Eliza and Karl came in this summer for collaborative divorce mediation. They were one of the most cooperative couples presenting for mediation in my thirty-eight years of mediation practice. They had sold their marital home in the Boston suburbs in the last few months and deposited the balance in a “joint child-related expense account” checking account out of which they were making all of their mutually agreed to payments for expenses for both children, even the vacations they each would take with the children. They were each living in lovely rental apartments. Regardless of whether one parent took the children to China, and the other to New Hampshire, the account for the children would pay for the expenses of the travel. Their philosophy was that the children would have the experiences on vacation and that it didn’t matter which parent was taking them, they would pay for the vacation, equally. This was virtually unheard of in the realm of a divorcing couples.
Their incomes were approximately equal. They decided that they each would pay $100/week into the “joint child-related account” to keep it replenished, instead of one parent paying child support to the other parent. When the account reached the amount of $12,000, they decided they would each deposit $200/week to keep the account solvent for the children’s expenses. Every three months they would review all expenses taken out of the account to be sure that they mutually agreed to each expense.
The couple owned a second home together which they decided they would sell before the first child went off to college. The net proceeds from the sale of the home are to be deposited into the “joint child-related expense account” for college expenses, one-half for each child and each parent would receive a percentage of the net proceeds. Any balance owed for college expenses, tuition, room and board, books, living expenses is to be split three ways; father and mother paying a third and each child paying one-third. The parents each would sign loans with one or both of the children if loans were necessary and must be repayable within ten years after graduation from college.
Because the wife had earned more during the marriage and had contributed more to her retirement funds, the husband decided that she would take somewhat more in the total retirement fund allocation. One of their retirement funds needed to have a Qualified Domestic Relations Order written on it to divide it in half when the husband would first be able to draw from it.
The son of the couple was driven to his bass, soccer and Russian math class by his Dad, spending more than half-time living with Dad. The daughter of the couple was driven to swim, ballet, cello and chess lessons by her Mother, spending more than half time living with her Mom. Therefore, both parents were entitled to take the Head of Household $18,000 IRS deduction, and the $2,000 child tax credit on his and her income taxes which the 2018 IRS Income Tax Regulations allowed.
This was a divorce mediation which was negotiated in two two hour sessions and the terms were among the most cooperative settlement terms that this mediator has witnessed in thirty-eight years of practice.