Divorce Behavior

Co-parenting for the Holidays: Tips for Handling Children’s Needs

Written December 11th, 2013
Categories: Divorce, Divorce Behavior, Divorce Time Sharing

ID-10067249Home for the holidays can be challenging for a family who is separated, is going through a divorce or has recently finalized one. The hardest part for parents can be finding a balance for their children.

In an article from Springfield Collaborative Divorce, “Donna Moore, a licensed clinical social worker in Raleigh, North Carolina shares tips to make it easier for divorced and separated parents to navigate through the holiday season”.  Last week we shared information on handling the complicated emotions, and today we are discussing legal measures to make the holiday time less complicated.

Moore begins by saying, “Legally, it is important to put a parenting schedule in place for the holidays long before the season begins. If you can, sit down with the other parent to work out and agree upon the details.”

To assist them in this process, parents may wish to use a parenting coordinator to aid them in coming to agreement on what works best for their children.

She advocates starting with these five areas:

  • Celebration Meals: Make a reasonable schedule for where and when children will eat holiday meals. It may not be comfortable for them to take on two big meals in one day. So consider how best to accomplish family celebrations.
  • Transportation: Arrange who will transport children when it’s time to move locations.
  • Gifts: Exchanging gifts is a part of many holiday traditions. Decide how and when this will take place. Make a plan if both parents will attend or if there will be separate exchanges. The budget may shape the plan.
  • Childcare: Vacation from school is fabulous for kids but complicated for parents. If both work, simplify the process by having one parent arrange all the childcare.
  • Trips: If one parent plans a trip, the basics should be agreed upon by both parents and details of travel plans should be shared so that the parent that remains home is aware of the status of travel.

“Once you have the details worked out, put them in writing immediately to confirm that you are on the same page and to avoid future conflict over what was agreed upon,” says Moore. These written details are not binding but can be changed as needed to fit circumstances. Just remember they are the “default” if new agreements can’t be reached.

The holidays are meant to be a joyful, restful time for family. Having an adult conversation, making some personal sacrifices as parents can make it the best for children. Making the decisions early will give children a framework for vacation. It will show them they are a priority and that each of you love them and care for them which is worth all the work you do with your spouse or former spouse.



Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/ David Castillo Dominici

Helpful Behaviors During Divorce, Part One

Written October 30th, 2013
Categories: Divorce Behavior

ID-10076027What do Ashton Kutcher, Angelina Jolie, and Britney Spears have in common? Besides being trend-setting celebrities, they all hired Laura Wasser as their divorce lawyer. Wasser’s new book, “It Doesn’t Have to be That Way: How to Divorce without Destroying Your Family or Bankrupting Yourself,” was released October 1, 2013.

In an article by Ashley Reich for the Huffington Post, Wasser shares top behaviors that will help facilitate the difficult transition. This week we’ll look at her top five.

1. Manage Expectations: Whether it is before, during or after marriage, it is important to communicate openly about expectations “anything from how to raise your children, where you will live, what kind of vacations you like to take and financial expectations,” says Wasser. Having challenging conversations throughout your marriage is important for whether you stay together or split.

2. Get Help: There’s no “time for a divorce” button that suddenly lights up when things have broken down beyond repair. Some preventive steps could help. Seeing a counselor individually and as a couple should be on the list of things to do before making the ultimate decision.

3. Children First: All parents want the best for their children but when a divorce is in full swing, it can be challenging to actually keep them as their interests at the center of decisions. As you continue through the process, bring them to the front of your mind whenever you can. Make decisions based on their needs and long-term benefit.

4. The Golden Rule: Treat others as you want to be treated, that includes the person with whom you will continue to co-parent. Wasser suggests “three key things: Be kind, be reasonable, be brief.”

5. Divorce is a legal contract: As much as your emotions are wrapped up in the process of divorce, remember that, in part, this is a legal transaction to divide assets and resolve other financial issues connected to your marriage. Keep that in mind and try to leave emotions out of the proceedings. Remember, your attorney is not your counselor but a law professional you hired to wade through the rules and regulations of divorce. If you need, find a qualified therapist or religious leader for support for your emotional issues.

Whether you reside in Wellington or Jupiter or West Palm Beach, you know that divorce can be an exceedingly challenging time, but by keeping the above recommendations in mind, you can make it through the process a little bit easier.



Photo courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If You Spoke Klingon, You Might Have Stayed Married

Written May 1st, 2012
Categories: Divorce, Divorce Behavior

Unreasonable Behavior and Grounds for DivorceExperienced divorce attorneys from Jupiter to West Palm Beach know that being requested to speak Klingon is not a sufficient ground for divorce in the State of Florida.  Florida is a No-Fault state.  However, some states in the United States and some English-speaking countries still require a finding of fault in order for a divorce to be granted.  In England, one of the grounds for fault to justify a divorce is “unreasonable behavior”.  In a recent New York Times article, British divorce lawyer Vanessa Platt listed some of the grounds that her clients have alleged constituting unreasonable behavior to justify a divorce.  Unbelievably, they include:

1. My husband insists I dress in a Klingon costume and speak to him in Klingon;

2. My wife has maliciously and repeatedly served me my least favorite dish, tuna casserole;

3. My husband has not spoken to me for 15 years, communicating only by Post-it Notes;

4. My husband has atrocious body odor;

5. My husband keeps his pet tarantula, Timmy, in a glass case next to the matrimonial bed, even though I had requested that Timmy sleep elsewhere;

6. My husband repeatedly takes charge of the remote television controller, endlessly flicking through channels and fails to stop at any channel that I request;

7. My wife spitefully tampers with the TV antenna and throws away my cold cuts.

People in Palm Beach County can shake their heads in wonderment and disbelief that such allegations could constitute justifiable grounds for a divorce.  It makes Florida’s grounds of “irreconcilable differences” seem almost civilized.  To learn more about false-based divorce London style, check out the New York Times article on divorce and unreasonable behavior.

Nasty Things That Divorcing Spouses Say to One Another, But Shouldn’t

Written February 24th, 2012
Categories: Divorce Behavior, Uncategorized

Nasty Things Divorcing Spouses SayDuring my decades of practice in divorce cases, I repeatedly have heard many of the same unproductive threats, objections and protests that people say to one another in their contested family law matters. Experienced attorneys from Jupiter to Wellington know that many of these are urban legends or empty threats: not true but often believed by the inexperienced. Family law practitioners often know that during a divorce people get angry and they say things that they don’t mean. However, such statements can cause anxiety and fear. I hope that my explanations for some of these “urban legends” in family law will lessen the concern or anxiety they may cause if they are accepted at face value:

1. “I’ll quit my job before I’ll pay that much support”. This statement is usually an attempt to bluff or force you to accept a lower amount of support. Ask your attorney whether you should “call this bluff”. Document the statement immediately. Write down the date, circumstances, and exact words used. If the threatening spouse sent this to you via email or text or letter, then save this communication for use as evidence later. Judges do not tolerate this kind of bullying;

2. “It doesn’t make sense for us to be paying two lawyers; it’s a waste of money that we could otherwise keep. Let’s just both use my attorney”. Aside from the obvious legal conflict of interest for your spouse’s lawyer to represent both of you, the spouse making this plea wants to control you in the divorce process by controlling how much advice and information you get. Don’t fall for this ploy. Legal advice and representation may not be inexpensive, but often its value is priceless;

3. “You’ll never see the children again”. This threat is usually an attempt to get you to stay in a relationship that has long met its demise. Florida law and the law of other states presume frequent and continuing contact with both parents is a good thing for your children. So this statement in itself doesn’t constitute a legitimate threat;

4. “Your attorney is just running up your bill with all these documents he’s demanding that I provide. Call him off”. Any divorce attorney is going to need to see and review documents which relate to you and your spouse’s financial situation. Otherwise, the attorney can’t advise you in what you should expect or demand. You need to rely on your lawyer’s guidance on this issue;

5. “I’ll go to jail before I pay alimony or child support to you.” Jail time is among the several tools the judge has available to enforce his or her support order, but it is seldom necessary. This threat is a common bluff; however, the reality of jail time is an effective tool in causing a delinquent spouse to generate past due support. In addition, for anyone with a paycheck, it is easy enough to extract support payments involuntarily from their employer per a court order. In any event, please remember that most people just pay the support which the court has ordered;

6. “I’ll litigate you into bankruptcy. I’d rather pay my lawyer all our money than pay one penny to yours”. It is true that many spouses use this threat hoping that you will give up and concede to their demands. While it is unfortunate that some people use this type of tactic, there are legal techniques to stop a spouse from going forward with this threat. A good attorney can push a case forward to trial. The court also can sanction a delaying spouse for using these tactics;

7. “You have no right to take what’s mine away from me. The pension is all mine, I worked for it”. This threat usually refers to a pension earned by the complaining spouse. Florida and most states clearly indicate that pensions earned during the course of the marriage belong to both of you. Your request for half of the amount of the pension earned during the marriage is there and the law entitles you to it;

These threats from a disgruntled spouse seem to boil down to one concept: An attempt on the part of the speaker to control the other partner and/or control the direction and outcome of the divorce. The best way to avoid that is to seek out the advice of an experienced family law/divorce lawyer. To review other similar urban legends, please click here.

Also, our website offers some tips as well, check out the section Divorce Overview

Personality Traits That Will Help You Successfully Survive Divorce

Written February 14th, 2012
Categories: Divorce Behavior

Personality Traits to Successfully Survive DivorceExperienced divorce attorneys from Jupiter to Wellington know that divorce is an emotional event upon which the law has artificially grafted statutes and rules of procedure. Divorce is traumatic; divorce is emotional; and divorce can be frustrating, annoying and taxing. In a recent issue of Forbes, Jeff Landers recently discussed personality traits that help individuals successfully survive divorce. Among the traits he discussed were:

1. Put your emotions on the backburner. One must think financially – not emotionally. Even though emotions are bound to run high at various times during the divorce, when that time comes, an individual should always remain calm, cool and collected. They should attempt to maintain their cool under pressure. Although family law attorneys in West Palm Beach know that this is easy advice to say and much more difficult to implement, the advice is well taken;

2. Delegate whenever possible. The best form of delegation during a tough emotional divorce is to make sure you assemble a good team, consisting of at least an experienced divorce attorney and an experienced financial planner and/or forensic accountant. A top-notch divorce team can take more of the responsibility from you and permit you to devote more of your time and energy to taking care of yourself and your family;

3. Keep a healthy focus on the future. Realize that no matter how horrible things may be now, ultimately you and your children will be okay. There is a life after divorce … and with proper planning and implementation, this future life can be productive, fulfilling, and financially secure and stable;

4. Stay organized. Divorce proceedings make many demands on all the participants’ lives. A party in a divorce case must learn to juggle their work, family obligations, daily obligations, and all the tasks that they have to perform during the course of a divorce. One must keep track of their appointments, paperwork and deadlines; and

5. Educate yourself. A divorce involves scrutiny of every part of your personal life and your financial life. A successful divorce, in part, is dependent upon how invested you are in knowing about you and your spouse’s financial circumstances. Make sure that you learn answers to the critical questions such as what are your assets, what is the cost to maintain your lifestyle, what will it cost to send the children to college; and what are your liabilities.

Whether you reside in Palm Beach County or elsewhere in Florida, by following these personality characteristics during your divorce you should be more assured that both you and your children will be financially and emotionally okay after the divorce. To learn more about these personality traits that assist people to successfully survive their divorce, click here.

I’m Getting a Divorce: Bah Humbug to Valentine’s Day

Written February 7th, 2012
Categories: Divorce Behavior

Happy Divorced Valentine's Day?Divorce attorneys are not mental health professionals. Nevertheless, whether a lawyer practices in West Palm Beach or elsewhere in Palm Beach County, many of our clients do feel out of place and out of sorts during the day devoted to romance. At times, our clients do ask us what they should do during this day devoted to love. We are not qualified to treat people with emotional pain and feelings of loneliness. Nevertheless, we often end up giving advice based on common sense and based on our experience. Some activities that separated, divorcing, or divorced people can consider include:

1. Doing something nice for someone else can do wonders if you’re feeling lonely on the day dedicated to celebrate love and romance. Consequently, it may help to volunteer to assist with a party at a senior center, homeless shelter, hospital, or religious facility. Human kindness provided to our fellow human beings can make a big difference.

2. You can participate in a special activity for yourself. Go to a movie, take a walk, go to a spa, or participate in any other activity that brings you some sense of joy or makes you feel good. Taking care of yourself and doing something special for yourself can make you feel better and less out of sorts.

3. Valentine’s Day after a divorce doesn’t have to be a dreary or forlorn experience. Sometimes there is comfort in numbers. If you are well enough along in your way of emotional recovery during your divorce, then you may wish to seek activities with other single people. A party or outing with friends is an option whereby there is comfort in

4. If you have children, then focus on them.

5. If you are feeling adventurous, you could contact all your best single friends and invite them to a Valentine’s party. However, the catch is that each one has to bring at least one unattached person of the opposite sex. The purpose of the party is not to make a love connection. It is to be surrounded by people having fun and enjoying each other’s company.. You can still embrace Valentine’s Day vicariously by helping them with their cards and remembering other kinds of love in life rather than the romantic love that you may have lost.

6. If you’re feeling in a more solitary mood, then go out to areas where you may not find couples. A trip to a coffee shop or bookstore is a good alternative to dinner at a restaurant where couples in love may abound.

The above activities may distract you if you are coping with sadness or some other difficulty. Take solace in the fact that Valentine’s Day is but one day of the year. And during each day you’re getting better and better and that with the passage of each day you’ll be progressing on the road to emotional recovery and a new and better life.

Parental Alienation Syndrome: A Real Divorce Disease?

Written October 4th, 2011
Categories: Divorce Behavior

Parental Alienation SyndromeThe American Psychiatric Association is considering the recognition of Parental Alienation Syndrome as a disease in the Fifth Edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) to be published May 2013. Though the draft version of the DSM does not yet contain a definition for Parental Alienation Syndrome, the APA has specified that a group of mental health professionals has proposed a document discussing how to incorporate the term in the DSM-5.

Parental Alienation Syndrome is defined as a theory that explains a child’s estrangement from one parent during a high conflict divorce. Without valid justification, the child allies himself or herself strongly with one parent, and rejects the relationship with the other parent. Individuals who want to see Parental Alienation Syndrome defined in the DSM believe that the term should be recognized as a legitimate mental health disorder because it has the potential to lend credibility to parental alienation in the divorce process. Opponents of PAS as a syndrome or disorder believe that the term lacks empirical research and should not be recognized in the DSM-5. Go here for further reading on Slate.com, regarding Parental Alienation Syndrome and the controversy about its possible recognition in the DSM-5.