HOW TO FILE FOR DIVORCE IN WEST VIRGINIA PART 3: REVIEWING YOUR AGREEMENTS AND PREPARE THE INITIAL PLEADINGS

Welcome to the next post in this series on filing for divorce without a lawyer in West Virginia. 
 
If you have followed these posts, you may have taken the first steps and decided that you can file for divorce in West Virginia.  You and your spouse went to mediation and now have a written parenting plan and property settlement agreement.   What’s next?  How do you get to court?

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HOW TO FILE FOR DIVORCE IN WEST VIRGINIA WITHOUT A LAWYER: PART 2 REACH AN AGREEMENT

An important step in filing for divorce without a lawyer, is working to reach the agreement before you file.  An agreement can provide greater security and can expedite the process.  Agreements can be reached between the parties informally, through mediation and through collaborative divorce.

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WHAT EVERY DIVORCING PARENT SHOULD KNOW ABOUT THEIR CHILD'S TUITION, PART III

This is the last of my three part series addressing questions that divorcing parents may have about paying for their child’s college expenses.  We began by looking at the age when the formal obligation to pay  child support terminates. We then examined how an agreement can permit the parents to share in the expenses after divorce.  Today we’ll look three special considerations for children going to college after their parents' divorce.

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1:  Financial aid is usually based on the custodial parents income.  The “custodial parent” is the parent with whom the student lived with most during the year before they attend college.  You should include this in the custodial agreement or parenting plan.  If the student is living equally with both parents, the parent providing the most support is the custodial parent.  Please remember that if the custodial parent has remarried, his or her spouse’s information is reported.  Financial aid may be maximized when the custodial parent has a lower income

 2: Since financial aid is based on the custodial parents income, the parties should be considering that issue when addressing spousal support.  A sudden increase in the custodial parent’s income could impact any financial assistance.

 3: We live in an area with many wonderful public, in-state schools.  Whether a child can apply for admission and pay in-state tuition will be different in each state.  Additionally, each school or university decides whether or not a student qualifies for in-state tuition.  Check with the university your child is planning to attend for their policies.  However, some basic guidelines for neighboring states is available. 

  • Virginia:   Your child may be eligible for  in-state residency status after a divorce even if the child resides in another state.  For example, consider the situation when a child wants to attend the University of Virginia or Virginia Tech.    If the father lives in Reston and pays child support, but the child lives in Jefferson County and attended high school in West Virginia, the child may be eligible for admission as an in-state student based on the father’s residency.  General information about Virginia schools is available by clicking here.   
  • Maryland:  Generally, a child must reside in Maryland for a period of 12 months prior to attendance to be eligible for in-state tuition.  Further information can be obtained here. 
  • West Virginia:  The child has in-state residency status after a divorce in West Virginia when the parent with whom the child resides lives in West Virginia.  WVU spells out their requirements here.  
  • District of Columbia:  In addition to attending UDC, residents of the District may also be eligible for a grant to offset out of state costs.  Residency of the students will be determined by the domicile of the parents.  To learn more about the DC TAG program, click here. To learn more about the DC residency requirements for UDC, click here
  • Pennsylvania:  Pennsylvania's residency requirements vary significantly from school to school.    It appears that Penn State construes the requirement to permit either parent to be domiciled in Pennsylvania  while Shippensburg State seems to base the decision on the basis of where the child resides.

Today's tip:  PLAN!  Regardless of how you decide to fund your child's higher education after divorce, the child will benefit when the parents work together to develop the best plan for your child to enjoy success in their educational endeavors.

DIVORCE OPTIONS (WHEN YOU CAN'T AFFORD A LAWYER)

When you are planning for a divorce and money is tight, there are a number of things you can do to save money.  Both mediation and collaborative divorce are often a less expensive option.  This blog post also provides some free materials that can help you file for divorce when you cannot afford an attorney.

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Celebrating Christmas after separation--Part I

"What do we do about Christmas?"  This is a question that comes up in most mediations involving child custody.  In mediation or collaborative law, you can tailor your holiday celebrations with your children consistent with your own family traditions and celebrations.  Whether I’m working in a collaborative law case or in mediation, we work to make all holidays, including Christmas, peaceful, unique and special for the children.  As a lawyer and mediator with offices located in West Virginia and Washington, D.C., we can design the perfect holiday for the children, together.

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WHAT HAPPENS AFTER MEDIATION?

Congratulations!  You just finished your mediation session and reached an agreement.  You may feel relieved that the pressure is over or excited that you have found a way to move forward in your life without the stress over litigation.  You may feel regretful that you didn’t get exactly what you were looking for when you first met with your attorney or filed the petition.  You may be wondering “ What if….”

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But I Want 50/50: The Truth About Child Custody in West Virginia

Another term that does not appear in West Virginia law is “50/50.”  In this post I will describe the problem that arises when parents focuses on a 50/50 split of time between households.  To many “50/50” sounds fair—100% of the time the child’s time is split equally between the parents.  However, slashing the child’s time precisely in half may be “fair” to the parents, but harmful to the child.  In developing a parenting plan, parents who are more interested in the well-being of the children may want to change the focus from the question, “What makes this look fair to me?” to the question, “What schedule can we develop to best meet the needs of our child?”    

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