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Living Agreement: Embracing Life and Career Change

Despite divorce and separation, you are still a family. Family laws tend to assume that without marriage and one intact household, there is no family. Or there is a family, but it excludes the noncustodial parent; in fact, parents will likely continue to have a relationship. Establishing stability with two households instead of one is the first step. Change is inevitable after divorce, just as it was before divorce and separation.

One significant step is sitting down with all involved family members. The children must understand what is happening at age-appropriate stages. This will help them to know that the divorce is not their fault. Parents can both share with their children that, while the marriage is no longer working for the parents, the children are still loved and supported by everyone in the family. This significant step affects how children will grow through the divorce.

Life after divorce is a time for new opportunities and challenges, solving personal problems, and rebuilding and healing. While it may be easier for one parent to embrace change than for the other, we all know that change is coming for each family member. That carefully crafted settlement agreement may need to be changed as well.

Each parent must have the possibility of changing their occupation or profession at any time in their lives. Divorce does not deprive us of our rights as parents and human beings, including the human right to free employment choice. The most common way to gain wealth is to start a business. If one parent wants to leave a job with a salary to start their own business, they have every right to do so no matter what others may say.

Knowing this, however, courts dismiss self-employment as "working under the table," even though 44 million American workers (28.2%) were self-employed at some point during a given week in 2019. (Elaine Pofeldt, "Survey: Nearly 30% of Americans are Self-Employed," Forbes, May 30, 2020). Their disapproval comes as no surprise considering that states collect 75 percent of child support through employer income withholding from W2 employee paychecks.

In Vasquez v. Vasquez, the District Court of Appeal of Florida, Fourth District, agreed with the family court "that the husband was voluntarily under-employed because, after his termination, the court found that he did not make a good faith effort to find comparable [W2] employment. Rather, the husband decided to start his own business, a decision that had considerably limited his [short-term] income." (Florida, Vasquez v. Vasquez, 922 So.2d 398, District Court of Appeal of Florida, Fourth District, March 1, 2006.)