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The First Holiday After Your Divorce

Divorce

The holidays are here. While most of us enjoy the joy of the season, for those going through or recently having gone through a divorce it can be a freighting challenge. If you are a single adult, you will manage as you have all the trials this far. It may be hard, but life has handed you disappointments, pain, and trials before and you are still standing. This season will be no different because a the divorce. You will still be standing when the calendar page turns to reveal 2021. However, if you are a newly (or soon to be) divorced parent, it will be more difficult.

Is there a right way?

Yes. There is a right way and a wrong way to handle this major change for yourself and your children. In fact, there are many right ways, and wrong ways. The way that works for you and allows you and your family to function and grow is the right way for you. It is up to you to find that way.

Focus on this or that?

Here is the first hurdle. This is the first time you are going to Christmas as a family of three or Hanukkah in your new house. You want it to be great. You want to give your kids the happiest holiday in the history of holidays. How do you do that? Let’s take a look at some options. But first, you need to stop and consider a few things.

  • Consider the children’s ages. If they are under 10 or so, they will adapt to a different holiday menu, tree, or tradition easily. Why? Because they have not been around to know what a tradition is. They probably will still ask for “daddy” or “mommy” Just as they will not just on Christmas but as they will most nights. Have a plan (Facetalk or Skype) and do not make a big deal of it. If they are older than that, they know what they want. Ask them. Consider what you want and come up with a compromise.
  • Have a lot of events planned that you could afford and a calendar that goes right through the new year. Call this your escape plan. This is for when the plan you had exploded leaving the three of you in tears and you wanting to shove a candy cane up someone’s nose, you have a plan B.
  • Do not spend more than you can afford. You cannot depend on anyone helping you out. Yes, the expense is for the kids, but a lot of ex-spouses are jerks.

Now let’s talk about the focus of the holiday. Of course, you want the focus of the holiday to be your children. Or do you? Most parents believe they do. They work their fingers to the bone making Christmas cookies, homemade ornaments, taking the kids to the parades, light-shows, and decorating. If the children are young enough, they don’t get it. Of course, they love lights until something else gets their attention. (Like trying to make them sit on a fat man in a red suit who is yelling, HO HO HO.) In a very little while, Christmas becomes their new normal when they are under two years old.

When the children are a bit older, they love every minute of it. They get tired and if it goes on too long they really want to watch regular TV and eat anything that doesn’t have peppermint in it. But you are being rewarded by this extreme Christmasing. You are taking up the slack. You are giving everything you’ve got to your kids. You are the awe of your girlfriends, co-workers, family, and friends. When you and your children are invited to a Christmas party (and you are invited to every Christmas party) it ends with you surrounded by women dabbing their eyes with tissue telling you how wonderful you are. Your self-esteem is on full, you return home and live another day in Winter Wonderland.

When your children are pre-teens, they are old enough to tell you what they want to do and what they want to do. If you show them the respect to let that happen, then your children really are your focus. That doesn’t mean you can’t put up a tree even if they don’t want to help or you have to miss the Dirty Santa swap at Aunt Charlotte’s house. But, allow them to enjoy what they enjoy. If not, be prepared to be exposed.

At this age, your children will probably tell you some things that you may not know and probably won’t want to hear. You are using them and Christmas to draw attention to yourself. You want the title of Super-Mom. You need the Dumped Mom of the Decade award. You love to wear your little red dress and say, “I just do it for my children.”  This is the Christmas your kids call on that.

You Will Be Fine. Don’t let divorce ruin your Christmas

The main thing you need to remember is, you can do this. You have already done the hard part. You brought the children into the world. You have done what it takes to provide a stable and happy home. This year is just one year of many. You will do some things right and some things you will choose not to do again. Just remind everyone in your life that the adults have to be adults and let the kids be kids. If you can pull that off, everything else is easy.

The Ten Six Commandments Of Divorce

Six Commandments Of Divorce

Divorce is a pretty tough experience. By the time you get in front of the judge, you are ready to scream. But, hold on just a little while longer. You have already been through meetings about child support, custody, and who should get the house. You have watched in awe as your mature spouse asks for custody of the dogs, and possession of all the baseball equipment, and his son every third weekend. You know there is so much more to come, but how you behave until the papers are signed may be the difference in where your kids live day to day and not just holidays. Understandably, he or she is dancing on your last nerve, so it is time to take a break and read your well-worn copy of, ‘The Six Commandments Of Divorce.” in case you have misplaced yours, here is a fresh copy for you.

  • Do not hide, sugar-coat, or lie to your attorney in any way, at any time. He is always on your side. Letting him find out that you are involved in something that he is unaware of will interrupt you and likewise interrupt him.
  • Do not get rid of assets that you know he wants to keep. Especially if they are heirlooms. This is a low-down thing to do. It is simply the sign of a cruel person. When you basically give away her mother’s dinner ringer or his dad’s golf clubs, they cannot be replaced. Even if you are able to find one
  • Do not incur debts in your spouse’s name. Taking out credit cards, charging up the accounts you already have together, and not being honest and up-front about the money you are spending could prompt the judge to take a closer look into your honesty with the finances you have provided to the court.
  • Do not use drugs or excessive alcohol. You may think you know your partner and you think you know what they will and will not do. However, a person going through a divorce sees their entire world falling through their fingers. They experience fear, sadness, anger, and hopelessness all at once. When they accept that you are really gone, the anger grows.

They may set out to hurt you and to gain the upper hand. This is when they tell their lawyer that you drink to the point of a blackout on weekends and part with pills like Percocet and Ecstasy on a regular basis. It is in your best interest to be drug and alcohol-free in case a drug test is requested.

  • Do not make rude, ugly, or unkind remarks about their parents, their spouse’s family, or anyone their other parent is dating in front of the children. This may be the situation where you have to be an adult and tell the children, “We don’t talk about what other people say about us.”
  • Do not turn your divorce into a social media war. Keep your divorce off of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Divorce is sad. Two people put their hearts on the line. They had babies and they built dreams. They go to know each other. Then in day-to-day life, their dreams died away. Their lives moved in different directions and their hearts got cold. It is not funny. Take the high road. Being nice doesn’t cost a dime.

I hope you learned something from this article about The Six Commandments Of Divorce. If you have any comment, please feel free.

10 Things You Should Know About Prenuptial Agreements

Prenuptial Agreements

In the midst of all of the excitement leading up to your wedding, a prenuptial agreement may be the last thing you want to think about. You may fear that planning for a potential divorce will ruin the romance of the moment and the state of your current relationship, or you may question whether a prenuptial agreement is even necessary given your financial situation. However, a prenuptial agreement can be a good choice for many couples, and it is important not to dismiss the idea outright.

If you have never created a prenuptial agreement before, you may have misconceptions about them. An experienced Naperville family law attorney can help you better understand the benefits of a prenuptial agreement and whether it is the right option for your marriage. With the right approach, it is possible to reach an agreement that works in both partners’ favor.

As you consider a prenuptial agreement, here are 10 important things to know about them:

  1. Prenuptial agreements are not just for couples who expect to get a divorce. If you know that a divorce is in your future, chances are you would not be getting married in the first place. While a prenuptial agreement can address contingencies in the event of a divorce, it can also clarify each partner’s right to manage and use certain properties throughout the course of the marriage.
  2. Prenuptial agreements can be beneficial in second marriages. Second or subsequent marriages often occur later in life, when the partners have already accumulated substantial assets and may have children from previous marriages. A prenuptial agreement can help to specify which assets will be considered non-marital property and ensure that each partner maintains properties that they want to pass on to their children.
  3. Prenuptial agreements can define marital and nonmarital property. In Illinois and many other states, assets acquired by either spouse before the marriage are considered non-marital property, whereas assets acquired by either spouse after the marriage are usually considered marital property, which must be divided between spouses in a divorce. A prenuptial agreement can clearly delineate which properties, both currently owned and acquired in the future, will remain the sole, non-marital property of one partner.
  4. Prenuptial agreements can make for an easier division of property in a divorce. Your prenuptial agreement can include a plan for how marital property will be divided if you get a divorce in the future. As long as the plan in your prenuptial agreement is equitable, this can help you save time, money, and energy that would be spent on negotiation or litigation during the divorce process
  5. Prenuptial agreements can provide for spousal support. Your prenuptial agreement can also include provisions for spousal support payments in the event of a divorce or separation, which can be a good idea if there is a significant imbalance between the partners’ income or assets going into the marriage. This can make it possible for both spouses to maintain their accustomed standard of living even if the marriage ends.
  6. Prenuptial agreements cannot address child support, custody, or parenting time. You should not attempt to address decisions related to current or future children in your prenuptial agreement. Questions regarding financial support for children, how parental responsibilities will be shared, and how parenting time will be divided must be settled at the time of a divorce to ensure that the resolution is in the best interests of the children in their current situation. You should also ensure that other terms included in the prenuptial agreement would not detract from either spouse’s ability to contribute to child support.
  7. Prenuptial agreements only take effect upon marriage. While you and your partner may sign your prenuptial agreement before your wedding day, it will not become legally enforceable until you are legally married. This means that if anything goes wrong, and your relationship ends before you get married, you would not be bound to the terms that you agreed upon.
  8. Prenuptial agreements must be signed willingly. If either partner is coerced or manipulated into signing the prenuptial agreement against his or her will, the agreement will not be enforceable. Before going forward with a prenuptial agreement, it is important that both partners voluntarily consent to the agreement while having a full understanding of each other’s assets, debts, and overall financial situation.
  9. Prenuptial agreements that cause undue hardship may be unenforceable. If the terms in your prenuptial agreement regarding the division of property and spousal support would place an unfair burden on either spouse at the time of a divorce, the agreement may be unenforceable in its current form, or the court may order additional support outside of the terms of the agreement.
  10. Prenuptial agreements can be modified. When creating your initial prenuptial agreement, it is often difficult to predict the future. You may find that as your marriage goes on, the original terms no longer apply to your current situation in the way that you would like. If either spouse experiences a significant change in income or assets, or if your family grows with new children, you may wish to amend your agreement to reflect these changes. This is possible as long as you and your spouse agree to the changes. It is also possible to create a postnuptial agreement after your marriage, even if you did not have a prenuptial agreement in place.

Armed with a better understanding of what prenuptial agreements are and what they can and cannot do, you may feel more comfortable raising the subject with your partner. When you work with a Wheaton family law firm to create a valid prenuptial agreement, you can enter your marriage with peace of mind knowing that your assets are protected. Even if you decide that a prenuptial agreement is not for you, starting the conversation can lead to an open discussion of finances that helps you and your partner understand each other’s needs and set goals together. In either case, you can hopefully avoid future arguments and enjoy a long and healthy marriage. And, in the unfortunate case that you decide to get a divorce, you can take comfort knowing that you have a plan to minimize stress and uncertainty.

About Author: Tricia D. Goostree knew she wanted to be an attorney when she was 10 years old. After being accepted to the John Marshall Law School with a Dean’s Scholarship, Tricia added excellent writing skills to her love of working in the courtroom. Tricia is the founder and managing partner of the Goostree Law Group, P.C. – Naperville family law attorney  in St. Charles, Illinois.

smartdivorcenetwork.com contributor

Sometimes You Have To Learn Defense In A Divorce

Divorce

Sometimes a couple knows for sure they need a divorce. They know it is time to cut those ties and change directions in their lives. But while taking those steps, they begin to feel awkward. Usually, it is because you realize that you have long ago assumed the responsibility for something in your partner’s life that is not yours to carry. It is most often the responsibility to make them feel accepted and happy. Sometimes, it is the responsibility of making sure they have the money your family needs to carry on the week without worry.

Happiness

Obviously, no one can make anyone happy. When they come home we can flutter around them, asking about their day. We can bring their slippers and robe. We can bring them their dinner and drink. When we go out, we can give them all of our attention. At the end of the night, we have made him look like our God.

We are so good at pretending that he tells us when he is alone, he feels sick. He feels like when we are unable to be together he feels his heart will stop, at any moment. We are not making him feel happy. We are helping him fake it out. How hard it will be for him to open himself to another woman.

Money

It is rare for most couples to handle finances together. Usually, one person will handle all of the money. The partner may be told to not use the debit card or a few days or to lay off the American Express this month. But, that partner has little knowledge of what is in checking, savings, on credit cards, or how much debt they are in.

When the divorce is filed, they find themselves very lonely because they have not had to socialize for a long time. They have not been responsible for their share of being a partner.

When the divorce is filed, they suddenly find themselves unprepared to be financially responsible. It is like starting over. They do not know where to begin. It is frightening. They are not sure what has to be paid and when. What bills are on auto-draft? How far is the kid’s tuition paid?

They come back to you

Even though divorced people hate each other on tv, most of the time they do not. You are confident in yourself. You have carried yourself and your mate all these years so you do not feel a crash and burn coming. You do not question your abilities or your value to your dissolved marriage.

Your ex-spouse will gather the embers of their self-worth and bring it to you. You will listen to them over coffee as they tell you how lonely they are and how they can’t figure out how to budget the money. And you will reassure them, this will pass.

Don’t offer yourself!

As easy as it is to help them, you have to keep a clear line between you. This is why they make counselors. This is why they make financial advisors. You are divorced. You are relieved of duty. Shake it off. You no longer need to help this adult person. To them keeping them happy and balancing their books equals you keeping them happy and that means you still care.

Points of view

Different people read their actions differently. A thank you for helping someone get through a lonely day could be an invitation to your favorite restaurant for dinner. If you accept, you see it as one good turn repaying another. It’s no big deal. It shows two adults can be friends even if they were married to each other. They may see it like two adults hanging out together because neither of you could stand not being together on such a beautiful day. The thought of calling it a day was just too sad so you went out to dinner before you finally forced yourself apart.

Conclusion

Divorce is difficult. During a divorce, you will go through every emotion you have. Your heart will be tested and tried again and again. No matter what your grounds for divorce, you will have days of grieving and days of joy. The best thing you can do is to keep your nutrition up, keep yourself hydrated, and guard your emotions. Remember, this too will pass.

 

Feature photo credit: Vera Arsic

Should You File For Divorce Or Legal Separation?

Should You File For Divorce Or Legal Separation

There are many couples right now who are questioning their ability to maintain their marriage. Truthfully, marriage is difficult. No matter how much you want to have a strong marriage, it is hard work. Even when you are fully committed, sometimes marriages fail. However, there are times that it is advisable not to file for divorce. Sometimes, it is better to separate, but keep the marriage in place until your situation has improved. One way to accomplish that is by filing a legal separation.

Stress

Obviously, the world is in a state of stress and panic. COVID-19 is infecting people and we are still searching for a cure. Millions of people are sick, and millions more have died. People from all walks of life have lost their jobs. Many schools are closed and many children are forced to homeschool. Unemployment is at record highs. Employers are forced to have employees work remotely, most with fewer hours. Many companies have shut their doors permanently.

While people are trying to figure out how to survive this pandemic and prepare for what comes next, the strain often puts spouses against one another. Does this mean their marriage is over? Maybe, or maybe not. Rushing to divorce court will only add more stress to a stressful life and more expense to a strained financial situation.

Many Faces Of Grief

Experts that work in industries that often face death know, grief has many faces. No two people face grief the same. Spouses, family members, and friends often do not know how to help a loved one get through death. However, death is not the only reason people grieve.

Loss of a job, marriage, security, and even a dream can bring on grief. This kind of grief is especially challenging for a couple who are living through devastating times (such as a pandemic).

Many Faces Of GriefPhoto credit: Nathan Cowley

How Can Legal Separation Help?

Legal separation is very much like a divorce. It is a legal document that you and your spouse have agreed to that divides your property, and establishes your separate living arrangements. You also arrange visitation for the children, child support, and alimony payments. However, you are still legally married.

How does this help?

You will “take a break” from each other. You do not dissolve your marriage, but you live as if you have. Neither of you can marry anyone else while you are legally separated. Often, people find, when the stress is relaxed and they have some time away from their spouse, the love they had is still there. They do not want to start over. They just needed some time apart. Then it is just a matter of petitioning the court to terminate the separation.

Other ways Legal Separations help:

  • This is a way to live apart if your religion does not allow divorce
  • You can still get the tax breaks by filing jointly (in most states)
  • You can still take advantage of your spouse’s insurance benefits
  • Maintain your marriage for the 10 year minimum for certain Social Security benefits
  • If you live in a state that requires a separation period before a divorce, this protects your interests
  • If you decide to file for divorce in the future, the procedure is very easy.
  • If there is something in the legal separation that does not work for you, your attorney can address it in the divorce papers before you go to court.

A legal separation is a step that can put you in a good position before you rush into a divorce. Like a divorce, you will see ads claiming you can file them yourself. However, there are laws in certain states that you may not know about. These laws are there to protect you. That is why you need an attorney. A simple oversight could cost you money that you could have collected for the rest of your life. Don’t make that mistake. Let an attorney file your legal separation. After that, you will have plenty of time to see how it works for you.

You may want to go forward with a divorce or you may want to stay legally separated for a while. It is your choice. The one thing you will not have to do is decide during the current stress of the nation. You are safe and secure legally and emotionally until you are ready to make a move. At that time, it is a stressless and simple act.

Feature photo credit: Vera Arsic

Halloween – Not Quite A Holiday, But a Big Deal Anyway

Halloween

Fall has arrived. The temperatures are dropping and the leaves are turning to beautiful shades of yellow, orange, and brown. In a couple of weeks, children will be searching for the perfect costume to celebrate Halloween. About this time parents will realize that they did not consider Halloween when constructing their holiday custody agreements in their divorce papers. Is this a big deal? Consider your ex and the temperature of your divorce relationship so far. Has it been functioning on a mature and mutually respectful level, or has it been strained and tense? Halloween is one of those things that people forget and cause later to ruin your day.

Did you have a “usual” holiday?

Are your children old enough that they have had a few Halloweens already? If your children have already experienced three or four Halloweens, and the tradition included trick-or-treat the houses only on your street, then watching Charlie Brown on television, that is what they expect. Pointing that out to your ex, and having them explain to the children why their holiday is changing is sometimes enough to trade this day with you.

Can you take them together?

Are the two of you adult enough to put your differences aside and go together? If you loved each other once, enough to have children together, perhaps you can push the emotions aside for a few hours and celebrate one day.

Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Years are just ahead. There will be parties, school outings, church services, and weddings popping up. There probably will be days that you want the children to attend, but the day belongs to your ex-spouse. It will be a lot easier to ask for help after you help out. The point is, you are co-parents. You will be co-parents for a very long time. You will be together at recitals, Scouts awards, graduations, and hospital waiting rooms. You are tied together by your child. How you handle Halloween if just good practice.

Kids that are over 8-years-old

If you ask a kid 8-years-old and over what is fun about Halloween, they will tell you it is dressing up like a goon and meeting up with their friends. It is all about getting out at night and acting silly with their friends! Little girls want to look beautiful like a princess or lie punk rockers. Whatever they look like, they want their friends to see them. If they wear the same costume and go into a neighborhood where they have no or few friends, it is not fun. It is not fair to do that to a kid.

Don’t take them just to spite your ex. Especially if you have plans!

Believe it or not, there are parents who really don’t want to do the whole trick-or-treat thing, and They know their ex-spouses hate it, so they are going to take them anyway. That will teach her or him, right? Yes, you have been invited to a costume party but you will just take them along. They can play video games or watch tv. They will be fine.

Kids can get overstimulated and afraid when they are put in a situation like this. Not only are they in a house full of adults that they do not know, but these adults are also dressed in horrid costumes of blood, fur, with axes, bones, and knives hanging from their bodies. They are drinking and talking loudly. They look for their parents but there are several people dressed just like them. You can tell the children that the things they see are not real but at that moment when they are stuck in a room with them, they seem too real for comfort.

Just one day

At the end of the year, if you had given your ex-partner Halloween, he or she would have gotten one extra day. That’s all. Just one extra day. When the day comes that you need extra help, your blessings will come.

The bottom line is your children need to know that both of their parents are on their side.

The scars of a broken family go deep. They need to see you handle yourselves with dignity and grace. Their holiday memories should be good ones. Filled with laughter, mystery, and fun. They should remember how both their parents gave up their time to ensure their kid had the best Halloween ever!

Getting Married? Do You Have Divorce Insurance?

Divorce Insurance

We live in a world where we must be prepared for anything. We have insurance on our homes so they will be repaired or replaced in the event of a fire or other disaster. If we are in an accident in our car, our insurance pays for medical expenses for the injured and repairs for the automobiles. We have insurance for when we are sick, for cleaning our teeth and to bury us when we die. So, it should not surprise us to find there is insurance to cover certain expenses incurred after a divorce.

Isn’t That Bad Luck?

You may feel like taking out divorce insurance while you are married is asking for trouble. But is it really? The fact is in 39% of the marriages in the United States in 2020 (to date) ended in divorce. There have been recent years that the percentage rate has been as much as 50%.

When you decided to get married, you probably took a look at your life insurance policy. Is it bad luck to make sure your spouse is financially secure in the event of your death?

It is the same for divorce insurance and homeowners’ insurance. Insurance is just a safety net and a layer of security.

How Does Divorce Insurance Work?

Divorce insurance is not insurance that pays you in the event that your marriage fails and you end up in divorce court. There are a lot of people who might wish this is true, but it is not. After a couple has gotten a divorce and their court fees and divorce fines are paid, their divorce insurance is active. You pay a premium based on the amount of the package you choose monthly. Just like other insurances (like most life insurance policies), there is a waiting period. The waiting period for divorce insurance is usually four years. This is why it is wise to take out insurance before you need it. The policy just sits in limbo unless and until you need it.

Divorce Insurance has only been around since 2010. It has been well received and today most insurance companies carry divorce policies. However, some policies are better than others. Call your insurance company and inquire about theirs but don’t be afraid to compare. Just make sure you are comparing like plans.

Fast forward to the fifth year of marriage. Statically, 20% of marriages end in the first 5-years. In the divorce, the judge will assign child support orders and spousal payments. These financial responsibilities are in effect unless a judge changes them. For example. Maybe your child support payment, which is based on your income is $4000 per month. This is affordable for you. But then COVID-19 hits and you are laid off. $4000 per month is more than you get on unemployment. Until you go back to court and have a judge change the order, you still are required by law to pay $4000 per month!

This is where divorce insurance comes in. Your divorce insurance steps in and pays the child support until you can resume paying the $4000 per month or getting the court order changed. It is the same for spousal support. The payments you made together, as a family, now ensure financial stability. There is no resentment because the insurance premiums came from family funds. It gives the person who is laid off relief and the spouse and primary caregiver of the children relief. It is a win/win situation.

Money is a major problem in divorce. Temporary loss of income is devastating, but divorce insurance covers that. It’s a shame that all money issues can’t be settled as easily as this one. Divorced families would be so much kinder to each other when their money was secured and their payments were coming in, right on time. Divorce insurance may sound a little strange. But, if you think about it, it really is an act of love.

Did you get Sole Custody? Spell Out Contact In Your Papers

Sole Custody

When you get married and begin a family, you never dream that your family will fall into the 40-50% of marriages in the United States that will end in divorce. (In some places, the divorce rate is even higher) If you fall into these statistics, you may have to face some difficult facts.

  • You probably will get little if any child support if you have sole custody
  • 3 percent of custodial parents get some child support payments
  • 5 percent of custodial parents get full payments

Why did you get sole custody?

We all know how important it is to raise our children in a balanced environment. In a perfect world, they would have the best from a father and a mother. But we don’t live in a perfect world. You may have been awarded sole custody because your ex becomes violent when he is angry. Maybe he (or she) brings home people who are drunk or on drugs, putting the family in danger. Whatever it is, the court decided the danger is significant enough that it outweighed the need that children have for having both parents in the home,

Visitation

It is rare when a judge does not order visitation. It may be supervised visitation, but usually, the ex gets time with their children. This is where having a good attorney is vitally important. Do not settle for generic visitation terms. Insist on having the terms spelled out. Here are a few things to consider.

  • The spouse is an addict and often has other addicts with him or her
  • The judge may suspend visitation until the parent completes rehab. He may further order random testing to ensure the parent stays clean and drug-free.
  • The spouse is homeless
  • This is important. Make sure your attorney has written in your divorce papers that you must have the address and phone number where the children are going to be in case of emergencies. If they do not provide that information, they cannot take the children. They may end up taking them to a friend or relatives house to have their visit, that is allowed. As long as they are not roaming the streets all day.
  • The spouse is incarcerated
  • Of course, if the spouse is in jail; They do not have to go see them. This includes going to jail to visit with a friend or family member of the spouse.
  • The spouse has physically or emotionally abused the child
  • Be sure your attorney provides all reports and proof of child abuse to the judge. Victims are not returned to abusers.
  • If the child is old enough, and the child requests no visitation
  • By the time a child reaches their teenage years, a judge considers them old enough to know if they want to visit a parent or not and they will honor that request.
  • The spouse is a flight risk
  • If the spouse is from a different country or if he has threatened repeatedly to take the kids and leave, you probably have a good enough reason to be concerned. Have your attorney address this in court.

Don’t Pump The Children

It is hard to let go of anger, curiosity, and betrayal. When we get a divorce, those emotions linger. Because of those emotions, we may question the children just a little too much when they return home from a visit. Who went with you? Did she stay the night? Did daddy drink? These questions only serve to feed your curiosity. They not only play your child against their dad they make them feel bad. Instead, let them feel empowered. Here are examples:

  • I need you to tell me right away if anyone:
  • Hits you or hurts you
  • Touches you in a way that makes you uncomfortable
  • Calls you ugly names
  • Makes you sleep on the floor or outside
  • Will not feed you
  • Feed you pet food

Closing

Divorce is never easy. This is especially true when you have children. Your attorney needs to be very detailed in drawing up your divorce papers. If you have legitimate fears for the safety of your children, have proof to present to the judge. However, unless there is substantial proof that the children will be harmed, the judge will usually assume the benefits outweigh the disagreements of the parents.

Have your papers prepared as though you expect to allow visitation. Have stipulations asking for the address and phone numbers of where your children are.

Remember this, getting a divorce changes life. Your primary focus should be on your kids. Make the best of a difficult situation. This is your first step to a happy future. Be happy.

Paying Child Support During The Coronavirus

Child Support

There is no doubt that virtually everyone has been affected in some way by the Coronavirus. Millions of people have become ill, lost their jobs, and some have lost their lives. If you are going through or have gone through a divorce and you have court-ordered child support payments, you may think that losing your job or becoming ill and quarantined excuses you from meeting your obligation. This assumption is very wrong.

What can you do?

The first thing you should do is contact your attorney. Have them file a petition to modify or terminate your child support payments temporarily. It is very rare for the courts to terminate your child support payments.

Taking care of your children is always the top priority. If you are laid off or your company has shut down, the court assumes you will receive unemployment insurance. While this will not be as much as your salary, it is considered part of your income when the judge makes the adjustment on your payment. Further, the court understands that you are shocked at the loss of your job. However, they assume that you can take some kind of a job which will pay at least minimum wage and allow you to work 40-hours per week. Based on that assumption, they will often adjust your child support obligation according to that assumption.

Making changes

During the pandemic, Congress is protecting people from being evicted when your rent or house payments get behind. Unemployment is passing on stimulus payments as they come in. The government is helping people with food assistance. Many places are not turning off electricity or water for customers who cannot pay during the crisis.

It may become necessary to select what you will and will not be able to pay. Child-support is a priority. Bills that you are temporarily protected from paying should be the ones pushed to the back-burner. Until you have gotten your court order revised, do everything in your power to keep your payments current.

Stimulus Checks

Many people believe the $1200 stimulus payments are not part of their income and they do not have to pay their back-child support from them. This is incorrect. If you are behind in your payments, the IRS can and usually will take your stimulus check, just as they would take any tax refunds, and send it to your ex-spouse to help catch you up. If you do not owe the entire $1200, you will get a reduced check and it probably will take a while.

Do I have to tell my ex that I lost my job?

Regardless of why or how you have lost your job, you need to report it to your child support agency within 10-days. You will probably have to go back to court to have your payments adjusted, so it is a good idea to contact your attorney.

Your divorce papers will tell you if you are ordered to advise your ex-spouse if you have had a change in employment. If it is not in your papers then you don’t have to tell them. However, it is always a good idea to keep a good relationship with the other parent of your children. Being civil and respectful of each other will make it much easier to face these problems. If that is not possible, speak to your attorney and make your decision accordingly.

You are not alone. COVID-19 has disrupted the lives of millions of people all over the world.

It is a stressful time and families are making hard choices. Everyone is experiencing the same issues. We are all watching our money closely, being less wasteful, and making special arrangements for the education and care of our children. The best way to survive this difficult time is to work together, We do not know how long this will go on. We do not know what challenges lie ahead. But, we know there is more to come. Now is the time to remember that we all want the same thing. We want strong families with healthy and happy children. It will take more than a pandemic to stop us. Because our kids are worth the battle.

Labor Day Holiday and Your Divorce

Labor Day Holiday and Your Divorce

When Americans think of Labor Day weekend, they think of the end of summer. Most of us head for the parks for picnics, camping, cookouts, and family fun. Many cities sponsor parades, and most retailers hold major sales to move the last of their spring and summer merchandise at great sale prices. Schools are back in session and we are all preparing for a fall season which is just around the corner.

The American Worker Of The 1800s

In the late 19th century, America was a much different place to live. The average American adult worked 7-days per week and up to 12-hours per day. Children as young as 5 or 6-years old were often put to work in factories and mines and a fraction of the pay that adults drew. The working conditions were unsafe on many levels and the workers who held those positions were mostly the poor or immigrants began to demand better working conditions.

People began to protest and many of the protests became heated. One example is The Haymarket Riot of Chicago.  Another example comes for New York City where 10,000 people took unpaid time off to participate in a march that drew national attention to their fight for justice for fair treatment for the American worker.

We are the winners

The battles that these people fought paved the way for all of us to be able to work in clean and safe environments. We are no longer expected to work as pack animals without clean air, breaks, and time off to be with our families. We do not sell our lives to our employers. We are treated with respect and protected by law.

Celebrate the American Worker

On June 28, 1894, President Grover Cleveland signed a law declaring Labor Day a national holiday in honor of the American worker. Labor Day had actually been celebrated on a local and state level in many states since 1882, but once President Cleveland signed it into law it became law and the date was set for the annual event. This holiday takes place on the first Monday in September of each year.

 

Celebrate the American WorkerPhoto credit: Katie E

How is Labor Day divided between divorced spouses?

In most cases, schools are closed for Labor Day on Monday only. In divorces, the general rule of thumb is the custodial parent gets the child or children on the years that end in an even number and the non-custodial parent gets the child or children on the years that end in an odd number. Again, unless otherwise noted, visitation begins at 6 PM on Friday of the assigned year and ends at 7 PM on Monday (Labor Day) of that weekend.

However, if the child has a school or other normal arrangement that is out for the holiday on Monday and Tuesday for the Labor Day weekend, the parent who has visitation that year will extend their visitation until Tuesday at 7 PM to accommodate the child’s or children’s change in schedule. This is normal and expected.

If there is anything above and beyond the normal arrangements, it is encouraged that the parents try to work things out between them and keep the arrangements as easy as possible for the children. The child should have a normal routine as often as possible and not have to miss classes and events due to the inability of the parents to work things out between them.

Labor Day is a holiday that celebrates the hard-working American. The people of that generation fought long and hard to make life easier for us. This is the same mindset we should have when we work together as parents. Work hard today for a better tomorrow for our family.

 

Feature picture credit: Kaboompics.com