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What is the real cost of a child custody battle?

Determining child custody can be one of the most stressful and difficult parts of the divorce process. Of course, there are some rare cases where parents can see an obvious child custody arrangement based on relative work commitments, living situation, and economic resources. But, more often than not, both parents desperately want as much time with their child as possible, which can lead to a prolonged battle for what exactly that entails.

A recent celebrity child custody case made the news when the former Gossip Girl star Kelly Rutherford announced that she is nearing bankruptcy from the cost of her custody battle. This has led many to wonder about the high cost of child custody, both financially and emotionally, and to ask the difficult question – when is it enough?

The answer for most of us is that there is no price too high for time with our children. However, the realistic financial situation dictates that at some point, there will be an end. In some cases, a former spouse will have more financial resources that allow them to continue the dispute much longer than the other parent, putting them at an advantage.

In Ms. Rutherford’s case, a judge allowed her ex-husband to take the children to live with him in a different country, causing the actress to have to spend money on both legal fees and travel expenses to see her kids on a normal vistation schedule.

In cases like this one, it is important to evaluate these types of issues at the outset and figure out the likelihood of a court victory and how that would look in relation to a settlement agreement, both in terms of financial and emotional costs.

Source: Huffington Post, “Custody Battles: Are They Worth the Fight?” Pauline Gaines, May 7, 2013

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