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Tips for Successful Co-Parenting

A divorce can tease out the worst sides of both you and your ex spouse, creating a vacuum of pain and resentment in the void between. Cooperating with an ex on a weekly basis may be the last thing you want to do, but a positive co-parenting relationship between the two of you is essential to the emotional and mental health of your child, especially in situations of equal joint physical custody, when balanced co-parenting is most possible. According to research done by the University of New Hampshire, successful co-parenting can help children develop feelings of stability, make them feel less torn between parents, and are less likely to feel abandoned. One immediate concept both you and your ex need to embrace is that like it or not, you’re in this together. For your child’s sake, you must put all of your emotions behind you, and develop an amicable, if shallow, relationship with your ex. You have to see them, you have to speak to them; accept this. It will get easier with time. Develop a good channel of communication. As in you and your ex spouse. According to Psychology Today, Research indicates that burdening your child with your adult issues promotes feelings of helplessness and insecurity, which can cause children to question their own strengths and abilities. Do not make your child your messenger or your primary source of information about your exes life, especially if your tone is negative. Have that conversation with your ex yourself, and leave your child out of the conflict. Good communication only occurs if you both stay focused on your joint goals...

What is Parental Alienation?

Child custody issues can be contentious and stressful for parents and children alike. However, when parents have a strained or adversarial relationship with each other, things can be even more difficult. “Parental alienation” is the term for when one parent actively undermines the child’s relationship with the other parent by denigrating the other parent in front of the child. In essence, parental alienation means one parent is taking calculated steps to isolate the child from the other parent through words and conduct. These actions create a division between the child and the other parent, and serious alienation can cause estrangement or even hostility between the child and the other parent. Parental alienation is particularly troubling because it can have long-term, harmful psychological effects on the child. By repeatedly keeping the child away from the other parent or telling them that the other parent does not want to see them, the child’s future relationship with the other parent will be forever altered. Parental alienation does not always come in the form of direct parent-to-child conversations. Examples of parental alienation include: Parent-to-child comments that speak negatively of the other parent. This may include blaming the other parent for the divorce or separation, saying the other parent does not love the child, or making harsh criticism of the other parent’s conduct. Allowing others to make negative comments about the other parent in front of the child. These comments most often come from grandparents or siblings. Involving the child in the divorce/custody case unnecessarily is another form of parental alienation. One parent may share false or distorted details about the case or falsify...

Is Your Child Adjusting to the Divorce?

During a divorce a parent’s first priority is usually to make sure that their child is processing everything in a healthy way. They do their best to inform their child or children of what is to be expected during the divorce process, and they remind their children that their parent’s love them no matter what. After the divorce is finalized, the parens probably feel relieved and as if everything can finally settle down. For the child, however, the time after the divorce is equally important to their adjustment. It is important for parents to pay attention to subtle signs that indicate if their child is coping positively. Here are a few signs that usually mean your child is coping with the divorce: Your child is maintaining their own personal behaviors and routine Your child seeks affection from both your and your spouse Your child is empathetic to other children or pets Your child expresses excitement about the future and upcoming events Your child is staying involved with activities and friends Your child is maintaining their grades and handling their school work You child is talking with and asking questions of both of the parents If you feel your child is not exhibiting these signs, they may not be adjusting positively. Talk with your child about the divorce and enlist the help of a child therapist if necessary. Luckily, in addition to utilizing a therapist, there are many things a parent can do to help their child adjust. Family therapist Isolina Ricci, PhD, offers up several tips on how parents can help children cope. There are a few things to...

Can Parents Make Arrangements to Waive Child Support?

Every divorce is different, and as such, it might make sense for you to want to waive your claim to child support. In certain cases, you might want to waive child support in exchange for the other parent waiving visitation rights or making another type of concession. However, under California law, neither parent can legally waive his or her responsibility to pay child support. California Family Code Section 4001 states, “In any proceeding where there is at issue the support of a minor child…the court may order either or both parents to pay an amount necessary for the support of the child.” A child’s right to receive parental support is inherent and cannot be waived by either party. Regardless of the parents’ relationship with one another (whether married, divorced, separated, or never married), as long as paternity has been established, both parents are on the hook for child support. Regardless of any arrangement—such as “trading” spousal support for child support—both parents still have a legal obligation to support the child. The issue of waiving child support payments came up in Marriage of Ayo (1987), which further established the parents’ obligation to pay child support. In this case, the court established that the legal obligation to pay child support is much more than a normal debt; it goes beyond a simple “good-faith” obligation to pay and therefore cannot be overruled by the individual parties. (If they could be overruled, that would mean that California law and the ruling of the courts could be thwarted by a simple provision in a contract, i.e. parenting plan.) An agreement to waive child support...

What Is Virtual Visitation and Why Is It Important?

Virtual visitation is a modern way for parents to meet with their children under child visitation laws. It allows a non-custodial parent to meet with their child through the use of internet technology, also called “e-visitation” or “e-access.” Virtual visitation refers to visitation by use of video-chat applications such as Skype, and can also include visitation through instant messaging, text messaging, e-mail messages, and telephone conferences. Virtual visitation is becoming an increasingly popular form of child visitation, as allows more and more non-custodial parents to maintain frequent visitation with their child. It is especially popular for non-custodial parents who live far away from their child. It allows the parent to have visitation without having physical custody of the child, It can also be convenient for parents because it prevents their own direct contact, which can help them avoid future altercations. Currently, virtual visitation is available in Florida, Illinois, North Carolina, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin. In July of 2009, 22 additional states began to revise legislature which would allow virtual visitation. In each state, laws regarding virtual visitation vary. In most states the judge will typically create a schedule for what days and times e-visitation can occur, and how long sessions can last. Individuals should consult with an attorney about their state’s virtual visitation laws. A judge will not allow virtual visitation if it puts the child in danger. For instance, if the non-custodial parent has a history of substance abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, or illegal activities, virtual visitation would not be prescribed. However, there are many situations where virtual visitation can be very useful, such as: Any time...

Children, Divorce, & the Holidays

Surviving the Holidays While You’re Surviving Divorce The divorce process is one of the most stressful things a person can go through. Add that to the stress of the holidays, and you meel feel completely overwhelmed. When the holiday season rolls around, you may wonder how you are supposed to celebrate when you have so much on your mind. As difficult as it may seem, it is possible to manage a divorce during the holidays, and still enjoy spending time with family and friends. You only need to employ a few tips to manage your divorce and still have fun during the holidays: Determine your priorities. A recent survey found that 4 out of 5 people want the holidays to be simpler. A divorce is a good time to simplify and make beneficial changes that make your life easier.You usually have moved to a smaller place, you may have less money, and you may have less time if you have gone back to work. You have an opportunity to do what many want to do, and cut back during the holidays. This is a way to make something positive from the changes in your life. Remember, it’s not about stuff! Make a budget and stick to it. Don’t try to buy love or loyalty. In a recent survey, many Americans are still paying off some part of holiday extravagance until November of the following year. Having less debt is another way to reduce stress. Give gifts of time and attention instead of expensive things. It will be good for you and good for your children. Be patient. Be patient...

Discipline After Divorce

Parenting is hard to do in any situation; however, after divorce it can be even more difficult. Parenting can be hard when the children is being shuttled between two homes and having to constantly readjust. Children may also react differently to separation and divorce, and they may need extra help dealing with their feelings. Experts assert that the best way to deal with children adjusting to a divorce is to maintain consistent discipline after divorce, which allows them to cope more easily. Discipline can be defined as “to train someone to obey rules or a code of behavior.” A parent’s job is just this; to train up your children to be productive, respectable, and well mannered individuals. Parenting by definition requires some form of discipline, and just like with most aspects of a child’s life, including education, nutrition, exercise,  and medical care,it is in the child’s best interests for it to be as consistent as possible. Consistent discipline may only be possible if you are can reasonably communicate with your ex-spouse. However, it is important to note that consistent discipline between parents is very helpful to preventing your children from playing one parent against the other. You and your ex-spouse can take the time to determine what behaviors are unacceptable across the board, such as lying, hitting, stealing, talking back, bad grades, not doing chores, or others. From there, the two of you can  have very specific consequences for these behaviors that can be implemented in both homes. You may decide that hitting always results in time out, or that bad grades always results in loss of video game...

Does Adultery Impact Child Custody Decisions?

Adultery is a very common reason for a couple to divorce. Though no one imagines they would ever commit adultery, the fact is that some studies have found that in approximately 40 percent of marriages, one or both spouses engages in an affair. More often than not, an affair leads to divorce. Many people wonder, does adultery impact child custody decisions? California implemented the concept of no-fault divorce in 1970. After this theory was put into practice, divorcing couples had two reasons available for filing for divorce: irreconcilable differences, or that your spouse is incurably insane. Though the first reason is much more common, in either option you do not need your spouse’s consent to end your marriage. Because of no-fault divorce, California courts are not supposed to take into consideration any fault when granting a divorce, including infidelity. Still, a judge can consider how the infidelity financially impacts the non-adulterous spouse. In very rare situations, a judge might consider how the adultery impacts the children of the marriage. Of any of the issues in a divorce, the courts view child custody as the least affected by adultery. Just like in any other scenario, California courts determine child custody issues based on what is in the best interests of the child. Generally, the state believes that a healthy and close relationship with both parents is in the best interests of the child. Adultery would only have bearing on child custody in situations where the infidelity reflected on the spouse’s fitness as a parent, for instance, is the spouse engaged in a sexual act with another person while the child...

Military Custody & Visitation Rights in CA

When a divorce parent is in the military, there may be special issues to consider in regards to custody and visitation. A parent might wonder if a custody order can be modified due to military duty, how to get visitation if they are away due to military duty, and what happens if a parent cannot attend a hearing due to military duty. Read on for information on specials issues regarding military custody and visitation rights in California. If a parent would like to modify a custody order because of military duty, a parent’s absence, relocation, or failure to follow a custody or visitation order due to activation to military duty or temporary duty, mobilization in support of combat or other military operation, or military deployment out of state is not sufficient by itself, to justify a modification of the order.  However, a custody order can be modified if the military assignment requires a parent who has sole or joint physical custody to move a significant distance from their home, or otherwise has a significant effect on their ability to use their custody or visitation rights. If a custody order is modified, then the modification of the order will be considered a temporary custody order which will be reconsidered upon the person’s return. In such cases the judge will assume that the temporary, modified custody order will change back to the original order that was in place before the modification, unless the judge determines that it is not in the best interest of the child. In the temporary custody order, the judge should do whatever is appropriate to make sure...

Can I Change the Locks On My House During a Divorce?

The marital home is one of the most valuable assets you have to divide during a divorce, and subsequently it can be the most difficult one to divide. There are a lot of things you can and cannot do with your home during a divorce, which vary depending on a variety of factors. When a couple decides to divorce, it does not automatically mean one spouse will pack up and move out. Each spouse has probably contributed significantly to the home’s mortgage or rent payments over the years, which means each spouse has an equal right to live in the home. Unless they come to an agreement, both spouses have the right to live in the marital home until the court orders someone to move out, which usually takes a great deal of time. You may want to change the locks on your house during a divorce. However, it is never a good idea to do this without consulting your lawyer. The rules about changing the locks vary from state to state. You can file for exclusive residency of the home, which would then allow you to legally change the locks. After a spouse has filed for divorce, both parties have the right to file pendente lite motions with the court. The pendente lite motions only apply until the divorce is final. You can file a pendente lite motion for exclusive residency of the marital home by asking a judge to order your spouse to move out while your divorce is pending. Still, you’ll have to give a compelling reason for the judge to order your spouse out of...

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