Are you in the middle of a divorce that looks like the battle between Trump and Cruz? Do you think the candidates look presidential or childish? How about you and your spouse? While it is not possible for all divorces to be amicable, it is possible for divorcing couples to be courteous and to strive for what is fair and reasonable for each and what is best for the children. In fact, the requirements for a divorce in Massachusetts include a determination by a judge that the terms are fair and reasonable and that the orders pertaining to the children are in their best interests.
So just how does a couple arrive at fair and reasonable? The very first thing they each must do is be honest and open with each other about finances. If one has been squirreling away money that the other doesn’t know about, this the time to come clean. If after the divorce, such an account is discovered, and it wasn’t disclosed, the divorce can be set aside on the grounds of fraud, to say nothing of the fact that each party has to submit a financial statement to the court that is signed by them under the penalty of perjury. If an account exists that has not been disclosed…. guess what? And perjury is a crime… But if both parties know what the assets and debts truly are, they can separate out and discount anything that either brought into the marriage and divide what was accrued during the marriage evenly. That’s fair and reasonable.
So what’s best for the children? The answer is simple. Children always benefit from a maximum amount of time with both parents. The beginning of the best parenting schedules has the children with one parent while the other is working. The ‘cream’ time, like weekends if both parents work weekdays only, should be shared or alternated. Older children (teenagers) often prefer a week with one parent and then a week with the other. Transfer is usually done before dinner on Sunday so the child can settle in and get ready for the upcoming week. Younger children often need to see each parent more frequently. In that case Sunday morning to mid-day Wednesday with one and mid-day Wednesday to Saturday afternoon with the other, and alternating Saturday nights can work well, especially if each parent is flexible if the other wishes to take the children away for a full weekend or needs time away from the children due to job commitments.
At Newburyport Family Law & Divorce Mediation, we also recommend parents alternate holidays rather than share the day. Remember, this is about your children, not about you. So Thanksgiving with one parent in even numbered years and with the other in odd numbered years means the child isn’t being whisked around in the middle of the day with extended family pushing the poor kid to eat twice.
We have other ideas for divorcing couples who wish to be courteous, who only want what is fair and reasonable and who wish to make the best interests of their children a priority. Consultations are always free. Give us a call.