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Rockville Maryland Family Law Blog

Preserving a college fund after a marriage ends

A divorce in Maryland or any other state could have an impact on a child's college education. In some cases, this is because a parent may be required to dedicate money to paying child and spousal support ahead of continuing to fund a son or daughter's higher education. In other cases, the increased cost of running two households may make it more difficult to save for future educational expenses.

While not all parents will be required to pay for their child's college tuition and related costs, some will be asked to. Typically, a parent will be asked to pay for the best possible education with whatever money is available to do so. In the 2017-2018 school year, the cost of a private four-year school was $46,950. In that same year, the cost of going to a public school in the child's home state was $$20,770.

Collaboration reduces the impact of divorce

When a Maryland couple chooses to get a divorce, it can have both emotional and financial ramifications. Increasingly, those who are going through the end of a marriage are consulting financial planners as well as attorneys. This is because few people want a divorce to result in additional debt that could be avoided by opting for collaboration as opposed to litigation. Generally speaking, a divorce costs anywhere from $1,500 to $15,000.

Whatever a person chooses to do, it is important to think through that decision carefully. Accepting a settlement too early in the process could result in a deal that isn't in an individual's favor. When contemplating a deal, former spouses should be sure to think about more than just keeping the home or keeping a car. Individuals should also consider how insurance policies and other assets will be divided. How these policies are accounted for could have an impact on a couple's children as well.

Entrepreneurship and marriage can be a difficult partnership

There are many business concerns to occupy the minds of entrepreneurs and small business owners in Maryland, but personal concerns can also be of particular importance. Reports estimate that around 50 percent of marriages end in divorce, and that includes marriages strained by the stresses of a business or entrepreneurial activity. Business issues can be reflected in a marriage; for example, money issues can be some of the most stressful problems a couple can deal with. When a couple is suffering financially, the difficulties of dealing with unpaid bills and rising expenses can overwhelm a relationship.

Similarly, a failing or financially strapped business can also be stressful for a marriage, especially when the couple's own investment is on the line. Stress about the future of the business may strain their relationship. However, even when the business is financially successful, there can be a risk to the marriage. For example, many couples who divorce cite time management as a major concern. The business can occupy the time of one or both partners to the exclusion of their personal relationship.

Joint legal custody and shared decision-making after divorce

Many Maryland parents considering divorce may find that dealing with child custody can be the most difficult part of separating. While both parents may love their children deeply, ending the marital relationship could mean less family time. By developing a custody agreement that works for everyone, divorcing families can establish stability.

Many family courts prefer various forms of joint custody in cases where there is no neglect or abuse. When going through a divorce, it's important for parents to understand the difference between joint legal and physical custody. Joint legal custody means that both parents have the right to make big choices about education, religion and health care for the child. However, it does not necessarily mean that they share equal physical time with the child. A court may grant joint legal child custody while still deciding that one parent should have primary physical custody and the other visitation time.

Are you and your spouse planning on an uncontested divorce?

If you have decided on divorce, you may also have decided that an uncontested divorce would be preferable over litigation.

While there are many benefits, there are also certain obstacles that you must overcome. Are you and your spouse good candidates for an uncontested divorce? Will it work for you?

Mediation can help resolve child custody disputes

When people in Maryland make the decision to divorce, one of the most complex aspects of ending the marriage is often resolving child custody issues. While the parents' romantic relationship is over, it is often very difficult for both the parents and the children to move from full-time presence with one another to shared time between homes. Each parent may have differing views on how exactly child custody time should be split. This can be accentuated during a contentious divorce, and it is possible for the relationship between parents and children to suffer as a result.

This is one reason why many couples find divorce mediation to be a promising framework when dealing specifically with child custody issues. Mediation involves both parents and their lawyers working together to develop a parenting plan that will set the framework for their co-parenting relationship after the divorce. The goal of both parents is to achieve the best outcome for their children and to come to shared understandings about how they can work together to achieve that vision.

Issues that arise in divorce for older couples

What is sometimes called "gray divorce" is on the rise, and it means that more older couples in Maryland may be divorcing than in previous generations. For those who have not been active participants in managing the household finances, this could mean having to deal with such matters for the first time in their lives.

According to a survey by UBS Global Wealth Management, these spouses tend to disproportionately be women. The organization surveyed 1,500 couples and more than 600 divorced or widowed women who had at least $250,000 for investments. It found that 56 percent of married women allowed their spouses to make the major investment decisions. The women whose marriages had ended cautioned against this, with 94 percent saying that in retrospect they should have insisted on financial transparency. More than half also said that the end of their marriages produced some surprises about the marital finances including debt and overspending.

Housework arguments can be a warning sign for a marriage

It may be no surprise that couples in Maryland who eventually decide to divorce are more likely to argue about a range of issues before the end of the marriage. However, one study indicates that arguments over relatively mundane issues like housework and the distribution of chores can be a significant factor in a split, not only fights over issues that more immediately indicate a serious clash of values, such as finances and parenting.

In a report issued by Harvard Business School, researchers noted that a high level of reported arguments about cleaning in the house could be an indicator of future divorce. There were 3,000 couples interviewed for the survey, and the researchers found that 25 percent of divorcing couples noted that housework disagreements were a primary factor in the split. The study also noted that when couples had funds to resolve the issue by hiring a cleaning service, they were more likely to save their marriage. The issue may not simply be cleaning, of course; people with higher incomes are less likely to face stress-inducing financial crises.

Financial planning is essential during a divorce

The best time to prepare for divorce is well ahead of the actual court filing. Therefore, unhappy Maryland spouses interested in protecting their finances should take steps to minimize the harmful effects of marital dissolution. Every situation is different, but there are some basic precautions that can help make the financial transition to post-divorce life a bit easier.

Keeping a personal checking account is important for anyone who thinks divorce could be in the future. Doing so transparently is recommended to avoid being later accused of hiding assets. However, having access to money for legal fees and living expenses is critical. A good rule of thumb is saving or setting aside roughly three months of living expenses in addition to the cost of a legal retainer.

Have all your assets been identified pending distribution?

If the property distribution phase of your divorce is coming up, you may have concerns as to whether your spouse has appropriately listed all the marital assets.

Your spouse is in business for himself. He has done very well, but has he done better than he lets on? You have the feeling that not all your marital assets are out in the open. Is a closer look in order?

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