Divorce is certainly an emotional time for families. In fact, it ranks as one of the most stressful experiences in life. However, it is not only the adults who experience this stress. If the adults are parents, their children often suffer greatly. Their suffering can not be entirely eliminated. A certain amount of grief at the 'death' of their parents' relationship is to be expected. Nevertheless, while the adults are going through typically arduous legal wrangling it is important for them to remember the needs of their children and put them first. Deciding to cooperate for their sake will help to protect the children's emotional well being by maintaining their sense of security and need for unconditional love. Marital breakdown is difficult for everyone - especially children. There are several ways in which loving, responsible parents can cooperate for the good of their children. Even though the marriage may have broken down, the parental relationship is 'till death do us part'.
Child and youth counselors emphasize that children need lasting relationships with both parents. More often than not joint custody is granted because of this accepted understanding. Ideally, the relationship of the parents should be business-like and cooperative for the sake of the children. Children should not witness hostility between their parents and should not hear negative statements about either parent. It is recommended that parents commit to regularly scheduled meetings, in a neutral location for the purpose of discussing child-related issues. Education, medical, religious and moral issues that concern the children's well- being need to be dealt with by both parents. If emotions prohibit calm conversation, there are often family justice counselors available in the community to facilitate these important meetings.
Children going through the divorce of their parents usually have many questions and worries. Compassionate responses are required and it certainly takes mature parents in order to put aside their own issues and help their children gain some understanding about a situation over which they have no control. Unfortunately, many children experience guilt and often blame themselves for the marital breakup of their parents. Counseling - whether group or individual - can be an effective way to lessen this destructive burden. The objectivity of the counselor may help the child open up and share his/her feelings. As children mature, their questions will differ so the issue of their parents' divorce is never really over. A commitment on behalf of both parents to open communication with the children will reassure them greatly.
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Voluntary separation is when two parties agree that they need to go their own ways. Even though it may not start out as a "voluntary" situation, the parties can eventually come to a mutual agreement that separation was inevitable.
Most states require that you live separately for the statutory period of time. This means no cohabitation. Separation means residing (and sleeping) in different locations at all times. Separate bedrooms in the same house do not constitute a separation.
The courts distinguish between separation and "desertion", which is when one of the parties leaves without the intention of returning. If the other person forces you to leave, that is "constructive desertion." You won't be penalized by the court if you leave for your own protection or that of the child(ren).
When is separation the appropriate course?
Before you think about separation, ask yourself if you've taken all reasonable steps to make the marriage or home situation better by working together. Did you try sitting down calmly with your spouse to discuss the situation? Did you try counseling, either individually or as a couple? Talking to a psychologist, social worker, pastor, or trusted family friend may provide the necessary medium for working out differences.
If you have children, consider the impact of staying (or leaving) on them. And never bring them into the fight. Always remember: Children may be resilient, but their armor is only so thick. Children know more, see more and hear more than you think. If staying together is creating an emotionally troubling situation for them, perhaps separation is the best option.
If I decide to go ahead with it, how should I go about separating from my spouse?
Make a plan, if possible. You can't just kick your spouse out of the house (unless perhaps the home is titled in your name only), and leaving the house may impact your chances for obtaining custody or protecting property interests. Consider where you're going, what possessions and vehicles you can take with you, who the children will stay with, how the children will be cared for, and how bills will be paid. If you can, discuss a separation with your spouse and agree on temporary arrangements. If possible, put any agreement in writing. A handwritten agreement signed by both parties is enforceable in court and will provide extra protection for you. If your spouse is not in agreement about a separation, consult an attorney before leaving the marital home. An attorney can assist you in planning for a separation that doesn't jeopardize your rights.
How do I provide for myself and the children during the separation?
Once separated, you can apply to the court for several types of relief. First, you may request child support if you have custody of the minor children. The question is always "how much?" Both of you are going to have to contribute. One of you probably will think they are getting too little and the other probably will think they are paying too much. Fortunately, most states have implemented child support guidelines. This mandated method of calculation takes some of the guess work out of who pays how much.
But there's more to support than a monthly check. What about education or braces or money for sports competitions? What about medical expenses or counseling?
The court can grant both temporary and permanent support. Be knowledgeable about how support is calculated; changing the amount of support is neither automatic nor easy. A modification of support in the future will require a significant change in financial circumstances. A second type of support is spousal support or family maintenance. You can request that your spouse contribute to the mortgage and household expenses. If the court has determined that you and the minor children should remain in the marital home, the court may also grant an award of support. The court will generally assess the needs of the party requesting relief and the ability of the other party to contribute.
How does a judge decide who will be awarded custody of the children?
The courts use the "best interests of the children" standard in assessing a custody situation. If the two of you can work together, then a joint or shared custody arrangement may be right for you and your children. If effective communication between yourself and your spouse is not a reality, sole custody may be the only option. Having the court decide who should have custody is the very last option. The courts also look to whether an individual's bad acts are acts that have harmed the children.
What does "custody" mean, exactly?
Custody comes in two forms: legal and physical. Legal custody is the authority to make decisions concerning the minor child(ren)'s health, education and welfare. Physical custody pertains to where the child(ren) sleeps for the majority of the time. Generally, the courts will grant legal custody to the parent having physical custody. This makes sense since the parent taking care of the child(ren) may have to make emergency decisions. Two parents may share custody or one parent may have sole custody. There are several possible combinations of custody: shared (joint) legal with sole physical; shared legal with shared physical; or sole legal with sole physical. While many parents convey their desire for shared or joint custody, the Maryland courts are not inclined to grant shared custody unless that is the established arrangement.
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YOU SHOULD REMEMBER THE INFORMATION THAT YOU READ HERE IS GENERAL IN NATURE AND NOT MEANT TO BE A SUBSTITUTE FOR SPECIFIC LEGAL ADVICE FROM AN ATTORNEY.
Divorce (or the dissolution of marriage) is the final termination of a marital union, canceling the legal duties and responsibilities of marriage and dissolving the bonds of matrimony between the parties. In most countries divorce requires the sanction of a court or other authority in a legal process.
The legal process for divorce may also involve issues of spousal support, child custody, child support, distribution of property and division of debt.
In most jurisdictions, a divorce must be certified by a court of law to become effective. The terms of the divorce are usually determined by the court, though they may take into account prenuptial agreements or postnuptial agreements, or simply ratify terms that the spouses may have agreed to privately. In the absence of agreement, a contested divorce may be stressful to the spouses and lead to expensive litigation. Less adversarial approaches to divorce settlements have recently emerged, such as mediation and collaborative divorce, which negotiate mutually acceptable resolution to conflicts. In some other countries, when the spouses agree to divorce and to the terms of the divorce, it can be certified by a non-judiciary administrative entity. The effect of a divorce is that both parties are free to marry again.
A family law attorney specializes in the family law relationships which encompass adoption, child custody, visitation rights, domestic violence, divorce, juvenile dependency, marital property rights, support obligations, and paternity.
Family law is the name given to the branch of civil law that a family lawyer or a family attorney covers including the legal relationships among family members, including husbands, wives, parents, children, and domestic partners. A family law attorney or a family law lawyer specializes in the family law relationships which encompass adoption, child custody, visitation rights, domestic violence, divorce, juvenile dependency and delinquency, marital property rights, support obligations, and paternity.
Because these personal relationships are governed by state law, what constitutes "family law" may vary from state to state. Please read on to find a family lawyer, family attorney or to learn more about family law. Family lawyer and family attorney information provided by Lawyers.com.
Find a Family Law Attorney in your area.
Family law deals with family-related issues and domestic relations including, but not limited to:
- the nature of marriage, civil unions, and domestic partnerships;
- issues arising during marriage, including spousal abuse, legitimacy, adoption, surrogacy, child abuse, and child abduction
- the termination of the relationship and ancillary matters including divorce, annulment, property settlements, alimony, and parental responsibility orders (in the United States, child custody and visitation, child support awards).
This list is by no means dispositive of the potential issues that come through the family court system. In many jurisdictions in the United States, the family courts see the most crowded dockets. Litigants representative of all social and economic classes are parties within the system.
- Matthews & Matthews, P.C.matthewslaw.comDescription: Family Law experts, specializing in divorce, child custody and supportState: ColoradoCountry: United States
- Gill Law Practicewww.gillpractice.comDescription: For family law and other legal representation, contact a lawyer at GILL Law Practice in Ridgefield, Connecticut, today.State: ConnecticutCountry: United States