The Marks Law Firm Blog and New Updates

How to Prioritize Your Marriage Through the Holiday Season

How to Prioritize Your Marriage Through the Holiday Season

With sleigh bells ringing and children singing, your marriage may be an afterthought as the holidays are now in full swing. Although schedules may be filled with baking, shopping, party planning, volunteering, etc. we encourage you to pour into your relationship with your spouse. Families with children will especially benefit from a loving and stable environment during this time of year. After all, the moments we share as children create memories and may even lead to cherished traditions.

If you are left feeling overwhelmed towards the end of the year, it might be necessary to reevaluate your priorities.

Have uninterrupted alone time as much as possible: For some couples, the opportunity to connect one on one with your spouse may seem unrealistic. Depending on the specifics of your routine, try to find a time to come together away from your children on a weekly basis.

Consider the wants and needs of your spouse: While most children are eager to supply their parents with Christmas wish lists, it is also imperative to reflect on the desires and expectations of our partner. Perhaps he or she has briefly mentioned a special holiday activity for the two of you to participate in. Don’t overlook those who are children at heart. There is joy to be found in this season at any age.

Be upfront with your feelings: In addition to serving our spouse, the foundation of successful relationships includes honesty. Difficult conversations are often shied away from this time of year. However, your marriage deserves two people who are willing to trust each other and meet one another with grace.

Recognize areas that need improvement: Society has glorified procrastination in a sense, with the idea that goals and changes should be saved for the new year ahead. Instead of allowing yourself to wait, look at parts of your marriage that could use extra attention. By making an effort to pour into your relationship, you are showing your spouse just how much you value your life together.

To schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys, call our Orlando office today.

Five Steps to Navigating the Holidays After a Divorce

Five Steps to Navigating the Holidays After a Divorce

The holiday season is often filled with joy, quality time with family, friends and loved ones, and celebrating our Savior. However, for families who are recovering from a divorce, the holidays can also be met with stress, anxiety, and even sadness. Traditions may come to an end. Parenting Plans and Timesharing agreements impact co-parents, children and members of extended family.

Although it may seem overwhelmingly difficult to even consider how you will survive the holidays after a divorce, we encourage you to have faith and be patient with yourself, the situation and your former spouse.

  1. Maintain Communication: Perhaps you are struggling to remain on speaking terms with your former spouse, due to differences of opinion, misunderstandings, or conflict in general. Look into various options to remain connected when necessary. There are many apps and technology methods available to assist co-parents. In situations where young children are involved, it is imperative for everyone to be on the same page.
  2. Be Mindful of Spending: It is no secret that the costs associated with divorce may impact savings, retirement plans, and other assets. While the holidays cause businesses to target consumers with sales and new product releases, implementing a budget will help you keep track of expenses and lessen your financial burden. Try to focus on the needs of your family versus the wants you can do without.
  3. Manage Expectations: This is especially important for families with children. A year ago, you may not have anticipated the end of your marriage. Once you are able to accept your new reality, coping should come more naturally. Remain upfront with your children about how they will be celebrating each holiday and assure them that your family is still a priority.
  4. Plan Ahead: With the contents of your parenting plan and specifics of your timesharing schedule, both you and your former spouse have the opportunity to make necessary arrangements to make the most of the holidays. Consider how your personal and professional commitments may be affected.
  5. Practice Self Care: Going through a divorce is an emotional journey. Let yourself prioritize your own best interests as well as your children’s. Taking care of ourselves is not selfish, doing so allows us to better serve others.

If you are unsure about how to approach the upcoming holiday season with your former spouse, call us to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced Orlando Family Law Attorneys.

 

Three Ways Counseling Can Positively Impact Your Marriage

Three Ways Counseling Can Positively Impact Your Marriage

Often, couples are led to believe counseling should only be entered in a final effort to save their marriage. While speaking with a mental health professional may seem intimidating at first, we encourage our clients to seek help, especially if reconciliation is possible. Recently, several high-profile couples have come forward to credit counseling as a contributing factor of the success of their marriages.

Have you considered the potential benefits of working with a therapist?

  1. Creating Paths to Open and Honest Communication

Work schedules, raising children, and social activities may mean your marriage takes a backseat unintentionally. Several days could come and go without having an uninterrupted conversation with your spouse. A mental health professional recognizes the importance of communication and will help you both express yourselves and own your feelings.

  1. Understanding How Your Spouse’s Love Language Compliments Your Own

Are you familiar with the five love languages? For spouses, it is important to consider and honor each other’s language. Author Gary Chapman describes the five love languages as follows:

  • Words of Affirmation
  • Acts of Service
  • Receiving Gifts
  • Quality Time
  • Physical Touch

The variety of ways we give love may not match how our partner best receives it. For example, you might assume that your spouse doesn’t appreciate gift giving, but as it turns out, he or she values quality time together or words of affirmation over tangible items. Couples who love each other well, should be aware of ways their love languages influence the relationship.

  1. Learning Tools for Conflict Resolution

Contrary to popular belief, even happy couples experience conflict. One key difference between healthy marriages and others, relates to how they approach difficult situations. No two marriages are exactly alike, and it is imperative to identify your specific needs and shortcomings regarding conflict resolution.

If you are struggling with the idea of attempting counseling or gaining a therapist’s perspective in general, we invite you to visit our Therapists Corner Column and connect with one of our legal professionals by scheduling a consultation.

How Can Collaborative Divorce Benefit You and Your Family?

How Can Collaborative Divorce Benefit You and Your Family?

Whether you are embarking on the divorce process now or contemplating your options regarding the future of your marriage, it is important to base your decision on what is best for your family. What worked for someone else may not lead to an ideal resolution for you. If your efforts toward a reconciliation have been unsuccessful, we encourage you to consider a collaborative divorce.

Three of our attorneys at The Marks Law Firm are collaboratively trained, experienced, and dedicated to building a custom team of professionals best suited for your family law case.

When couples are experiencing divorce, it is very likely that they will need assistance beyond legal representation. Who is on your team?

Family Law Attorney

Whoever you choose to be your legal advocate and counselor should work closely with you and your professional team to maximize your goals and interests,  in order to achieve the best possible outcome for you.

Financial Professional

A financial neutral can assist you and your spouse in identifying and determining the value of your assets and debts. They can also help you understand your complete financial situation and provide you with financial options to help you and your family achieve your goals and interests for the future.

Mental Health Professional

Your mental health professional will also serve as a neutral member of your professional team and will guide you and your spouse to effective communication. He or she will help you create a positive co-parenting relationship with your spouse and work with you to develop a parenting plan that maximizes the benefits to your children.

To learn more about collaborative divorce and why it might be the best option for your family, contact us to schedule a consultation with one of our collaborative attorneys today.

Considering a Prenuptial Agreement?

Considering a Prenuptial Agreement?

Are you recently engaged or in the process of planning an upcoming wedding? If so, your feelings of excitement and joy, may also be met with expressions of concern for yourself or from those closest to you. Most couples marry for the right reasons and have the best intentions leading up to the wedding. However, divorce and separation are becoming more accepted in our society today. Unfortunately, some marriages end in turmoil and disappointment.

Perhaps you are in a financial position where you would like to protect your assets if your marriage and relationship cannot be reconciled.

Talk to your partner.

Once you have decided to spend the rest of your life with someone, communication should be open and honest. Share your concerns and be willing to listen what your future spouse has to say. While he or she may be hesitant to move forward with a prenuptial agreement, make it clear that it is important for the two of you to come to a decision together.

Consult with an Attorney.

Come up with questions you might want to ask a legal professional and be clear about what you want to accomplish through your agreement. He or she will help you organize and prepare a document that will help protect your interests. In most cases, the two of you will need to retain separate representation, as an attorney cannot represent both parties.

Decide what is best for your personal situation.

Depending on the specifics of your relationship and lifestyle, a prenuptial agreement may be unnecessary. Consider your resources, plans for the future, etc. Although other couples may choose to implement a prenuptial agreement as part of their planning, do not allow your judgment to be clouded by comparison. Be intentional with your decision and research your options.

Our Central Florida Family Law Attorneys are committed to serving our clients as they embark on the journey of marriage. To schedule a consultation, click here.

Three Common Challenges Blended Families Face

Many times, when couples are experiencing marriage again after a divorce, a new spouse isn’t the only addition to the family. Second marriages not only represent a sense of hope, but may also include a season filled with challenges and transition. For newlyweds with children from previous relationships, it is especially important to manage any expectations regarding the new family dynamic. While television shows and movies often idealize the lives of blended families, parents should make an effort to be sensitive and mindful of their children’s feelings.

When two families are coming together as one, the honeymoon phase may be short lived. Despite each parents’ willingness and determination to create a perfect new life as a blended family, they may not be able to avoid the tension and trials that come up as a result of their union. In fact, there are many challenges blended families struggle to overcome.

Coping with Sacrifice

Young children especially may not realize how many changes will take place once other siblings come into the picture. In situations where the stepsiblings didn’t have an opportunity to get to know each other prior to spending extended periods of time together, they may not understand or expect any sacrifice necessary, financial or otherwise. Validate their feelings, and explain how each member of your new family will need to sacrifice at one point or another for the overall benefit of everyone involved.

 Maintaining Inclusivity

Perhaps most of the new siblings get along and enjoy quality time together. However, it is not unusual for one or more of the children to experience feelings of isolation. Easing into a new normal where each child has an opportunity to express his or herself in a safe and open environment is imperative.

Keeping up with Schedules

Age groups, interests, commitments, academic needs, etc. all contribute to the family’s evolving calendar. At first, establishing a routine may seem impossible. After all, the children depend on you and your spouse for transportation and punctuality. Even if co-parents are present and willing to help, you might consider leaning on extended family to make sure everyone is accounted for. Communication is key.

Our Team at The Marks Law Firm, P.A. recognizes the support and patience necessary for blended families to blossom and thrive as a successful unit. We also value the insight and experience of mental health professionals in the Central Florida community. To learn more about blended families, visit our Therapists Corner column.

Co-parenting: How to Prepare for the School Year

For our children, it may seem as though summer just started. Department stores, television commercials, print advertisements, etc. remind us that the back to school season is on the horizon. Children and parents who are readjusting from a divorce, may experience more anxiety than typical concerns students have prior to the first day.

If you are attempting to balance the pressures of the upcoming school year along with easing into a co-parenting arrangement, we assure you, it is possible. While doing so may be challenging and emotional, communication and planning will benefit everyone involved.

Clearly Identify Responsibilities

Depending on the specifics of your parenting plan, both you and your former spouse may be expected to financially contribute to your child’s supply needs. In addition to the costs associated with back to school season, transportation and meals should be accounted for. We shouldn’t assume that carpooling arrangements will be the same as prior school years as professional commitments change and availability may be impacted. Remember, it is imperative to be upfront with what is expected of each parent prior to the first day of school.

Keep a Written or Digital Record of Schedules

Classes, extracurricular activities, tutoring, volunteering, etc. vary depending on your child’s needs and interests. With other responsibilities, it can be easy to lose track of events. Maintaining an agenda or digital calendar that can be shared with your former spouse will help ensure your kids are present for appointments or other points of interest. This will also eliminate any potential confusion regarding your children’s whereabouts.

Inform Teachers and School Staff of Co-parenting

When you have an opportunity to meet your child’s new teacher, let him or her know of any specific concerns you have regarding your co-parenting arrangement. Most cases resolve with the children staying with one parent for all or much of the school week. However, there are unique situations where the children may need to bring additional belongings to school for extended stays with your former spouse. Divorce comes with many moving parts. Be honest about how your child is handling the transition so that his or her teacher can anticipate any behavioral patterns.

Are you interested in speaking with one of our Central Florida Attorneys regarding your co-parenting concerns? Schedule a consultation here.

Co-parenting and Child Support: Knowing Your Rights

Being a single parent wasn’t part of the future you envisioned for yourself or for your marriage. Regardless of your differences or imperfections as a couple, both you and your former spouse have an opportunity to be present and positive influences as parents. Outside of situations where emotional or physical harm to the children are at risk, each parent should be able to maintain, or build (depending on the child’s age) a relationship with his or her kids.

When you are embarking on the divorce process, it is easy to become overwhelmed with dividing assets, determining potential alimony payments, selling the marital home, etc. Your children, however, should remain a top priority as well. As co-parents, you and your former spouse will be connected through your children for years to come.

Perhaps you are concerned with what the outcome of your divorce will mean for your new family dynamic. Our Orlando Divorce Attorneys are available to answer questions that are specific to your case. Legal Teams at the Marks Law Firm have served as guides to our clients who choose not to navigate their family law matters alone.

In addition to each parent’s income, different factors such as children with special needs, behavioral issues, mental health struggles, etc. will all play a role in the amount of child support awarded. Although your previous attempts to receive child support payments on your own may have been unsuccessful, consulting with an attorney may help you better understand your rights and evaluate your options.

To speak with one of our experienced attorneys, schedule a consultation.

Timesharing: Making the Most Out of Your Summer

As your children embrace the start of their summer vacation, they may be wondering what will keep them busy in the coming months. While some parents may play each day by ear, if you adhere to a timesharing schedule, it is especially important to make the most of any quality time with your children. Rather than letting yourself become overwhelmed with uncertainty, be intentional with your time.

Even with the likely time restrictions outlined in your timesharing arrangement, it is still possible to give your children and yourself a memorable and fulfilling summer.

Plan Ahead:

Perhaps there are specific activities your children have expressed interest in doing. Maintain a calendar outlining what you would like to accomplish in your free time together.

Communicate Clearly:

Depending on your situation, regular contact with your former spouse may not be effective. However, it is important to make sure he or she remains in the loop, especially if extended travel is planned. In an effort to remain on the same page and avoid misunderstandings, be honest about your children’s whereabouts.

Have Options:

With hurricane season officially underway, the weather may not always cooperate with beach trips or theme park outings. On days where outdoor fun must be postponed, consider having an indoor picnic or movie marathon.

Seek Learning Opportunities:

Since school is no longer in session, your children may not have access to engaged learning opportunities every day. Research programs at your local library or special summer events at the science center. Learning can be fun for the entire family.

Be Present:

Although your professional commitments may limit your free time during the week, make an effort to give your children undivided attention when your schedule permits. After all, the moments you spend together will become memories. Try not to get caught up in the busy parts of your day. Instead, prioritize a few minutes of quality time with your children as often as possible. Sharing a meal or reading together before bed will show your children that you value your time together.

 

If you, or your former spouse are struggling with timesharing this summer, schedule a consultation with one of our Orlando Family Law Attorneys today.

Is Parallel Parenting Right for You?

In high conflict cases where former spouses struggle to communicate or agree on what is best for their children, co-parenting can seem like a daunting task. The divorce process is just the beginning. Your marriage may be over, but when you have kids, you will be connected to your former spouse for years to come. While most legal teams make an effort to advocate in the best interest of the children involved, regular communication between former spouses is not always an ideal solution.

Co-parenting vs. Parallel Parenting

Although each approach relies on a timesharing agreement, there are clear differences among the two.

Co-parenting consists of each parent regularly communicating with each other as it relates to their child’s schedule, expenses, academics, health, etc., as well as possibly joining forces for birthdays, school functions, and extracurricular activities. It allows both parents the opportunity to voice concerns directly and in person as situations arise. Decisions regarding the children are made together, rather than by one parent alone.

Parallel parenting is a newer arrangement where former spouses are not expected to be in constant contact with one another . In other words, by utilizing this method to avoid conflict and possible tension, each parent protects the children from the negativity associated with their difficulty to communicate. To decrease the need for communication, decision making may be split between parents. For example, the child’s mother may be responsible for health related choices, while the father may have the final say in regards to after school activities. Over time, some parallel parenting arrangements evolve into versions of co-parenting, as resentment weakens and children become the overall focus.

For those who are interested in pursuing a parallel parenting plan, we encourage you to consider which approach would best fit the needs of your children and new family dynamic. The decision may seem overwhelming at first, but there are a variety of resources available to make the transition to parallel parenting easier.

If you are unsure of which option would work best for your case, we encourage you to contact our office and speak with one of our Central Florida Family Law Attorneys today.