A divorce is one of the most stressful events you will endure in your life. If children are involved, it becomes even more trying and extremely emotional. Parents often lose sight of what is in the best interest of their children. Where do the children fit into this whole new life that is being created? Unfortunately, children often become pawns in a divorce when child custody issues are being decided.
There are two basic issues in regards to custody:
- Physical or residential custody – Which parent the children will live with.
- This parent is referred to as the Residential Custodian. Legal custody – who will make the decisions on behalf of the children concerning health, education, religion, and general welfare.
A separation agreement (sometimes called a Pendente Lite Order) is a formal agreement between you and your spouse. It provides for support and other financial conditions until the divorce is final.
Your separation agreement is something you and your spouse should negotiate.
What the agreement should contain:
- How much child support is to be paid (if applicable). How often it is to be paid and the way it will be paid.
- A set visitation schedule.
- How much alimony (if any) is to be paid.
- Who is responsible for the joint bills.
- Who will remain in the marital residence (formally known as your home), who will pay for the upkeep of it, if one party is paying all the bills will the expenses for upkeep be allocated at the time of the divorce, or if the house is sold.
- If you are due any type of joint refund such as tax refund, determine how they will be split. If you can’t reach an agreement often times those funds end up in an escrow account until the issue is settled.
- If you own a home, who will take the tax deduction for the mortgage interest and real estate taxes if you file separately. Usually it is the person who is paying the mortgage; however, if one person needs the deduction and the other doesn’t need it, this could be a good negotiating point.
- If you have children, who will take the tax deduction for the children if you file separately.