until it comes up again on the calendar-and that could take several weeks, maybe months. And because your case is dependent on when your lawyer as well as your spouse’s lawyer have openings in their calendars, there could be lengthy delays.
As you might imagine, lags can be costly. Borden says there are numerous couples who have spent $30,000 to $100,000 in an adversarial divorce, but most range from $4,000 to $10,000 in total fees. “By any measure, we’re talking about a lot of money,” Borden adds. “Fortunately, most people are smart enough or poor enough to realize that it’s foolish to spend what little money they have fighting about their divorce. At some point, they quietly deal with the pain, frustration and bitterness and negotiate a resolution.”
REMEMBER THE CHILDREN
“Often people argue about child custody when they are really arguing about money, either trying to get child support or avoid paying it,” Borden insists. Williams believes money was at the root of the child custody issues in his divorce. He says the court “automatically” gave his six-year-old daughter to his wife, and while he won’t provide a dollar figure, he says the amount of child support he was ordered to pay almost makes his child the head of household. “I believe every man that has children should take responsibility for them and care for them. But there is a difference between taking care of them and being financially punished,” Williams insists.
On the other hand, there are mothers who claim divorce left them strapped. In Miller’s case, her agreement only called for a nominal amount in child support and she still hasn’t seen a penny of it. Another divorcee, Celestine Wiggins of Marietta, Georgia, does receive child support but claims it’s not consistent and not nearly enough. According to the child support agreement that the couple devised themselves, Wiggins should have received $5,700 over the course of the last 19 months. But her ex-husband has only paid $2,700-that’s a $3,000 deficit. “He also subtracts whatever gifts he buys for my daughter from his payments,” Wiggins maintains. “It’s not fair. Our child has needs.”
Shared parenting or joint custody would be the most equitable solution for divorc-ing couples, says Dianna Thompson, executive director of the American Coalition for Fathers and Children (800-978-DADS) based in Lake Forest, California. According to her organization, mothers get custody in about 76% of divorce cases-even when the father asks for custody-but she says, “Both parents should contribute to the emotional and financial welfare of the child. We don’t like to see courts award the children solely to one parent.”
But only the parents know what’s best for their children. According to Haman, the court will generally adhere to any agreement the two parties reach, provided it won’t harm the child. Aside from custody and visitation issues, your arrangement should also stipulate which parent can claim the children as tax deductions. Once child custody issues are resolved, start planning for a brighter future.
lEARN FROM YOUR MISTAKES AND MOVE ON