Before a divorce can be finalized, there are minimum decisions to be made in several areas.
- Determine child custody arrangement and visitation rights:
- Who has physical custody of the children (sole physical custody or joint physical custody)? This defines who the children live with. Emotionally and financially, this is an important aspect to be decided. The parent with custodial rights will gain certain financial tax advantages that the non-custodial parent will forego.
- What will be the placement and visitation arrangement? Placement refers to the time periods that each parent has the children. Visitation is determined for the non-custodial parent during the custodial parent’s time. Visitation rights may also be defined for grandparents.
- Who has legal custody of the children (sole legal custody or joint legal custody)? The parent(s) with legal custody makes decisions relating to the children’s health, welfare, education.
- Calculate the appropriate amount of child support payments.
- Calculate the appropriate amount of spousal support (aka alimony).
- Collaborate on an equitable division of your property – assets and liabilities (debts).
- Determine how to handle retirement benefits.
- Make decisions related to health insurance for the whole family.
- Make tax related decisions for the year of separation, divorce, and after the divorce.
These decisions will be laid out in an agreement such as a marital settlement agreement, or will be decided by the judge or a guardian ad litem (lawyer for the children). State laws govern how many of these issues are handled. If you have an attorney, he or she will be giving you advice on these items and will be helping you to get resolution.