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Holidays can still be fun after divorce

Texas parents facing their first holiday season after a breakup are probably concerned about the logistics of getting through the season without causing their children any harm. Although every family dynamic is unique, there are some general guidelines that have proven effective for others who have traveled the same path. When parents work together, they can honor old family traditions and start new ones in a healthy and positive way for everyone involved.

The first rule of holidays after separation or divorce is to remember that the main objective is to take care of the children. When parents put kids first and set aside their personal animosities and hurt feelings, it is possible to not just survive but for children to prosper and grow throughout the holidays. A corollary to the first rule is for parents to resist the urge to compete regarding gifts and other holiday experiences. If possible, parents should coordinate gift giving to make sure the bases are covered without a level of extravagance that exceeds historical family practices.

Parallel parenting plans can work for many exes

Texas parents headed for a split are often concerned about the potential for conflict in their co-parenting relationships. While the best parenting situations are child focused and collaborative, there is hope for those who have trouble communicating with their exes. With planning and commitment, a parallel parenting arrangement can be successful and even serve as a bridge to a less acrimonious situation after passions have cooled.

Parallel parenting arrangements require a great deal of planning to account for various possible contingencies that may arise. Family lawyers and mediators are typically skilled at asking the types of questions designed to facilitate the structure of an effective plan, but parents must contribute and act in good faith. A particular point of emphasis is the manner of communication between the parties. Collaborative relationships encourage frequent and positive communication between the parties, but a parallel plan is designed to limit interaction and thereby reduce the risk of conflagration. The parties should agree to communicate in a businesslike fashion in regard to the logistics of the involved children. The most common method is through email, but sometimes the use of third parties is required.

Improving stability during a divorce with "birdnesting"

For most people in Texas, the decision to end a marriage isn't an easy one. It can be an even more difficult process if children are involved. Research shows that the most effective way to ease the trauma that often goes along with divorce for children is to minimize conflict and make the transition as non-disruptive as possible. One way some parents are doing this is with a type of arrangement known as "nesting" or "birdnesting." It involves retaining the family home as parents alternate staying there with their children while still living separately.

Since money is sometimes tight following a divorce, some parents opting for nesting prefer to share a nearby studio or economy apartment as they split their time in the family home. It can be a beneficial arrangement since disruption is minimized for kids because they get to stay in a familiar and comfortable environment. However, it's advised that parents don't extend the nesting setup for too long. Doing so may create confusion that sometimes includes having false hopes of parents getting back together.

Can divorce be contagious?

Have you ever been in a situation where one of your friends buys something new and you start thinking that maybe you should also buy something? Maybe it is a car, something for your home or just some new clothes. Is this just case of “keeping up with the Joneses” or is there something more going on? Because when it comes to divorce, new research shows that their actions just might be contagious. 

Parents may struggle with child support orders

When parents in Texas go through a divorce, they may struggle with the changing relationship with their children. When both parents want to play an active, involved role in their children's lives, child support and custody issues can be contentious. In many cases, both parents feel as if they haven't received fair treatment in family court, especially if they're not fully satisfied by the outcome. Even more, both working parents may struggle with financial issues, balancing time with career and children and child support payments.

Shared custody is increasingly favored by many family court judges. Statistics show that children experience better outcomes when both parents are heavily active in their lives. Still, over 80 percent of custodial parents are mothers. In many cases, however, fathers have a strong likelihood of receiving child custody if they actively file for it in court or work to negotiate an agreement with the other parent.

Financial planning for a post-divorce life

Divorce can be a difficult financial time for many people in Texas. In fact, many people stay in unhappy marriages for years because of their fears about the fiscal effects of a divorce. In some cases, the emotional and practical aspects of a divorce have long since been completed, but the financial consequences can linger on for years. However, by keeping some key tips in mind, divorcing spouses can help to protect their assets and emerge for divorce ready to meet their financial goals for the future.

In the first place, many people feel a desire to spend after ending their marriages. They may want a new look, a single vacation or a new home or car. While minor expenses may not be a problem, the immediate post-divorce period can be a poor time for large decisions like taking out a new car loan. People often need to adjust to the realities of a single-income household, so it can be better to opt for frugal choices immediately after a divorce. After some time has passed, people are better able to estimate their new budget.

A new study finds long-term risks in premarital cohabitation

Many Texans believe that if a couple lives together before marriage, they will be less likely to divorce. However, new research indicates that cohabitation may actually decrease the likelihood of long-term matrimony.

The study is based on data gleaned from surveys conducted with women younger than 45 in their first marriages between 1970 to 2015. The purpose of the study was to determine the importance of the 'premarital cohabitation effect" on a long-term marital relationship.

Misunderstandings about prenuptial agreements

Texas couples often have misconceptions about prenuptial agreements. This has led many soon-to-be spouses to dismiss the usefulness of a prenup. For example, some people think a prenup increases the possibility of divorce. However, statistics do not back up this assumption.

Some misconceptions can actually lead to a prenup that is improperly prepared and declared invalid. For example, there are limits to what can be included in a prenup. Agreements involving child support or unfair divisions of property can be invalidated. It is also important to make sure that both partners get adequate legal counsel before signing the agreement. If the agreement appears to have been coerced, which may the case if it is prepared right before the marriage or each person does not have an attorney, it could be thrown out.

Personality traits that may increase the risk of divorce

Couples saying "I do" in Texas sometimes overlook minor personality flaws or choose to focus more on a significant other's positive attributes. Little differences may become major annoyances. There is no way to guarantee any marriage will last forever. However, it may be helpful for individuals getting ready to tie the knot to be aware of some of the personality traits that might increase the odds of a legal union ending in divorce, a list that's based on insights from psychologists, relationship experts and divorce attorneys.

One of the top traits that may lead to a divorce is what's termed "catastrophizing," or repeatedly making a big deal out of small incidents or harmless events. A marriage may also be doomed if one or both partners has an ongoing desire to accumulate more wealth. This sometimes leads to the higher earner resenting the lower-earning spouse if success or the state of a relationship is based solely on money or financial status.

Is joint custody really the best option?

Many people think joint custody is the best possible option for a child custody arrangement. It gives both parents a chance to spend equal time with their kids so they can continue to develop their bond and relationship. People think equal time with both parents is healthiest for the kids, but is this really the case?

Cons of co-parenting

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Law Office of B. Diane Heindel, P.C.