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Call For A Free Consultation: 334-625-1754

Montgomery Family Law Blog

Children benefit when divorcing parents bury the hatchet

Couples going through a divorce in Alabama may wish to spare their children the pain of high conflict in divorce. To do so, these couples should be willing to prioritize their children's well-being over their egos. Going through a divorce in a civil manner may have long-term effects for the children caught in the middle. Parents should act maturely in resolving disputes with their ex-spouses.

The key to relating amicably to an ex-spouse after divorce involves examining the past marriage and the factors that led to its breakdown. Each spouse needs to identify the root cause of past disputes and learn new ways to communicate with the other. By studying past behavior, divorcing couples can learn to anticipate potential disputes and stop them before they occur.

Expensive mistakes during a divorce

Emotions can be very high during a divorce in Alabama, but expressing them loudly either in person or online can be expensive. If one spouse claims that they cannot afford a proposed settlement but is then seen bragging about a vacation or great deal, they may lose their leverage in negotiations. Other types of over sharing emotionally can complicate divorce proceedings, including bragging about a new relationship or trashing an ex-spouse to others.

There are several other ways spouses can make divorce more expensive than it needs to be. A big mistake many people make is to not getting all their paperwork right. Missing account numbers, social security statements, and proof of major assets can affect both the nature of the settlement and the type of benefits a person can receive later in life. This can be a major problem during retirement.

Dependent ex-spouses may benefit from a new financial team

It's not unusual for a dependent spouse in Alabama to opt to keep the same set of financial professionals when a marriage comes to an end. The reasons for doing so may be for the sake of convenience or because of a desire to avoid the hassle of having one more thing on a post-marriage to-do list. However, it's generally advised that dependent spouses assemble a financial team more in tune with their needs and goals. This can be especially beneficial if it was the other person who maintained the relationships with various financial professionals.

Key financial pros typically include financial advisers and accountants. A financial adviser can come on board during the divorce process to help clients determine whether they can afford to keep the marital home. They can also offer input on a dependent spouse's financial outlook post-divorce and confirm that assets from financial accounts have been received or transferred.

What do dads need to know for child custody proceedings?

Fatherhood in Alabama looks much different today than it did even 10 years ago. Dads now take on a large portion of child-rearing duties and are often more actively involved in their kids' lives than ever before. So, do these changing norms have any effect on traditional child custody issues? 

As a dad, you are probably worried about how often you will see your kids after divorce. Even as norms in the home change, family law can be slow to catch up. If you are interested in gaining primary custody of your children, you need to be prepared to prove just how involved of a father you are. 

Studies find joint custody beneficial

Some divorcing parents in Alabama might wonder what type of custody arrangement is best for children. Barring circumstances such as abuse or neglect, most studies have found that children fare significantly better under joint custody. This seems to be the case even when they are toddlers or infants.

Researching dozens of studies, one psychologist found that not only did children benefit from shared custody arrangements but that based on contemporary child development ideas, there is no harm to having toddlers and infants spend the night with the father. More than 100 experts in the field endorsed these findings. Another researcher examined the differences between kids in sole and joint custody scenarios. She found that children in sole custody arrangements were more likely to suffer from stress-related illnesses, depression, anxiety and behavioral problems. Children in a joint custody arrangement had higher academic achievement, better physical and emotional health and better relationships with their parents and others. This held true even in high-conflict divorces and when the children were very young.

New tax laws for alimony mean creative property division

As of Jan. 1, 2019, new regulations replace the law dating back to the 1940s that provided a tax break for those who pay spousal support. The new tax laws remove that tax deduction for payers and relieve the recipient of the obligation to pay taxes on alimony.

While you and your spouse may not make it to court by the deadline for obtaining the old tax breaks, you may still be able to part with a fair financial arrangement. In fact, many Alabama couples are looking for shrewd ways to manipulate their asset division to get the maximum possible tax benefits.

How paying off debt can help a marriage

Alabama couples planning to tie the knot might want to get out of debt before getting married. For those who are already wedded, it's a good idea to make tackling debt a priority. According to a survey by Fidelity, over half of couples are already in debt when they enter a relationship. Around 40 percent of respondents said that financial burdens created a relationship strain. There are also cases in which couples do not start out in debt but they fall into it as they buy things in an attempt to save a strained marriage.

Couples who want to get out of debt must start by understanding exactly how much they owe. Many people underestimate how much student loan or credit card debt they have. They may also be embarrassed about having to make lifestyle changes to take care of deficits. However, once they begin to talk honestly with one another about the debt, they can begin solving the problem.

Dividing 401(k) assets with a QDRO

Alabama couples who are going through a divorce should be mindful of potential mistakes that can cause real problems when they divide their 401(k) assets. One of the greatest sources of conflict in a divorce is the division of 401(k) assets as retirement funds are often a divorcing couple's greatest source of income. When a 401(k) is improperly divided, there may be steep tax penalties. In some cases, improper 401(k) division can even mean one spouse receiving far more to which he or she is entitled.

Individual retirement accounts and workplace retirement plans are not divided the same way. For example, when a couple is dividing a workplace retirement plan, the person who is receiving his or her spouse's benefits needs to use a qualified domestic relations order, or QDRO, to access his or her share. While a QDRO is certainly based on the divorce agreement, this document is a separate entity. Therefore, divorcing couples should take care to look it over with an attorney who is experienced in property division to make sure the contents of the divorce agreement are adequately reflected.

How to offer children stability after divorce

"Birdnesting" is a custody arrangement that some Alabama parents may try after divorce. With birdnesting, children remain in the family home while the parents switch in and out. Most of the time, the parents alternate living in a small apartment. The idea behind birdnesting is to give children a stable environment in which to start adjusting to their parents' divorce. However, experts say that if the arrangement goes on too long, it can be more detrimental than it is helpful.

Experts recommend limiting birdnesting to about three to six months. Beyond this point, they say children can start to feel anxiety about what their lives will be like as they split their time between households. Kids may also develop a false hope that their parents will get back together. Prolonging the arrangement also raises the likelihood that parents will start to run into conflict over sharing homes.

Handling child custody during the holidays can be hard

The holiday season is usually a time of celebration and joy, but divorce can complicate beloved family traditions. As a parent, you may be concerned about where your children will spend Thanksgiving, if you will see them at Christmas or whether you will be able to participate in other seasonal holidays together. While you might feel alone, these are surprisingly common child custody matters that most divorced parents in Alabama deal with.

If you are still adjusting to a new life as a single parent sharing custody with your ex, figuring out your holiday parenting schedule for the very first time will be an understandably emotional experience. However, it does not have to be miserable. Here are a few tips to help you get through the process.

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