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Annapolis Maryland Family Law Blog

Paying for a child when the parents are no longer together

When parents end their marriage, they are still required to take care of their children. This means paying for food, shelter and other needs that they may have. Generally speaking, this is easier when parents in Maryland and elsewhere can communicate effectively. Ideally, they will have regular meetings to discuss their child's current and future financial needs. These meetings can occur over the phone or by email if it isn't possible to get together in person.

Creating a detailed divorce decree can minimize the opportunity for conflicts to arise in the future. It should spell out who is responsible for paying a child's medical or educational expenses or how they will be split between each parent. Computer programs can help parents keep track of a child's financial needs and who is responsible for taking care of them.

Planning for a divorce

Maryland spouses who are thinking about splitting up may be unsure about the right time to get a divorce. According to psychology and family law professionals, summer is the prime time to end a marriage. The summertime gives a couple the opportunity to decide if divorce is a wise choice for their situation. Individuals can take the time to determine exactly what they want from a divorce. It is also a good period to fully understand the complete legal ramifications.

A 2016 study conducted by researchers at the University of Washington showed that divorce filings tend to increase in August and March. If there are marriage issues, they tend to get worse when the couple spends more time together.

Student loan debt and divorce: one more hurdle

Maryland couples who are going through the divorce process are often overcome with emotions. Separating from a spouse is hard enough without the added problems associated with the need to divide assets and debts. Those who have an outstanding student loan may not know whether they will need to pay back the entire loan or if the court will also hold their spouse as a responsible party.

One way to understand the issue is that any student loan debt incurred prior to themarriage constitutes a separate and private debt. If people have a $150,000 student loan before they get married, it is their sole responsibility to pay it back. However, a debt acquired during a marriage is thought of as marital debt, meaning that both spouses are equally responsible.

Things to consider when creating a parenting agreement

Divorce is sure to shake up your life in many ways, including your relationship with your children. Fortunately, through the creation of a parenting agreement, you can ensure that your children are put in the best possible situation in the future.

The creation of a parenting agreement comes about during the divorce process, with both parents negotiating on details related to custody and visitation.

How divorce can impact business owners

Most couples are aware that divorce can impact many aspects of life, but many are surprised by the challenges that owning a business can bring. Since a business can represent the majority of marital assets and income, dividing up ownership can become a complicated aspect of the divorce proceedings. Which parts of a business qualify for division largely depends on how much business income the owner claims for his or her own tax liability, and the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 may provide a guideline for making this determination.

No matter how hard a business owner decides to draw the line between the business and the personal, a certified business appraiser will need to evaluate the total worth of the company. It's also important to accurately calculate the available value. Based on this number, one spouse may decide to buy the other out of ownership. If this cannot be accomplished through a lump sum of money, promissory notes or other creatives structuring of alimony payments may be adequate.

Divorce and international travel with children

When parents in Maryland get a divorce and one or both of them has ties to another country, they may want to put some rules in place about traveling with the child internationally. In other circumstances, one parent may want to take the child on an overseas trip while the other parent wants to be involved in the decision-making around that.

Even if parents do not share physical custody, if they share legal custody, both parents have the right to input on the child's international travel. The best way to address this is with as much information and documentation as possible. This essentially requires a two-pronged approach. One element is making sure that parents are transparent and in agreement with each other about the trip. The other element is making sure all the required documentation is in place to travel. For the traveling parent, this could include paperwork indicating permission to travel internationally with the child.

How divorce can impact credit scores

Overlooking financial issues that could impact credit scores could have long-term consequences for anyone ending a marriage in Maryland. On a positive note, simply getting a divorce does not automatically affect somebody's credit score. Even so, it's not always easy to separate joint financial obligations post-divorce.

Creditors and debt collectors do not honor divorce decrees, even if the documents state who is responsible for what debt obligations. For example, if a settlement agreement states one ex will keep the car and be solely responsible for payments, the other spouse's credit score could still be affected if payments are missed. Also, getting divorced doesn't automatically end responsibility for joint accounts opened during the marriage. Even if the divorce decree shifts responsibility for certain accounts to one spouse, credit reports will reflect the account as being open for both former spouses.

Tips for dividing parenting time during summer vacation

While your children enjoy this time of the year in Maryland since they aren't in school, it's sure to bring some challenges to your life. This is particularly true if you're divorced and share parenting time with your ex-spouse.

Dividing parenting time during summer vacation can be difficult, especially since both parents want to spend as much time as possible with their children. Here are several tips that can help you avoid disagreements:

  • Plan your schedule in advance: It's not possible to plan out the entire summer, as you never know when things will change, but a basic schedule will go a long way in keeping you and your ex on the same page. For example, if you plan on taking a vacation with your children, share the details of the trip with your ex as soon as possible.
  • Talk to your children: Don't make plans without including your children, as you may schedule something that conflicts with another activity. When you include your children in all decisions, it's easier to settle on a schedule that suits everyone.
  • Discuss childcare with your ex: During the school year, you may not worry about this as much since your children are accounted for during the day. However, during the summer months, questions regarding childcare often move to the forefront. Discuss this as soon as possible, to avoid a situation in which there's no one to watch your children during summer vacation.
  • Remain flexible: Even with a schedule in place, there will be times when you have to make changes. For example, if you get called out of town for work, you may need to change the weekend that you visit with your children. If you're flexible yourself, there's a greater chance that your ex will take the same approach.

What to know about child support after divorce

When parents get a divorce in Maryland, one may have to pay child support to the other. In general, income and child-related expenses such as health care are part of the calculation for support payments. Both courts and parents may be flexible in taking various factors into account.

With the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, child support is no longer a factor in taxes. However, the custodial parent can usually claim their kid as a dependent on taxes. Some parents may want to share this ability. If they only have one child, parents could take turns claiming the dependent on alternate years. Parents who have more than one child may agree to split the claimed dependencies. Divorced parents may want to work with a tax advisor on these issues.

Courts more open to joint custody than in past decades

Maryland fathers who get a divorce are more likely to get a significant amount of time with their children or even share custody than they were several decades ago. The attitude of the legal system has shifted to one where legal custody is generally presumed. Courts are also more open to shared physical custody. However, this can present challenges if parents want equal time since it can be difficult for working parents to move children back and forth during the week.

One 2014 study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that in 1980, mothers in the state were awarded sole custody 80 percent of the time. In 2008, this only happened 42 percent of the time. According to one professor who specializes in family law, there are social trends that explain some of these shifts. Attitudes toward divorce and the legal system itself began to change after a surge of early baby boomer marriages in the 1950s and 1960s were followed by divorces. The high rate of custody for women reflected the belief at the time that children should be with their mothers.

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