Regardless of how a divorce is resolved, the time leading up to both filing and finalizing is hard on families. Children of all ages in particular feel the sting of life changing times. Parents once united are now divided.
Whether they are adolescents or young adults, the impact can be the same. Dealing with the emotional roller coaster often involves guidance from friends and family members to help sons and daughters cope with the end of their parents' marriages.
The simple act of candid conversation can make a difference. Taking the time to speak to children of divorce can bring issues out into the open that may include the following:
Children need time to grieve the end of an important chapter and take time to adjust to the new family structure.
Feeling guilt and taking blame does not help, as children had no control over the fate of their parents' marriage.
Whether before or after a divorce, children should not make it their mission to fix their parents' relationship with hopes of a reunion.
Young children are entitled to their childhood instead of replacing a parent as the defacto head of the household or homemaker.
Children should not choose one parent over the other or serve as a spokesperson or messenger to adults who can and should communicate on their own.
Encourage children to have empathy without becoming protectors to parents who can take care of themselves.
While life changes, everyday routines should remain and bring a sense of certainty during uncertain times.
An open and honest approach not only helps with the divorce transition, but also finding closure. Certain types of advice may help some people, but not everyone. Yet, divorce mediation can be a universal way of uniting people to find common ground. With the help of a skilled attorney-mediator, parents can work together to resolve their issues so they can move on with lives going in separate directions.
Representative Matt Krause of Fort Worth, Texas, wants to put the "fault" back in "no-fault" divorces.
The lawmaker believes that its time to eliminate no-fault laws. According to Krause, eliminating that option will help spouses to focus on restoring their relationships. Even those considering marriage may put more thought into tying that knot.
Krause's bill would require couples to live separately for three years prior to a divorce filing. The only exceptions are grounds of adultery, cruelty or abandonment, along with spouses convicted of a felony or confined to a mental institution.
Fifty years ago, no-fault divorce laws were born in California. Couples could divorce by mutual agreement. Blame or specific reasons other than irreconcilable differences or incompatibility were not issues. By 1980, forty-eight additional states signed on.
The remaining holdout was New York. State lawmakers sitting on the fence now had more than a decade of documented data to review. One of those studies came from the University of Pennsylvania that revealed that a no-fault option reduced domestic violence rates by 30 percent and suicide rates involving married women decreased by 16 percent.
In 2010, New York lawmakers made their own informed decision and joined the rest of the country by enacting "no-fault" divorce laws.
Seven years later, the Lone Star State is looking to start a new trend by taking a step back. It could also bring back a time when litigation was on the rise while divorce mediation numbers slipped.
Krause's promotion of the societal benefits of marriage aside, limiting divorce options or statutorily lengthening the process can do more harm than good. Instead of laws that serve as defacto lectures on the "do's" and "don'ts" of marital dissolutions, providing information on alternatives to litigation can help.
The benefits of divorce mediation are numerous, particularly when children are involved. An attorney-mediator can set aside "fault" and avoid pointing fingers of blame. The process can not only help end a growingly contentious relationship, but it can be the beginning of a more productive and cooperative, post-divorce life.
New York and California occupy opposite coasts with both states having little in common. That is, until a recent ruling by a Suffolk County judge overseeing a lengthy custody battle.
The unconventional decision in March called for “tri-custody” of child born into an unconventional family. It was the first such ruling in New York, joining California as the second state to allow children to have more than two legal parents.
Supreme Court Judge H. Patrick Leis III’s March ruled that three people involved in a polyamorous relationship can all share custody of their son. The ten year-old boy is the biological child of Michael Marano and Audria Garcia. Both Michael and his wife Dawn had a lengthy, intimate relationship with the birth mother who was also their neighbor.
With Dawn unable to conceive, Garcia carried a baby that all three planned to raise together. However, the two “mothers” left Michael and moved in with each other, taking the child with them. Michael and Dawn subsequently filed for divorce.
Garcia wanted tri-custody with Dawn having the legal rights of a parent. Michael disputed the arrangement. In his decision, Leis wrote that the three-way agreement was in the best interests of the child because the son considers both women his mothers.
With seventeen percent of Americans aged 18 to 44 engaging in consensual non-monogamy, a new era of parenting is at its genesis. No longer is a good upbringing limited to just two parents.
Family laws, not only in New York, but also throughout the country, have to start recognizing the diversity of an individual’s or couple’s sexuality. The ruling, while important and precedent setting, creates a legislative vacuum in custody statutes.
The changing dynamic with three parties instead of two could soon start blazing new trails in divorce mediation nationwide. Attorney mediators who facilitate custody arrangements may find it more commonplace to evaluate the best interests of the child based on a trio or larger, instead of a duo.
Three-way arrangements decided outside of a trial will likely require new strategies by a an attorney mediator. The need for a skilled, knowledgeable and experienced attorney mediator has never been more important to families becoming more and more conventional.
"We are not in love, we don't always agree, we're not best friends, sometimes we don't even like one another. But you know what we are? We are forever connected because of our beautiful, smart, kind, and compassionate, funny son."
A mom wrote these honest words in a Facebook post that has been "liked" over 13,000 times. Just above her words are four family photographs: two taken during the marriage, two taken after the divorce. While the loving caress between mom and dad faded from the latter two, all of the images scream, "family."
For this mom, the photos are a reminder that their 4-year-old son has two loving parents who will do everything in their power to make his life wonderful. She made her choice from experience, watching her own divorced parents live with a clear line between them. It made her feel like she was living two separate lives.
Mediation sets the stage for successful co-parenting
At this point in the post, you might be thinking to yourself that they are, well, "full of it." Marriages often end with hurt feelings, anger, disappointment or resentment. This mom feels those too, she simply made the choice to think before she acts on them.
Putting aside your emotions to do what is best for your child is not easy. Working side-by-side with someone who neglected your feelings, fought with you or cheated on you takes practice.
Most people focus on cost-effectiveness or timesavings when selling mediation as a tool for divorce, but one of the greatest benefits is that it sets the stage for cooperative parenting.
With an unbiased, neutral third party facilitating the conversations between you and your spouse, you can learn to:
Stay focused on the issue at hand: When you are angry or frustrated with an ex-spouse, a conversation about a single ride home from a soccer game can quickly escalate into a battle over who made the first or the worst mistake in the marriage.
Make decisions based on fact and reason: You are not wrong to have emotions, but making decisions based solely on emotion often result in unintended consequences or unnecessary conflict.
Communicate effectively: Poor communication often contributes to the breakdown of a marriage or becomes a problem when the marriage breaks down. You have to relearn how to talk to one another as parents not romantic partners.
How you deal with your divorce does affect your future relationship. A knockdown, drag out court battle often only intensifies the conflict that led to the divorce. If you have kids, you should explore mediation and determine if it is the right fit for your family.
From sage advice to dire warnings, parents of all generations have tried to guide their children in the right direction. The moment a son or daughter gets married, mom and dad usually provide their counsel, based on their past experiences.
Safe to say that most parents cannot cite their ups and downs when it comes to their use of Facebook, Twitter, or even the passé MySpace. Lacking those online life experiences, they are not equipped to adequately warn their children of the effects that social media has on relationships.
Online postings and tweets can sabotage the process of resolving marital dissolutions, including those using divorce mediation as an option. In far too many cases, the damage was done much earlier. Focusing on a smart phone disengages one spouse from the other by default. The distraction also plants seeds for irreparable marital problems.
A phone survey conducted by the Pew Research Center asked couples about the effects social media usage had on their relationships. Seventy-one percent of married couples use social media with only 10 percent admitting to it having a “major impact” on their relationships.
However, when it comes to those ages 18 to 29 who grew up in the internet age, a direct link exists between social media consumption and relationship tension.
Eighteen percent have had arguments over the amount of time spent online, compared with eight percent of all couples
Eight percent have been upset with something their partner was doing online, compared to four percent of all couples
A 2014 study negatively correlated social media use with marriage quality and happiness, regardless of economical, demographic or psychological variables. Another study that year revealed that one-third of divorce cases mentioned Facebook and concerns over inappropriate messages sent online to others.
Regardless of why you are divorcing, healing the wounds can come from a process outside of a trial. Memories of excessive time on your smart phone and related indiscretions remain. However, working out the issues with the help of an attorney mediator can help you move on and possibly avoid repeating mistakes of the past.
Divorce creates stress. Stress leads to impulsive reactions instead of thoughtful responses. Stress does not put you at your best when you have to make important decisions. That anxiety is not exclusive to you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse. Children also bear the brunt.
As you try to resolve issues surrounding your divorce, you face a pivotal time where life is changing. Your actions during this difficult period truly matter to you and your children.
How Will You Set The Tone Of Your Divorce?
Since they were born, your children have learned from your example. How you conduct yourself when faced with the hurdles inherent in the divorce process is no different. They are looking to you to see how you act and react.
Your marriage created a family. How you handle that relationship, even one that is ending in divorce, will provide important life lessons to your children. Consider your conduct as a teaching moment. You are setting an example as to how to get along with not only loved ones, but also non-family members both now and in the future.
Costly Divorce Litigation Putting Children In The Middle
Divorce trials are costly - both financially and emotionally. Litigation involves two polarized sides no longer able to find common ground on their own. Their idea of problem solving is a fight. They refuse to let deep emotional wounds heal.
High-conflict divorces often involve children who are placed in the center of the disputes. They are left little choice but to pick a side when there is no middle ground to stand on. They watch as someone they do not know, specifically a judge, makes decisions for them and their parents. It is an example that will leave a lasting impression.
Reducing And Eliminating Conflict Through Mediation
Mediation not only sets the tone for the divorce process, but also your post-marital life. Sitting down with your spouse in a cooperative setting allows you to speak openly about all the issues. With the help of an attorney-mediator, conflicts are dealt with directly by talking, not filing motions and testifying against each other.
Most importantly, an attorney-mediator gives you control. Control of the decisions made in your divorce. Control of the tone established through divorce.
Equally as important, you have control over the example you are setting for your children.
Unique complexities exist in military divorces. Certain legal issues are specific to servicemembers and their spouses. Even divorce mediation presents challenges when divorcing couples are not in the same state or country.
A skilled attorney-mediator can help bridge the gap in many ways.
While a spouse served with divorce papers must file a formal response within a set amount of days, another federal law, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), allows an active duty servicemember to put the divorce on hold. While the performance of military duties will stay the divorce for at least 90 days and longer if needed, the process must move along at some point. Delays cannot last forever.
Military Pension Division
Division of pensions is governed by Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act (USFSPA). The federal law mandates that the state where the service member resides has authority to divide military pensions, unless they consent to give power to another state's court.
The "10-10 test" triggers pension garnishment when a marriage lasted for 10 years while the military spouse was on active duty or "creditable service" in the Guard or Reserves for an equal amount of time. Even if that standard is not met, the state court can still award division. Some spouses close to qualifying for the test may even delay a divorce action.
Various elements surround a servicemember's income with changes occurring due to deployment base transfers and other factors. While child support is determined by the state where the servicemember resides, the courts may not adhere to support guidelines due to specific military rules.
Servicemembers are required to provide adequate support for their children. Prior to a final court ruling on support, they can secure financial assistance directly from their military branch. Once that step is finalized, civilian courts can make their own decisions based on state law.
Divorce Mediation In Separate Locations
As with any type of divorce mediation, military marital dissolutions can enjoy the same benefits as a civilian action. Oftentimes, distances created by serving on an out-of-state base or being deployed overseas prevent face-to-face negotiations. Skype, Facetime and other forms of video technology can be used effectively by a skilled attorney-mediator.
Cutting-edge innovation can not only bridge the physical gap, but also the emotional expanse suffered by spouses who want to get on with their lives.
When it comes to foregoing legal representation in a divorce filing, saving money now can prevent a much larger legal investment in the future. Post-marital life is fluid. You need a skilled professional who can identify both existing issues today and potential problems in the future.
Just because a divorce is uncontested does not mean that contests will not arrive in the future. Simply stated, it may be better to do it right than to do it yourself.
Tied Up In Red Tape
A divorce without legal representation is not easy. At the outset, you have to know your local court’s filing requirements. Mistakes and oversights could delay the final decree for months, if not years.
An attorney-mediator brings insight into the basic filing requirements, untie the red tape, and can get you started on the right track.
Preciseness In Parenting Plans
Child custody focuses on the best interests of the children. Verbal agreements may seem fair at the time, but relationships and attitudes can change.
Both spouses and children are entitled to a parenting plan in writing. An attorney-mediator can work with both of you to find common ground that is both agreeable and enforceable.
Accounting For All Child-Related Expenses
While amounts to cover basic needs for children are calculated based on state statutes, additional expenses may require a separate agreement. Assuming that everything is covered can only create serious, post-divorce problems.
That is where an attorney-mediator comes in to help. Whether more money is needed for medical insurance, daycare or extra-curricular activities, a neutral party can properly identify all financial needs.
Present And Future Financial Stability
Lacking a basic understanding of how alimony works can lead to disastrous “patch-work” agreements. Divorcing spouses are generally laypersons who do not know spousal support laws. Now do they know whether a temporary or more permanent arrangement is best.
An attorney-mediator can help you first identify if spousal support is appropriate or not. Conducting in-depth and detail-driven analysis of financial needs can allow them to craft an agreement that keeps both parties on stable financial foundations.
The Proposition Of Property Division
Property division is not a 50/50 proposition. Various considerations and factors come into play. While you and your spouse may assume that you have what you need, future financial problems could force you to revisit the agreement in court.
An attorney-mediator’s insight can make a significant difference in your post-divorce future. Going beyond “price tags” allows them to consider all avenues to ensure that the split in property is fair and both spouses are adequately compensated.
The moment you decide to end your marriage is the moment when you want to find the best possible route towards finalizing your divorce. Contrary to what you might believe, Litigation is not the only option. Mediation with the help of a skilled attorney-mediator is a way to take control of the issues surrounding your divorce.
Before starting the divorce process, you need to ask yourself one question. Is mediation the best fit? A discussion with an attorney-mediator may provide the answers you need.
Does It Matter If My Spouse And I Don't Agree on Everything In Advance?
You and your spouse do not have to agree on every issue before the process begins. You only need come to the table and discuss issues with an open mind and a focus on the best possible and most satisfactory solution. Whether your divorce is simple or more complicated, an attorney-mediator can help you confront both straightforward and emotionally charged issues directly.
Will Mediation Strategies Be Customized For Me?
If you and your spouse are looking to be treated as individuals and not a number on a case file, you need an attorney-mediator who tailors solutions for you. With experience comes time-tested strategies that foster a fair and open atmosphere. Both sides are entitled to having their voices heard in a process that equalizes imbalances that may exist.
When Is Mediation Not Recommended?
If domestic violence or orders for protection played a role in your marriage, mediation is likely not a fit for you. In situations where your safety may be at risk, entering the process is not wise, nor is it recommended. Remember, the best attorney-mediator is also a divorce lawyer who can still get you through all stages of your marital dissolution.
Of all the emotions that divorce elicits, anger is often near the top of the list.
Anger over the end of a marriage usually does not occur overnight. It is likely a slow burn that evolves from the ongoing uncertainty and outright shock that comes with a personal loss. Anyone dealing with an angry, soon-to-be ex-spouse feels the need to tread carefully.
Whether a divorce was the decision of one or both spouses, anger is both normal and understandable. However, the inability to control emotions will only make a bad situation worse. Refusing to cooperate can sabotage any level of collaboration and send a divorce into even more costly and protracted litigation.
An experienced attorney-mediator who has dealt with the feelings attendant to a divorce or other family law related issue can effectively address the anger and help the parties overcome this negativity.
Instead of suppression, anger can be used as a tool to foster the process. Understanding and respecting how the other party feels can make a difference. As with any spouse involved in divorce mediation, they need assurance that they can express themselves in an open forum without judgment or interruption.
In many cases, getting a spouse to open up can reveal otherwise suppressed needs and goals. What was once a blockade may become a bridge. It is up to the attorney-mediator to build upon that and find common ground and even shared concerns and objectives between both spouses.
Divorce mediation involves continuing interactions with an individual who may be the source of ongoing frustration. Again, an experienced attorney-mediator can properly manage those emotions and expectations. Whether spouses struggle with being in the same room or more breaks are required, a tailored process can continue despite the personal conflicts that exist.
Divorce mediation can be transformative to the most angry and fearful of spouses. They may walk in irritable as they face an unknown process and an equally uncertain future. With proper guidance, they can leave divorce mediation with a clearer future and something else that has eluded them for far too long.
Peace of mind.
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