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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’.

When to Introduce the Children

 

Divorces aren’t fun for anyone involved. The dissolution of a marriage and the breakdown of a family is devastating. However, being happy and true to oneself is of the utmost importance in these situations, and to life in general. Rebuilding your life after a divorce is part of the healing process, and for many this includes romantic interests.

When divorcees do meet that special someone, often times, telling their new significant other about their past divorce is one of the hardest things they ever have to do. Right on par with this hard task is telling them about your children; and harder still, introducing your special someone to said children.

When & How
It’s important to take things slowly when children are involved, especially if the children are of a very young age. When and how to introduce the kids to your dating partner and their kids depends on several very calculated variables:

1) Time is Precious

Waiting a significant amount of time is always best when thinking about introducing a significant other to the children. The simple fact of the matter is depending on how long after the divorce this new relationship is formed, the children are more than likely still going through the healing process. It often takes children longer than parents to fully adapt and comprehend to new situations. Making sure that your significant other is in for the long haul, and can handle children in all settings is something you want to know before introducing these components of your life. Having a slew of “special” people meet your children and have nothing pan out can damage both you and your children in terms of mental stability.

2) Relationship Status

Introducing a significant other to anyone important in your life, let alone your children, is important. However, determining what the new relationship is before all of this introducing is even more important. Establishing ground rules, and setting goals is a good thing to do in the infancy of a relationship. Knowing that both parties are on the same page helps, because if one person is not looking for anything serious, introducing children should be out of the question entirely.

3) Establishing Terms

If introducing the new person in your life to your children is indeed what you want to do, it’s important that the two of you weighed all of the options, discuss, and agree on how it will occur, together. Knowing that both parties are completely in sync with how the process will work is beneficial to all involved. Perhaps only one day a week with the whole new blended family is best, perhaps more. As long as everyone involved, including the children, know what is going on then the process should go smoothly.

In conclusion, it’s best to hold off involving your kids in a new relationship without exploring all options and variables beforehand, as it may cause them further trauma, and possibly sabotage your new relationship too. Wait until you are certain and secure as a couple, and until you both have realistic expectations. If it’s really something that is important to you both, then waiting will not be a problem. The best and smoothest transition is what the overall goal should be, so do all you can to achieve it.

What To Do In Cases of Domestic Violence

Regardless of your views on family structure and divorce, when it comes to domestic violence, getting out should be the only decision. Sadly, many people become victims of domestic violence each year, and countless instances are hushed up out of fear.  It is often times harder for someone to make the decision to leave than to actually leave and begin the divorce process. But once your mind has been made up, there should be no looking back.

Domestic violence is about fear, control, and the abuse of false power. If and when you decide to leave an abusive spouse, this could make the abuser lose even more control.. In other words, exercise caution when preparing an exit strategy.

Preparing to Leave

When you make the decision to leave an abusive relationship, you must be prepared for the subsequent fall out and repercussions. You are making the right choice for yourself, potential children involved, and your future. Here are some tips to take inconsideration before planning your escape; some tips are obvious, and some may not be:

  1. If you feel your safety is at risk, get a civil or criminal restraining order and have it in place before you leave.
  2. Have somewhere to go. Research local domestic violent safe havens and shelters.  Ask a friend if you can stay with her/him, or, if you can afford it, rent an apartment but keep your address from your spouse.

It is also important to remember to take important documents with you. Birth certificates, driver’s license, social security card, health insurance cards, credit cards, and all cards that are in your name. Also, if you can, take any property deeds or bank statements. It is also important to take any restraining or court orders you already have against your spouse with you. This may seem drastic, but only you know how your relationship has been and what you situation is.

Domestic Violence Statistics

The most unnerving thing about incidents of domestic violence are the thousands of cases that go unreported. Women, men, and children are all at risk of the residual effects that can go with an abusive relationship. Thousands of serious cases are reported each year, but even more go unreported. Here are some eye-opening stats about domestic violence in the U.S.:

  1. Every day in the U.S., more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends
  2. The costs of intimate partner violence in the U.S. alone exceed $5.8 billion per year. $4.1 billion are for direct medical and health care services, while productivity losses account for nearly $1.8 billion.
  3. Nearly 1 in 5 teenage girls who have been in a relationship said a boyfriend threatened violence or self-harm if presented with a breakup.
  4. Studies suggest that up to 10 million children witness some form of domestic violence annually.

Divorce in general is never optimal, but it is a necessity when it comes to abusive relationships. The severity and exposure to abuse can occur on such a wide range, form outright psychical abuse to passive aggressive, emotional abuse. No one deserves to or should live in an abusive  situation. Understandably, these situations are extremely complex, but knowing how to be prepared and what to do will help you when the time comes to make the decision to leave.

If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, don’t stay quiet, help them attain the freedom they deserve. But help can come in many different ways. For advice on how best to help, visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

2nd & 3rd Marriages Destined to Fail?

The rate at which first marriages are lasting for more than 25 years is steadily flirting around the 50% mark. This means that the number of people on their second or third marriage is becoming larger by the minute. Statistics have shown that in the U.S., 50 percent of first marriages, 67 percent of second, and 73 percent of third marriages are ending in divorce.

There are many different theories as to why these numbers are so staggering. One common explanation is that a significant number of people enter into a second or third marriage “on the rebound” of a first or second divorce. This means that they are so used to having a significant other that they rush into another relationship, either not fully knowing their new spouse, or not being 100% sure that they even want to be married to this person.

The divorcees in question are usually vulnerable; they do not wait a sufficient time to recover from their divorce or to get their priorities straight before taking their vows again. They enter their next marriage for the wrong reasons, not having internalized the lessons of their past experiences. Time heals all wounds, as they say. However, many are just not willing to wait for whatever reason.

Reasons for the Fall
Now, obviously there isn’t just one clear cut, factor to account for such high rates of second and third failed marriages. There are some individuals in second and third marriages who consider divorce manageable and not necessarily a tragedy. They have handled it once, so they will handle it again. They may even recognize the warning signs earlier than they did first time around and are quicker to react.

One of the other popular theories for the increase of first marriages during recent decades is the gained equality between the genders. Women have become more financially independent and more self sufficient in the workplace, and men have become increasingly more domestically independent.

Gender roles and stereotypes are breaking down, and a stigma is no longer being placed on the stay at home father, or the businesswoman who works 50 hours a week. With the economy coming to a slow rise, these things aren’t frowned upon.

Therefore it shouldn’t be surprising that if and when these individuals move on to a second or third marriage, they are likely to feel inclined to protect themselves emotionally and financially.

Food For Thought
These reasons reflect the logical and statistical side of why the divorce rate among second and third marriages is so high, so here are the more human interest aspects of the divorce rate.

Usually, second and third marriages are later on in life, meaning children and family have been established in prior relationships. So in these later nuptials, its safe to say that there is less glue holding the marriage together. Children typically act as a stabilizing factor, and when children are absent the marriage is prone to be less sturdy and withstand the storms that marriage brings.

In the U.S, an overwhelmingly high percent of children are born in first marriages, and to spouses that are 35 and under. Most couples in a second marriage do not have common children to bind them together. Conversely, not having shared responsibility for kids means it’s easier to leave when you are going through a rough patch.

Relationships become increasingly tangled and complicated with subsequent marriages, and it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain an even keel when on your third marriage. The luster and grandeur of marriage is somewhat lost after the first time, and becomes hard to maintain.  On a day-to-day level, maintaining those relationships is not easy and frequently generates animosity. It is just harder to keep the love alive as the years go on and previous marriages have worn the soul. Making your first one count is the best advice that anyone can give those who are married or even contemplating a divorce.

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 Kids Are All Right

In a touching Huffington Post article, the author compiled a list of wonderful things children had to say to their parents after their divorce. Wait, children can handle divorce? This idea clashes with the notion that divorce ruins children emotionally for life. As it turns out, the doublespeak occurs unabashedly. While browsing the Huffington Post’s divorce section, you can also see titles like, “Study: Divorce Affects Kids’ Math and Social Skills,” “5 Reasons Divorce is Good for Kids,” “Children of Divorce More Likely to Contemplate Suicide,” and “Should You Stay Together for the Kids?”

With all this conflicting information dumped on parents, it’s a miracle anyone makes it to finalizing their divorce without a mental breakdown. But there is a way to divorce without ruining your children’s lives, and that’s with honesty and affection.

Honesty

Most divorce articles and studies note that children who have been negatively impacted by divorce feel they cannot trust others. This is probably due to the way the divorce was sprung upon the children. Divorce can take children by surprise, and it often does. In a child’s mind, there are two parents, and it would defy logic and reason for the parents to split; it’s like a divorce cannot even take place. That is, until the child’s parents sit down and tell the child point blank, “Mommy and Daddy are getting divorced. We are not going to live together anymore, but we still love you.”

This is an honest statement, but up until this point was the child able to see that sometimes even parents don’t agree? The lie in this scenario was the “all is as it should be” lie, which is a lie of omission parents frequently make. We’re not promoting full-fledged arguments in the child’s presence, but we also do not support lying to your children that life is always a walk in the park. Even after a split, it is best to allow your child to openly ask questions about the divorce and your feelings (just answer the questions honestly). This will develop the child’s sense of trust, even in the face of divorce.

Affection

The biggest way to reassure your child of the love and care you have for them is to shower them with affection. Make sure they feel loved and cared for by you, your family, your ex, and your ex’s family. Affection, coupled with honesty, is the best way to reassure your child that a divorce does not mean a divorce from them. Make a note that affection does not mean caving into your child’s every demand, spoiling them, or never reprimanding them.

By affection we mean the same parental love and guidance you showered upon your child before the divorce. So don’t create new rules or bend old rules when it comes to raising your child. You put those barriers up to protect them from a destructive and negative disposition and life; their world is changing, so don’t start changing the boundaries of their world too.

To  make the transition smoother for the child, then follow the two rules. What is best is never easy, so even though you may be internally conflicted or feel guilty about divorcing, never break the honesty and affection rule. If you follow the two rules, you may end up hearing things like this “I love seeing you happy again, mom,” or “I am proud of you, you are strong.”

Sesame Street vs. the World of Divorce

By this time, Sesame Street is more than just a TV show to most children and even adults, it’s a movement. Sesame Street began their journey to entertain, educate, and value children in 1969, and they aren’t even close to stopping today. Sesame Street is the reason why most adults and children know their ABC’s, and now Sesame Street is the reason why children of divorce families can understand divorce. This past Tuesday, December 11th, 2012, Sesame Street launched their online segment called “Little Children, Big Challenges: Divorce,” in which Abby Cadabby makes Muppet history.

Divorce Spokesmuppet

Abby Cadabby is a pink, perpetually 3 year-old, fairy-in-training resident of Sesame Street who shared a major secret with viewers in the “Little Children, Big Challenges: Divorce” segment: Her parents are divorced. Abby and her friends are drawing pictures of their houses, and when Abby draws two pictures (one of her dad’s house and one of her mom’s house) the Muppets are intrigued. Abby explains that her family doesn’t live in one house all together because of a thing called divorce. With the help of one of the neighbors, Abby tells her Muppet friends her parents had “grown up problems…they couldn’t fix…” but they still love her very much.

First Kid on the Block

This is not the first time Sesame Street tried to go where no Muppet has gone before. In the early 1990’s, the brains behind Sesame Street were incensed about a report announcing the projected rise in divorce. The Sesame Street team became determined to address the issue of divorce in as calculated and calm a manner possible, before more children were exposed to divorce. So they researched and drafted a divorce segment. The Sesame Street team chose Snuffleupapagus, the long eye-lashed mammoth, to be the spokesmuppet for divorce. In the filmed segment, a distraught Snuffy told Big Bird about his father moving out of the family cave because of a thing called divorce.

However, the results of the divorce masterpiece screen test indicated it was too much too soon. Although the episode had an entire song and dance about divorce sometimes being for the best and Snuffy’s parents still loving him, the children only perceived horrible messages about divorce. The children in the focus groups were in tears and fearful of their own parents divorcing. They said all arguments meant a divorce was coming, and they worried where Snuffy would live. The children even worried that Snuffy’s parents didn’t love him anymore.

Needless to say, Sesame Street killed the episode, in spite of the research, psychology consultants, and story boarding. It was obvious they failed to correctly broach the topic of divorce, so they avoided the subject for the next 20 years.

Where One Muppet Dared to Go

This time, the Sesame Street team approached divorce from a retrospective viewpoint. Abby’s parents already divorced, and she was already adjusted to the changes divorce caused. By having a spokesmuppet who already went through the divorce process as a role model, as opposed to Snuffy’s more insecure stage, the children are assured that divorce does not mean an end to love and familial bonds.

The Boomerang Kids

Times are tough in the current economy, and how ever that affects the divorce rate is irrelevant right now. Right now we are going to talk about the new boomerang trend. A parent’s work is never done, as most of you parents of adult children know, and this is especially true when your adult child has no place to stay due to a divorce. Of course adults are resistant to the idea of moving back in with their parents, but if an empty wallet dictates that a necessity they will grit their teeth and ring your doorbell.
Naturally, you’ll want to let them stay and give them a sanctuary to heal from the divorce in, but as a parent how to do set boundaries? We dare you to find a parenting book that includes advice for this scenario.
Mommy Dearest

When your child is going through a divorce it can be hard not to play the role of the all-accommodating parent. But just like when your child was five years old and scraped their knee, after a divorce it is your job to calmly help clean the wound and encourage them to get back out there. The only differences you should make in your parenting plan are nixing the whole crust-cutting, and outfit selecting business.
Yes, the relationship between parent and child never seems to change much, and this is especially accentuated when they live together again. Ground rules are a must in this situation, but it’s been a while since you’ve had to make and enforce rules of the house. How do you go about it without seeming like you’re trying to “parent” your child again?
Second Set of Laws of the Land
Be upfront about your expectations. Usually, parents expect their children to stay temporarily, and although this seems obvious, have a little chat to make sure this is the case. Make this conversation two sided instead of you just setting a date for them to move out. Also, this should be a tentative time frame because we all know life can throw crazy things at a person.

Timing is key. Careful having this conversation too soon because it could make your child feel like their safety net is already being pulled from under them. For example, if your child is in the middle of sobbing about their divorce, or having a panic attack at the thought of the future, it is not the time to discuss their boarding time frame.
Let you children know your door is always open to them, but that your house is still your house with your rules. We don’t mean reinstate the rules they used to abide by, like curfew, television limitations, and their diet. We mean general house rules, like cleaning up after yourself, sharing food expenses, and household duties. These tasks and rules are appropriate and aren’t asking too much. After all, they are your child, not a guest.
Divorce is never an easy time in a person’s life, but it also affects the people surrounding the divorcee. As a parent of a divorcing or divorced child, your job is to support your child, but not to overly pamper and coddle them. Life is full of hard knocks, and you raised them to pick themselves up; don’t ruin all your hard work now.

Divorce Forecast: Post-Holiday Divorce Flood

The holidays are a wonderful time. Family and friends gather around to share good cheer and good food; there are presents to be unwrapped and enjoyed; and the cold weather makes everyone turn to cozy nights indoors. However, the cold weather also seems to provide drifting couples an incentive to stay together and retain the warmth of the season, and not a moment later. January to March marks the season of divorce, which has been a lesser known fact divorce attorneys and divorce coaches have kept to themselves.

Another fact divorce professionals have kept to themselves is how couples tend to stick together when their financial situation becomes a tight. But seeing as the recession appears to be coming to an end, we may be in for a flurry of divorce on top of the divorce season this year.

The Reason for the Season
Divorce season is not a myth or some sensationalized passing trend. For many years couples who see nothing but divorce in their future have taken one for the team and stuck out the marriage until the holiday season passed. Couples with children attempt to remain in each other’s good graces to avoid spoiling the holiday season for their children. Other couples remained unhappily married in an effort to not disrupt the status quo of the happy holidays. Then, there are those spouses who are on the fence about their marriage and are hoping some holiday magic will rub off on their marriage.

Regardless of the holidays, during times of financial hardship, couples tend to stick together to avoid empty wallets and an even worse financial state. This may seem counter intuitive, but the majority of marriages fizzle out instead of burst into flames. The less combustible marriages avoid the “D” word until they feel they can afford to begin life anew.

The holidays come and go, and sometimes the holidays take some marriages with them. The couples of these marriages view the New Year as a time for change, rebirth, and renewal. This is why in the weeks after the New Year, when children return from winter break, the divorce rate goes up 50% higher than any other month of the year.

How Do You Celebrate Divorce Season?
While the holidays amplify all that is wrong with your family and marriage, the season can come through and produce some shining gems of why you fought so hard for your family and marriage. There is never a good time for divorce, which is something all divorcees must accept and face. Even in the symbolic rush to shed your unhappy marriage by New Years, a month and 14 days later you must face the international holiday of love and romance.

If you’ve been thinking about divorce at all lately, now is the time to take a step back and make sure you don’t make a decision during the season of strained relationships. But, if divorce has been creeping up on your marriage for quite some time now, it would not be wise to dismiss the idea of divorce. Just celebrate the divorce season by making calm, rational decisions irrespective of the pressure of the holiday season.