Who gets the kids on holidays?
What happens during Christmas or Thanksgiving?
The holidays are such a magical time of year, especially if you have children. But if you are going through a divorce, your family will need to establish new traditions. Holidays must now be split between two family units. Until the judge orders a holiday schedule or you and your ex reach an agreement about it, each party is usually equally entitled to a holiday. This can create a lot of stress during an already stressful, busy time of year. So how do you determine how holidays should be split? Mediation and Collaboration If you choose a courtless divorce option like mediation or collaboration, professionals will assist you and your spouse in creating a holiday schedule that works best for both of you. It may be more important for your side of the family to celebrate certain holidays than it is for your spouse. Likewise, there are probably some holidays you don’t care about that are important to your ex. One or both of you may want to have the opportunity to travel during certain holidays. All of these matters can be addressed more thoroughly if you participate in a form of alternative dispute resolution than if you let the...Read More
If you are divorcing in Tampa Bay and you have children, Florida law requires that a parenting plan be created. The parenting plan outlines parental responsibility (decision-making authority) along with a time-sharing (custody) schedule. The time-sharing schedule should not only address where the children stay during the school year and in summer months, but also how holidays, such as Christmas, are to be handled. Below are some sample Christmas time-sharing schedules: (more…)Read More
Winter break can be one of the most difficult times for both children and parents to cope with divorce. We see Christmas and New Years cheer and celebration everywhere as we are dealing with our own internal and external stressors that make the mere sight of such images so painful. However, we must dedicate all of our strength to keep this period of time as happy and stable as possible for our children. Risa Garon, a licensed clinical social worker, collaborative law mental health professional, and Executive Director of the National Family Resiliency Center, Inc., provides tips for co-parenting during the holidays: What can you as a parent handle? Be honest with yourself and how you feel. Be honest with your children about your limitations and what you can handle. Approach them in a way that doesn't burden them with your feelings. Ask them what would help them during the holidays. Recognize that rituals are symbolic and often treasured by children and adults. If possible, try to have some of your family's traditional rituals and include your children in creating new ones. (more…)Read More
What should I tell my kids?
What should I tell my kids?
If you have children and are going through a divorce, your biggest concern is likely how your kids will be affected. When is the best time to tell your children, and how much should you share with them? Your Children Will Know Your children will know that something is going on, and leaving them in the dark may cause more apprehension and stress in them than just being upfront. Establish a united front early in the process, and tell your children together that you are separating. Assure them that while things will be different, everything will be okay. Alleviate their fears that your divorce is in any way their faults. Remind them often during the process that everything will fine and it is not their faults. (more…)Read More
Divorce court here in Florida is a terrible way to resolve disputes. Divorce litigation is an adversarial proceeding where husband is pitted against wife, mother is pitted against father. And it is the children who end up suffering the most. But don't take my word for it. Tampa psychologist Stephanie Moulton Sarkis writes about the consequences of high conflict divorce on children: (more…)Read More
How do I know if my kids are doing ok?
Kids are often caught in the middle of divorce. Their parents are fighting, and many times the kids' needs get ignored. Fortunately, not all divorce processes are the same. Collaborative divorce gives parents the opportunity to work in a non-adversarial setting and develop a parenting plan tailored to meet children's needs. In the video below, therapist Jacquie Lamb, LMHC, discusses collaborative divorce and children. This video was produced by the Florida Academy of Collaborative Professionals. (more…)Read More
Divorce is not only stressful and life changing for you, but also for your children. As a parent, you want your children to come out of your divorce as unscathed as possible. How do you ensure that happens? You are likely more emotional and busier than ever during your divorce process. However, now is the time to stay connected with your children. Spend special time with them doing activities that they enjoy. Check in with their teachers, coaches, and friends to make sure that they are doing okay. (more…)Read More
Rosalind Sedacca, a divorce and parenting coach and author, writes about why parents should not bash one another in front of their children: When you put down their other parent, your children are likely to interpret it as a put-down of part of them. When both parents are guilty of this behavior, it can create a great confusion along with a sense of unworthiness and low self-esteem. "Something's wrong with me" becomes the child's unconscious belief. *** (more…)Read More
I came across a great article at the Divorce Saloon concerning how parents with teenagers can help their children deal with divorce. Towards the bottom of the article the author, Brenda Monteau, provides these five tips: 1) Set boundaries. Just because you are divorced doesn’t mean that you allow your teen to do whatever he or she wants. Don’t let your guilt of “breaking up the family” get in the way of parenting. Just because teens are older than younger kids doesn’t mean they don’t need boundaries, or that they don’t need their parents to act like parents. (more…)Read More
California family law attorney Lisa Helfend Meyer recently discussed particular issues that arise in divorce cases involving special needs children: A parenting plan for the typical child may not be appropriate for an autistic child or one with other developmental issues. For example, it's not unusual for the typical 3 year-old child to be able to have overnight stays with the non-custodial parent. She can understand the concept of time and that she will see her other parent again. The special-needs child often has difficulty with transitions, she is comforted by the familiar and doesn't like changes in environment. Likewise, she may not be unable to express herself verbally nor to understand abstract concepts like time. Custody and visitation decisions for a special-needs child must take into account many issues like these. (more…)Read More
How do we tell the kids?
Once a couple makes the decision to separate or divorce, one of the most difficult steps will be to discuss this decision with a child. Risa Garon, a licensed clinical social worker, certified mediator, and Executive Director of the National Family Resiliency Center, Inc., provides the following advice regarding how to discuss an impending separation or divorce with a child: 1. Before you tell the children, speak to your spouse and decide what you will tell the children. Both parents should have the opportunity to speak. 2. Say what you think will be most helpful to them. Many parents want to tell exactly what happened in their adult relationship to their children. Parents can explain to their children how what they want to tell them will help them in understanding the separation. (more…)Read More
How do we shield the kids from divorce?
The fact is that divorce is difficult. Emotions are raw, family life is uprooted, and life becomes strained. And children are caught in the middle. Attorneys in Tampa Bay litigated cases are often obligated to not only focus on showing their clients in the most positive light but also shining the spotlight on the opposing parties' parental flaws. This further frays relationships with consequences to the children. But there is an alternative. Collaborative divorce is a process where the clients agree not to air their dirty laundry in the court system but instead to negotiate respectfully in private offices of attorneys and other professionals. A neutral facilitator, who usually is a licensed mental health professional, is utilized to ensure that the clients focus on the future and on what is most important: the children. I recently found a Chicago Tribune article which discusses collaborative divorce and it's focus on children: If you've gone through a divorce, you know how challenging it can be to keep your emotions in check. Add children to the mix and the damage can be devastating. But experts say more divorcing couples are seeing the benefits of putting down the boxing gloves and placing their children's...Read More
When a person files for divorce (or other family law action involving children) in Tampa, he or she will be provided with a temporary standing order which outlines how he or she should treat children during the matter. The temporary standing order provides the following guidance: The safety, financial security, and well being of the children involved in this case are the judge’s primary concern. It is the law that, except in certain rare circumstances, both parents will share parental responsibility for all minor children involved in this case. The law requires parents to share the children’s time and to participate together in making all important decisions concerning the children. The law expects parents to put aside their feelings and cooperate on all decisions involving the children. The following guidelines apply: A. Children have a right to a loving, open and continuing relationship with both parents. They have the right to express love, affection and respect for one parent in the presence of the other parent. (more…)Read More
School counselor Leslie King and teacher Daryl Sollerh offer some tips at the Huffington Post on how to help children cope with their parents' divorce: First, let's face it: No one is a saint. No one is immune to the pain, challenges and uncertainties a separation or divorce can visit on a family -- especially not children. So even though mom and dad may be moving through some of the most potentially stressful and sad periods of their own life, they still are somebody's mom or dad, and must try to find a way to help their child, even if they themselves feel as if they are not getting much help from friends or the world. Should your child rage, do your best not to take it personally, even when it is directed at you. Try to give yourself the space and time to recognize that they too need to vent their feelings, especially the most gut-wrenching ones. It is better that they release the feelings inside them as best they can, instead of bottling them up, which could prove far more damaging in the long run. (more…)Read More