can lessen the emotional strain. It is important for parents to appreciate the effect of divorce on their children and that they seek professional help and guidance on how best to handle it.
When parents are divorced, someone generally has to become the primary custodian of the children physically. Occasionally, the court will grant true joint custody, but this is the exception rather than the norm. The primary custodian has certain duties and obligations, but it also comes with many advantages. The law gives certain presumptions to the primary custodian should future issues arise. It also has an impact on child support. Both parents may be required to participate in certain decisions regardless of who has primary custody.
Child support is borne by both parents in direct relation to their earnings or earning power. The law provides a formula or table by which child support is generally calculated, though there are many exceptions to its use and implementation. Child support is generally paid to the primary custodial parent by the other though it is calculated based upon the earning power of both. It also takes into account certain expenses (such as childcare) which may be paid by one or both of the parents. Child support is paid until the child reaches the age of majority (19 years old), though agreed college expenses could play a role. Payment of the costs of attending college is not a given but can be awarded by the court. A failure to pay child support can result in action by the child support division of the district attorney’s office
The non-custodial parent will have the right to see his or her children periodically. Courts rarely prevent some form of visitation. Generally, if the parties cannot agree, visitation for school-aged children will be every other weekend with one night per week, alternating holidays with set schedules, and an extended period during the summer break. If the parties cannot agree on a schedule, the court will implement one. A court-appointed Guardian Ad Litem may be appointed to give recommendations to the court on what is in the best interest of the child.
In a divorce, the court generally looks at everything that impacts a child from the viewpoint of what is in the child’s best interest. However, most of the issues affecting the child can be agreed upon by the parties, subject to the court’s approval. It is important to have the advice of an experienced divorce attorney when going through a divorce or contemplating one, especially when children are involved. Contact us today.