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When expecting a child or when their children are still very young, a parent will sometimes make the decision to take some time away from the workplace to stay home and care for the kids. Sometimes, they will move to a job where they can work from home or part-time. Others, if the family can afford it, will take a sabbatical from their career completely.

Usually, it's women who do this. However, men sometimes become stay-at-home parents as well.

If you have a new baby or young children, you're likely not thinking of divorce. However, if you've decided to be a stay-at-home parent, you should give some thought to protecting your financial future if your marriage were to end.

It can be difficult to re-enter the workplace after you've been away for a time. Even if you do, you likely won't be able to get the salary you'd have if you'd remained in your job.

That's why a postnuptial agreement may be a good idea. A postnup is essentially the same thing as a prenuptial agreement. However, it's negotiated and put in place after a couple is married.

With a postnup, a stay-at-home spouse can stipulate that if they divorce, their spouse will fairly compensate them for the amount of money they gave up by being out of the workforce or taking a lower-paying, less time-consuming job so they could focus on caring for the children. This may be done through spousal support or in the divorce settlement itself.

With the help of an experienced family law attorney, you can estimate how much money you're forgoing while you're out of the workforce and how that will impact your earnings potential in the future. They can help you work toward an agreement that will protect you financially in a divorce.

As with a prenup, both partners have to agree to the terms of a postnup. That's why it's important that you and your spouse each have your own attorney involved in the process.

Orion MeyersFamily Law

Parents are used to believing they know what’s best for their child and they are usually loathe to give up that control, But if parents can’t agree on child custody during a divorce, a judge will hold a custody hearing during which each parent can state his or her arguments for legal and physical custody of the child.

However, it’s not the parents’ wishes that are paramount to the judge. The judge will determine child custody arrangements based on the best interests of the child.

Health, safety and welfare of the child

Although there is no standard definition of “best interests of the child,” factors that are included in determining the child’s best interest include the child’s:

  • Best chance for health, safety and/or protection.

  • Relationship with siblings

  • Need for consistency in education, community and family

  • By age 11, their own wishes

  • Religious and cultural considerations

In addition, the judge will consider both parents’:

  • Ability to provide for the child’s daily physical, emotional, educational and special needs care

  • Ability to provide a stable, nurturing environment

  • Mental and physical health

  • History of drug or alcohol abuse

  • History of physical abuse

  • Criminal charges and convictions

Generally speaking, it’s in the child’s best interest to have a loving, close relationship with both parents. The courts don’t look at one factor but look at a number of factors relating to both the child and parents to determine the custody situation that will create the child’s ultimate happiness and safety.

Visitation, third-party custody

If custody with either parent will result in danger, a judge has the ability to award custody to a third-party – such as an uncle, aunt or grandparent – who has already provided a loving, stable environment for the child.

In addition to visitation rights for the parent who does not have physical custody of the child, the court may also grant visitation rights to another relative if it is in the best interest of the child.

Divorce is a difficult and emotional procedure. It’s hard to separate your feelings from what may be best for your child. To make sure your rights are protected, seek out the advice of a qualified, experienced attorney.

Orion MeyersFamily Law

When courts are called on to make decisions regarding child custody, the overriding consideration is what's in the best interests of the child. Ideally, both parents are able to have some kind of relationship with their children, even if one parent gets primary custody and the other only has visitation privileges. In cases where neither parent is physically and/or emotionally equipped to safely care for a child, a court may award guardianship to a third party, such as a grandparent.

Often, people assume that if a parent has a substance abuse problem such as alcoholism, they can't be awarded custody or even visitation rights. However, that's not necessarily the case. If the parents can't agree on custody and a judge has to decide, they will generally consider how that parent has behaved around their children and if they've done anything to threaten their children's safety or well-being.

If you believe that your co-parent's drinking is placing your children at risk, you'll need to convince the court of that. This is true whether you're seeking custody as you go through a divorce or you believe that your co-parent's drinking has become a greater problem since the original custody order was put in place.

If you're the parent who is facing a potential loss of custody or visitation rights because of your drinking, you can work to show the court and your co-parent that you can be trusted to properly care for your kids when they're with you. That's typically an easier task if you haven't done anything to harm your children or been abusive to them.

Recognizing your problem and seeking treatment are important first steps. Some parents agree to use a remote alcohol monitoring tool. This tool, which is similar to a Breathalyzer, lets people prove that they have no alcohol in their system. Results can be transmitted to the court, the co-parent and/or other designated parties. Some people agree to daily monitoring. Others use the monitoring system only around their parenting times.

Whether you're the parent with alcohol issues or your co-parent is, it's important to understand how alcoholism and other substance abuse issues are factored into custody and parenting time decisions by courts. Your attorney can answer your questions and help you work to seek the parenting arrangement you believe is best for your kids.

Orion MeyersFamily Law

While many people are able to go through a divorce without enduring a trial, there are some who must have the court determine the outcome. If you think that you and your ex won't be able to work things out together, you should start to prepare for the possibility of a trial. We know that this might not be a pleasant experience, but we can try to help make things less stressful for you.

It is important for you to determine which decisions will be decided by the court. In many cases, child custody is the contentious matter. But even discussing who will get which assets can be challenging in a bitter divorce. We are here to help you weigh your options and evaluate the possibilities of resolution to your case.

When you are getting ready for the trial, decide which aspects of the divorce are worth fighting for. As an example, you may feel strongly that the children should attend a specific school while your ex might want them to attend another one. By deciding what is important now, you won't have to waste your efforts on unnecessary battles.

Our dedicated legal professionals are here to help you prepare for the trial so that we can present your side of the matter to the court. We want the judge to see why you feel your desires are the ones that should prevail. You may find that you feel more secure in your decisions and that you have less stress as you finish the journey and start your new life.

Orion MeyersFamily Law

Most people who get divorced don’t feel completely amicable toward one another. However, remaining civil may be important if the two of you share children.

The following situations are very typical for couples who are getting divorced. Some might be considered necessary to the split, while others are just plain petty.

Withholding access information for virtual accounts

It’s more than likely that you shared several online accounts with your spouse. While the divorce will separate joint bank accounts, others, such as Netflix, Amazon or Hulu, could fall through the cracks. So, should you continue sharing these accounts or change their passwords and keep them for yourself?

In most cases, exes should not continue sharing. While deciding which of you should keep the accounts, consider who is paying for them and who is using them. For example, if you pay for the Netflix account, but your spouse is the one using it regularly, it isn’t petty to want to stop paying for your subscription. However, it could be considered petty to deliberately intend to hurt your ex by deleting the account, without offering it to them first.

Remember that biting the bullet and creating a new account for yourself may save your energy for higher-priority battles.

Taking the family pet

Remember that animals are considered property. If your ex purchased an animal before the two of you got married, the animal is your ex’s property. That means taking him or her without permission could be considered stealing unless you can prove the animal was in imminent danger under your ex’s care.

If the two of you shared the animal, consider why you want to take the pet. It’s petty to take a pet to hurt your ex. However, if you have been responsible for the costs and care of the animal and want to fight for it during your property division negotiations, you should keep the animal during your separation.

Hiding assets

Most people hide assets during a divorce to make it appear that they have less during property division so that they can ultimately come out with more. Not only is this petty behavior but it’s also illegal to lie about the number of assets you have while under oath.

Examples of hiding assets could include “gifting” money or expensive assets to friends and family to hold onto or putting items in a secret storage unit until the divorce is over.

The only situation in which hiding assets isn’t petty is if you fear that your ex would damage, sell or take important assets from you. However, rather than hiding these assets permanently, you should alert the courts of your concerns. An attorney can help you work with the courts to secure temporary permission to take these assets before your property division proceeding.

Orion MeyersFamily Law