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Parenting, children, and pets in divorce

If you’re a parent going through the divorce process, it’s important to create an interim parenting plan to help your family get through the divorce as smoothly as possible. Try to keep kids’ routines stable, remain engaged, and avoid fighting in front of children. Getting specific plans in writing could potentially reduce conflict in the future. 
A plan that minimizes disruption and conflict may include decisions about:  
  • Caregiving responsibilities. Where will your children live during the week and on weekends? Where will they spend holidays? How will health decisions be made? What kind of education will be provided? 
  • Financial responsibilities. How will you divvy up the costs of big-ticket concerns like education expenses, braces, camps, and ongoing tutoring or sports activities?  
  • Practical updates. You may need to notify current care providers (nanny, babysitters, etc.), find new care providers if you are changing residences, update your children’s guardians, and start to consider a mutually agreeable child support strategy. 

Protecting children during a divorce: custody battles

If you have children who are minors, under the age of 18, the custody arrangement should focus first and foremost on the wellbeing and best interests of your children.  
Because custody battles can be drawn-out and expensive, you may want to consider working with your spouse, either directly or with the aid of a mediator, to agree on the terms, rather than relying on the court to make an official ruling.  
If the child custody case goes to court, a judge will award either sole or joint custody, which involves 2 main types: physical custody (determining where the child will live) and legal custody (determining who makes major decisions for the child). This period can be a rocky and turbulent time in a child’s life, so consider seeking support groups or the help of a professional to help your children through the process.

Don’t forget about insurance for your children

You also need to think about ensuring coverage for children’s health and dental needs. If you and your spouse can’t agree on the details, the judge in your divorce can decide what needs to be done.  
If you're receiving alimony or child support after divorce, life insurance on the person making payments may help protect that income. It is possible to set up the divorce agreement so that the cost of life insurance is included in alimony or child support payments. 

Pets and divorce

It’s important to balance emotional attachment with practical financial considerations: Will your new lifestyle and budget allow for care of a pet? Generally speaking, allowing the primary caretaker of the pet to retain ownership could be the least disruptive solution. In case of a disagreement between spouses, a judge will make the ultimate decision. However, a mediator may also help guide both parties to a mutually agreeable solution.

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Fidelity does not provide legal or tax advice. The information herein is general in nature and should not be considered legal or tax advice. Consult an attorney or tax professional regarding your specific situation.

This information is general in nature and provided for educational purposes only.