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The Dilemma of Divorce and Only Children

 

The prototypical nuclear family used to consist of 2 kids and 2 decimal points of a third child…

Post World War 2 and during the baby boom era, large families were encouraged and an accepted part of the American society. Our culture, from TV shows to advertising was built around the dynamic of the family. As the 1960’s and 70’s came and went, we saw this dynamic drastically change.

Women’s equality had a trickle-down effect that changed more than just work and marriage. The residual effect of a more progressive society has had a direct correlation on how we think of defining a modern family. Within the past 35 years, as of 2004, the amount of only-child families has almost doubled. The U.S. Census Bureau has not kept detailed information about the nature of how or why the number of only-child families has increased, whether by choice or circumstance. There are currently 20 million single-child families in the U.S. The percentage of American women having only one child has more than doubled in 20 years, to almost one quarter. The single-child family is the fastest-growing family in the U.S. As the divorce rates have risen as well in the single child family. what effects does this have on the child? And what can you do to help?

Easing the emotional stress

Any only child will feel grief stricken during the breakup of the family triangle. Along with this emotional schism will be the adaptation to a totally different routine. Only children have no peer or close sibling to lean on. As parents in this situation, there is no clear cut way to best handle the divorce process with only children.  There are ways to help emotionally ease only children that are entering into the sometimes harsh reality of a now fractured close knit family.

Prepare the child

It is often advised that parents break the news to children together rather than one parent doing it separately. This is especially true in the case of only children.  Explaining together that this decision was mutual and a tough one to make will help the child understand that even though separating, the family is all going through this together. Keeping the family in the same room talking about a major decision like this will emphasize that even though there will be a change in living situation, both parents are still equally and fully apart of the child’s life.

Building the predictable routine

Understandably an only child’s routine will go through a period of change and adjustment. The age of the child will dictate the varying degree of emotional adjustments and problems the child may go through. Attempting to add any instances of routine and predictability to these new situations will help ease the child into a new life style, while still keeping the same values as if the parents still lived under one house. Also maintaining certain habits in the only child’s routine will help with a sense of comfort-ability and familiarity.

Be prepared for questions

The individual age and maturity of an only child will dictate the level of questions, but make no mistake children; especially only children will have questions. Taking the time to fully explain and answer your child’s questions can help assuage the fears of the unknown that may be swirling around in the child’s head. There can also be the mistake of only child parents leaning on their children in times like these. Parents can sometimes treat the only children as more of an equal then they should transferring some of their own fears to a child who may not be mature enough to emotional handle a certain level of stress

Families with an only child can often be seem close knit, even if the parents in essence do not have a happy marriage. The potential effects of a divorce on an only child can be more detrimental in only children. The impact of divorces can be seen resonating throughout many different facets of an only child’s life and for years down the road. Being prepared as a parent with an only child can help soften the blow, remember these children do not have an equal counterpart in the family to lean on in situations where they might feel they cannot go to their parents. Older brothers and sisters sometimes substitute as pseudo parents especially for budding adolescents, but only children have only outward experiences and contacts to learn and lean on. Protecting the blow that divorce can cause will help only children remember that even though apart, their parents will always be there for them.

Divorce Law Explained: the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act

 

Many spouses seeking a divorce have a multitude of questions concerning paperwork, lawyers, fees and a laundry list of other things. When children are involved in the mix, the amount of questions and concerns between spouses increases tenfold. Each state has standard guidelines, rules and stipulations concerning custody and child support. However, when it comes to the matter of children and child support when parents are in different states, the rules change a little. There are a number of different laws and addendum’s that have been put in place to ensure that the rights of the children in these cases are not overlooked.

Uniform Interstate Family Support Act
The UIFSA was put into place to limit the jurisdiction that can properly establish and modify child support orders and address the enforcement of child support obligations within the United States.The act provides a new framework for states to use in collecting child support where the child and the parent reside in different states. It made it easier for state courts to exercise jurisdiction in establishing and collecting child support.

Under the legal definition of the act, support is broad enough to include child support, spousal support, health care, and related costs and attorney fees. More significant, the Act refers to a “tribunal” rather than a court, because its provisions apply to any administrative agency that has the power to establish and enforce child support orders. Many states have child support enforcement agencies with these powers. Each state’s’ Family Law Court will decide who is to rule on matters such as these.

Statewide Implementation

In cases where more than one state is involved in the establishing, enforcing or modifying a child or spousal support order, the Act is implemented to determine the jurisdiction and power of the courts in the each of the states. The Act also establishes which state’s law will be applied in proceedings under the Act. The Act establishes rules requiring every state to defer to child support orders entered by the state courts of the child’s home state.

The Act also provides various direct interstate enforcement mechanisms. This means that, it allows a caretaker parent to have an order mailed to the employer of the obligated parent, which will require that employer to withhold pay for the benefit of the child. Furthermore, it allows the caretaker parent to have an order mailed to an out-of-state court to get the other state to enforce the order. This is only done in severe cases or cases where a parent has failed to pay support for a lengthy period of time.

Child custody and child support laws are some of the strictest and highly enforced. When divorce proceedings take place, these are usually the issues that are highly debated amongst parents. The separation of spouses can sometimes come with an out of state move, for whatever reason. This Act ensures that any child in this circumstance, is protected. The best interest of the child is the priority of the court, no matter which state.

Grandparents: Keep Out!

Divorces often creates a divide when it comes to families and extended families alike. Due to the fact that not all divorces can be amicable and have families fully agree with the situation, and go on living as they did before, divorces can be damaging both mentally and physically sometimes.

Division of families brings the choice of how to go on after the divorce. This is true for everyone directly and indirectly involved. One big decision can change the way in which an entire family lives their lives. Assets are divided, property is distributed, but so too are family members. So many questions are asked, “Do I live with mom or dad?”, “Where do we go for Thanksgiving?” and many more.

One landmark case also changed the face of visitation for extended family forever on June 5th, 2000.

In the case concerning Troxel vs. Granville, the Supreme Court invalidated a Washington State law that allowed third parties to petition for child visitation rights over parental objections. Simply stating that the parents of the children in question were the only ones to decide who could and couldn’t have visitation rights to their children. The Supreme Court said that “the interest of parents in the care, custody, and control of their children is perhaps the oldest of the fundamental liberty interests recognized by this Court,” noting that such petitions are an unconstitutional intrusion into a parent’s right to raise a child as they see fit.

The ruling effectively eliminated grandparents’ visitation rights when parents object to the visitation. This also extended to any other third party directly involved, such as stepparents or other closely tied relatives. The Supreme Court struck down the Washington grandparent visitation statute because it unconstitutionally infringed on the fundamental parental right to raise their children as they see fit.

Due to this case, the law now requires courts to give parents’ decisions concerning whether, when, and how grandparents will associate with their children. Even though Troxel vs. Granville does not define “special weight,” previous Supreme Court precedent indicates that “special weight” is a strong term signifying very considerable deference to any particular person being allowed visitation with children in question.

Parents will ultimately always have the right to govern who their children can see whilst under the age of 18, and rightly so. This ruling only further makes this natural governing all the more legal and final in the eyes of the law. Divorces do unfortunately take their toll on families in a multitude of different ways. Extended family are sometimes just as affected as those directly involved. However, keeping the best interest of all children involved at the forefront of all decisions is something that the courts have done even more so with this ruling.

Pregnant Man Files for Arizona Divorce

 

You know times have changed when you see a headline starting with “pregnant man.” But in today’s world, where gender roles are continually being debated over, and the institution of marriage is being redefined state by state and law by law, it is no surprise that new scenarios in divorce will eventually come to the forefront.

The Blurred Lines of Marriage, Gender, and Divorce Laws

Transgendered couples’ laws are still in their infancy when it comes to marriage and divorce. So it’s no wonder that when it comes to a divorce in this type of situation, the lines are still completely blurred. Thomas Beatie, a transgendered man, was born a woman in his native state of Hawaii. He underwent an external sex change to become, for all intents and purposes, a man before he married his partner, Nancy, in 2003.

After learning that Nancy was unable to bear children, and still having female reproductive organs, Thomas bore their 3 children, making headlines when photos of him pregnant with a mustache were leaked online. Legally married in Hawaii, which recognizes same sex marriages, the couples have since moved their family to Arizona.

The Difference a State Makes

After moving to Arizona, to live the couple recently decided to file for divorce. While Hawaii recognizes their marriage as legitimate, they also recognize Beatie as a man. Arizona’s law, however, does not recognize same sex marriage and the courts have questioned the validity of their marriage. While Beatie’s lawyer has admitted that this scenario was new territory for Arizona law, he argues that if one state recognizes the legality of the situation, who is Arizona to refute the validity?

While it would technically be cheaper for Thomas to have the state not recognize his marriage and bypass having to pay any spousal support, he and his lawyer state that the case is not about the divorce laws themselves, but about validation for Thomas concerning his marriage.

This case, as with many others concerning either same-sex couples or transgendered couples, will continue to make headlines as they push the boundaries of the court courts and law structures. The social pressure on law makers to allow for same sex couples to experience the same rights in marriage as well as sharing in the divorce procedure has greatly increased in the last 10 years. Stories like this and others will grow more common as a collective push is made to increase the rights couples and transgendered marriages like Thomas’.

Pre-Divorce Filing Tips

Divorce is a messy business, but a business nonetheless. Entering into any business, one needs to know just how to survive and to stay afloat; otherwise, being in over your head is going to catch up, and fast.

One of the first things that needs to be done when entering into a divorce, that may be the hardest, is to try to separate the emotional aspects from the business aspects and be sure to get the help you need so you can get the best financial result possible. If a divorce is anything but amicable, the chances of an ex-spouse going for the jugular as far as finances is concerned is quite high. So here is a short list of things that you should do and think about before rushing to file for that divorce.

Finances, Finances, Finances

Understanding your current financial situation, in depth, is a key factor before entering into any divorce proceedings. Asking yourself questions like “What do I own and what do I owe?” are important. Be sure you know whose name certain assets are in, as well as whose name is on the debts. Credit can be ruined overnight if a spouse’s name is on a debt that is owned by the other spouse.

The Big Divide
Look into, properly allocate, and then separate your credit. Try to establish new credit in your name alone while removing your name from joint credit where possible. This will require closing joint credit cards and bank accounts. Start storing your own cash and assets in a new bank account. Setting up after the divorce is final will not be cheap or easy, so save for the immediate future now.

Think Ahead
Go over all wills and deeds; if your beneficiary choices are affected by the divorce, change them. also, consider your insurance needs: first, you’ll want to make certain that you’ll have uninterrupted health insurance. You may also want to consider requiring life insurance to guarantee continued alimony and child support, should your ex-spouse die prematurely. Decide now how college will be funded for any children involved within the dissolution. You can never plan too much. If you’re not the planning type, now marks a great point in your life to start.

The process of divorce is often a highly charged, emotional time. Don’t let the hectic, roller coaster of divorce lead you to make financial mistakes that can affect you for years to come. Plan ahead at all costs. Be rational and calm, especially in a dissolution that is less than amicable. Chances are, your ex-spouse is not thinking of your needs entirely, so look out for number one, and that’s you( and any children you may have).

Religious Conversion in Marriage & Divorce

Religion can often be a large factor in why spouses do not see eye to eye. One of the top 3 reasons, besides infidelity and financial matters, for divorce is conflict pertaining to religion. Many couples who are of different faiths typically marry under the notion they will raise any children from the marriage under one or sometimes both religions. One of the many solutions couples have found to this dilemma is to draft up a legal document stating the stipulations under which their family will be governed, as far as religion is concerned.

However, this written agreement would not be enforceable during marriage and it may not be enforceable in the event of a divorce either, depending on the language, the judge, and the jurisdiction. If you’re married and your spouse does not want to follow the terms of your initial agreement about the children’s upbringing, in many instances, the battle will end in a stalemate. There is no civil legal form to enforce this marital problem, so what do you do?

Loopholes & Lawsuits
So, even with a contractual agreement, signed by both parties, if a conflict does arise with regards to the religious upbringing of children, the matter has no weight unless a divorce is pending. It almost begs the question, “What is the point of the agreement, and how do couples solve the issue without dissolving the marriage?” The civil courts will not rule on a premarital contract regarding religion without a termination of marriage proceeding, i.e. divorce or separation. So, if your spouse changes his or her mind after the birth of the child, then you have a problem on your hands.

Divorcing a Religion

Some courts in New York have upheld these “agreements” to raise children with a specific religion, but again, the courts only ruled on the issue in a termination of marriage proceeding. Sometimes a judge wants to acknowledge the agreement and enforce it or a part of it, no matter who has primary custody.  In other situations, the courts first look at custody and then consider whether the agreement is viable

In many states, a civil premarital agreement does not address any custody, parenting, and support issues for future children, and this obviously includes religious rearing. Religion is generally determined by the parent of primary residence when couples are divorced or separated. Divorce often leads to bitter custody disputes, but when religion and the indoctrination of the child are dependent on the sole custodian, custody battles are intensified.

Not many are aware of the rules that coincide with religion and raising children within a marriage. However, even with said documentation, the law does not fully regulate religion and marriage. These papers will show proof of said agreement, but the problem is finding a judge willing to enforce the agreement in an intact marriage.

If your religion is a large part of your life, it is not a great idea to get involved with someone of another faith, unless they are willing to convert. When people have children, they often revert to and have a renewed sense of pride in the religion they grew up with. They often want to give their children the guidelines, traditions, and values that they grew up with themselves. Setting ground rules and sticking to them is a gamble; but discussing the place of religion in your family at length and theorizing all possible scenarios is good planning.

Splitting Child Custody During the Holidays

Thanksgiving is like a test run for the rest of the season’s holidays for divorced families. There is always the awkward questions of which family the children will spend which holidays with. Divorce creates a messy family life, but with simple planning and cooperation this can be tidied up in a cinch. Each family is different, and so should each family’s holiday custody schedule.

Different Strokes

If you’re having a hard time figuring out your child’s holiday schedule, then here are a few ways it can be done. But again, remember a schedule that works for one family may not work for another; so feel free to alter these schedule examples to fit your needs.

Annual Alternating: The most common schedule is rotating holidays with the child. So one year one parent will have the child on Thanksgiving, and the next year the other parent will have the child on Thanksgiving. This option allows for a more relaxed holiday for both you and your child because there is no time table to be mindful of. The downside is the absence of one of the parents will be a little distressing the first few times for both the absent parent and the child.

Halfsies: Another option is to equally split the holiday with the child. For example, the child would spend the first half of the day with one parent and their family, and then the other half of the day would be spent with the other parent and their family. In doing this, you solve the issue of the parents and child missing the other’s company. However, for this to work the parents and families must live in fairly close proximity. Also, the day would be a bit more rushed and stressful because you’ll have the keep track of time.

Rescheduling the Holidays: If neither of the above options suite your needs, try celebrating the holidays at another time. In this scenario the child would celebrate with one parent and their family on the actual holiday, and then celebrate at a later (or earlier) time with the other parent and their family. This route avoids confusion, time tables, and stressful drop offs all together. But this also means choosing which family will enjoy the child’s presence on the holiday. This would work best if one parent’s holiday plans are already on a day other than the holiday, or if the parents live in different cities.

One Big, Happy Family: This is by far the most unconventional, high risk, high reward option, which is why we saved it for last. If your ex and their family are cordial with you and your family, you could try continuing to celebrate as one big, happy family. The child would feel completely secure within their family, in spite of the divorce; but this means the families would have to be on good terms. Before you try this option have frequent talks about the plans with both families. Maybe have a test run without the child to make sure there will be no fireworks during the holidays; fireworks are only pretty from afar.

There are a few factors to consider when devising a holiday schedule, like the child’s desires, the families’ wishes, the stress factor of the day, where everyone lives, and so much more. But the most important factor is what would make your child’s holidays fun, comfortable, and stress-free. Planning ahead is the key to happy holiday for any divorced family. Hope your Thanksgiving is stress free and pleasant!

The Three Ways to Divorce

Filing for a divorce is the beginning of a major change in one’s life. There are two components of the divorce process that are sometimes hard to keep separated. The emotional divorce, which might already have happened between the divorcing couple, and the official divorce proceedings, which is usually a ongoing. In the official divorce proceeding almost every aspect of the marriage and material goods is negotiated and divided in a way that either the couple sees fit, or the courts deem fair.

However, it is often the case that many couples, clinging to the intense emotional side of divorce, cannot come to a reasonable decision regarding spousal or child support, as well as the division of marital assets. Even with the help of mediation, the intensely personal situation can create a standoff between spouses. The standoff often then leads to the costly arbitration and litigation process. Let’s take a look at the 3 ways the standoff between divorcing spouses can be worked though.

Negotiation

Negotiations are the first step in the process of reaching an agreement between spouses on all the assets, custody, and potential support agreements. Think of the negotiations as taking your wish list regarding how you divide your assets and what your parenting responsibilities should be, and use that wishlist as your starting point. “It’s me and my lawyer versus you and your lawyer finding a compromise”– all with the goal of reaching an acceptable middle ground. Try to avoid the “it’s me and my lawyer versus you and your lawyer trying to get as much as possible,” because then you both will be are stuck in a stubborn, petty stalemate.

The purpose of negotiation is using it to avoid trial. When people file for divorce there’s an expectation that there will be some maneuvering and bargaining and, eventually, a settlement rather than full blown court trial. The typical pattern is to use the threat of trial to get people to bargain and stay out of court.

Arbitration

Arbitration is, in a way, similar to litigation, but it is outside of a courtroom. It is a private process. The divorcing spouses, together with their lawyers, pick a third party decision maker, who is usually a retired judge or senior lawyer with family law experience.

What happens in arbitration is the decision being debated between the couple is imposed by the arbitrator. Unlike mediation, no one helps the couple come to an agreement; the decision is made for them. And, usually, if you don’t like the decision it can’t be appealed, which means you can’t argue it out again for the decision maker to change his or her mind.

Litigation

Litigation is usually the option of last resort. Going to court can be emotionally difficult and very expensive. The lawyers try to poke holes in your persona, showing that you are unfit. That’s why it is called the adversarial process. There is one winner, and one loser. It’s not a win – win situation. It’s a war and there are distinct sides.

Like arbitration, the decision is made by a third party. Unlike arbitration, you can’t pick your decision maker and the judge doesn’t always have family law experience. Another difference is that arbitration is private, and litigation is public. Being public means that there is a public, court record of the dispute.

Avoiding arbitration and litigation is the goal of most divorcing couples. Having to go through a long, dragged out process that ultimately may take the decision-making power out of your hands on very personal matters is simply unacceptable for most people. Today with the option of an online, do it yourself divorce, couples who make an agreement on the major issues of their dissolution can save tremendous amounts of time and money by doing it themselves. At MyDivorceDocuments.com we provide those couples who qualify for an online divorce with accurate and 100% legal divorce papers. Visit our site today and take the first step towards the next phase of your life.

The Singletons: Parents and Prosperous

Superhero mother and babyIt has been said children of rich parents have encouragement, while children of poor parents have grit. In response to this, a recently written article argued that children raised by single mothers have both encouragement and grit. Pamela Krimpke, the author of the Slate article “It’s Better to Be Raised by a Single Mother“, says children of single parents are given real world experiences, which make the children appreciative, hard working, and insightful.

While there is no scientific or psychological research behind this, we are inclined to agree that children of single parents have a little more life experience than children of intact families (which is an entire topic in itself). Yet we won’t discriminate or question the efforts of single fathers. Any single parent deserves to have hats tipped at them and pats on the back.

The Laws of Single Parents

Single parenting is hard. There is no question about it. But here are a few tips that may make the journey just a little more enjoyable and decrease the probability of ripping ones hair out.

Get Some Sleep: For any human being, sleep is an essential part of being able to function. But for parents, single and coupled, sleep is both a necessity and a rare luxury. Some way, somehow, though, you must find a way to get some sleep because sleep boosts immunity, allows your body to repair itself, and releases tension. So whatever you do, make sure your child stays on a reasonable sleep schedule so you can stay on a reasonable sleep schedule.

Weave a Supportive Network: Married parents have a built in support network, but even they need some reinforcements from time to time. A good support network for single parents is imperative. To build a support network, look to family, friends, neighbors, and community groups. Seeking help is not a sign of weakness, but wisdom.

Guard Your Health: You are the one person your kids depend on for everything, so make sure you’re always in good health. The best way to do this is to keep up a healthy regimen of healthy, colorful, fresh foods along with a refreshing exercise schedule. The exercise doesn’t have to be a workout that takes everything out of your; the exercise should be a tension releasing workout that leaves you invigorated, and can double as some well deserved me-time.

Create Structure: For your sanity, and your child’s future, begin setting boundaries and rules early. Part of parenting and setting boundaries is learning to say “No,” and this couldn’t be a better thing for a child to hear every now and again. Learning to set limits and say no will allow you to evaluate and make decisions about what is necessary and what isn’t; it will also teach your child valuable life lessons.

Go Easy on Yourself: For any parent it’s easy to set the lofty goal of trying to be and do everything, but when you don’t reach that goal you feel like a horrible parent. Avoid aspiring to be Wonder Woman or Superman, and just try to be the best you can be; be Super You.  A part of being the best you can be is coming to terms with what your best is and working within your abilities. That’s the way to keep a household happy, whether it’s headed by two parents or just one.

American Girl (and Boy) Divorce

amerdivorceExplaining divorce to children is a complicated, heavy-hearted task, but it’s important to help them understand. Since divorce has become a pervasive part of our world, there are many resources to help broach the topic of divorce with children. Many children’s TV shows and books are helping parents explain what divorce is, and now those TV shows and books have a new ally in Julie Albright.

Julie Albright is a 9 year-old San Francisco native from 1974, who just happens to be a the latest American Girl doll. All the American Girl historical characters live during a time of historical significance, and for 70′s child Julie Albright that is divorce.

That 70′s Divorce Rate

Many ascribe the high divorce rate in the 1970′s to the Women’s Liberation Movement, which pushed for gender equality. As a result of this, women were able to enter the workforce and were no longer dependent upon men and the institution of marriage to survive. The way women viewed marriage altered, and as a result women felt free to leave unhappy marriages.

While the Women’s Liberation Movement was a great gain for civil rights and women’s rights, the high divorce rates created a large group of children of divorce. Divorce was a secretive aspect of life people rarely spoke of or were confronted with. As such, the resources and knowledge about the effects of divorce on children were minimal to zero.

The Julie Albrights of the World

Julie Albright, like all American Dolls historical characters, has a book series. In that book series, Julie shares her sadness and confusion about her parents divorce. Some parents may feel their children shouldn’t be exposed to these “adult” topics, but sharing Julie’s experience assists children of divorce realize they are not alone. Also, Julie’s stories show children that life will be okay, even after divorce.

For children whose parents are married, Julie’s story and her experiences provide insight and understanding in an area they may be completely unaware of. Besides, Julie’s best friend Ivy provides children of intact families with an example of how to deal with topics of divorce as an outsider. In the face of divorce, children whose parents are married may wonder if their parents will be next, and may feel insecure about their own families. The Ivy character calms these anxious feelings by showing not every marriage ends in divorce.

How to Handle Divorce With Children

Divorce may becoming more prevalent in our world, but that doesn’t mean divorce is any easier on children than before. Divorce highly impacts children in psychological ways forever, no matter how it is approached. But parents can lessen the impact and make the impact more positive by handling the divorce appropriately.

For starters, both parents must sit down and talk with the child about the divorce. This is crucial because the divorce talk sets the tone for the rest of the family’s interactions. Both parents must speak calmly and politely to each other, and focus on making the point (repeatedly) that the child is not the cause of the divorce. Allow the child to ask questions, and answer them honestly and openly; however, do not go into the gritty details the child doesn’t need to know about just yet (like the cheating spouse and such). Also, always be available to talk about the divorce or the child’s feelings; this is important to continue to develop the child’s trust, confidence, and self-expression.