Parallel Parenting.jpg

Parallel Parenting: When Co-Parenting With An Unreasonable Ex Doesn’t Work

Parallel Parenting.jpg

In an ideal world, co-parenting would work for everyone. But it doesn’t work for everyone. And it didn’t work for me. Sometimes even our best efforts leave nothing but damage in its wake. Navigating the waters of co-parenting with an unwilling partner isn’t worth the fight.


You know the old saying “up the creek without a paddle.” Now, what if you had the appropriate number of paddles but your canoeing partner purposefully decides not to use his? No matter how good you may be at paddling your canoe, it will be very difficult to reach your destination if your partner never sticks his paddle in the water, right? Or what if as you are trying to paddle for the both of you, he sticks his paddle straight down into the water in an attempt to stop all forward motion? You wouldn’t arrive at your finish line in this scenario either. Now imagine co-parenting with this person.

Parallel Parenting

You share a child, maybe two, maybe more. Maybe you have joint custody or maybe shared 50/50 custody. Maybe it’s been months since your divorce, or maybe it’s been years. But no matter how hard you try, you just can’t get along with one another. As a result, you are incapable of working together to raise your kids in your now-separate households. And worse, your ex now appears to be purposefully sabotaging your co-parenting efforts just to spite your efforts.

Irrational Co-Parent

Your ex doesn’t care that you’re attempting to reasonably co-parent with him. He’s not concerned about what’s in the best interest of the kids. He responds by saying you are trying to “control” him and control what goes on at his house. And all you did was suggest that the kids should have similar bedtimes in both homes, after finding out they don’t have a bedtime at his house. It doesn’t matter to him that you were trying to provide consistency between the two homes as the kids adjust to their new post-divorce lives. It just doesn’t matter. And on it goes.

You’ve been told by your therapist that you’re doing all the right things in your attempts to co-parent. You feel relieved and reassured that it’s not you at the root of these problems. But you knew that. At your therapist’s recommendation, you email your ex requesting that you both see a mediator to help develop better co-parenting skills. Your ex refuses to go saying he doesn’t need help. Instead, your ex responds by yelling at you via email saying that you can’t tell him what to do! A brick wall. Another big, fat brick wall. Any suggestions you’ve made over the last few years have been shut down in a similar manner. At this point, your therapist advises that you stop responding to your ex’s harassing emails.

Enter the Lawyers

So now what? Oh yeah, right enter, the lawyers. Your ex hires a lawyer to fight for him now that you have stopped responding to his combative emails. As a result, there are now judges and mediators telling you that you need to “learn” how to co-parent. “Figure it out,” they say. They tell you to put aside your differences for the sake of the kids. They don’t care to understand that you’ve done just that, as well as about everything else in your power to do co-parenting work and that it’s your ex who needs the lesson. They believe the failing co-parenting efforts are just as much your fault as they are his. And then they want nothing more to do with you. So if the courts refuse to get through to him, what chance will you ever have?

You think you’ve been reasonable with your requests and suggestions made to your ex. Your ex doesn’t care.

You feel as though you’ve extended the proverbial olive branch time and time again to your ex. But your ex still doesn’t care.

You’ve even forgiven him for his shortcomings, but then wonder why you even bother. He doesn’t care. So why should you?

Ah, but you do, and you know why you bother. For the kids. You would move mountains for them, and that’s what this entire process feels like. Trying to move mountains from your tiny canoe while your ex-back paddles. And since there doesn’t appear to be any olive branches heading your way anytime soon, you paddle on.

But do you have to?

What Next?

There has to be a point when you can stop co-parenting without feeling like you’ve failed, doesn’t there?

A point when you know that doing so doesn’t mean you’ve given up on parenting. A point when you stop paddling your 2-person canoe in circles and buy yourself a kayak for one!

Contrary to what judges and mediators may believe and contrary to what you feel you should do (by society’s norms), you don’t have to co-parent with your ex. If the above sounds at all familiar, stop spending your days frustrated and exhausted from your efforts. Really, it’s ok. Just let go. I tried everything and was confident in the fact that I was doing everything to the best of my ability to make our co-parenting relationship work. But it wasn’t working. And I was beyond exhausted. So give yourself a break from it all, and find out if parallel parenting might be a better fit.

One day, while scouring the internet on how to be a better co-parent, I came across a life-altering Huffington Post article by Virginia Gilbert about parallel parenting. I had never heard the term before and felt hopeful. In the article, Gilbert explained that it’s ok to have little to no communication with your ex. Less is more in a contentious situation. It’s also ok to keep your distance from your ex when at school functions or sports activities. She actually recommended it so that your kids aren’t further exposed to the tension between the two of you.

She also suggested letting go of what happens at your ex’s house. While I admit this one was hard for me initially, it was also very liberating. In fact, the entire article was liberating! Parallel parenting was an actual thing! I felt as though I had been looking for it all of my life (well, all of my co-parenting life)! As I read the article, tears filled my eyes and I felt an overall sense of relief. My anxiety level immediately decreased. She was speaking to me. I was done trying to co-parent. And I was ok with it.

In an ideal world, co-parenting would work for everyone. But it doesn’t work for everyone. And it didn’t work for me. Sometimes even our best efforts leave nothing but damage in its wake. Navigating the waters of co-parenting with an unwilling partner isn’t worth the fight. Not for me or for my children. My kids are much better served by a mother who isn’t paddling around in circles and drowning in the whitewater of co-parenting.

And if and when my ex ever decides to paddle his half of our canoe, I’ll be back in the co-parenting race. But for now, my kayak and I are navigating the waters of parallel parenting just fine. And that’s in the best interest of the kids any day.

The post Parallel Parenting: When Co-Parenting With An Unreasonable Ex Doesn’t Work appeared first on Divorced Moms.


2 children, man found dead in apparent murder-suicide

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (KDVR) — Police said two children and a man were found dead in a Fort Collins home in a “presumed” murder-suicide.

Police think the man who died is the person who called 911, Fort Collins Police Services said in a news release. Police said the man and the two children knew each other,

“This is a tragic incident that affects those involved as well as the larger community,” Deputy Police Chief Greg Yeager said in a video statement from the scene, a neighborhood marked with crime tape. He said police believe there is no further threat to the community.

Neighbors told FOX31’s Rogelio Mares that the man in the home was divorced and had joint custody of his two young daughters.

Read more here.


adult children of divorce & thanksgiving

Adult Children Of Divorce & Thanksgiving: You Have To Do a Lot Of Tap-Dancing

adult children of divorce & thanksgiving


When I was a kid, we always had really big Thanksgiving celebrations—loud, crowded dinners where aunts and uncles and distant cousins five-times removed would eat too much and tell dirty jokes that went right over my head.

I loved the noise and the chaos and the attention my brother and I got as the only kids in the group. We would put on an original Thanksgiving skit (with costumes) or perform some made-up rap song about turkeys. Then revel in the audibly wet lipstick kisses of great-aunts, and the perfunctory attention from cool teenage cousins that always smelled a little bit like cigarettes.

My divorced parents always came together on Thanksgiving. My dad and my grandma were invited guests to the mayhem. I know that I was lucky, of course. Most divorced parents can’t even be in the same room with each other—mine were a united front for our birthdays and holidays and soccer games.

Every Sunday, we had dinner at the same neutral-ground restaurant for the joint custody hand-off. We even visited the Grand Canyon together. I was glad that my parents weren’t married anymore, and never held out hope of reconciliation. I didn’t want that. They were such good friends and strong co-parents—their divorce had been relatively easy on us.

When I was 14, my dad remarried. Our stepmom was caring and involved and wanted to be like family to us, but she was also young and jealous and didn’t like my mom. So, there went that friendship between my parents.

No more Sunday dinners or family vacations. And Thanksgiving was split into two—we’d spend the day and dinner with my mom’s family and then leave early to get to my dad’s house by dessert.

I’d still get the raucous meals with my funny, inappropriate uncles, and my dad’s signature pecan pie later, but it was all fractured, hurried. We were always half-there.

I knew how much my mom hated rushing us to our dad’s before the dinner plates had even been cleared. I knew how much my dad wished we could spend the day watching football with him and helping his wife cook her chef-quality food.

They both felt our absence, and we felt their low-grade heartache. And there wasn’t anything we could do about it. All of that love from our parents, that need to be with us as much as they could—for that, we were so grateful. It also made it that much sadder.

The holidays always came with an underlying tension, some pot that was bound to bubble over.

One parent or the other was always disappointed and it was impossible for them to hide it. I always felt guilty, like somehow it was my fault we couldn’t be in two places at once. I’d be tap-dancing and smooth-talking, trying to soften any sadness with “we’re here now!” enthusiasm.

Later, when my brother and I were adults living in New York, we sometimes felt relieved when we couldn’t make it home for Thanksgiving—no one’s feelings to hurt.

I don’t think divorce is the end of the world, even when you have kids. I think some couples simply can’t make it work, and when that happens, it’s best for everyone if they go their separate ways. Amicably, if they can.

I think everyone in my family is happier than we would be had they stayed together. I can’t even imagine them married now. I can’t even figure out how they got together, to begin with.

That being said, when you’re a child of divorce, you’re always a child of divorce.

At a young age, you’re so busy trying to protect your parents’ feelings, you’re not even sure what you want anymore. You feel like it’s your job to shield them from any hurt because you must love them more than anyone else.

I’m not sure why it happens, but I know many grown children of divorce who still feel this way—make each parent happy first, deal with your needs second. And, still, it’s never enough. Sometimes a parent asks for what they really want, often they don’t. But we know better. We can read the subtext.

Adult Children of Divorce & Thanksgiving

I thought that once I became an adult with my own family, I’d get over it.


In fact, I think it’s just gotten worse. For the last several years, we’ve been eating two Thanksgiving dinners—one right after the other, my dad’s house and then my mom’s. The first year we did it, I ended the night with my head over a toilet bowl, puking my guts out.

At least I got to see everyone, right?

So, last year, we decided to host Thanksgiving dinner at our house. No shuttling our kids around town, gorging ourselves on double helpings of turkey and mashed potatoes.

No need to explain that the macaroni and cheese is terrific, but we’re saving room for my mom’s stuffing later.

No need to explain that yes, this second dinner is as delicious as the first but, see, those yams from our 1:00 meal are still sitting like a rock in our stomachs. Yep, this year, we invited everyone to come to us. We’re doing this once, and all are welcome.

But not everyone came. It was a nice thought, I guess, but apparently unrealistic.

When you’re grown, it’s tough to get your whole family together for Thanksgiving, even without divorce. My brother was with his wife’s family. Still, I wished for the sake of my little boys that their Gaga and Papa could have sat at the same table.

My dad could have brought his girlfriend and her family and they wouldn’t have felt awkward about it. My parents could have shared in their love for their grandchildren at least, talked about their high cholesterol, gabbed about the USA shows they both seem to love. It’s a child’s need. I know that. But maybe it’s my need as a mother too.

When we sat down at our Thanksgiving table, I loved seeing my sons wearing their silly turkey hats, reveling in the attention and the food and the family. It was perfectly OK that not everyone we love was there to see it.

The post Adult Children Of Divorce & Thanksgiving: You Have To Do a Lot Of Tap-Dancing appeared first on Divorced Moms.


child care

Changing School Districts With Joint Custody

child careQuestion:

My ex-wife and I share 50/50 custody and disagree about changing our kids’ school districts.

She wants to pull our kids out of the school district they have been in their whole lives (the one in my neighborhood) and enroll them in a school district closer to her a few miles away.

How does changing school districts with joint custody work? Can my ex-wife place the children in another school district without my consent?


Joint custody and school decisions can be very complicated.

When the parties both have legal custody of the children, also known as joint legal custody, both parents must agree on the major decisions for the children, such as school, medical, and religion.

Cordell & Cordell understands the concerns men face during divorce.

Can your child move school districts if it is within the court-ordered limits? Every parenting plan has different language in it that is tailored to your situation and your child.

If the parenting plan indicates that a child can go to school within a certain mile radius or in several different school district options, then your ex-wife can consider a change of school for your child, but again, it most likely has to be agreed upon.

If the parties do not agree to the change, then usually the status quo remains until the party requests a hearing with the judge in order to reach a decision.

If the school district change is granted, who is responsible for the additional driving? If the driving is done during your parenting time then you are responsible. Prior to agreeing to any school change, it is best to examine your different options.

Look into if this works for your schedule, if your child can take a bus, etc. If any of these are real concerns of yours then you need to compromise with your ex.

One option is to agree to the school change if she agrees to pay for a portion of the before- or after-school care costs and gas expenses you will incur.

The post Changing School Districts With Joint Custody appeared first on Dads Divorce.


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.


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.


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.


living with your spouse during divorce

5 Tips To Help You Remain Sane While Living With Your Spouse During Divorce

living with your spouse during divorce


Some state laws require that two spouses live apart for a certain period of time if they want to file a no-fault divorce. In other states, however, you have the choice of whether one spouse moves out of the house or whether you continue living together as you wait for the divorce to be final.

If you choose to keep living together, you should keep certain things in mind that can help make the divorce process easier.

Should You be Living With Your Spouse During Divorce?

This is a highly personal consideration, and everyone should consider whether living under the same roof as her soon-to-be ex-spouse is right for her. First and foremost, if you have experienced domestic violence or believe you are at risk of harm by your spouse, you should ensure your safety first. You can leave, or you might be able to obtain a protective order that orders your spouse to leave the house and stay away from you.

If domestic violence is not an issue, you could save money by continuing to have only one housing payment, a set of utility bills, groceries, and more. By saving money now, you might be in a better position following your divorce.

In addition, if you and your spouse own a home together, you might not want to leave the home during the divorce. If you leave, it can be quite difficult to get back in and get property rights to the home following the divorce. Additionally, if you have children, both parents continuing to live together can provide support and stability, as well as help set the stage for healthy co-parenting following the divorce.

5 Tips To Help You Remain Sane While Living With Your Spouse During Divorce

Even though there are reasons why you and your spouse are getting divorced, it is important to set those reasons aside as much as possible if you decide to keep living under the same roof. You should always make an effort to do the following:

Never put the kids in the middle – When spouses argue, it can be all too easy to bring the children into the conflict or say bad things about the other parent to your children. Not only is this unhealthy for the kids, but it also can affect your custody determination. Courts want to know that parents sharing custody will encourage a healthy relationship with the other parent (when possible) and that parents will work together for the best interests of the child. Striving to get along and keeping your kids out of any conflict can only help the custody portion of your divorce case.

Work together with finances – Since you are theoretically saving money by continuing to share a home, you should try to make the smartest financial decisions to maximize the benefits of living together. Decide whether you will pay bills from a joint bank account or split the bills from each of your individual accounts. Remember that now is not the time for big purchases or vacations – no matter how much you might want to get away. Your assets and debts are still part of your marital estate, and wasting those assets or accruing new debts can cause complications for you in the divorce case.

Keep it civil – Spouses who are in the middle of divorce generally have many differences of opinion. However, constant disagreements and fighting can only make the divorce more stressful – or even more expensive. When spouses are civil, they can often agree on the major issues in their cases without court intervention. Doing so often saves significant money and time, as litigation is a costly last resort in a divorce case. If you are constantly fighting, your spouse may decide to cause complications in the divorce and refuse to cooperate, which can lead you right into court.

Give each other space – If you have come to the decision to end your marriage and see little hope for reconciliation, it is only natural that you and your spouse will start to drift apart – even if you are living under the same roof while the divorce is pending. It is not a bad idea to move into separate rooms if you haven’t done so already. In addition, you should cultivate a life outside of your marriage and encourage your spouse to do the same. If your marriage is truly over, you need to let go of expectations of how much time you spend together or what night of the week is “date night.”

Don’t Be Afraid to Move Out – If it becomes clear in a few weeks or months into your attempt to live together that it’s not going to work, do not be afraid of throwing in the towel and moving out (or asking your husband to move out, if that makes more sense). There is no point in making yourselves miserable for another few months while you wait for your divorce to be final.

Many people decide to live together while they get divorced, and there is no right or wrong decision in this situation. If you choose to live together, you should keep in mind how doing so might affect the outcome of your divorce case.

The post 5 Tips To Help You Remain Sane While Living With Your Spouse During Divorce appeared first on Divorced Moms.


Divorce Based on Abandonment in Texas

Originally published by Family and Criminal Law Blog.

Why might I choose to file for divorce based on a fault ground?

Forty years ago, the first no-fault divorce was granted in California. Prior to this time, couples seeking a divorce were required to list a valid ground for divorce, which often included adultery, abandonment, and cruelty. If one of these grounds did not exist in the marriage, but the spouses nonetheless wanted a divorce, they were forced to fabricate a grounds for divorce. Recognizing a need for more honest and efficient divorces, California, and soon after every state in the union except for New York, adopted a version of no-fault divorce.

Most couples in Texas looking to file for divorce today will file for a no-fault divorce, in which the parties will list that the marriage cannot continue because the spouses can no longer get along in the marriage and there is no chance of reconciliation. However, per Texas law, several fault grounds for divorce continue to exist. At times, it can be advantageous or even necessary for a spouse to seek a divorce based upon one of these fault grounds. Below, our Midland, Texas divorce lawyers discuss divorce based on abandonment in the state.

Abandonment Can Influence a Custody Award and Division of Assets

Abandonment occurs when one spouse deserts the other spouse with the intention to end the marriage. Proving abandonment by your spouse can influence the court’s decisions when it comes to custody of your minor children. To successfully demonstrate abandonment, you will need to show that your spouse has been absent for one year or more. Further, filing for divorce based on abandonment might become essential if you cannot reach your spouse.

Family courts in Texas take the position that generally it is in a child’s best interests to have a relationship with both parents. However, where one spouse has abandoned the family, this will negate that presumption. A judge weighing the custodial rights of a spouse who left his or her family is less likely to award joint custody and will likely allow for just limited visitation.

Further, a judge may take your spouse’s abandonment into account when determining how your marital assets will be divided. Texas is a community property state and marital assets will be divided in accordance with what is just and right. While this typically means equally, where one spouse abandoned the family, a judge may be included to issue the other spouse a disproportionate share of the assets. Your divorce lawyer will review the circumstances surrounding your spouse’s abandonment to determine your best bet in filing for divorce from your spouse. Armed with full knowledge of your individual situation, your attorney can develop a divorce strategy that will benefit you and your family.

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


productive co-parenting communication

Developing Productive Co-Parenting Communication

productive co-parenting communication


Parenting can be difficult even in an in-tact household wherein even residing together the time spent together as parents, uninterrupted in thought and time for discussion, results in many discussions occurring through text, email and in passing.

Of course, the hustle and bustle of the world we live in as parents leave much room for errors in schedules, forgotten appointments, and confusion as to who is where. This is even more difficult for two parents who do not reside together yet share in one mutual goal- raising and being involved in their children’s schedules and lives on an equal basis.

Productive Co-Parenting Communication

Married or not, raising children takes a lot of communication. Unfortunately, communication in relationships that have broken down for one reason or the other is made even more difficult and can create a host of issues for couples attempting to co-parent absent a close relationship or any at all for that matter. As family law attorneys, we are often faced with questions, concerns and issues from our client stemming from the lack of communication, i.e. the other side not providing information or not being responsive.

Other times, the absence of communication is used to assert control and intentionally keep the other parent out of the loop. On the other hand, some parents utilize communication in a manner which is harassing such as incessantly texting, calling, or making things difficult. Either way, the reality is that communication in strained relationships can be incredibly difficult and as a result, children suffer by missing activities, homework assignments, family outings, etc.

Therefore, focusing on simple ways to communicate, absent the need to involve lawyers and judges, is the most productive and cost-effective way to co-parent when the relationship with the other parent is less than ideal. The reality is that the involvement of lawyers and the court’s not only costs thousands of dollars, but there is also a delay in resolution by virtue of the time needed for everyone to respond.

Therefore, it is simply not practical on any level to require the use of your lawyer to communicate about everyday issues regarding your children.

It is significant to note that communication is one of the primary statutory factors the courts consider in determining custody and parenting time arrangements. Moreover, just not getting along is not enough to prove that two adults cannot communicate in a manner which would cause a court to minimize either parent’s role.

In fact, the New Jersey Supreme Court has long held that joint legal custody is the “preferred” custody arrangement and that this requires sharing the responsibility for jointly making “major” decisions regarding the child’s welfare, developing a productive way of communication is key to the success of not only the co-parenting relationship but the children’s success overall.

That being said, family law attorneys, as well as Judge’s, are mindful of the difficulties parent’s may have communicating during less than ideal times. Therefore, the focus and trend have been to encourage the use of apps that parties can utilize to limit and focus the communication to just the issues versus the text message and/or email chains that seemingly increase in hostility with the back and forth involved.

For example, one method of communication often utilized by co-parents, either by way of agreement or more frequently now being Court Ordered, is Our Family Wizard.  Our Family Wizard obviously cannot circumvent the use of communication as a weapon in contested or tension ridden co-parenting relationships, however, it is designed to assist parents by having categories that limit and narrow the issues and minimize the probability of misinterpretation of miscommunication.

Parents can download the children’s schedules, they can monitor parenting time changes in their schedules, and even scan in the children’s expenses, none of which can be altered if needed for use in Court. In other words, it is a protected forum which allows communication between parents about the issues relating to their children and provides clearer documentation in the event that communication (or lack of same) is the overriding issue.

In sum, learning and finding a way to communicate is essential to raising children regardless of the status of your relationship. Utilizing applications such as Cozi, Our Family Wizard, Truece, and other applications which permit scanning, scheduling and limit the opportunity for emotions to supersede the issues is beneficial to everyone’s quality of life, especially and most importantly the children involved.

The post Developing Productive Co-Parenting Communication appeared first on Divorced Moms.


things to do before you file for divorce

8 Things You Need To Do Before You File for Divorce

things to do before you file for divorce


Filing for divorce is a big decision, to say the least. There are several issues that may need to be resolved before you can officially end your marriage, including the division of your marital assets, spousal support, child custody, and whether you will pay or receive your child support.

With so much on the line, it’s extremely important that you fully evaluate your options and goals before you file for divorce.

Here Are 8 Things You Need To Do Before You File for Divorce

1. Have Certainty

It’s critical that you are sure that you want to get a divorce before you file for one. Filing for divorce can irrevocably change your relationship and may start a cascade of events from which there is no coming back. You should never file for divorce as a bluff or in response to a particularly bad fight.

While there are certainly cases in which it’s justifiable to file for divorce without letting your spouse know, in most cases, it’s a good idea to discuss the matter before you file any paperwork with the court.

2. Gather Important Documentation

As soon as divorce is even a consideration for the future, you should take the time to gather important documentation and information. This way, you will have everything organized when the time comes to file for divorce, and you will not have to worry about your spouse attempting to conceal critical information – such as financial accounts – from you. Some documentation you should organize in a file includes:

  • Social security numbers for you, your spouse, and your children
  • Insurance policies
  • Account numbers for all bank, investment, and retirement accounts
  • Deeds to real property
  • Titles to vehicles
  • Appraisals of valuables, including art, musical instruments, or jewelry
  • An inventory of your personal property
  • Usernames and passwords for all online accounts

With all of this information upfront, your lawyer will have the full picture of your situation, and you will not need to delay your divorce while you search for documentation. Keep in mind that if you plan to move out, you should be sure to get these documents before you actually leave – many divorcing spouses who leave the marital home find it very difficult to get back in once they are out.

3. Have A Plan for Custody

If you and your spouse have children, and one of you is planning on moving out, it’s a good idea to discuss how you want to handle child custody while your divorce is pending. You can always hammer out a final custody order at a later date or have the court decide the issue for you, and it’s a good idea for your children’s sake to figure out how you will handle parenting time and decisions until your divorce is finalized.

If you’re having trouble coming to an agreement with your spouse, keep in mind that a judge can impose a temporary custody order during this period.

4. Have A Support Network

Divorce can take a toll on your finances, but it is also a highly emotional time. No matter who is seeking the divorce, ending a marriage and breaking up your family can be a draining task. You should avoid taking out your emotions on your children, but it is important to have a separate emotional support network.

Dedicated friends or family members can lend an ear when needed, and they can also help with your kids or other tasks that can be difficult to complete on your own.

5. Have A Clear Understanding of How Your Actions Could Affect the Outcome of Your Divorce

The period between filing for divorce and the date your divorce is final can be a complicated one. Many people are anxious to get on with the next chapter in their lives and do things that may be out of character or start dating immediately. It’s important to understand that the things you do while your divorce is pending may have an effect on the outcome of issues like child custody, the division of marital assets, or spousal support (maintenance).

For this reason, you should refrain from engaging in any activities that could call into question your judgment or emotional stability. In addition, since you are still married in the eyes of the law, it’s a good idea to refrain from dating or starting a new relationship while your divorce is pending.

6. Have A Financial Plan

There is no doubt that divorce can affect your financial situation. For many people, losing the financial support of a spouse can be difficult, and there are ways to plan ahead to ensure you are in the best financial position possible post-marriage. Some aspects of a strong financial divorce plan include:

  • Do not accrue any unnecessary debt before or during a divorce
  • Watch any joint accounts for over-spending on your spouse’s part
  • Stick to a strict budget and minimize your spending
  • Determine how much income you will need to cover your bills and expenses on your own

7. Have A Place to Live

Many people wonder whether they should move out prior to filing for divorce. Sometimes, moving out can make it more difficult to retain any ownership in the family home after the divorce, so you might consider staying until the divorce is final. However, if the situation at home is untenable or unsafe, you should secure a place to live that is affordable and appropriate for your children to visit.

8. Hire An Experienced Divorce Attorney

Finally, if you are considering filing for divorce, it’s in your best interest to at least consult with a family lawyer in your jurisdiction. Divorce is a complicated legal matter that can affect the most important aspects of your life, including your finances, your ability to spend time with your children and make important decisions about their lives, and whether you can stay in your current home.

Consequently, it’s highly advisable that you consult with an attorney before you decide to take any steps that can affect your legal rights.

The post 8 Things You Need To Do Before You File for Divorce appeared first on Divorced Moms.


modify child custody agreement

Can I Modify My Child Custody Agreement Myself, Without Going to Court?

modify child custody agreement


As an experienced Somerset, NJ divorce and family law attorney, I can tell you that the answer is yes, of course! But I don’t advise it, because when you and your ex alter your child custody arrangements on your own, you are creating more problems than you are solving.

Who suffers? Ultimately, your children.  Read on to find out how you can best protect your children and your parental rights.

Can I Modify My Child Custody Agreement?

The Child Custody Agreement

How a child custody agreement is reached varies by state, but in general, it is negotiated as part of your divorce and a court decree is entered setting forth the child custody terms. When parents agree on what living and legal arrangements are best for their children, the process goes smoothly.

When parents disagree, this is where the court steps in, attorneys negotiate, and a compromise is reached. Most often, compromise satisfies neither party and there are continuing ill feelings. But at least there is a court order in place, and either you or your ex could ask the court to step in if one of you fails to comply with it.

Generally, the initial child custody agreement will establish who has physical and legal custody, and whether there is joint custody shared between the parents or one parent has sole custody.

Physical vs Legal Custody

In most states, legal and physical custody are different rights. The child lives primarily with the parent who has physical custody. Either parent or both may have the right to make decisions for the child, and this is called legal custody.

When parents are married, both have physical and legal custody of their children.  When married parents divorce, these rights must be either divided or shared.

Joint Custody vs. Sole Custody

These are what they say they are:  where children live with both parents, this is called Joint Custody. In this situation, both parents as a practical matter often retain joint legal custody.

Sole Custody is the term for when one parent has both physical and legal custody of a child. Usually, for the other parent to lose these rights, there is a hearing and the judge will make that determination based upon factors that vary by state.

Asking the Court to Alter The Child Custody Agreement

Parents who change the terms of child custody through the courts are doing the most they can to protect their rights as parents because the court issues an order memorializing those changes.  Thereafter, the new child custody terms can be enforced by the court should one party fail to keep to them.

Altering the Terms of Child Custody on Your Own

Of course, you and your ex can agree to change the child custody arrangement outside of court.  It’s quick, easy (assuming you both agree), and cheap in that there no attorney fees or court filing fees. But beware of the following pitfalls of changing the child custody agreement on your own:

The court will not and cannot enforce your new child custody terms.

If your ex wakes up one day and decides not to stick to the new child custody arrangement, there is nothing you can do about it. Only a court order is legally binding on your ex. There is no way to enforce your informal agreement with your ex.

Your ex can get the court to enforce the terms of the original child custody agreement.

You might be acting in good faith and sticking to the changes you and your ex worked out.  But your ex could still haul you in front of the judge and demand that the court enforce the original child custody order.  That would be well within his rights, and the court would find that you are the party who violated the order.

Changes in child custody may work out at first, but if you allow one informal change, where does it end?

It is common for an ex to take advantage of the situation when you are willing to make informal changes, either planned or on-the-fly.  Your life could become a hell of variables and resentment, with your ex constantly demanding little changes to the child custody schedule and you feeling powerless to say no because you allowed such changes in the past.

In short, making informal changes to child custody might seem convenient and harmless at the time but you end up laying the groundwork for future conflict between you and your ex. Didn’t you go through the pain of divorce to end that conflict? Your children also suffer, not only from the revived conflict between you but from the uncertainty in their parenting schedule. Parents who remain civil, a calm, stable environment, and a predictable schedule all help children heal from divorce.

Let the court help you and your children, and your ex, move forward in an orderly and predictable way by memorializing any needed change to a child custody agreement with a court order.

The post Can I Modify My Child Custody Agreement Myself, Without Going to Court? appeared first on Divorced Moms.