Some divorced couples get along so well they continue to celebrate holidays together or take vacations together with their children and perhaps a new spouse. Other divorced couples use their children as pawns in a game of manipulation and vengeance. Most divorced couples fall somewhere between these two extremes.
The manner in which you travel through the divorce process can determine the future relationship you have with your children and can also affect your financial and emotional health. An experienced Philadelphia divorce attorney can make an important contribution to your future well-being.
Would you both like to dance at the wedding of your children? The manner in which you determine child custody can have a long-lasting impact on your children, as well as yourself and your spouse.
The care of children comes in two basic forms: legal custody and physical custody. In both cases the Philadelphia judges have a preference for shared custody; however, there is quite a bit of flexibility in how the parenting time is shared. The court will consider a parenting plan which outlines how you and your spouse intend to share custody. Some time-sharing arrangements include:
- Shared physical custody in an every-other-week plan
- Shared physical custody in a six months at a time plan
- Primary physical custody (one residential parent) with every other weekend custody for the nonresidential parent and one weekday or weeknight visitation on the opposite week
- Primary physical custody (one residential parent) with daily contact by the nonresidential parent (after school care, for example)
- Sole physical custody with limited visitation (child never leaves the physical custody of the residential parent)
When one parent has primary physical custody, the noncustodial parent may owe child support. The amount owed is determined by a formula set out by the state. The state has a calculator which can be used to provide a rough estimate, although the actual amount will vary depending upon other factors such as retirement contributions, health care insurance and tax filing status.
If both parents file as single with no deductions, the child support amounts could be:
- $5,000 per month net income for the noncustodial parent, and $0 income for the custodial parent could result in $831 child support payment per month for one child in Philadelphia County.
- If each parent earns a net income of $2,500 per month, the noncustodial parent could pay $431.50 per month.
- $5,000 per month net income for the noncustodial parent, $0 income for the custodial parent and two children could result in $1,192 in child support.
You and your spouse should also discuss other child support issues such as how to pay for braces, extracurricular activities, summer camp or day care.
Child Support Enforcement
It is not permitted to withhold child support payments as punishment for breaches in the visitation schedule. It is also not permitted to withhold visitation privileges as a consequence of nonpayment of child support.
If child support is ordered by the court, it must be paid. The parent receiving the payment can go to the court for assistance in collecting past-due child support payments. The legal options include wage garnishment, withholding state or federal income tax refunds, driver’s license suspension and other consequences.
If a parent with sole physical custody or shared physical custody wishes to relocate, a child custody modification will need to be obtained from the court. Neither parent has permission to relocate with the children, without the court’s approval. The court will determine whether or not to allow relocation based upon the best interests of the child. If the child is old enough, the child’s wishes will be taken into consideration.
Marital property is any asset or debt that has been obtained during the marriage. Nonmarital property is any asset that was owned prior to the marriage, and which has remained separate during the marriage. For example, if you had a 401(k) and did not make any additional contributions to the fund, it could be considered separate property.
You are encouraged to come to an agreement with your spouse about the division of property. If you cannot, the court will make the decision for you based on the following factors:
- Any contribution one of you made to the education or training of the other
- Any prior marriages
- How long you were married
- Tax considerations
- The contribution each of you has made to the buildup of martial property
- You and your spouse’s age, health, current income and income-earning capability
- Your standard of living as a couple
Divorce And Bankruptcy
If you and your spouse are considering bankruptcy, it is important that you consult with an attorney for divorce as well as bankruptcy advice. One situation that could occur is that a couple divorces and then spouse A files for bankruptcy. When that happens the creditors will go after spouse B even if the debts were assigned to spouse A in the divorce decree. It is important to understand that alimony is not a debt that goes away during bankruptcy. The amount would still be owed.
If you and your spouse are a high net worth couple, there are additional considerations during divorce which should be considered. For example, a forensic accountant may be required to track down overseas bank accounts or acquisitions. It would be important to work with a divorce lawyer who has the right kind of financial as well as divorce experience to handle the following types of issues:
- Multiple real estate holdings
- Illiquid assets such as rare artwork, antique cars or similar property
- Family-owned business valuations
- Silent partner in Limited Liability Partnerships
- Foreign assets
- Patents or intellectual property
Why Hire A Philadelphia Divorce Attorney?
Whether you have been married for a short period of time, or a long one, the legal advice of an experienced divorce lawyer can be critical when certain conditions exist such as business ownership, child custody, domestic violence and many other issues. Divorce can be an emotional experience. When you have an experienced attorney to represent your best interests, you may be able to make decisions with less acrimony and with a healthier view of the future. Your children may thank you for it.
How To Choose A Divorce Lawyer
There are nuances to divorce law, so it would be important that you select an attorney who focuses on family law in general and divorce law in particular. You should also feel comfortable speaking with your attorney, so a face-to-face meeting could be important to you as well. When you’re looking for a divorce attorney, make certain that he or she practices in the county in which you live, such as Philadelphia County.
Divorce is not an uncommon event, although each person who goes through it does so on his or her own terms and with his or her own set of experiences. Keep in mind that your attorney provides advice regarding options, although the choices are always yours to make. The first decision you make is the choice of a lawyer to represent your interests. Choose wisely.