Divorce can be expensive, but it is not possible to share a divorce lawyer with your spouse. Like criminal attorneys, it is impossible for family law attorneys to represent two people on opposite sides of a dispute.
Mediation, however, is a family law practice that uses intervention techniques to peacefully resolve disputes between spouses to ensure that the marriage ends as amicably as possible, before the terms are finalized by divorce lawyers. Here are some family law mediation tips to make sure you cover all of the bases:
- Distribution of Property (Assets/Liabilities)
Do you still live together? Who will take the house? Car? Family pet? Do you own property elsewhere? While it may seem tedious, you must make a list of everything that you own jointly or consider to be “ours,” not “mine.” This could be as simple as deciding who gets what, or result in more complicated issues of ownership.
- Child Custody and Parenting Time
Custody can be tricky, to massively understate the situation. In most cases of divorce, the mother gets full or primary custody, but this is not a hard and fast rule. When deciding the custody of your child or children, it’s important to put the child’s welfare first. If one parent receives primary custody, will the child have to switch schools or healthcare providers? Uprooting a child can have detrimental effects on them, but these effects can be minimized in mediation. Some solutions include weekend, holiday, or summer month custody. In other cases, a parent can file for visitation rights, where the other parent has full custody of the child, but they are still able to see them on predetermined days.
- Child Support
In most cases, non-custodial parents are required to pay child support to help with the child’s expenses. Since becoming a single parent often requires more financial responsibility, many request child support terms to help with basic living expenses. Healthcare is another big portion of many child support mediation sessions. A common solution to health costs is that each parent pays half of the child’s medical bills.It’s also important to discuss the consequences of not paying child support. Only 62.3% of money owed in child support was received in 2011, amounting to $37.9 billion.
If your retirement funds are joint, it’s likely that you will want to have them split. Determining how much money each party takes from the retirement fund can be a tricky measure, especially if you don’t have complete records of your deposits to the account. A mediator at a family law practice can help you redistribute the funds among yourselves in an agreeable manner.
After a divorce, you will both need to file your taxes differently. For example, you may both become the head of household and may claim dependents. In conjunction with discussing custody, you must discuss who claims the children in their taxes.
Regardless of the status of your marriage, it’s wise to see a mediator at a family law practice before going into a divorce blindly. For family law advice in Orange County, contact our child custody attorneys right away.