Our Washington, D.C. divorce attorney, Thomas J. Simeone was recently interviewed for an article on divorce, where he had the privilege of utilizing his experience in the areas of child custody and child support.

Discussing the meaning and implications of shared legal custody, Attorney Simeone noted that contentious disputes surrounding how custody should be divided often arise, “It’s not uncommon for parents to disagree; therefore it makes sense to have a way to resolve disputes without having to go to court, which can be expensive and not provide a quick solution,” Mr. Simeone stated. He also discussed the benefits of working with a mediator or another professional, asserting that, “parties often select a mutually agreed-upon person, such as a counselor or trusted friend,” to assist in decision-making during disagreements.

He further went on to point out that when making any decisions related to the future of the child, it’s essential to consider their best interests and long-term welfare before making any final choices. In terms of physical custody, for instance, the court must focus on which parent can provide a better home environment for the child. This means the court may look at factors including safety, comfort, and geographical closeness to their school and friends.

It is necessary for parents to realize, Mr. Simeone argues, that their actions in this regard must not appear too self-serving, as they are always being scrutinized by the judge. “It’s extremely important not to be petty, emotional or overly adversarial,” he warns.

Attorney Simeone also cautions parents to be aware that the court will put child support ahead of spousal support when considering what is important. “Courts are more concerned with protecting children than compensating one parent,” he states. “Children are seen as the vulnerable, innocent victims of a divorce; accordingly, the court will decide child support first and make that a priority over spousal support.” This also means that if one parent receives a large child support payment, they are less likely to receive a significant amount of spousal support (aka alimony.)

Mr. Simeone goes on to advise that while negotiations may be difficult, spouses should hold off on finalizing divorce proceedings until they have come to an agreement they can both live with for many years. This is because once agreements have been finalized, it is very difficult to modify them until the material circumstances of one party or another noticeably changes. “That may provide the temporary pleasure of ending litigation sooner, but you won’t be able to change the arrangement unless something significant happens, such as one of the parents getting a new job, moving, getting remarried, etc.,” states Simeone.

Thomas J. Simeone is the managing partner at Simeone & Miller, LLP, and has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, ESPN.com, and TheSportingNews.com. Attorney Simeone and the rest of our team at Simeone & Miller, LLP provide quality family law solutions in areas including custody, spousal support, child support and division of property. If you live in Washington, D.C. or the surrounding area and are looking for representation in a divorce, contact Simeone & Miller, LLP today.