How to tell your kids that you are divorcing

You and your spouse have made the difficult decision to get a divorce. Now, you have to tell the kids. It is important that you do so in a way that will protect them as much as possible. Kids are very perceptive. Try not to hide things from them because they know something is happening even if you have not told them. However, you should only tell them in a way that is age appropriate. 

1) Have a unified message. It is important that you and your spouse explain to the children that no matter your differences you plan to work to put their needs first. 

2) Don't blame the other parent. Neither of you should bad mouth or blame each other about why you are choosing to get divorced. If you do so, this will cause your children to feel as though they have to choose sides when all they want to do is to love both of you. 

3) Consistency is key. Do your best to maintain a consistent routine. Dr. Michelle Rozen says to "Be as specific as you can in telling your kids what they should expect in the future as far as school and living arrangements. Give them concrete information and stick to it. Do not make promises that you cannot keep. Knowing what to expect and then seeing that it actually happens, will alleviate a lot of their anxieties." 

More than anything else, be there for your kids in this difficult time and let them know that you still love them. 

See "Kids, We Have Something To Tell You" by Gia Miller for more tips on how to tell your children about your divorce. 

Do it for the kids: effective co-parenting

As parents, we strive to do whatever we can to protect our children. Sometimes parents decide they must separate or divorce one another for any number of reasons. Unfortunately, parents can too often get caught up in the negativity and emotion aspects surrounding the separation and/or divorce and forget about protecting their children.

There are two important factors to keep in mind for your children to successfully adjust to the consequences of divorce: 1) the maintenance of a meaningful routine relationship with each of their parents; and 2) to be shielded from ongoing parental conflict. 

It is very important to support your child's other parent's role and relationship with your children. As seen on Today.com, Billy Flynn Gadbois understands this and puts this into practice. He recently posted on his Facebook page that for his ex-wife’s birthday, he “got up early and brought flowers and cards and a gift over for the kids to give her and helped them make her breakfast.” Unfortunately, he received the typical negative reactions as to why he would go to so much trouble for his ex-wife.

This is how he responded: "This annoys me. So ima break it down for you all. I'm raising two little men. The example I set for how I treat their mom is going to significantly shape how they see and treat women and affect their perception of relationships. I think even more so in my case because we are divorced. So if you aren't modeling good relationship behavior for your kids, get your shit together. Rise above it and be an example. This is bigger than you.

Raise good men. Raise strong women. Please. The world needs them, now more than ever."

This is good advice!

 

Effectively co-parenting after divorce

Parents going through a divorce or breakup can either choose protect their children from the conflict between themselves or they can choose to put their children in the middle. If you wish to protect your children from conflict, you must learn to effectively co-parent despite your separation from the child's other parent.

This 2011 Co-parenting Communication Guide by the Arizona Chapter of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts provides valuable resources in how to effectively communicate with your child's other parent including how to draft child centered emails and sharing medical information concerning your child. 

Throw away the Custody Agreement

This blog post by Candice Curry shows what can happen when parents put aside their issues and begin to truly focus on what is best for their child(ren). While it is often necessary to have a Custody Agreement outlining each parent's rights and obligations, including parenting time with their child(ren), the ultimate goal should always be for parents to communicate with one another about what is in the best interest of that child(ren). Sometimes that may mean deviating from the terms of the Custody Agreement or changing it in its entirety as circumstances change. Having parents that can communicate with one another about the child(ren)'s needs and that love the child(ren) is always in their best interest! 

Protecting Children During a Divorce

This article by Joni Edelman provides some great tips a divorcing parent can take to protect their children from the emotional turmoil that all too often is associated with messy divorces. 

1) Leave them out of it.

2) Tell them it’s not their fault.

3) Get therapy.

4) Do not turn your child into your confidant. 

5) Maintain a relationship with your ex.

6) Maintain a relationship with your ex, Part 2. 

Student Loans, Bankruptcy and "Undue Hardship"

In bankruptcy, in order for student loan debts to be discharged, the law requires that the debtor meet an "undue hardship" test. Unfortunately, however, the law does not define what an "undue hardship", leaving the issue for the courts to decide. 

A Judge for the U.S. District Court for Maryland, in a recent Maryland case, found that a disabled woman living below the poverty line had not made "good faith attempts" to repay her student loans. The court ruled that she could not discharge her $37,400 in student loans despite living on Social Security Disability and being unemployed since 2008. 

Fortunately, there appear to be some federal loan consolidation and forgiveness programs available to debtors that cannot discharge their student loans through bankruptcy.  

 

Tips to Protect Your Assets Without a Prenuptial Agreement

This article, “5 Ways to Protect Your Money Without A Prenup” by Rebecca Zung of Credit.com, provides some ways you can protect your pre-marital assets going into a marriage if you do not have a prenuptial agreement. Additionally, these tips can be helpful to know what to look for concerning property division if you are thinking about divorcing or are in the midst of a divorce.

Jacobson Family Law can assist you in the preparation of a Prenuptial Agreement in order to protect your non-marital assets in the event of a future divorce. 

If you do not have a prenuptial agreement and are facing a potential divorce, Jacobson Family Law can provide you guidance of what property may be marital or subject to property division and what property may be non-marital. 

Contact Jacobson Family Law to schedule a free initial consultation

Being a better divorced parent for your children

"How to be a better divorce parent" by Erin Silver, is a great article about how to refocus on the future after an emotional divorce in order to put your children’s needs ahead of your own needs so that you can effectively co-parent with your ex-spouse.  

As the author states, one of the best things you can do after your separation is to “let go of the past and build a new relationship with one another on a whole other level. Thinking about things in that way – respecting and trusting one another as co-parents, rather than distrusting each other as former spouses...”

She also discusses the benefits that mediation had for her and her ex-spouse in helping them learn to communicate with one another better and compromise for the benefit of the children. These are lessons that you are not likely to learn in the midst of protracted contested litigation because you, by the nature of the proceedings, have opposing views and positions on what is best for the children.  

Finally, she provides many great tips on how divorced parents can effectively co-parent.

  • Know that successful co-parenting involves parents working together to create security, stability and consistency between the two homes.

  • Help your children have meaningful and healthy relationships with each parent by supporting the other parent and their household. By being positive, you will promote more open communication between you, your child and your co-parent.

  • Whenever you are unsure what to do, make your children and their needs your guiding light.

  • Try not to blame the other parent. It is not helpful to anyone. It risks leaving your child feeling like they are caught in the middle and need to take sides.

  • Don’t use your children as messengers by communicating through them; if you cannot communicate directly, use a professional.

  • Don’t “parentify” your child, or make your child feel that he or she has to take care of you.

  • Save your energy and resources to focus on those areas that are of most importance to you and your child. Avoid conflict over minor concerns.

  • Remember that you cannot control the other parent, but you can control your own behavior and your response to provocations.                                               

                                               Tips by Stella Kavoukian, mediator and therapist in Toronto

More time with both parents = best for children

According to a new study recently published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, children of divorced or separated parents may benefit from spending more time with both parents rather than spending the majority of time with only one parent with infrequent visits with the other parent. 

While shared custodial arrangements are not the norm for separated or divorced parents in much of the United States in general or Maryland in particular, much of the recent research favors shared custodial arrangements. When determining what custodial access schedule is best for your children, you should consider the benefits that they are likely to experience by spending more time with both of their parents. 

Welcome to Jacobson Family Law!

Any time you are facing a complex legal issue, it’s crucial to seek out experienced and reliable counsel to guide you through the situation to an acceptable resolution as efficiently as possible. Maryland's legal system can be confusing and intimidating, with a unique set of rules and a language of its own. A family law attorney who understands the law and the process can help you evaluate your options and make the right decisions for you and your family.

At Jacobson Family Law we assist clients in Columbia, Annapolis, Towson, Baltimore, and throughout Central Maryland who are going through divorce, custody matter or dealing with other family law issues. We know how to quickly determine the next step in your case.

Attorney Cary Jacobson has nearly 10 years of experience helping clients through the divorce process and with other family legal disputes. Contact our offices or call us at 410-884-4049 for more information on how we can help you in find equitable and timely solutions to your family law issue.

This blog was established to provide valuable information to individuals who may be considering or going through a divorce. We will regularly update this blog, posting on a wide range of family law issues, including divorce, child custody, alimony, prenuptial agreements, family mediation as well as estate planning and bankruptcy.