Everything You Need To Know About Family Law

Family Law

For most people, the first thing that comes to mind whenever they come across the phrase “family law” is divorce. Divorce, while a huge part of family law, is just one area of the said legal field.

Family law encompasses a wide range of matters covering anything and everything that pertains to family matters and domestic relations.

Along with divorce, child support, property division, and child custody are the most common areas of family law. Here’s an overview of what each area involves.


Divorce is a legal decree that dissolves a marriage. Once a divorce becomes final, both parties will no longer be legally bound to each other. They can move on with their lives, free to remarry or forge a domestic partnership with another person.

Both parties can go for a “no-fault” divorce or a “fault-based” one.

Under no-fault divorce statutes, a spouse can file for divorce without holding the other spouse responsible for the marriage’s end. Loss of affection, irreconcilable differences, and irremediable breakdown are among the grounds for a no-fault divorce.

Fault-based divorce, meanwhile, can be obtained based on grounds that include domestic violence, adultery, drug and alcohol abuse, and abandonment.

Spouses file a fault-based divorce for a number of reasons. Some use a fault-based divorce to get the required waiting period for finalizing the divorce waived. Others do it to sway the court when it decides on subsequent child custody, child support, and alimony cases.

Child Custody

Divorce proceedings, as well as paternity and legitimation cases, typically tackle child custody matters.

When resolving child custody cases, courts in most jurisdictions rule based on the best interests of the child. The factors that determine what’s best for the child may vary from state to state, or from judge to judge. Generally, those factors include, but are not limited to:

The relationship of the child with both parents, siblings, and others who may have a significant effect on the child

The child’s preferences, as well as that of the parents

The overall physical and mental health of the child, parents, and other parties involved

Considering how stressful a child custody case can get, it is often better for all parties to resolve custody issues out-of-court. Such a settlement is possible if both parents come to an agreement that is in the best interest of the child.

Child Support

Divorce, paternity, and legitimation cases often give rise to child support issues. Child support revolves around the policy that both parents have an obligation to support their children.

In most cases, the mother is the custodial parent, while the non-custodial father is the one who pays child support. It’s not unheard of, however, for the roles to be reversed.

The guidelines that govern how much child support the non-custodial parent must pay may vary from state to state. Generally, the parent paying child support must continue to do so until:

The child is no longer a minor, except in cases when the child has special needs

Termination of parental rights through adoption or other legal processes

The child is emancipated or declared an adult by the court after becoming self-supporting

The child goes on active military service

Property division

Each party to a divorce owns 50% of community property, referring to all real and personal property acquired during the marriage. The law dictates that everything classified as community property must be divided equally between the two parties following their divorce.

Property division always begins by identifying all of the property that either party currently owns. To accomplish this, each person must disclose all property acquired before and during the marriage. Property owned before the marriage will be considered as separate property, and will not be subject to property division.

Family law matters can get very complex. Only a qualified and experienced family law attorney can guide you through its intricacies. So don’t hesitate to hire one should you find yourself dealing with divorce and legal matters that come with it.


Halloween: 5 Funny Things to Do With Your Kids

Halloween with your kids as separated parent

Navigating Halloween and joint custody might not be a treat, but it’s not a terror either. This is a joyful holiday for most kids, so getting them to participate in multiple celebrations with each parent is not typically a hard sell. Though tagging along for trick-or-treating might not be possible this Halloween, you and your little characters can make it a special one.

Be Secret (Spooky!) Santas

Few things are more exciting to kids than being part of planning a special surprise. Ask them to help you spread some Halloween joy to other families on your block or in your building. Create small gift bags filled with candy or little Halloween toys. Have kids create notes that explain the gifts are an anonymous treat from a neighbor (or sign your names, if you prefer). Alternately, find templates by searching online for “you’ve been boo’d” notes.

In the days before Halloween, explain that it’s time to be secret agents. Your mission is to deliver the bags to all your chosen recipients without anyone seeing you!

Start a New Tradition

Like with all holidays, one of the keys to managing Halloween and joint custody is to create new traditions. You may not be with the kids for trick-or-treating each year, but you can always do your special tradition together.

Maybe on the Saturday morning before Halloween, you’ll all dress head-to-toe in costumes and go out to breakfast. Maybe you’ll have a full-day Halloween movie marathon each year, complete with themed snacks. Maybe you’ll spend November 1st trying different food combinations with all their new treats.

Role Play with Costumes

If your child picked their own costume, it’s probably a very beloved character. Celebrate that enthusiasm by encouraging your child to “be” their character for a full day. A kid who’s dressing up as a princess, for example, could wear her costume all day and get the full royal treatment from her butler or lady-in-waiting (that’s you).

Be careful not to damage the costume before Halloween night! If possible, have your child rewear last year’s costume for this activity, or save it for the days after Halloween.

Have a Costume Dress-Up Challenge

Dressing up is an eternally popular activity for some younger kids. In the spirit of Halloween, announce a family costume challenge. Each one of you gets to take a turn as the decider, who names a person or thing. Then everyone else gets 10 minutes to go put together a costume to match. If the decider picked “robot,” for example, you might put on gray clothing and use tinfoil to quickly make some accessories. If multiple people are playing, the decider can pick a winner for each round.

Make a Halloween Heirloom

This is a special holiday for your kids, and your co-parent is probably also wishing for more time with them. Take a generous approach to Halloween and joint custody by teaming up with the kids to do something for their other parent.

Try a sweet and silly prank like sticking plastic flamingos in the co-parent’s yard. Buy wooden signs in pumpkin shapes and have kids paint one for you and one for your ex. Even better? Use an online photo book platform to create a book together about all the costumes your family members have worn over the years. Make a copy for you and one for your ex.

More Tips for Halloween and Joint Custody

If the custody schedule means you’ll miss spending the 31st with your kids, be sure to check with the school and any organizations that your child belongs to. It’s common for elementary schools, scouting groups, dance schools and so on to organize their own Halloween parades. These activities allow all family members to see the kids dressed up, perfect for parents with limited custody.

Joint Custody And Mother’s Day: How To Manage If It’s Daddy’s Turn?

mother's day

Mother’s Day and joint custody present a difficult challenge — if it’s Daddy’s turn, what’s the best way to handle the holiday?

If you think of Mother’s Day as an emotional holiday, you’re not alone. Splitting custody of children is not easy — especially when holidays roll around — but there are ways to make the process smoother.

Check Your Parenting Agreement First

First, brush up on the basics. Check your parenting plan agreement and see if the arrangement includes an exception for Mother’s Day. Most parenting plans will include clauses for special days (Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and so on).

If you have one, you’re in luck: custody is straightforward when its spelled out in a document. Even if it’s Daddy’s turn for custody, a Mother’s Day exception clause will grant possession for the holiday.

It’s Not Always That Easy

Of course, life is not always so easy. If you check your joint custody agreement and find no exception for Mother’s Day, the best step is to open a dialogue with your former spouse. Take the time to talk to your child’s other parent and see if you can come to an agreeable solution.

At its core, asking for custody over the holiday is a bit like asking for a favor. The father is not legally required to oblige you — keep that in mind! Present your case in a friendly, agreeable manner and try to keep emotions out of it. The moment anger comes into play, the chances of coming to an agreement vanish.

You Might Have Legal Remedies

Even if your parenting agreement does not allow for Mother’s Day custody, check your local state laws and regulations. Some states, like Texas, have statewide provisions that grant mothers possession during the holiday. It’s worth a quick check or phone call with your lawyer to double-check!

Alternatively, you could seek to modify your existing parenting agreement. You can do this by speaking to your lawyer about changing the custodial agreement. This is a big step — and not an easy one — so try to think of it as a last resort. It’s always better to come to an amicable, mutually agreeable solution with your former partner.

What Not To Do

It goes without saying, but always abide by the rules of your parenting agreement. If visitation or custody is not granted during Mother’s Day, stick with the letter of the law. Likewise, if your former partner violates the custody agreement, remember the law is on your side.

A Few Tips For Reaching An Agreement On Joint Custody

Depending on your relationship with the father, reaching an agreement regarding Mother’s Day might be a tall order.

Offer a bit of quid pro quo. Mother’s Day custody in exchange for Father’s Day may work as a compromise. Alternatively, depending on the specifics of your custody agreement, you may be able to ‘swap’ visitation days. In general, try to be accommodating and polite — the more you are willing to work with your former partner, the better.

Offering “make up” weekends is a great way to garner some goodwill with a former spouse as well. Going out of your way to show that your child values time with both parents will be much appreciated!

It’s All About Communication

Mother’s Day is a time when emotions run high and tempers may flare. Dealing with joint custody issues is not easy — even if we wish it were — so take the time to communicate.

See if it’s possible to swap custody days to make room for Mother’s Day. Alternatively, consider offering some “make up” days to sweeten the deal. You may also consider modifying your parenting agreement to include possession on specific holidays.

Whatever path you take, open communication with your child’s other parent is key.

5 Things To Embrace Easter With Kids

Easter with kids

Easter comes at the right time – spring is in full swing, the weather turns for the better, and there’s plenty of fun to be had. If you’re debating how to spend Easter with kids, don’t worry – here are five great activities to consider.

1: Dyeing Eggs for Easter

It’s a classic and for good reason – it’s fun, easy, and makes for great memories. Even better, it doesn’t take much in the way of materials or preparation. Just grab some eggs, your choice of egg dye (many companies sell Easter-specific egg kits), and you’re off to the races.

Of course, egg dyeing can go well beyond a simple color change. Test the limits of your kid’s creativity – challenge them to decorate an egg as their favorite superhero, for example. Glitter, sprinkles, paint, and markers all work to make your eggs really stand out.

Easter with kids - 2houses

2: Easter Egg Hunts

You’ll likely find an egg hunt thrown by your city or local recreation center, but feel free to make your own! Stash some eggs in whatever likely hiding places you can think of (and don’t worry, this works fine indoors) and let the kids loose.

To spice things up, a ‘cheat sheet’ with a few hints is not a bad idea. For example, telling the kids that there are five eggs in the kitchen might have them tearing up cereal boxes, checking the ice tray, and digging around in light fixtures. Of course, they have to clean up the mess they made – Spring cleaning can get a headstart here!

3: Egg Rolling

A handful of eggs, some long-handled spoons, and you’re golden. Egg rolling is a fantastic Easter activity with tons of versatility – traditionally, you’d ‘race’ to see who can roll their egg through the grass the fastest. Plenty of variations exist: eggs rolling and tumbling down a hill is a great (and potentially messy) way to change things up.

easter with kids - 2houses

4: Jelly Beans Galore!

Jelly beans are oddly versatile little treats. Take the traditional “Jelly Bean Guessing Game”, for example. Simply fill a jar with the beans, ask the kids how many there are, and count them up. The winner gets to gorge themselves on one of Easter’s most addictive snacks.

If you’re looking to make things a little more challenging (or potentially yucky!), opt for a twist on the “guess the flavor” game. It’s more than possible to find different sets of jelly beans that come in a range of weird, wacky, and wild flavors. Asking the kids to discern the differences between cherry, strawberry, potato, and ‘stinky socks’ flavors is sure to get some laughs!

5: Get the Yard Involved

Eggs, bunnies, and jelly beans make for a fantastic Easter. However, what about an activity that has a real sense of permanence?

easter with kids - 2houses

Enter the Easter Garden!

If you’re lucky enough to have garden space, Easter is a perfect time to really make the most of it. If you’re limited on space outdoors, a window planter/window box is a fantastic (and affordable) alternative.

Feel free to plant a range of spring fruits and vegetables, but don’t forget the quintessential Easter flower – the white lily. Tulips, daisies, and hyacinths are excellent as well. Throw in some azalea for extra color and, voilà, an Easter garden will be a fixture in your kid’s lives for weeks to come.

Easter Doesn’t Have To Be Complicated

You’ll find that springtime often offers its own solutions – get outside, get active, and let the weather speak for itself. If the weather doesn’t allow for outdoor mischief, every activity listed above can be done indoors (just be careful with the eggs). Stick with some traditional activities and Easter with kids!

First steps on 2houses

2houses home page

You’ve just joined 2houses and can’t find your way around? Here are some explanations to configure your account. 2houses will no longer keep any secrets from you!

Step one : invite my co-parent

When you created your account, you entered the name of your co-parent. To invite him/her, follow this process:

  1. Go to “My Family
  2. Click on “Members
  3. Click on the key below your co-parent’s name

first step 2houses

When you click on the key, you just have to enter the co-parent’s email address. You can write a personal message or you can send a pre-written invitation by 2houses.

Finally, when you want to verify if the co-parent did accept your request, you just have to return to the “My family” page and you will be able to see if the co-parent accepted your invitation or not.

Not applicable if you’re the invited co-parent.

Step 2 : Create a parenting schedule

To create your first custody calendar:

  1. Go to the page “Calendar”
  2. Then in the subcategory, select “Parenting schedules
  3. Click on “Create a parenting schedule” or “Create my first parenting schedules.” Both choices will take you to the same page.

first step 2houses

Once you clicked on that button, choose the model that suits you.

first step 2houses

Or, compose your schedule manually. Select the days and the parent to personalize your planning.

first step 2houses

Step 3 : Create a holidays schedule

Just like the “joint custody” calendar you need to follow these steps:

  1. Go to “Agenda
  2. Click on “Parenting schedules
  3. Click on “Create a parenting schedule

frist step 2houses

Then, just as you did for joint custody schedule, select the child concerned and select “create yours manually.

first step 2houses

Once this is done, give your schedule a name, and insert the start and end dates. Then click on the first day of the week and say where the child will spend the night. Repeat this until the desired date. If you want to add an extra week, click on «add a week.» If this schedule does not repeat, press «Do not repeat and apply until …» If necessary, press «Repeats until …» When you have established your schedule, click on «Create this parenting schedule.»

first step 2houses

The vacation schedule will overlay the standard schedule on the agreed dates. See: lexicon p.10. from the PDF.

Step 4 : Create a change request

To create your change request, click on:

  1. Calendar
  2. Change requests
  3. Create a change request

first step 2houses

Select the parent and a date. Add a note if you want to. Once you entered all of the information, click on “Create this change request.”

first step 2houses

Once this step is done, you will see the change request in your calendar.
In this case, the change request hasn’t been accepted yet by the co-parent. That’s why both of the schedules are visible.

first step 2houses

Step 5 : Create an event

When you’re on the dashboard:

  1. Click on “Calendar
  2. Then on the subdivision “Event
  3. Finally on “Create an event

first step 2houses

When you click on that button, you will arrive on the event page. Fill in what’s asked. You can choose this event to be recurring.

You also can choose this event to happen only once.

first step 2houses

Once you configure your event, click on “Create this event.

first step 2houses

Step 6 : Create an expense

To create an expense, please follow these steps:

  1. Click on “Finances
  2. Then on the subdivision “expenses
  3. Finally on “Report a new expense

first step 2houses

When you’re on the expenses page, fill in the price, the date, and the reason. Then, for the category, if you don’t have any yet, click on “create a new category.

For the category, fill in the title, the share proportion, and if you want to, an explanation note. Click on “create a category.

first step 2houses

You now can fill in all of the other details of the expense. You also can attach a file (the picture of your receipts, for example).

first step 2houses

If your expense is subject to an external reimbursement (ex: health service), click on “subject to a reimbursement” and tell the beneficiary.

first step 2houses

Finally, click on “Report this expense” and don’t forget that the beneficiary of the reimbursement will need to encode this reimbursement once he/ she receives it. A blue notification will appear until the reimbursement is done. You can encode it via the double arrow.

first step 2houses first step 2houses

2houses has no longer secret to you now!

Printable PDF version available here :

PDF 2houses – first step 2houses – EN version

Getting Over A Break Up: 5 Tips On How To Deal With Mutual Friends After Your Separation

getting over a break up

The end of your marital relationship doesn’t spell the end of your relationships with your mutual friends. It might seem daunting or confusing, but maintaining healthy connections with the people in your life is part of moving forward.

If you’re interested in getting over a break up, this article is for you. Divorce is between you and your former spouse — mutual friends are definitely feasible post-divorce!

1: It’s Not About Sides

Divorces, even the most amicable ones, can place a serious strain on mutual friends. If your first inclination is to try to “divide up” your mutual friends, try to think positively. True friends respect each others’ choices. The more you attempt you try to persuade mutual friends to take sides, the more stress you put on your relationships.

Remember why you’re friends in the first place. You enjoy each other’s company — keep it that way!

2: Keep a Positive Attitude When Getting Over a Break Up

Think about it from your friend’s perspective. That person wants to remain friends with both you and your ex. It’s better to keep the drama and gossip of your previous relationship away from mutual friends.

Not only does gossip always come back to haunt you, but you’ll garner a lot of goodwill by keeping it respectful. Focus on enjoying the friendships you’ve made over everything else.

3: Yes, Some Losses Are Normal

Take a deep breath. It’s unlikely that you’ll remain friends with everyone in your mutual friend circle. It’s perfectly normal and healthy for some friendships to be contingent on “pairs” — you and your ex, for example — so don’t fret if some friends drift away.

We all have people in our lives that naturally fade away; it’s a part of life.

In that same vein, don’t expect to remain amazing friends with your ex’s best friend! Your friends will naturally gravitate towards their preferred relationships. Let it happen and enjoy the relationships that you keep.

4: Communication Is Key

It might be a bit of a cliche, but communication really is key. If possible, communicate with your mutual friends to see if your ex will appear at social gatherings. Ask yourself if you’re okay with seeing your former spouse at a social event. If you’d rather limit contact, that’s great — you should feel zero pressure here. If you’d prefer to live completely separate lives, communicate that to your friend group.

After all, your friends are autonomous, intelligent, and capable people. Make it clear whether or not you’d like to see your ex at events. Your friends will keep you in the loop.

Of course, if possible, sit down with your former spouse. Discuss which friendships you know you want to keep. If your ex is adamant about ‘splitting’ friends, keep an open mind and communicate your wishes clearly.

5: Be Adaptable

Above all else, be adaptable. After a breakup or divorce, mutual friends will inevitably shift. Some relationships will end, some will become stronger. Stay flexible and realize that your friends are independent people with lives outside of your breakup!

Let them live their lives and enjoy the friendships you have.

Likewise, remember that even the best of friends may make mistakes. If you have an understanding with your mutual friends that you and your ex don’t want to meet at social gatherings, be flexible. Communication mishaps, confusion, and plain forgetfulness might have you wind up at the same party as your ex.

Stay positive, be respectful, and good things will happen.

Getting Over a Break Up

It’s not easy getting over a break up. The best way to deal with mutual friends is to communicate your wishes to them regarding you and your ex. Avoid making your friends pick sides, stay positive, accept your losses, and be adaptable.

Follow these tips and continue enjoying years of healthy friendships with your mutual friends!

The Impact of Divorce on Children’s Education

divorce - 2houses

Parental separation can have adverse effects on children as they experience lower psychological wellbeing, which in turn can impact their achievements in education. While the conflict caused by the separation or the divorce itself can be responsible factors, it could also be that the couples who separate are not effective parents. A child’s learning begins at home, and parents who themselves did not receive any form of quality home education may not be capable of properly educating their children. The responsibility then, falls on schools and teachers. In a previous article on 2houses we covered schooling decisions for divorced couples and how it can impact their children.

Research has shown that children who experience their parents’ divorce can display psychological and behavioural reactions ranging from anxiety, depression, and increased irritability. A study published in the journal of Pediatrics & Child Health outlines that apart from the above symptoms, children can also experience problems in social relationships and school performance. In countries where the divorce rates are higher, a child’s education and school performance are affected even more. Interestingly enough, for parents it goes the other way; as average divorce rates increase, the impact of the separation lessens.

In their article on divorce and a child’s education, Children and Family Blog notes that the impact of separation or divorce varies depending on the level of conflict. In relationships where the parents experience a high-conflict situation, the separation could be seen as a relief for the children and may positively impact them. Whereas, in relationships where parents have a low-conflict situation, children can experience worse symptomatic responses, as exiting what felt like a stable family environment could create long-term shock.

Based on research spanning more than a decade on single-parent families, a study published in the journal of Family Relations emphasises that the disadvantages for children living with single parents can be substantial and may persist long into adulthood. In the paper Growing Up with a Single Parent: What Hurts, What Helps, the authors detail that children of divorced parents earn lower grades, and are less likely to excel at school, regardless of the parents’ background or their level of education. They are also less likely to attend or graduate university, and more likely to be unemployed in their adult years.

These findings also relate to the degree of education provided to young children at home. While parents who divorce are less likely to provide supervision and proper education for their children, this correlation may not be entirely as a direct result of the divorce. The situation at home may be such that the parents don’t care, are ineffective, or do not have the skills or tools to provide the home education that children require. Save the Children describe how home education is crucial, as the majority of a young child’s learning takes place at home rather than school. The better the home environment, the better the child’s education. While the ability of the parents does have a big impact on a child’s upbringing, the consensus is that children of divorced families do come out worse in the end, with generally lower grades and education levels.

Separated Parents: Who Gets to Choose the Children’s School?

separated parents - 2houses

Whether it’s public, private, online, or at home, the process of picking a school comes up in every separated parent’s life. While who gets to choose the children’s school may seem like a simple question, it doesn’t always have a simple answer. This is especially true if the parents disagree, such as one parent wants the child to go to public school and the other wants to homeschool. To get you started, here are some of the basic factors involved in most cases.

The State(s) the Separated Parents Live In

Because family law is state specific, it’s difficult to answer almost any question about which parent can make what decision without taking the state into consideration. For parents who live in the same state and also filed for divorce in that state, it’s a fairly easy lookup of family law code. However, in situations where one parent lives in another state or the parents no longer reside in the state the divorce was filed in, things get a bit trickier.

In these circumstances, you’ll want to go by the guidelines for the state the divorce was filed in because that’s the court that has jurisdiction over the case. For example, if the divorce was filed in Ohio, but one parent now lives in Indiana, Ohio’s laws are followed. If both parents have moved out of state, it’s a good idea to consider filing a change of jurisdiction so that the case is being dealt with in the proper state.

The Type of Custody Agreement

What kind of legal custody arrangement you have with your ex is one of the most important factors when it comes to who gets to choose the children’s school.

Sole Custody

If one parent has sole legal custody, that parent usually has full decision-making authority. This is true even if you have a generous visitation schedule that allows the parents to split the time fairly equally.

Joint Custody

In situations where the parents have joint legal custody, the family court system gives the parents equal decision-making authority. Again, this is true even if the children primarily reside with one parent, which can still be a different situation than a court-designated residential parent covered below. Joint legal custody situations assume that the parents will be able to come to a mutual agreement on the important decisions involving the children — such as education.

The Residential Parent

A residential parent is a designation for which parent’s house is used for school district purposes. Residential parents can be used in both sole and joint custody cases. If your divorce took place when your children were already of school age, it’s likely your agreement already includes a residential parent designation. If the children were very young, it may be something you need to add in now. If you already have a residential parent as part of your coparenting agreement, that parent’s district will be used. However, if you want to try to go out of district, are considering private schools, or want to homeschool, the residential parent doesn’t really come into play.

Final Considerations

Great coparenting involves a lot of communication and compromise. 2houses can help you with this process by making it easier to share information and see schedules at a glance. It makes it easier to see the logistics of the situation and integrate the best interests of the children. As with any other coparenting concern, if you can come to an agreement on your own, it’s all the better for everyone involved. If that’s not possible, the decision is usually brought to mediation or goes before a judge who will have the final say.

Mutual Consent Divorce for an Unfazed Break-up

mutual consent divorce

It is never easy to bring a relationship to an end. In particular, if you share children with your spouse, you want to make it as easy as possible on them and on you. You have the option of filing for no-fault divorce or, in some states, Mutual Consent Divorce. In layperson’s terms, mutual consent divorce just means you’ve decided as a couple to end the marriage and you want to do so with the minimum of conflict.

Agreeing to End the Marriage

In states such as Pennsylvania, it’s possible for one spouse to file for divorce and the other spouse to agree with the filing. This is called a mutual consent no-fault divorce. Most states have the option for a “no fault,” divorce, where you can file based on “irreconcilable differences” and do not have to state that your spouse has done something specifically wrong. With a no-fault divorce, however, your spouse can generally still contest the filing.

Benefits of Mutual Consent Divorce

If you and your spouse can agree to end the marriage mutually, you benefit from looking at your finances and shared child care responsibilities with a clear head. Many states have resources that can help you and your spouse understand the details of asset division and developing a parenting plan for your children going forward.
Fundamentally, what you gain through a mutual consent divorce is the ability to maintain a civil relationship with your child’s other parent, who will remain a part of your child’s life and may share custody.

Co-Parenting into the Future

If you avoid a messy divorce and stay on good terms with your former spouse, co-parenting is much easier. You are able to support your children in their relationships with their other parent while keeping your own emotions in check. Tools like the shared calendar function on 2houses can help make your long-term parenting plans more efficient and facilitate open communication between families.

Especially if you have young children, your time as an active co-parent may span several years. Starting off on a positive note can help make those years as easy as possible on you and on your children.

Where to Go for Help

Mutual consent divorce may help co-parents keep the peace, but it’s not right for everyone. If you are thinking about ending your marriage and want to know about your options, speak with a divorce attorney in your area. During this emotionally difficult time, you may have more options than you think.

How to Talk to Your Preteen About Stress

preteen about stress - 2houses

Preteens, also referred to as tweens, have a lot going on both physically and emotionally. Many preteens go through puberty, a process which often causes mood-altering hormonal changes.

During this time, many tweens are still expected to attend school, participate in sports, and help with household chores. Combine these changes and expectations with the fact that 1 out of 8 kids have anxiety, a condition that causes fear and uneasiness, and it’s easy to see why the preteen years can be stressful. Review the tips below so that you can effectively discuss stressful situations with your preteen without coming across as uncompassionate or judgmental.

Ask, Don’t Assume

Many parents unintentionally act as if they know their preteens better than their preteens know themselves. Anytime you have a conversation with your preteen, whether it’s a quick chat or a lengthy heart-to-heart, don’t make assumptions about how she thinks, feels, or behaves. Ask her open-ended questions rather than questions that require a simple yes or no, and then listen when she answers. Don’t talk over her or say that she’s wrong; let her share her opinions or experiences during a judgment-free chat session.

Unsure whether you make assumptions? Here are some common statements parents make:

  • – I know you’ve been stressed lately.
  • – All kids your age want a boyfriend or girlfriend, so I know you like someone.
  • – If I walk upstairs right now, I’m sure I’ll find your bed unmade and your clothes everywhere.
  • – I know you probably hate me right now, but…

These statements make assumptions about your preteen’s thoughts or actions. Instead of beginning a sentence with “I know,” try saying “I feel” instead. Also, avoid projecting your own childhood experiences on your preteen with statements like “All kids your age…”. Your tween may feel that you are implying they are lying or hiding things, which can create additional stress. It may also make them worry that they are failing to do normal activities that other preteens do.

Choose the Right Time

Family meals may seem like an excellent time to discuss stressors because everybody is in one place at the same time. However, your preteen may feel uncomfortable talking about her problems in front of everyone. You may also prefer to reserve mealtimes for fun, casual topics such as weekend plans or popular TV shows instead of addressing heavy topics.

If your preteen has a busy schedule, squeeze in time to chat before bed or during car rides to school or social commitments. You can also take your child out for some one-on-one time and chat over ice cream or milkshakes. Ask your tween what works for them and then plan something together.

Offer Potential Solutions Cautiously

Sometimes your tween simply needs a compassionate ear while she vents about a temporary problem. Other times, she may be battling an ongoing source of stress and want you to offer potential solutions. Things like peer pressure, low self-esteem, academics or a big move can all cause stress in a child’s life. Verbally offer potential solutions if you think your teen might be receptive to them or benefit from them. If not, consider leaving a journal, squishy ball, or meditative CD on her bed so that she can tackle feelings of stress on her own terms.

Tweens who want help with their stress can try yoga, deep breathing techniques, or visualizations. You can also take steps to eliminate stressors from your child’s life rather than just teaching her how to cope with them. For example, if she’s stressed because of a bully at school, you can speak with the principal and help put a stop to the situation. If she’s upset because a friend isn’t speaking to her, you can help her analyze the argument and determine whether to apologize or give the friend space.

If your tween internalizes stressful situations, she may become depressed or anxious. Encourage her to talk about what’s on her mind by utilizing the suggestions above.