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Baltimore Family Law Blog

Tasks for post-divorce life

After a divorce has been finalized, a former couple in Maryland may be very pleased. Divorce can be a process that many people find emotionally, financially and mentally draining. However, there are still some things exes will have to do after the divorce to ensure that they can fully go their separate ways.

One important task that individuals should complete after a divorce is to make sure that they update all of their beneficiary designations. If they should perish without having changed their beneficiaries, their ex-spouse could receive their benefits. Beneficiary designations should be updated on all retirement accounts, annuities, IRAs, life insurance policies as well as all transfer-on-death and pay-on-death brokerage and bank accounts.

While still not the norm, joint custody is more common today

At one time, it was fairly common for courts in Maryland and other states to side with mothers when there was a need to make custody decisions. According to one study, this is exactly what happened about 80 percent of the time 1980. But that figured dropped to around 40 percent nearly three decades later. It's a reflection of an increasingly common preference for joint custody or shared parenting.

Nowadays, courts are more likely to approach cases involving parenting issues with a presumption of joint custody, or joint legal custody. For physical custody, which deals with where the child primarily lives and sleeps, mothers are still likely to be favored. This is often because of the proximity to a child's school and similar considerations.

The importance of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act

The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act was approved in 1968 and changed the way jurisdiction was afforded in custody cases. Prior to this date, any court in the United States could exercise jurisdiction in a child custody case if the child was in that state.

There were some problems with that, of course, with the potential for a parent to take a child to a different state and seek custody rights, even if they were not awarded in another state. Additionally, it meant that the parent with custody could decide where to go to get the best chance of having custody rulings made in their favor.

The basics of co-parenting after a divorce

Above all else, divorced parents in Maryland and elsewhere are advised to keep their children's best interests in mind. This is just one piece of advice typically given to divorced individuals looking to successfully co-parent after a marriage ends. Barring dangerous situations, it's often best for a parent to not keep a child from another parent who may be unreliable or have other flaws. Doing so may cause them to falsely idolize that individual.

When it comes to co-parenting after a divorce, it can also help if the same basic rules apply to both households to maintain consistency. Confusion involving scheduling may be minimized by using an annual calendar with important dates highlighted that's kept in both homes. If there's the potential for conflict between former spouses, it may be better to confirm arrangements via email or text message instead of with phone calls.

Tech issues to address during divorce

The to-do list for Maryland couples preparing for divorce can get quite large. Unfortunately, password protection for digital accounts often gets lost in the shuffle. It is commonplace for couples to know all of each other's important passwords. It is also very likely that spouses share online accounts, such as those for financial accounts, movie streaming services or popular forums.

A future ex-spouse who wants to cause complications during or after a divorce may use the knowledge of those passwords to do so. This is why it is important for separating partners to change the passwords for all of the accounts that they intend to keep. They can use online services to generate and organize highly secure passwords.

Divorcing couples must cooperate when selling their marital home

Selling a house is a stressful experience in the best of circumstances. Maryland residents selling a house during a divorce experience an additional layer of challenges. Usually, cooperation between divorcing parties is not easy. However, if a divorcing couple is going to sell their home and they want to get any money out of the sale, they need to be able to cooperate with each other.

A potential issue is determining what repairs will be done on the home before the home is sold. Obviously, the better condition the home is in, the more money it could garner on the market. A married couple not going through a divorce may be able to communicate with each other and make decisions about where the money will come from in order to pay for the repairs and what repairs are necessary. That type of communication and coordination becomes challenging when a couple is going through the divorce process, but it is necessary nonetheless.

Dealing with dependent tax credits after divorce

Divorcing parents in Maryland may need to decide who will claim the children on their taxes. In fact, this could be addressed in the divorce agreement. If exes fail to do so, the IRS will accept the claim of the parent who files first. If a parent who is not entitled to make the claim does so, sorting it out after the fact can be complicated.

The advantages of being able to claim a child can be significant. These parents may be able to file as Head of Household, which means they could potentially claim the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit. The personal exemption was removed by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, but the Child Tax Credit doubled.

Unwed fathers can protect their right to visitation and custody

You and your girlfriend never got married, but you decided to start a family together. You lived together for several years, but you both soon realized that your relationship wasn't working out.

Now, you share a child, a home and many of your assets, but since you're not married, you're in a tough position. You know that there is a risk that you'll have to fight for custody of your child.

Electronic communication can bring divorced parents, kids closer

According to a recently published study, Maryland children of divorce may benefit more from regular communication with their parents than from their parents having a good relationship with each other. While it has been assumed that the relationship between the parents is a significant factor in a child's adjustment to divorce, study results did not support this.

Researchers identified several aspects of a child's relationship with the parent as well as putting each relationship between divorced parents into a category of cooperative, conflicted or moderately engaged. They found that how the parents related to one another had little impact on the child at all. However, communication was important, and parents who communicated with their children monthly or less did not know as much about their children.

Planning ahead for divorce as a business owner

Business owners in Maryland may need to consider the future when they decide to marry. While few people want to think about divorce before they even begin their married life, this is a necessity for entrepreneurs. In many cases, investors like venture capitalists may even require proof that a business is safeguarded in case of divorce before making a serious investment in a firm. Because a business can be such a key asset, it's important to think about how a divorce could affect its future.

In many cases, both spouses are very involved in a business. Therefore, protection should not be designed to strip legitimate rights from one spouse. By developing an agreement on how to handle the business, both spouses can protect their interests as well as the viability of the company. One mechanism that a couple can use is a prenuptial agreement. If a spouse starts a business after marriage, they may want to consider a postnuptial agreement on the enterprise.