Getting divorced isn’t just about separating your life from your spouse, but also your finances. If you’re going to be receiving alimony, that means figuring out where that money fits into your overall financial picture.
How exactly do you do this?
In this post, we’re going to offer several suggestions on how to use your alimony check for maximum benefit.
Develop a Budget
In the first six to 12 months after your divorce, it’s crucial to develop a budget. If you didn’t handle the finances before your divorce, this can feel like a major challenge, but you can do it with a bit of effort and planning. Use financial planning software to come up with a list of your income sources and expenses. Then draft a plan that allows you to stay within your means. Your alimony check should be part of this.
Something important to remember is that in a number of different ways, it’s more expensive to live separately than it is to live together. Couple this with the fact that divorce is already forcing you to divide the money that you’ve been sharing with your spouse and it adds up to learning how to live with less. Reassess all your expenses. Look at last year’s bank and credit card statements to come up with estimates. If you need help, don’t hesitate to enroll in a money management course or work with a financial planner so you can stay on track with your budget.
Another thing to remember is that alimony is taxable. Every time you receive an alimony payment, set part of it aside to pay the taxes on it. Don’t spend it now and get in a bind when taxes are due.
Prepare for Life without Alimony
Alimony payments should never be considered a permanent solution. If you are receiving alimony, your ex-spouse may retire or become disabled, and the payments will stop. You will also stop receiving payments if you live with someone or remarry.
Because of these things, it’s smart to put alimony into a separate column for income and look at it as a temporary crutch you can use to help get yourself on your feet financially. Ideally, you want to come up with a plan that gradually decreases your dependence on alimony until you don’t really need it anymore.
Pay Off Debts
Divorce can be costly for both spouses. Your alimony payment can help pay your attorney fees and any other debts for which you are personally responsible. Make this a top priority, so you can get out of debt quickly and start raising your income level with a new job.
Use Alimony to Further Your Education
Since alimony won’t last forever, you’ll need to start working again. You may need to acquire new skills or training to get a job. Your alimony payments can fund your education costs, required licensing, and any equipment you need. A new job will boost your confidence along with your income.
Pay Rent and Other Monthly Bills
Especially early on, alimony is likely to make up a decent portion of your regular monthly income, so it is important that you treat it as such and use it to cover the cost of typical living expenses.
Beyond this, you may have needed to move due to the divorce. Your alimony payment can go toward the deposit, the first month’s rent, and the cost of setting up various utilities.
Hold Off on Big Purchases
To the extent that you are able, don’t make any huge financial commitments the first year after your divorce. Give yourself the time you need to adjust to your new financial circumstances and learn how much money you really spend on a monthly basis before, say, deciding to buy a house or a new car.
Consider Health Insurance
It’s more expensive to have your own insurance plan. Research plans that will work best for you and be sure to allocate part of your alimony payment to protect your health.
Use Alimony for Professional Services
Several types of professional services can help you recover after your divorce, and alimony payments can pay for those services. Enlist the help of an attorney to help plan your estate. You can also hire a life coach to help you start a new career. Finally, you can use your alimony payments for therapy sessions. They will help you sort through your emotions and gain strength.
Obviously, these are just suggestions. How you end up using your alimony check will depend upon your specific circumstances and needs. The important takeaway here is to figure out what your expenses are going to be like as you start your new life and how alimony best fits into that.
Changes in tax law under the Trump administration are likely to affect all of us in many ways. One of the more surprising ways, however, is divorce.
How so? Because the new tax law includes a provision that gets rid of the tax break divorcees currently receive for paying alimony. The change is expected to make divorcing couples less generous when negotiating alimony.
In fact, a poll conducted by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers revealed that about two-thirds of matrimonial attorneys expect for divorce negotiations to become more acrimonious when the new tax law takes effect. That’s a pretty good indication that we can expect the divorce process to become more drawn-out and potentially embittered.
There is a tiny bit of a silver lining, though: the law only affects divorces finalized after the end of 2018. This means that people have the rest of this year to finalize their divorce under the old rules, something that could make alimony negotiations much easier – and more financially beneficial for both parties.
No one wants to endure a protracted, embittered divorce. It adds unnecessary pain and stress to an already difficult process. So if you’re thinking seriously about divorce or already in the middle of proceedings, it may be in everyone’s best interest to work out your differences with your former spouse and finalize divorce proceedings sooner rather than later.
How do you do this?
File a Joint Petition for Divorce
If possible, it may be best to file a joint petition for divorce. In this circumstance, the spouses (with or without legal counsel) have already worked out all the terms of the divorce and are simply asking the court to approve their petition to legally end the marriage.
The circumstances surrounding divorce can be painful and sometimes even embarrassing to discuss. However, to make your divorce process move as smoothly as possible, it’s imperative to be completely honest with your attorney. Rest assured that family lawyers have heard it all, and that as a professional, your attorney will not be judgmental.
Withholding information from your lawyer can lead to being blindsided in court, and even to sanctions for lying. Also, if you hide an asset worth $1,000 or more, your ex has the right to take you back to court.
Find a Good Therapist
A divorce is likely to bring on a whirlwind of emotions, many of which may keep you from behaving rationally as you enter negotiations. A therapist can help you process these emotions and channel them healthily so that you can enter negotiations with a clear head.
Take the High Road
It’s tempting to attempt to seek revenge on your ex-spouse, making sure that he or she “get what they deserve.” However, this approach is likely to lead to an ugly, drawn-out process that isn’t in anyone’s best interest.
Whenever possible, rise above any resentment you may hold for your ex-spouse and instead negotiate a deal that’s fair for everyone involved.
Put Your Children First
If you have children with your spouse, remember that they, too, are suffering a great deal of pain and stress due to the divorce. Put their needs first by ensuring that both parents get adequate visitation time, ideally arranging for joint custody (something Florida courts already try to do automatically).
Remember, no one is suggesting that you rush into divorce. However, if you’ve already been thinking about it, but putting it off for one reason or another, the changes that are going to be implemented starting next year make it worth thinking about more seriously. To learn more about your options, get in touch with one of our offices.
If you’re thinking about getting a divorce, but you’re afraid you won’t be able to rebuild your life afterward, you aren’t alone. It’s quite common for people who are considering divorce to worry that life might be harder if they end up going through with it.
However, while you should absolutely think hard before taking that step, you also can’t allow your fear to prevent you from getting out of a situation that just isn’t working and may even be harmful. Below we’re going to share a list of tips meant to show you that it is possible to move forward with the right approach. Here’s how:
Let Your Feelings Out
Intense feelings along a wide spectrum are totally normal. In fact, divorce can even cause conflicting emotions. Don’t stuff your feelings down and try to ignore them. Denial will keep you stuck. Releasing them will help you to move on.
Allow Grief to Take Its Course
Divorce is a series of losses. You’ll grieve the lost hopes and dreams, as well as the loss of companionship. Grief is a long, difficult process. There’s no sugarcoating that.
You have to give yourself time to work through your sad feelings, either by talking or journaling. You’ll reach the acceptance stage in due time.
Reach Out for Help
It’s important to reach out to friends, family, and/or a counselor to process your grief. Their perspectives will provide the affirmation and encouragement you need. This is especially important if you have children. You will need a network of support, and your children will need it too.
Use Your Pain for Good
Pain after divorce can be an excellent teaching tool. You can learn about your weaknesses so that you can become stronger and more mature. You can also use your pain to become more compassionate to others who have been divorced, enabling you to help someone else in the future.
Let Go of the Past
It’s unproductive and harmful to yourself to keep hoping that a dead relationship will revive. Work through your pain and let the past go. If you are a person of faith, you can use it to gain strength so you can leave the past behind.
Forgiveness doesn’t happen all at once. You’ll need to offer it over and over to your ex-spouse – and maybe to yourself as well. Withholding forgiveness can make you bitter. Offer it as a gift to yourself and you’ll experience greater peace of mind.
Take Care of Yourself
You need to prioritize yourself during your healing process. It’s wise to treat yourself as if you were recovering from surgery. Quality rest, good nutrition, and plenty of downtime will help you heal. Exercise can powerfully lift your mood and boost your self-image. Engage in calming activities every day, such as hot baths or reading. Avoid addictive substances or habits as coping mechanisms.
Make a Fresh Start
It’s tempting to nurse your wounds alone, but that can lead you down the path to depression. You can join new groups to form friendships if your social network fell apart with your divorce. Choose groups based on hobbies or volunteer opportunities, and your spirits will be lifted.
Monitor Your Finances
It’s important to take inventory of your altered financial picture. Create a new budget with spreadsheets for income and expenses, along with liabilities and assets. You will probably need to close old accounts and open new ones. Pace yourself and seek financial advice if you need it.
Have Hope for the Future
New dreams, wishes, and hopes are ahead. As you look to the future, you can embrace and celebrate what’s waiting for you.
We can help you get the process started. Call today for your free consultation with a compassionate attorney.
You’ve probably seen lots of advice out there on how to tell your children about your divorce. Which makes sense. If you have kids with your spouse, they’re the ones who are going to be the most directly impacted by your decision to divorce.
Kids, however, aren’t the only ones who will be affected by your divorce. To some degree or other, your new reality mean changes for just about everyone you know. Friends. Coworkers. Extended family members.
In fact, often the hardest people to tell after your own children is your parents, because the range of responses they might have is unpredictable. Your parents may worry for your emotional health and the welfare of your children. They may feel responsible, both emotionally and financially, for you in ways they haven’t been in years. If they liked your spouse, they might express sadness over losing that relationship. If they didn’t like them, it’s possible you might even get a backhanded “I told you so.”
Bottom line? This conversation can be tricky and difficult. That’s why we decided to put together the below post. Read on for guidance and practical help on telling mom and dad about your breakup.
Do’s and Don’ts for Telling Your Parents
Even if you have a good relationship with your parents, revealing your divorce can stir anxiety. You may worry about disappointing them, disrupting family gatherings and traditions, or facing judgment for your decision. It’s important to get a handle on these feelings before you break the news. The stronger you are going into this difficult conversation, the better it will go.
Here are several tips to keep in mind when telling your parents about your decision to divorce.
Do prepare an informal speech.
This talk could be one of the hardest ones you’ve ever had to deliver, and some advance preparation will make it easier. Let them know if the divorce is amicable or antagonistic, so they know what to expect. Speak directly but tactfully. Try not to cast your ex in an unfavorable light, especially if you have children, as your parents will still have to see him or her in the future.
Don’t tell them everything.
Your marital dirty laundry doesn’t have to become their business. Tell them just enough so they understand the main reason for the divorce, and keep the rest private.
Don’t expect them to understand.
Unless your parents have been divorced themselves, they may not understand why you feel divorce is necessary. They may come from a different era when divorce was simply not an option, and they may not understand your choice. Don’t feel pressured or guilty because they come from a different perspective. Show respect for their opinions, but draw firm boundaries around your decision and refuse to take flak for it.
Do give them time to process.
They will need time for their own grieving and adjustment process. They may feel a loss of status by having to tell their friends that their child is divorcing. Your parents may feel powerless to change the pain and upheaval divorce will bring to you and your children. Make allowances for their feelings and perspectives, and remember they will adjust in time, just as you will.
Do assure them about their grandchildren.
When you divorce, they will likely worry whether you are emotionally capable to handle the divorce and the demands of being a newly-single parent. They need to know the plan you have in place for managing their grandkids. This will make the transition easier for your children too.
Don’t hesitate to ask for help.
Divorce is stressful, and your parents’ emotional support can help you weather the storm. If they can help you financially or watch your children, plan a detailed discussion with them where you go over these topics. Tell them exactly what kind of help you need, and they’ll appreciate having a plan of action.
When you’re going through a divorce, the last thing you want is for all your dirty laundry to be on display to the public. Unfortunately, the laws of our state make court records open and available to anyone interested in accessing them.
The legal paperwork for your divorce is made a matter of public record by default. That means any person could go to the courthouse and request a copy of your divorce petition or decree from the court clerk without your knowledge or consent.
Of course, this isn’t likely to happen to most divorcing couples, but you may have special concerns that warrant special protections.
So, can you have an exception made for you? Yes… in some cases. However, it’s not easy.
Below we’re going to cover several different reasons why it may be worth it to you to have your Florida divorce records sealed.
Why You Might Want Your Divorce Records in Florida Sealed
Most of us are not too worried about a random person looking up our divorce decrees. After all, the media usually only searches for the details of celebrity breakups. However, some couples may seek to protect their divorce records for legitimate reasons.
These reasons may include the following:
If one or both of you are high profile members of your community
If one or both of you are political figures
If domestic violence was present in the marriage
If child abuse was part of the family story
If one or both spouses are mentally ill
If one or both spouses have addictions
If the public exposure could financially harm one or both spouses
Of course, just because you think you have a valid reason does not mean that the court will agree.
Our state and federal court systems favor open records under the provisions of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. That’s why it may be difficult to get your divorce records sealed.
Even if you feel you have a legitimate reason for sealing the records, you will need a knowledgeable Florida divorce attorney to convince the judge to agree with you. Granting provisions for sealed records is up to the judge’s discretion, and judges normally side with the public’s right to information unless you have a compelling justification that your records need to be sealed.
What Divorce Information Is Likely to Be Sealed?
The court will likely be willing to keep this information from public view for legitimate reasons:
Social security numbers
Protected business information
Identities of domestic violence victims
Children’s names (referred to only with initials)
Children’s birth dates
The Process of Sealing Florida Divorce Records
To begin the process of requesting that your records be sealed, your attorney will need to file a motion and affidavit with the court. You will need to show good cause that damage could occur to your relationships, reputation, finances, or career unless the records are removed from public view.
Your chances of getting your records sealed improves with specificity. For example, if you are a well-known community figure and you feel that your business may suffer if the public knows the financial details of your divorce, you can request that only the financial records be sealed. Another example is requesting that only the parts of the divorce decree that apply to your children be sealed. The judge may agree that you have legitimate reasons to seal part of your record.
The judge will look at factors like these to weigh the privacy of your case against the policy of open records:
If the divorce has public significance
If any harm may occur to the divorcing couple upon disclosure
If any other methods exist for protecting the spouses
The degree to which public interest will be served with exposure
If the legal documents contain sensitive or proprietary financial information
If the children’s welfare may be harmed with exposure
If the inclusion of social security numbers, drivers license numbers, or health care information presents a significant risk of identity theft
Ready to get started on sealing your records? Call an experienced divorce attorney to get the help you need. Even though it’s not easy, it’s not beyond the scope of possibility. A Florida family lawyer with a proven track record handling situations like yours will help you form the most likely case for the judge’s approval.
Schedule a free initial consultation today to discuss the details of your case. You’ll feel greater peace of mind knowing that a qualified professional is working to help keep your personal matters private.
Gray divorce is a term used to refer to the growing trend of older Americans in long-term marriages choosing to get divorced.
Just how big is this “trend”? The divorce rate for Americans over 50 has nearly doubled in the last 20 years.
Dissolution of a marriage lasting over 20 years can present more complications than that of a younger couple that have been married for less time. Moreover, older individuals do not have as much earning potential, so financial concerns may also be more pressing.
Alimony is almost always granted in these cases, and additional factors unique to gray divorce such as retirement, inheritances, and life insurance are present. Additionally, division of assets may be more complex. Although child custody is ordinarily not a factor, issues surrounding older children, such as college tuition, may be present.
Younger couples may have alimony agreements in some cases, but these are usually temporary, allowing for the lesser-earning spouse to get back on their feet. However, when longer-term marriages are ended, alimony is practically a guarantee, and is often granted for life.
Dividing Retirement Money
Dividing retirement accounts, especially pensions, is tricky. Further, doing so in a DIY divorce without a proper legal agreement could result in substantial tax penalties. In some cases, one party may end up with nothing, even if the intentions of both parties are good.
A Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) is highly recommended when dividing retirement money, as this can help to avoid tax penalties and other clerical errors. These orders can be quite complicated, though, so you will want to hire an attorney specializing in QDROs to ensure both parties are treated fairly and all potential issues are accounted for. A QDRO typically costs between $500 and several thousand dollars, but this initial investment is well worth protecting the life savings of both individuals involved.
Division of Property
In a long-term marriage, equitable division of property presents special complications. Determining the value of premarital assets and liabilities and proving separate versus marital property may be problematic.
For example, collectibles attained before the marriage that have significantly appreciated over the course of the relationship may or may not be considered community property.
Considerations for Adult Children
Although gray divorce thankfully does not ordinarily involve child custody, there may still be considerations specific to adult children. For example, it is not unusual for parents to provide financial support to adult children. Because the parents are not legally obligated to provide this support, it is typically not written into the divorce agreement, so can result in a very sensitive situation that could be difficult for adult children cope with.
Also, although they are not as immediately affected as minors, adult children may still react emotionally to the news of their parents’ divorce. Parents should avoid oversharing, but also be forthright with the reasons for the divorce if this helps adult children to understand and accept the situation.
Support of Elderly Parents
It is also common for older couples to provide financial support for elderly parents, particularly if their parents are in managed care. Unfortunately there is no obligation for the divorcing spouse to pay a third party, so the divorcees may face difficult decisions on whether to use diminished funds to continue supporting elderly parents, who are often dependent upon their children.
Inheritances are considered to be separate property and are generally not distributed in a divorce. However, inheritances can have a significant impact on the divorce settlement and finances of both divorcing parties. Further, marital assets purchased with inheritances become a gray area, as does income earned from investing inheritances.
Anyone paying alimony is required to have life insurance in an amount equal to the term and duration of alimony agreed upon in the divorce proceedings. For older individuals, life insurance can be quite expensive, with annual premiums well into five figures. In this case, one spouse may be required to pay both alimony and a hefty life insurance premium. Together, this is a copious financial obligation.
In some states, divorced parents are required to pay for their children’s college tuition – even though they would not be obligated to do so if married. Fortunately, Florida is not one of those states.
However, the financial strain of a divorce may compromise both parents’ abilities to pay for their children’s educations. In some cases a voluntary arrangement may be drawn up in the divorce proceedings in order to ensure that both parents are contributing to the children’s educational future.
The bottom line is that gray divorce is an increasingly common phenomenon, and it can present numerous special legal and financial challenges to Floridians in a financially vulnerable life stage. If you are currently considering or going through a gray divorce, reach out to an experienced Florida divorce attorney. He or she will be able to help ensure that the process goes as smoothly as is possible.
Even in the most amicable, straightforward family law cases, mistakes can easily be made that compromise one or more parties and draw out litigation. Follow this advice to sidestep common mistakes that could cost you in your Florida family law case.
Know the basics of family law
Family law usually involves significant life changes, such as planning for a wedding, adopting a child, separating, or divorcing. All types of family law involve unique stresses that may put you under a great deal of strain if you are uninformed.
One mistake to avoid is having no knowledge of family law requirements. For example, you could get yourself in a huge financial bind for many years if you don’t understand how marital assets are divided in a divorce settlement. Another example would be if you didn’t learn the legal process and costs involved in an international adoption.
The best way to learn the basics of family law is to consult with an experienced family law attorney. The first consultation should always be free, and you can get a reasonable idea of what the laws require from the initial meeting with a skilled attorney. Online searches are limited in their ability to help you, since the specific details of your case make all the difference in the outcome.
As the saying goes, knowledge is power. In stress-causing family law cases, knowledge can give you a refreshing measure of control over what may feel like an overwhelming situation.
Learn about your specific case details
You need to have clear goals on what you expect out of your family law case. Here are the various types of family law cases that may apply to your current legal needs:
Prenuptial Agreement: Before marriage, a couple agrees to forfeit rights to each other’s property if divorce or death occurs.
Paternity: The process of determining the biological father of a child or children. This is normally accomplished through DNA testing. Usually the mother of the child files a paternity suit to gain child support from the father, but sometimes fathers file a paternity suit to establish rights to have contact with their child or children.
Divorce or Legal Separation: In these cases, each spouse is represented by their own lawyer. The lawyers help the parting spouses divide marital property and form a financial support plan. If the couple has children, the lawyers will assist in proposing custody, visitation, and child support.
Marital Property Division: Over the course of a marriage, a couple typically acquires different kinds of assets or properties. A family law attorney helps a divorcing couple separate the assets in a reasonable manner.
Alimony: After a legal separation or divorce, one spouse may be required to financially support the other according to an amount set by the court.
Child Support and Child Custody: In divorce proceedings, the custody and support of children is established. Over time, the situation may change and could need to be brought before the court again. For example, if one parent moves out of state, the visitation schedule would likely need to change. Another example is if the financial situation of the parent who pays child support significantly changes.
Adoption or Foster Care: The legal process of adoption or foster care involves many different factors, so these cases are complex and involved. A family law attorney can help you understand the different legal requirements in either of these cases.
Emancipation: If a minor chooses to support himself or herself and assumes total responsibility for his or her own care and well-being, the court may grant the minor emancipation from his or her parents.
Gather important paperwork
In every case above, you will need to gather official records, bank statements, insurance documents, and other important papers to help your attorney do the best job possible. Don’t make the mistake of leaving anything out or it could work against you in court and cost you plenty. Skim through your files with a fine-toothed comb and bring all the records you can find to the table.
Choose a lawyer who specializes in family law
Many attorneys practice in a variety of areas, but family law cases each follow a specific set of laws and procedures. By choosing a specialist, you avail yourself to the expertise of an attorney with years of experience handling cases just like yours.
Don’t make the mistake of working with a “one-stop shop” lawyer. Arrange a free initial consultation today to discuss your case’s possibilities with a qualified family law attorney.
A new app is helping Florida parents navigate the tough waters of divorce with greater success.
The app is called FAYR, which stands for Family Advocacy Your Responsibility. Michael Daniels, a father from Florida, developed the app while he was going through his own divorce.
Daniels knew he wasn’t his best self during the divorce. He was exasperated with the ordeal of having to stay in constant contact with a contentious former spouse and keep up with all the legal details. The app helped him share relevant information with his ex-spouse in a non-personal way, as well as allowing him to save time.
He has appeared on Apple TV and gained the support of actress Gwyneth Paltrow, who now consults him on how he can help more divorced families with the app.
Now, thousands of other families in Florida and around the United States are benefiting from this app. It is free for iPhone and iPad users, and is currently being developed for Android systems.
Understanding the Basics of FAYR and How It Can Help You
FAYR has four main features:
A calendar with shareable activities to keep track of a co-parenting schedule
An expense tracker to document the money each parent spends on the children
A geo-tracking option to prove whereabouts when you are with your children
A report generator for court documents, which may improve the chances of winning in court
The FAYR app can be used by one parent or both; it does not need the cooperation of both parents to be beneficial. A cost applies when documents are exported.
Have you considered using this app or other tracking apps to make life simpler as your divorce proceeds? Divorce is a stressful experience, and it can easily overwhelm you if you lack helpful tools or coping mechanisms.
Other Ways to Cope with Divorce Stress and Make the Process Go More Smoothly
If you’re still struggling with your divorce, these additional tips may help you cope better and improve your outlook.
Don’t ruminate all day long about your problems. Schedule in “worry time” for a certain period of day and dedicate this time to addressing any divorce-related issues. By facing your fears one at a time during structured time limits, your negative emotions won’t feel so overwhelming.
Try to see your situation objectively. When sorting out hard feelings, it may be helpful for you to focus on why instead of what. Asking yourself what you’re feeling can cause a negative downward spiral. Asking why you are feeling how you are can help you move forward in a new direction.
Consider what you want in the days ahead, rather than focusing on your ex-spouse’s flaws. A forward-focused mindset will keep your healing process in motion. Spending time with friends, exercising, volunteering, and enjoying a hobby can provide hope for the future.
4. Be the best parent possible. Remember, you’re divorcing your spouse, not your kids. Your children will be deeply affected by your divorce, and they need you now more than ever. Keep legal paperwork and discussions away from your children. Provide regular routines and plenty of emotional support. Refrain from making negative comments about your ex-spouse in front of your children. Remember to have fun together, and be available when they want to talk.
If you feel like you can’t navigate the difficult season of divorce alone, help is available to you. An experienced family law attorney will know what provisions are available to you under Florida law. Schedule your initial consultation today.
When you decide to get a divorce, it’s a difficult time for everyone involved – but this is especially true for your children. In fact, breaking the news to your children may be the most difficult conversation you ever have. Most likely they won’t really understand everything that’s happening, and you will want to reassure them in their hurt.
How do you do this, though, while still clearly conveying the fact that their parents are going to be apart from now on?
Here are several valuable tips for telling your kids about your divorce with gentleness and compassion.
Be the best you first
Divorce is painful, and you are likely processing a whirlwind of emotions. If you come to your children during a personal storm, you’ll only make it more difficult for them. Do what you can to come to them in the best frame of mind possible. Practice self-care, visit a counselor for help, and learn how to get a handle on your emotions before you ever sit down with your children.
Have a plan in place
This is a conversation your children will remember for the rest of their lives. It’s not a time to improvise, because the potential for additional trauma to your children is too high. Sit down with a pencil and paper and draft what you want to say ahead of time. Run it by a friend or a counselor. Practice speaking in a calm, compassionate voice. Use language that your children will understand.
Pick the right time
You need to wait for a relatively calm moment to have this important, life-changing conversation with your children. It’s best to avoid transition times, like heading to work or school, or times when you can’t be there for reassurance right afterward. Perhaps a weekend afternoon is the quietest time for your family. Make sure you can comfort your children after they receive the news. Also, wait until you are certain the divorce really is occurring before you break the news. Otherwise, you may unnecessarily confuse and upset your children.
Deliver the news together
The best scenario is sitting down as a whole family and having both you and your spouse deliver the news. Children do best if they hear “we decided” rather than “Mom decided” or “Dad decided.” By working as a team, you will both promote harmony and respect and cushion the blow for your children.
Repeat: It’s not your fault
Children tend to blame themselves for their parents’ problems. Even if you never hear your children say that they feel the divorce is their fault, tell them over and over that the problems existed only between you and your ex-spouse.
Assure them with unconditional love
No matter how often you will see your children after the divorce occurs, tell them that you will always love them the same way as before. They need to hear this again and again as you set up separate households and as the custody agreement takes hold.
Simplicity is best
Resist the temptation to vent your frustrations about your ex-spouse. Keep the information simple and free from blame. A younger child may need only a few sentences, while an older child may want more information. Answer their questions carefully, respecting their need for assurance while also respecting their cherished view of the other parent. It’s also important to keep legal papers out of sight and refrain from having legal discussions in the hearing of your child. They don’t need to know every detail.
Expect the unexpected
You know your children. Some may explode in anger and tears, while others may withdraw in silence upon hearing this difficult news. It’s wise to expect the unexpected.
Your independent child may suddenly become clingy, or your sweet-natured child could turn moody and defiant. Remember that the only world ever known is being turned completely turned upside down, and the two people they love most are no longer together. It may take a long time for your child to adjust, and your patience and compassion is essential for their well-being.
Follow up individually
Though it’s best to break the news to the family unit, it’s important to follow up one-on-one with each child. They may open up to you with hidden fears and insecurities. Watch your child for signs of depression or self-harm and get them professional help if needed.
As much as possible, provide a consistent family schedule. Routines for bedtimes, weekends, and holidays can be soothing rhythms for your child as they adjust to new visitation schedules. Keep your promises to head off disappointment.
A qualified and compassionate Florida family law attorney can help you through this challenging time. Schedule an appointment to learn about the options available to you.
When it comes to divorce, there are a number of things you have to consider, and for some couples, the court or venue where the divorce proceedings will take place is one of them.
Baseball fans might recognize the name Addison Russell. Russell is a shortstop for the Chicago Cubs and is currently in the process of getting divorced from his wife, Melisa Reidy-Russell.
The couple, who had a child in 2015, got married in January 2016. In June of this year, Reidy-Russell filed for divorce in Cook County, Illinois amidst unsubstantiated rumors that Russell had been unfaithful to her and committed domestic abuse.
A week prior to Reidy-Russell filing for divorce, Russell actually filed for divorce in Pensacola – Russell’s hometown in Escambia County. Since the divorce petition, the couple has separated and Reidy-Russell moved back to Florida where her parents also live.
There are a number of reasons why a court would change a divorce venue here in Florida, and it begs some questions: where does Florida let you get divorced? What are your options?
Where Can I Get Divorced in Florida?
In our state, you must initially petition for the dissolution of marriage at the circuit court of the county where you or your spouse lives. It’s important to note, though, that you or your spouse need to be a Florida resident for at least six months prior to filing for divorce.
Once the divorce has been filed, though, you can choose to move to another city, a different state, or even a totally new country.
So what happens if you move and you want to change the venue of your divorce? Depending on your specific circumstances, you can ask the court for a change of venue.
Specific Circumstances That May Lead to a Change in Divorce Venue
For the convenience of the parties or witnesses or in the interest of justice, any court of record may transfer any civil action to any other court of record in which it might have been brought.
So it all comes down to what will be the most convenient location for all the parties involved. The court will need to look at the reasons why you are seeking a change in venue and determine if relocating will be convenient for both parties.
Additionally, if there are children, the child’s interests will become the top priority because Florida courts will always look out for the best interest of the child as they do when it comes to time-sharing.
In order to grant this change, the courts will consider a number of factors, including the geographic location of both parents, continuity in the child’s life, and the parent’s ability to protect their child from litigation.
If the child’s life will be disrupted by a specific venue – whether it’s due to traveling long distances or needing to take time off from school – the court will do whatever it can to ensure that the location will be particularly convenient for the child.
How a Skilled Family Lawyer Can Help
Divorce is stressful enough – you shouldn’t also have to worry about where your divorce proceedings will take place.
If you are considering a change in venue for your divorce, reach out to an experienced Florida divorce lawyer to have the best chance of a Florida court granting your venue change request.