Divorce Attorney Tips On Surviving Holidays

tips on surviving holidays divorce - 2houses
Stacy Phillips, Los Angeles celebrity divorce attorney and author of Divorce: It’s All About Control – How To Win the Emotional, Psychological and Legal Wars, (www.controlyourdivorce.com) is concerned about those divorced couples with children who may be tempted to play “divorce war games” with one another over the holidays—using the kids as collateral damage. She offers them the following ten tips:

1. Try therapy. If you are stressing over the emotional duress of the holiday season head to your therapist for some “centering.”2. Forgo the “one-upsmanship” game: Don’t try to “out-do” the other parent with gifts because it makes the kids feel torn.

3. Be flexible. Give in a little with the visitation schedule.

4. Include others. Be the bigger person and include your ex-spouse’s new significant other in the festivities, even if you do not like him/her.

5. Be charitable to those less fortunate: Ask your children to join you in a kind act for the needy. It will divert your focus away from your own hurt or pain.

6. Spend more time with friends and family. See what you and your children can do to make their holidays more cheery.

7. If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. Enough said! 

8. Show the children what the holidays really mean. They are all about giving.

9. Dwell on the overall theme: No matter what your spiritual beliefs may be, harmony is the ultimate goal. It starts with you.

10. Make plans for the New Year: Dwell on what good will come after the holidays and let the children help you schedule some fun events that you can do together.

source: Divorce360

The 6-Step Formula for Positive Parenting Before & After Divorce

6-step formula for positive parenting - 2houses

Parenting before after divorce can be complex, frustrating and confusing. However, every day parents around the world are coping with the challenges and raising happy, well-adjusted children. There are many factors that influence your effectiveness as a parent. Here is a six-step formula for pre- and post-divorce parenting success.

Step 1: Monitor Your Perceptions

The world is what we perceive it to be. If you perceive yourself to be a victim in your divorce, you will focus on evidence to prove that to be true.

If you instead take your divorce as a life experience to learn from, you will derive many benefits and value from the divorce, no matter how much pain is also involved. You will also accept responsibility for the part you played in the process and be more willing to contemplate new ways to live your life in the future that will bring more positive results.

Sadly, it’s through challenging experiences that we grow and learn the most from life. Are you uncovering meaningful lessons for you?

Step 2: Practice Respectful Parenting

Getting past your divorce is a small piece of the child-centered divorce puzzle if you are a parent. Working through the challenges of creating successful communication with your ex is a goal that must be worked on continuously. Keep your children in mind before making any decisions related to their well-being and you will stay on course.

Because you and your former spouse will be parenting your children for many years and decades to come, it makes sense to start off on the best possible course. The first step is to develop a respectful relationship with your ex. Remember that he or she is your child’s other parent whom they love. Treat your former spouse with that level of awareness and dignity in all your communication and they are more likely to return the same level of respect to you. Changes may not happen overnight. But with patience and persistence things can and will improve.

Step 3: Learn To Let Go

If you truly want to move on from your divorce, you must learn to let go of negative emotions that hold you hostage. These include anger, resentment, blame, jealousy, hatred and anxiety. Of course, there is a time and place for experiencing those emotions. Feel them; mourn the dream that turned sour. Then make a decision to let them go. Do this for your benefit — not on behalf of your former spouse.

Negative emotions can hold you in limbo and suck the life out of you. You get stuck in a place that’s painful to experience and it makes you unpleasant to be around. For the sake of your children — if not for yourself — decide to let it all go. Determine to move on. It’s not always easy to do, but the contrast of living in your pain is not an easy place to be either. Which state would you prefer?

Step 4: Try To Forgive

The big step after letting go of your negative emotions is learning to forgive. This starts with you. Forgive any mistakes you made related to your marriage or divorce. Forgive your poor choices, immaturity or naivety. Acknowledge yourself as someone who is open to personal growth, change and transformation. Feel your worth and start doing things that express self-love.

Next, take the big step to forgive your ex. This does not mean condoning their actions or hurtful behavior. It means you are determined not to let it affect you any longer.

You are cutting the emotional cords that bind you and keep you from enjoying the new possibilities in your life. Behind forgiveness is freedom. Don’t you want to be free of the pain, hurt, insecurity and rage that previously had power over you? Release your past — and be free!

Step 5: Handle Your Conflicts

Disagreements are inevitable between divorced parents from time to time. Develop good communication skills and you will minimize the damage that results.

When a conflict with your ex arises, be a good listener. Most disagreements come about from misunderstanding. Clarify what you heard to make sure that was the intention. Often one of you made an assumption that was erroneous and feelings got hurt.

It’s a good idea to get into the habit of paraphrasing what you think they said and ask for clarity. Apologize if you made an error or omission. Be understanding if your ex made the error. Try not to put them on the defensive or jump to negative conclusions.

Find a middle ground that you both can live with. Trade off getting to “win” the discussion or issue at hand. Agree to disagree if necessary. Learn to move on.

Step 6: Make Time For You

One of the healthiest things you can do in creating a positive attitude is making time for you! This is a gift that pays off on many levels in your life. Think about reinventing yourself in new ways that excite you. Take a yoga class. Pursue a new hobby. Volunteer at a shelter. Start a craft or business. Make time for strolls in nature, exercise and watching your diet. Treat yourself to a message. Indulge when you can.

When you nurture yourself, you can then give your children your total attention when you are with them. During and after divorce your kids need you more than ever. You can’t be there for them if you’re not there for yourself to renew your spirits.

Do the best you can. Take it day by day. If you need help, reach out for it without embarrassment or shame. You’re not alone. And the help you need is out there for you!

by Rosalind Sedacca, founder of the Child-Centered Divorce Network

Flawed Parents, Lacking Parenting Skills, Share “Parallel Custody”

custody of the children - 2houses

When parents fight for custody of children, both parents attempt to highlight their own parenting skills and to diminish the other’s abilities.  The cases are difficult and gut wrenching because often there are two loving, caring and fit parents, who only want the best for their children.

What happens, when after trial, the court finds that both parents are so flawed and lacking in parenting skills that neither should have sole custody of the child?

In M.R v. A.D., a Manhattan judge, after splitting physical custody of a child, opined that “neither of these parents has the skills or qualities to be [the child’s] sole custodian.   Instead, the court identified each parent’s parenting strengths to define particular “spheres in which each party with be the final decision maker.”    

The mother, characterized as warm and loving, but chaotic, unpredictable and unable to establish firm or consistent boundaries was granted decision making over summer camp, extracurricular activities, and religion. The father, described as gruff, not particularly warm or affectionate, but capable of setting firm standards for the child’s behavior, was granted decision-making over issues relating to the child’s education and health.

In reaching this Solomon-like decision, the court recognized that because of the acrimony between the parties, joint custody was not an option; the parties could not communicate effectively with each other to make joint decisions.  After assessing the parties’ individual parenting strengths and weaknesses, the court fashioned a custodial arrangement that allows each parent to make decisions on different aspects of the child’s life.

The decision, which gives each parent parallel custody, is a novel method of resolving a custody dispute.   Rather than “winner-take-all,” this win-win approach assures each parent’s continued involvement in the child’s life, with decisions being made by the parent best suited for doing so.

by  Daniel Clement

Flawed Parents, Lacking Parenting Skills, Share “Parallel Custody”

parenting skills - 2houses

When parents fight for custody of children, both parents attempt to highlight their own parenting skills and to diminish the other’s abilities.  The cases are difficult and gut wrenching because often there are two loving, caring and fit parents, who only want the best for their children.

What happens, when after trial, the court finds that both parents are so flawed and lacking in parenting skills that neither should have sole custody of the child?

In M.R v. A.D., a Manhattan judge, after splitting physical custody of a child, opined that “neither of these parents has the skills or qualities to be [the child’s] sole custodian.   Instead, the court identified each parent’s parenting strengths to define particular “spheres in which each party with be the final decision maker.”    

The mother, characterized as warm and loving, but chaotic, unpredictable and unable to establish firm or consistent boundaries was granted decision making over summer camp, extracurricular activities, and religion. The father, described as gruff, not particularly warm or affectionate, but capable of setting firm standards for the child’s behavior, was granted decision-making over issues relating to the child’s education and health.

In reaching this Solomon-like decision, the court recognized that because of the acrimony between the parties, joint custody was not an option; the parties could not communicate effectively with each other to make joint decisions.  After assessing the parties’ individual parenting strengths and weaknesses, the court fashioned a custodial arrangement that allows each parent to make decisions on different aspects of the child’s life.

The decision, which gives each parent parallel custody, is a novel method of resolving a custody dispute.   Rather than “winner-take-all,” this win-win approach assures each parent’s continued involvement in the child’s life, with decisions being made by the parent best suited for doing so.

by  Daniel Clement (source: divorce.clementlaw.com)

Is Alimony Still Necessary?

testimony - 2houses

At a recent workshop I presented on Financial Equality in Marriage, a question about alimony came up. It began an energetic discussion between the various age groups attending. Women and men in their twenties and thirties felt that alimony was a thing of the past, an antiquated legality that no longer made sense. Those older, and some in second marriages, disagreed. They felt that alimony did still have its place in divorce proceedings and was created to aid ex-spouses, mostly women, who had no personal income or a very low income. Finally someone asked me, “What’s your take on alimony? I just made a bet with my husband on your answer.”

Oh the pressure! Here’s hoping my answer wins you the bet!

Alimony and child support is a two-way street but with a lot of twists and turns along the way. It is an imperfect system but it is the only one we have in place right now. As with any law, there is always room for improvement and revision and many family court justices are helping to make some necessary changes by reinterpreting the basic laws regarding alimony as a “male only” burden. In the past, it was assumed that when there was a separation or divorce, the man would support his former wife by paying alimony. If children were involved, he was also obligated to pay child support, which was a separate issue.

The paying of alimony can be traced as far back as the Babylonian Code of Hammurabi. The term alimony comes from the Latin word alimōnia which meant nourishment and sustenance. It was created to assure the wife’s (or “discarded” wife), lodging, food, clothing, and other necessities after divorce.

Alimony has an interesting history, one that was basically a somewhat derogatory assistance for women who were seen as the “weaker sex.” The law in the United States is based on the laws found in Ecclesiastical Courts in England. Since the husband was the sole owner of all marital property, and the wife depended upon him to provide for her sustenance, the English Ecclesiastical courts consistently ruled that the husband had the duty to provide for the wife after divorce as well. Otherwise she would become, “a burden of the people.” Heaven forbid there should be any burdensome women around!

While a woman is no longer considered to be a lesser partner in a marriage, and marital property after divorce is divided equally, there is still a strong feeling that a man owes an obligation to his former wife in a financial sense. This is being debated in family courts. There are people who try to cheat the system and that makes it bad for everyone involved.

Today, with women as well as men working outside the home, the idea that anyone with a well-paying job needs to receive extra income simply because they were once married is antiquated and ludicrous. If both partners are able to support themselves, additional money from a former spouse, barring child support, is unnecessary and punishing. However, there are exceptions as to when paying alimony to a former spouse is necessary.

No one should have to come out of the marriage losing financially. If one partner is more financially secure than the other, a form of alimony should be paid on a sliding scale. This goes for women paying alimony as well as men.

If a child is under school-age, and the mother or the father needs to be a stay-at-home parent, alimony is a fair accommodation until that parent is able to begin working outside the home. 
The support of a child should be the responsibility of both parents. If one makes considerably more than the other, the division of support should show it. Instead of a 50/50 support contract it may well be 75/50 or whatever is fair. A woman making three times more a year than her ex-husband is capable of giving more money to support the child. Fair is fair.

Alimony should be an equal opportunity responsibility. While the majority of alimony recipients are still women who are stay-at-home mothers and men are the ones who pay it, the system is changing and rightly so. Gone are the days when a healthy woman, capable of working, was supported for life simply because of the Mrs. in front of her name. And the same goes for any healthy man.

In the purest sense of the law, alimony was always meant to help and protect a former spouse who was incapable of taking care of herself/himself financially. Child support is a necessary obligation of parenting. Neither was meant to be abused or used as a form of punishment during divorce proceedings. The relationship reality here is that alimony, in spite of everything else that may be negative about divorce, should be the one part that is fair and just to both parties. No one should be the winner or the loser.

Kristen Houghton

When Push Comes to Love: Be realistic about kids and divorce

kids and divorce - 2houses

When parents divorce, children do suffer a loss. Sometimes parents have a difficult time seeing that and they make up justifications for what is happening. I have heard them all: “My parents got divorced and I am okay,” “kids are resilient,” and even “things are not going to change that much.” I don’t really know how to state this any clearer: all that you do profoundly impacts your children. All. That. You. Do. Getting a divorce changes your child’s life forever. Never again will it be the same for your child(ren). And if you don’t know how your children felt about your marriage before the divorce it might be a good idea to sit down and have a conversation about it. Many times parents are floored to hear that their children felt that life was great before the divorce, despite the fact that the parents may have been arguing, not talking or nearly living separate lives. Children’s perceptions can be far different.

Below are some recommendations for families beginning the divorce process and those who are in the middle of it. It isn’t easy for anyone and I have seen it bring out the worst in some people. My simple plea is to think of your children and how profoundly your actions and inactions affect them as you attempt to move on from one life and piece another one together.

Maintain a level of respect: Please respect your partner. Although you may see your partner differently and have different feelings for them, your child does not. They still see your partner as their parent and that is no different. If you choose to disrespect your partner, your children are learning something about you. It actually makes the disrespectful parent less respectable. Just remember, when you open your mouth to say something about someone else, it says more about you than any one else. So maintain a level of respect toward your partner in front of your kids. If you must vent, do it when they cannot hear to an impartial party that will not repeat your venting.

Go slow: Some people are over the top eager to start a new, happier life once they have gotten divorced. I get it. Time is a wasting and you want to start fresh. I am sorry to say, your kids can’t handle that. I don’t care if they are 4 or 14, they cannot handle it. I have seen happy and carefree children turn into scared and anxious ones in the period of a few months as a result of too much change occurring too quickly. It rips the floor from under them. So if you are moving on, do it privately. Be certain that your new love interest is worthy of meeting and being a part of your children’s lives. This takes time and a lot of it. Another reason to keep this private is that your kids need time with each parent now more than ever. Sharing time with your new love interest is not in their best interest. Let them adjust to a visitation schedule, your new home, perhaps their new home or school and the general living situation long before introducing them to new partners.

Co-parenting – it does have to happen: Just because the divorce is final doesn’t mean that parenting changes. There are still volleyball games, tennis and dance lessons and homework that have to happen. Kids do best when they see both parents participating in these activities with them. It reassures them that their needs are still important to both parents. It all goes back to what was mentioned earlier, all that you do (or don’t do) has a profound impact on your kids. Stay involved. Don’t be the “fun” parent who doesn’t make them do their homework at your house. Show them that their education is important to you. You and your ex need to be a parenting team even if you are no longer a life team.

Really, I could go on and on. If there is one single population that I work with where I have seen kids struggle the most it is with divorced parents who do not do the things listed above. If your child was prone to anxiety pre-divorce, it is important to be vigilant of how you move forward in the process to best support your child.

Of course therapists can be of assistance to you and your family as you all move through a divorce, but please be clear as to what you want out of therapy before you call. Therapists are not there to help determine custody, we are not there to tell one parent they are right or wrong and we are not there to get you back together. We are there, however to support you and your children through a difficult time.

Divorce is common is today’s society so we need to be certain that there comes a commonality in how we address these changes and support the children that are impacted by it.

Article by Beverly Carr working at LCSW (a licensed clinical social worker based in Norwich.)

source

Made Divorce Mistakes? It’s Never Too Late to Get It Right – On Behalf of Your Children!

mistakes after your divorce - 2houses

Whether you got divorced several weeks ago or it’s been several years since your split, most of us can acknowledge that we’ve made some mistakes.

Perhaps we lost our tempers at an inappropriate time and watched our children painfully internalize the experience.

Maybe we referred to our ex in a rather unflattering way only to find our child get very upset and storm away in anger.

Chances are, in the heat of the divorce drama, we settled for a decision or two that we later regretted and still feel resentful. Or we made a child-related agreement that, in hindsight, was not in our child’s best interest — but we don’t know quite how to remedy the situation.

While some legal matters will involve only legal resolution, there are many post-divorce relationship decisions involving our children that we can remedy. And it’s never too late to make amends and get it right.

If you have found that your children are suffering or hurting due to a decision you made when you were more motivated by anger than by positive parenting and are now having regrets — take action.

That can mean having a heart-to-heart with your children and apologizing for actions or statements you made that created pain in their lives. Take responsibility, own those behaviors, and humbly explain that you made an error and now want to make some changes.

That may translate into letting them spend more time with their other parent, no longer bad-mouthing your ex in front of the kids, inviting your ex to a holiday or school event with the children, encouraging the kids to have a visit with their “othergrandparents … you get the idea.

Perhaps it means a straight-talk conversation with your ex that opens the door to better, more cooperative communication, trust and smoother co-parenting. Or apologizing for harsh words and insults. Yes, this can be amazingly difficult to do from an ego perspective. But when you think about how much joy it can mean to your children when they see both of their parents getting along, it’s more than worth the swallowing of your pride. Chances are your ex will swallow some too and be receptive to working things out in a more mature manner.

If you have nothing to “own” and all the tension and mistakes rest solely on the shoulders of your ex, try approaching him or her in a different way, focusing exclusively on the emotional needs of the children and reaching out a hand in peace.

There’s no guarantee this will work — and we all know some certified jerks out there of both genders — but I wouldn’t give up, ever! Times change, people can change, and change may be just what your family needs so you can create a better outcome for the children you love.

When you take the high road and model responsible, effective behavior, you are giving your children the gift of learning how to do that themselves. It’s a gift that will pay off for you and them many times in the years ahead. One day your children will thank you for making things right. They’ll acknowledge you for being such a model mom or dad, despite the challenges you faced. And believe me, you will be proud of the parent you worked so hard to become.

Rosalind Sedacca, CCT is founder of the Child-Centered Divorce Network and author of the acclaimed ebook, How Do I Tell the Kids … about the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook Guide to Preparing Your Children — with Love! 

Top 10 Tips for Divorcing Parents

10 tips for divorcing parents

Divorce does not have to be damaging to children. Here are the ten most important things parents can do to help their kids navigate the stormy seas of divorcing parents.

  1. Don’t try to recruit your child into siding with one parent against the other.
  2. Do contain your hostility in front of the children. Hearing divorcing parents argue is the most common cause for a child of divorce to have problems.
  3. Do renegotiate a healthy co-parenting relationship after divorce. You don’t have to be best friends with your ex, but you do need to have a civilized relationship so that your child is not burdened by your ongoing anger.
  4. Don’t badmouth your ex in front of your child. In fact, make a point of telling your child a few good things about the other parent.
  5. Do get on the same page with your ex about all rules concerning the children–bedtime, homework, amount of screen time, curfew, and so forth.
  6. Do take a parenting class or attend family therapy with your ex if you are having trouble coming to agreement about rules and consequences for your child. Allow a professional to help you manage your anger at your ex.
  7.  Don’t badmouth your ex’s parents or other family members. Children love their grandparents, aunts, and uncles, and if a parent says negative things about them the child will feel conflicted.
  8. Do reassure your child that she did not do anything to cause the divorce. Children often feel guiltywhen parents get divorced and need to be reassured that the divorce was not their fault.
  9. Do tell your child that both parents will continue to love him and spend time with him.
  10. Do tell your child that you expect her to continue to do well and be happy.

From Marilyn Wedge, Ph.D. in Suffer the Children for psychologytoday.com

2houses interviewed by The Divorce Source Radio during The Divorce Expo

2houses has been interviewed by a a Radio

If you missed our booth at the The Divorce Expo in Novi  (Michigan, USA) here is the article and the interview recorded during the expo by the Divorce Source Radio:

“This program features a unique online organizational product designed to help keep divorced couples organized. 2Houses.com helps Communications between separated or divorced parents.This online system helps you to manage your parenting schedule, keep track of shared expenses,exchange school, after-school activities, medical, and other types of information. This program features 2Houses founder, Gill Ruidant who traveled from Belgium to attend the show.  For more information, visit: www.2Houses.com.”

 

Listen to the interview

For kids: Living With a Single Parent

living with a single parent - 2houses

If you live with one parent, you know that a lot of other kids do, too. More than 20 million kids in the United States live with one parent. Separation and divorce are the most common reasons for this. In other cases, the mom and dad may never have lived together, or one of them may have died.

Living with one parent instead of two can bring out a lot of emotions. These feelings can be pretty strong, and they can be confusing, too. You might feel terribly sad and angry because your parents divorced.

You also might feel happy that your parents split up and aren’t fighting anymore, but you may also feel upset when your mom introduces you to a man that she is dating. You might love the uncle or grandma who takes care of you, but sometimes you might wish you could have one family with both a mom and a dad.

Emotions all by themselves aren’t either good or bad. They’re just feelings. Because living with one parent can sometimes be stressful, it can help to talk about it. You can talk with your parent, a relative, school counselor, or another trusted adult. Talking with other kids who live with single parents can be a great idea, too.

Single Parents and Work

Single parents are often working parents because someone needs to earn money to pay for food, clothing, and a place to live. Having a job means your mom or dad is able to provide these things and more for you. People work for other reasons, too. A job can let a person use his or her special talents and skills. A job can be important because it helps people in the community. Or a job can simply be exciting or interesting.

But even though you might understand why your mom or dad has to work, sometimes it can be hard to accept. “Not now, I have to work” isn’t what you want to hear when you’d like to do something fun. This can be especially true during the summer or school vacations. You’re home, they’re gone, and the days can seem really long.

Many kids simply take care of themselves for all or part of the time that a parent is at work. This can be all right, but only if you’re prepared to handle the responsibility. You need to know what to do in case of an emergency, as well as how to use your time wisely. And if you’re by yourself, you should know how to handle loneliness, too.

Other choices include going to an after-school program or staying with a neighbor or relative. During the summer, many schools and towns offer summer programs and camps.

Time Troubles

It can be tough when you don’t have enough time with your dad or mom. When you live with one parent, that person really has to do the work of two people. Besides a job, your mom or dad is responsible for caring for the kids, the house, the yard, the car, the pets — everything that grown-ups do! And besides all that, your dad or mom would like to be able to spend more time just hanging out with you, too. So what can you do?

One of the best ways is to hold a family meeting. Talk about everyone’s schedule for work, school, and activities. You can also talk about what jobs around the house need to be done every day, which ones can be done less often, and who could do each job.

When you take a look at chores and other time demands, you can try to work some family time into the schedule. Maybe you can eat more meals together. You might want to help your parent cook dinner sometimes. That can be both fun and helpful to your parent. Maybe you also can schedule a weekly game or movie night.

Time may be tight, but kids in single-parent families can make a difference by helping out around the house. They also can make another important contribution: reminding their moms or dads to have a little fun!

Reviewed by: Collen Sherman