Category : Child Custody

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Co-Parents, Co-Pilots

200258257-001The first month of the New Year is about to come to a close, and if January is still the most popular month for divorce, many find themselves facing the task of rebuilding their lives. You may feel pain, resentment, and confusion over the situation, but the world still continues to turn, as divorced parents are fully aware. So hold yourself together, pick yourself up, and start rebuilding your life.

However, we have one caveat when rebuilding your life, and it concerns children. If you and your ex had children, just realize it will be impossible (and probably unhealthy) to try to rebuild without including your ex. We’ve said it once, and we’ll say it again: You can stop being someone’s spouse, but you can’t stop being someone’s parent.

Erasing the ‘Bad Parent’ Feeling

It will be difficult to still allow the person who caused (and causes) you so much pain to still have any part of your life, but there are a few ways to try to make it work. Just a few words of wisdom before we launch into what seems like a Herculean task: These tips are guidelines, which might be terribly difficult to follow.

Just recognize no one is (or should) be expecting you to be able to follow these guidelines immediately. Think of them as an end goal in this whole situation. No one is perfect, and the last thing you need is to be left feeling inadequate or like a lesser person for not being able to shut off your feelings.

Rebuilding Your Life, With Your Ex

You and your ex need to establish your roles as divorced parents, and how that will play out for the rest of the children’s lives. Here are a few goals to aspire to in your new “co-parenting” journey.

  • Keep Civil Rights Alive: You don’t have to be buddy-buddy, but avoid being antagonistic. So be civil, even if there are some things or words of your ex’s that make you want to laser beam them into ashes. This will give your children a feeling of stability, instead of making them as though they have to suit up like a S.W.A.T. team whenever their parents are together.
  • Planning Makes Perfect: Collaborate on a schedule for the children. Planning for who will have the kids on holidays and such will eliminate stress, high-strung emotions, and probably tears. It will also allow for a more peaceful co-parenting transition for the children.
  • You Are Not the Gestapo: You know how the secret police in Nazi Germany would hold 24 hour or longer interrogations, making people confess to what the Gestapo wanted to hear? Don’t do that. When your children come home from time with your ex, don’t fire off rounds of questions. You may ask “Did you have fun?,” but questions about your ex’s personal life are off limits. Also, if you have questions about the schedule, ask your ex. Keep the children out of the middle for your sanity and theirs.
  • Don’t Play Hide-And-Seek: Get used to being in the same room, at the same time, as your ex. It will be difficult for quite a while, but don’t let these moments of brief contact be about the contact. Chances are, the contact will be necessary for the children (school plays, parent-teacher meetings, awards ceremonies, graduation, recitals, and so much more). This will make future functions easier on both of you, as well as keep your child from being addicted to anxiety pills.

There is one last giant addition to this list, but its so important to fully understand, it requires its own blog. So just bear with us, and we’ll get to it tomorrow. In the meantime, let us know what you think about these tips/guidelines/ goals (whatever you want us to call them). Will they be difficult or easy? Are there any we missed?

The Number 1 Rule of Co-Parenting

shocked babyWe’re back, and we’re ready to get right into the number one rule of co-parenting after divorce or during the divorce process. Like we said in the last blog, this rule seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many times this rule is broken. Here it is: Never ever speak ill of the other spouse in front of the children.

Think of the Children

You may be thinking to yourself “Really? That’s the big rule?” But before you brush us off, hear us out. Bad-mouthing your ex in front of your children greatly harms them, and the effects can last a lifetime. You see, your child gets half of their genes, features, and mannerisms from your ex. So when you verbally mutilate your ex, in your child’s eyes, you’re mutilating them as well.

Not only can this create resentment (directed at you, no less) within your child, this creates anxiety and fear within your child as well. In a Huffington Post article, a researching author shared the fruits of her research about the effects of divorce on children. One of her subjects, “Mike,” is a 43 year-old, well put together man who has lived in fear of his mother viewing him as a “loser,” like his dad.

Another subject brings up a separate issue: the damage the resentment you hold has on you. “Heidi” is a 38 year-old stylist who dreads bringing people to her mother’s house because her mother can’t resist the temptation to tell visitors about her greedy ex-husband. Heidi’s parent’s divorced 30 years ago, and the only growth in her mother’s life is her healthy 30 year-old resentment.

But here’s the real kicker, bad-mouthing is not just a horrible habit, it’s a component of parental alienation, which is being recognized more and more.

Extra-Parental Alienation

Parental alienation is a term for the subconscious (or conscious) practice of undermining the relationship between the child and the other parent. Parental alienation can take place due to bad-mouthing the other parent in front of the child, which changes the child’s perception of the other parent; by asking your child to spy on the other parent; by disrupting the other parent’s visitation; making your child feel guilty for spending time with the other parent, and so much more.

You may be doing these things without meaning to, so be careful to stay unbiased with your child when it comes to your ex. Without intending to, you may be causing harm to your child; for example, if you let the child choose between spending time with one or the other parent, this could translate to the child as a loyalty test. So how do you navigate co-parenting after divorce, without meandering into the dark side?

Stopping the He Said, She Said

Here are a few ways to put your foot down on parental alienation, without putting your foot in your mouth:

- Don’t fight fire with fire. If it turns out your ex is bad-mouthing you, resist the urge to address this with your child. In trying to set the record straight, you may end up caught in the bad-mouthing cycle yourself.

-  Take the high road. If your child comes to you with disturbing slander your ex dished out, don’t be too reactive. Just say something like you don’t know why they would say that, and they probably didn’t mean it. If the cause of the divorce comes up, just leave it at you two divorced because you couldn’t get along, and that has nothing to do with the child.

- Find a vent. Divorce creates emotionally draining and straining situations, just recognize and accept this. To prevent the urge to bad-mouth and vent your divorce frustrations with your child, find a friend, relative, professional, or group to do this with instead. For your sanity and your child’s, find another venting source.

Parenting Teens After Divorce, Step 3: Preserve Childhood

89585334We’ve come to our last tutorial on parenting teenagers through a divorce, and we’ve saved the best for last. Step 1 was about establishing a strong communication line between you and your teen, and Step 2 was about effective parenting during the teen years. Step 3 is all about focusing on you, so you can let your child have their childhood. At first this might seem like an direct paradox, but hear us out and all will be clear.

#3: Let Them Be Young

During and after a divorce, a parent may be experiencing such a horrible time that their child steps up and becomes caretaker, confidant, and, inadvertently, co-parent. This phenomenon has been labeled as parentified children, which basically describes a child who has assumed parental duties at a young age. The most common example of parentified children are the eldest children of large families. These children are often called upon to be mommy’s or daddy’s little helper with wrangling their younger siblings, but its a slippery slope to taking on parental duties, cleaning duties, and eventually running the household.

In divorce, children (including teens) can become parentified children if their parent is perceived to be overburdened and so distraught they cannot function without help. Divorce marks a devastating time in any spouse’s life, but if there are children involved the parents must try to avoid casting their child in a caretaker role. It can be tempting to view your new familial situation as you and your child against the world, but be careful of stripping your child of their childhood.

How to Preserve Childhood

We don’t mean to scare parents into keeping their distance from their children, we just want parents to be aware of the consequences of their actions. There are a few ways to be emotionally close with your child, have great communication, and not parentify your child. Let us show you how:

  • Don’t talk to your teen like you would your friend. You and your teen can be friends, but know the difference between the two relationships. For example, with your friend you would vent about your ex, your feeling of despair, and your deep insecurities and doubts. With your child you can convey your feelings, but you shouldn’t ever bad-mouth your ex (their parent) or put doubt in their mind about your ability to keep it together. Doing those things would only trigger anxiety within your teen and trigger parentification.

  • Don’t make your teen the middleman between you and your spouse. This essentially forces your teen to play diplomat to two feuding countries. It will also put your teen in the awkward position of having to choose between their parents. If you had two children, would you want them to make you choose who you loved more? No. So don’t reverse the role on your child.

  • Don’t make your teen the sole source of your life and happiness. It places a great burden and responsibility on them, makes them miss out on activities, and it will leave you unsatisfied. Find something you can do alone for you; become a hiking fanatic, join a book club, or take up a new hobby. Keep yourself balanced, and you’ll bring balance to your household.

A Little Lesson About Taxes and Divorce

200264112-001Oh, tax season. The time of year when you can hear the clickety-clack of calculator buttons, and smell the nervous sweat on men and women alike. The only thing that could improve this glorious season is divorce.

…Said no one ever, not even tax specialists. In fact, the only thing that makes tax season worse is divorce (or is it the other way around?). But it doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom, taxes can still be relatively simple as long as you know the basics. Where divorce is concerned, the tax basics are: deciding on a filing status, navigating the exemptions, and figuring out the tax refund.

Find Your Filing Status

Filing statuses are fairly cut and dry, so there isn’t too much confusion or misinformation about how to file your taxes. However, there are a few options available to couples who are separating or staying together.

Generally, a person’s legal filing status goes by what their status was at the end of the tax year. If you were legally divorced, or legally separated by or on December 31st, 2012, or living separate and apart for the last 6 months of 2012, then you will file as single or head of household. If you were still legally married by or on December 31st, 2012, then you will file as married.

However, married couples do have the option of filing taxes together or separately. So if you were still legally married by December 31st, and your and your soon-to-be-ex don’t want to file together, you may file as “married filing separately.” Just note that by opting to file married but separately, you are opting out of the tax benefits of filing as married; so if you and your spouse can tolerate each other it might be beneficial to give filing taxes together one more go.

Catch a Tax Break or Exemption

The most common and plentiful tax exemptions are for married couples with children; and the most common misconception divorced couples have about taxes is that they can both take exemptions for the child. Divorced couples can divide the exemptions, but there cannot be two people claiming exemptions for one child.

Most couples choose to alternate years claiming the children on their taxes. For example, the mother would claim the children on even years, and the father would claim the children on odd years. However, the parent with primary custody of the child usually claims the child every year. If the other parent pays for the child’s medical expenses, that parent may take those deductions.

Just as a little disclaimer, one child expense that is not tax deductible is child support. The parent paying the child support cannot take deductions for the payments made because child support is considered tax neutral.

The Tax Refund Raffle

That night, after filing taxes, everyone goes to bed with dreams of a big, fat tax refund dancing through their mind. Divorce does not dissuade this pipe dream of swimming in your tax refund, but here are ways to increase your little neat refund pile. As tax refunds go, married people with children they can claim as dependents have it pretty good.

As a divorcee, you may be hanging your head, but don’t despair for too long. Divorcees can get better tax refunds if they pay alimony, if they can claim any children as dependents, and more.

Have any more pressing tax questions? Leave a comment below and we’ll get to the bottom of it for you.

Nesting Into Divorce

Nesting child custody methodDivorce may not seem like something that can evolve, but attitudes towards divorce and divorce practices are evolving. A prime example of divorce evolution is collaborative divorce, which only become a practice around the 1980′s. Well, prepare yourself for the latest stage of divorce evolution, called “nesting.”

Nesting is a child custody plan that allows the children of divorce to stay in the same house, while the parents are the ones who shuttle back and forth. Nesting requires three houses: one where the children live, one where the father lives, and one where the mother lives. The idea is to allow the children to continuously live in one home to lessen the negative impact of divorce.

A Child Custody By Many Other Names

Just to add a little more confusion into the mix, nesting is known by a few other names. However, nesting (aka aparenting, aka birdnesting, aka kids stay) is a fairly simple custody method; just think of nesting as an extreme version of joint custody.

Basically, the parents each rent an apartment or place of their own, but keep the house they lived in together during the marriage. The parents create a schedule to decide which parent stays in the house with the children for a certain amount of time. A common nesting schedule alternates the parents in the house with the children weekly or bi-weekly.

Three Homes, Two Parents, One Big Problem?

While nesting might seem like a viable option only for Birkenstock-wearing, granola-eating, peace-talking divorcees, nesting is touted to be a viable option for anyone who can manage to put the kids first. However, nesting should only be used in cases that are completely without any kind of abuse (emotional, sexual, physical).

Still nervous about the thought of having to share a common dwelling with your ex-spouse? Yeah, we totally understand that, but everyone who has successfully used nesting as a custody method gives the same advice: Just step up.

Easier Said…

The most annoying direction is probably “Don’t try, just do.” Hearing this may make your blood boil, but just think about the empowering message hidden in the condescending package. In the context of divorce, just doing it and taking each day one at a time is basically all any divorcee can do.

So the “Just step up” argument for nesting is really not so offensive or blood-boiling, especially when the pay-off is emotionally stable children.

Is Nesting That Beneficial?

While the downside to nesting includes living in a home that smacks of your ex, and having to maintain two houses, the upside appears to easily outweigh the negatives.

Firstly, just the fact that the children aren’t expected to be on the ones dividing their time and love is a giant bonus. All the negative impacts (being put in the middle, feeling unstable and uprooted, being confused about the physical family structure, feeling uncomfortable and unaccommodated in their parents’ new spaces, etc.) divorce is said to have on children would be a lot less of an issue just by trying the nesting method.

Secondly, the parents would have to come to terms with being forever connected sooner rather than later. Since this is the main hang-up for parents after divorce, nesting essentially forces them to be the adult and deal with it, and fast.

Thirdly, nesting doesn’t have to be permanent and allows the family to take their time in deciding how to handle the divorce. Nesting could be used as a transition parenting plan, it could be temporary, or it could be permanent. Nesting allows the family to avoid making rushed, emotion-based decisions.

What do you think about nesting? Does it give you the heebie-jeebies, or does it peak your interest?

www.MyDivorceDocuments.com | Uncontested Divorce Questions Answered

uncontested divorce questionsContrary to popular belief, not every divorce has to be a drawn-out court affair with dramatic statements and ruthless negotiations. In fact, there are many ways to go about getting a divorce nowadays, and only a few of them involve nasty courtroom brawls. One of the easiest, pain-free ways to get a divorce is by getting an uncontested divorce.

What is an uncontested divorce?

An uncontested divorce does not involve lawyers, court battles, or rulings handed down by judges. Instead, an uncontested divorce involves the divorcing spouses sitting down and deciding for themselves how to divide their marital estate.

This is how it works: The spouses going through an uncontested divorce must either agree or be able to agree on how to resolve the issues brought up in the marital settlement agreement.

Points in the marital settlement agreement in need of resolution include:

  • division of assets (like checking and saving accounts, and profits from a shared business)

  • personal property (like home furnishings, electronics, and cars)

  • real property (like houses, condos, and apartments)

  • debts (credit card debt, mortgages, etc.)

  • whether or not to award spousal support, and how much to award

  • child issues (like child support, child custody, visitation schedules, and more)

How much does an uncontested divorce cost?

The cost of an uncontested divorce is quite minimal, since the divorcee doesn’t have to pay for a lawyer. In an uncontested divorce, you must only pay the filing fee (which varies from state to state).

However, the cost of an uncontested divorce can vary based on how you go about pursuing the divorce. These are your choices:

  • Fill out the forms yourself: The upside to filling out the divorce forms yourself is there is no additional cost. But the downside is that the slightest mistake or inconsistency in your paperwork can lead to your divorce forms being rejected, which would delay the divorce process.

  • Hire a lawyer: Some divorcees choose to hire a lawyer to fill out the divorce papers for them, which drives up the cost of an uncontested divorce quickly. True, the divorce papers will be completed correctly, but the cost is usually not worth the minimal labor.

  • Use a divorce forms service: A divorce forms service is not a legal advisory center or other type of legal aide; it is a company that specializes in completing divorce forms. These companies are usually a good option because the services do not cost as much as a lawyer, and the forms are completed by professionals.

However, be wary of false divorce forms services. Scammy divorce forms service companies usually do not have a method of contact on their website (like a phone number, address, or live customer support module). Before making payments to an online divorce forms service, make sure the website has a method of securing your payment.

Can we get an uncontested divorce if we don’t get along?

You and your spouse may not be the best of friends during your divorce, and that’s okay, even in an uncontested divorce. The divorcing couple may not stand the sight of each other, but as long as they can agree on how they want to settle the matters discussed in first section (division of assets, child issues, and more), they can get an uncontested divorce.

If during the divorce, the spouses find an area they cannot agree on, negotiate, or otherwise overcome, then they may have to seek mediation. If the divorce is at a standstill because of certain issues, then the divorce is considered contested, and the couple will have to hire a lawyer.

Is this helpful information, or is there a question about uncontested divorces we missed? Let us know in the comment box below.

The Evolution of Child Custody

history of child custodyLittle more than a decade ago, it was estimated that 90% of child custody was settled with the mother gaining full custody of the children. This obvious imbalance in custodial arrangements has made fathers all over America wonder at the horrible injustice and sex discrimination perpetrated by American courts.

But the courts didn’t just wake up one day and decide mothers were better parents; and family court judges are not battling Oedipus complexes. The reason about 90% of mothers received child custody in the past is due to a little thing called the Tender Years Doctrine. But we’ll get to the Tender Years Doctrine in a bit; first we have to make our way through a short history of the evolution of child custody law.

From Ancient Rome to 2013 America

Roman common law, established around 439 B.C., dictated that children of a marriage were the property of the father. This meant if a Roman husband and wife divorced, the children stayed with the father and the mother left.

Jump ahead hundreds of years to English common law, established around 1000 A.D., which upheld the same child custody outline as Roman common law. Simply carry the same basic common laws over into the founding of America, and you have the basis of American custody laws. The law theory pertaining to child custody was that the father was the only suitable parent to teach the children the ways of the world.

However, hundreds of years later during the time of the Industrial Revolution in the late 1800′s, the question of what was best for the child became the focus.

Tender Years Doctrine

The Tender Years Doctrine replaced old Roman and English common law child custody arrangements by giving mothers custody of children, until the age of 6. This change was spurred by the Industrial Revolution’s impact on family structure.

The Industrial Revolution caused men to seek jobs away from the remote villages the English people lived in up until that point. The absence of husbands and fathers forced women and mothers to handle the housekeeping and child rearing completely by themselves. When divorces occurred during this time, the courts saw how impossible it would be for fathers to continue to take full custody of the children.

The Tender Years Doctrine stated that children under the age of 6 were too young to leave their mother’s love and care. However, once children grew older, they were of sufficient age and maturity to follow their fathers to industrial towns to work. In America, the Tender Years Doctrine extended the mother’s custody indefinitely, which is the cause of the statistic describing mothers retaining child custody 90% of the time after a divorce.

Do We Have a New Doctrine?

The 1960′s marked the beginning of the divorce spike, which peaked in the 1980′s; but the divorce revolution also sparked a child custody revolution in the U.S. The new child custody doctrine is defined not by the gender of the custodian (a.k.a. the parent granted with child custody), but by the best interests of the child.

So far, this new “best interests” custody doctrine adopted by American family law courts has created the joint custody option. The first joint custody statute was implemented in California in 1979; by 1991, joint custody was written into more than 40 state statutes.

But here’s the catch: Many people are still seeing mothers gaining preferential custody rights in the divorce process. This claim produces many questions, like “Is this still true today?”

Check back with us later this week for the answer to that question.

Do Fathers Have Custody Rights?

fathers rightsParents: Have any of you parents found yourself with your foot shoved far into your mouth? Yeah, so has every other person at one point in time. But trips to the playground seem to coincide with sudden cravings for the taste of feet. The huddle of parents watching their children play is a breeding ground for innocent-enough small talk, until one person makes the assumption that the divorced father just has visitation.

Each person in the group suddenly is interested in the look of their shoes, eyes widen, and lips slowly are pressed into a thin line. If the seemingly-innocent comment was fresh of your lips, your eyes mirror the apology currently flowing from your mouth.

The Truth About Father Custodians

If the father had heard this before, and is aware of the statistics, they probably were not too offended. After all, the 2009 U.S. census reports only about 17.8% of fathers gain full custody rights of the children after a divorce. It was just your luck that you bumped into the 1 father out of 6 who was the custodial parent. But, if you are the father fighting for custody, don’t let past statistics guide your choice to fight the good custodial fight.

Historically, fathers were the preferred custodian of any children in a divorce or marital split (which we discussed at length in a previous blog); but at the turn of the century, mothers became the championed custodial parents. Ever since the switch in child custody doctrines (read the blog and you’ll understand), the number of custodial mothers have all but stomped out the number of custodial fathers.

In custody battles, fathers may dejectedly say or think, “What’s the point of fighting for custody? The courts never favor the father.” But we are here to say, “Buck up, soldier. These days, fathers have just as many rights to custody as mothers.”

Fighting the Good Fight

We don’t normally endorse any kind of animosity or battling, but when a child’s true best interests are at stake, we fully support fighting the good fight. And besides, single fatherhood is quickly gaining momentum in American society.

In 1993, Indiana became the first American state to pass a child custody law in favor of joint parenting plans. Since then, the other U.S. states have passed similar custody laws championing joint parenting plans. As a result, the amount of single fathers grew by 37.9 percent between the years of 1990 and 2000; the rate continued to increase by 27.3% between the years of 2000 and 2010.

The Pen is Mightier

Although the world we live in might seem to enjoy horrific wars, the pen really is mightier than the sword; this is true especially during a custody battle. Nowadays, courts are focusing more on the best interests of the child, instead of the genders of the parents and child involved.

The courts generally consider the best interests of the child to be factors like:

  • maintaining the same standard of living

  • living in a stable, familiar environment

  • living with the parent who cared and provided for the child on a daily basis

If the father provide examples of all the factors above (and the other state-specific requirements), then he has a good chance of gaining custody. However, don’t take our word as divorce law. If you’re embroiled in a heated custody battle, you should probably seek legal guidance.

We try our best to be helpful and informative at MyDivorceDocuments.com, but we can’t cover everything without hearing from you. If you have a question or comment, let us know in the comment box below. We’ll do our best to get you the best information available.

Post-Divorce Kid-Friendly Moving Tips

Divorce might as well be a synonym of the word “change,” because life is the never the same after divorce enters the picture. Conversations with your spouse aren’t the same after divorce is discussed, family outings don’t have the same cheery feel, and the wedding ring on your finger feels just a little too cold. But those feelings are nothing compared to the changes your family will have to face in the months and years to come.

One of the biggest changes for children is the new living arrangement. Undoubtedly, someone is moving out of the family home, which is stressful for children. But when the entire family is moving out of the family home, and moving to different places, the children are left reeling.

Walk in Their Size 4′s

A study published by the University of Virginia looked into the relationship between the frequency at which a person moved during childhood and the person’s life satisfaction as an adult. In 1994, the researchers interviewed 7,108 Americans between the ages 20 and 75 years-old about their childhood moves,personality types, and life satisfaction.

The researchers found people who moved less during childhood reported having more extroverted personalities and a higher satisfaction in life. People who moved more during childhood reported being more introverted and feeling less satisfaction in life.

But let’s take a little reality check: This study did not observe the children during childhood moves, and only asked participants to vaguely describe their life satisfaction. Additionally, there is no reported information about the participant’s upbringing or other childhood experiences.

Now Guide Their Size 4′s

Here’s the point we want to make: Divorce and the task of moving can be disastrous for a child, but don’t despair that you child will become a delinquent just because the family is moving. Just like everything else in life, there are good ways to handle a situation and not so productive or positive ways to handle a situation.

Many a parent is probably throwing their arms up in indignation, yelling “What else am I doing wrong now?!” Just bear with us, we are not trying to tell you that moving will cause your child irreparable damage. We are just saying it might be prudent to check in with your child about their feelings about moving; and by “might be” we mean “it is.”

Make Their Moving Frown Upside-Down

Here are a few tips to make moving less of a traumatic incident and more of an exciting event.

#1: Keep the communication lines free and clear. Communication is the most important element in a healthy relationship, and it is the best way to make sure your child have everything they need to be happy and healthy.  Take time out of each day to talk to your child about their take on moving. Let them speak freely about the anger, fear, excitement, or anxiety they feel, and try to leave your stress out of this moment.

Moving for divorcing parents is more of a necessity, and maybe even a welcome change. Just recognize moving does not mean the same things to your child, and let them be able to confide that in you without scolding or pressure to change their feelings.

#2: Inclusion is better than dictation. The family dynamic has changed, and now the physical family make-up is changing. For your, child this is an apocalypse; so seize the moment to create a new and improved family dynamic and make-up.

If the family used to be run just by mom and pop, then make this the the beginning of the era of inclusion. Let the kids have a say in where they live, how their room looks, and how to decorate the new house. It will reassure them the family is still theirs to be a part of.

#3: Give them closure. The physical act of moving is as simple as putting things in boxes and trucks, and transporting them to the new house. But moving involves memories, sentimentality, and the disruption of normalcy. For your children, they are leaving everything they know in the world for a foreign land.

To make the move more conclusive, we suggest these 2 things: 1) Wait to move until the end of the school year. Not only would the mid-year move affect their grades, but getting to know a new neighborhood, teacher, friends, and life style would be too much to handle at once. 2) Have a little farewell party or tour. Take you child to visit their old favorite places and friends. This will give the child a positive end to the move, and maybe even excite them for the new places and people they’ll love.

Collaborative Divorce: Stuck Between Contested and Uncontested

78630844The availability of the collaborative divorce process is gaining steam as more states sign it into law. A less adversarial form of divorce, collaborative divorce still allows the couple to make all separation agreements without sitting, or heatedly standing, in a courtroom.

Although uncontested divorce is the most ideal case in which spouses can settle things peacefully on their own, a collaborative agreement involving two lawyers keeps the situation out of any court drama that often ensues during contested cases. Thankfully, a new collaborative divorce law was just passed in Washington, solidly making available a more peaceful divorce experience for all involved.

Terminology Lesson

Just so we’re all on the same page, here are definitions of most kinds of divorce:

Uncontested Divorce: A divorce in which the couple agrees on all allocations of marital property, child custody, child support, and/or alimony. Uncontested divorce essentially eliminats the need for lawyers or a judge in court. An uncontested divorce usually gives a no-fault grounds for divorce.

Contested Divorce: The opposite of uncontested, contested divorce means the couple cannot make a settlement agreement on their own due to disputes. Lawyers and a judge are needed to make the settlement for them. The process is longer and more expensive.

Mediated Divorce: A divorce where the couple hires a mediator, who is usually a divorce attorney trained in mediation, to help them settle allocations agreeably.

Collaborative Divorce: Similar to mediated divorce, except the couple hires two lawyers, one for each spouse, to help them come to an agreement and draft the divorce settlement.

Good News for Washington

Despite its effectiveness, the collaborative divorce option is only enacted in a few U.S. states. One state that just made it available and signed it into law is Washington, to the joy of many supporters.

Called the Uniform Collaborative Law Act, it enables couples to utilize mental health professionals and child specialists as well as lawyers to make the out-of-court option run even smoother. Child therapist Kristin Little remarks, “You’re helping people to be good parents through the divorce, so you’re actually preventing a lot of the damage that can occur during the divorce.”

Indeed, going through divorce is especially hard on children, who tend to be caught in the eye of the storm. “I have been doing family law litigation 25 years and court is no place for families,” says Washington based lawyer, Cynthia First. When disputes need to be resolved themselves, leaving them out of the court’s hands means less hassle and more peace.

Amicable Splitting

The best way to settle any conflict or disagreement is through reasonable compromise and speedy resolution. That kind of attitude and problem-solving leads to feelings of goodwill for the ex-spouse and life after divorce. Even though spouses often have serious disagreements over what will happen to their life’s possessions during divorce, they can find a way to temper them independently through options like collaborative divorce. The collaborative divorce process frees up more time and resources for the divorcee to focus on other things, like moving on.