Monday, August 1, 2016

Who Should Make Life's Major Decisions?

In an ideal world, two spouses love each other, communicate well and can make decisions together.  In reality, that's not often the case.  Love fades, anger comes in and the parties no longer get along very well.  Communication suffers and whether it's the cause or the effect of the break-up of the marriage, making decisions together becomes very difficult.

Still, there are important life decisions that must be made and the parties need to be able to respond to various issues that are family-related.

Issues like:
  • Raising kids:  how to share time and responsibilities for the kids.  Who makes decisions?  How much consultation goes on?  What if the parents disagree on something?
  • Financial support:  one spouse often makes substantially more than the other spouse.  Sometimes a former spouse needs help resuming an old career or starting a new one.  There can be health issues.  The children may have special needs.
  • Paying bills and taxes:  who has responsibility?  How is it figured into the overall settlement?  What if one spouse can't afford to do much? 
  • Retirement planning: how to divide up existing retirement assets.  Is there a greater need for cash now or at retirement?  Is there a way in increase future contributions?
  • Home ownership:  do you keep or sell the house?  Who gets the house or the sale proceeds?  Do you use the proceeds to pay off all the bills? Do you try to refinance the house?
There are different ways of ending a marriage.  Litigation is the traditional approach and it usually includes going to mediation near the end of the process.  If you go to trial, the Judge will answer all the questions.  If you use mediation, the parties will try to settle the case with the help of a neutral mediator, with the possibility of going to trial if mediation fails.  

Collaborative Law is the  "new kid on the block".  This process allows the parties to work out their own terms by having a series of meetings that begin right away.  They usually work with a neutral therapist and neutral financial advisor.

So the question is:  do you want to be in control of your own destiny or do you want a Judge to decide how you raise your kids and how your finances are going to be managed?  It's up to you.

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