As you may have heard, Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale have reached a divorce settlement.

The settlement includes the following: (1) Stefani will keep more of the assets, (2) no child support, and (3) shared custody of the couple’s two children.  The newspaper article above discusses the events leading up to the split, where Rossdale was caught by Stefani cheating with the couple’s nanny.

This post will discuss divorce issues in general, in the context of the split between Stefani and Rossdale.

WILL A JUDGE CONSIDER ADULTERY WHEN SPLITTING THE ASSETS?

Attorney Joseph Nivin says, generally, no.  In this case, the Daily News article implies that Rossdale agreed to Stefani keeping more of the assets in part because he blamed himself for the split.  However, if the case went to trial in New York, then his infidelity would not be a factor in determining who keeps more of the assets.

When splitting up the assets, the Court can consider anything it wants.  Some factors that are important to the Court, when deciding what to give each divorcing spouse include but are not limited to the length of the marriage, the age and health of the parties, the economic and non-economic contributions of each spouse, the projected earning capacity of each spouse after the marriage, the tax consequences to each party, and the waste of economic resources.

IF THEY’RE SHARING CUSTODY OF THE KIDS, THEN WHY WOULD THERE BE CHILD SUPPORT?

In New York, the monied spouse (the spouse who has a higher income) has to pay child support to the other spouse when the parties have shared custody of the children.

HOW CAN THEY HAVE SHARED CUSTODY?  I’VE NEVER HEARD OF GAVIN ROSSDALE, BUT GWEN STEFANI IS ALWAYS COMING OUT WITH NEW STUFF.  WON’T ROSSDALE HAVE MORE TIME FOR THE KIDS?

In many cases, the order of custody does not reflect reality.

Even if you and your ex have 9-5 jobs, there will likely have to be minor changes here and there.  Perhaps you have a family reunion one weekend.  You cannot simply deprive your ex of his parenting time without his consent or a court order, but if your ex is reasonable, then he’ll be willing to switch weekends.

Stefani and Rossdale are in a different position.  Even during her parenting time, Stefani will inevitably have to permit Rossdale to care for the children while she goes on tour.  Rossdale will likely spend more time with the children than Stefani does no matter what the order says.

What if you and your ex don’t have strict 9-5 jobs?  For example, let’s say that your ex is a police officer.  He’d tell you that he’d be home for dinner, but then call you and say that he got the chance to work overtime.  Now, during your split, he’s asking to have two or three dinner visits during the week, and he says he’ll be around.  You don’t want to agree, because you know that he’ll call you last minute and tell you that he has to work overtime.

It is always important to protect the parent with custody from waiting around for the other parent, only to be put in the position of explaining to the children why he didn’t show up.  However, if the parent who does not have custody says that he’ll be around for parenting time, the Court will generally provide it, unless it is crystal clear that the schedule being requested is unrealistic.  If your ex is like the guy that I just described, then you should request an order that the other parent confirm his parenting time twenty-four hours in advance, or else the parenting time is forfeited.

EVEN IF ROSSDALE IS MORE AVAILABLE TO SPEND TIME WITH THE KIDS, HE CHEATED ON STEFANI.  HE HAD TO GIVE HER 50/50 CUSTODY.  WASN’T THAT THE LEAST HE COULD DO?

If you’re about to start going to court for custody, you’re probably thinking about what would be fair.  Fortunately or unfortunately, the court will not be as concerned about what is “fair,” but rather what is in the best interests of the child.

In some cases, 50/50 custody can work well, if the parents are able to make it work.

Other times, 50/50 custody is unrealistic.  If one parent lives too far from the child’s school to take the child to school during the week, then 50/50 custody is probably not realistic.  50/50 custody may also not be realistic if one parent’s work schedule that makes it impossible to be with the child during the school week.

With that said, the issues stated above do not mean that parents who do not have residential custody do not have the rights to be involved in their children’s lives.  In most cases, the custody order should protect the non-custodial parent’s ability to be an involved parent.  The non-custodial parent should get overnight weekend parenting time, parenting time during the week, vacation time during school breaks, the right to be involved in major medical and educational decisions, the right to attend extracurricular events (school ceremonies, athletic competitions, and artistic events), and the right to attend parent-teacher conferences.