I’m not saying divorced parents should throw out the parameters they established for co-parenting. I’m saying that when kids are out of school, some attending camp, others at home during the day, it’s important to be “giving” with your ex so that Parenting Time can flow with your children’s schedule changes.
If we look at Parenting Time as “the kids’ time” and are not possessive of our children’s time, it can be easier to just let it flow with their schedules.
Think about if you were still married – you would take into account that your kids go to camp, or have a job, or have another out-of-the-ordinary schedule and you would try to balance the time that they’re home so that you can enjoy them as their schedules allow.
Summer is also a good time to try a different schedule. For instance, if you’re thinking of moving toward a more equal parenting time schedule, it’s better for your children if you and their co-parent can try it out during the summer months to see how your children adjust rather than doing so for the first time at the beginning of the school year.
Photo by Valeria Zoncoll on Unsplash
Just letting it flow in the summer means parents can plan some good down time when the kids are not bound by school and extracurricular demands. That doesn’t mean they have to go away on a vacation; it’s an opportunity to spend more time with them, if you can arrange it with work schedules, doing fun things, creating memories.
As a working mom, I found summers stressful because I had to find activities for my daughters when they were young, schedule camps they would enjoy and find caregivers. There were hours during the day I needed to be at work and my husband’s schedule was not flexible, so it was important to plan ahead and to be organized because my job doesn’t take a summer vacation!
Imagine how much harder that can be when you’re divorced!
A good child therapist or family law attorney might have ideas and resources to help you through this. In my role as a divorce attorney, I don’t limit myself to the law. If I can help parents with ideas for summer camps based on my own experiences, I do so! Sometimes working parents don’t have resources to help them navigate the summer months, and we as attorneys and professionals can be that resource because we’ve had experiences, both professionally and personally.
Either way, if you can be looser in the summer to allow some flexibility for your children, do it. You won’t be sorry!
It’s that time again, time to think about what went well this year, what went wrong, and what you want from the year to come.
2022 starts in a mere 11 days!! What are you going to do differently in 2022? What did you do well in 2021, that you want to carry forward into the year ahead?
I am going to enjoy the next few weeks because so many people decide to file for divorce when a new year begins. I know I’m going to hit the ground running as soon as I’m back in the office after new year’s.
So I thought I’d offer a little insight here for those who are resolving to start over, end a relationship, and embark on a next phase of their life in 2022. For those seeking to split in the year ahead, here are some things you can resolve to do:
Explore Your Options
There are many ways to divorce, and I help people through them all. If you know me at all, you know my preference is always Collaborative Divorce, whenever possible. That’s because Collaborative Divorce compiles a team of dedicated professionals who are committed to being on the same page and helping a couple end their marriage with dignity, agreement and mutual respect.
But if a Collaborative Divorce is not in your realm of possibility, consider Mediation or Litigation. In Mediation, I facilitate a conversation between divorcing parties, so that they can come to agreement on the principles of their split.
As I recently added the Our Family in Two Homes workbook to our offerings, this is a resource that I will give to each Mediation client to help them prepare to be effective in the conference room, to navigate difficult conversations and achieve acceptable outcomes. This workbook is part of a resource package I offer to people considering divorce – they pay a fee to get the workbook and three consulting hours with me, so we can walk through their values and priorities and help them identify if divorce is right for them and how to go about it.
In Litigation, we build our best case with an eye toward the courthouse. There is often research, discovery, and lots of negotiation (well, this is true in all modes of divorce), but ultimately in Litigation, when negotiations fail, a judge decides the way forward.
Whichever path you choose, know that you have options! Explore the different approaches to divorce on my website or let’s set up a call to explore together.
Educate Yourself About Your Finances
In many couples, one person manages the money, which can be nice when you’re in sync. But when you decide to split, the person who knew nothing about the numbers is often left feeling vulnerable and unaware – and that’s not good!
If you are the person who allowed your spouse to take care of the finances, you’d be wise to get up to speed on what you have, what you owe, and what your monthly obligations are. Speak to your financial professional – be it an accountant, financial planner or advisor, or investment consultant – and make sure you have all the documents, access to your accounts, and a clear picture of your financial situation.
Crucial to this conversation, of course, is a sense of your earning potential. If you’re working, that’s easy to figure out, but if you have been the primary homemaker, you’ll want to start thinking about how you can bring in money once you’re on your own. Don’t be afraid of finances!! Knowledge is power.
Take a Deep Look into What You Value and What’s Important to You
Now is a great time to consider what you’ll want when you divvy things up with your partner. If you have children together, how will you want to manage parenting time? Will there be any sticky points, and if so, what are you willing to give up to get your top priorities?
Businesses often articulate their corporate values as part of their mission and vision. It helps clarify their work, and communicate to customers what they stand for. It’s a good idea for everyday individuals to do this, too. Once you know what you value (which the Our Family in Two Homes workbook can help identify), you can make conscious decisions about your next steps.
Think About How You Respond in Stressful Situations
Are you a yeller? The strong, silent type? Do you avoid conflict? Create it? Will you be tied in knots when the negotiation gets tricky? Will you lose your appetite and want to take to your bed rather than confront the discomfort of a divorce?
Knowing how you handle stress is super important as even the most amicable divorces come with built-in hardship and challenge! One client was constantly tied in knots during the six months of her divorce and ended up dropping two dress sizes. She even developed migraines for the first time in her life during the divorce as the stress overtook her rational mind and seeped into her body. Fortunately, she had a good support system of family and friends and also sought counseling to help her through the tough times.
Have an honest conversation with yourself before you embark on a divorce, so that you can be prepared and realistic about what lies ahead – and know how you’ll manage all the emotions that are likely to arise.
Commit to Dignity
No matter what happens next, dedicate yourself to being dignified every step of the way. Divorce can get ugly because people feel hurt and angry and all sorts of uncomfortable emotions. Knowing that the road may be rocky is the first step toward navigating it with ease. When you promise yourself, and the memory of your marriage, that you will remain dignified and respectful, both to your soon-to-be-ex and to yourself, you have a good chance of sticking with dignity the whole way through. And you’ll be so happy you did!
I always wanted to be able to help people on an emotional level, but I did not always want to be an attorney.
I grew up in a family full of divorces. As a young girl, I never saw a long-term relationship as possible, let alone as an example.
As I considered career options, I thought I might work in counseling, helping people work through emotions and situations. In fact, I wanted to stay away from family law because I had experienced so many divorces, but I was really good at listening and helping people feel better.
Ultimately, I realized I could bring a compassionate approach to family law to help people through what I already knew was a trying situation. As a little girl, I was always told that I was good at arguing, and that I needed a career where I could be self-sufficient.
There were no lawyers in my family that I was close with. I didn’t see a lot of professions in the bubble where I lived. My mother was a geriatric social worker, and besides that, I knew about professional careers like medicine, law, accounting and dentistry. My step-father was a salesperson.
I suppose in every profession, you become a salesperson of sorts, but as an out-and-out career, it did not interest me. So law became my chosen path, even though I vowed it would not be.
And you know what? I’ve come to love this work.
Yes, it’s difficult and challenging, and it can be exhausting at times. I see great people at their worst moments, often. But I get to help them through those tough times, and for that I am grateful.
As my firm has grown, I’ve transitioned into spending more time on building a practice, learning to manage my team, and connecting in different ways to clients. I’ve always kept my mediation practice strong because of that urge to bring compassion and assistance to people in need.
It’s also what drew me to Collaborative Divorce – the team approach to family law is compassionate and collegial, not acrimonious and angry.
I started Transitions Legal in 2013, and it’s been a long road of growth and some bumps, too. We are still building, even though we’ve outgrown our new space already. There is always more to learn. For now, though, I am pleased with what we have created: a law firm like no other, with a compassionate ear and a long legacy of expertise. We serve our clients well. And that makes me very happy.
Even as divorce rates across America are on the decline generally, this category of Gray Divorce, which is a specialty of our firm, is exploding.
It used to be that once you married and stayed with someone over several decades, it felt like you had to stick it out for the duration of your life. Not so anymore. It is becoming acceptable to divorce at any age, and people of advanced ages are finding that they have a lot of life left to live – and they want to do it the way they want it now.
The kids are grown. The parents are still young enough to do things, to travel, to have a new chapter to their lives, and so they are choosing to do so solo, if their partner is not at the same place of realization.
Even more so, in couples where one spouse battles mental illness, or even a physical illness, the going can get even tougher later in life. And, for couples who have endured an unhappy marriage, there may be a sense of obligation to take care of the ailing partner, but there may also be resentment for the idea of caring for someone who never really cared for them when they were in good health.
At Transitions Legal, we do not judge the reasons that a client comes to us wanting a divorce. We welcome them in and look at their case and if it is a fit for our practice, we take it on, without judgment. Our purpose is to support our clients to the fullest extent of our ability and help them transition from one stage of life to the next with ease and grace.
After a certain point, should we just stay together, even if the marriage has been disappointing, or lonely? Should we stay together despite bad behavior? Why do we put up with unhealthy situations?
Does the definition of marriage paralyze us from living meaningful and healthy lives? Even illness is not an excuse to stay and be treated poorly.
Later in life, it can be even harder for a person to make the decision to leave a marriage. They often take more time than younger people, but they may feel more secure in doing so because they have already been living on a retirement income and may feel confident about their financial future and dividing everything 50/50.
In younger divorces, the financials can be a great concern. In Gray Divorce, it’s more the emotional stuff that holds people up; the years of marriage weighs on people.
They often feel guilt for leaving after so many years. They wonder what their children will think, or how the split will affect their family.
It can be as contentious and complicated later in life as it is early on. There is really no easy time to end a marriage, but if you’ve decided it’s the right thing to do, the only way to go is forward.
Maybe you’ve been thinking about it for years and are leaning toward splitting up. Is there a point when you just know it’s time?
That’s a great question, and there is no real answer.
The only way to know if you should end a marriage is by asking yourself questions and considering all the options.
Here are some good questions to ask yourself:
Am I happy? Followed by, Is happiness the goal? If you’re not happy, but you didn’t plan to focus your marriage on being happy all the time, that may not be enough of a reason to end it all. But, if you are just miserable in your daily life, then maybe it is. Consider how much happiness weighs into your well-being and your personal pursuits, and then weigh that against other factors.
What am I unhappy with? Get specific and honest, and then determine if these are things that will exist beyond the marriage, that you need to work on, or if they are truly a result of the merging of the two of you.
Are there things I can do within the relationship to make it work? What are they? Are you willing to do them?
Have I done everything that I possibly could to make this marriage work? If not, do those things because you never want to look back and regret your decision.
Some other questions to ask include…
Am I in love with the person or in love with the idea of being in love?