Standard Possession Orders for Texas family law cases

Standard Possession Orders for Texas family law cases

Originally published by The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC Blog.

In the event that you are served with papers ordering you to appear in court for a case related to your child, you probably would have some questions that you would like answered. To begin with, why do you have to go to court in the first place? If you are paying some amount of child support to your child’s mother and see your child with the regularity you may want to just continue doing what you’ve been doing and not have to worry about going to court.

Although taking off work and going to court may be a hassle (and it is), the end result of your going will be a good thing for you, your child and the child’s mom. A court date to establish orders in relation to you and your child will result with you being awarded visitation time as well as rights and duties that pertain to raising your child. It is only then that you formally have rights and duties to that child if you are not married to the child’s mom and have not previously acknowledged paternity.

Step one of the process, if you are not yet the legal father of the child, is to be named as the child’s legal parent. With that comes the ability for you to step in and participate in a negotiation regarding custody, visitation, possession, and access. Unless circumstances require a different conclusion, you and your child’s mother will be named as joint managing conservators of your child. This allows you to share in the rights and duties associated with raising your son or daughter.

What sort of visitation will you be ordered in a Texas family law cases?

The presumption is that you will be ordered visitation that is included within a Standard Possession Order. This order allows you to be able to spend time with your child on a fairly substantial basis throughout the year.

If you live within 100 miles of your child you will have visitation with him or her on the first, third and fifth weekends of each month. You will also have a visitation period each Thursday during the week where you can take your child to dinner and then take him or her back to their other parent’s home. Holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas will alternate year by year. For example, if you get Thanksgiving this year, your child’s other parent will have Thanksgiving next year. Finally, you are entitled to an extended period of possession during the summertime that lasts for 30 days.

If you do not live within 100 miles of your child, then your periods of possession will look slightly different. For instance, your weekend schedule may be the first, third and fifth weekends of each month, or it may be reduced to as little as one weekend per month. It will all depend on the distance put between you and your child, the frequency with which you can travel and other factors relevant to your case.

Because of the distance between you and your child, there is no mid-week visit on Thursdays when you live more than 100 miles apart. The alternating of holidays would still occur, and you would be provided with an even longer period of extended summer possession. Instead of 30 days of possession, you would have 42.

Changes to the Standard Possession Order may occur based on specific circumstances

If your child under the age of three then it is likely that that the visitation provisions that we just went over will need to be altered slightly to take into consideration your family’s dynamics. For instance, because your infant relies on their mother for food in many cases, he or she must literally be within arm’s reach at nearly all time. As a result, visitation overnights may not be possible for a few years until your child is older. Of course, if your child is comfortable with visiting overnights with you and he or she is bottle fed these limitations may not apply to your case.

What is in your child’s best interests?

Everything that we have discussed today and everything that a court would consider in your family law case are based on what is in that child’s best interests. This is a difficult question to answer because there are a lot of factors that exist for your child and your family that may not exist for other kids and their families. As a result, judges have a tough assignment to make interpretations of your individual circumstances.

However, the Texas Family Code does contain helpful information that can guide your judge in making a determination as to what is in the best interests of your child. What your child wants to see happen is important to a judge, especially if your child is over the age of 12. A motion can be filed with the judge to have him or she confer with your child in their office to determine what your child’s preferences are.

Before I go any further, I want to note that what your teenage child wants is not the be all, end all of your case. Many parents tell me at the beginning of their child custody case that theirs will be a quick and easy case because they know that their child wants to live with him or her. In their mind, all we have to do is file a motion to have the judge talk to their child and the case will quickly be over with. This is not how things actually work, however.

In the real world of family law cases, a judge can speak to your child if a motion is filed. If your child is over the age of 12 the judge must honor that request and speak to your child about their living preference. Any child under the age of 12 may also speak to the judge but in that situation, the judge will get to decide whether or not to speak to a child so young about this subject. All of the other issues that we are going to discuss right now are just as important if not more important as your child’s preference.

The emotional, physical and mental needs of your child now and in the future will be considered by the judge as well. The safety of your child is also important and so if any physical or emotional dangers exist in your home or that of your child’s other parent it is likely that primary conservatorship would be given to the parent whose home life is more conducive to raising a child in a safe environment.

On a practical level, the parenting abilities of you and your child’s other parents will be assessed. You may be the most competent dad in the world, but if you have never really made any time to see your child other than in the weeks prior to your child custody case, it is likely that your parenting abilities would rate rather low with the judge. The reason for this is simple: you have never taken the time to attempt to parent your child.

What are your plans and goals for your child?

A parent with a roadmap of where he or she wants their child to go and how he or she is going to help their child attain those goals is a desirable quality for a parent to possess in the eyes of a judge. Part of those goals is being able to provide your child with a stable home life that allows him or her to reach their potential. If you are moving every six months because you cannot pay your rent, or have significant others causing problems for your children then you will have trouble arguing that your home life provides the best possible environment for raising your kids.

What happens with child support if you do not attend your court hearing?

If you do not attend your court hearing when child support is being determined, you run the risk of having a child support award determined for you. If that doesn’t seem fair, read this: a court may order you to pay child support based off of minimum wages being earned 40 hours a week. That could be what a court determines even if you do not work. That is a tough thing to digest, so if you have the information you want to share with the judge regarding either of these subjects you need to make sure you appear for every hearing that occurs.

What happens if your child comes to live with you? Do you still need to pay child support?

In some situations, your child’s other parent will need you to take care of your child for an extended period of time for any various reason. Maybe he or she has to go care for an ill relative. Maybe he or she has to spend some time in jail. There are a number of reasons why your child’s other parent could approach you regarding the full-time care of your child. If this happens to you, it is reasonable to wonder whether or not you have to pay child support even if you have become the full-time caretaker for your child.

Even if you start to care for your child on a full-time basis and he comes to live with you primarily, you are still responsible for paying child support under your court order. As such, I could not recommend that you stop paying child support. Your child support orders can be modified (changed) and so this responsibility will not be ongoing if modification is requested and granted by your court. However, until that happens you need to pay child support on time and in full.

Can you pay more or less child support than what is laid out in the Texas Family Code?

The Texas Family Code contains the guideline amounts of support that people are expected to pay towards the upbringing of their children. However, it is may happen that your child either needs to receive a higher than guidelines level of support or an amount of money that is below the child support guidelines.

You can ask a judge to order you to be able to pay a non-guidelines level of support for any reason that you would like. It must be shown that the modified amount of child support is in the best interests of your child. The age of your child, their specific needs, their health and the split in custody between yourself and your child’s other parent are the other main factors that I believe a court will look to when assessing a child support amount for you to pay.

Keep in mind that you and your child’s other parent can agree to change the amount of child support that is paid- either upward or downward. If you all can negotiate and agree on a new amount, all you have to do is draft a new set of final orders that reflect that change. A judge can review those new orders and sign off on it as long as it is determined that the change in child support is in the best interests of your child.

More on child support to be posted in tomorrow’s blog

If you have ever wondered when the responsibility to pay child support ends or if you also have to pay for your child’s health insurance as well as child support, please head on back to our blog tomorrow. We will cover this information and more with you all.

In the meantime, if you have any questions about the material that we covered today please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. We offer free of charge consultations six days a week with one of our licensed family law attorneys. These consultations are a great opportunity to ask questions and receive feedback about your particular circumstances.

Curated by Texas Bar Today. Follow us on Twitter @texasbartoday.



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The Real Story Behind “Marriage Story”

The Real Story Behind “Marriage Story”

Rich or poor, the currency is communication. The challenge is to hire a divorce professional (or team) to help get you to the finish line with preserving dignity, civility – -and, most importantly, if there are children, the priceless co-parenting relationship.

The post The Real Story Behind “Marriage Story” appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

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Divorce Tip Tuesday: The Emotional Harm a Narcissistic Parent Can Cause Their Children During Divorce

Divorce Tip Tuesday: The Emotional Harm a Narcissistic Parent Can Cause Their Children During Divorce

Emotional Harm a Narcissistic Parent Can Cause

Narcissistic parents harm their children whether there is a divorce or not. Add divorce to the mix and the narcissist become vindictive, suffers a narcissistic injury and goes full-force vindictive.
It’s almost as if they are hell-bent on making their ex and children pay for the suffering they are experiencing do to the narcissistic injury.

With a lack of insight into their behavior the narcissist is either unable to see the damage they do, or, due to their lack of empathy doesn’t care about the damage they do. If you’re the other parent, I’m sharing insights into their behavior plus personal experiences from my son’s relationship with their narcissistic father.

8 Ways the Narcissistic Parent Can Cause Harm

1. Your Child Won’t Be Heard or Validated

As I’ve said in the video, the narcissist doesn’t consider consequences before acting and if he doesn’t something that hurts your child, he doesn’t consider your child’s voice or opinion. He doesn’t care or take into consideration how his actions impact his children. Only he deserves validation, everyone else will be immediately shut down by him.

2. Your Child Will Learn That Being Real Isn’t Safe

The narcissistic parent defines what is and isn’t real. If your daughter is uncomfortable meeting his new girlfriend, he will dismiss her discomfort and something she is making up because of what she has heard from her Mom. If your son writes an email that is grammatically correct with no spelling errors he will accuse the son of letting Mom write the email. The narcissistic parent deflects what is real to your child onto what is real to him.

3. The Narcissist Will Share Too Much With Your Child

No information is sacred to the narcissistic parent. No child’s emotional state is of importance to the narcissistic parent. If it’s information that can make you look back, it will be shared with their child and the child will be told it’s a secret. “Don’t tell Mom.” This puts the child in the precarious position of having to carry around harmful information and no one to soothe their emotional upheaval.

4. Your Child Won’t Be Emotionally Nourished.

Asking for or expecting emotional nourishment from a narcissist is like asking a 2-year-old to carry on a conversation about quantum physics. They don’t have the emotional IQ to offer other’s emotional nourishment. And, if it is offered, it’s only because the narcissist is in a situation of trying to look good in front of others.

5. Your Child Is Expected To Be There For The Narcissistic Parent

The narcissistic parent won’t be there for the child. My ex goes 6 and 7 years at a time without contacting or seeing his sons. Why? Because he thinks it is their place to contact him. It is their place to be there for him, not the other way around. It’s sick!

6. Your Child’s Needs Won’t Be Met

The narcissistic parent cares about no one’s needs but their own. They will plow right over their own children if it means getting their needs met. They, at no time, put any thought or effort into meeting their children’s needs. This can lead to feelings of worthlessness in your child and it’s imperative that you take up the slack when it comes to meeting their needs.

7. The Narcissistic Parent Will Shame and Humiliate Their Child

If it will make the narcissist feel better about themselves they have no qualms about shaming and humiliating their child in front of others. They will compare your child to others, disparaging the way your child dresses or even looks. This can lead to low self-esteem in your child and I, personally have no problem with you telling your child that their father is sick and twisted and unable to behave like an adult.

8. Your Child May Suffer Mental Health Issues

There is a high probability that exposure to the narcissistic parent will cause PTSD symptoms, depression, anxiety and other mental health issues in your child. My youngest was diagnosed with Bi-Polar disorder at 17-years-old. After my ex had a session with the psychiatrist, the psychiatrist told me this, “That fucking narcissist has nearly destroyed his son’s life.”

Please, at the first sign of distress, get your child into therapy.

Parenting The Child With a Narcissistic Parent

Empathetic Parenting

The narcissistic parent, parents without empathy. They have no ability to feel empathy so it only makes sense they would parent without it. You have to do the opposite and parent with empathy and love.

To maintain a close bond with your children, it is essential for you to focus on being lovingly responsive in your interactions with them. You want to relate well with them, sense what they are feeling, help them put their thoughts and feelings into words, and anticipate their reactions as well as their needs.

Validate Their Feelings

Validating a child means letting them share their thoughts and feelings without judging, criticizing, ridiculing or abandoning them. You let your child feel heard and understood. You convey that you love and accept them no matter what they’re feeling or thinking.

Coach Your Child Through Negative Emotions

Emotion coaching is the practice of talking with children about their feelings and offering kids concrete strategies for coping with emotionally difficult situations.

Get Them Into Therapy

In the video, I advise parents to get their children in therapy at the first sign of distress. If you’re 100 percent sure your are dealing with a narcissistic ex, you may not want to wait until you see signs of distress.

If you can do the 4 things above you have a very good chance of countering the harm the narcissistic parent will do. You have the opportunity to counterbalance and fill up the gaping holes the narcissistic parent will leave in your child’s heart.

The post Divorce Tip Tuesday: The Emotional Harm a Narcissistic Parent Can Cause Their Children During Divorce appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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When Narcissists Are Hurting The People You Love … How Do You Help Them?

When Narcissists Are Hurting The People You Love … How Do You Help Them?

It is can be disturbing and devastating to watch a loved one struggling with a narcissist.
 
You may have a child whose partner is a narcissist and you feel isolated and powerless to help them.
 
Or you may have a parent, sibling or friend who is experiencing narcissistic abuse and you don’t know what to do.
 
There is a way to help them, other than lecturing and trying to get them to wake up. In this episode, I’m going to explain to you exactly how to do this.

 

 

Video Transcript

So many of you have often asked me, how can I help my child who is now isolated and controlled by the narcissistic spouse?

Or maybe your sister, brother or dear friend is hopelessly enmeshed with a narcissist abusing them at work, in a love relationship or even in a friendship.

You may be beyond concerned that the person you care about isn’t waking up to this and seems to be slipping further and further away from you.

Maybe you have grandchildren that you don’t see anymore because of a narcissistic in-law.

How can you help the person you love who is deeply in the clutches of narcissistic abuse?

In today’s TTV episode I explain to you the only way I know that works and does work to help your loved ones recover from this.

But before we get started on this episode, I’d like to thank each and every one of you who have subscribed to my channel and supported the Thriver Mission. If you haven’t yet done so please do, and also give this episode a thumbs up if it resonates with you.

Okay, so now on to this very important information.

 

The Deeper and Necessary Understanding of Quantum Law

There is nothing more heartbreaking than seeing the people whom we love suffer. There is nothing more frustrating and unjust than seeing them ripped away from us by a pathological narcissist.

What is doubly frustrating is the more we try to talk sense to the person we love, the more they can pull away from us and even side with the narcissist.

You may be agonising over why this is happening, but what I always like to do is to just get down to the pure truth of things – which is this:

Whichever way we are powerfully emotionally vibrating about anything (including somebody we care about), is exactly the experience that we will have in our personal experience.

Let me put it to you simply. If you feel that someone in your life is being emotionally smashed, abused and isolated from you, then that is the experience you will continue to Quantumly generate in your life.

This is especially true if you see this person as broken and powerless.

Now, before you think that I am blaming you for the experience that they are having, please hear me out. I am not blaming you in any shape or form, I am just explaining how energetic law and true manifesting takes place.

It is a human and beautiful part of our nature to deeply care for, be concerned about and have compassion for those whom we love. Yet, when you understand Quantum Law, you will realise that this is not necessarily helping those you love get better and get away from toxic circumstances.

Rather, it contributes to them being deeply stuck.

To truly help those you love requires a deeper understanding of Quantum Law, which I am beyond inspired to share with you.  In order to be able to help, you need to know the actual steps to Quantumly – which means for real – help the person who is not, at this point, helping themselves.

So, let’s dive in and get started.

 

Step Number One: Acceptance

The greatest barrier to us trying to change our life experience, including the experience of others we care about, is resistance to what is happening in the present moment.

Of course, from the human perspective, we judge what is happening to them as ‘wrong’. Yet, by doing so, we are not understanding the grand design deeper truth of their soul’s evolution and journey.

I personally believe 100% that there is a reason for ‘all of it’, meaning that anyone’s personal evolution is about calling forth and participating in the experiences that are going to make their unconscious programs conscious, and lead them inwards to healing and resolving what is necessary in order to generate a different life experience.

That is exactly what happened to us regarding our own narcissistic abuse which then led us to entering and activating our Thriver Recovery.

When you can take the evolutionary high road of understanding that what your loved one is going through is a necessary transaction for their own personal awakening and evolution, then your deepest wish is not so much for that experience to be removed or brought to an end, but for their soul to awaken and become empowered, self-loving and self-defining within the experience.

And, when you truly love another, then you will bless the experience and not make it so personally about yourself.

How often have we wanted to try to force somebody to change in order for us to feel better?

Usually, if we are honest with ourselves, this is the case. It is understandable and even intensely loving towards others, yet it defies getting a positive result from Quantum Law, as much as trying to defy a natural law such as gravity would be.

It is impossible to generate a change in your life experience by trying to change something outside of you, including somebody you love, in order for you to feel better.

What is much more likely to happen as per Quantum Law – so within, so without – is that this person you are trying to rescue from their situation will supply you more evidence of the inner emotional experience that you are already having. Namely, them not being well.

There is only one way to change your experience of anything or anyone, and that is to find the way to feel better about ‘what is’ so as to create the base foundation to go emotionally inward to then create a different experience that will spill out and have an influence on the outer experience.

This starts with acceptance.

A powerful mantra that you can say often in regard to this person who is being abused by a narcissist is, ‘I bless and accept your experience as sacred. No matter what it looks like, I know that it is offering you the highest possible evolutionary path that your soul yearns for.’

 

Step Number Two: Shifting Your Emotional Response

You have to know that trying to go in and change things, whilst you feel devastated for this person, is not going to work.

If anything, you run the risk of pushing them further away from you and more into the arms of the abuser.

There is a better way to deal with this, and the great thing is that it is activated by working on the only person that you do have the power to change – yourself. And, you can be totally available for this mission.

This is how it works …

By fully understanding and accepting that the way that you create change for yourself and others you care about, is by changing yourself. This doesn’t mean changing the way that you interact with them, even though this is a natural by-product of this … rather it means completely changing your inner emotional composition about this person and what they are going through.

Let me explain to you what I mean with this example.

A NARP member called Gail was devastated that her daughter who was married to a narcissist, was becoming more and more isolated from her and the rest of the family.

To add insult to injury, Gail’s daughter had three children under the age of ten whom Gail adored. Her ability to visit her grandchildren was getting reduced, as she continually received opposition and excuses. Gail knew that her daughter was being twisted and turned against her and her husband by her daughter’s husband.

Gail wrote into me asking me what she could do. I related to her the only solution I have ever known to work. I invited Gail to join NARP and start using the healings to target the traumas in her body regarding what her daughter was going through and how it was impacting Gail.

Gail put in the hard work with NARP and kept moving these terrible traumas in her body and shifting them out, until peace replaced the previous fear and anxiety.

Gail reached the place which we all do, on any topic in our life, when we work with the Quanta Freedom Healing processes of NARP; where the trauma was released, truth entered.

Gail realised that her daughter was going through a soul growth lesson with this man, and she also realised that everybody involved including the children, herself and the family were also going through their own personal evolution as a result of this.

Gail knew that her true power to assist in this solution was to accept that everything was in perfect and divine order, and then to powerfully contribute by shifting herself to ‘feel’ and ‘know’ that her daughter had an infinitely wise Inner Being who could also wake up to the truth.

The more Gail did this work, the more she was able to let go and allow, and keep working on herself to hold her daughter in this emotional vibration.

What happened next is what happens next in virtually every circumstance – Gail’s daughter approached her only a few weeks later. She asked her mother for help to take herself and the children in because she was divorcing her husband.

The spell had been broken.

Gail’s daughter also started working with NARP so as to detox the narcissistic husband out of her system, parent and create healthy powerful boundaries.  By doing this, he lost the advantage of her previous fear to abuse her with. She also set up powerful parallel parenting plans.

I know 100%, because I’ve seen it happen so many times in other people’s lives as well as in my life with my own son Zac, that if Gail had stayed in the same emotional devastation that she was previously in, none of this would have happened.

If you want your life to change regarding the people you love, then you need to become the change that you seek, from the inside out.

 

Step Number Three: Replace Blame and Resentment With Love

One of the most vital transitions you need to go through to help the people whom you love is to stop blaming and shaming them. It’s very common and of course understandable, to be angry and upset with this person you love for turning their back on you or siding with the narcissist against you.

Many people get confused regarding boundaries versus resentment. To help somebody awaken and re-enter your life, and their own life healthily, you must engage the power of love. Which means seeing and holding them in love without any personal hurt of your own being involved.

You may have to work really hard at this with NARP in order to shift out all vestiges of blame, resentment and hurt.

Remember, love heals, resentment hinders.

This does not mean drop your boundaries. If the person whom you love is infiltrating and damaging your boundaries, then enforce them, lovingly and directly and honestly.

That is what real love does. You are not loving another honestly by forfeiting your boundaries and hurting yourself to try to make them happy or love you. That’s a false love economy.

Let me share with you the following example.

Don is another NARP member who was doing the inner work regarding his son being in business with a very toxic narcissist determined to keep him away from Don and the family.

Yet, his son would come to Don to borrow money because of his business losses. The interactions went like this, every few months or so Don’s son made contact, but it was only about money. At all other times, he refused to be in contact with the family.

Before working with NARP, Don used to grant money to his son to try to stay in contact, yet after working with NARP and losing his trauma about what was happening with his son, Don started saying ‘No’.

Predictably all contact stopped and was unanswered when Don and his wife would reach out.

However, Don kept working with NARP as instructed to release all his guilt and obligation and trauma and just kept bringing in the highest possibility of resolution, which was his son awakening into his own infinite inner wisdom, thus evolving beyond the abuse.

It’s what happened – Don’s son left his business partner, returned to the family fold and started taking legal action against the narcissist.

 

Having to Work With This Differently

Until you understand Quantum Law, you may think that what I am talking about is some new-age fluffy theory.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Our own awakening is to realise how intrinsically and powerfully our own emotional energy is connected to the entire field; especially to those we are bonded to through love.

I know that so many of you in the community are reporting to me that you are really ‘getting it’. There is such a big difference between receiving information and fully embodying it as truth. The latter is what grants you power.

If you are really getting this, I want you to pause this video and write below ‘the cells of my body really get this!’

Until now you may not have realised that through your care and concern you have actually been adding to the situation rather than resolving it. This is why you need to learn to go about this in a different way, and I know that you will be stunned and shocked (beautifully) when you start working at this from the inside out.

In the only way that can truly work – Quantumly.

I can’t recommend enough becoming a NARP member to help those who you love. The wonderful by-product is that, not only will you discover how much you can genuinely assist them, you will also discover your own unlimited expansion, resolutions and breakthroughs that previously only seemed to be a life dream.

To become a NARP member click this link.

And, if you enjoyed this video, and would like to be notified each time a new episode is released, then make sure that you subscribe to receive all of my updates.

Also, please share this episode with those you know who are agonising over what is happening to the people they love.

As always, I look forward to answering your comments and questions below.

 

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Divorce Tip Tuesday: 5 Tips For Co-Parenting With a Narcissist

Divorce Tip Tuesday: 5 Tips For Co-Parenting With a Narcissist

5 Tips for Co-Parenting With a Narcissist

The word “narcissist” gets a lot of use these days. It seems everyone with an irrational ex is divorced from a narcissist. That’s doubtful! So, why did I title this guide, “Co-Parenting with a Narcissist? Because, whether your ex is a narcissist or nothing more than a common, garden variety jerk if he is giving you a hard time co-parenting and causing your children emotional harm, this video is for you.

Co-Parenting With a Narcissist Tips:

1. Don’t Allow Him to push your buttons

That is his number one goal! Don’t allow him to succeed. He wants to cause you to respond to him with anger. He wants you to appear as angry and irrational as he is. If you do, you give him ammunition to use against you in court, with his family and his friends.

He was married to you long enough to know your vulnerabilities and which buttons to push. He is adept at getting you worked up and he knows it. If you allow yourself to overreact to his nonsense you’re giving him exactly what he wants and the last thing you want is to give him any satisfaction. Keep that in mind when you’re trying to cool yourself down and ignore him.

2. Use Reverse Pronouns

Narcissists project, nearly every statement they make is a projection of something they fear. Example: If he says, “You’re a terrible mother who is going to ruin her children’s lives.” What he really means is, “I’m a terrible parent who is going to ruin his children’s lives. If you reverse those pronouns and understand the degree of his projection it will free you up from feeling like you need to defend yourself or concern yourself with what he thinks.

3. Lower your Expectations of Him

He is never going to be a good co-parent, stop hoping he will. What you have now, is what you’re stuck with. There is nothing you can do that will cause him to magically one day become the perfect co-parent so don’t waste your time and energy on hoping he will change.

4. Set Communication Boundaries

Communicate via email only. If you’re able to use a communication software like Our Family Wizard to keep track of and document all email communications with him.

No texting, phone calls or in-person communication about child-related issues. If all child-related issues are discussed via email and a legal issue comes up, you have documented proof to use in court.

5. Grey Rock Him 

What does this mean? NO personal interaction, NONE. If you’re around him, do not acknowledge him. Do not attend school functions together. If you both happen to be in the same place at the same time, ignore him.

Have minimal communication and only via email. Respond to his emails with 2 or 3 words. If he emails and says, “I’m sick and can’t take the children this weekend.” Respond back and simply say, “Understand.”

He no longer exists to you other than some being in the clouds that you converse with as little as possible.

Last but Not Least

Be a good Mom to both your children and him! He is, after all, nothing more than an emotionally stunted child.

The post Divorce Tip Tuesday: 5 Tips For Co-Parenting With a Narcissist appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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Don’t Make Divorce Co-Parenting Your New Year’s Resolution

Don’t Make Divorce Co-Parenting Your New Year’s Resolution

Wait, what? Isn’t January 1st the time to make those grand plans to improve our life? Too often, people make New Year’s resolutions that are too broad and too overwhelming to succeed. This can be especially true with something as inherently complicated as divorce co-parenting.

The post Don’t Make Divorce Co-Parenting Your New Year’s Resolution appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

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insights from a veteran single mom

15 Insights From a Veteran Single Mom

insights from a veteran single mom

 

There are many great articles on what to do when you are suddenly faced with a divorce. But there are not a lot about what to know at the other end of your journey. In July 1999 I suddenly found myself a single mother 4 weeks after my second child was born. Seems my husband had other plans with his girlfriend which did not include me, my 4-week-old daughter or my 4-year-old son.

Let’s see…we were in the middle of remodeling our home and I just had a baby. All the above were left for me to complete. So many friends asked if I wanted to go out and get a glass of wine. You know… to unwind and relax.

My response? I can’t afford to start drinking now; I will never stop.

Then I went to a counselor who told me I wasn’t sleeping enough and that I should take sleeping pills to help me. Ummm… did she miss the 4-week-old baby part? I guess I could set her bottle in the bassinette and hope she takes a swig when she’s hungry. Good grief!

Fast forward 20 years later. I am here to tell you that you can survive despite the well-wishers who are …let’s face it…clueless to your new world. You learn to accept the cards you got dealt with.

You kinda have no choice. You learn to make the best “Gosh Darn” Lemonade you can with the week-old lemons that have fallen from the tree that was hit by lightning.

You sacrifice; you persevere, and best of all YOU WIN! Here are some ways I found to take those steps forward.

Insights From a Veteran Single Mom

1. Find Your Purpose

“As long as you have breath, someone needs what you have.”

Joel Osteen

I have found this to be a strange comfort to me. I guess I have found this to be a reason to keep on keeping on. I do have people who need what I have. But it seems that they need the very energy I need to be able to deliver what they think I have. Hmmm that’s a lot to unpack. Let’s try that again. It seems that “they” need the very energy that “I” need to be able to deliver to “them” what “they” think that “I” have. Well, that is still a mouthful. Work that one out if you can.

My purpose has morphed into many phases that I would never have known of myself before. When I found myself suddenly alone and facing the daunting task of raising a family by myself, building a house that was abandoned by my husband and left to do it all by myself, and all the while working a full-time job and going through a divorce…I had no idea what my purpose was. It changed by the hour. By the day. By the month. Heck, by the minute.

I had an infant so that was the measure of how much growth occurred each month. Literally a transforming child and a transforming mother right before my eyes. But I had a purpose. That purpose, though changing all the time was my navigation to keep moving forward. Step by step. Breath by breath. And at the end of each day, I would literally look at my babies asleep in the room they shared, and say, “Well Karen…you were a good mom today.”

2. Reaching Out for Help

“Most Holy Apostle St. Jude Thaddeus, friend of Jesus, I place myself in your care at this difficult time. Help me know that I need not face my troubles alone. Please join me in my need.”

Prayer to St. Jude

Oh, how hard it is for me to ask for help. It is probably my earliest memory as a child. Needing help. I had a twin sister who was wicked smart. She had no trouble with any subject. I failed math miserably. But for some reason, I guess in the 70’s they just didn’t think to offer a kid struggling any help, by that I mean teachers. Schools.

My mom had gone back to school herself and she had no time for this. So, I suffered. Sadly, I learned how to function well in suffering. I learned how to make it all look easy and not be phased by any of it. I normalized what felt like abnormal. I could not have known what purpose that would serve me later in my life.

But now I have come to see that it was a prophecy of some kind. It was a divinely engineered skill that was necessary when I needed it most. How to function as normal and light to the outside world; to the children you are raising alone; to the friends and family who look at you like you are Rock Star simply because you still smile and laugh while dealing with circumstances, they could never imagine for themselves.

So, in order to avoid bursting their bubbles and shaking the images I have created, I seek help in a Spiritual way. To the beings that know me best and who I feel have stood by me all these years. I seek help from those that I know will not judge me and who I know have felt every ounce of my nerves through these years. They have never let me down, but I do need to always remember to show my gratitude. Oh, things are tough no doubt as you raise a family alone. But they could have been so much worse. I believe in Angels.

3. Give Yourself Permission to Be Still

“I give myself permission to be still. To not worry about anything at all. Happy Birthday, Karen.”

Karen Czuleger

There is only one day that I allow myself to be still. No worries. To not engage my fears. To just be still. That day is my birthday. Oh, I still do everything I need to care for everyone else. But in my soul; I allow it to be still.

4. Remember Your Legacy

“No One With Character Leaves Behind A Wasted Life”

John McCain

I do try to believe this every day that I am on this earth. I feel that because I have character, I was able to raise a family alone and let their father run away due to his “lack” of character. I hate anyone who is derelict in character. I know it’s because of him too. Before, I could have cared less who had character or who didn’t. I just didn’t think much about it.

But now I see lack of character in anyone as a significant sign of weakness; which I, of course, have no patience for. My father was a “Man” of deep convictions. He was a simple man at the same time. He just lived his life with a compass that was extraordinary. He believed he was no better or worse than anyone. He was a man who gave all that he had in order to end anyone’s suffering. He showed me this trait every day of my life.

It showed in epic proportions when I found myself to suddenly be a single mom weeks after my second child was born. He never shirked what he perceived to be his duty. He loved me unconditionally and adored with the greatest depth of love for my children. He stepped up. He stepped in. He was the Father figure he insisted they get. And he was. No one could leave this earth with a better legacy than John Arthur Czuleger.

5. Raise Your Bar

“My tastes are simple. I am easily satisfied with the very best.”

Winston Churchill

I love the best. I love to feel that I have the best of everything. And even if my car is not a Mercedes, my car …to me is the best. But what has motivated me in the past in seeking the best has changed dramatically. I no longer live in a state of want for “things”. I do live in a state of want for love; for protection; for support; for peace.

I watch TV shows and movies that I have seen 100 times. But now that I am older, I see them differently. I feel pangs of jealousy. I know how stupid is that? I watch my old fave, Keeping Up Appearances on the BBC and what I used to laugh at and felt that they were a world away, I now see that they are two older people who are quirky, but who are financially stable. He gets to retire. She never had to work. Oh, what bliss that looks like to me now.  Some days I am even jealous of Wilma Flintstone and Jane Jetson. Good grief.

6. Don’t Give Away Your Worth

“Not one drop of my self-worth depends on your acceptance of me.”

Quincy Jones

This was something I had to really work on. I may only have 2 nickels to rub together, but I have my self-worth. I gave it to every guy since my husband and including him. I gave it to the woman he left us for. I still have nightmares about them, but for some reason I am no longer a victim in those horrid dreams. I am stronger. Oh, they used to be awful. I was humiliated over and over, repeatedly by them in my dreams.

Then I met Mark. He had to make me smaller so he could feel bigger. Then I met Jeffrey. He had to dump all his problems on me and expect me to understand when he sought out others to have fun with. Then I met the Russian. With this wonderful man, I found my strength. Why with him? Because he had enough class and integrity that he didn’t need to steal mine to find his. In order to find your self-worth, you sometimes must get so darn tired of feeling worthless that you need to start looking at the common denominators to these people.

What you find is that they seek your security to bolster their insecurities.

7. Be Confident

“A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval.”

Mark Twain

Single mom or not…remember that you are the best and you are doing your best. Just because you do not have a man in your life doesn’t mean that you are alone. Share in your life’s joys and happiness with your children and never feel lonely. Never feel that you are not good enough for a man just because you have kids and you have made them your priority in some cases for a very long time. My mother used to always say that her children were her wealth! Thanks Mom! Mine are too!

8. Change Your Movie

“Can it be done, Father? Can a man change the stars?” His father calmly replies, “Yes William. If he believes enough, a man can do anything.”

A Knights Tale

Sometimes I wish the end of a movie was at the beginning. Especially scary movies. And there are many days spent as a single parent more frightening then Dracula or Frankenstein! I want to know that everything will be alright. So, change your life movie. Change your power. Think from the end.

Think of the happy ending at the end of the pain.

Think about how you want to feel and feel it. What would security feel like? You knew it before. Feel it again. Imagine it. Feel it. Let the experience wash all over you and seep into you.

Feel your heart rate lower.

Feel your breathing slow down. Check yourself. Continue.

What does support feel like?

Does it feel like a warm blanket on a cold day?

Does it make you take a deep cleansing breath in and allow you to exhale all the way out?

Are you safe?

What does safety feel like? Are you calm?

How do you feel?

Imagine the sweet calm and secure feeling of knowing you are safe. It may feel like a game you are playing with yourself. But what you feel, your body responds to. In the same way when you feel fear or are anxious. Your body responds.

So why not try the opposite feelings? If your organs were your children that you want to protect from harm, wouldn’t you just instinctively protect them? Wouldn’t your Mama Bear just kick into overdrive? It would! You would! Your organs need you to take care of them. They need you as much as you need them! Care for them. Love them.

And the result will surprise you when you realize that even though your reality may still be there to deal with, the feelings and reactions to it have shifted to a better place. Breath. Breath.

9. Love Sees Everything

True love is both loving and letting oneself be loved. It is harder to let ourselves be loved than it is to love.

Pope Francis

By Love Sees Everything, I mean with love there is nothing too harsh to see that can change how one feels. Of course, you can get annoyed by things someone does. But real loves see’s it all in its technicolor glory. You don’t have to mask anything to someone who truly loves you. You have no fear of judgement from them. The harshest judgment usually comes from oneself. Afterall we are our worst critics.

Which brings me to the real issue at hand. Love ourselves in all our own technicolor glory as well. That is, through aging, weight gain, exhaustion, crankiness…everything! We must approve of and love ourselves and not be afraid of what we see in the mirror. If only when we look at our faces in the mirror we saw the sum of all that is beautiful in us, we would never feel fat, old and worthless. We would glory in all of our imperfections. I do!

10. Right Your Story or Write Your Story

“There are those that look at things the way they are and ask why…I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?”

Robert F. Kennedy

I love this phrase because it makes me feel lighter. It makes me feel empowered. It makes me feel less afraid; less daunted; less alone. By writing your story you “right” your story. I am a big believer in visioning. I have had the ability to envision things I wanted ever since I was a little kid. My mom would take us to the fabric store, and we would go to the pattern books and find a dress or outfit we liked and then find our size in the pattern file boxes.

Then we would peruse the store for the best fabrics. I learned to envision things for myself in that fabric store. I could see what the finished dress would look like every time I looked at the fabric. I loved going to the fabric store! It was such a happy place where I felt that my mom gave my ideas and creativity validation.

When one is under siege from stress, especially if you have been a single parent for as long as I have, you one day realize that your visions have lost some intensity. At least I did. I spent so much of my life reacting to everything under the sun. Reacting to crisis after crisis.

These were found in all shapes and sizes from financial stress and the ever-present mortgage to plumbing issues and roof issues. And even the smallest things were a crisis like birthday presents for kid’s parties, McDonald’s trips for the latest toys, school books, school uniforms, grocery trips… everything was a reactive crisis of some kind.

And through those rough seas, I found that I no longer envisioned wonderful things for myself. I stopped myself from envisioning at all because my thoughts defaulted to a fear-based thing and I was too afraid that I would manifest a negative occurrence.

After all, if I had the ability to envision something wonderful and see it manifest, I must have the equal ability to envision something terrible and fear that it would also manifest. So, the answer was…stop envisioning. But here is the funny thing; if I could push through the fear and leap across my mind to the thoughts of seeing myself in a different scene or different job or with lots of money…I have to say that I was able to manifest more good things than I thought were possible.

In fact, I envisioned and would say to myself via an intention, “I am successful beyond my wildest dreams”! Works every time.

Seeing something wonderful through your mind’s eye and saying an intention with conviction can be a very empowering thing to do, not to mention loving.

11. Find Something Greater Than Yourself and Survive.

“I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short. Shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great Imperial family to which we all belong.”

Queen Elizabeth II

This one can actually be easier said than done. If you are a good person by nature you are one who naturally wants to please. And sometimes this can be at your peril. But if you take a position to find something that is greater than yourself, greater than the circumstances you find yourself in, it can change the whole dynamic and change your feelings of being lost.

This doesn’t have to be a campaign like Save the Whales or something (or it can be if you want).

It can be a day by day campaign. Maybe you wake up and see that the greater need that day is to go through your closets and finally start purging things that you don’t need and then donate them to a shelter for women and children.

Or maybe it’s helping someone, anyone who is in need that day, for whatever the reason. It all sounds contrite I know. But it adds up. It gets you out of your head and helps you see the world through a new lens. Being of service to someone other than yourself just feels good.

12. Experience the Pain…and Let It Go.

“Pour yourself a drink, put on some lipstick and pull yourself together.”

Elizabeth Taylor

This is such a hard one for me and one in which I am constantly trying to navigate. Some days I feel strong and other days I feel the whole thing all over again. What I find is that when I am with my family (my siblings and their families) I feel the most alone. I know that must sound so strange. I mean, my family loves me, right? They do. I know it.

But they are a constant reminder that I am alone. They complain about their respective spouses yet go home every night with them next to them. Knowing that they have each other’s backs and no burden is carried alone. I haven’t felt that kind of security in 2 decades.

I know I have adjusted to the whole fly solo thing now, but that is what makes me sad in the first place. I am now used to it. I now have no expectation of ever being a duo with anyone. And what’s stopping me? The recurring pain.

The movie reel of that old flick running in my head all the time. But it is exacerbated by the picture of seeing my siblings financially secure and well… just secure on all fronts. I miss that feeling. I am not sure I would recognize it if I ever had the chance to feel it again.

But I sure want to try it back on for size one day. But here is what I know for certain, my pain cannot stop me from dreaming of a great future. I am my great future. So, I will put on some lipstick and pull myself together and keep on moving! NO FEAR!

13. Give Yourself Permission to Live

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

I really haven’t felt like I have really been “living life” for many years now. I know I have had some wonderful moments that’s for sure. But its been like eating a cream puff that at one time felt so decadent and scrumptious and which now just tastes like something sweet.

The whole emotional experience is no longer there. That may sound like an overly simplistic analogy but it’s the only way I can describe it.

I have become so accustomed to living and existing and operating under stress that I no longer feel the joy of a scrumptious cream puff. I feel the guilt of eating a cream puff. I feel the calories that are seeping into my body. The arteries that are possibly clogging.

The sugar surge on my heart. And why? Because my stakes are so high, and I worry 24/7 and twice on Sunday because so many people rely on me for their very existence.

So why would I enjoy anything when I have so many other things that require my worry energies. Umm “Hey Ding Dong?” Because you are allowed to Live that’s why!! It is your Right to Live!! How silly would we feel if at the end of the day, or end of our lives perhaps…we spent all our healthy days subliminally telling everyone to load it all on us and we will carry it all up the canyon of life like a donkey with a butt load of crap on our backs. No Bueno!

The people who constantly load us up will be the ones who live a happy and light life. There is something just not right with that picture, so take the power back by Living Man!! Throw the pack off the cliff and let someone else carry it now! PEACE OUT!

14. Prepare yourself for a Fabulous Life!

Change the way you look at things, and the things you look at will change.

Dr. Wayne Dyer

This mantra has been drilled into my household walls for over 10 years. Much to the annoyance of my children who are now in their 20’s. But I happen to believe that in order for us to exercise all the steps we need to take to go forward, we need to change our thinking. That usually means, change my thinking from fear and move to thinking from courage.

You may have days that you just can’t muster up the energy to even try to shift. I know I do. But as a practice, try to take a step back from a situation that is daunting you and shift your defaulted worried thoughts to a place of possibility. It should always start with the words, “I can” or “I will”. Starting anything with “I can’t” and “I won’t” is never headed for a good outcome. “I can pay all of my bills”, and “I will pay all of my bills”, sounds so much stronger than the reverse.

Even if you feel you are lying to yourself. By saying it you will find the strength to get creative and allow yourself an opportunity to breathe through it. I find that when I do this, I remember the dozens of other times during this single parent journey that I felt desperate.

But I willed myself through it by saying my positive affirmations. I don’t care how Airy Fairy its sounded, I always seemed to get to the other side.

15. Time to go home.

“You’ve always had the power, my dear. You just had to learn it for yourself.”

Glinda the Good Witch

This means its time to go home to yourself. You have done the job. You have raised the kids. You have worked the career. You have paid for the house, the tuition, the clothes, the cars etc. You have given every sodden thing in your being to provide a home and security in the best possible way you could.

Now go home. Go home to your reading. Go home to your walking the beach. Go home to your crafts. Go home to your yoga. Go home to wherever you find your soul is nourished and rested. It’s time for you now. And walk courageously to that home with no guilt. Its time to go home.  GO HOME OR GO BIG!

The post 15 Insights From a Veteran Single Mom appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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What Happens If a Parent Violates a Visitation Order?

Originally published by The Law Office of V. Wayne Ward.

Typically, child custody and visitation agreements are solidified by both parents, then ordered by the court. The result is a legal, enforceable agreement between both parties. When one parent violates that agreement, there can be serious legal consequences.

What’s Considered a Visitation Violation?

A visitation violation occurs when one parent doesn’t comply with the terms set forth in the visitation agreement. There are many ways a parent can violate this agreement, including:

  • Keeping a child for a longer length of time
  • Failing to drop a child off at the stated time or place
  • Contacting or visiting the child at times not specified in the agreement
  • Taking the child on a vacation or extended trip without approval
  • Purposely keeping the child from the other spouse

If you find that your ex is violating your visitation agreement and you feel that your child is in danger, we recommend calling the proper authorities. You should also reach out to an attorney who can help you navigate what to do next.

What Are the Consequences of Violating an Order?

It’s important to remember that agreements between you and your ex that don’t involve the court won’t be upheld in court. Court-ordered visitation agreement violations are enforceable, however, and carry serious legal consequences.

For example, the court may reward extra parenting time to the other parent. For serious violations or repeated violations, the court may choose to change the visitation plan, perhaps stripping the parent’s rights completely. Other consequences include possible jail time, as well as civil penalties and fines.

If you and your ex feel that a current child custody agreement isn’t working, you must inform the court and seek a modification, instead of attempting to create a new arrangement on your own. Trying to do so may cause you both to violate the agreement, leaving you both at risk for legal consequences.

<img class=”wp-image-4230 lazy” src=”data:;base64,” alt=”What Happens If a Parent Violates a Visitation Order? | TX Attorney” data-src=”www.wwlawman.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/What-Happens-If-a-Parent-Violates-a-Visitation-Order-TX-Attorney-iStock-1028900476-1024×683.jpg&#8221; data-srcset=”www.wwlawman.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/What-Happens-If-a-Parent-Violates-a-Visitation-Order-TX-Attorney-iStock-1028900476-1024×683.jpg 1024w, www.wwlawman.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/What-Happens-If-a-Parent-Violates-a-Visitation-Order-TX-Attorney-iStock-1028900476-395×263.jpg 395w, www.wwlawman.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/What-Happens-If-a-Parent-Violates-a-Visitation-Order-TX-Attorney-iStock-1028900476-160×107.jpg 160w, www.wwlawman.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/What-Happens-If-a-Parent-Violates-a-Visitation-Order-TX-Attorney-iStock-1028900476-768×512.jpg 768w, www.wwlawman.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/What-Happens-If-a-Parent-Violates-a-Visitation-Order-TX-Attorney-iStock-1028900476-600×400.jpg 600w, www.wwlawman.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/What-Happens-If-a-Parent-Violates-a-Visitation-Order-TX-Attorney-iStock-1028900476-1536×1024.jpg 1536w, www.wwlawman.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/What-Happens-If-a-Parent-Violates-a-Visitation-Order-TX-Attorney-iStock-1028900476-scaled.jpg 2048w” data-sizes=”(max-width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px” />
817-789-4436 – If a parent violates a court-ordered visitation agreement, are there consequences? To learn more about visitation violations, visit us today.

Struggling With Your Child Custody Agreement? Call an Attorney.

Has your ex violated your visitation agreement? Are you concerned about the safety of your child? Our team can help. To learn more about our legal services or for answers to your questions, send us a message.

The post What Happens If a Parent Violates a Visitation Order? appeared first on Fort Worth Family Law Attorney.

Curated by Texas Bar Today. Follow us on Twitter @texasbartoday.



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How can you tell if your spouse has been talking to an attorney about divorce?

How can you tell if your spouse has been talking to an attorney about divorce?

Originally published by Zack McKamie.

By Jeff Anderson

Sometimes, people start a divorce by going to a lawyer, paying a retainer, and signing a contract to start with the divorce proceedings. Others may speak to an attorney and then go home to gather all the necessary documents to plan for the divorce. If you suspect that your spouse might be doing some planning, here are some signs to help you figure that out.

Children

Let’s say you and your spouse have always shared all parenting responsibilities. Dad takes the children to soccer; Mom takes them to dance. Dad works on homework with them or sometimes Mom does.

Then suddenly there is a shift in responsibilities. One parent is now doing everything – taking the children everywhere, making the doctor appointments, setting up play dates, making dinner, and putting them to bed.  There suddenly is a parental superhero in the house, because even though both may still be there physically, only one is doing their share of parenting. A few months of that and suddenly you’ve got a status quo that is hard to ignore.

That goes for other areas of the children’s lives as well. Mom’s family is being pushed to the side to spend more time with Dad’s family. Dad is actively signing them up for their activities – something he never did before. He suddenly opens a savings account for them and he’s putting a lot of money in there.

Another indication could be if the children are suddenly seeing a counselor for the first time. If a spouse is planning for a divorce and thinking ahead about a trial, therapists have a unique ability on the witness stand. If he or she is qualified as an expert, then they can offer an opinion to the court about your children and then tell the judge about the basis of that opinion, which can include everything your children have said to them. If those children have been coached by the other parent on the way to their counseling sessions, they might have said some things you don’t like – things they don’t even mean.

Money

Another sign that your spouse might be preparing for a divorce can be found in your bank accounts.

If your accounts seem to have less and less money, though nobody’s job has changed and the expenses have stayed the same, it might be a sign that your spouse is holding back money and saving it in a separate account. More directly, if your husband or wife has opened a new account and has started putting funds which are out of your reach into it, they might be getting ready for a fight. A stockpile of cash like this can be important because it takes money to hire an attorney, not to mention starting a new life from scratch.

Ultimately, this can be a matter of one side making sure they have enough money, and at the same time, trying to deprive the other of as many resources as they can. Look for signs, such as the opening of a P.O. Box, new credit cards with new limits, or the closing of joint credit cards.  If it looks like your spouse is gathering the monthly bills and financial statements in a newly central and organized way, he or she might have been advised to do so.

Other Things to Look for

If your spouse just started keeping a diary or journal or if you have noticed that they are recording more (audio, video, or photographic) with their phone, they might have been coached to do so.

If you find that your spouse’s social media posts have changed, you might be seeing a sign of impending disharmony. For instance, if the tone of their posts change to a more wholesome tone, then it’s probably a good idea to go back and see if some of the older posts – the ones your husband or wife might not want a judge to look at – have been erased.

Has your spouse changed their passwords or been more secretive with their phone? Are they using new phrases like “best interest”, “community property” or “no fault”?

These could all be signs that they have been speaking to a divorce attorney. You might consider finding a board-certified family law attorney to explore your options and figure out the best course of action.

Jeff Anderson is a partner in the Family Law boutique Orsinger, Nelson, Downing & Anderson, LLP. He has devoted his legal career to family law litigation, with a focus on complex property, custody and enforcement. Jeff is Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.

The post How can you tell if your spouse has been talking to an attorney about divorce? appeared first on ONDA Family Law.

Curated by Texas Bar Today. Follow us on Twitter @texasbartoday.



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gatekeeper mom

4 Reasons To Avoid Being a Gatekeeper Mom Trap During Divorce

gatekeeper mom

 

Do you find yourself having difficulty letting go and relaxing about what your children do while they are with their other parent? Focusing too much on your children’s time or activities at your ex’s house can potentially damage your relationship with them and undermine their connection with both parents. When a parent communicates anxiety and becomes too vigilant about custody exchanges (or parenting time) they may be taking on the role of a gatekeeper.

What is a gatekeeper mom?

According to child custody expert Robert Beilin, P.h.D., a gatekeeper is a term  often used in a negative way to describe how parents (usually a mother) attempts to control their children’s time with the other parent. Since traditionally mothers tend to be gatekeepers, this article will focus on mothers but the term could apply to fathers as well.

According to author Kerri Kettle, the term “gatekeeper” is generally brought up in child custody cases. Kettle, an attorney, advises mothers to beware of being a gatekeeper and to avoid adversarial interactions with their ex. After all, it could lead to additional legal costs and have a negative impact on children. She writes, “If you think you might be acting a little like a gatekeeper, try saying “yes” more often than saying “no” for a while. Start with something small, like giving up a few hours of your custodial time for a special occasion or simply not asking questions about what happened at their dad’s house.” She also advises parents that they will save legal fees by being a cooperative co-parent.

Let’s face it, it’s easy to see how a parent could slip into the gatekeeper role. After my divorce, I had trouble adjusting to our co-parenting schedule and I found myself overly concerned about what my children did when they were with their father and the amount of time they spent with him. It took several years for me to realize that this was my way of trying to gain control over the situation. While I never did anything consciously to sabotage my children’s relationship with their dad, my questions, and concerns about their activities with him didn’t demonstrate confidence in our parenting plan.

Further, children have a way of sensing tension and worry and so a mother’s fear or concerns about time spent away from her may be a red flag that heightens their anxiety. Without awareness, a parent could be bringing undue stress on your children without intending to. My research shows that the two variables that had the most negative impact on children of divorce into adulthood were limiting their access to both parents and experiencing high conflict between their parents post-divorce.

A crucial aspect of healing after divorce is realizing that you can’t control what goes on with your ex and so need to respect the decisions that he makes regarding his time with your children.  You can’t change him and are wise to let go of unrealistic expectations. For instance, you might not approve of him taking your eight-year-old to a movie rated PG 13 – but in the end, it’s not going to make or break their emotional development. So it wouldn’t hurt to simply let it slide sometimes.

On the other hand, if you have legitimate concerns about activities that your kids participate in with their father, it’s a good idea to send him a friendly, business-like e-mail expressing your concerns. Divorce expert Rosalind Seddacca CCT writes, “If you’re intent on creating a child-centered divorce that strives for harmony between you and your ex, you need to initiate the conversation and model win-win solutions. If your ex doesn’t want to cooperate, that’s when your patience will certainly be tested. Look for opportunities to clarify why working together as co-parents as often as possible will create far better outcomes for your children.”

Eileen Coen, an attorney, and trained mediator states that one reason mothers tend to be gatekeepers is that trust is often lost in a marriage. Other reasons cited by Coen are economic and a lack of confidence in their ex’s parenting skills. However, she cautions us that on-going conflict between parents is the primary reason why mothers are gatekeepers – making it virtually impossible to have adequate, healthy parenting time with their children.

Studies show that kids benefit from access to both parents. There is evidence that cooperative co-parenting actually reduces conflict between divorced parents – which has a beneficial impact on children into adulthood. Scheduling appropriate parenting time for both parent’s post-divorce and keeping lines of communication positive can be a challenge but it’s paramount to building resiliency in your children. When a parent takes on the role of gatekeeper, they communicate discomfort and anxiety to their children and diminish their sense of belongingness with both parents.

Joan Kelly, a renowned researcher who has conducted decades-long studies on divorce, found that the more involved fathers are post-split, the better off the outcomes for children. Children benefit from strong relationships with both parents post-divorce. According to Linda Nielsen, author of Between Fathers and Daughters, the child’s relationship with their father is often the one that changes the most after marital dissolution. Sadly, Dr. Nielsen notes that only 15% of fathers and daughters enjoy the benefits of shared parenting.

There are many compelling reasons why mothers are wise to encourage their children to have strong bonds with their father post-divorce. Studies show that these reasons include: Better grades and social skills, healthy emotional development, higher self-esteem, and fewer trust issues. Lowered self-esteem and trust wounds are especially a concern for girls who may be more vulnerable to the breakup of the family home because they are socialized to be nurturers and caretakers. Your kids may also have better access to extended family members and therefore intergenerational support if they spend close to equal time with both parents.

Here are 4 Reasons to avoid the gatekeeper trap:

1. Your children will gain trust in both parents and feel more confident about their relationships with both of you.

2. You will build trust in your ex’s ability to effectively parent your children.

3. There’s a possibility you’ll have the added benefit of more leisure time – when you can relax and worry less about your children’s well-being.

4. You’ll create a new story for your life built on reclaiming your personal power rather than letting your divorce define who you are or the choices you make.

Focusing your energy on what’s going on in your home and encouraging your children to have a healthy connection with their father will pay off in the long run. Another important reason to avoid being a gatekeeper is to respect your child’s and ex-spouse’s boundaries. When your children are with your ex, honor their time together and try not to plan activities or partake in excessive communication with the other parent (phone, text, etc.). Since parental conflict is a factor that contributes greatly to negative outcomes for children after divorce, keeping disagreements to a minimum is a key aspect of helping your child become resilient. You owe it to yourself and your children to avoid playing the role of a gatekeeper.

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