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Timing of Divorce in Low-Conflict Relationships

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, January 03, 2019

What is the best time to divorce?

Walsh Law Office, Hingham, MAIf your relationship with your spouse is low-conflict – and this encompasses more than half of all divorces – deciding when to file for divorce is a very different calculation than in the cases of violent or high conflict marriages. In such instances - - and different from violent or conflictual relationships where it is almost always best for the relationship to end as soon as possible - - parents might want to take into consideration the ages of their children and how they will react to a divorce either now or later. Considering such factors will help low-conflict parents decide whether it is best to end their marriage immediately or, perhaps, wait a few years, if such waiting would be in the best interests of the children.

Perhaps not surprisingly, preschool age children tend to have the hardest time during the breakup of a marriage, and sometimes for many years afterward. Young children often find that their relationships with their mothers are particularly impacted by divorce. For example, many women who were able to stay home part-time with their babies during the marriage are required to re-enter the workforce full-time after divorce. Mothers who took care of their little ones with long bedtime rituals, reading together, and playing favorite games, sometimes find after divorce that they have to cut back these pleasurable activities - - not because they want to - - but because they no longer have the time or energy after a long day at work. In light of this, some parents may want to delay their divorce until their youngest child enters school and adjusts to the school day routine. Once a child is in school, he will have an interesting world outside your home and a school structure that supports activities and friendships. As he begins to find his own interests and friends, you may be better able to protect him from feeling that he has lost more than he has gained with your divorce.

The second most vulnerable age for divorce is early adolescence, when children are developing rapidly and need a strong family to guide and protect them. If you have a preteen child in trouble – failing at school or not keeping up with peers in some important regard – it may make sense to hesitate before getting a divorce. Your child may be too troubled at this age to adjust to the demands of a post-divorce family. That said, before you make any moves, consider whether your child is developmentally on target. If not, try to get her some help including with an experienced adolescent therapist, if appropriate, before you embark on the divorce.

Of course, sometimes best laid plans may go astray and you find yourself filing for divorce at one of these pivotal times in your child’s life. If this happens to you, keep in mind the importance of maintaining the stability of care with young children and the special vulnerability of children entering adolescence. This is the time to call on your family and friends for help and to work - - as best you can - - with your spouse to set up plans for your children before you separate.

For more information, contact Walsh Law.


Dividing the Assets in Divorce

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Walsh Law Office, Hingham, MAIt might be the only thing the two sides in a divorce can easily agree on: it's no fun.

On top of the emotional toll, financial missteps during the process can leave you in far worse shape than you intended. And the more intertwined you and your spouse's finances are, the more closely you'll need to pay attention while untangling them.

Ideally, you'll have a divorce attorney and a financial advisor who are advocating for you. Nevertheless, experts say that even if you'd rather spend as little time as possible thinking about the divorce, it's worth making sure you understand the implications of all financial decisions being made.

You are your own best advocate.

If you are among those getting divorced, here are some financial mistakes to avoid.

1. Keeping a home you can no longer afford.

While staying put means one less change in the midst of an already life-altering event, it often makes little financial sense.

Unfortunately, many keep their homes not realizing that upkeep costs are no longer sustainable. There are now two households existing on the same income where previously there was only one.

2. Not considering the tax implications.

Not all financial accounts are taxed the same way.

For instance, if you get the 401(k) plan account worth $100,000 and your ex gets the checking account worth the same, you just got the raw end of the deal. Taking cash from the checking account incurs no tax, while any withdrawals from the 401(k) would be taxed as regular income to you. Most individuals forget to look at the complete cost of each asset, particularly the tax nature of each.

3. Not getting a court order to get your piece of the 401(k).

If your soon-to-be ex has a 401(k) plan, you must have what's called a qualified domestic relations order, or QDRO, to access your share. (Individual retirement accounts do not require a QDRO). This court order, which must get final approval from your retirement plan, marks one of the few times you can take money from a 401(k) without paying a 10 percent early withdrawal penalty. You will, however, pay income tax on the amount if you don't roll it over to an individual retirement account within 60 days.

For more information on dividing financial assets, contact Walsh Law.


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