At Lawrence Law Office, we often see cases where people are going back to court to litigate changes in child custody, visitation and support orders. This can be the result of almost any change in either of the parent’s circumstances including relocation, increased or decreased earnings, a new relationship for one of the parents, alcohol or drug issues, work schedules or simply disagreements between the parties.
If you believe changes need to be made to an existing court order following a divorce you should consider mediation. Family law mediation allows the parties to facilitate a conversation and reach agreement – even on issues where there is deep disagreement and/or animosity. The goal of mediation is to provide a productive environment where genuine issues can be raised, and multiple options can be identified and evaluated.
Mediation usually resolves these differences in a much shorter timeframe, and at a significantly lower cost than going back to court and hashing things out in front of a judge. Mediation allows the parties to maintain a higher degree of control over the ultimate outcome, instead of having a third party (judge) impose a solution that may not be welcomed by either party. An effective mediator will also help the parties to develop better skills for managing future issues.
Getting a divorce is challenging on multiple levels, and it can be especially difficult financially. The divorce process necessitates making determinations about how assets will be divided, and, if there are children involved, how to pay for their needs while managing two separate households.
Maintaining a standard of living for children
Often, parents hope to maintain the standard of living their children were accustomed to before the divorce. While doing so may be helpful for the children, it can be difficult to sustain. It may be necessary to adjust your and your child’s lifestyles to keep your finances in good shape and make ends meet.
Parents can put themselves on the right track by determining how much is spent on each child per year and creating a budget accordingly. Parents can begin this process by reviewing their finances as they relate to the children from the past year; in addition to day-to-day necessities, be sure to include the costs of activities, such as sports teams or camp, as well. It is also important to plan for unexpected costs, such as emergency medical bills.
If child support payments are involved, those expenses will need to be negotiated between the ex-spouses. Typically, child support is calculated by a judge and may be adjusted as things change in your and your former spouse’s lives.
Looking toward the future
You will also want to be sure you plan for your children’s future. The parent who is paying child support needs to have a life insurance policy so that the children will have those benefits if that parent dies.
Statistically, children with divorced parents have less financial support from their parents, according to the Journal of Family Issues. If you plan to help pay for your child’s college education, make sure you start saving early. Do not assume that your former spouse will take care of this funding.
Divorce poses many difficulties and concerns. When you are determining child support and negotiating how best to co-parent with your former spouse, it can get even more complicated. It is wise to consult an experienced family law attorney who can help you and your children get off to a good start.