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Baltimore Family Law Blog

3 myths about father's rights that need to be debunked

There are sadly many myths about father's rights that make them feel they're in a bad position, even though they may actually have the same rights as the mother. Many men believe they have no chance of winning custody or getting a fair share of visitation upon divorce. They think the court is biased and that they have everything to lose.

Myths like these hurt men, especially since the majority don't want to cut ties with their kids even when they want to eliminate all contact with their ex-wives. Men may want to be primary caretakers, and some want to continue having comfortable relationships with their exes.

Potentially interruptions caused by a divorce

While Maryland residents may believe that their relationship is over when they file for divorce, that isn't necessarily the case. A person might be required to keep his or her former spouse on a health insurance policy. It is also likely that an individual won't be able to cancel an auto insurance policy or other coverage that both spouses have jointly. Former spouses may also need to live with each other temporarily until they can afford to live on their own.

Parents could find that they aren't free to travel with their children. This is to prevent the possibility that a child will be kept in another country while child custody proceedings are ongoing. Depending on the circumstances of a given case, parents may be forced to keep their children in their home state. Local and federal authorities could be asked to apprehend a parent if an order to keep a child in a certain location is violated.

Child support debt accrues while a parent is unemployed

A child support order is typically based on the wages of both parents when the order goes into effect. If the parent paying support loses their job, there are a couple of options available to them. It's important for Maryland parents to understand that their obligation doesn't stop while they are unemployed. Being proactive may help a noncustodial parent avoid the consequences associated with nonpayment.

Parents who are eligible for unemployment benefits may have their child support deducted from those earnings. This may not happen automatically, so the noncustodial parent should inform the unemployment office about their child support order for the deduction to be made.

Gray Divorces Are on the Rise

Across Maryland and the rest of the United States, the overall divorce rate has stabilized in recent years. After years of a steady increase in divorces, this figure now remains steady. However, the divorce rate for couples over fifty is an anomaly, having dramatically increased in recent years. These so-called 'gray divorces" now account for one out of every four divorces nationwide.

What is causing the rise in divorce among older couples? It is in part a numbers game. In 1990, there were 63.5 million Americans over the age of 50. By 2010, that number was 99 million. By 2050, that number is expected to reach 158.5 million Americans. The math is simple; more baby boomers lead to more late-in-life divorces.

Planning for college expenses after divorce

For many Maryland parents, planning for their children's college education may be a costly and burdensome process. This can be exacerbated in the case of a divorce, especially when parents are dealing with many other significant financial concerns during asset and property division. Whether a couple is well-off or struggling for funds, a divorce can be an important time to revisit financial planning decisions about higher education and other key issues that can arise for family finances.

Family finances can remain entangled at many levels even after the end of a marriage. For divorced parents, expenses for the children will often continue to be shared throughout their minor years. However, the divorce itself can make planning more complex, especially if costs like child or spousal support start to mount. In addition, the expenses of maintaining two households can significantly exceed the costs of maintaining one family home.

How to avoid excessive legal fees during a divorce

When Maryland residents think about the financial implications of divorce, many focus on how dividing property, bank accounts, and other assets as well as alimony and child support payments will impact their finances. However, the expense of the actual divorce is often overlooked. Depending on the particulars of the divorce, it can cost between $5,000 to over $1 million to get divorced in the United States.

Divorcing individuals can take steps to minimize the financial toll of divorce by carefully selecting the attorney who will represent them. In many cases, the amount a person will pay for the divorce depends on the attorney they select. It is good to take the time to review the qualifications of a number of attorneys. Then, after selecting a few, meet with them in-person or over the phone. Pay close attention to how well they listen during this first meeting. This will be a great indication of what to expect in the future.

Can you sign your home over to your ex in a divorce?

You and your spouse got married five years after college, and you immediately bought a home together. You lived there for another eight years before a trial separation. You moved out and into an apartment in the city, while your spouse stayed in the house.

Eventually, the trial separation turned into a full divorce. Your spouse -- soon to be your ex -- wanted to keep the home. You had already left, so you felt fine about that. In the divorce decree, your ex agreed to pay the remainder of the mortgage and you agreed to let him or her own the house completely in exchange for other assets. You even took your name off of the property title.

Prenuptial agreements can help protect family wealth

Prenuptial agreements can be an important concern for people in Maryland heading into marriage with significant family wealth. Unless the concept of a prenup was regularly discussed by and normalized in the family, many people may feel awkward, uncomfortable or mistrustful raising the issue of such an agreement. At times, parents may try to force their children into a prenuptial agreement, creating even more stress. This could be the case even when the parents are well-intended and looking to protect family wealth from being divided unnecessarily.

No one wants to go into marriage thinking about divorce; however, it can have a significant effect on finances. While premarital income is generally not considered part of the marital estate, creating an agreement can help to clearly differentiate between family money, like inheritances, and marital funds. Parents who want to protect their family money or business would be well-served by discussing prenuptial agreements on an ongoing basis as a part of financial health and well-being. When parents raise the issue of a prenuptial agreement without that prior discussion, it can seem as if it is an attack on a specific partner of their child, shutting down further communication.

The complexities of a business owner's divorce

For entrepreneurs in Maryland going through a divorce, dealing with the family business can be one of the most complicated parts of property division at the end of the marriage. Asset division is already one of the most contentious aspects of the divorce, and the involvement of a business may only intensify the complexity of the situation. One of the most important questions that can help both spouses to move forward in the process is determining the valuation of the business itself.

During the divorce process, ascertaining a correct value for the business is essential to completing the division of marital assets. All business valuation practices begin with reviewing the financial statements of the company; there are several approaches that can be taken, including the asset, market and income approaches. Each spouse should work with their attorneys and financial professionals to obtain their own valuation of the company.

Nesting as a child custody alternative

Maryland fans of the TV show "Splitting Up Together" may have already been introduced to the concept of bird nesting. This happens when a couple gets a divorce but the children remain in the home while the parents take turns living there. The actor Josh Lucas, who split up with the mother of his 5-year-old son, has also discussed the success of the arrangement.

This approach has both advantages and disadvantages. If the couple is waiting for a lease to end or for the value of their home to rise before they sell it, it can be beneficial. It also prevents children from having to go through immediate upheaval. However, it is important that children understand their parents will not be getting back together. Nesting may work best when it is short term, and it requires a great deal of cooperation from both parents.