SEPARATING? DIVORCING? WHAT’S BEST FOR YOUR KIDS?May 18 2016
We know relationships don’t always work out. In the end, a separation or a divorce may be the best course of action. Dividing up possessions can be straightforward, but if there are children involved, it’s a lot more complicated. You and your partner will need to work together to reach a settlement that works for both of you. Navigating your way through this process can be stressful, time-consuming, and sometimes costly. It’s a good idea to meet with a lawyer early on to help you understand what options are available and what the law actually requires.
When it comes to parenting agreements, it’s a good thing to remember that decisions are made under the Family Law Act, which considers only a child’s best interests. Those “best interests”cover several components, including health and well-being, history of child care, current stability of the child and the ability of the parents to meet his or her needs.
Expediting the process and coming to terms with what parenting arrangements will look like can be done through a separation agreement. This legal and binding agreement deals with several critical issues such as property division, parenting, and spousal and child support. It can include such specifics as a schedule for parenting time, holidays, medical care, travel, religious upbringing, etc.
Can you change the separation agreement? Not easily. The agreement can only be altered if both you and your partner agree to do so or if the court orders it be changed. If you do agree to a change, an amendment to the original agreement should be completed with signatures from the two of you, witnessed by another adult. You can also apply to the court for a change but you should know that courts are typically reluctant to amend separation agreements unless significant changes in circumstances can be proven. Alternately, if you believe the agreement is not being followed, you can file it with the court in order to ensure enforcement.
You should also be aware of the differences between child and spousal support. Child support is the payment to the other parent if he or she is the primary caregiver of the children. It’s set up to provide children with their basic needs and is generally payable until they reach the age of 19. If parents share the children equally, then child support is paid by the parent with the higher income. Spousal support, on the other hand, is a payment made to a former spouse, based on either their roles during the relationship or on the basis of need, if they have a significantly lower income after the relationship ends.
How much will you pay? That will vary. Several factors are taken in account when support amounts are being set up. The amount of Child Support that will be determined is based on the Child Support Guidelines, which take into account the paying parent’s income and the number of children. Spousal Support, on the other hand, is determined based on Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines which takes into account the income of both parties, the length of the relationship and if there are any children for which child support is being paid.
In the end, with solid legal advice, both you and your partner should be able to come to a fair settlement in order to protect the things you care about the most.