Types of Child Custody

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Child custody is a complicated and sensitive issue that must be carefully addressed whenever couples separate or divorce but the best decision should be based on what is the best for children.

Parents should begin addressing this sensitive issue by understanding what types of child custody are there? The basic available options include legal custody and physical custody.

It is recommended for parents to try and come to an agreement outside of the courtroom on the best child custody option. When the parents cannot agree on one binding child custody option, the judge will determine what is in the best interest for the child.

Different child custody options have different specifications and limitations.

Legal Custody

Legal custody gives the right and obligation to make decisions about the upbringing of the child. The parent with the legal custody is tasked with making decisions such as schooling, medical care and religion among others that relate to the child. The legal custody can be joint or sole custody.
Joint Legal Custody:This arrangement offers both parents with the legal authority to make major decisions for the child. In this arrangement, the parents must continue to communicate with each other in order to make a decision. Joint legal custody is encouraged because it has a degree of effectiveness overtime as parents learn to co-parent together. The child also feels the presence of both parents, which offers the child with emotional satisfaction. However, it is important to note that sometimes it may be difficult to collaborate especially after the first few months after divorce.

Sole Legal Custody: A parent with sole legal custody is the only person mandated to make major decisions on behalf of the child. In this arrangement, it is easier to make vital decisions as there is no consultation. This arrangement is granted when one parent is completely absent requiring the other parent to make decisions on his or her own. A divorce attorney would better be able to make that judgment call for you if your situation fits the bill.

Physical Custody

Physical custody refers to where the child stays most of the time. The types of physical custody include sole, joint and bird’s nest custody.

Sole Physical Custody: In this arrangement, the child physically resides in one location with the non-custodial parent being given visitation rights. In most occasions, this arrangement enables the children to live in the location they previously stayed before divorce and thus, continue with their established routines.

Joint Physical Custody: In this arrangement, both parents live with the children equally. The children can stay with one parent for a certain period of time such as year and the remaining period with the other parent. In this arrangement, children have experience of living with both parents and both parents are given equal parenting share without one being deemed a visitor.

Birds Nest Custody: In this arrangement, the children live in one central location and parents rotate to live with them in the children home. The benefit of this procedure is that children continue to live their lives without interruptions. This arrangement has little change on children lives caused by divorce or separation.

It’s always important though to consult with a child custody attorney in your jurisdiction to mesh out all the details and how they apply to you.

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What’s the Difference Between Alimony and Spousal Support?

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Most people are not familiar with divorce or marital separation procedures, especially when it is their first time dealing with these situations. Therefore, they may not know what is expected of them or what all of the different terms mean. This is why most people hire an attorney to represent them in these matters.

Alimony v. Spousal Support

Even though most people may not know what is involved with child support, they can really become confused when they have to decide between spousal support and alimony.

Understanding the difference between the two types of support will often determine what the spouse will pursue. In fact, people normally pursue the type that will provide them with the greatest financial benefit. Listed below is a brief description of each.

What’s Alimony?

In the past, alimony was the term that most people were familiar with since it described the type of a payment that many husbands made to their ex-wives after their divorce. In fact, in past years, the law did not make any provisions for wives to pay this type of support to their husbands.

Today, the laws have changed substantially so the wives can now pay support to their husbands. Consequently, as a general rule of thumb, spousal support denotes payments that are no longer gender specific. Which means, the husband can make support payments to the wife and the wife can make support payments the husband.

Spousal support can be pursued for at least one of two reasons, separation or divorce. The intent of this law is maintenance so the courts can order a payment at any time, beginning with the separation of the husband and wife. Also, children do not have to be born to the union in order to receive it.

Support Payments

The types of payments can also differ greatly because the courts may order one of the spouses to pay the other spouse in a lump sum award. Or, they may choose to award the spouse that receives the money distribution in periodic payments.

For instance, these payments are often set according to a wide variety of different factors so it is important for each individual to do their research prior to getting to court or agreeing to a settlement. The spousal support, however, is left to the discretion of the court. Some of the factors that play an essential part in setting spousal support amounts involve obligations, resources of each of the parties, health, their age, the actual duration of the marriage, as well as other contributing factors.

Can the Payments be Modified?

Once the court has set the amount for spousal support it cannot be modified unless provisions were made in the original litigation hearing. For instance, if the court decides to they can changes the award amount and the periodic payment time frames.

Understanding the Differences

Understanding the difference between alimony and spousal support is essential for people who have filed for separation or for a divorce. Since most people may hire an attorney to assist with these situations, they can walk their clients through the process so that they can find the best solution for their case.

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What is Considered a Successful Divorce?


A ‘successful divorce’ can mean many different things to different parties involved in the process.  The bottom line is, when the separation of those two (or more, if children are involved) lives happens, that the parties end up with the tools and resources to lead successful, individual lives based on what they each brought to the marriage and contributed during the marriage.

And the Children?

Also, ‘successful divorce’ would indicate that if there are children involved, that their best interests were held above personal disagreement or desires and that the cost both emotionally and financially was not too great for any party involved.

All parties must be ready to move on, that is, after all, the result of a divorce will end with the parties accepting this inevitable fact and moving on, perhaps to bigger and better things!

What about the Happiness?

When a divorce happens, usually there is not much joy involved. In other words, the relationship is tainted with unhappiness.  Both parties end an unhappy relationship, and if a connection is maintained, either as a friendship, or for the sake of children, that the previous relationship is let go and a new one is forged based on the needs of the parties involved.

Many people lose track of these things through all the pain and loss that is so often felt during a divorce. Although there may be a great deal of change and loss that can be faced during divorce proceedings, a successful divorce is one that ends when the marriage ends.

It’s Over


When the divorce papers are granted, it’s ‘over’ and the parties let go and move on, in whatever way they so desire.  Many people forget to let go, and the key to a ‘successful divorce’ is letting go, emotionally, physically, spiritually.

A successful divorce is one where neither party allows their spouse to manipulate them, using guilt or other tactics to try and win an advantage. If this is avoided the outcome for all parties, especially children, will be much better.

No divorce will be considered ‘successful’ if children are used in any way.  Many people going through the divorce process may have well-meaning friends and family who offer ‘legal advice’ based on their own experiences.  Beware!  If you want a ‘successful outcome’ to your divorce, you best keep legal advice from your lawyer and leave the rest to their opinions.

Most people don’t live their married lives thinking ‘I should record this as a contribution to the marriage in case we divorce, but if divorce does come up, one way to have your outcome be as successful as possible is to ensure that you record your contributions to the marriage. Financial or homemaker, all are valid and can be used in court. Keep your records.

And Finally…

Finally, to experience the most ‘successful divorce’ possible, be a team player.  Be willing to settle for less than your initial goals and keep the big picture in mind.  These will all allow you to survive the process, keep your children mentally stable and move on without clinging to the past.

You may come out of an unhappy relationship and realize that everyone has new and better opportunities.

It’s very important to contact a local divorce attorney to learn about your options and to hash our the best strategy possible.

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What Happens to Debt After a Divorce?


What happens to debt after a divorce? Well the first truth is it does not go away and it isn’t always divided equally.

If you are going through a divorce or just contemplating making that decision, the one thing you must address is DEBT.

Depending on your location in the U.S will determine how your divorce is viewed.

Community Property States

There are 9 community property sites which view all debt being equal so even if your spouse has incurred debt on their own behalf with no involvement from you it is accepted as shared debt.

These states are AZ,CA,ID,LA,NV,NM,TX,WA and WI. The other 41 states are equitable distribution states which means single name debts are not the responsibility of the partner. So if you have a huge credit card bill after a divorce, it is still yours you don’t get to share it. So when contemplating this life changing event which is both the fairest and best method to make sure you don’t get an unfair share of the debt.

What Should I Do?

The first action to take is to repay as many debts as possible from the joint assets and reduce your liability. At this stage it should all be listed and laid out in front of your legal representative and a fair and accurate reflection of the situation and with the input from the legal team should be easily achieved.

Once this has been achieved, any joint debt should then be split into two portions. The amount agreed upon with your spouse and once the amount of debt is agreed you should arrange to refinance this to remove your spouse from this debt; you will only be responsible for your agreed share and any subsequent action by your other half will have minimal effect.

The reason for refinancing is not only to reduce the indebtedness but a little known fact is that just because you and your spouse have an agreement on repaying a loan this is not binding on the lender and they can pursue you both singly and jointly for any part of the outstanding amount,so get rid of all joint debt if at all possible.

So if you can, get rid of all debt. If that’s not possible, split joint debts into his and hers and refinance. If neither of these is possible, there is another way normally referred to as asset debt balancing. For example, if you have received a smaller than half share of your assets be it a house, second dwelling, boat, car etc., you can balance all or part of your outstanding debt against this. For example, if half the value of the house is more than your spouse is paying, you can top up your side of the equation by taking a reduced amount but transferring an equivalent amount of debt, but you will need to ensure that this is agreed to with the lender.

Just a few ideas of how to turn a stressful situation around. But if you adhere to the basics and remember these four main factors, you can turn this into an easy proposition. Just think of debt as a negative asset and make sure it is included in the distribution.

It’s never easy but it can be made less worrying by using these few ideas to prepare for the next stage of your life.

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What Does a Family Law Attorney Do?

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Just as the name sounds, a family law attorney handles legal matters between people in a family relationship or domestic relationship.

So…What do They do Exactly?

Most family law attorney firms focus on representing clients in divorce and all of the issues that are related to divorce such as, child custody, visitation rights, child support, alimony and division of property. In cases such as divorce both parties can be highly emotional and your attorney can act as a buffer between you and your spouse and assure that your rights are being preserved. Family law attorneys are usually highly skilled in interpersonal communication and can act as a mediator between all the parties involved – helping to accommodate a better understanding and communication between the parties. As the other party will likely be represented by a family law attorney as well, they can arbitrate an equitable agreement between the parties. If an agreement can not be reached then the case will be heard by a judge and an agreement will be handed down by the court.

Is that it?

Family law attorneys can also draft prenuptial and postnuptial agreements. A prenuptial agreement is a legal document that sets forth how assets would be divided between spouses should a divorce occur. This is done before the marriage ceremony takes place. Some clients prefer to have a postnuptial agreement – after the marriage takes place – which not only sets forth how assets would be divided in case of a divorce but also may cover child custody, visitation rights and more.

How About Domestic Violence?

Some family law attorneys also represent domestic violence victims or perpetrators. They can assist in drafting and filing protection orders and can represent either party in the protection order proceedings. They also can act as advocates for children that have been neglected or abused.

Aren’t the Attorneys Miserable?

Not every case that a family law attorney handles is an unhappy one. Family law attorneys also handle adoptions. It is important for all parties involved to make sure that your attorney is familiar with the laws in your area. Adoption laws can vary greatly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and can several steps to make the adoption legal. Laws also can vary according to the age of the child involved as well as the location of the child. Some family law attorneys specialize not only in adoption but some specialize in adoptions abroad. Having and attorney that is familiar with all of the legal nuances of your particular case can not only save you money but can save you valuable time and un-needed heart ache. Your adoption attorney can help you draft a plan for the adoptive parent to remain part of your adoptive child’s life if that is desired.

Any Specialties?

Keep in mind that while some family law attorneys specialize in certain kinds of cases such as adoption, most have experience in all and specialize in several of the different aspects of family law. Once you find a family law attorney that you are a good match with, it is likely that they will be able to handle any family law issue for you and your family. With this in mind it is important to take your time and find the attorney that best fits your needs and personality.

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