best interest of the child

What Does a Judge Taking Into Consideration When Deciding “The Best Interest Of The Child?”

best interest of the child

 

The judge considers many factors in determining child custody during divorce. Most important is “the best interests of the child.” To determine best interests, the judge may look at the following factors:

When Deciding The “Best Interest Of The Child?”

Home Environments. This refers to the respective environments offered by you and your spouse. The court may consider factors such as the safety, stability, and nurturing found in each home.

Emotional Ties. The emotional relationship between the child and each parent may include the nature of the bond between the parent and child and the feelings shared between the child and each parent.

Age, Sex, and Health of the Child and Parents. Louisiana no longer ascribes to the “tender years” doctrine, which formerly gave a preference for custody of very young children to the mother. If one of the parents has an illness that may impair the ability to parent, it may be considered by the court. Similarly, the judge may look at special health needs of a child.

Effect on the Child of Continuing or Disrupting an Existing Relationship. This factor might be applied in your case if you stayed at home for a period of years to care for your child, and awarding custody to the other parent would disrupt your relationship with your child.

Attitude and Stability of Each Parent’s Character. The court may consider your ability and willingness to be cooperative with the other parent in deciding who should be awarded custody. The court may also consider each parent’s history, which reflects the stability of his or her character.

Moral Fitness of Each Parent, Including Sexual Conduct. The extent to which a judge assesses the morals of a parent can vary greatly from judge to judge. Sexual conduct will ordinarily not be considered unless it has harmed your child or your child was exposed to sexual conduct.

Capacity to Provide Physical Care and Satisfy Educational Needs. Here the court may examine whether you or the other parent is better able to provide for your child’s daily needs such as nutrition, health care, hygiene, social activities, and education. The court may also look to see whether you or your spouse has been attending to these needs in the past.

Preferences of the Child. The child’s preference regarding custody will be considered if the child is of sufficient age of comprehension, regardless of chronological age, and the child’s preference is based on sound reasoning. Louisiana, unlike some other states, does not allow a child to choose the parent he or she wishes to live with. Rather, the court may consider the well-reasoned preferences of a child, at any age. Typically, the older the child, the greater the weight given to the preference. However, the child’s reasoning is also important.

Health, Welfare, and Social Behavior of the Child. Every child is unique. Your child’s needs must be considered when it comes to deciding custody and parenting time. The custody of a child with special needs, for example, may be awarded to the parent who is better able to meet those needs.

The judge may also consider whether you or your spouse has fulfilled the role of primary care provider for meeting the day-to-day needs of your child.

One tool to assist you and your attorney in establishing your case as a primary care provider is a chart indicating the care you and the other parent have each provided for your child. The clearer you are about the history of parenting, the better job your attorney can do in presenting your case to the judge.

Look at the activities below to help you review the role of you and your spouse as care providers for your child.

Parental Roles Chart

Activity Mother  Father
Attended prenatal medical visits
Attended prenatal class
Took time off work after child born
Got up with child for feedings
Got up with child when sick at night
Bathed child
Put child to sleep
Potty-trained child
Prepared and fed meals to child
Helped child learn numbers, letters, colors, etc.
Helped child with practice for music, dance lessons, sports
Took time off work for child’s appointments
Stayed home from work with sick child
Took child to doctor visits
Went to pharmacy for child’s medication
Administered child’s medication
Took child to therapy
Took child to optometrist
Took child to dentist
Took child to get haircuts
Bought clothing for child
Bought school supplies for child
Transported child to school
Picked child up after school
Drove car pool for child’s school
Went to child’s school activities
Helped child with homework and projects
Attended parent-teacher conferences
Helped in child’s classroom
Chaperoned child’s school trips and activities
Transported child to daycare
Communicated with daycare providers
Transported child from daycare
Attended daycare activities
Signed child up for sports, dance, music
Bought equipment for sports, music, dance
Transported child to sports, music, dance
Attended sports, music, dance practices
Attended sports games, music, dance recitals
Coached child’s sports
Transported child from sports, music, dance
Know child’s friends and friends’ families
Took child to religious education
Participated in child’s religious education
Obtained information and training about special needs of child.
Comforted child during times of emotional upset

Domestic Violence. Domestic violence is an important factor in determining custody, as well as parenting time and protection from abuse during the transfer of your child to the other parent. If domestic violence is a concern in your case, be sure to discuss it in detail with your attorney during the initial consultation so that every measure can be taken to protect the safety of you and your children.

The post What Does a Judge Taking Into Consideration When Deciding “The Best Interest Of The Child?” appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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Going Back to School Planning Conversation with your Co-Parent

Going Back to School Planning Conversation with your Co-Parent

The goal with back to school planning is to set the year up for success so incorporate any strategies or professionals that will help you meet that goal.

The post Going Back to School Planning Conversation with your Co-Parent appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

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10 Ways to Connect With Your Stepchild

10 Ways to Connect With Your Stepchild

Different from a biological parent, a major thrust of being a stepparent is to be an adult friend to your stepchildren on some level.

The post 10 Ways to Connect With Your Stepchild appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

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child discipline after divorce

Child Discipline After Divorce: 8 Tips For Single Moms

child discipline after divorce

 

Child discipline in an intact family is a responsibility shared between Mom and Dad. Once there is a divorce the custodial parent will have to take on the majority of this responsibility. Non-custodial parents should remain as actively involved in child discipline as possible but it only makes sense that the parent spending more time with the child will end up doing most of the work where discipline is concerned.

It is a dirty job but someone has to do it! It is especially important that children who are struggling to cope with the changes in their family be given a structured environment to help them cope with the many changes that come along with divorce.

This is a guide for the custodial parent who may find themselves not only attempting to cope with the stress of being a single parent but also the impact of divorce on their child.

8 Tips for Child Discipline After Divorce

1. Idle Hands Are the Devil’s Workshop:

Busy children are less likely to get into or cause trouble. Keeping your child engaged in fun or productive activities will not only keep them out of trouble it will keep you focused on something other than your own problems.

My ex sees our children 4 days out of the month which leaves me to deal with any disciplinary problems that arose on all those other days. I found that life was easier for not only me but the children also if I stressed the importance of not only having fun but also being productive.

They both had after school activities to participate in that were outlets for creativity and an opportunity to relax and distress. They also had responsibilities they had to tend to once they were home for the evening. Their homework had to be done, dinner dishes had to be cleaned and they were required to do 45 minutes of reading. By bedtime, they were so tired from their “fun and productive day” they welcomed the idea of crawling between the sheets and settling down.

2. Focus on Positive Behaviors, Not Negative Behaviors:

You can sit my younger son in time out all day or, take away his favorite toy and he would turn around and misbehave…over and over again. The trick with him was to give him something he liked doing as a reward for not misbehaving.

Once I figured this out I spent a lot less time punishing him and more time praising him. For example, he loved feeding the fish and cleaning the fish tank. That was his job unless he misbehaved and to hold onto that “job” he works hard at behaving in a way that is pleasing to his Mom.

If you have a child who isn’t responding in a positive way to standard forms of discipline try rewarding him/her with a liked task in exchange for good behavior. As a parent, it is so much less stressful to be able to say, “job well done,” instead of, “to the corner young man.”

3. Set Clear and Age Appropriate Boundaries and Rules:

Don’t expect your children the respect boundaries or follow rules they are not old enough to understand or physically capable of following. I had a written contract with my elder son that outlined his responsibilities and the rewards for living up to those responsibilities.

My younger son had a chart with stars. He was awarded a star for good behavior and lost a star for bad behavior. And they both knew what I considered good and bad behavior. I was specific with them about the rules and the consequences of breaking the rules. And the consequences for my elder son were different than the ones for my younger son.

4. Be Consistent When Disciplining:

As a single parent, it is easy to take the path of least resistance and relax the rules a bit. Let’s face it, at times it is easier to just “do it yourself” than engage in the power struggle that can ensue when trying to get a child to act.

The idea behind setting rules and boundaries is to let them know who is in charge. The more you bend the rules, the less parental authority you have. Bend them enough and you will soon find yourself with no authority at all.

Being consistent requires a parent have self-discipline, it requires a lot of effort. In other words, being consistent will probably be the hardest part of disciplining your child. If you are able to remain consistent you will not only promote growth and maturity in your child but yourself also.

5. Be Quick and Concise When Disciplining Your Child:

My mother was notorious for threatening me if I misbehaved when away from home. She would shake her finger in my face and say, “when I get you home you will pay for that.” And there I would be, filled with anxiety for hours over what was going to happen once she “got me home.”

She didn’t want to make a scene in front of others but didn’t mind dumping hours of stress and fear onto me in order to save face. Punishment is far more effective and less damaging if it is doled out at the time of the bad behavior. Justice should be swift when dealing with children and it will be more effective if done immediately.

The trick is to have a separate set of consequences the child will suffer if bad behavior takes place away from home than those you have for home. It can be as simple as telling her child if he/she misbehaves at a Birthday party you will remove them from the party. Whatever the consequences, whether at home or away from home do it on the spot.

6. Keep Your Anger Under Control When Disciplining Your Child:

When we discipline we are attempting to send a message…certain behaviors are not acceptable and will not be tolerated. When you become angry and scream or yell the message gets lost. All your child hears or retains is the anger that is mudding up the message.

Keeping your anger under control also helps promote a respectful and loving relationship with your child. You will also be setting an example for your child on how to deal with a negative situation without going off the rails emotionally.

7. Allow Children to Help Set House Rules and Boundaries:

This is especially helpful when disciplining teenagers. An older child will feel more motivated to follow rules and respect boundaries they have helped set. Teens are on the brink of adulthood, they are living on the fence so to speak. It is a very frustrating time of wanting control but having none.

Giving your teen the opportunity to negotiate such things as curfew and what happens if they break curfew will give them a sense of control. I found, as my boys aged the more power they felt they had, the less likely they were to take advantage of that power.

8. Work Constructively With Your Co-Parent When Disciplining Your Child:

Your job as a single parent will be easier if you work with the non-custodial parent when setting up rules and boundaries for your child. These can be a challenging part of co-parenting but for the sake of your children, it is helpful for both parents to be on the same page when it comes to crimes and how those crimes are punished.

As parents, we want to teach our children certain morals and values. If divorced parents do not work together they fall short of teaching their children anything other than to engage in conflict and power struggles.

The rules at one house don’t have to be the same for the other house but parents should be in agreement about the need for setting and enforcing rules and boundaries. Doing so is best for all concerned.

The post Child Discipline After Divorce: 8 Tips For Single Moms appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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Assessing Your Ability to Co-Parent after Divorce

Assessing Your Ability to Co-Parent after Divorce

What matters most for your children is the absence of conflict during co-parenting. Find your “sweet spot” on the co-parenting continuum.

The post Assessing Your Ability to Co-Parent after Divorce appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

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back to school

5 Tips For Taking Back To School Hassles Out Of Co-Parenting

back to school

 

With school events, sports, and fall activities starting up soon, handling the communication about your children is a hassle when both parents live under the same roof. If you’re a divorced parent, it’s even more difficult.

However, keeping the lines of communication with your ex effective and positive while supporting your child is important, so parents need to make the extra effort to stay organized. How do you handle the communication when the stress of all the fall activities start back up?

How To Take Back To School Hassles Out of Co-Parenting

1: Keep the school and teachers informed

Let teachers and school personnel know how to contact all the parents of your child. Explain how all the parents are involved and want to support their child’s education. Request that you will need two copies of letters, brochures, etc. Send the teacher an email with all pertinent emails and contact information so she can easily contact everyone.

2: Have ONE folder for both homes

In our family, each child has a folder that comes home with their school papers and each night the parent they are staying with reads the papers, completes the assignment, initials it, and leaves it in the folder for the other parent to see. When both parents have seen it, it is trashed or sent back to school, if needed. We inform the teacher of our system so she’s aware to leave the papers in the folder an extra day or so. If it is an urgent matter, we will take a picture using our phone and text it to the other parent to see.

3: Use the same visual reminders in both households

If you have a chore chart, it is easiest if you have the same one in both households so that the children know that the expectations are the same. Another trick that I use to help remind us of the school specials schedule is I make magnets for both homes with the specials listed for each day so that there is no confusion when they need to wear their sneakers or bring their library books to school. Use Pinterest to find little tricks to make organization quick and easy.

4: Use Technology

Find apps that make communication between divorced moms and dads easy. One app we use is FamilyWall. It allows us to share a calendar, pictures, and reminders for upcoming events.  We also all share a Google calendar as well. Our family uses FaceTime and MarcoPolo to chat with each other when the kids are at the other parent’s home. Most schools have an online grading system and online newsletters that all parents that register can review. Another app to track schedules is 2houses.

5 Track and Share Expenses

Back to school supplies can be very expensive so keep receipts or split the cost between the parents. I buy my oldest daughter’s supplies while my ex-husband purchases our son’s items. We also split birthday party gifts when our children attend birthday parties. One month I buy the gift and the next month, he buys one. We agree to a set limit and purchase a gift at that amount. Some people prefer to track expenses and split the costs monthly. The app, 2houses, offers a way to track and manage expenses, in addition to tracking your schedules.

When both divorced parents have open and positive communication focused on the success of our children, it demonstrates that we support our children’s well-being. This is especially important during transitions. With kids going back to school shortly, it’s time to get organized- especially if you’re divorced or separated. If you’re struggling, find the support you need from a life coach or therapist to learn to positively communicate with your ex to make this transition as smoothly as possible.

The post 5 Tips For Taking Back To School Hassles Out Of Co-Parenting appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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The Positive Ripple Effects of a Successful Divorce Mediation

The Positive Ripple Effects of a Successful Divorce Mediation

There are many positive ripple effects that can result after the couple reaches an agreement in mediation. These positive ripple effects can benefit the couple and their children for years to come.

The post The Positive Ripple Effects of a Successful Divorce Mediation appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

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children

How To Deal With Children’s Difficult Questions About Divorce

children's difficult questions about divorce

 

“Can you and daddy get married again?”

“Why can’t I stay with you”?

“Do you and mommy still love each other?”

“Whose decision was it to get a divorce?”

 

Children in divorce often have questions; they can come at the least expected moment.

For parents struggling to adjust to the challenges of single parenting in a two-home family, such questions can strike at the heart of their own emotional vulnerabilities and trigger uncertainties regarding their relationship with the other parent, their own parenting, and the wellbeing of their children.

However, such questions, if responded to thoughtfully, can be valuable opportunities to help children adjust to real changes and instill hope and confidence in both parent’s continued commitment to listen, guide, and give comfort.

Deal With Children’s Difficult Questions About Divorce

Be prepared before questions arise. Understand that:

  • Children often ask questions when and with whom they feel safe and consider it as a sign of the strength of your relationship with your child.
  • Children’s questions can be about needing actual information, but they can also be about a need for deeper understanding or simply a bid for a parent’s reassurance.
  • Younger children often ask questions that have to do with changes and anxieties about their daily lives. They often need simple, brief responses that reassure their fears regarding the change.
  • Older children may ask direct questions about their parent’s relationships but are actually seeking reassurance for themselves. They may need reassurance that they can continue being children and do not have to care for parents, take sides and can continue their focus on independent goals.
  • Older children may also ask questions about their parent’s relationships in order to form their own concepts and expectations of their future romantic relationships and their concepts of love and family.
  • Don’t confuse intellectual understanding with emotional understanding in children. Intellectual maturity comes well before emotional maturity. Don’t give children inappropriate adult information.

When questions arise:

 Center:

Take a deep breath and calm yourself before responding.

  • Resist the attempt to avoid the question due to fear or sadness regarding your child’s pain- Children are not immune from grief and sadness.
  • Recognize your emotional reaction regarding the divorce, yet put it aside- you can process any feelings later with your own support.

 Listen:

  • For younger children get on eye level and pay full attention
  • For older children give signals that you are listening but know that a little less direct approach or a little activity may make older children them more comfortable- you be the judge.
  • Ask open-ended, neutral questions to get a fuller understanding of their experience before offering a response:

“You sound worried/sad/mad is that right or is it something else?”

“That’s an important question, tell me more”

Understand:

Ask yourself what they are really expressing/wanting/needing.

  • Are they primarily expressing emotion-do they need comfort/reassurance?
  • Are they asking for basic information that they have a need to know?
  • Are they asking information to gain a deeper understanding?

Respond with care and follow with comfort:

  • If the message is an emotional bid for comfort/reassurance, answer the question with a brief, direct response:

No I will not leave, both daddy and I will always for you even if we live in different houses”

  • If they are asking for information that is helpful and not hurtful to them or their relationship with either parent, give an honest, simple and neutral (not blaming to either parent) answer:

“No mom and I are not going to get married again, but we both love you and will always be here to take care of you- we will always be your parents”

  • If they are seeking a deeper understanding and the answer is not harmful, first help clarify their deeper question and give honest, brief and neutral information:

“I think you’re asking if you were made from love- you were. Even if dad and I care for each other differently than when we were married- our love for you will never change”

  • If the answer to their question is possibly harmful or “adult business”, reassure them that it’s okay to ask but that their job is to be a kid- not be involved in adult issues:

“It sounds like you are asking if anyone is to blame. I know you want to understand, but marriage and divorce is adult stuff and we are okay.  Know that we love you and you don’t need to worry or take care of either of us”

  • If the question is “adult business” but for the older child, really about their own future, first clarify the question and provide an answer to that rather than giving inappropriate adult information:

“I wonder if you are really asking if because we got a divorce that you question if love lasts. Every relationship is different and you will get the chance to make your own choices about love and who you marry”.

Children’s ability to navigate the shifts of daily life and make sense out of the bigger questions are essential parts of healing in divorce.  With each question, children begin to build a framework of understanding and learn what divorce changes and what it does not change.

They develop a more flexible, durable, concept of family and love. Children’s questions can be hard, but listening and responding with care and gentle guidance is one of the most loving acts a parent can provide.

The post How To Deal With Children’s Difficult Questions About Divorce appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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My Story of Divorce: Aftermath of Divorce and Co-Parenting (Part 3)

My Story of Divorce: Aftermath of Divorce and Co-Parenting (Part 3)

When the aftermath of destruction is better than the ideal. Sometimes, people parent better apart, than they do when together. This is my story.

The post My Story of Divorce: Aftermath of Divorce and Co-Parenting (Part 3) appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

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My Story of Divorce: Leaving the Cage (Part 1) 

My Story of Divorce: Leaving the Cage (Part 1) 

Deciding to divorce was not only the best thing for my emotional well-being; it was also the best example I could set for our daughter.

The post My Story of Divorce: Leaving the Cage (Part 1)  appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

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