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Tips for Co-Parenting During the Holidays

After a divorce, co-parenting your children can still create many challenges throughout the year, but these may be significantly magnified as the holidays approach. Between events and gatherings with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends, you and your former spouse may be competing for precious time with your little ones.

It’s important to always follow the parenting plan established over the course of your divorce in order to avoid any major issues that could further damage the family, but in addition to that, here are a few more tips for co-parenting during the holidays.

Prioritize Your Kids

Never forget whose wellbeing is most important to consider, despite what happened with your former spouse. Make sure you are considering your children with each decision you make year-round, but especially during the holidays, which are supposed to be a fun and enchanting time.

You may feel the need to pull your kids in many different directions to visit family in the limited amount of time that you have together, but this may not serve your children well. Kids may become exhausted and not enjoy quality time if you are not taking their needs into consideration. Remember, this is a time for making memories, not for running your children into the ground and creating resentment for holiday functions. If your kids need a break, think about how you can incorporate that into the festivities.

Coordinate Gifts

If you and your spouse coordinate how you will handle gifts, you can limit the need to one-up each other each year. Decide on a budget, and make sure you aren’t getting the same gifts on your kids’ lists. Your children will be happier in the long run if both parents share the gift-giving duties equally as opposed to one outdoing the other.

Make Plans, But Be Patient

As stated earlier, it’s important to always follow the parenting plan set by the court when it comes to holiday time with your kids, but even more than that, make sure you have a plan for the time spent together. If there are extra activities or events that you would like for your child to attend, make arrangements with your ex to ensure that each parent is getting equal time.

Additionally, be patient. The holidays can be busy and stressful, especially if there is a lot of back-and-forth. Try to let the small things go, and remember that the most important thing is the experience of your child.

Never Argue in Front of the Kids

Though there may be disagreements from time to time, keep your arguing to a minimum and out of range of the children. Divorce is hard enough on kids, but repeated arguments between parents can be internalized by your children and cause them much distress throughout their lives. Consider settling disagreements after the kids go to bed or over email when decisions can be placed in writing in order to deter future arguments or misunderstandings.

Don’t Give Up on Self-Care

If you can’t take care of yourself, it’s very difficult to take care of others. Therefore, it’s important that you take some time to enjoy the holiday season as well. When the kids are with your ex, take time to relax, spend time with friends and family, and ensure that you are both physically and emotionally healthy. This will create a more positive atmosphere for the whole family and keep tensions to a minimum when the children are around.

In the event of a separation or divorce, it’s important to contact an experienced family attorney. Your attorney will help you through the process of creating a parenting plan and custody schedule that is beneficial for the whole family.

 

References:

Conklin-Danao, D. (2017, November 23). Co-Parenting During the Holidays: 5 Tips to Follow. Retrieved from https://www.divorcemag.com/blog/co-parenting-during-the-holidays-tips-to-follow/

 

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4 Ways Divorced Parents Can Ease Holiday Stress

Ways Divorced Parents Can Ease Holiday Stress

 

Holidays bring magic, laughter, and memories to last, but sometimes, holidays can be stressful, especially for families of divorced parents. As a family law firm, we are all too familiar with stress that child custody (i.e., timesharing) can cause year round, yet holidays can add even more emotion to an already complicated matter.

Whether this is your first holiday season as a divorced parent or even if you’ve been sharing custody for quite some time, taking extra steps can make all the difference. Here are some ways to ease holiday stress for your whole family:

  1. Put the children’s interests first.

Be flexible and sensitive to their wants and needs. For example, do they have a favorite holiday tradition with your ex-spouse’s family? Allow them to participate if it’s feasible. Splitting time on a holiday might add more stress on the children. Alternatives to splitting time during each holiday is alternating holiday years and maybe celebrating the holiday on another day, before or after, the day the actual holiday falls on. The less transitional phases kids have to go through, the more enjoyable the day(s) will be.

  1. Plan ahead.

Planning ahead can help ease stress on both parents and children, as everyone will know what to expect during the day and celebration. Planning ahead can help avoid unfavorable behavior from both parents and grief from extended family members. If an agreement cannot be made, refer to the custody agreement. If one is not made, we strongly recommend discussing one with an attorney.

  1. Communicate.

Making sure your plans are in order before discussing them with your children will help ensure an enjoyable experience for all. Communicating about travel plans, gifts, and other events during the holiday season is vital for parents to ease additional stress on their children. Children might be used to certain holiday traditions a family unit, but encourage them to enjoy the holidays by discussing new traditions and still being a family unit, just in a different way. If children see their parents supporting each other, they will often feel more relaxed and enjoy themselves more.

  1. Possibly plan some celebrations together.

If divorced or separated parents and their extended families are able to celebrate the holidays together without hostility and mal behavior, parents should consider this for their children. Sometimes it’s difficult for parents to put on a “happy face” when in the vicinity of their exes, but think of the smiles on your children’s faces and that will help put your differences aside.

If your family needs assistance with custody, divorce, or other family planning needs, we a family law attorney assist you and help keep your families best interest a priority.

References:

Cannavo, A. (2016, December 12). 3 Stress-relieving holiday tips for separated or divorced parents. Retrieved December 18, 2016, fromhttp://www.charlotteobserver.com/living/health-family/moms/article120371338.html

Rubin, R. L. (2016, November 11). Putting Children First: The Best Gift Divorced Parents Can Give Their Children This Holiday Season. Retrieved December 19, 2016, fromhttp://www.huffingtonpost.com/randi-l-rubin/putting

Is Divorce Seasonal? Study Finds There Are Peak Periods

divorceSociologists at the University of Washington have performed new research finding that divorce may actually be seasonal. The data collected is said to be the first ever quantitative evidence proving that there are biannual filings for divorces. The study was performed between the years of 2001 and 2015 and noted that the majority of divorce cases peaked during the months following winter and summer holiday seasons.

Peak Times for Divorce Revolve Around Holidays and Kids

According to statistics, many couples see holiday seasons as a time to hold to traditional family values. Splitting up is the last thing they want to do so in an effort to make it work they attempt family trips or outings. The usual presumption is that things will get better, but as time passes it becomes more apparent that it’s probably best to make the split.

Generally, couples filing for divorce will take some of the strain off of themselves by agreeing to separate close to when the children are going back to school. In their opinion this has a lower impact on the family dynamic, which accounts for the spike that occurs just after summer holidays.

However, the researchers involved were still trying to discover what causes the post winter divorce spike. Experts claim that the longer days of winter months drive people’s motivations to act; the conclusion was reached after taking notice that suicides also increase during this same time.

Is Seasonal Divorce a Common Phenomenon Nationwide?

Birnes, one of the active scientists in the study, claims that the end goal wasn’t necessarily to find a pattern in divorce. The study’s aim was to investigate the effect of the recession on marital stability. Their results, however, turned up with seasonal filings for divorce cases.

Since happening upon this phenomenon (which was restricted to 39 counties in Washington), Birnes wanted to know if this trend also took shape in other states around the country. They decided to examine Arizona, Minnesota, Ohio, and Florida. Each of the states showed a similar trend in comparison to the state of Washington.

If you’re considering filing for a divorce in, consult an experienced family lawyer. Spatz Law Firm specializes in family law and can aid in the multidimensional aspects of divorce. Don’t hesitate to contact us for a consultation in your family law case in Miami.

Reference Article:

Is divorce seasonal? UW research shows biannual spike in divorce filings. (n.d.). Retrieved August 31, 2016, from http://www.washington.edu/news/2016/08/21/is-divorce-seasonal-uw-research-shows-biannual-spike-in-divorce-filings/

 

 

What you need to know about post-divorce debt

Most states view debts, as well as assets, acquired during a marriage as shared property, and they are divided similarly. If possible, you and your ex-spouse may be better served by dividing the debts up, with each different debt assigned to a single person.  If you can’t agree, a judge will do so.

While the responsibility of debts between divorcing parties is clearly defined by the courts, creditors don’t see it the same way.  Your credit can be damaged if it is still tied to your ex-spouse’s.  These steps can help you protect your credit after a divorce:

  • Alert all creditors that any debts belonging to you be put in your name only
  • Close all shared accounts, including credit cards
  • Refinance shared loans, including auto and home loans, to a single creditor
  • Monitor your credit report closely
  • Make all loan payments on time, and minimize new credit attempts

Failure to fully separate your debts from an ex-spouse can have far-reaching impact on your credit report. If they fail to pay off credit cards or default on a loan, you can be impacted if you haven’t fully extricated yourself from them financially.

If it does occur that your ex-spouse’s failure to pay their share of debts has impacted your financial standing, you can file a dispute with the credit bureau. The court can also compel them to pay.  If they are found in contempt, you can also request compensation for attorney’s fees.

Financial matters related to divorce are complicated and can have far-reaching impacts. Make certain you have a family law attorney to protect your best interests. In Florida, assets you and your spouse own will be divided equitably, but not necessarily in a 50-50 split. Attorney Russell Spatz gives clients comprehensive guidance about how to approach the division of their assets. He will listen to your concerns and provide honest advice about the best options available to you. You can rest assured knowing he will never keep you in the dark about the progress of your case.

Source:

Niemeyer, Brooke. “Why Your Ex Is Still on Your Credit Report.” USA Today. Gannett, 29 May 2016. Web. 31 May 2016.

3 Things to Know About Florida Child Custody Law

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Divorce is difficult for all parties, but particularly on children. In Florida, the legal system is structured with the intent to look out for the best interests of the child in divorce and custody agreements. Upon that basis, decisions are made about where a child lives, who makes decisions for the child’s welfare, who pays for their needs, and so forth. A few of the main concepts of Florida divorce law are explained below.

  1. Determining what’s in the best interest of the child

In Florida law, it is assumed that it is in the best interest of the child to have contact with both parents, with both parties involved in parental decisions. When determining best interest, the courts take into consideration issues of health and safety, emotional development, and environment. Of course evidence of violence, abandonment, or neglect can prevent a parent of being granted custody, but the court also considers the ability of each parent to provide for their child’s emotional, developmental and material needs.

  1. Understanding the types of custody

Legal custody refers to parental right to make decisions for the minor – such as schooling, medical care, and religious teaching. Physical custody refers to the residence of the child. It is considered in the best interest of the child if both parents make legal decisions on their behalf, though that isn’t always possible. Sole custody is when the child lives with one parent, and in joint custody, a child lives with both parents. The division of time between the two homes varies widely, depending on such factors as the child’s school and the parents work and travel commitments.

  1. Child support

Child support is determined by the courts based on the parents’ joint income as well as the needs of the child. If one parent has a significant change of income or the child’s living expenses suddenly rise (such as for a health issue or a change in education expenses) child support may be adjusted. A multitude of factors are taking into consideration for child support. The state of Florida has a calculator that helps to determine what the child support share should be, but there are many variables in this formula.

Regardless of your situation, the services of a family law attorney well-versed in Florida child custody and divorce law is essential. A family lawyer can make sure you understand your legal rights and responsibilities as a parent so that you can make the best decision for your child(ren).

Sources:

The Basics of Florida Child Custody Law. (n.d.). Retrieved March 28, 2016, from http://www.attorneys.com/child-custody/florida/florida-child-custody-law-basics/

Bishop, S. (n.d.). Child Custody in Florida: Best Interests of the Child | DivorceNet.com. Retrieved March 28, 2016, from http://www.divorcenet.com/resources/child-custody/child-custody-florida-best-interests-child.htm#b

5 Things to Know Before Filing for Divorce in Florida

Filing for divorce is a difficult process for most. Knowing what to expect, and having the trusted guidance of an attorney throughout the proceedings can make it a little less painful. Here are a few key things you should know before filing for divorce in Florida:

  1. Where to file: Each local circuit court has a Family Department. One spouse can file a “Petition for the Dissolution of a Marriage.” The other spouse will be served papers and then they may respond.
  2. Average length of process – Depending on the type of proceeding, a divorce can take anywhere from four months to years. An uncontested divorce—where the parties involved have no dependents and agree to the divorce and division of their assets—can be completed in four months. Initially contested cases, in which one party disputes either the divorce or its terms, are generally resolved in mediation prior to a final hearing. These take about six months, sometimes more. Contested cases take the longest, as they typically end up in court. In these cases, a year or more is not uncommon.
  3. Alimony – A court may order alimony depending on how long a couple was married, what their standard of living was, and the age and health of each spouse. Alimony can be short or long term, and may be awarded to allow one spouse an adjustment period, such as in the instance where education or retraining expenses which may be required by a spouse who did not work outside the home during the marriage. Durational or permanent alimony can be awarded, particularly for longer marriages.
  4. Assets – Assets and debts acquired over the length of the marriage are to be divided fairly between the divorcing parties. These are “marital assets.” “Non-marital assets” include whatever the couple entered into the marriage with. Each party is entitled to keep their non-marital assets, as long as they were not used to acquire marital assets (such as shared property).It is important to have all documentation – tax returns, bank statements, mortgage information, and any other significant financial information when filing
  5. Custody and Child Support – In Florida, the term “custody” is no longer used in courts. Instead, the concept is referred to as “timesharing.” When it comes to timesharing, if you and your ex-spouse cannot come to an agreement, the court will make a ruling based on what it determines the “best interest” of the child or children. Unless there is a reason one party is incapable of caring for the children, timesharing is generally divided up as a shared responsibility. Factors taken into account are each individual’s fitness as parents, preferences of the child, and ability to provide for the child. As for child support, it is determined upon a variety of factors. Florida’s standard needs table assesses child support amounts based on the child’s age, health, and child care costs. Judges use those guidelines to determine how much each parent is obligated to pay.

In a perfect world, divorce would be swift and painless. In reality, it can be a trying time. An well-versed family law attorney can provide practical levity at a time when their clients may be inclined to emotional decision-making.

Sources:

10 Things to Know About Divorce for Florida Residents, www.attorneys.com

Getting a Divorce in Florida, www.divorcenet.com, Lina Guillen

How Long Does a Divorce Take in Florida?, myfloridalaw.com

Legal Separations for Older Americans Skyrocket

Legal separations for those over 50 have doubled since 1990 in the US, and have tripled for those over 65. This phenomenon can’t be set down to one common denominator, but researches point to a variety of factors that could be contributing to the surge in divorce rates in the higher age brackets. “Gray divorce,” as it’s been coined, can be attributed to these issues:

  • Empty nesters – As children grow up and have their own lives and families, some couples who have stayed together for the sake of the children may decide that they no longer have to maintain the image of a happy relationship for the sake of their children.
  • Stresses of second marriages – Older people are more likely to be in second marriages. These unions often carry the emotional and financial challenges of blended families.
  • Longer life expectancy – As people live longer, 50 or 60 year olds still have many fruitful years ahead of them. The idea of spending 20 or 30 more years in an unsatisfying marriage, even if it isn’t a harmful or even a truly unhappy one can cause a partner to seek separation or divorce.
  • Less stigma to divorce – Many Americans are less adherent to their church’s teachings on divorce, and the social stigma against separation has diminished greatly.
  • Changing role of women – More women have their own incomes, and so are less fearful of the financial insecurity of divorce. As women’s roles have evolved over the years, many have different opinions about division of labor than their partners.

Whatever the reason for a late in life separation or divorce, there are many legal issues to deal with in a lengthy union. An experienced family law attorney will protect your financial and property interests if you find yourself in a “gray divorce” situation.

Sources:

Over 50s fuel US divorce revolution: Record number older couples break up with a quarter now splitting later in life, www.dailymail.co.uk, Jennifer Newton, 3 Nov 2015

After Full Lives Together, More Older Couples Are Divorcing, www.nytimes.com, Abby Ellin 30 Oct

Attorney Representing Self in Divorce Court Proceedings Sanctioned

Anthony Zappin, an attorney in New York who has been handling his own divorce case, has been sanctioned $10,000 for his repeated acts of misconduct. Justice Matthew Cooper of Manhattan delivered the verdict, saying that Zappin’s actions were a misuse of his law license.

Zappin is involved in an acrimonious divorce with fellow intellectual property attorney Claire Comfort. The proceedings include child custody disputes over the couple’s 2-year-old child. Zappin has been representing himself in the proceedings, and has challenged the authority of judges and sought to undermine the custody case by attempting to disqualify Harriet Cohen, the attorney appointed by the court to look after the best interests of the child.

Zappin was sanctioned as a result of ongoing misconduct, including:

  • Attempting to halt child custody proceedings by claiming to have relocated to two different states and discontinuing the divorce proceedings mid-trial
  • Trying to disqualify the attorney appointed by the court to protect the child’s interests and to discredit the psychiatrist hired to evaluate his child
  • Inundating Southern New York, District of Columbia, and Federal Courts with actions suing the defendant and her family, and filing appellate motions against the judges involved
  • Ignoring the authority of the court, including frequent verbal and written insults to judges during court proceedings

Cohen, the attorney in charge of protecting the child’s interests, and Claire Comfort, Zappin’s wife, also an attorney, made multiple requests for sanctions prior to Justice Cooper’s decision. Zappin was ordered to pay half of the $10,000 sanction imposed to Cohen, and half to the Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection.

Zappin vowed to appeal.

Matters of family law involve complicated legal concerns and the parties involved often are often driven to make emotional rather than rational decisions. A seasoned attorney will represent the best interests of their client and make sure that family issues and material assets are protected under the law.

 

Source:

Attorney Sanctioned for Actions in Handling His Own Divorce, http://www.newyorklawjournal.com, ben Bedell, 22 Sept 2015

Didn’t get a Pre-Nup? How about a Post-Nup?

A post-nuptial agreement is just like it sounds. It’s similar to a pre-nuptial agreement, only it’s done after marriage. It is a contract signed by two parties in a marriage or civil union that discusses division of assets in case of divorce or separation. It has much in common with a pre-nuptial agreement, one of the most significant differences, of course, is that its signed by parties who are already married. It’s also not universally accepted in a court of law.

A post-nuptial agreement may be pursued if there is a significant change in the partnership. For example, a parent that puts their career on hold to raise children at home might request a post-nuptial in an effort to guarantee future financial security, including making up for lost wages and missed career advancement. If one partner receives or is due to receive an inheritance, they may want to protect that money. If spouses start a business together they may want to establish a legally binding plan in case of divorce. Post-nuptial agreements can also be used to protect assets to be left to children from other unions.

The idea of talking about the possible eventuality of a divorce during the planning stages of a wedding can seem ludicrous, bad luck, or unnecessary. But as the realities of married life set in many couples may see the merit of having a legal back up to financial worst-case scenarios, such as how debt incurred during a marriage could be divided.

Negotiating financial issues with your spouse can be challenging in the best of times. When you’re under stress or facing uncertainty, it helps to have a professional’s opinion. An experienced family lawyer can help you explore your options and determine if a post-nuptial agreement is right for you.

 

Sources:

Do You Need A Post Nuptial Agreement?, www.usatoday.com, AJ Smith, 15 Feb 2015

Forget the Prenup: Why You May Need a Postnuptial Agreement, http://abcnews.go.com, AJ Smith, 16 Feb 2015

Facebook Approved by Judge as Means to Serve Divorce Papers

A recent case in New York granted Brooklyn resident Ellanora Baidoo permission to serve her husband, Victo Sena Blood-Dzraku, divorce papers via Facebook. The couple wed in a civil ceremony in 2009 but never lived together. The bride-to-be was also promised a formal wedding that observed the traditions of their native Ghana, but according to the report, Blood-Dzraku changed his mind about participating in the traditional ceremony and the relationship quickly began to unravel.

Ms. Baidoo’s lawyer, Andrew Spinnell, was granted permission to contact his client’s husband via Facebook message to inform him of the decision, since other, more traditional methods of contact were not open. Mr. Blood-Dzraku proved difficult to locate, not having identification, a known address, or an employer, all avenues that papers might be served by.

The case is unusual, but not unprecedented. Last fall, a Staten Island man was granted permission to serve his ex-wife notification that he wanted to cease child support payments due to his son coming of age. When his ex-wife and their daughter did not return phone calls, a Family Court official deemed that notification via her active social media account was a viable option.

Moving on with your life when matters of family law are unresolved can be extremely challenging. Serving papers with due process to someone who makes it difficult to be found, whether intentionally or not, can prolong both emotional and financial turmoil for all parties.

An attorney well versed in the intricacies and challenges of issues related to divorce, custody, and other family law issues will be able to offer the support and guidance you need to achieve a fair outcome in your proceedings.

Sources:

Woman granted permission to serve divorce papers via Facebook, Anthony Domanico, 6 April 2015

Judge Oks serving legal papers via Facebook, Julia Marsh, Reuven Fenton and Bruce Golding, 18 Sept 2014