Most Massachusetts residents have likely heard the statistic that roughly 50 percent of all marriages in the U.S. end in divorce. While couples choose to divorce for a variety of reasons, for most divorcing couples child custody and the division of marital assets are among the most important and contentious divorce issues.
Ask any parent going through a divorce what keeps them awake at night and many will likely respond with fears related to losing child custody. While in past years, mothers were typically awarded primary custody, today a growing number of family law judges seek to award joint or what's commonly referred to as 50/50 custody of shared children. The trend towards joint custody often means that both parents must adjust to spending less or perhaps more time with a child as well as prepare for arguments with an ex-spouse over child-rearing and discipline issues.
Along with child custody matters often comes child support matters. Federal guidelines typically dictate child support amounts and favor the parent who has primary custody and earns less income. Even in cases where parents evenly split custody, child support may be awarded to the parent who earns less income. As with many matters related to child custody or support, parents can petition the court to have time or payment amounts modified. This is especially important in the event that one parent wants to move a considerable distance away or struggles financially.
When deciding how to divide marital assets several factors are often taken into consideration. In many cases, family law judges aim to divide assets including property, belongings and financial investments and accounts evenly. In many cases, however, some assets may end up being more valuable in the long run. For example, if a couple purchased property or land, the value of that property may continue to increase whereas the value of say an automobile will likely only continue to depreciate.
An individual who is contemplating divorce would be wise to seek the advice of a divorce attorney. An attorney who routinely handles matters related to child custody and division of assets can provide valuable insight and help provide for the best possible outcome in both matters.
Source: The Huffington Post, "Your Finances and Divorce," Karen Stewart, June 19, 2013