children and divorce

Christmas presents beneath a Christmas tree

Hi there,

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you all have a safe and fun holiday.

Christmas presents beneath a Christmas tree
Presents for your kids can be under the tree in no time with a little coordination!

Even though Christmas décor has been up for weeks, I’m just beginning to coordinate Christmas shopping for my grandkids with their parents and their other grandparents. It’s an organizational hassle in an intact family, and far more complicated in a separated or divorced family. In past years I’ve posted about how to divide the holidays, and also about how to coordinate parenting time using apps like Google Calendar and My Family Wizard. … Keep reading

How Are You Going to Pay for College?

piggy bank break the bank
Poor little guy never saw it coming…

Separated or divorced parents face unique challenges regarding the financial impact of preparing for and paying for their children to attend college. Luckily, there are ways to handle the situation without breaking the bank!

Next week my firm is hosting a complimentary lunch event called College Smarts: Understand Your Options to Help Protect Your Family’s Financial Future, and I’m writing to extend the invitation.… Keep reading

State House Boston Massachusetts

Hi there,

Boston Massachusetts State HouseWell, here’s the explanation for all the coverage, mine included, of that loony bill out of Wrentham, MA that would require permission from a judge for a divorcing spouse to have sex with a new partner in their home. It will be interesting to watch how this story evolves — or if it will completely fizzle. 

Best,

Nancy

 … Keep reading

Hi there,

The Twitterverse, (one of my favorite time wasters) and the news media in Massachusetts were a buzz yesterday as word spread that a State Senator filed on behalf of one of his constituents a bill that would ban parents from having sex in the former marital home before the finalization of the divorce. If the bill were to pass, it would require a divorcing party to obtain special permission from a judge in order to have sex with their new partner! It certainly won’t pass, and the mere concept is enough to cause near-terminal giggles, in this divorce lawyer at least.  But it does raise important issues: When should children learn that their parents are dating other people? When should children learn that a parent is in a serious relationship?

Divorce is tough on children. They need to go through the grieving process, just like their parents. And since, hopefully, they learned about the divorce after their parents, it’s going to take them longer to adjust. The parent/child dynamic is very different, of course, from the spouse dynamic. In the best-case scenario, parents will agree on when the kids should become aware the parents are dating. Then … Keep reading

Tip# 5 of the Top 5 To-Do’s When You Want to Divorce: How to Tell Your Kids

Hi there,

This is the most important — and may be the most difficult — thing you will have to do when you decide to divorce.  If you can (and emotional and logistic circumstances may prevent this), try to tell the kids about the divorce together.  Also, try to tell them as soon as possible.  Past the age of 5, I think children are quicker than parents at recognizing emotional clues, and once they are emotionally vigilant they can overhear way more than you would expect.

Talk through with the other parent just what you need to say to the kids.  Almost all libraries have a good selection of how-to books on telling your children that their parents are going to divorce.

Children of different ages have different responses to divorce; the way you tell them should be coordinated to the developmental ages of your children.  I have long thought that the younger a child is, the less stress he or she feels at divorce.  I believe, and the data bears this out, that adults and young adults are often the most psychologically stricken by their parents’ divorce.  They also are vulnerable to being treated as a confidant, sometimes … Keep reading

Hi there,

It appears that the divorce rate is declining.  That can only be considered good news, but anecdotally I think it means that the percentage of tougher cases has increased for practitioners. I have noticed our group seems to have a never ending stream of custody cases.  I am in the middle of a custody trial right now, so I decided to pass on some things that may help the kids.

First of all, Massachusetts has a mandated parenting course.  Divorcing parents of kids 18 and younger are required to take this course within 45 days of filing.  I try to get my clients to take it as soon as possible, as it can help with some very simple things.

Then from a child’s perspective, how your parents tell you about the divorce is critical.   While there always should be a united, supportive front, many divorcing couples are unable to get past the immediate anger to present a united front.

Books help (In my world books always help, but that’s another post).  Almost every library has an excellent selection.  A list of books reviewed by Benjamin Garber, MD and members of the staff of the Barr-Harris Children’s Grief Center … Keep reading

Hi there,

The joyous holiday season is almost upon us!  For divorce attorneys, this is always viewed with some trepidation, as we tend to find ourselves in courtrooms arguing over who goes to dinner or Christmas or Hanukkah with whom – not necessarily an uplifting process.

I have been gleaning a series of articles and points of view that relate loosely to children and divorce and may be of use to some of you out there trying to negotiate the morass of this season.

The first is from one of my favorite bloggers Jason  — of the Minnesota Family Law Blog.  The eight points should be every divorcing parent’s mantra, no matter how horrible your soon to be ex or ex is, it is NEVER the kids fault and important to remember that the kids can, and do, get lost and damaged in the process.

The concept of a safe caregiver is discussed in the construct of an intact family, but it becomes even more potent and poignant when parents can’t agree, or even discuss, what constitutes a safe person to leave a child with.  The other parent usually is the guardian or the custodial parent should one of you die.   … Keep reading

Hi there,

I know I have just spent almost 2 years saying "settle if you can," but there are very compelling circumstances where going to trial may be the most effective choice.

Custody and parenting issues create compelling circumstances – there is nothing more important in a divorce than the kids.

If one parent is actively preventing the other from seeing the kids, or from having a normal relationship with them, then trial may be necessary to try and protect the children’s relationship with both parents.  There is an over-hyped definition of this behavior, Parental alienation syndrome, but the behavior does exist and often requires that a judge make a final determination as to the parameters of the best custody and parenting plan.

Generally, when this is occurring there is no realistic way to fix it short of a change in custody with the non-alienating parent getting the children.  This usually means the hiring/appointment of a Guardian ad Litem, as well as a trial, as it is my experience that a parent who is alienating the kids cannot step back from the fight and so winning that fight is the only hope.  This is an uphill battle, but these … Keep reading