Attorney Avivit Moskovich in an interview for the website “Baby Li” – on the subject of alternative parenting including visitation arrangements, custody, alimony and more…
Does financial cooperation need to be a function of each side’s degree of involvement, thus reducing the prospects for battles? For example if the father’s involvement is predefined as being limited, should that be expressed in lower alimony payments?
Attorney Moskovich: “Logic, human considerations and the law dictate that the father participate in the financial burden in a manner unconnected to the degree of his involvement. I say this not only as an attorney, but also as a mother. Furthermore, as the degree of his involvement lessens, his payments should be higher for the welfare of the child. For example, if the child stays with the mother for most of the week, the burden falls on her shoulders and she shouldn’t be carrying that alone. Even if the mother declares ahead of time that she doesn’t need any assistance, one should assume that the day will come when she asks the father to participate in the financial burden. It should be remembered that in contrast with the situation of a married couple divorcing—where the wife is well aware of the father’s assets—when sharing finances without living together, she doesn’t have enough information to prove his earning ability. Similarly, the father also lacks such information concerning the mother. In order to avoid these scenarios as well as future money disputes it is desirable to draft a fair agreement that includes defined options for inserting changes in the future.”
Or perhaps simply to declare ahead of time 50-50 cooperation for the essentials?
Psychologist Barak Stein: “I think that financial cooperation needs to be determined wisely and judiciously, without the rigidity of a 50-50 arrangement. If the father earns significantly more than the mother, then he contributes more financially. And if the mother needs to take care of the child for more hours, there’s a “payment” for that. Just as in divorce cases, where there are flexible arrangements based on circumstances and financial situation, the same consideration should be part of the shared parenting model. The content of an agreement should make both sides feel comfortable; the agreement is the starting point and the basis for flexible adjustments in the interest of improving day-to-day life.”
Attorney Moskovich: “And you need to also take into account that the mother’s earning ability during the first year suffers. Therefore, in addition to the expenses involved during that period, it is all the more so fitting that the father’s alimony payment be higher than a 50-50 split.”
And what about the wish to raise the child according to a specific standard of living, when the decision on the exact standard might be in dispute?
Attorney Moskovich: “When you’re talking about raising a child, legally speaking there is no place for discussing the standard of living but rather satisfying essential needs. This is the yardstick used by the courts in determining alimony. Even in discussing extracurricular activities for example, they take into account how extensive demand is for the activity; naturally one cannot demand prestigious classes unless both parents agree on it or if they have high earning ability.”
Why is money such a sensitive subject and how can one overcome its repercussions in day-to-day life?
Psychologist Barak Stein: “Money is primarily an emotional factor that runs our lives. It connects with one’s sense of value—who makes more and who makes less, who has a higher social status? Money evokes anxiety and vulnerability: ‘Will I have enough to fulfill all my needs?’ It also connects with struggles of power and control, i.e., the person having more is stronger and is the one who gives while the person with less is weaker and receives.
In the matter of parenthood, money is also associated with guilt—why don’t I have enough to give to my family and my children?
Often, it is hard for us to remain calm and businesslike in money matters, to control our feelings and handle money with a practical approach. Furthermore, one should bear in mind that we all have our own positions and feelings concerning money, which were already formed in childhood. In order to overcome such difficulties, we need to be open, fair, ready to talk, and able to compromise. Above all, it is important that the parents remain focused on the child’s welfare—above all other petty considerations.”