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Shared custody gains support for raising kids post-divorce

Florida parents considering divorce might also be getting ready for a fight for custody with their ex-spouse. In the past, many courts have awarded physical custody to one parent, with the other usually seeing their children one night a week and every other weekend. However, this might be changing as evidence is gathered that supports the concept of shared custody as the most beneficial arrangement for children.

According to a study by a Wake Forest University adolescent and educational psychology professor, children are placed with their mothers in 80 percent of custody cases due to a misunderstanding about the impact of conflict on children's outcomes. Conflict can also be exaggerated by parents hoping to get awarded custody. Additionally, while there can be high conflict during the first few years after divorce, this usually decreases as time goes by, but child custody decisions made taking into account this conflict can last for an entire childhood. The study found that the most important thing in determining a child's outcome in the future is the quality of the child's relationship with both parents, not whether there is conflict between the parents.

Property division dilemmas

There are many important financial decisions Florida couples must make when they divorce. Asset division is a major part of the process, and couples who can reach an agreement have a great degree of control over how it will work. As long as the division is equitable and it is approved by the court, assets can be divided however the couple wants. The marital home is often one of the most important assets in the division process, but people should think twice before arguing to keep it.

The family home is a major asset, and it may seem like a win to be able to keep the home after divorce. There are, however, serious risks associated with keeping the property. People may find they can no longer afford upkeep on the house, and they may not be able to sell the house without serious investment in repairs first. While houses generally increase in value over time, there is the risk they will lose value due to changes in the surrounding area or the market.

Tax issues after a divorce

As if going through a divorce was not stressful enough for Sarasota couples, there are also a few issues related to taxes that need to be addressed by them as they start living their separate lives. Dependents, alimony, deductions, credits, and the new filing status are just some of the issues that each party should evaluate before the judge issues the divorce decree.

The first tax change is related to filing status. The Internal Revenue Service will treat a divorced individual as an unmarried taxpayer for the entire year when the dissolution of marriage took place. This means no longer being able to claim the tax benefits that some married couples enjoy when they choose "married filing jointly" as their taxpayer status. The next issue to consider deals with the deduction normally allowed for each dependent child. Athough the IRS assumes that this deduction will be taken by the custodial parent, Form 8332 can be filed when this is not the case as stated in the settlement agreement.

How to handle a toxic divorce

Ideally, a Florida couple whose marriage is coming to an end would be on the same page about ending their relationship. However, it isn't always the case that both parties going through a divorce will do so in a civil manner. If an individual has a high-conflict personality, it may be more likely that the divorce may become a toxic one. Therefore, it may be necessary to have a strategy to deal with this type of situation.

If it is impossible to have a conversation over the phone or face-to-face, it may be best to limit communication to writing. This means communicating through text messages, emails or messages sent by legal counsel. It may also be a good idea to get a support order or other important agreements in writing as it may reduce the odds the other person reneges on a deal.

Shared parenting beneficial for kids

Even though the benefits of shared parenting arrangements are known, physical custody of the children is still awarded to the mother most of the time in divorce courts in Florida and around the country. While this is often done to give the children stability, studies show that the quality of child-parent relationships is what benefits the children the most.

One of the main reasons mothers are still usually awarded physical custody is the belief that the conflict that often remains between just-divorced parents may be too stressful for the children. In some cases, shared parenting agreements puts children right in the middle between two parents who may still be arguing about divorce issues. As such, the court gives custody to mom so that the children have stability.

Co-parenting consistency after a divorce

One issue Florida parents must deal with when co-parenting after they have divorced is how to handle different rules for different households. In general, parents should attempt to be consistent with one another. There are several things they can do to try to reach this.

Parents should sit down with one another and discuss the issues. They should bring a sense of flexibility to this meeting and prioritize the child's well-being. If children are old enough, parents might want to involve them as well. An example of an issue parents may disagree on is bedtime. A child might act as a tiebreaker if parents cannot reach an agreement. In some cases, a parenting class might help. Most family law courts offer parenting classes, or a therapist might recommend one. Parenting classes may be conducted in different ways, but they might give parents a sense of norms as they struggle to make rules for their two households.

Why do I have to pay child support?

It is public policy in the state of Florida that both parents shall be liable for the financial responsibilities of raising a child, regardless of whether they are currently married, romantically involved, divorced or otherwise estranged. As such, Florida family court judges have the authority to establish a child support order to compel a non-custodial parent to support the custodial parent in raising the child.

Generally speaking, child support payments are made directly to the custodial parent, who uses these payments to defray the costs of raising the child. A majority of men are ordered to pay child support, as they commonly held to be the non-custodial parent. Many who pay child support resent this obligation because they see it as a form of spousal maintenance, or they believe that such payments are merely used to finance a custodial parent’s lifestyle. However, these payments are to be used on the vital needs of the children, such as rent, food, and clothes.