Daddy as Custodian

We represented a father who was living with and taking care of his three children. He provided all the financial support to his family. The mother had moved out. The central issues in the case included custody, division of the debts which were numerous, a pension which was part marital property, and the marital home.

The mother’s attorney was requesting joint custody but the mother did not demonstrate any consistency with visitation. The father wanted her to play a larger and more stable role in the children’s lives. The children were in counseling and were disappointed when the mother missed visits. A law guardian was appointed as an attorney for the children. The father was awarded custody with visitation to the mother. The mother’s attorney would not settle unless his client received the bulk of the proceeds of the marital home, since it was left to her by her aunt.

The appreciation on the house since the date of the marriage was marital property, since the father contributed greatly to the upkeep of the house. He had made many of the repairs to the house himself, and paid for all of the costs of the home, including mortgage, taxes, and materials for repairs. We advocated that since our client had made not only all of the financial contributions to the marriage, but also most of the non-financial contributions to the marriage (such as caretaker of the children), he should obtain more than 50% of the appreciation. The Judge agreed and awarded the father 75% of the appreciation of the house, plus credit for costs of future repairs until the house is sold and the credit for the reduction in principal due to his payments. It was agreed that the house would not be sold until the youngest child turns age 18.

We also requested that the spouse be responsible for half the marital debts since it was accumulated for marital expenses. The opposing counsel stated that the expenses were for materials for the husband’s business. The Judge stated even if it was for the husband’s business, the wife benefited from his income and thus, the debts were marital property. We put forth as evidence at trial the credit cards and cancelled checks demonstrating what the payments were for.

The spouse worked off the books and earned a cash amount each week. We requested that the cash amount be considered as net income. The gross amount for child support purposes would be higher. The Judge granted the child support. There was also rental income that the father was receiving. The spouse would be entitled to half the rental income minus costs for upkeep of the tenant.

According to law, each spouse would receive half the value of the pension from date of marriage until date of the summons for divorce.