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.

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.

 

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.

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.

How to Handle Timesharing with Ease

Once a case is resolved, former spouses have the opportunity to settle into a new routine. For clients with children, a parenting plan is implemented to outline primary residency, school zoning, expenses and reimbursement expectations, and timesharing (formerly known as child custody). While not all marriages end amicably, in most cases, each parent strives to do what is best for the children involved, despite their own preferences or feelings toward the other party.

Whether they decide to co-parent or parallel parent, timesharing can be difficult at first. Perhaps you are struggling to adjust to having less time with your child. Fear not, over time we have witnessed former clients thrive as they adjusted to a new family dynamic.

Manage your Expectations.

It is important to consider that everyone involved is going through a transition. Make an effort to meet your former spouse, your child and yourself with grace. As each of you adjust to new schedules, ways of communicating, etc., several emotions will come to the surface.

Be Mindful of your Audience.

When you are reunited with your child, it may be tempting to invite others to join in on the excitement. However, you may want to be sensitive to the fact that your son or daughter could be looking forward to alone time with you. At first, he or she may want to only spend time with you rather than with extended family, such as aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc.

Practice Empathy.

Remember the moments where you are dreading the hand off and returning to a quiet home. Each parent should treat the other how they would want to be treated. In order to alleviate stress for everyone, be aware of your body language, your tone and the general agenda of what should take place at your hand off. Some parenting plans specify that a neutral location be used for timesharing arrangements. Others might request former spouses refrain from discussing parenting issues in front of the child, to avoid tension. Put yourself in the shoes of your vulnerable child.

To speak to an attorney regarding your parenting plan or timesharing arrangement, call our office today.

Honoring those in Service: Amendments to the Statute regarding Timesharing for Men and Women in the Military

Determining the appropriate time sharing when a parent is in the military has been a long- standing issue due to deployment, re-assignment to a new base and other variables.

Florida Statue 61.13002 allows a parent who is activated, deployed, or temporarily assigned to military service on orders in excess of 90 days and whose ability to comply with time-sharing is materially affected to designate a person(s) to exercise time-sharing on that parent’s behalf.  The designation is restricted to a family member, stepparent or relative of the child by marriage.

The designation must be in writing to the civilian parent at least 10 days prior to the next time-sharing.  If the parties are unable to agree on the designation, then either party can request an expedited hearing to determine the designation.  Agreements on designation may be made at time of dissolution of marriage or during other child-related proceedings.

The statute further provides that in any hearing enforcing rights under F.S. 61.13002, the court shall permit the military parent to testify by telephone, video teleconference, webcam, affidavit, or other means if the military duties have a material effect on that parent’s ability or anticipated ability to appear in person.

The Child Abduction Prevention Act: Protecting our Children from the Dangers of Abduction by a Parent

Florida Statutes Section 61.45 was recently amended to create the “Child Abduction Prevention Act.”  This Act is beneficial when there is a concern about the risk of removal of a child from the state or country in violation of a parenting plan.

This section includes new preventative and risk factors for the court’s consideration, as well as relief that may be ordered and additional civil/criminal penalties that may result from violation of this section.

Further, if a parent is concerned that the other parent may abduct a child, a great resource is the Department of State website under child abduction.  There is a Child Passport Issuance Alert Program (CPIAP).

The Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program (CPIAP) allows parents to register their U.S. citizen children under the age of 18 in the Department’s Passport Lookout System.  If a passport application is submitted for a child who is registered in CPIAP, the Department contacts and alerts the parent(s) or guardian(s). The system provides all U.S. passport agencies, as well as U.S. Embassies and Consulates, abroad an alert on a child’s name if a parent or guardian registers an objection to passport issuance for his or her child.  This procedure provides parents advance warning of possible plans for international travel with a child.

Go to the following website to find out more and/or sign up your child(ren) for this program: http://travel.state.gov/abduction/prevention/passportissuanc/passportissuance_554.html:

A court can also order a parent to register with this program sua sponte (on its own accord) or upon motion by a party.