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Tips for working through hot button divorce issues

Today's post offers some tips for working through the hot button divorce issues of child custody and asset division.

As background, many courts start with a presumption in favor of joint parental responsibilities, recognizing the value of each parent’s relationship with a child. Instead of making parenting assumptions based on gender, courts will inquire about the lifestyle and relationship that the child experienced with each parent prior to the divorce.

A court will also base custody decisions on the type of home environment that each parent can provide for a child. For example, stability and continuity might be achieved by allowing a child to stay in the family home and/or in the same school district.

Reviewing these and other child custody factors in advance can help a party take more informed positions during divorce discussions. Both time and money can be spared when the parties can reach an agreement in advance and present a draft child custody proposal to the court for its review.

Dividing complex financial assets can also be problematic in a divorce. Before a business interest can be divided, the parties generally must gather financial information and go through a valuation process. The valuation can protect both parties, identifying any issues that may have been overlooked, and consequently were not disclosed.

Intangible assets must also be fairly divided, but the value of retirement account plans and company pensions may be unknown.  If an IRA was funded with nondeductible contributions, that dollar amount must be identified so that neither party pays an unfair amount of taxes on IRA distributions. 

Any agreements may be presented to the court, which will issue a Qualified Domestic Relations Order. A QDRA allows a party to roll retirement assets from a former spouse into a new qualified plan or IRS of his or her choosing. Make sure you have an experienced divorce attorney on your side when discussing these tricky issues.

Source: The Denver Channel, “State Rep. Tim Leonard will serve 14 days in jail for contempt of court in a divorce proceeding,” Marshall Zelinger and Alan Gathright, Dec. 9, 2016

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