Hey, Jason and Olivia: It’s Time to Put the Children First

Hey, Jason and Olivia: It’s Time to Put the Children FirstA divorce is never an easy situation, especially when you have children. Parents can be fiercely protective of their children, and even the most mild-mannered individuals can turn into cornered bears if they believe their children are hurting.

How folks strike out at one another can differ. Take the ongoing drama of Jason Sudeikis and Olivia Wilde. First, she was served custody papers onstage at CinemaCon (Sudeikis claimed not to know it would happen this way, and we tend to believe him – process servers are serious about their jobs). Now, Sudeikis is playing a little fast and loose by fighting the jurisdiction for child support: he wants it handled in New York, whereas Wilde is arguing for California, since that is where the custody orders are filed.

This back-and-forth intrigues us because we often work with clients who own multiple homes in various states, and because they often live in those separate homes during the process. Where you live can, of course, affect how support and custody are determined (asset distribution, too), though we have never seen a case where child support was handled by a judge in one state, and child custody by a different judge across the country.

Neither Wilde nor Sudeikis have reached out to us for advice, which is a shame. If they had, they would have received some guidance from experienced Best Interest attorneys who would have told them to stop “messing around;” it’s not fair to their children.

Why divorce with kids can be so challenging

There are many different psychological effects that children go through during a divorce. Children typically struggle the most within the first one or two years after the divorce. They may express (or hide) their daily anger, disbelief, and anxiety. While some children eventually get used to the new routine, others may continue to find it too difficult to adjust, even as time passes. Younger children tend to worry that if their parents do not love each other anymore, their parents may stop loving them, too. Grade school students are often concerned if it was their fault. Teenagers get upset at the change in routine that a divorce can bring about, and it could come with resentment towards one parent or the other.

Since divorce normally means that the child sees one of the parents much less than usual, it can cause a lot of stress, and the bond between a parent and child can be diminished. Financial hardships after the divorce can also lead to many problems between the parents and the child. While this seems an unlikely burden for Wilde and Sudeikis’ children, it is not an uncommon one for many families.

What is the child custody law in Maryland?

After a couple breaks up or divorces in Maryland, they must come to a child custody agreement. This agreement will state which parent the child will live with, the visitation schedule, and how the other parent will cover child support. These cases can be contested and solved by court order, or they can be defined in the agreement between the parents. We generally and genuinely believe that it is better – for everyone – when parents can reach this agreement themselves. But if you cannot, a judge who does not know you nor your children will make the decision for you.

During a proceeding, the court will consider what the other parent of the child and any other child living in the home have to say. Since Maryland does not have a list of factors that the court can use to consider when determining these outcomes, each situation presented to them is case-by-case. In Maryland, the court also considers the feelings and wishes of the child, though smaller children may have less influence unless represented by a Best Interest attorney themselves.

What is the child support law in Maryland?

Child support payments are typically determined during the divorce proceeding and handled on a state level. In Maryland, there are specific guidelines regarding child support.

Using the “income share” method, the state of Maryland decides how the payments are made to ensure that both parents are contributing towards their child’s health and overall well-being. Child support can be arranged either in an agreement between the parents or by the court if they cannot reach a middle ground. Other guidelines that the state considers for child support were recently updated, such as the parents’ combined adjusted income range increasing from $15,000 to $30,000 per month.

Helpful tips to ensure your child remains happy and healthy after the divorce

It’s important to prioritize your children, especially after an emotional divorce. Here are some suggestions to help your child get adjusted to their new life:

  • Avoid fighting with the other parent in front of the child.
  • Keep your child’s routine consistent.
  • Support your child’s relationship with the other parent.
  • Listen to your child. Make sure they know that they are heard and understood.
  • Try to stay in close proximity to them since you may no longer be living with them so that they continue to feel connected to you.
  • Make the most of your parenting time and create a consistent schedule.
  • If you start dating again, do so thoughtfully. It’s important to be honest with your child if you choose to be with another person.
  • Shield them from divorce proceedings. If they don’t need to be there, don’t bring them.
  • Don’t badmouth the other parent to your child.

Before going through with the divorce, it’s important to address certain issues, such as child support, physical custody, and legal custody ahead of time with the other parent. When possible, coming to an agreement outside of the court is the better idea. This will help make it as easy as possible for your child instead of dealing with a bitter, contested divorce. If you’re debating staying together with your partner because you think it will be best for your child, you may want to reconsider if your relationship with your partner is unhealthy. If you cannot get along with them, the best outcome for the children involved is separation. This way, over time, each parent will be happier – and so will the child.

At McCabe Russell P.A., our experienced Columbia family law attorneys are ready to help you with your situation. Whether you feel stuck because you don’t want your children overwhelmed by the idea of divorce or you’re already on your way towards one, it’s a big life event that will greatly affect your future. There is much paperwork to be done during the divorce process; it’s best to have professional help by your side. We also have teams in Fulton, Bethesda, and Rockville that can assist you. Fill out our contact form or call us to set up a no-obligation consultation.