Important things to consider for illinois child support calculation

Illinois child custody

After divorce or separation of parents, children are the one who suffers the most. The separated parents have a huge responsibility on their shoulders to provide necessary child support to their children so that they can continue to live a happy and joyous life even after such tragedies. Hence, there are certain rules involved when calculating a parent’s financial responsibility to support their children in the future. Physical and mental health conditions of the child are one of the many factors that a court considers when allocating the payments of child support. The well-being of the child will be always of utmost importance in the court’s eyes. Apart from this, for child support, parents can also enter into a legal agreement, and once it is approved by the court, the parents can implement it accordingly.

Why Child Support is Important?

Before discussing the complex calculations involved in the child support program, it is quite important for both parents to understand why child support is important for their children. Child support basically refers to paying a particular amount of money by a non-custodial parent to the custodial parent with an objective to support children financially. When parents separate, children require the dire need of support both emotionally and financially. Hence, protecting children both emotionally and financially is the utmost responsibility of parents, even if they don’t spend their lives together under one roof. When parents do not get involved in supporting their child, these poor lads may not get an opportunity they deserve and require in order to grow with the maximum potential.

Raising children is no doubt a critical task, whether the parents are separated or living under one roof. But, specifically after divorce, the financial and emotional needs of children significantly increase. For this purpose, taking a particular amount from the income for child support becomes quite important. Commonly, when a court decides upon child support they monitor whether the parents are capable to support their children or not.

There are many important goals that these child support practices serve. Firstly, it minimizes financial insecurity and poverty that their child might face in the future. Secondly, due to child support both non-custodial parents and their children get a chance to strengthen their relationship and spend more time with each other. On the other hand, if a parent is not able to pay or refuse to pay for the child support, then he or she might have to face legal consequences.

When a non-custodial parent is unable to pay for the child support, the custodial parent can accuse the non-custodial parent of violation of the child support agreement. As a result, the non-custodial parent might have to face legal problems that can lead him or her to jail as well. For this purpose, it is quite important for every parent to perform timely payments for child support so that they can avoid such legal consequences.

Significance of the Illinois Child Support Calculator

Among other questions, a number of parents ask one important question about how is child support calculated in Illinois courts? To calculate child support, the court usually investigates;

  • The income of both parents.
  • The requirements of the children
  • The needs and incomes of the custodial parent
  • The capability of each parent to pay for his or her child.
  • The standard of living of the child after separation of parents.

In order to ease the problem associated with child support, there are certain guidelines provided by the local government that could assist parents in evaluating how much amount they are required to pay for child support. The Illinois child support percentage gradually increases with the increase in the number of children. Here’s how;

  • For 1 child, parents have to pay 20 percent of their income.
  • For 2 children, parents have to pay 28 percent of their income.
  • For 3 children, parents have to pay 32 percent of their income.
  • For 4 children, parents have to pay 40 percent of their income.
  • For 5 children, parents have to pay 45 percent of their income.
  • For 6 or more children, parents have to pay 50 percent of their income.

So if next time someone asks, how much is child support in Illinois, show them these percentage guidelines. These percentage guidelines were designed solely on the basis of traditional arrangements of the child custody, in which non-custodians are required to visit their child on a regular basis (every weekend). However, in the case of shared or joint custody of children, or if the time of visitation increases from the traditional visitation time then these percentage guidelines will not remain the same. It is more likely that the court may incorporate further expenses in these guidelines in terms of health care, school tuition fee, and extracurricular activities. In other cases, if the income of a parent is quite high, then the amount of guideline will increase accordingly. On the other hand, if a parent is associated with low monthly income than he or she will have to pay lesser than the amount guideline.

Estimating the Net Income with Illinois Child Support Calculator

The Illinois child support calculator is a beneficial tool that can assist parents in calculating the expenses involved in the child support program.  The formula for calculation is quite simple. The parent will just have to add the amount of net income (including both earned and unearned) and subtract it from the adjustment or deductions provided in the child support guidelines. Here are some common forms of income that parents are required to show while disbursing child support;

  • Income received from the investment.
  • Income received from self-employment work.
  • Income received from commissions.
  • Income received from monthly, weekly or yearly wages.

On the other hand, here are some common deductions that are subtracted while calculating child support;

  • State and federal income taxes
  • Premiums for health insurance (for both dependents and old custodians).
  • Expenses required to generate income.
  • Medical-related expenses
  • Any amount which is already been paid for the welfare of the custodial parents or children.

Although calculating the right amount of child support can be quite difficult, still this calculator can provide an estimate to some extent about how much amount is needed to be paid by the parents after separation.

The responsibilities of child support also rest with such parents that receive no or less income. The court will examine the reason for the low income of non-custodial parents. If a parent is working voluntarily for a lesser amount of time and has the capability to work more, then such individuals will be liable to pay for child support. On the other hand, if a parent is highly qualified but still working for a low salary job, then these individuals too will be liable to pay for child support. Unless they present some strong pieces of evidence regarding their efforts for hunting good jobs or any other reason such as disability issues or getting affected by chronic health problems. In such scenarios, the court will then ask the parent to provide only potential or imputed income as child support. This potential income will be entirely based on the most current job in which a parent is involved in or will be based on such job opportunities for which the parent can easily qualify considering their experience and training. Lastly, if no evidence is found by the court then it will set the minimum wage as an imputed income for the child support.

Modifying or Terminating Child Support In Future

Situations might occur when a child may need extra care or support, due to any unforeseen circumstances. In such cases, the non-custodial parents can ask for Illinois child support modifications in order to enhance the financial assistance for their children, so that they can meet all the necessary requirements in their lives. On the other hand, if the non-custodial parents think that their child has now become capable to earn on its own, then in this case as well they can request modifications in the child support accordingly.

However, in case of any modification required, the parents will have to provide concrete evidence to support it. In accordance with the Illinois child support regulations, the obligation on parents to support their children terminates after 18 years of age. But, this obligation will be modified if the child is still going to high school for learning. In such scenarios, the non-custodial parents will be obliged to pay for their child support until the child gets graduated or turns 19. Moreover, if the child lacks self-support capability or has some kind of disability, then these obligations may further delay in the future. In certain cases, the Illinois courts also come forward to support parent for making payments after the child turns 19.

Illinois Child Support Payments

Generally, the payments for child support are taken from the paycheck of the non-custodial parents. The payment process begins when a child support notice is sent to the employer of the non-custodial parents. Once the notice is received, the employer will become liable to disburse the child support payments from the parent’s paycheck and send it to the Illinois child support disbursement unit.  On the other hand, parents are also liable to check the disbursed amount, in order to ensure that the right amount of payment is being sent for the child support through the employer.  If the employer fails to disburse the child support payments from the parent’s paycheck then the non-custodial parents can send the payment by themselves. However, if the employers fail to pay for the child support, they may have to pay a $100 fine per day.

In Illinois, the payment for child support is generally done through the Illinois child support disbursement unit. This unit is responsible for processing the payments for child support obtained from parents or employers, and then disbursing them to the new custodians via debit card, direct deposit, or check. One important advantage of the Illinois child support disbursement unit is it keeps a thorough record for every payment made through it. This can eventually help both the custodial and the non-custodial parent to avoid any arguments on child support in the future.

Illinois Child Support Laws 2020

In comparison with the modification of Illinois Child Support Laws in 2017, in 2020 there are no significant changes made. In 2020, the obligation on the non-custodial parent to stay with their child is increased up to 50 percent. Hence, the higher the time parent will spend with their child lesser will they have to pay for the child support. On the other hand, as far as the 146 overnight visit requirements per year are met by the non-custodial parents, the time required to be spent by each parent will not be considered in the Illinois child support calculator 2020.

 One of the major changes in child support law took place in 2017 when a new model for the sharing of income was adopted in the Illinois child support program. The whole idea behind this model was to hold the non-custodial parents more responsible for providing support to their children in the same way as if they were intact in the family. There are certain factors on the basis of which the contribution of the non-custodial parent towards child support can be calculated in accordance with this model. A parent’s basic support is evaluated based on their shared total income and the amount of time the kid spends with non-custodial parents every year.

To further illustrate this factor, consider a couple who spends roughly $30,000 every year for the expenses of their child, and they agree upon giving 50/50 time to their child. So, after reviewing the financial positions of both the parents, the court finds out that the mother is contributing 40 percent, while the father is contributing 60 percent in the total income. In that scenario, the father will be liable to pay $18,000 (60% of his income), while the mother will have to pay $12,000 (40% of her income) in the child support.

Hence, by providing appropriate child support, parents can help bring the lost colors in their children’s lives. As children already go through many stressors after their parents get separated. Therefore, child support is their basic right, and parents should ensure to provide it, in order to shape a better future for them.

 References

 https://www.oflaherty-law.com/learn-about-law/illinois-child-support-2020-recent-changes-to-illinois-support-law

https://www.wahpetondailynews.com/news/child-support-what-is-it-who-pays-why-it-s/article_80c73f6c-d48f-11e7-a477-d78d8d716b0e.html

https://www.wahpetondailynews.com/news/child-support-what-is-it-who-pays-why-it-s/article_80c73f6c-d48f-11e7-a477-d78d8d716b0e.html

https://www.divorcenet.com/resources/child-support/child-support-basics/child-support-illinois.html

https://www.mckinleyirvin.com/family-law-blog/2019/april/child-support-for-children-with-special-needs/

Talking to Your Kids About Their Absent Parent

Absent parent - 2houses

Even under the best of circumstances, a parental separation can be incredibly emotional and confusing for kids. They’re used to seeing both parents at the dinner table and at soccer games. Then suddenly one parent is gone. It’s a huge adjustment, even if both parents remain involved in the kids’ lives. But when your partner disappears from your lives and doesn’t make an effort to see the kids, it falls to you to help them process this huge shift.

Explaining the Absence to Kids

Because you want to protect your child, your instincts might tell you to fudge the truth behind your ex-partner’s disappearance. It’s hard to tell them that Dad left because he cheated or that Mom moved away because she has an addiction. Wouldn’t it be easier to tell them that their parent left because of an exciting new job opportunity?

Maybe, but this strategy can backfire. Instead, separated parents should tell kids the truth in an age-appropriate way. Emphasize that the kids have no responsibility for the parent’s absence. “Daddy moved away because he fell in love with someone else and he decided to go live with her. He did that because he wanted to, not because of anything that you did wrong, and he still loves you so much.” You might even add: “Someday he will probably realize he made a mistake by not seeing you more. I’m so sorry that his decision is hurting you.”

Kids in this situation might worry that their remaining parent will abandon them too, especially if they misbehave. One parent left, what’s keeping you from going too? Tell them in no uncertain terms that you will never choose to leave, even if they’re messy or get bad grades.

Helping Kids Cope

Once your kids understand that the absent parent is really gone and isn’t reliable, they’ll need your support. You can’t fix the situation or make your ex become a better parent. What you can do is encourage the kids to express how they’re feeling.

If they’re angry, let them vent to you without trying to offer any solutions. Give them access to art and writing supplies and encourage them to express their feelings. Offer frequent affection and remind them often how lovable and wonderful they are. If you’re in a position to send your child to a therapist for a few sessions, offer that as an option too.

Does the other parent makes promises to come see the kids but often fails to show up? Make backup plans for those scheduled times. When Dad doesn’t arrive at noon like promised, spend the afternoon at the mall or at a park having fun. And be mindful to not badmouth the other parent, even after the person hurts your child by bailing. Calling your ex names or getting really emotional when talking about the situation may make your kids afraid to express their feelings.

Helping Yourself Cope

Separated parents who have primary custody are under a ton of pressure. You’re solely responsible for kids who are dealing with being hurt by their other parent. If you’re like a lot of people who find themselves in this situation, you probably feel overwhelmed and angry. It’s important to acknowledge those feelings – without making your kids feel responsible for fixing them. Ideally, you’ll talk to a therapist about everything that you’re juggling. If that’s not possible, schedule weekly vent sessions with a sympathetic friend.

And don’t forget that you’re not Superparent. You’ve got a lot going on – if the kids eat chicken nuggets every night and miss the occasional shower, celebrate how much you’re getting right instead of beating yourself up.

We know that separated parents have a lot of their plates. 2houses helps you manage it all. Give us a try for free!

The essential of Indiana parenting time guidelines

parenting time guidelines

As per the latest statistics attained from The Centers and Disease Control and Prevention, the rate of divorce in the US is witnessed to be 3.2 out of every 1,000 people (Kennedy and Ruggles, 2014). This leaves behind quite a larger number of under-aged children to be deprived of the affection, time and upbringing from both of their parents. With the decision of separation taken by the mutual decision of parent, children are the ones that are affected the most and may lead them with several emotional and behavioral disorders and instability. It develops in them some complexes, depression and a sense of loneliness and being unloved which further lead to an emotionally painful process throughout every phase of their lives (Valenzuela, Halpern and Katz, 2014). For the mitigation of such a rising issues of divorce and considering the worst impacts of it on the minds of growing children, parenting guidelines are introduced and several mobile application and websites have been devoted for the cause of time management and visitation of parental guidelines for those who do not have custody of their children in order spend time with them and to cope up with the potential impacts of separation on children and adolescents.

Impacts of Divorce on Children

The continued long-term chain of conflicts among the parents until the time of separation causes a devastating impact on the children’s psychological and emotional health and for the parents themselves. It is often difficult for parents to sort out what exactly their children are going through and thinking of such a drastic change in their life. There seems to develop a distance among children and parents which causes a communication barrier (Jeynes, 2012). Children tend not to share their feelings and suppress their emotions which consequently creates a harmful impact on their mental and emotional health, causing a lifetime deprivation of basic need for love and homely environment. Besides, divorce itself is a painful and stressful process for the separated spouse as well, which makes it’s even harder for parents to manage their own raw emotion and continuing hostility to aid their children’s needs immaculately side by side. Moreover, the legal processes for the attainment of a child’s custody is more inclined towards adversaries and blame rather than focusing on the interest of children (Weaver and Schofield, 2015). This ongoing conflict also contributes highly to erode effective parenting, resulting in causing abnormalities, instability and problems in children’s behavior and emotion. Some of the most commonly occurring debilitating issues faced by children whilst moving into their adulthood with separated parents are:

Trust Issues

Children having experienced unsavory time often faced with trust issues throughout their lives. It causes a continuous struggle for children to revive back the trust and honesty in relationships which consequently also reflects in their personal marital lives in the future (Anderson, 2014). The trust issue of parent’s plague children, resulting in shadowing their ability to trust others. Such a devastating experience in children’s live and ongoing conflicts of parenting in their feeble age tend them to lose their trust in honesty, love, and loyalty in relationships.

Resentment

The resentment shown by the parents can result to be the facet of children. The experience of separation and struggle to attain the custody of a child results in resentment of quality of life, loss of time and happiness (Fagan and Churchill, 2012). Such a resented, if remained untreated and unmeasured, can result in being absolutely debilitating. The continued struggle of a child to take care emotionally of the wounded parents would lose the colors in their growing lives as a kid.

Addiction

The children faced with the abrupt divorce of their parents often end up doing drugs and more highly susceptible to abuse and harm themselves (Kalmijn, 2012). The troubled childhood often tends them to opt for drugs to spiritually and emotionally heal themselves and to release their anxiety, pain and frustration.

Mental Issues

The experience of the conflicts that lead parents to get separated to the point where they become emotionally fragile, such a constant phase of fight, struggle between the loved ones and broken family lead a child to be nothing but depressed, filled with several insecurities, resilience, anger, trust issues and many infectious emotions that might never let him lead a normal and happy life ahead (Amato, 2014).

Co-Dependency

Co-dependency is often encountered by the children of a divided family which refers to losing a sense of self-identity and to be dependent on an emotionally troubled partner (Larson and Halfon, 2013). Such an experience causes troublesome reliance on emotions on a partner to fulfill self-esteem needs.

How to Deal with the Behavioral and Emotional Problems of Children:

There are measures and steps that separating parents can perform in order to minimize the negativity of the impacts of divorce on children. Children often show greater vulnerabilities at this point in time yet with resilience. No matter what the reason lies behind the marital separation decision, but parent mostly seems to be well-intentioned towards their children (Divorce, 2019). Despite the pain of divorce, separation brings with it several other stressful occurrences like legal battles, houses move, supportive relationships loss and money deprivation etc., all include the basics and fundamental needs of life required by all, especially children experiencing it. Children tend to suffer a range of social and emotional difficulties consequently (RC PSYCH, 2019).
However, with effective management and mutual efforts made by the parents, several steps can be taken to cope up with the negative effects of divorce on children (The Irish Times, 2019). There exists a greater possibility and high probability of children leading quite a normal and happy life ahead if parents tend to mitigate the pitfalls in their children’s lives and manage to help children go through the process of separation by implementing some of the below mentioned effective parenting practices:

Implementing Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines

The guidelines dictate specifically regarding the visitation rules as per the age and other factors of children. It entails vividly about the parental visitation rules among various events, festival, holidays and timelines where they are supposed to meet and spend time with their children, varying as per child’s age (In, 2019). It suggests the parents discuss the time of visitation but if not then non-custodial parents are required to schedule to visit. For the parents how to live far away from one another are also given suggestion on the underlying issue. Parents are therefore required to follow such a visitation guideline to perform effective parenting and give time to their children (Indiana Legal Services, 2019).

Manage your Personal Stress Level to Rightfully Perform Effective Parenting

It is a normal case to go through a roller-coaster of emotion, shame, guilt, anger and grief through the process of separation (HelpGuide, 2019). At such a time, children need the support of parents the most. But in order to be a pillar for children, it is necessary for parents to deal with their stress by means of counseling or any help with close friends (Help and Counseling, 2019).

Constructively Work with Your Former Spouse to Deal with Parenting Issues

The most concerning issue faced by the separating is the ongoing conflicts of the spouse. It makes for parents difficult to develop a constructive relationship with the children. By creating a harmonious environment of family and mutual well-intensions for the children, arrangements can be made for the interest of children by means of shared expenses, custody calendar, shared calendar, use of parenting app, divorce app and family organizer, etc. (Clark et al., 2013)

Use Parenting Applications to Manage the Family’s Schedule

The use of parenting and the co-parenting application would be quite useful in such a case in managing the family’s information in an organized and well-documented manner (McMahon, 2012). There are several best parenting applications to manage your family schedule with also allows sharing the calendar with your spouse to coordinate respectively and give the most memorable and well-nourished moments to your children.

Help Children Give Balanced Loyalty, Love and Time

Make sure to mitigate the divided loyalty experience by your children and try to provide them an appropriate, balanced and age-appropriate account of divorce. One should try speaking only positives about the ex-partner and help prevent infusing negativity among either of them in children’s minds. Never use children as a go-between medium, rather talk directly (HelpGuide, 2019).
Have Open Communication with your Children
It is important to make time for children to carry out one-to-one conversation to help children open up their true emotion and letting their grief out of their chests. Children often conceal their emotions and perplexed thoughts (Nationwidechildrens, 2019). Work hard to eliminate all their queries and share feelings among one another to cope with the struggle together.

Minimize the Changes in Children’s Life

Separation often comes with the loss of friends, family and old house as well which harshly affects children more than the grief of divorce itself (Caringforkids, 2019). It is suggested to maintain as many good old things, memories and experiences as possible and help introduce a new yet positive change in children’s lives in a subtle manner rather than drastically introducing abrupt change in lives.

Activities to Help Children Deal with Divorce

Divorce is a life transitioning event for both, the parents and the children. Both go through a verity of emotions, especially affecting the young minds of children (Raising Children Network, 2019). Parents ought to not only cope up with their emotional stability as soon as possible but also provide support to their children to deal with their concerns, feelings and frustration faced due to separation.

Visit Them Frequently

Manage your schedule and cope with the ex-partner to go visit the child, if he/she is not in your custody. Make use of schedule managing parenting mobile and web applications to deal with the issue efficiently and to also coordinate the timetable with the partner by means of sharing calendar through the apps to give children the love and affection of both, mommy and daddy (Jannese, 2019).

Communicate from Distance

If one of the parents lives abroad or far away from the recent caretaker of children, then parents are suggested to continue communicating with the children to retain a strong relationship with them. This can be done by emailing each other, weekly or monthly basis phone calls, writing the letter, exchanging video and audio recording to share the moments or initiate a postcard club etc. (Parents, 2019)

Spend Time Together on Holidays and Festival

Festivals, holidays and events are the occasions where every family spend their time together and make unforgettable memories. This is where a child with broken family wants their parents the most to get reunited and experience the same emotions as every other child. Halloween, Christmas, summer vacations and important school occasions of children can be made memorable together as a family (Verywell Family, 2019).

Play Together

Playing with children often helps them to express their feelings and relieve their stress and give them a sense of belonging, affection and love from their parents that might have been shadowed by the experience of divorce (Afifi, 2019). Exercise, walking, camping and swimming etc. can be effective ways to make memories with children.

Creating Two Comfortable Homes

Ensure to keep familiar items in each of the spouse’s house to give your children the same and homely feeling in both places. Out up family photos, clothing, favorite food, school supplies, games, and toys to give you children a secure and homely experience (Psychology Today, 2019).

How 2houses Will Benefit Separated Parents to Give a Well-Nourished Life to Your Children?

2houses is a useful tool for the parents that have been separated but look for an organizer to manage their schedule to effectively communicate and visit their children for their well-being and nourishing upbringing. It helps you keep track of and manage all activities, medical and after school information, manage their expenses and organize custody schedule (2houses, 2019). Considering the maximum reachability of such useful resources, the tools are available as a mobile and web application, both. The application is being used by more than 170,598 separated families and is spread among 170 countries with the aim to provide children with the most complete and happy childhood whilst giving utmost ease to parents to give the children all the colors of their lives (Seif & McNamee, 2019).
The tools are a wholesome package of an interacting calendar with sharing and synchronization facility, an effectual financial management system, a journal to share memories among family members, bank information to keep track of child’s necessities and massages to interact (Gillespie, 2019).
The love, affection and time of parents is the basic necessity of children, which often gets unattained in the process of divorce, letting trust issues, complexes and emotional instability affecting abruptly a child’s life. It is therefore, necessary to take steps by the parents to rectify such a major pitfall in their children life by taking the above mention measures to lead a happy, healthy and a normal life ahead as a family.

References

 

2houses (2019). Divorced parents web & mobile app. [online] 2houses.com. Available at: https://www.2houses.com/en/ [Accessed 18 Dec. 2019].

Afifi, T. (2019). The best possible thing you can do to help your child through divorce. [online] ideas.ted.com. Available at: https://ideas.ted.com/the-best-possible-thing-you-can-do-to-help-your-child-through-your-divorce/ [Accessed 18 Dec. 2019].

Amato, P.R., 2014. The consequences of divorce for adults and children: An update. Društvena istraživanja: časopis za opća društvena pitanja23(1), pp.5-24.

Anderson, J., 2014. The impact of family structure on the health of children: Effects of divorce. The Linacre Quarterly81(4), pp.378-387.

Caringforkids, C. (2019). Helping children cope with separation and divorce – Caring for Kids. [online] Caringforkids.cps.ca. Available at: https://www.caringforkids.cps.ca/handouts/separation_and_divorce [Accessed 18 Dec. 2019].

Clark, B., Canadian Paediatric Society and Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Committee, 2013. Supporting the mental health of children and youth of separating parents. Paediatrics & child health18(7), pp.373-377.

Divorce, A. (2019). Activities for Helping Children Deal with Divorce. [online] Extension2.missouri.edu. Available at: https://extension2.missouri.edu/gh6602 [Accessed 18 Dec. 2019].

Fagan, P.F. and Churchill, A., 2012. The effects of divorce on children. Marri Research, pp.1-48.

Gillespie, C. (2019). This Tool Helps Divorced Parents Avoid Disaster. [online] SheKnows. Available at: https://www.sheknows.com/parenting/articles/2004742/best-co-parenting-apps/ [Accessed 18 Dec. 2019].

Gillespie, C. (2019). This Tool Helps Divorced Parents Avoid Disaster. [online] SheKnows. Available at: https://www.sheknows.com/parenting/articles/2004742/best-co-parenting-apps/ [Accessed 18 Dec. 2019].

Help, M. and Counseling, D. (2019). Challenges that Children of Divorce Face in their Adulthood | Marriage.com. [online] Best Marriage Advice – Get Marriage Tips from Experts. Available at: https://www.marriage.com/advice/divorce/challenges-that-children-of-divorce-face-in-their-adulthood/ [Accessed 18 Dec. 2019].

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In (2019). Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines. [online] In.gov. Available at: https://www.in.gov/judiciary/rules/parenting/index.html [Accessed 18 Dec. 2019].

Indiana Legal Services (2019). Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines. [online] Indiana Legal Services, Inc. Available at: https://www.indianalegalservices.org/node/35/indiana-parenting-time-guidelines [Accessed 18 Dec. 2019].

Jannese, S. (2019). 9 Rules for Divorced Parents (from a Kid Who’s Been Stuck in the Middle). [online] Babble. Available at: https://www.babble.com/relationships/9-rules-for-divorced-parents-from-a-kid-whos-been-stuck-in-the-middle/ [Accessed 18 Dec. 2019].

Jeynes, W., 2012. Divorce, family structure, and the academic success of children. Routledge.

Kalmijn, M., 2012. Long-term effects of divorce on parent–child relationships: Within-family comparisons of fathers and mothers. European sociological review29(5), pp.888-898.

Kennedy, S. and Ruggles, S., 2014. Breaking up is hard to count: The rise of divorce in the United States, 1980–2010. Demography51(2), pp.587-598.

Larson, K. and Halfon, N., 2013. Parental divorce and adult longevity. International Journal of Public Health58(1), pp.89-97.

McMahon, L., 2012. The handbook of play therapy and therapeutic play. Routledge.

Nationwidechildrens (2019). Divorce and Children: Guidelines for Parents. [online] Nationwidechildrens.org. Available at: https://www.nationwidechildrens.org/family-resources-education/health-wellness-and-safety-resources/helping-hands/divorce-and-children [Accessed 18 Dec. 2019].

Parents (2019). https://www.parents.com. [online] Parents. Available at: https://www.parents.com/parenting/divorce/coping/11-rules-for-helping-your-child-deal-with-divorce/ [Accessed 18 Dec. 2019].

Psychology Today (2019). 8 Strategies for Helping Kids Adjust to a Divorce. [online] Psychology Today. Available at: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/how-raise-happy-cooperative-child/201302/8-strategies-helping-kids-adjust-divorce [Accessed 18 Dec. 2019].

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RC PSYCH (2019). Divorce or separation of parents – the impact on children and adolescents: for parents and carers. [online] RC PSYCH ROYAL COLLEGE OF PSYCHIATRISTS. Available at: https://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/mental-health/parents-and-young-people/information-for-parents-and-carers/divorce-or-separation-of-parents—the-impact-on-children-and-adolescents-for-parents-and-carers [Accessed 18 Dec. 2019].

Seif & McNamee (2019). A Family Law Attorneys Review On Co Parenting Apps. [online] Seif & McNamee. Available at: https://law-oh.com/2017/03/29/getting-the-most-out-of-co-parenting-technology/ [Accessed 18 Dec. 2019].

Seif & McNamee (2019). A Family Law Attorneys Review On Co Parenting Apps. [online] Seif & McNamee. Available at: https://law-oh.com/2017/03/29/getting-the-most-out-of-co-parenting-technology/ [Accessed 18 Dec. 2019].

The Irish Times (2019). How to protect your children from the worst effects of divorce. [online] The Irish Times. Available at: https://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/people/how-to-protect-your-children-from-the-worst-effects-of-divorce-1.2076985 [Accessed 18 Dec. 2019].

Valenzuela, S., Halpern, D. and Katz, J.E., 2014. Social network sites, marriage well-being and divorce: Survey and state-level evidence from the United States. Computers in Human Behavior36, pp.94-101.

Verywell Family (2019). The Psychological Effects of Divorce on Children. [online] Verywell Family. Available at: https://www.verywellfamily.com/psychological-effects-of-divorce-on-kids-4140170 [Accessed 18 Dec. 2019].

Weaver, J.M. and Schofield, T.J., 2015. Mediation and moderation of divorce effects on children’s behavior problems. Journal of Family Psychology29(1), p.39.

 

Blended Family: How To Encourage The Kids To Like Each Other

blended family - 2houses

If you’re divorced with children and pursuing a relationship with someone who also has children, it’s not easy mixing your two families. After all, families are not built overnight! If you’re struggling to figure out how to encourage the kids to like each other, this article is for you.

1: Limit Your Expectations

Rome wasn’t built in a day. It’s unlikely that your kids will immediately form a strong familial bond with their step-siblings. That’s okay — some distance is normal and healthy — and trying to force friendships is a great way to alienate your children. It’s possible to encourage the children to like each other, but always temper your expectations with a dash of realism.

Remember, even blood siblings go through periods where they can barely tolerate each other! Expecting your newly blended family to become the best of friends is not particularly realistic.

2: Allow The Children Plenty Of Freedom

Be patient! It’s important to take things slow in a newly blended family — let the children discover common ground by themselves. If the children are especially young (under 10 years of age), they may adjust quicker than you expect.

Adolescents and teenagers may require more time to adjust to the new family dynamic and are not as open with expressing their emotions. That’s okay — teenagers have a lot going on — and it’s important to give them space.

The more you allow you and your partner’s children room to explore and develop their own relationships, the better.

blended family - 2houses

3: Plan Family Activities and Create Traditions

Family activities are great because they provide opportunities for communication. Fun family activities get both ‘sides’ of the family invested in forming new interpersonal relationships.

Great family activities include:

  • A house tour and ‘moving in’ game
  • Celebratory ice cream and movie night
  • Laser tag or another team-based activity (try children vs. adults, it’s always a blast)

The goal here is to get the children to communicate on topics that don’t seem like ‘work’. The more your children interact during fun, family-based activities, the quicker they’ll form meaningful connections.

New family traditions (or reinventing old ones) are an excellent way to get step-children invested in the family. If Sunday is pizza night, consider adding a twist (pizza and pie, perhaps) that makes it a new experience for everyone. The more your step-children become entwined in new traditions, the quicker they’ll bond.

4: Boundaries Matter

Sit down with your spouse and figure out some basic rules of conduct. Discipline is important — especially for young kids — but expecting a new stepfather to immediately begin disciplining his step-children is not realistic. Take the time to develop interpersonal bonds before moving to the role of disciplinarian.

Of course, rules must be applied fairly and consistently. Everyone must abide by the rules of your household, no matter who the biological parent is. Step-children get along much better if they know no one is playing favorites!

5: Become a Positive Role Model

Blending two families places incredible stress on your children. They feel pressured to form familial bonds with people they have no relation to — that’s not easy. Don’t underestimate the stress your children are experiencing.

Children love to emulate a positive, successful role model. Present yourself as a rational, fair, and likable new parent and you’ll be surprised at the results. Avoid talking about former spouses in a negative way and show the children that everything will work out.

Take A Breath

Blended families come with their own sets of challenges. Remember that you’re undergoing a challenge that millions of other families have already beaten. Give the children space, temper your expectations, and take the time to plan some fun regular family activities. The results will speak for themselves.

Co-parenting: How to Manage the First Christmas Without Dad or Mum

First Christmas Without Dad or Mum - 2houses

With divorce rates rising, many kids now experience Christmas without Dad or Mum. Many parents worry that Christmas with only one parent present will not be the same for their kids. If you are doing Christmas as a solo parent for the first time, here are some tips that can help.

How to Communicate With Kids About Christmas Without Dad or Mum

Many parents struggle with how to tell their child that they will be spending Christmas without Dad or Mum. However, it is very important to be upfront with children about Christmas plans. If you wait until Christmas is almost here to tell your child, they might be very disappointed. Let your kids know early about your co-parenting plans for Christmas.

Involve Dad or Mum If Possible

It might not be possible, or in fact desirable, for your kids to visit their Dad or Mum on Christmas Day. However, you can still include the absent parent. Arrange a Skype call so the kids can show off their new toys and wish Dad or Mum a merry Christmas. This is a great way to show kids that both their parents are thinking of them on this special day.

Make New Family Traditions

Sticking to the same Christmas routine you’ve always had might feel strange now Dad or Mum is absent. Instead of staring at the empty space around the dinner table, why not start a new family festive tradition? You could go to a restaurant for Christmas dinner or invite over friends or relatives to create a festive atmosphere. You could even take a trip away to make this holiday feel extra special.

Take the Time to Make Kids Feel Valued

If you are a busy single parent, it can be tough to give your kids all the time and attention they need. Sometimes, other priorities such as work have to come first. During the first Christmas without Dad or Mum, try to put other obligations on the back burner. This will allow you to spend time with your kids and reassure them that they are loved and valued. If possible, try to swap shifts at work so you can be with the kids as much as possible during this first co-parenting festive season.

Get Input From Kids

If you are worried about how to help your kids have a good time this Christmas, why not ask them what they want? Would they prefer a quiet Christmas at home with you, or a fun-filled adventure that breaks all the rules about how to celebrate? By giving kids input into the Christmas planning process, you can show them that you’re not only their parent but also their friend.

Get Advice From Others

If you know other separated families, you can ask them for advice about how to handle the first Christmas without Dad or Mum. Divorced parents can be a fantastic source of wisdom as they have been through the same challenges you face. Ask them for advice on creating new Christmas traditions and making the day as magical as possible for little ones.

Communicate With Your Co-Parent

Long before Christmas rolls around, make sure you and your co-parent are on the same page. If the kids are moving from one home to another over the festive period, you should both know exactly when pick-up or drop-off will take place. Using a co-parenting app such as 2houses can help to clarify plans to ensure Christmas is conflict-free.

How to Create Parenting Time Guidelines for the Summer

Summer Parenting Time Guidelines

One of the hardest parts about going through a divorce? Figuring out how to work through it in a healthy way that strengthens and builds your children, rather than the other way around.

The most vulnerable and unwilling participants in this journey, they’re the ones who feel the brunt of the impact when spouses can’t get along. However, there is a way to help mitigate conflict and establish order and routine.

Assuming you have shared custody, it all centers on setting firm parenting time guidelines.

In short, this is a pre-determined schedule that dictates the time that each parent has with the shared children. While you might have a schedule built upon their school calendar that works for most of the year, what happens when they get out for the summertime? This change in routine doesn’t have to throw your balancing act off-kilter.

Today, we’re sharing a few strategies you can use to establish parenting time guidelines that allow your children to soak up plenty of sunshine and family time this season.

Ready to learn more? Let’s jump in.

Determine the Summer Break Timeframe

Before you can get into the nitty-gritty of the summer visitation schedule, you and your ex will have to determine exactly when the summer schedule will begin and end.

Most parents choose to base this timeline off their children’s official school schedule. If you have this available, it’s wise to reference and use it, as this will pose as little disruption to their normal routine as possible.

If you go this route, you have two options:

  • Choose exact start and end dates for each summer
  • Choose general dates that extend to every summer

A schedule built around the first bullet might look like:

  • Summer break begins at 4:00 p.m. on May 29, 2020 (last day of school) and ends at 8:00 a.m. on September 7, 2020 (first day of school).

On the other hand, a schedule built around the second bullet might look like:

  • Summer break begins on the last Friday in May and ends on the first Monday in September.

Do you notice the difference? The first is more rigid while the other allows for some flexibility with dates. For instance, the first Monday in September 2020 is September 7, but the following year, it falls on September 6.

Whichever option you choose, be careful to avoid terms such as “the middle of the summer.” While you could do the calculations and determine the exact mid-point, that verbiage is vague and ambiguous. In fact, most people casually select July 4 as the mid-point of the summer although that isn’t always accurate.

When you’re a parent splitting your time with your children, you want the schedule to be as even and fair as possible. Rather than relying on paper-based calendars, try using online scheduling tools to create and share the schedule virtually.

That said, what are some ways you can creatively and effectively split your time during the summer? The good news is that without having to plan around school, you have more options than you would at any other time of the year.

Let’s take a look at a few approaches to try.

Swap Your Normal Schedule

Does your child currently live with mom during the week, with visits to dad’s house occurring every other weekend?

If so, consider swapping this schedule. That way, dad would have the child during the week and mom would have custody every other weekend. This is a simple way to give the other spouse a break and inject a little fun into a standard routine. In addition, by keeping the visits set at every other weekend, parents can plan weeklong vacations that spill into the next weekend without having to make a change to the schedule!

Create a Totally New Schedule

The residential schedule that you maintain throughout the year doesn’t have to be the same one that you keep during the summer! If both parents are flexible and agreeable to a change, why not consider creating an entirely new routine for a few months?

This can be any arrangement that works for everyone. For instance, you might establish a two weeks on/two weeks off schedule wherein one parent gets the children for two weeks at a time. Or, you could try a more intricate schedule, such as a 2-2-3 rotation.

Here, the kids will be with one parent for two days, then with the other parent for two days, and then back to the first parent to enjoy a three-day weekend. If you keep the same pattern going, the other parent will have the kids on the next three-day weekend.

While this setup can work if all parties are on the same page, keep in mind that all of the back-and-forth shuffling can be confusing and overwhelming for everyone involved, especially for small children. Longer spans of time together allow them to feel more settled and secure, so if possible, try to block off individual portions of time that are at least a week or longer.

Grant Full Summertime Custody to One Parent

Of course, another scheduling alternative is to allow one parent to exercise full custody during the pre-determined summer timeline. If this is the same parent that has the children the majority of the time during the rest of the year, it’s important to communicate this schedule early to make sure the extended timeline is a good fit.

Plan Around Family Vacations

Has one parent been busy planning an epic trip to Disneyworld in June while the other can’t wait to take the brood fly fishing in August? Though you’ll need to come up with another scheduling tactic to cover the remainder of the summer, you can begin by talking about those vacation plans.

As long as they don’t overlap or create a conflict, each parent can take the kids on the vacation of his or her choosing.

For instance, you might already have an every-weekend schedule in place for the summer, where the child visits dad every weekend. While that can work for most of May through September, you can block off a two-week section for mom only during July to make those Disneyworld memories. The same holds true for the fly fishing trip in August.

This will require maturity on both ends, as (based on the length of the vacation) it will likely require at least one parent to sacrifice previously scheduled time with the children.

You can also take a different approach while setting up your initial residential schedule that will cover the entire year. Instead of blocking off specific dates during the summer months for vacation, you can give each parent an allotment of days for such excursions.

For example, you might set the following precedences:

  • Dad can take up to 14 days of vacation with the children over the course of one year.
  • Mom can take up to 14 days of vacation with the children over the course of one year.

If you do this, make sure to set guidelines around notifications. For instance, the vacationing parent must inform the other parent at least 30 days in advance of each vacation. In turn, the other parent has up to five days to respond if the proposed getaway will present a conflict in his or her schedule.

Helpful Tips to Successfully Co-Parent This Summer

Specific schedules aside, how can you make sure that the summer timelines you’ve set for your ex will lead to the best outcomes for everyone in your family? Let’s take a look at a few steps you can take before that final school bell rings to get everyone on the same page.

Communicate and Plan Ahead

Communication is the cornerstone of every healthy marriage and every healthy divorce.

The more that you and your ex can talk about the months coming up, the more likely it is that you’ll be able to come to an agreement that works well for you both. Rather than avoiding the topic, go ahead and address it as soon as possible.

That way, you’re able to work around concerns such as vacations and family get-togethers, proactively scheduling your time to accommodate the things that matter to you. That way, there are minimal surprise events that suddenly pop up and change the whole family’s plans.

Talk with your ex and come to an agreement on how you’re going to divide your time with the children. Putting off the conversation or shrugging off its importance could result in a major amount of stress a few weeks down the road. Even if you don’t want to create a super-rigid schedule, you can at least establish a flexible one that has some form of structure.

Keep the Kids a Top Priority

As much as you’d love to be able to plan the summer of your dreams, keep in mind that this is one of the most magical times of the year for your children. Free from the stressors of school, they’re able to play outside, explore with friends and make the kinds of memories that last a lifetime.

That means it’s your duty to make the split schedule work as seamlessly as possible. To do so, include them in the conversation!

Talk to your kids and ask them what they would like to do this summer. Take their needs into account, including both younger children who are totally dependent on you and older ones who are more self-sufficient. Then, to the greatest extent possible, work with your ex to take everyone’s desires and wishes into consideration.

Encourage Memory-Making

If your ex wants to take the kids on an incredible cruise, don’t hold a grudge or try to get in the way of it. Remember who ultimately benefits from this trip: your children!

That said, encourage them to go and wish them well. Encourage your kids to have fun during their time away from you, so they can see that their happiness means more to you than your disagreements with your ex-spouse. Let them know that you want them to have a loving and healthy relationship with both of their parents, and you’re working to make sure that happens.

If they sense even a little tension or sadness on your part, kids can feel guilty and even hesitant to go on the trip. Reassure them that you love them and support them, and you can’t wait to hear all about the trip when they get back.

At the same time, be equally respectful when you’re the one booking the vacation.

Make sure that your spouse is fully up-to-date on all of the details of your itinerary so he or she knows where the kids will be at all times. Think of the details that you would want to know yourself, and make sure to include them! For instance, your ex should always know how to contact your child so don’t leave those details out!

A Note on Childcare

If both parents work full-time, the children will spend the majority of their summer days at daycare, camp or both. Decide ahead of time who is going to coordinate and organize those activities.

If possible, each parent can be responsible for picking the kids up and dropping them off at those locales when he or she has custody of them. If there are attendance costs to pay, decide ahead of time if and how those should be paid.

Establish Successful Parenting Time Guidelines This Summer

The summer is meant to be one of the most laidback and enjoyable times of the year. If you’re a divorced or separated parent, however, it can quickly turn into one of the most stressful ones.

To kick the unknowns to the curb, schedule parenting time guidelines that leave no question as to how your children will split their time off. The earlier you can take this step, the more pleasant the following months will be!

Are you a single parent working to help your children grow accustomed to splitting their time between two homes? We know how difficult that can be, and we’re here to help.

On our site, you’ll find myriad resources designed to help ease this transition, including informative articles, an online scheduling tool, a finance management system, a messaging tool and more. Register for an account today to get started!

Divorce and Children: 4 Signs You Can’t Ignore

divorce and children

The fact that divorce is super common isn’t comforting when your family is going through it. At least as one of the adults, you have some control over what’s happening. For your kids, watching you and your partner split up – even if the divorce is amicable, or ends a really contentious marriage – is probably at least a little traumatic.

So it’s totally normal to notice some changes in your kids during the months following a divorce. You’re dealing with a seismic shift in your own life, so things are changing for you too. But this can be a really scary and anxious time for children of all ages, and they’re extra vulnerable right after a divorce. Be on the lookout for these four potentially serious warning signs.

Their Behavior is Regressing

Regression just means that a kid is returning to a previous stage of development and behaving “younger” than they are. For example, a 4-year-old who has been potty trained for a year might regress and start having toilet accidents after her parents divorce. A child might also return to sucking his thumb or needing to sleep with a nightlight after having previously given up those behaviors.

If your child displays some regression, it could be a sign that she feels anxious and wants to go back to an earlier time when she felt safer. Offering plenty of affection and support, and not pushing her to “grow back up” too quickly, should help your child eventually feel ready to progress again. But if the regression lasts for more than a month or is very severe, contact your pediatrician.

They’re Unusually Depressed or Anxious

Feeling sad and nervous is unfortunately par for the course when it comes to divorce and children. This event will inevitably change things, and kids are rarely happy about that.

Depression and anxiety that interferes with your child’s ability to function, however, isn’t normal. For example, a severely depressed child might sleep much more than usual, seem disinterested in things he used to love and let his grades slip. An anxious kid might be unusually clingy, throw temper tantrums and become resistant about going to school. Take action if you notice behavior that could have a lasting negative impact on his health, friendships or academic career.

They’re Hurting Themselves

Kids who are in emotional turmoil sometimes express that pain by hurting themselves. Take seriously any signs of self-harm. These may include a child cutting, scratching or picking at her skin; burning herself; disordered eating (restricting food intake, binging and/or purging) and, in older children, drug and alcohol use. Immediately consult a school psychologist and your pediatrician if you notice signs of self-harm.

Another thing to watch for with divorce and children is faked or exaggerated illnesses or injuries. Sometimes a kid who wants to bring her divorced parents back together, or needs more attention than she’s getting, will try this ploy. That doesn’t mean you should assume every injury is fake, of course – but keep it in mind.

They’re Growing Up Too Fast

Having your child step up and help you more might sound like a dream, but some kids feel overly responsible for their parents after a divorce. Your child might try to fill in for the absent parent to make you happy or out of worry that the household will fall apart without a second adult around. Some newly divorced parents make the mistake of leaning too heavily on their kids for support, treating them like therapists or friends instead of children.

Divorce is already hard enough. Don’t let your child feel responsible for taking care of you. By all means, encourage your kids to do age-appropriate chores and take on tasks that they can manage! Just be careful to make sure they know that you’re the adult and will take care of things so they can still focus on being kids.

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

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.

As A Co-parent, How To Keep In Touch With Your Child While He’s Not Home

keep in touch while your child is not home - 2houses

Separation is never easy and that’s doubly true when it comes to communicating with your child. If you’re a co-parent, there’s plenty of options for staying in touch with your child when he’s away. Modern technology has made communication easier than ever before!

It’s About More Than Technology

It’s completely natural to want to stay in regular contact with your children while they are away. That said, you’ll want to strike a balance between constant contact and unlimited freedom. Think about from your former spouse’s point of view: would you want your ex calling the kids every few hours when it’s ‘your’ turn?

The last thing you want to do is hover too closely. It’s co-parenting after all: let the kids have their time with their other parents! Allowing the children to stretch their legs with their co-parent is both normal and healthy.

The first step in keeping in touch with your children while they are away is to establish a set of ground rules with your former spouse. For example:

  • Decide whether you’ll opt for scheduled calls
  • Set limits (how much time spent communicating with the away parent is too much)
  • Decide how you’ll handle communication on longer visits

Schedule Regular Phone Calls

It might seem like sacrilege to the younger generations, but phones are for more than just texting. Setting up a regularly scheduled phone call for your children is a great way to remain a consistent fixture in their lives. For example, if you have a 50/50 custody agreement, a phone call every few days is usually more than enough.

Opt For A Video Call

Voice calls work wonders, but seeing someone’s face puts the conversation on an entirely new level. It’s never been easier to set up a video call — consider FaceTime, Skype, and Facebook Messenger — so feel free to embrace this technology. Your children will thank you for it!

Texting Is Consistent

Texting is a way of life and for good reason: it’s convenient! Regular contact via text is simple, flexible, and adequate for most pedestrian conversations. Texting is far less intense than a phone call and is inherently casual. As such, it’s great for keeping in touch on minor details (“How was the movie?”) and doesn’t detract from the co-parents time with the kids.

Of course, it can be tempting to overreach when it comes to texting and expect a constant flurry of messages. Try your best to avoid this — no one likes a helicopter parent — and remember that your ex’s time is just as valuable as yours. The more freedom and leeway you afford the children, the better the relationship.

Bring Your Former Partner Into The Mix

Imagine setting up a board game for a night in only to find your kids having a video chat with your former partner. Surprises like that are unwelcome on both sides of the co-parenting coin!

Take the time to introduce your co-parent to the ways in which technology can be used to keep in touch. Establishing firm boundaries is a great way to ensure that technology helps (and doesn’t detract) your parenting relationship. For example, try avoiding phone calls during overnight visits where you might induce a sense of homesickness. Likewise, avoid asking too much about your former partner during conversations: focus on the children, not your ex.

Keeping In Touch Shouldn’t Be A Chore

When it comes to staying in touch with your children while they are away from home, keep it casual. Talk to your former partner and establish a set of ground rules and go from there. Between phone calls, video chats, and texting, there’s plenty of ways to keep in touch.

Make sure to respect your co-parent’s parenting time and your children will love you all the more for it!