A divorce settlement is more than just a part of the overall divorce proceedings. It is the core document the court uses to determine the ultimate terms of the divorce. Consequently, every divorce settlement should comprehensively cover several topics, including child custody and parenting time, child support, spousal support, and property.
Child Custody and Parenting Time
Many divorcing parents want to have a flexible parenting or custody agreement. However, this approach can backfire. Not having a set schedule on paper can lead to difficulties down the road. Even in amicable divorces, parents can make assumptions about when they will have their children, such as holidays and birthdays. When those assumptions do not play out, the divorced parent may become upset or angry. It is much better to have a detailed calendar laid out in advance to avoid questions of fairness.
Similarly, all physical custody and legal custody matters should be written into the divorce settlement. Most divorcing couples should spend quite a bit of time talking through custody issues upfront with their family law attorneys. This helps make the transition easier for everyone, especially the children.
If one parent is going to be paying child support, the child support guidelines and expectations should be set forth in the divorce settlement. States issue payment amount guidelines, but every situation is unique. For instance, in high net worth divorces, child support may look very different than in a divorce between parents who fall into the category of middle income earnings range.
In some instances, a spouse is expected to pay alimony or spousal support. This money gives the spouse earning less an extra stream of income for a certain amount of time. For example, in some divorce settlements, spousal support ends when the party receiving the support remarries. In others, it does not end until he or she dies. As with child support, spousal support should be calculated with the help of a divorce lawyer and state law.
Even couples who choose to waive spousal support may want to add it into the divorce settlement. Therefore, it has at least been addressed and documented to reduce the likelihood of later confusion.
What happens to the house the married couple lived in? How about other properties they owned together, such as a vacation cottage or rental condos? And what if someone brought property into the marriage? The divorce settlement is the place where the division of assets should be mapped out, especially who owns them after the divorce is final. If the property is not going to be sold, the divorce settlement will need to detail if one party is going to purchase property from the other or simply take possession of the property.
Chester County Divorce Lawyers at Eckell Sparks Advise Clients on Divorce Settlement Considerations
The attorneys at Eckell, Sparks, Levy, Auerbach, Monte, Sloane, Matthews & Auslander, P.C. are ready to assist divorcing individuals at our Media or West Chester locations. Call us today at 610-565-3701 or complete an online contact form to arrange an initial consultation. Our knowledgeable Chester County divorce lawyers work with clients across southeastern Pennsylvania including the areas of Philadelphia, Chester County, Montgomery County and Delaware County.