Archive for February, 2006

Phone Calls With the Other Parent

Monday, February 20th, 2006

Showing excitement is a very normal reaction for any child and especially for those that are experiencing a little separation anxiety from the calling parent. No parent should read to deep into how his or her child reacts to a telephone call from the other parent, because there are so many elements that can influence a specific reaction. If you discover that the enthusiasm to talk on the phone diminishes during a single phone conversation or gradually over several, do not get discouraged. If your child is interrupted with the phone call, expect a shorter and possibly meaningless conversation. Also, over use of the phone as a tool to keep in touch can cause a child to be disinterested. It is recommended to mix the communication up with letters, e-mail and phone calls if possible.

If your child never wants to talk to the other parent on the phone, you should start by making him or her take part in the conversation or punishment is the alternative. Second, you should make sure that you are not present in the room when the conversation takes place. Having you listen to the conversation may make your child feel uncomfortable. Of the phone conversations are not working, try to write down or remember what the atmosphere, time and circumstance of each call was in order to determine a trend. Hopefully you will discover the best or better times to make your phone calls.

One of the biggest mistakes that a parent can make is falsely accusing the other parent of influencing a child to not want to participate in phone conversations. This is the most common assumption made by most parents, but each parent needs to realize that talking to his or her child on the phone, sometimes several times a day, is very new, and does not always yield the best experience.

The Best Interests Standard

Wednesday, February 15th, 2006

When a court is forced to make a decision on child custody, they primary focus of the court is to establish and arrangement that is in the best interest of the children. In making this decision, the court will often refer to a list of factors that are to be considered prior to making the final custody order. This list of factors does vary from state-to-state, but most states address the following:

(1) The realtionship each parent has had with the child;

(2) The ability each parent has to provide for the child on a daily basis;

(3) The current and future housing arrangement;

(4) The willingness of each parent to cooperate with the other to allow for an ongoing relationship with both parents;

(5) Any evidence of abuse;

(6) The age of the child;

(7) The child’s wishes;

(8) The education of the child;

Divorce and Valentine’s Day

Tuesday, February 14th, 2006

Valentine’s day may not be the holiday you are looking forward to if you are currently going through a divorce or separation. Love is supposed to be in the air, but for some reason it is probably the last thing on your mind, or should I say, the last thing you “want” on your mind.

Do yourself a favor and put your energy towards showing your love for those that surround you. This day does not have to be a difficult one to get through as long as you focus on the other love that is in your life.

This may be your friends, relatives, or even your pet. It may be your love for cooking, exercising, or simply relaxing with a good book. This should be a time for you to reflect on the great things you have now and have to look forward to in the future. A new beginning means new exciting opportunities lie ahead.

We realize this can be much easier said than done, but with a little focus and a planned day, this valentines day may be one of the best you have ever had!

Unrealistic Expectations of Parents Getting Back Together

Friday, February 10th, 2006

Unrealistic expectations of you and the other parent getting back together must be straightened out with a very matter of fact conversation. You should get right to the point, without any hesitation, because if your child continues to have these types of expectations you will be causing him or her more emotional trauma going forward.

Children with these type of expectations are some what living in denial and when reality hits home, a parent can begin to see the real effects a divorce and/or separation. If your child seems to be taking the divorce and/or separation very lightly, then more than likely he or she is holding onto these unrealistic expectations.

Unrealistic expectations of other things besides the parental relationship can be just as harmful, so you must be on the look out at all times. Your child may be under the impression that you will never date again or that he or she does not have to change schools etc.

Tips and Strategies for the Unrealistic Expectation:

- Be careful how you use the word “maybe”. Of course anything can happen, but you have to be candid about the possibilities.

- When you spoil the unrealistic expectations, as always, reinforce the love you and the other parent have for your child.

- Stay away from deep conversation or explanation of why things are the way they are. You will end up confusing the child or giving them the opportunity to be more judgmental.

- Reinforce that certain things are meant to be and that moving on is going to make things better.

- Make the other parent aware of any unrealistic expectations you discover and/or have addressed.

First Steps of Your Divorce

Friday, February 10th, 2006

Once you find out you or your spouse is going to file for a divorce there are a few highly recommended things you take care of as soon as possible.

Any joint bank accounts or joint credit cards should be closed. You obviously need to take into consideration your future need for funds, but do your best to close or cease activity on these accounts. Many divorcing spouses make the mistake of not doing this, only to find out a few months later that their soon-to-be-ex has accumulated a ton of debt in their name or has liquidated a savings account.

You want to consider contacting a divorce lawyer in your area as soon as possible. If it is going to be a very amicable divorce, you certainly may want to do your own divorce, but unless you are comfortable about what your are about to experience, the knowledge and expertise of a divorce lawyer could be very beneficial.

If you have children, you want to devise a plan on how you are going to tell them about the divorce. You also want to make sure you notify any teachers, baby-sitters, etc., so they can help monitor their behavior during what can be a very tough time.

Stopping the Payment of Alimony

Wednesday, February 8th, 2006

If you have an alimony order in place, the only way to not pay legally, would be to have the alimony order modified.

Modifying alimony is not normal. Alimony is typically set in stone until certain circumstances occur (remarriage, death, etc.). These circumstances should be clearly stated in your divorce decree or judgment. Alimony is typically awarded based on the property distribution, so modifying the alimony would mean that the property award is no longer fair.

If you do stop paying the alimony, you are subjecting yourself to being taken back to court, paying arrearages and potentially other severe penalties.

If your income has significantly decreased for a significant period of time, it may be worth trying to get the court to recognized that the current alimony order is not fair, but be prepared to provide evidence that payment of the order is not feasible.

Doing Research for Your Divorce Case

Friday, February 3rd, 2006

Before you implement your strategies and tactics, knowledge of the law and proceedings is necessary. Although the law appears to be quite simple, it is really quite complex. This is due to the numerous areas of law, which are integrated into one another. For example, juvenile law, which is also known as the Welfare and Institutions Code, overrides Family Law. Law at the federal level does not always have precedence over state law. Federal law may be used only to strengthen an argument with case law in the state in numerous circumstances.

We recommend that you spend some time in your local law library. There are number of reference books that may assist you in your case. We also advise to use divorce resource books as a means to evaluate the performance and intelligence of your attorney. Some of the more useful volumes to use include the “Rutter Group.” These reference guides are very extensive and can be seven volumes thick. Attorneys use these guides to research your case. They are easy to read and provide assistance and understanding to your particular state laws and rulings.

Working with the Family Law County Clerk

Thursday, February 2nd, 2006

The County Court Clerk or Clerk of the Court is the person who will be facilitating your divorce. This is the person you or your divorce lawyer will be filing your divorce paperwork with at you local county courthouse.

As a rule of thumb, the Clerk and any of the assistants at the courthouse will not be able to provide any type of legal advice, so tread cautiously when you ask questions. Certain Clerks and assistants are willing to help with questions regarding the filing procedure, but asking questions about the contents of the documents is typically out of the question.

If you are not getting the answers you need, you can certainly contact your lawyer or you can save yourself some money in legal fees by going to the county courthouse library. The county courthouse library is typically open to the public, and the librarian may be able to point you in the right direction to get the answers you need.

Pensions… A Marital Asset

Wednesday, February 1st, 2006

Pensions, 401ks, and other retirement funds are considered marital assets in equitable distribution states. This means that the portion earned during the marriage is part of the marital estate that is up for division at the time of divorce.

The pension is typically valued by a professional to determined the present value of the pension. The present value is not the current value on the past statement, but rather a calculated value of what it will be worth at the time of retirement.

The pension is often offset by another marital asset, such as a lump sum payment or equity in a home. This avoids future risk on the receiving party, because he or she would not get his or her share of the pension until the participant reaches the required age.

If there is not an asset to offset the pension’s value, a Qualified Domestic Relations Order is typically drafted to execute the action of paying out a portion of the pension to the receiving spouse at the time the participant reaches the required age. This document is very imporant and is typically drafted and submitted to the court after the divorce is final.