Visitation With The Non-Custodial Parent

10 Tips To Help Your Child Enjoy Summer Visitation With The Non-Custodial Parent

By Dr. Linda Mintle for Kids & Divorce

Visitation With The Non-Custodial Parent


Summer visitation and holidays with a non-custodial parent can be a time of challenge for children of divorce. It may be unsettling for a child to vacation with a non-custodial parent. From the child’s point of view, he/she will be in strange places, with strange people, with a parent less familiar with daily habits and needs. This may create some fear and anxiety about the vacation time.

So if you are a non-custodial parent planning a vacation with your child, or you have custody and are wondering how to prepare your child to be with the non-custodial parent, here are some suggestions to make your child feel more comfortable.

10 Tips To Help Your Child Enjoy Summer Visitation With The Non-Custodial Parent

1. You and the non-custodial parent make vacation plans for your child together. As incredible as this sounds, it will be easier on your child if you both work together. Arrangements should be made in advance and agreed upon.

2. The itinerary for the trip must be shared. The custodial parent needs to know where the child will be–phone numbers and addresses. I know some non-custodial parents resist this idea but in case of an emergency, the custodial parent needs to know how to find his/her child.

3. Send copies of important medical information on the trip. The non-custodial parent needs to know how to handle a medical emergency or problem and have the pediatrician’s phone number, insurance information, and medical records.

4. Be careful not to put guilt on your child. Your child should never be made to feel guilty because he/she is going on vacation with the other parent.

5. Work out any disagreements about the vacation away from the child before the vacation. Don’t put your child in the middle of disagreements between you and your ex.

6. Plan for separation anxiety. Send a photo with your child. Include his/her favorite blanket, pillow, animal or toy. Discuss ways to communicate–email, telephone, postcards or letters.

7. Be positive about the vacation. Talk nicely about the non-custodial parent and help your child anticipate a great time.

8. Normalize fears and anxiety. Tell your child it’s normal to feel a little anxious. Hopefully, that anxiety will fade as the trip progresses.

9. Send a camera and smile at the time of pick-up. Now is not the time to bring up unresolved issues with your ex.

10. Pray. Keep the non-custodial parent and the vacation on your prayer list. Pray for protection and positive interactions between parent and child.

“Originally posted by Linda Ranson Jacobs on the Kids & Divorce blog at,  Copyright © 2013, DivorceCare for Kids. Used by permission.”

The post 10 Tips To Help Your Child Enjoy Summer Visitation With The Non-Custodial Parent appeared first on Divorced Moms.


4th of July without your children

Life, Liberty and Shared Custody: Surviving 4th of July Without Your Children

4th of July without your children


Are you in too much of a funk to give a second thought to fireworks and hotdogs? Holidays…the 4th of July, Thanksgiving and Christmas can be difficult to celebrate if you are without your children. Let’s face it; watching other children in awe of the magic of fireworks isn’t easy when your children are spending the day with their Dad. Your “funk” is understandable!

Surviving 4th of July Without Your Children

How do you get yourself out of a funk?

One thing that has always worked for me is to let go of the guilt I feel over feeling less than celebratory. There is nothing wrong with missing your children, especially if your tradition has been to spend special holidays with them.

It has been my experience that feeling bad about feeling bad only made me feel worse. It was like piling one more negative emotion to deal with on top of everything else. If you are divorced and feeling alone and funked you are experiencing normal feelings. Accept that it is fine to feel how you’re feeling…berating yourself over valid feelings doesn’t do anything except make you feel worse.

You need to also give yourself permission to enjoy the holiday regardless of what kind of adversity you have or, are experiencing. Feeling lonely and isolated doesn’t have to become a foregone conclusion. Just because you aren’t all red, white and blue is no reason to immerse yourself in maudlin activities while others are out and about enjoying their 4th of July.

Here are a few suggestions that will hopefully help alleviate some stress and help you survive the 4th of July without your children.

1. Don’t participate in any 4th of July activities you feel obligated to participate in. If you aren’t in the mood to be around nosy relatives, then make a different choice. Listening to Grandma’s complaints or having to answer your cousin’s questions about your divorce can be nerve-wracking. Be kind to your nerves and yourself!

2. Friends who supported you through your divorce, who know what you’ve been through will also get you through a lonely holiday. Spend time with people who are invested in helping you get the most out of life…who better than close friends who don’t expect too much from you.

3. If you find yourself alone, remind yourself that you have a right to a good time. I spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day alone one year. I wasn’t looking forward to it but now that I look back I realize that, although alone it was one darn good time. Whether it be the 4th of July or any post-divorce holiday alone, treat yourself to something special.

A bubble bath, a day of romantic comedies, a bit of wine and a few chocolates. Maybe even a sparkler or two! Pamper yourself on your day alone and be rested and relaxed for when the kids get home.

Stress and negative feelings during a post-divorce holiday can be difficult, but they don’t have to be debilitating. Making time to relax and do the things you enjoy is essential to keeping a balance. When facing a holiday alone, remind yourself that you have as much right to a good time as anyone else so, relax and enjoy the occasion to the best of your ability.

The post Life, Liberty and Shared Custody: Surviving 4th of July Without Your Children appeared first on Divorced Moms.


equal parenting

 6 Things Fathers Should Think About if They Want Equal Parenting

equal parenting


Before and during the divorce process each parent has the same legal right to custody of a child. Mothers and fathers are on legal standing until one or the other gives up or is denied full custody rights.

What does this mean? It is complicated! Even more complicated if you don’t know your state’s child custody laws. Bottom line, until you have signed a custody agreement or a judge has handed down a custody opinion, each parent has the same legal rights when it comes to where a child lives, who the child lives with and anything regarding the child.

I’ve found that most fathers do not have a clear understanding of their legal divorce rights where the children are involved. And in most cases will give up custody out of fear of losing in court due to a gender “bias.” Which is a myth perpetuated by men’s rights organizations. A father has as much chance of winning custody if he pursues custody as a mother.

For example, I received an email from a father who was separated from his wife. He wrote, “My wife moved out with our children, and is refusing to allow me to visit with them. I found out the other day that my youngest daughter had been hospitalized for a minor illness and I wasn’t informed. What should I do?”

It is heartbreaking to hear from a father who, for some reason has come to the belief that his wife has more legal rights over the children. This father has the legal right to pack his children up and bring them home. He has the legal right to contact school personnel, pediatricians and anyone else who may have contact with the child and let them know he is being denied his legal rights and demand to be notified of anything concerning his children.

The longer he allows his wife to make the rules about how or if he can parent his children, the more likely he is to lose an extensive amount of parenting time with his children in divorce court. In my opinion, this is the biggest mistake fathers make during the divorce process. They do not take the necessary steps needed to retain equal parenting time or full custody of their children.

According to, the majority of child custody cases are not decided by the courts.

  • In 51 percent of custody cases, both parents agreed — on their own — that mom becomes the custodial parent.
  • In 29 percent of custody cases, the decision was made without any third party involvement.
  • In 11 percent of custody cases, the decision for mom to have custody was made during mediation.
  • In 5 percent of custody cases, the issue was resolved after a custody evaluation.
  • Only 4 percent of custody cases went to trial and of that 4 percent, only 1.5 percent completed custody litigation.

What do the above statistics tell us about fathers and child custody?

For some reason, the vast majority of fathers are behaving in a way that is not in their best interest or the best interest of their children. Fathers may be giving up equal or shared custody because they’ve heard there is a gender bias, that mothers always win custody. They may give up more custody because they’ve been taught that “children need their mother.”

Here is the truth, you don’t know if there is a true gender bias in the divorce court system if you don’t go to court and fight for equal time with your children. And children need fathers just as much as they need mothers.

If you are a father who wishes to have equal parenting time with your children you are doing yourself a grave injustice if you give up without a fight.

If your attorney tells you, you don’t have a chance at equal parenting time with your children, look for another attorney. Don’t hire an attorney until you find one who tells you he will help you fight for that time you deserve as a father. And, don’t buy into the argument that the courts are biased in favor of women until you’ve proven to yourself that it is true.

6 Things Fathers Should Think About if They Want Equal Parenting Time After Divorce

  1. Do not allow your wife to dictate when, where and how often you will see your children. Document every time your ex keeps you away from your children and then use the court system to hold her accountable for interfering in your parenting time.
  2. Immediately hire an attorney or file a pro se petition with the court to establish equal parenting time with your children.
  3. Do not allow what you hear on father’s rights websites to dissuade you from attempting to gain equal parenting time or full custody. Just because one man was not able to obtain equal time or full custody of his children does not mean you won’t. You don’t go to work and do your job based on what others tell you, you are and are not capable of doing, do you? Then, don’t give up on your children based on what a few angry men say online.
  4. Do not let the financial cost associated with a child custody battle keep you from fighting. Which is more important, saving money for a child’s college education or fathering your child during their informative years and beyond?

Society still views mothers as caretakers and fathers as providers. I believe that one reason fewer men fight for equal time with their children has to do with their fear of legal fees and being left financially strapped and unable to provide for their children. When it’s all said and done, your time is the most important thing you can provide for your children. Don’t let money fears stop you from providing them with time with their father.

  1. Do not agree to less time with your child without first going through the mediation process or, if push comes to shove a full out custody battle.
  2. Do what you know, in your heart is right for you and your children. Don’t allow your head to become muddied with opinions from naysayers or those who’ve been there before you. When it comes to time with your children, you must let your heart lead what actions you choose to take.

I can’t tell a father what his chances of winning in a custody battle are. I can tell a father that if you aren’t willing to exert your legal rights your chance of winning equal or full custody with your children is zero. The questions you have to ask yourself is; how important is this issue to me? How important is it to my children?

If it is important then don’t allow fear of the myth of a “gender biased” court system keep you from pursuing your right to parent your children.

The post  6 Things Fathers Should Think About if They Want Equal Parenting appeared first on Divorced Moms.


Teenager Refuses Visitation With Their Dad

What To Do If Your Teenager Refuses Visitation With Their Dad

Teenager Refuses Visitation With Their Dad


Michael and Jennifer have been amicably divorced for six years. They have three children ages 6-14. As outlined in their final decree of divorce they split custody of the children on a 60/40 basis. The children are with Jennifer 60% of the time, with Michael, 40% of the time.

Until recently this arrangement worked well for both the parents and children. Jennifer worked weekends as a Registered Nurse and felt secure knowing her children were with their father and well cared for.

Michael traveled with his job during the week and worried less about his children knowing they were safe and sound with their mother. The children benefited from the quantity and quality of time with both parents.

Problems started when their oldest child became a teenager. Craig turned 14 and became less and less interested in spending Friday through Sunday night with his father. Craig had developed new interests; he wanted to “hang-out” with his friends on the weekends instead of his father.

Given their history and closeness, Michael was confused and hurt by Craig’s lack of desire to participate in their regular visitation schedule. Out of fear of hurting his father’s feelings, Craig didn’t want to discuss the situation with his father. This left Michael to wonder if he had done something wrong or if someone else was influencing Craig and undermining his relationship with Craig.

Needless to say, Michael became upset and started demanding that Craig visit as usual. Then Jennifer became involved and this once amicably divorced couple experienced their first post-divorce conflict.

Michael thought it was Jennifer’s fault that Craig didn’t want to visit; Jennifer felt defensive and lashed out at Michael. And Craig, he just felt helpless and responsible for all the chaos but still unable to be open and honest with either parent.

If Your TeenAger Refuses Visitation With Their Dad

When Children of Divorce Become Teens

Whether you are a divorced parent or not, here is the reality of raising children, the older they become, the less interested they are in spending time with you. That’s right, the day comes when children need to test their independence, develop their autonomy and Mom and Dad are rarely part of that process.

When your child reaches those teen years, the most you will get to do is set rules and boundaries and accept that time with you is no longer a priority for them.

What Should Michael Do?

Encourage Communication: Children want to communicate, to be understood and to understand. As parents, we have that advantage. What we have to do is make sure our children learn that they are safe in communicating with us. For some reason, Craig felt responsible for his father’s feelings. This sense of responsibility kept him from communicating what he was feeling.

Michael can encourage open communication by letting his children know they are not responsible for the way he feels and that when problems arise, solutions can’t be found unless everyone is willing to share their thoughts and feelings via communication.

Be Flexible: With a growing sense of independence, teenagers can begin to resent time-dependent visitation. Michael’s scheduled parenting time will need to turn into shared parenting time with Craig’s friends and interests. Michael needs to start planning his time with his children in a way that allows Craig to also have plans of his own away from time with his father. Willingness to do this will give them both what they need. It will give Michael time with Craig and Craig time to exert his independence and “hang” with his friends.

If you find yourself in Michael’s situation my advice is to not jump to the wrong conclusion. Many parent’s fear parental alienation, or dealing with a child who has developed anger toward them. In most situations where a child suddenly no longer desires to visit, the problem may be as simple as time with Mom and Dad is no longer being a priority for them.


The post What To Do If Your Teenager Refuses Visitation With Their Dad appeared first on Divorced Moms.


divorce mediation to punish

He Uses Divorce Mediation To Punish Me

divorce mediation to punish


My husband wanted to divorce but he had no desire to do any of the legwork to get it done. I was the personal assistant, per se. So, I took it upon myself to find a lawyer, and we drew up paperwork after some major research and I took the paperwork to my husband who read the pages for 5 days. He went to a notary and signed the papers and gave them back. I gave the paperwork to m lawyer, he filed it and we were divorced after 90 days.

In the paperwork with the divorce, it stated if anything was disputed, we would go to mediation before going to court. Mediation is defined as the intervention between conflicting parties to promote reconciliation, settlement, or compromise.

You should never us divorce mediation to punish an ex!

Mediation #1

Well, the first mediation was about a year after the divorce. My ex-husband was now angry. He hired an attorney and said he was afraid I was going to hurt our kids and myself. I looked at him and said, “Are you kidding me?”

My lawyer looked concerned. I told him the accusations were ridiculous and we ended up in 2 separate rooms to mediate the issue. The only reason my ex had made the accusations was to see what kind of reaction they would get out of me. What he actually wanted was more time with the kids.

Initially, he had agreed to 1 weekend a month, as he had requested. He had married the “other woman,” and now wanted to change the original agreement. I agreed to 2 weekends a month and though the issue had been resolved.

Apparently, we had not.

Mediation #2

When one spouse chooses not to discuss anything with the other spouse, feelings get hurt and one hand doesn’t know what the other is doing. Soon, I received another letter from his attorney saying my ex wanted another mediation. It did not say why or what for.

I had to hire another attorney and this time my ex wanted full custody and tried to claim that I was a bad mother. He had a list of reasons and none were true. My new lawyer was very interested in my composure after reading the list of lies. My new lawyer wanted to also compile a list of ways that he was a bad father. I refused. I thought no good could come from me lying about what kind of parent he is.

I knew I could come up with a list but didn’t want to waste my energy. I mean – he tried to say that I was a bad mother since my 8-year-old son sometimes sleeps in bed with me. He tried to say that I was a bad mother because I took a phone away from my teenager. I really wanted to tell him that this was parenting. I was actually more hurt that he compiled a list of things over time and plotted to hurt me via mediation instead of speaking to me about what he felt were issues in the way I parented our kids.

Needless to say, we met again in mediation and even though my lawyer was a lot of talk – we just ended up giving my ex a little more time with the kids. My child support did not change and he paid for the mediation. He did not get full custody. After the second mediation, I suggested family therapy. He agreed and we met with a family therapist who told him I was a good mother. I knew he knew that I was a good mother and his actions were nothing more than an attempt to hurt me.  He knew that I would be bothered and upset if he claimed I was a bad mom. That’s what controlling ex husbands do.

Mediation can be a positive thing if it isn’t used as a tool to punish someone. It is difficult to be attacked again and again via mediation.  However, mediation does soften the blow – even if you sit there with knots in your stomach.  The hard part is usually over quickly. And, if you’re dealing with a controlling ex, I guess unreasonable requests for mediation is something you should expet.

The post He Uses Divorce Mediation To Punish Me appeared first on Divorced Moms.


preparing for a child custody hearing

7 Things to Keep In Mind When Preparing For a Child Custody Hearing

preparing for a child custody hearing


Most often, child custody battles are fought in court because ex-couples are unable to arrive at a mutually-acceptable out-of-court agreement on parenting their kids. Parents are generally aware that the outcome of the verdict will have a tremendous impact on their child’s future.

This is exactly what makes the process scary since you don’t want an undeserving parent to win custody, while the worthy parent is unable to do anything about it.

With adequate and proper planning, however, this scenario can be avoided. All it takes is a little preparation to legally keep your children with yourself. You can begin by ridding yourself of the anger and depression from the divorce and calming down. Emotional outbursts are certain to ruin your chances of winning custody.

The cold hard fact is that custody battles are complex in nature. You cannot afford to go to court unprepared and expect a favorable verdict to fall into your lap.

Here are a few pointers to bear in mind when preparing for a child custody hearing.

Familiarize Yourself with Child Custody Laws in Your State

Child custody and child support laws vary by state, which is why it is crucial that you acquaint yourself with your state’s laws and gain a general understanding of them before the hearing. Work with a local lawyer to get a tight grip on the basics of the legalities involved so you don’t feel lost during the proceedings.

If you’re a resident of Oak Brook, Illinois, for example, it’ll help you if you’re aware that the child custody laws in this state allow parents and guardians the option of joint custody and recognize grandparent visitation rights, among other things. You can prepare yourself accordingly. For best results, work with a divorce lawyer as he/she will help you ask the right questions throughout the proceedings.

Ready the Required Documents

Before the hearing date, start collecting and organizing all the necessary documents that support your cause. Your lawyer will tell you about the documents you will need to produce in court during the child custody hearing. Some of these include visitation schedules, the child’s schedule, custody analysis, phone call logs, and legal paperwork.

Stick to the Better-Parent Standard

The judge will, typically, try to decipher who is the “better” parent for the child before deciding on awarding custody. This is what it all boils down to and is quite difficult to prove. Some of the factors at play include the parent’s availability, income, and criminal record.

These are taken into consideration so the judge can decide which parent is better than the other and hence, for the child. Work with your local lawyer to understand exactly which factors the courts in your state consider. He/she will be able to guide you on how you can present yourself as the better parent to your child.

Prepare Your Testimony

Both parents are usually required to testify at the custody hearing. Sometimes, the testimony plays the decisive role in the judicial proceeding. Focus on doing your best in this aspect. Further, you will also need to prepare for responding to cross-questioning by the other parent. This can include some intense interrogation, and you need to be ready to face this challenge if the need arises.

Identify Witnesses

You can speak to other individuals who can prove to be critical witnesses in the custody hearing. These people are members of your family, close friends, and professionals like social workers. Of course, they will need to be identified for and informed about the hearing well in advance as they will be summoned by the court for making an appearance. They will also need to prepare for it accordingly.

Know How to Make a Good Impression on the Judge

It is obvious that parents involved in a child custody case need to put their best foot forward in court, or they can lose custody. Talk to your lawyer about what proper courtroom etiquette entails, the dos and don’ts, and how you’re expected to behave. If you can, practice with your lawyer in advance to gain confidence.

In addition, focus on making a good first impression by dressing appropriately as the judge may form an opinion of you based on your appearance. It is, therefore, crucial you dress to look who you are – a responsible, sensible adult. Keep your attire ready accordingly.

Be Mentally Prepared

You and your attorney will probably discuss the ideal custody scenario. This can mean sole custody, a 50/50 custody or weekend visitation rights. To achieve this, you will need to produce sufficient arguments and evidence in your support in court. However, be mentally prepared for a less-than-ideal verdict during the custody hearing. This will help you come to terms with it in a quicker and healthier manner. It can also help you gear up for a co-parenting arrangement.


Child custody hearings can be daunting, but with sufficient preparation and help from an experienced attorney, you can significantly up your chances of winning the case. This entails doing your homework in terms of paperwork, creating a positive first impression, readying testimonies and witnesses, and making the most of the chance you get to interact with the judge by adhering to the above points. This way, the judge will be able to see that you’ve put in ample effort in your endeavor and perceive you as a proactive, responsible parent. Discuss all these aspects with your lawyer so you can give your best shot and get the verdict you deserve.

The post 7 Things to Keep In Mind When Preparing For a Child Custody Hearing appeared first on Divorced Moms.