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An early offer regarding support and custody may ease a divorce

Deciding to seek a divorce certainly wasn't the easiest thing you've ever done -- but actually approaching your spouse about the divorce may seem even harder. You're likely anticipating everything from tears to threats, and that's not easy to handle.

You can, however, potentially make the conversation a lot easier by having a plan in mind for how you see the split going. While you don't want to hit your spouse over the head with all the details at once, it's often wise to have a clear idea of what you think should happen regarding important issues.

What's does it mean to be legally separated from your spouse?

Your physical separation from your spouse, your date of separation and what it means to be legally separated are actually three different things -- but people often confuse them. If your marriage is all-but-over and you've already been living in your own place for a while now, here's what you need to know.

Physically separation is the easiest to define

What happens to support obligation when parents file bankruptcy?

Divorce is expensive, and that can leave many divorced parents struggling to meet their bills -- including their child support obligations. If your ex-spouse is behind on support (and other bills), you may be concerned about what will happen if they file for bankruptcy protection.

Relax. Generally speaking, child support obligations don't disappear when a parent files for bankruptcy. Unlike credit card bills and other unsecured debts, it's very difficult for a parent to escape a child support bill -- even one that is long-overdue.

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Is divorce harder on men than women?

Divorce isn't easy, but studies reveal that men seem to have a much harder time coping with the aftermath of divorce than women do. If you're a man who is approaching a divorce, here's what you should know about taking care of your physical and mental health in the future.

Why is divorce harder on men?

Don't overlook these things when figuring child support

If you and your child's other parent are getting a divorce, you naturally expect the other parent to pay a fair share of your child's basic expenses -- such as food, shelter and clothing. After all, that is the purpose of child support.

But your expenses for your child don't stop there. There are a lot of expenses that the parent with primary custody often has to manage -- and child support should be negotiated with that in mind. Depending on your child's age, interests and abilities, here are some of the things your child may need beyond the absolute basics:

  • Sports equipment, team fees, uniform costs, registration costs and transportation and lodging during out-of-town games
  • School photos, yearbooks and honor society inductions
  • Private tutoring in dance, music, golf, tennis or something similar
  • Recital fees and instrument costs or dance costumes
  • Tutoring and other academic assistance, including educational materials
  • Fees for art classes, theater dues and acting classes
  • The cost to attend school outings, including trips out of town
  • The expense of church camps, summer camps, computer camps or enrichment camps
  • Computer equipment, e-readers, cellular phones and a cellular plan
  • A college savings account or a similar fund that will help your child get started as an adult
  • Money to purchase the child's first vehicle and help cover the cost of insurance for a while
  • Therapy that isn't covered by insurance (or the co-pays) for speech and language problems or other developmental issues

What are the 3 main ways to value a business?

When a marital split is on the horizon, you know that putting a precise value on the family business is going to be crucial to a fair outcome. However, you may not know where to start.

Guessing is a bad idea -- even if you and your spouse can agree on a figure. A wrong guess can permanently put one of you at a major financial disadvantage. You're most likely going to need some professional help from a business valuator or accountant to come up with an accurate valuation. Before the process starts, however, you need to decide which method of valuation you and your spouse will use.

How do temporary orders work in a divorce?

Once your divorce is final, you'll have a detailed agreement or court order that outlines how every aspect of your split gets handled -- from taxes to child custody and everything in between.

But what about before the divorce is finished? Life doesn't stop -- or even slow down -- just because you and your spouse have agreed to split. You need some kind of guidance on how to handle important issues during the months (or years) leading up to the final agreement.

What is forced drug abuse?

Substance abuse and domestic violence are often linked together. Drugs and alcohol can serve to incite fights and lower someone's impulse control. It's just recently, however, that researchers have started to realize that drugs and alcohol are also weapons that get used inside many violent and coercive relationships.

It's a practice that's known as substance use coercion or "forced drug abuse" (although alcohol can also be involved). In studies, 60% of domestic violence victims who eventually looked for substance abuse treatment reported interference from their spouses and partners as they tried to get clean. Many victims also report being forced to use drugs by their abusers.

Worried about international child abduction? Here's what to do

If your spouse has strong ties to another country, you may worry that he or she will disappear with your children in tow to some far-off land where you will never see them again.

It's a reasonable fear. When a marital relationship breaks down, strong feelings about the future of the children from the relationship often surface. If you're afraid that your spouse will abduct the children overseas, here are some practical things you need to discuss with your attorney.

Do Christmas gifts count as child support?

The Christmas season is upon us again, which means that most people will be spending much more than normal -- especially on gifts for the kids. But don't make the mistake of thinking that your gifts are an adequate substitution for your usual support payments.

Child support is designed to benefit the child by providing adequate money to help the custodial parent pay for essentials like food, shelter and clothing. The amount of support you have to pay is calculated according to your income, the other parent's income and the percentage of time each of you spends with the child. No matter how well-intentioned (or even badly needed) your gifts may be, they aren't substitutions for your regular support payments because all those other essential needs still have to be met.

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