Four Reasons to Thank Your Stepdad This Father’s Day

We live in a time where many families include stepparents, so it is important that we honor them on holidays as well. This Father’s Day let’s take a moment to celebrate and show gratitude to the father figures in our lives.

Stepfathers especially deserve recognition for their role in the lives of children. To our stepdads, on Father’s Day and every day, we thank you for…

Being patient: Children of divorce may be hesitant to accept new relationships. Even in situations where both parents have moved on, it may take several months for children to adjust to their new normal.

Showing up: While many divorce cases involve two co-parents who are committed to playing an active role in the lives of their children, life gets in the way. Often, stepfathers help with homework, transportation, meals, etc.  The little things leave a lasting impact and are worthy of appreciation.

Respecting boundaries: Perhaps the children’s father is involved in their daily lives. Knowing when to step in and when to allow co-parents to make decisions regarding the children’s best interest requires humility.

Creating new traditions: At first, adapting to new living arrangements and blending families may not be easy. However, with change comes the opportunity to start fresh.

Visit our Pinterest page for more on the impact of stepparents, co-parenting strategies, transitioning to a blended family, etc.

Happy Father’s Day to all dads!  YOU are important!

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Three Ways to Support Single Moms This Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is around the corner. On this day, many families are intentional about catering to the matriarch of their home. What about single mothers? In our society today, many retailers and companies feature ideal gift ideas for mom. While many of those ideas are centered around two parent households, it is important to consider the needs and wants of single mothers as well.

Is there a single mom in your life who would benefit from an act of kindness? Are you unsure of what she might want or need? Do you want to show her support? Even small gestures can make a difference this Mother’s Day.

  1. Pray for her. Being a single parent can be challenging and lonely, especially for new moms. Offer empathy and pray for her patience as she experiences parenthood without a partner. Ask her if she has any specific prayer requests.
  2. Invite her to celebrate with you. If you are planning to spend the day with your family, suggest she tag along. Open your home to her if you are staying in. This can be especially welcoming for single mothers who are unable to share the day with their children due to timesharing arrangements.
  3. Prepare a meal for her family. Perhaps she is able to celebrate with her children. As the end of the school year approaches, she may be putting their needs above her own wishes for the holiday. Find an easy recipe that she might enjoy. Surprise her with it and allow her to have one less task on her to do list.

If you or someone you know is a single mother, who is navigating the challenges of parenthood alone, we invite you to visit our Therapists Corner column for more insight.

How to Maintain a Family Unit After Your Divorce

With emotions at an all time high, going through a divorce may leave you feeling defeated. The future you envisioned for your children no longer lines up with your current circumstances. Timesharing schedules (formerly known as custody arrangements) and parenting plans are part of your new reality. It may be difficult to move forward at first, but there are certain measures you can try that may help you and your former spouse create a new normal for your family and children. We encourage you to keep an open mind and make an effort to avoid allowing your judgment to be clouded by fear or assumptions.

In our society today, there are many types of families. Despite your marriage ending, it is possible for your family to keep going.

Determine what works best for you: Although you may have witnessed someone close to you experience divorce, it is important to realize that no two cases are resolved in the same way. Each case is unique.

Recognize the needs of your children: Getting caught up in new responsibilities and expenses can be overwhelming. Some changes may be more subtle than others. To help maintain stability for your children, prioritize their needs. Doing so, especially in the beginning of your family’s transition will help you and your former spouse work toward a common goal as co-parents. Separate any conflict you might experience due to the divorce from the other parent’s ability and opportunity to continue to be present in the lives of your children. Put your children first, and when appropriate, come together as a team.

Be patient: Trust the journey of this experience. Know that over time, the change will be easier to manage. Grief is part of the process as you come to terms with your divorce. Keep in mind, everyone expresses grief in their own way. Talk to your children and develop open communication so that they feel comfortable letting you know when they are struggling.

Remember, you do not have to walk through this season of your life alone. For those who are in need of a family counseling referral, we may be able to connect you with an experienced mental health professional.

Our Orlando Divorce Attorneys are able guides and remain committed to settling differences in a manner that reflects the best interest of the family as a whole, especially when there are children involved. Want to schedule a consultation? Call our office today.

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.