Nov 17

How to Handle Joint Custody During the Holidays

The holiday seasons is already stressful, and adding joint custody to the mix adds a level of stress that nobody wants to deal with. Even if you have a joint custody agreement in place that already defines how you handle the holidays, there are always exceptions to the rules based on schedules and gatherings. If you and your ex have joint custody, the following tips will help you handle it better when the holiday season approaches.


Defer to the parenting agreement.

The best thing for you to do is to defer to the parenting agreement. Chances are the courts have already detailed how you should split custody during the holidays, so if you are ever in need of any questions, this will be the best thing to do. Most court systems find ways to make it fair, so you should understand that this agreement allows parents to have equal time with the child when the holidays approach.


Talk it out.

If you need to make adjustments to the child custody agreement, the best thing to do is to talk it out with your ex. Sometimes schedules change or plans change, and you may need your child on a different day than anticipated. If this occurs, just talk to your ex about it. Be willing to give up another day to take your child on a different day. This way, you can ensure you and your ex still have equal time with the child during the holidays but that it fits in better with each of your schedules.


Be fair.

No parent wants to give up time with their child, but you need to understand you’re both parents to the child and your child deserves time with each of you. No matter what your schedule may be, it’s important that you’re fair. Be sure you and your ex are getting equal time with your child during the holidays. This means sharing the important dates, such as Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, or Christmas Day. When you’re fair, you’ll be doing the right thing for your child and creating memories that will last a lifetime.


Make plans early.

The best way to avoid any issues is to make your holiday plans as early as possible. When you wait to the last minute and try to change custody dates, this is when problems arise. However, when you can make your holiday schedule early, it will allow you to talk with your ex about it so that each of you can make your plans based on the information you’re providing. If you need to wait on a work schedule, try to talk with your boss to see if it’s possible to get your schedule in advance so you can make arrangements. If you are waiting on holiday schedules from family, be sure to ask them for dates and times of family get-togethers early so you have the ability to plan for your child custody quickly.


Do what you can to make it easy.

Because the holidays are so stressful and busy, the last thing you need to do it make it all harder. Be willing to do whatever you can to make this situation easy. Maybe this means driving your child to and from the different places, or maybe it means doing your holiday celebration early in the morning or later at night to give equal time with both parents. By doing what you can to make it easy, you’ll make the holidays that much better on your child.

Every parent wants to spend time with their child during the holidays, and although it may be tough, doing what you can to handle joint custody will be better for everyone involved.

Nov 17

Benefits of Counseling During and After Divorce

Going through a divorce can take a major toll on your mental health, and it often requires the help of a professional in order to get through this tough time. For most people, seeking counseling once the divorce is over tends to be a popular option, but you can also benefit from counseling during the actual divorce process. Aside from giving you someone to talk to who’s unbiased, receiving counseling provides a variety of other benefits. See why counseling may be the best option for you during and  after your divorce.


Counseling can help you manage stress.

Going through a divorce will be extremely stressful, and sometimes it’s hard to manage stress in the healthiest possible way. When you’re going through a divorce, talking to a counselor can help you learn the best ways to manage your stress that’s beneficial for you, especially if your divorce involves children. You don’t want to suffer because of your divorce, and you don’t want your children to either. Your counselor can help you recognize your personal signs of stress and teach you the healthiest and best ways to cope with those stressors. By doing so, you’ll be able to handle the divorce in the  best possible way.


Counseling can help you gain perspective.

Sometimes divorce can make you feel confused, especially if you believe the divorce came out of nowhere. At the same time, if you were the one who asked for the divorce, a counselor can help you make sense of your own feelings and emotions during this time. Either way, the counselor is there to help you gain perspective on the actual divorce and help you determine the cause.


Counseling can provide advice.

While talking to people during a divorce is key to help you not internalize your feelings, it can also be destructive if you’re talking to people who only have your best interests in mind. Instead, opting to talk with a counselor allows you to talk with someone who doesn’t have an opinion of you or your spouse, which allows them to make advice based on the information you share, not their own personal feelings. This way, you can use the advice to try and move forward with your life and not get caught up in the drama of your divorce.


Counseling can help you adjust.

Your divorce will be a big change in your life. You will now be living on your own, paying bills on your own, making decisions on your own, and sometimes being a single parent. All of this can be chaotic, especially at first. When you talk with a counselor, you’ll have someone who can help you adjust to your life after the divorce is finalized. They can help you gain perspective on yourself and determine if there are personal things you need to work on. They can help you develop coping mechanisms to better handle stressful situations. They can even help you set goals for yourself that can help you grow and strengthen over time, even after your divorce. With the help of a professional counselor, you can be on your way to a happy life.


Counselors are there for a reason, and it’s a smart idea for you to start seeking their professional help once the divorce starts to happen. This way, you can develop a relationship with your counselor and use the advice and tools they provide to help you better manage the situation. Once the divorce is over, continuing to see them allows you to remain making good decisions that will benefit you.

Oct 17

How to Talk to Your Child About Divorce

Divorce is a very tricky subject, especially when you and your spouse decide to split, but still need to tell your child. Although the conversation is going to be tough, there are certain things you can do to ensure your child is fully aware of what’s happening and doesn’t feel as if you are attacking them in any way. When it comes to talking to your child about a divorce, here are a few steps you and your spouse should follow.


Do it together.

Even if the divorce isn’t amicable, it’s still very important you and your spouse talk to your child about the divorce together. This way, you are still providing a united front for your child, and you are giving them the ability to ask either of you questions without allowing one parent to sabotage the conversation or try and sway the child into feeling a certain way. Pick a time and a place where you can have your child’s undivided attention, and then use that as a time to tell your child about the decision the two of you have made. Even if you don’t agree, it’s still important you both talk with your child without arguing or pointing blame, as this isn’t beneficial to the conversation.


Answer the questions.

Your child is going to have a lot of questions after hearing that their parents are splitting up, so it’s important you allow your child to ask questions and then answer them honestly. For instance, your child will likely want to know the reason why as well as if there was something they did wrong. Reassure your child this isn’t their fault, and then tell them that the two of you just cannot make it work together anymore. Some questions may be difficult for you to answer, but do the best you can to give your child the straightest answers possible.


Prepare them for the changes.

During a divorce, things in your child’s life are going to change, so you need to make them aware about what’s going to happen. For instance, if one parent will have sole custody of the child, it’s important for the child to know who they will be living with and where, as well as how often they’ll see the other parent. If all of this has yet to be determined, tell your child that you will plan to share time with each parent as best as you can until an arrangement has been made by the courts. Should this divorce also result in your child needing to move or switch schools, this is also information you will want to let them know.


Offer them someone to talk to.

Chances are your child may be angry with you, which means they are not going to want to talk to you. While you will need to give them time to process their emotions, you also need to make sure they are not penting all this anger up inside. Be sure you are willing to give them someone to talk to, whether a family friend, a relative, or even a professional child counselor. Having someone to share feelings with can help your child work through their issues around the divorce and make it healthier for everyone in the long run.


Be prepared for their reaction.

Children can get sad, angry or act like they don’t care, and while you can’t assume to know how your child will react, it’s necessary for you to be prepared for any reaction. Make sure that you and your soon-to-be-ex hold that united front and don’t let your child get out of control.

Talking about divorce with your child is not something you ever hoped to do, but when it becomes a reality, using these tips can make it easier on everyone.

Oct 17

How to Make Shared Parenting Work

Studies have shown that shared parenting is the best option for children after a divorce. That’s because shared parenting allows the child to still have a relationship with both parents, which is beneficial for their well-being. However, shared parenting requires both parents to make an effort that puts the child’s best interests in mind and forces the two of you to work together in a way that works for everyone. If you have recently experienced shared parenting, here are a few tips that will help you and your ex make it work in the best possible way.



The best way for you and your ex to make this shared parenting work is to communicate effectively with one another. This allows you to share important information regarding your child and keeps you both on the same page regarding how your child is being raised. For instance, open communication allows you to discuss your child’s schedule as well as anything you may want to discuss, such as your child’s college plans, their most recent group of friends, their health issues, etc.

Communicating can be done in whatever way works best for the two of you. For instance, if you and your ex communicate better via text, then use that as your method of communication. If you prefer to talk things out, then set aside time every week to have a phone call or meet in person to discuss your child. As long as you have an open line of communication that works, you’ll be able to raise your child in the best possible way.


Stay United

Even though you don’t live in the same household, you and your ex need to stay united when it comes to raising your child. If one of you is more lenient than the other, it can make your child start to desire less time with you, and that’s not fair. Be sure the both of you have the same rules at your house regarding curfew, friends, and general everyday rules. By doing this, you’ll ensure your child is being raised as if you were in the same house.

In addition to having the same rules, you need to stay united when decisions are made by the other parent. For instance, if your ex grounded your child from their phone, then be sure child is still grounded from his/her phone when at your house. If you disregard the other parent’s rules, it shows your child that the two of you can be separated, and this can open you up to dealing with other issues as your child gets older.


Follow the Agreement

Chances are the court system or mediator has created an agreement for you and your ex to follow. If both of you can follow this agreement in the best possible way, it will ensure there aren’t any issues in the future. However, because situations change, it’s often possible changes will need to be made to the agreement. By staying open with the other parent and ensuring these changes are made in a legal way, you can help make your shared parenting plan work effectively for everyone involved.

Shared parenting can be tough to accomplish, but it’s important for your child. Work hard with the other parent to ensure you’re both doing what you can to raise your child in the best possible way.

Oct 17

5 Mistakes Parents Make When Getting Divorced

On your wedding day, you never think that you and the love of your life, your soul mate, your partner in crime will ever get divorced; however, as you get older, things change, people change, and divorce becomes a reality. If you have kids, it puts a bigger strain on the divorce, but it’s important to remember that your child always comes first. Unfortunately, divorce brings up a lot of heated emotions, and many parents find themselves making mistakes they’ll soon regret. If you are in thinking about or in the middle of a divorce, here are five mistakes not to make.

Mistake #1: Talking Bad About Each Other

People get divorced for a variety of reasons, and sometimes this makes one parent feel passionately angry towards the other parent. Regardless of what happened or how you feel, you need to remember that the other parent is still a parent of your child, and your child needs to see you and that parent getting along and being respectful. Speaking bad about the other parent or trying to put your child in the middle as a spy will only turn out to cause problems, and this could also be stressful for your child and make them lose respect for you. If you really want to talk about your feelings, it’s better to do so with the help of a counselor.

Mistake #2: Being Greedy

Obviously your child is your whole world, and the last thing you want to do is lose time with that child. However, divorce means having to allow your child to spend time with each parent, which means you need to give up some of that time with your child to the other parent. During the divorce proceedings, you may try to take out your feelings towards your ex by trying to fight for sole custody or trying to limit the amount of time they have with the child. Although you may feel some initial satisfaction from this, remember that it’s only doing your child harm not to spend time with both parents, so don’t be greedy just to stick it to your ex.

Mistake #3: Avoiding Legalities

If you have an amicable divorce, you may try to decide things like visitation or child support arrangements on your own; however, this creates plenty of loopholes that can come back to be a problem in the future. In fact, according to Raleigh lawyers Marshall & Taylor LLC, “child support arrangements can become difficult even after the divorce is finalized.” Even if you don’t want to go through the hassle of court, you can always opt for mediation to try and settle your situation in the best way. This not only allows you to do things more amicably, but it’s also legally binding, which keeps both you and your ex protected should you need it.

Mistake #4: Internalizing

As an adult, you take on a lot of responsibilities and stresses, and divorce will only add to that. Even if you feel as if the divorce isn’t affecting you, it may just not be something you’re noticing. Be sure that you are not internalizing your feelings and instead are seeking the help you need to make this smoother on you. If this requires you to seek professional counseling, then do so. If you need to ask friends or family members for assistance, then do so. Nobody is expecting you to walk away from this divorce without a struggle, and asking for help is better for you and your child.

Mistake #5: Hiding it

Your child may not need to know the gory details about your divorce, but you don’t need to try and pretend that everything is fine if it’s not. Once you and your ex decide that divorce is the option you’re going with, you need to talk with your child about. Explain why you are getting divorced and what will happen in the future. Be sure to constantly reinforce the divorce is not their fault and there’s nothing they could do to make it work. Be sure to explain that they will still see both parents and what changes, if any, will happen in their life, such as if they will be moving, going to a new school, etc. Keep in mind that divorce can be stressful on your child, so be sure you are prepared to have them talk with a professional if it needs to be done.

Nobody wants to go through divorce, especially with kids, but if you do, be sure to avoid these mistakes.





Oct 17

Post-Divorce Parenting: Rules You Should Both Follow

Getting divorced sucks, but getting divorced with children sucks even worse. You don’t want to make your children unhappy or stressed, but staying in a loveless marriage for the sake of your children can actually do more harm than good. If you’ve already gotten divorced, it’s important for you and your ex to still be actively involved in your child’s life. This means that, even though you may have differences with each other, you still need to act as a team and indulge in post-divorce parenting together. Here are rules you both should follow to ensure your children are happy, safe, and healthy even after the divorce.


Communicate often.

Regardless of your personal feelings toward your ex, you both need to communicate with one another, whether through phone calls, emails, or text messages. This way, you can both be sure you’re aware of everything going on in your child’s life, from sports schedules, to after-school activities, to their general well-being. Make it a point to keep each other in the loop when you hear of something regarding your child, or maybe schedule a weekly call with one another to discuss anything you deem is important.


List you both as contacts.

It’s more common today for parents to either be divorced or never married, so schools and organizations have started to separate the parental boxes on forms for children. Whether you’re signing your child up for school or an after-school activity, be sure you both are listed as contacts. This way, if important emails or text messages are sent out regarding news or schedule changes, each of you can be in the know and won’t have to rely on the other parent to keep you informed.


Don’t put your child in the middle.

It may be hard for you to keep your feelings to yourself, but you need to do it for your child’s sake. Do not ever put your child in the middle of a spat between you and your ex, and do not ever talk bad about the other parent in front of your child. They love the other parent unconditionally, and it’s not your place to try and ruin that relationship just because you have your own feelings or agenda.


Put your child first.

It’s easy for parents to become selfish and want more time with the child, but that’s not fair and you need to remember to put your child first. For instance, be sure you have a parenting agreement in place that delivers a solid child custody agreement between the two of you. Be fair with this agreement to ensure the child has equal time with both parents, including on holidays and on birthdays. Although you may not want to give up time with your child, you need to understand that your child benefits from having time with both parents, so suck it up and make it equal.


Make decisions together.

Of course you don’t have to talk to your ex about everything your child wants to do when with you, but when it comes to big decisions, it’s important to make them both together. For instance, if your child wants to go away with friends for the weekend after prom, be sure you and your ex discuss it together. If your child’s doctor is suggesting a certain medication, treatment, or surgery for some type of illness, be sure to make that decision together.


Post-divorce parenting is going to be tough, but that doesn’t mean the two of you can’t make it work for your child’s sake. By following these rules, you can create a better relationship with one another that benefits your child.

Sep 17

What to Do if Ex Stops Paying Child Support?

Your divorce proceedings usually decide which parent will pay child support, how much will be paid, and how often it will be paid. Although this is a legally binding agreement, sometimes the paying parent may stop paying child support, possibly because they can’t afford it or because they are simply being neglectful. If your ex has stopped paying child support, there are things you should do in order to help get the situation back into control.


Budget for the gap.

If you count on your child support payments for your own personal budget, you need to find ways to cover that gap until you can get your ex to start paying you again. Hopefully you will not need to cover this gap for an extended amount of time, but it’s still possible that you won’t be able to rely on this money, so you’ll want to ensure it doesn’t affect you financially.


Talk with your ex.

The very first thing you should do if your ex stops paying child support is to talk to them. Maybe they simply cannot afford to make the payments due to a financial hardship. If this is the case, ask them to at least give you what they can every month, even if it’s not what the courts have agreed upon. If possible, maybe you can even let them off the hook until they are back on their feet financially. However, if your ex is not paying you just to be spiteful, then you’ll want to take additional actions to get them to start paying you again.

If you do allow your ex to pay you less than what’s agreed upon until they are back on their feet, be sure you get this agreement in writing, as a written agreement is a legally binding contract that you can use in court should you need to.


Talk to a lawyer or legal service.

If your ex is simply being defiant with their child support payments, then you’ll want to talk with a lawyer or professional legal service to see what your options are in terms of covering yourself and forcing your ex to pay. Depending on the terms of your agreement, taking legal action could force your ex to pay child support by taking the money directly out of his or her paychecks or putting your ex in jail until he or she could pay the child support.

However, before you take legal action against your ex, you want to ensure it’s the right thing to do financially. For instance, if your ex only owes you $500, but it will cost nearly $2000 in legal fees, then taking legal action may not be the smartest thing to do, especially if you know there’s no way your ex will be able to afford to pay you.

It’s also important to note that the courts have specific terms and timelines to follow before they enforce unpaid child support payments. For instance, some courts will require your ex to not have paid for at least six months before they do anything about it. If this is the case, you’ll want to know this information ahead of time so you can prepare. Your lawyer should know the possible outcomes for your case at your specific moment, so be sure to talk about the likelihood of you getting your money before you make a decision to go to court.

Child support is meant to help you care for your children after a divorce, so it’s possible you’ll need that money to stay afloat financially. However, if your ex is failing to pay, know there are steps you can take to get back to normal.



Sep 17

What are My Rights with Joint Custody?

After a divorce or separation, you want to be sure you’re getting the right amount of time and responsibilities in your child’s life. This will either result in sole custody or joint custody according to the court system. With joint custody, both parents have an equal role in how your child is raised, which means you’ll need to learn to communicate with your ex, especially when it comes to the well-being of your child.

For those with sole custody, one parent has more legal responsibilities for the child over the other parent. However, just because a decision was made does not mean it is set in stone forever. Regardless of if you have sole or joint custody, know this can change at any time if the situation changes with one or both parents.

In the meantime, if you are granted with joint custody of your child, it’s very important to know your rights and responsibilities. This way, you can ensure you are having the proper say in your child’s life as well as helping to make the right decisions that are best for your child.



With joint custody, you and your ex need to decide together what religion the child will be raised. If you each share similar religious beliefs, this decision will be an easy one. However, if you vary on your religious beliefs, the decision could be more difficult. However, should you and your ex not agree on one religion, consider compromising and teaching your child about each religion. This way, you are giving your child an open mind toward religions and allowing them to make their own decision as they get older.



Your child’s education is important, and joint custody parents have to agree on the child’s education. For instance, parents must agree on the school the child will attend. Should your child be going to public school, this is determined by your physical address. However, if you want to send your child to private school, this is something you both must agree on to make it happen. Depending on your child’s age, this may be something you want to discuss with him or her before making your final decision.


Medical Care

There are a lot of medical decision that must be made for your child, and parents with joint custody must work together to make the right decisions. Everything from doctors to vaccinations to medications and procedures must be agreed upon by both parties in order for the medical care to happen. Discuss your options in detail with your ex and make the decision that’s best for your child’s well-being.



Children get involved in a lot, and it is what can help them grow, learn social skills, and become members of a team. When you have joint custody, you and your ex must agree on the activities your child will participate in. Not only should you think about your child’s interests, but also be sure you discuss schedules so each one of you fully understands where your child needs to be and when.

Joint custody can be a great thing for your child and can ensure both parents still have an active role in your child’s life. However, with joint custody, it’s very important you and your ex find a solid way to communicate with one another to make those tough yet important decisions. Again, the age of your child is going to play a role in how you communicate and what about, but remember that open communication and providing a united front with each other will be extremely beneficial in the long run.



Sep 17

The Benefits of Mediation

Going through divorced is never easy, and dragging it out through the courts can make it that much more unbearable. However, getting divorced doesn’t mean you need to spend months of your life battling in the court systems. Instead, you and your ex could opt for mediation, which is a legal way to get divorced without the financials and time needed to actually go through the courts. If you are looking to separate from your spouse, the following are a few benefits of mediation you may want to consider.


It’s less expensive.

Mediation is less expensive than opting for divorce. With mediation, the event can occur by a legal representative that assists both you and your ex instead of each of you paying for a legal attorney on your own. In addition, mediation doesn’t require you to go to court multiple times, which means you don’t need to pay as many court fees as you would with traditional divorce. If you want to spend less money on your divorce, then mediation can be a great way to go.


It’s quicker.

What most people don’t tell you about divorce is that it can take forever to get finalized. In fact, you could wait months just to get your first initial court date, and it can take years before everything is settled. Instead of wasting your time and waiting so long, you should opt for mediation. This can be done in the matter of one day and can let you and your ex get on your way to live your own lives. What makes mediation great is if you have kids, this doesn’t drag them through the court system for years, which could be detrimental to their well-being.


It gives you what you want.

With mediation, you and your ex are able to talk things over more and come to more mutually agreed upon decisions. For instance, you can use this time to ensure you both get equal time with your children as well as splitting the finances and properties up equally. This also allows you to work things out in case you don’t agree. For instance, your mediator will help you both work through any issues that may be at hand in order to assure you both get what you want.


It’s confidential.

When you go to court, the outcomes and information shared in court will become public record. When you opt for mediation, then your information will be kept confidential. Although this may not be a huge benefit to some people, the confidentiality of your personal life can be extremely beneficial to those who don’t need other people knowing their business.


It offers better relationships.

When you and your ex can work together to create your own agreements and settlements, it keeps the relationship between you more amicable. This is extremely beneficial when looking to split the finances and properties, but also when looking to create relationships for children. When you and your ex can get along, then you can create an open line of communication between one another that will help you raise your children better together.


It has a better success rate.

Because you and your ex can fight for what you want, mediation offers a better success rate because you can deal with one another than with a third-party representative. If you really want to see success in your divorce, then opt for mediation.


Mediation is a great solution for many people looking to get divorced, and if you want some benefits instead of a traditional divorce, mediation can be a valuable option.

Sep 17

Introducing Your New Relationship to Your Child

Whether you moved on right as the ink was drying on your divorce papers or it took you a few years to get back in the game, introducing your child to your new relationship can be difficult, yet something you need to do. While the approach will vary based on your child’s age, it’s still important you handle it in the best possible way, especially if your child is old enough to truly understand what’s going on, as well as old enough to share his/her thoughts and opinions on the matter. If you’re in a relationship with someone new after your divorce, here are some ways to introduce the new partner to your child.


Ensure it’s for the long run.

Before you introduce your child to your new relationship, be sure the relationship is serious. You do not need to introduce your child to every person you ever go on a date with. Instead, save this for those people who truly matter and who you could see yourself with for a long time. This is safer for your children because it keeps them from getting hurt. For instance, if you keep introducing them to new people all the time, your child won’t have the chance to get close to them, or they may get close to someone, but if you break up, it could hurt your child. Instead, hold off on introducing a new partner to your children until you’ve been together for a while.


Make it natural.

Don’t make a big to-do about your child meeting the new relationship. Instead, keep it as casual as you can. It’s easiest to do the introduction at your own home so that your child can either stay and talk or go back to their room if they’re uncomfortable. If you do this in a public place, such as a restaurant, it could make your child uncomfortable (and put you at risk of having a scene happen). Doing it at home also makes it easy for your new partner to leave if your child is having a hard time with it, and it also allows your child to feel more in control of the situation at hand.


Be honest with your child.

During the introduction, be sure you are honest with your child about the relationship. Introduce the person as your girlfriend or boyfriend, and tell your child how long you’ve been together, how you met, etc. If you try to hide anything by saying you’re “just friends”, it will make your child not want to trust you with other information in the future. It’s also important you don’t make your child feel as if this new person is replacing their father or mother, so don’t make them feel as if they should start to treat this person like them from the beginning.


Don’t let the relationship take precedence.

Once you’ve introduced your child to your new partner, it doesn’t’ mean your partner should be a part of your relationship with your child all the time. Instead, be sure you are spending alone time with your child, such as going out to dinner, going to the movies, etc. If you now start to force this person down your child’s throat, it will make your child resent the individual, and possibly even you. While it’s important for your new partner to be involved in some things, it’s not necessary for them to be around all the time.

You are entitled to having a relationship, and while having a child with someone else can make dating harder to do, it doesn’t mean it’s forbidden. Instead, be sure you are being fair to your new relationship and your child to ensure everyone is happy.