So you’ve decided to get a divorce. Now what? How can you make it easier on your kids?
No doubt you never planned for your marriage to end this way. No one does. Your kids never thought of it ending this way easier. They have probably noticed the fighting that’s been going on. Perhaps they notice one or both you don’t smile as much as you did before. They probably already know “something’s going on.” This could be a real game changer for them. The one thing that is solid, the family unit, is about to be busted up.
They’ve likely heard some of their friends at school talking about their moms and dads when they went through the same thing. Your main goal (as the parent) is to provide certainly for your kids; to reassure them that your love for them is as strong as ever. Let them know that your family is still just that: a FAMILY.
Do you need to tell the WHY of the divorce?
There are almost an endless list of reasons that couples divorce. Sometimes its just the financial stresses of life. Sometimes one of the parties have simply changed to the extent that its no longer possible for them to get along. Often, unfortunately, there’s addictive behavior, like excess drinking, drug addiction and even sexual addiction.
The decision about sharing the “why” of the divorce will in significant part depend on the ages of your children. You will have to gauge their maturity level. It’s likely better not to share too much of the why if your children are younger than 12. At these ages, they probably aren’t ready to process the variety of struggles that couples have. Perhaps you can share more details later.
However, if you children are teens, understand that they may believe that that their parents divorce is because of them, or something they’ve done. Remember that you are the adult here. You should reassure them that the problems are between you and your mate, and not because of something the child has done or not done.
Guard Against Showing Your Frustrations
Going through a divorce is difficult even under the best circumstances. You’re going to experience emotions that may be foreign to you and will likely have times of great intensity. Often a divorce brings out the very worse in people. It’s easy to see why you would become sad and frustrated with your mate. You’ll likely feel like you’ve been abandoned, and are no longer loveable.
Just be aware that these emotions are normal for the circumstance.
But don’t wear these emotions in your actions and interactions with your children. They are feeling some of the same emotions at a time when they are likely not mature enough to process them.
Just keep in mind that you will always be your children’s parent. A divorce simply changes the relationship between their mom and dad.
Explain a Change in Living Arrangements
Living arrangements are going to change as a result of the marital split. It may also impact where the kids sleep and where they ultimately live. When the time is right you’ll want to let them know that there may be some changes. Normally, you’d expect them to spend time with both parents. Let them know that when they are with the other parent, you will be alright, but you’ll miss them. They want to know this because they are concerned about you.
As you walk down this path before long everyone will get into a new routine. Your family will adapt to the changes. The main thing is to let your kids know that you are always there for them and will never abandon them. Abandonment is one of the biggest concerns that children have.
Parental relocation is and always will be a significant issue in child custody so long as we have a mobile society.
Imagine this. The parents decide to “call it quits” on their marriage. That’s easy for them to decide. However, the next question is who will have custody of the minor children. At the time of the divorce, most couples are not considering the possibility that one of them will want to move to another state in the future. The hurt and disappointment that accompanies marital break-up overshadows such considerations (at least at that time).
However, sometime later circumstances change and one of the parents decides they want to move. In Tennessee if you are going to move over 50 miles from the current location there are some pretty specific steps you must follow if you are planning on moving. It is important to consult with an experienced child custody lawyer if this situation arises in your life.
The Tennessee Court of Appeals just considered this very case in Cassidy Aragon v. Reynaldo Aragon, Case #M2013-01962-COA-R3-CV. Cassidy Aragon and her husband Reynaldo were married for a total of about 4 years. During that time Cassidy gave birth to a baby girl who was approximately 3 years old at the time of the divorce. When they worked out the child custody provisions in the divorce papers they provided that both parties would have an equal number of days each year as “co-parenting time.”
Although they were living in Clarksville, Tennessee at the time of the divorce, a decision was made that Cassidy would take a job overseas as a translator. This way she could support the kids (she had one of her own separate from Reynaldo) and allow Reynaldo to finish college and get a nursing degree.
However, soon after Reynaldo became a nurse he decided he wanted to relocate to Tuscon, Arizona. “It’s easier to get a job there,” he said. His mom also lived there.
Because Tennessee law required Reynaldo to give 60 days notice to Cassidy if he was going to move out of state, he gave the notice. The battle began. Cassidy asked the court to stop the relocation of their child to Tuscon. Since due to Cassidy working overseas Reynaldo spent substantially more time with their daughter.
Interestingly, when the parent who spends “substantially more time” with the child decides to move, the burden of proof (the responsibility to persuade) shifts to the other parent. Therefore, Cassidy had to prove at least one of three things:
(1) the relocation does not have a reasonable purpose; or,
(2) the relocation would pose a threat of specific and serious harm to the child that outweighs the threat of harm to the child of a change of custody; or
(3) the parent’s motive for relocating the child is vindictive in that it is intended to defeat or deter visitation rights of the non-custodial parent or the parent spending less time with the child.
If the opposing parent proves one of the three things above, then and only then, does the court consider what is in the best interests of the child. So proving one of those things is pretty important. As a general principle when a court considers issues relating to child custody, the best interests of the child are most important.
In this case, Cassidy sought to prove that the relocation does not have a reasonable purpose. She demonstrated to the court’s satisfaction that the relocation did not have a reasonable purpose. She was able to do that because Reynaldo had not sought employment in the Clarksville area. Apparently that was a huge factor with the judge. Once he made that finding, he named her the custodial parent and gave Reynaldo only 80 days of co-parenting time (visitation) each year. That’s a pretty big swing from over 50% of the time to down to 82 days.
Reynaldo’s child custody attorney appealed the case to the Tennessee Court of Appeals. There the court found that the trial court failed to make specific findings that it was in the best interests of the child to stay with her mother. The Court of Appeals refused to set aside the finding that the relocation did not serve a reasonable purpose. However, the court said that the trial court must make a specific findings that are required before the court could bar the relocation to Tuscon and directed the trial court to make those findings.
So here’s the take away:
1. If your ex-spouse all of a sudden changes informal “co-parenting time” be aware that a possible relocation may be in the works. She may be attempting to move into the situation where she spends substantially more time with the child than you do. That would change the burden of persuasion if a relocation is sought.
2. If you receive a notice of relocation, however informal, don’t sit on your rights. It would be bad if a court later determined that the “notice” was proper and you no longer had a right to contest the relocation.
3. Be attentive to what is said by your ex-spouse about the “why” of the relocation. This is information that your Maryville Divorce Lawyer will need to know in order to help you.
You may also be interested in these articles:
Child Custody Mistakes can be costly. Don’t handicap your Maryville Divorce Lawyer.
No doubt throughout your life you’ve tried to be the best parent you can be. Now you’ve got to insure that every action you take when you are fighting for what’s best for your children will actually help you help them.
Mistake #1: Clouded Judgment. Don’t let your animosity toward your spouse (or soon to be ex-spouse) cloud your judgment.
Remember that the most important thing is looking out for the best interests of your child or children. This is your chance to look out for the kids when your marriage is broken. The courts really don’t spend much time on the WHY of a broken marriage. They look primarily on how to protect the children; and that’s how it should be.
Be careful not to talk negatively or disrespectfully about the other parent in front of the children. This will NOT help you will, maintain, or modify custody. Courts simply don’t see this as a sign that you’ll set aside the bickering that often goes with broken relationships long enough to look out for your children.
One dumb move can make the difference between you having custody of your children or your spouse or ex-spouse.
Check out the video below for additional tips on how to avoid child custody mistakes.
You also might want to check out this article: Divorce Without a Lawyer can be a Disaster
Can you really survive this divorce?
The answer is a resounding YES!!!!
Sometimes it doesn’t fee this way. Take a few minutes to watch Dr. David Sbarra from the University of Arizona talk about how to survive divorce. It will help as you navigate this difficult path. But remember, the answer is YES!
He begins by talking about “Why Moments”, you know the ones, what do I do now? No doubt youve asked yourself that question.
A Maryville Divorce Lawyer can help you when you are ready. If you are facing divorce, you may want to read Tips for Men Who are Faced With Divorce.