How to Help Your Kids Cope at Home During Coronavirus

spatz fam covid

In the last few weeks, our normal lives have come to a halt and we are facing a harsh and scary new reality. Schools, parks, stores, everything seems to be closing around us in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. We are all being urged to stay home and keep to ourselves in order to help eliminate the spreading of this virus. Coronavirus is a major health concern around the world, and while it needs to be taken seriously, it’s important to find a calm way to explain it to your children.

How to Explain Coronavirus to Your Children

There’s a chance that your children have already heard about COVID-19 as it’s been in the news since January. Explain to your children that it’s like the flu, but can sometimes be more dangerous for those who are already sick or are elderly. Let them know that it’s not as common in children and by washing their hands often they can avoid it all together.

Make sure to listen to any questions or concerns that they may have. Try to be as honest as possible with them while still keeping calm. Everyone’s anxiety levels are high right now, and being stressed lowers our immune system, so it’s best to approach the subject calmly.

Take time to show them how to properly wash their hands for 20 seconds, using Happy Birthday or a favorite song of theirs to sing along to. Encourage your children to keep their hands off their faces and to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.

How to Keep Children Entertained During Quarantine

While Florida isn’t on a mandatory quarantine order, we are encouraged to stay home as much as possible. Being at home is bound to lead to boredom and stir crazy children (and adults). During this time dust off those old board games and put them to use, set up a virtual play date using FaceTime with a best friend, read a book, start a new television show as a family. We often use the excuse that we’re too busy and don’t have the time to little projects. Use this time wisely and start that puzzle you’ve always wanted to do. Make dinner together as a family – pizza is always a fun interactive option. There’s always a silver lining. This is a great time to be able to slow down a bit and bond as a family.

Russell Spatz is a Miami based experienced family law attorney who always keeps his clients and their best interest at top of mind. If you or your family need to discuss any legal matters during this time, reach out to Russell Spatz at (305) 442-0200 to see how he can help.

 

 

What Happens When Children Refuse Visitation with a Parent?

No one gets married and starts a family with the intention to get divorced, but sometimes a divorce is an unavoidable part of life. While divorce isn’t easy on anyone, it can be made enough harder when there are children involved. It’s not rare for children to be caught off guard when a divorced is announced. This is a change in dynamic that can cause emotions to erupt as their parents are suddenly living in different homes with different lives.

Divorce agreements typically involve a custody arrangement that will dictate which parent is the primary parent and which one has visitation rights. Legally, the parents must follow this agreement, but what happens is the child doesn’t want to partake in the way the courts have approved?

Reasons Why a Child Might Refuse Parental Visitation

There are several reasons why a child might not want to abide by a scheduled visit.

  • Overwhelmed by the changes of a new home
  • Stressed by a new forced routine
  • Interference with school schedule or planned activities
  • Fear of missing out when it comes to their friends and what’s happening at “home”
  • A parent having a new partner that the child isn’t ready to accept
  • A parent is too strict or harsh (sometimes even abusive)

What are the Legal Obligations of Parents When It Come to Visitation?

When a child refuses to take part in the court approved visitation schedule, it puts the primary parent in a tough spot. Of course, the first thought from the parent is to protect their child and not force them into a situation where they might feel uncomfortable. But one must remember that the other parent has the right to see and spend time as it’s their child as well. By not complying with the visitation schedule it can be considered a custody order violation and legal consequences may follow. Ultimately, a judge is the one to decide is the custody order must be forced. The goal is always to try to have the child establish a well-balanced relationship with each parent. Changes to the custody order, whether requested by a parent or the child, must go through the courts and be approved by a judge after proving why a new arrangement would be a better fit for the child.

What Parents Can Do To Ease the Situation

A simple talk with your child about their feelings and their fears when it comes time to visit their other parent can make a world of a difference. Let them know you support them and are there for them, but remind them that their other parent loves them and supports them as well. You might not be a normal family anymore, but that doesn’t mean they are loved any less.

If you are doing through a divorce and are in need of a family attorney to help settle your affairs, such as a custody agreement, consider giving Russell Spatz a phone call at (305) 442-0200 today to see how he can help you. With decades of experience, he’s handled all types of family law cases and will always have his client’s best interest in mind.

How to Introduce Your Children to Your New Partner After Divorce

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After a divorce, you’re bound to move on. Whether it takes a few months or a few years, there’s a large chance that you’ll soon have another partner in your life and eventually you’re going to have to introduce them to your children. Of course, your children and their needs should always come first, making the introduction of a new partner a significant event in their life. This new person can change the dynamics of your family completely.

It’s always suggested that the new relationship be a stable and a potentially long-term one before the introductions. It’s important to start slowly and make sure everyone is comfortable during the process.

When to Introduce Your Children to Your New Partner

Finding the right time is the first and most important step. This type of meeting should ideally be discussed between both parents, as it’s a big step for children – especially those who aren’t coping well with the divorce to begin with. After a divorce, children often struggle with adjusting to their new lives between going back and forth between parents, new schedule changes, and a rush of emotions. During a divorce children may feel mad, confused, guilty, or sad and need time to figure out what they are feeling. Meeting a new partner too soon could cause them to feel even more lost and confused during the process.

Where to Introduce Your Children to Your New Partner

It’s best to introduce your new partner in a location where the children feel comfortable, but not necessarily at home, where it is easy to feel like an invasion. The meeting should be done slowly and in an environment with an activity that can take away some of the pressure surrounding the big event. An arcade, movie, restaurant, or outdoor activity can make for a great first meeting location. Be hyper-aware of your behavior with your new partner, as too much affection can be uncomfortable or embarrassing to children, especially those who took the divorce hardest.

Make sure to pay close attention to your children during this time as each one will react differently to the situation. Ask them how they are feeling and remind that that they are loved. Make sure they feel like they are being included in the moving on and let them know that you value their feelings during this time.

Divorce is hard on everyone involved, but the process doesn’t have to be such a headache. If you or someone you know are going through a divorce, consider contacting Russell Spatz, who in four decades has handled all sorts of family legal matters. His top priority is making sure you are comfortable and understood during this tough process.

Can I Adopt My Spouse’s Child?

adoption

Marrying someone with a child can be a blessing, as well as a large responsibility. Sometimes step parents are willing to go the extra mile and want to take on the huge task of becoming a legal parent to their spouse’s child. This isn’t a simple process, but with some determination and a bit of guidance it can be done.

How To Adopt Your Spouse’s Child

In order to adopt your stepchild, a petition must first be filed with the court. Once this petition is accepted, it then most be proven that you are eligible to adopt the child and that both your spouse and the child (if the child is 14 years old or older in the state of Florida) consent to the adoption. Of course, the second parent must be taken into consideration. If they are in the picture, then they also much consent as well as sign away their own parental rights. If the second parent isn’t around due to unestablished paternity, being an unfit parent, being a danger to the child, or has been in prison for a significant amount of time – then their consent may not be needed.

What Happens When You Adopt Your Step Child?

Once the adoption is finalized, you’re no longer a step parent, but a true legal guardian to the child. This means you accept all legal and financial responsibility. If there are any child support orders in place from a biological parent, these orders will end. Alternatively, if there is a future divorce, the adoptive parent may be held responsible for future child support payments. It’s a big step to take, but creating a new blended family can be a wonderful thing.

Adopting a stepchild can take roughly three months, but with the help an of experience family law attorney like Russell Spatz, the entire process can be made seamless and easy to understand. Those who are willing to take on the legal and financial responsibility of a child who is not biologically theirs are very special people and Russell Spatz takes great pride in working with them to help make their family complete.

 

Establishing Paternity in Florida

establishing paternity

According to Florida Law, when a mother gives birth and is married, it is assumed that the husband is the father of the child. If this isn’t the case, or if the mother is unmarried at the time of the birth, then paternity must be established. Establishing paternity when the parents of a newborn aren’t married is done either voluntarily or by court order.

What is Voluntary Paternity v. Court Ordered Paternity?

Voluntary paternity is established when both the mother and father or the child agree on who the father is and sign a “voluntary acknowledgment of paternity” form. This form simply means that both parents are acknowledging that the child belongs to them. The father who signs the form is agreeing that they are the child’s father and will take all legal responsibilities as such. The form is then file and becomes final 60 days after it has been signed. No changes to this form can be made without proving that fraud or force was used in the signing.

Court ordered paternity is when either parent takes the situation to court to establish the paternity. This may be brought to the courts by the child’s mother, the alleged father, the child themselves via legal representation, or Florida Department of Child Supportive Services. This process can begin before the child is born, but can not be finalized until after the birth.

What Happens Once Paternity is Established?

To prove paternity, genetic tests will be done for the mother, child, and possible father. Once paternity is proven child support, visitation, health insurance, and authority over the child’s rights are determined.

If you or a loved one are currently in the process of establishing paternity or believe that you have the right to be granted paternity of a child you think is yours, the assistance of a someone who is knowledgeable in the field of family law could make the process smoother. Consider giving Russell Spatz a call today at (305) 442-0200 to help make your family whole.

 

What Happens If Your Spouse Passes Away During the Divorce?

divorce

The unthinkable can happen at a moment’s notice. Going through a divorce is a tough and tumultuous time for those involved. What if your spouse passes away during the divorce, leaving so many issues unresolved? While your grief may be mixed with an odd sense of relief, it does lead to changes in the process that could make finalizing the divorce more difficult.

How Do Divorce Proceedings Change After One Spouse Passes Away?

Often times the courts will decide that there is no longer a need to grant a divorce after the passing of one of the parties involved, as the marriage has now ended in death. However, even without the divorce, some states will still have jurisdiction over marital property. This means that the courts will use its power to decide what will happen to the assets acquired during the marriage. The judge has the ability to divide marital assets and debts between the living spouse and the decedent’s estate according to the state’s family law code.

If there is no estate in place, you will typically become the owner of all community property. If there are any marital debts, those will also become your responsibility as well.

What Happens to the Children if One Parent Passes Away During a Divorce?

When it comes to child custody and child support, the surviving parent will gain full legal custody unless it is deemed that the children are unsafe with the surviving parent. If child support was being determined during the divorce proceedings and the spouse who was to assume the role of paying monthly child support is the one who passes away, the surviving parent may be entitled to death benefit or a life insurance payout through your spouse’s employer. These assets and funds can make up for the financial support you should have received if your spouse hadn’t passed away.

If you are currently in the middle of a divorce and are experiencing the pain and suffering of having your spouse pass away during the process, having an experienced attorney who knows their way around family law is necessary to not only keep your divorce on track, but to help ease the worry and stress involved during this life changing period. Russell Spatz has decades of experience and always puts his clients and their needs first. Call him today at (305) 442-0200.

 

What is Retroactive Child Support?

Child support is a major factor when it comes to raising the children of parents who are no longer together. In the state of Florida both parents are equally responsible for being able to provide for their children, whether they reside with them or not. After a divorce or separation the courts will typically require the parent who the child is not living with on a full time basis to pay for a portion of the expenses that are incurred in the child’s life. Retroactive child support may come into play if there are certain circumstances where the bulk of the expenses related to the child falls directly on the custodial parent.

What Circumstances Can Lead to Retroactive Child Support?

According to Florida law, retroactive child support can only go back as far as 24 months. This means that no matter how long the situation has gone on, payment is only expected to cover the last 24 months worth of expenses that have been created.

Ways retroactive child support can be put into place:

  • If a divorce takes several months and during that time a bulk of the expenses falls directly on the custodial parent – for example daycare or school expenses.
  • If a woman who had a child out of wedlock decides to seek retroactive child support, that support will not go back any further than two years.
  • Retroactive child support could also be past due child support once it is ordered and goes unpaid.

Divorce is never an easy thing to navigate, especially when there are children involved. It’s in your best interested to work with an experienced family law attorney who knows the ins and outs of the process. Your attorney will work with you on issues related to child support and those that may involve retroactive child support. Russell Spatz has years of experience in this field and can help guide the way through these tough times.

How to Tell Your Kids About Divorce

talking to your kids about divorce

Maybe you tried everything you could to make your marriage work, but the unfortunate reality is that it is not. Sometimes, couples feel as though the only way to create a happier life each partner is to separate and move on with their lives apart. While this may make each spouse more comfortable in the long run, during the short-term, you still have to deal with the day-to-day of going through a divorce. If you have children, this can be even more complicated. You may be wondering how to tell your kids about divorce.

How to Tell Your Kids About Divorce

As scary and disrupting as divorce can be, the fact of the matter is that it is pretty common. According to the American Psychological Association, 40-50% of married couples in the U.S. divorce, and the rate increases for subsequent marriages. Even if you have not been through a divorce before in your family, the chances are that if you have older children, half of their friends have been through the divorce process in their families. Therefore, older children may be susceptible to rumors or negative stories from their peers regarding the process of divorce.

Each separation is different than others, and people divorce for all sorts of reasons. Therefore, when speaking to your children, make sure to be very clear without giving away too many details. The line of communication between parent and child should remain open throughout the process. Additionally, the age of the child should be considered when having this conversation, so it is best to speak with a child specialist before diving into this complicated conversation.

Here are a few general tips for telling your kids about divorce.

  • Do not tell your kids that you will be divorcing until it is really going to happen. Many couples may go back and forth trying to decide if it’s right to separate, and it may be tempting to tell the kids in order to get their reaction early on, but this is a mistake. Children need stability in their lives for proper growth, so any disruption in the family will be a challenge. Therefore, you don’t want to send them on an emotional rollercoaster if you can prevent that from happening. Wait until you are sure to have any conversation.
  • Don’t go into details about why the divorce is happening, especially if it paints one of the parents in a particularly bad light. It may make you feel better to tell your child the divorce was a result of the other spouse’s infidelity, but this will not help your child. Keep adult issues between adults, and let your child enjoy their childhood without taking on the burden of the problems of your marriage.
  • Have the conversation as a family unit. If you have multiple children, make sure that all of them are present for the talk. The last thing you want to do is put one child against the other if he or she feels that he gets information first or last. Additionally, make sure that both parents are present for the conversation so that the children understand that this is a family decision and that both parents care for them deeply. This will also help keep gossip among parents and children to a minimum if the conversation happens out in the open together as a family.
  • Try as much as possible to keep a routine for your family throughout the divorce. This may be difficult if parents begin to live in separate homes, but as much as you can do it, stick to the routines that your children know in order to reassure them that their lives will remain steady, simply with mom and dad living in different locations.
  • If possible, connect with a child psychologist or therapist early on in the process to help you and your family emotionally through the separation. By opening up early on, you may be able to help your children move through the divorce and past it without a large amount of emotional damage.
  • As with any change in your child’s life, make sure that you are paying close attention to their moods, and any changes in behaviors or school performance. Significant shifts in life circumstances can cause children to act out in different ways. Parents should pay attention to these changes to help their child cope with divorce in a healthy way.

Divorce is never easy on a family, but it’s imperative that you work with an experienced family law attorney who has your best interest in mind throughout the process. Your attorney will work with you on issues related to asset separation and child support, which can be complicated and require someone with legal knowledge. Your lawyer can also be a great source of advice for handling the intricacies of a family separation.

 

References:

Marriage and Divorce. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/topics/divorce/

Heidelberger, E. (2019, February 06). How to gently talk to your kids about divorce. Retrieved from https://www.mother.ly/life/how-to-gently-talk-to-your-kids-about-divorce

5 Health Impacts of Divorce

The reasons why a marriage dissolves can sometimes include the fact that the couple was no longer happy together, and in fact, their relationship had become toxic. Unhappy marriages can lead to unhealthy lifestyles and choices. However, when a couple decides to divorce, there can be other physical and psychological health impacts that arise from the dissolution of the marriage. Sometimes, these adverse health effects can be treated, but it’s a good idea to understand what to look for as someone is going through a divorce.

Here are five health impacts of divorce that you should be aware of and work toward preventing.

  1. Excessive or Chronic Stress

Divorces are stressful, and there is no way around that. However, there are certain things that you need to watch out for to ensure that the stress is not getting out of control. Chronic stress can lead to an increased risk for many other harmful health conditions such as heart disease, anxiety, depression, weight gain, serious digestive issues, and overall malaise. When someone is suffering from an excessive amount of bad stress, his or her overall health can decline rather quickly, so it’s essential to combat the stress as soon as you can.

De-stress tip: Even though you may not feel like it while you are going through your divorce, it’s important to keep self-care at the top of your priority list. Self-care could be as simple as taking time once a week to do something that makes you feel good. Make sure you are attending to your needs and wants. It won’t make the process go any faster if you are just always stressed, so give yourself regular permission to continue to do things that help you to relax.

  1. Depression

Depression can evolve from the chronic stress you are experiencing as a result of the divorce if you are not staying very intune with the way that you are feeling. Separation can mean a significant life change for most people, as they shift into a way of life that does not involve their spouse, and often involves less of their children. It’s normal to feel sad about the loss of the life you once had but pay attention to the warning signs of depression and how you are dealing with stress and sadness. If you have been consistently feeling blue for more than two weeks in a row, it may be time to talk to a doctor about how your sadness is affecting your overall mood. There is no shame in getting help to try and mitigate the adverse effects of depression.

Mood lifting tip: It can be hard to find happy moments throughout your divorce process but try and make the best of the good moments you do have. If you have kids, maybe this is an excellent time to try something fun for the first time or take them to that restaurant you always drive by instead of just through the drive-through for dinner. If you don’t have kids, use some of your free time to reconnect with good friends, or invite a new friend to grab drinks or dinner. Engage in activities that take your mind off of the divorce process you are experiencing.

  1. Sleep Problems

Sleep is one of the most important aspects of overall good health. When you are stressed out or depressed, it’s easy to lose sleep. The problem arises when you start to lose sleep regularly, as sleep deprivation can be a slippery slope. One sleepless night can turn into another and another, and before you know it, you’re a walking zombie. Loss of sleep can affect everything from your waistline to your heart health and can cause conditions like anxiety and depression. Since many of these conditions are linked to each other, it’s important that you address the issue of a lack of sleep as soon as you notice the problem.

Sleep better tonight tip: Some swear by meditation and sleep aid apps on your phone. If you are having difficulty sleeping because your racing thoughts about your divorce are never-ending, you may want to consider meditation before bed. There are apps or videos online that can walk you through guided meditations that are explicitly geared to helping you sleep. Sound machines may also be a good way to help you drown out your thoughts by listening to the calming ocean waves before you sleep, even if you are miles from the nearest beach.

  1. Weight Gain

There’s no doubt that the above-mentioned health problems can also contribute to weight gain, which is another negative health impact of divorce. When someone is going through a significant lifestyle change like a divorce, it can mean that eating habits also change. It may be that you are no longer eating at home as much or taking refuge in comfort foods to help lift your spirits. If you went from being in a marriage to being a single parent most of the time, you might find that you don’t have as much time to work out or exercise on your own as you used to. When your eating habits and your workout schedule changes, you may be at risk for weight gain and the problems associated with that, such as an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and mobility issues.

Get back on track tip: If you find that you are at a loss for time to exercise as you are going through your divorce, start by incorporating small workouts in throughout the day. Instead of park by the entrance to the store, park farther out to give yourself a walk. Take the stairs instead of the elevator and drop down to do a one-minute plank each time you leave your desk for something. These are all ways that you can start to get your body moving and think about being active again.

  1. Alcohol Abuse

Divorce indeed provides a prime opportunity for someone to start abusing alcohol. Perhaps you aren’t at home with the kids every night now, and instead, find company in a neighborhood bar. Maybe you are spending more time with single friends and attending networking happy hours. All of these activities can be good in small doses, but keep an eye on the amount of alcohol you are actually consuming. Alcohol abuse can have many health impacts such as liver cirrhosis and mental impairment, as well as contribute to weight gain, heart disease, depression, and anxiety. There is nothing wrong with being more social as you are going through your divorce, but don’t allow your drinking to get out of hand in ways that will negatively impact your overall health and well-being.

Socialize sober tip: Instead of inviting friends to join you at the bar, switch up your activities and ask friends to meet for a Sunday morning yoga class and juice bar or take a walk to get coffee. Both of these activities can be done without alcohol and still allow you to catch up with friends and be social. As a bonus, by asking your friends to do active social activities, you are also giving yourself time to exercise instead of consuming empty calories, which is better for overall health.

Divorces can be incredibly painful and can cause many different physical or psychological effects. The best thing you can do is to be on top of any of these types of adverse health impacts.

If you are going through a divorce or separation, you should contact an experienced family law attorney to be on your side throughout the whole process. One way to take some of the stress off of your back is to have an attorney who you can trust and who will help you through the legal part of the separation.

 

References:

The Disturbing Ways Divorce Can Impact Your Health. (2019, January 23). Retrieved from https://dadsdivorce.com/articles/the-disturbing-ways-divorce-can-impact-your-health/

 

What to Know About Your First meeting with Your Divorce Attorney

The decision to get a divorce is extremely difficult. When two people decide that their marriage is no longer working, it can signal the beginning of a long and stressful process of separating two lives that have lived as one. If there are children involved in the marriage, this process can be even more difficult and emotionally draining as the family navigates a life that will be very different from what they are used to. When the decision is made to get a divorce, each spouse should meet with a family attorney to assist them through the process. Here are a few things to keep in mind about your first meeting with your divorce attorney.

Before the Meeting

Before you meet with an attorney, it’s important to do your research. Take some time to find an attorney that is competent in family law, and who has a track record of success for his or her client. Read reviews or ask for a recommendation from a trusted friend or family member. It’s essential that you pick a credible and experienced attorney to assist you through the most challenging time in your life.

You should also make sure that you are prepared before your meeting. Write out questions you want to ask, and have all documentation ready to show your attorney. Your first meeting will contain many questions on both sides as your attorney gets to know you and your marital situation, so it’s crucial that you come prepared to give him or her as much information as you can about your marriage. You must be prepared and focused for this important meeting.

During the Meeting

Your attorney should make you feel comfortable and at ease. If he or she does not, then maybe it is not a good match. It’s important that you trust the person advising you through the divorce proceedings because you don’t want to make the process any longer or main painful than it already will be.

Make sure you take notes during the meeting and ask for a recap or next steps. Your lawyer will charge by the hour, so you want to make sure that you are using your time wisely. Having as much information ready to go and asking for specific instructions on how to proceed will save you time and money moving forward.

The circumstances of your marriage will determine how the meeting will go. If you and your spouse have agreed to an amicable divorce, the meeting may be very different than if the divorce will be contentious. It’s important that you tell your attorney everything that you and your spouse have discussed and agreed upon prior to the meeting. Your attorney should also ask a lot of questions about the state of your marriage and your finances. Don’t be alarmed. This is normal and important when decided alimony and child support or any other separation of assets.

During the meeting, you should be prepared to discuss alimony, child support, and any division of property, assets, or debts. These issues will all be determined over the course of the divorce proceedings, so it’s important that you have an understanding of what should be expected.

Documents to Bring to Your First Meeting with Your Divorce Attorney

Make sure that you bring all financial documents to your first meeting with your divorce attorney. Any documentation that describes the current status of assets owned by you and your spouse should be brought with you. Your financial situation and the status of your marital finances will all be used to determine alimony and child support and other asset and liability distribution following the dissolution of the marriage.

These documents include:

  • Tax Returns- at least three years worth
  • Pension Plans/401(k)s/IRAs
  • Bank & Investment Statements
  • Pay Stubs from the last three paychecks
  • Real Estate documentation such as deeds or mortgages
  • Any other documents that you think would be essential and necessary related to your marital finances

At the end of the meeting, you should feel confident in your attorney’s ability to support your best interests through the divorce proceedings. If this is not the case, it may be a good idea to find a different attorney before you are too far along.

If you are in the process of considering a divorce, it’s important that you contact an experienced family law attorney as soon as possible.

 

References:

Lowenstein, M. S. (2012, February 08). What To Bring to Your First Appointment. Retrieved from https://www.wife.org/lowenstein-002.htm#wrap

 

Guillen, L. (2013, April 03). Your First Meeting With A Divorce Attorney. Retrieved from https://www.divorcenet.com/states/massachusetts/your_first_appointment_with_your_divorce_lawyer