Helping Your Child Prepare for Summer Visits

Many people notice that there are significant changes in their child’s behavior before and after extended visits with the noncustodial parent. There are set visitation schedules so that children have some structure and understanding of what they are going to do, but it’s a greater benefit to brief your child for an extended amount of time living elsewhere. When a child is used to living in one area and is uprooted to be able to visit with the other parent, things can be incredibly hard for them.

There are many things that you are going to want to do in preparation for your child’s summer away. These are all simple things that can really help your child to feel secure and stable as they are transitioning between the two homes.

Tips to Prepare Your Child for Summer Visits

Help Your Child Get Excited

As much as you might want to keep your children with you forever, the other parent deserves to spend time with them and build a relationship. If you want to help your child to be more emotionally prepared for their summer visit, the best thing that you can do is encourage excitement. Talk to your ex about the things that he/she will be doing with your child and let your child know that fun is planned. Also, talk about all of their favorite activities with the other parent. This is going to really help them extinguish any feelings of nervousness that they might have. While it might be hard for you to watch, you need to be able to understand that this is in their best interest.

Make Something to Help Them Know When They’ll Be Home

You can get as creative as you want. Take the time to make a little something special to help your child know what is going on, and track when they will be back with you. A calendar or a special series of boxes, bags, or cards that they take with them will help them to know when they’ll be home. You may also find that this is a great way to share with your children everything that you love about them and all of the little things that you will miss while they’re gone.

Discuss Options for Communication

You should certainly agree to terms of communication with your ex, before you talk to your child about how you’ll communicate while they are with the other parent. Once you have come to terms with how communication will work, you can talk to your child and let them know the plan. Ask your child what would help them and let them know that you will do your best to be available for regular phone calls, FaceTime, or anything else that they need.

Be Careful with Communication

There are things that you might say that will actually cause your child to have a harder time. If you say things like, “I miss you,” your child might feel like they are the cause of your pain. This could lead them to feeling responsible for your unhappiness when they are not home. You should instead use phrases like, “I love you” and, “I’m thinking about you.” These are all more helpful phrases that you can use to communicate your feelings.

Work with Your Ex on Routines & Activities

Another thing that you should think about is how you can make the transition between homes easier. This will require you to have thorough communication with your ex. You will want to write out and then discuss everything that is normal day-to-day routine for you and your child while they are at your home. Talk about daily activities and things that your children enjoy doing. If your child lives in an area that is far from where they will be spending summers, then help the other parent look for their favorite activities local to them. This can really help your child to make friends and have a great time on their visit.

Teach Your Child that Both Homes are “Home”

When your child feels like one parent’s home is “home” and the other parent’s home is a place to visit, it can cause the child to feel left out and like a stranger in the home where they are visiting. Stress to your child that they have two homes and teach them from the beginning that they are just as welcome at one as they are the other.

 

Being divorced is hard work. Sometimes you have to put aside your personal feelings and really work with your ex to do what is best for your children. You will have to work to find things that you can agree upon for the betterment of your children. Both parents will have to give and compromise in order to make sure that your child lives the best life possible.

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Tips for Being Involved When Living in Another State

In an ideal world, children would always live in the same state as both of their parents. In today’s world this is not the case. In some circumstances jobs or the presence of extended family can influence a judge’s decision to allow a child to move out of state. When this happens, one parent is left living quite some distance from their child. This could cause unrepairable damage to the child’s relationship with that parent, but in some cases it does not have to.

Tips to Stay Involved with Miles Between

Pick Up the Phone or Use Video Chat

Staying in touch doesn’t always have to mean seeing someone in person. Today there are tons of options for being able to communicate with your child or even to use a video chat system with them. This type of communication allows you to talk to them regardless of where you are. The great thing about video chat options is that they allow for your child to see you while you are talking. This is especially helpful with younger children or children with attention issues. Just because there are miles between you does not mean that you cannot communicate with your children on a regular basis and have the relationship that you have always dreamed of.

Send Pictures Regularly

Another thing that you can do on a regular basis is send pictures to your children. You can print them or send them digitally. Talk with the other parent and ask that they send you pictures of different activities that your child is involved in as well as day-to-day life. If you do not feel like your ex is willing to communicate with you well enough for this, try and get this included as a stipulation in your paperwork per the custody agreement.

Use Email to Your Advantage

Older children will enjoy being able to email you rather than talking. It can also help them work on valuable skills like typing. Another fun thing with email is that you can send emails to younger children too. You can send e-cards or other fun things that will give your children a little smile for the day.

Consider Sending Postcards

One thing that most children love getting is mail. Postcards are a great way to send a little note and let your kids know that you are thinking about them. Finding postcards is pretty easy no matter where you live. There are even some fun ones that allow you to create your own postcard or give your child a picture to color when it arrives. Doing things like this are simple and small but can mean a world of difference to your children.

Think About Sharing Videos

Sharing videos is a great way to be able to see your children do things and for your children to see you! Create a YouTube account for each of you, so that you can share videos. YouTube has privacy settings that limit publicity so that no one can see them except for those who are intended to (you and your children). This is important to note, since many people do not realize just how safe some of these social media sites can be. Furthermore, sharing videos is a way for you to be a part of events that you are missing and allows your child to see you engage with them, even though it’s from a distance. If you are not someone who has a particularly interesting job, you can take videos of yourself doing silly things that your children will enjoy. You can also take videos of yourself reading your child’s favorite book so that they can watch it when they are missing you.

Never Underestimate the Power of a Good Surprise

Surprises are a great way to show your children that you care, even when you cannot be with them. And they do not have to be big. A padded envelope can hold a few small pieces of candy or something as simple as a pencil and stickers. You can really brighten your child’s day if they have been missing you with a great little surprise in the mail. You never know, they might even repay the favor with a sweet surprise of their own like a picture that they have drawn for you.

Consider Home Deliveries

Talk to your ex and find out a night when you can send pizza for dinner. Consider finding some place to send donuts for breakfast or sweet treats from time to time, too. This type of small gesture is one that can show that you are having thoughts about them and can impact them in a BIG way.

Being far apart is hard for both you and your child. You can stay close to your child and have the relationship that you have always dreamed of.

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How to Coordinate Extra-Curricular Activities When Your Ex Lives in Another Area

One of the toughest things when your children are growing up in two different households is how the extra-curricular activities will be handled. Children want to be involved in sports and other activities but this will require a commitment from the two parents. You will have to have to work together to be able to ensure that your child gets to do the things that he or she most enjoys.

When at all possible, a child should be kept in the same area as both of his/her parents. However, when it comes to finding a good job or being able to provide and care for the child there are times when parents have to move further apart. If this happens and you find that you are living away from your ex with your child or that your child is living away from you with your ex, there are some things that you should consider.

First and foremost, priority should be placed on what your child wants. Even if your child is not legally able to go to court and determine where they want to live, their opinion on the matter should be taken into account. Children often want to stay where they have friends and where things are familiar. If you cannot find a job where your child has been growing up, this could be particularly hard for them.

Activities vs. Visitation

Of course each parent wants to be a part of their child’s life and wants to be able to spend time with their child. However, at some point what the child wants also needs to be considered. For example, if you live in an area where there are few activities this is especially something to think about. If both areas offer the same activities, then the child could potentially be registered in different areas for different activities. This would allow your child to have maximum time enjoying what they love and being able to spend time with both parents.

Help Choosing Activities

One thing that parents can do is encourage their children to find the activities that they truly love. Most professionals agree that today’s children are often involved in far too many activities. So asking your child to choose between activities can be a good thing. Try to encourage them with the activities that they naturally excel at rather than focusing on trying to do everything. If there are seasonal activities, the child might consider doing some of them with the non-custodial parent when they are visiting them.

Be Flexible with Visitation

Sure, it might be very difficult for the custodial parent when their child is gone to camp and then gone visiting the other parent. However, since they have the child the majority of the time there is no reason for them to struggle with this decision. Both parents need to work together with visitation schedules to help ensure that your child gets those experiences in life that will shape them, while still being able to see the other parent. Children love both of their parents and it does not matter what happened between those two parents when it comes to the child. Parents need to remember this and work hard to prevent themselves from being part of the problem. Being flexible with visitation will help the child to have the best possible experience and a strong relationship with both of their parents.

In the past, it was far too common for custodial parents to just keep kids busy with activities when they didn’t want their child to see their ex. Instead of fighting, many noncustodial parents chose to not see their children. This ended with these kids lacking in the relationships because they wanted to see their other parents. One of the best things that you can do for your children is to make sure that you work together for a visitation arrangement and extra-curricular activities schedule that will benefit the child. Sometimes you might have to give up something with your child that you think is unfair but doing this will help you to have the best possible relationship with them as they become adults. Your child is not going to remember the things that your ex did to you but they will remember the things that they lost or were put in the middle of.

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How to Co-Parent When Your Ex is a Recovering Drug Addict

One of the toughest things for someone in a relationship is co-parenting with a partner that has been battling with an addiction problem.  When the relationship ends, it can be quite hard to determine what is going to be the best way to care for the children involved.  One of the biggest concerns is over the safety and well-being of the children involved.

Most people who have lived with a partner that has a drug addiction wind up feeling let down, sad, and worn out over the issues that they have had to deal with.  A full scale custody battle might end up being your first reaction.  However, going through all of that can prove to be too much for you as well as too much for your children.  There are many other ways that you can settle things with your ex without having to go through with a full stage custody battle.

 

Children Can Be Damaged By a Custody Battle

Most people end up forgetting about the children that they are fighting for when they are going through a custody battle.  There is a lot of psychological damage that can be done to children who are going through a custody battle.  Many children who go through this end up with the same issues as children who have been emotionally abused or neglected.

In recent studies conducted by the Massachusetts General Hospital, it showed that 65% of all children who go through a custody battle end up suffering from anxiety.  27% of the children actually became depressed while 44% were physically violent.  Additionally, 31% ended up suffering from a sleep disorder.  It was also shown that these children struggle to have healthy relationships and friendships.  They are also more likely to suffer from attachment issues as they have a hard time dealing with the loss of relationship that they feel with the non-custodial parent. Therefor, it’s important to learn how to comfort your children during  a divorce or custody battle.

 

Forced Arrangements Are Often Problematic

There are few parents who fight for custody in court that end up with satisfactory visitation schedules.  When a court decides the custody, it is not as agreeable and both parents are not as happy as when an agreement is reached outside of court.  Agreements that are made within the family structure tend to be more tailored to each family’s specific needs.  When two co-parents go through a court battle for custody, they end up spending a considerable amount of money and typically end up with a relationship that is n a worse place then it was before the custody battle started.  Even if you are not in a relationship with the other parent, you should attempt to have a friendship and civil relationship for the sake of any children involved.

 

Protecting the Child While Being Proactive

Many people do not realize that even if your ex is battling a drug addiction that there are steps you can take to ensure that the two of you can have a healthy co-parenting relationship.  During recovery, it is important that you maintain the day to day physical custody of the children.  You should maintain a positive relationship with your ex and help aide in the recovery by allowing them to see your children during appropriate times.  As long as your ex is remaining sober, you should encourage more contact between them and the children.  There should be a shared parenting agreement or a continued increase in the other parent’s ability to see the children as they continue to recover and get better.

It is important that you acknowledge the efforts of your ex in their ability to stay sober and clean.  It is also important that you should have an open dialogue about the consequences of your ex falling back into their drug addiction or drug use.  Showing that they are able to stay clean is important and when they are able to prove this, so is allowing them to see their child more liberally.  Going through family therapy together can be a great way of being able to set up boundaries and discuss any fears or worries that you might have about the safety of your children.  It can also be a great way for them to feel encouraged to maintain their sobriety in order to obtain more time with their children.

 

 

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What Should You Do if Your Ex is Not Following the Parenting Plan?

One of the most frustrating experiences for any divorced or separated parent is to find themselves in a situation where the other parent is not following through with the parenting plan that has been set in place.  Co-parenting is hard work and when one parent decides to do something that breaks the bonds between the child and the other parent or chooses to do things that are not part of the plan, then it not only hurts the other parent but it also hurts the child.  When a father has been granted limited time with the child and the mother is refusing to cooperate as she is supposed to, it can be very frustrating for any father. Unfortunately some parents don’t understand that custody is not about winning or losing, it’s about what’s in the best interest of the child. Keeping the children away from the other parent hurts the kids more than anything. During these situations,  remembering to keep your cool and to not react in a way that that could be determined to be violent or aggressive is the first place that you should start.

 

Understanding Contempt

The first thing that you have to realize if your ex is not following the parenting plan is that the police are not going to gt involved with this matter.  The matter is completely civil and not criminal so you are not going to be getting help from law enforcement for the matter.  There are actually forms that you can look up online if you do not have the money to hire an attorney.

When you represent yourself you have to act and think like a lawyer and remove all emotion from the interactions.  There are no legal ways that your ex needs to make you feel and there is nothing that is “fair” or “right” as those are all judgments.  However, that does not mean that it is impossible for you to do this.  You just have to keep your head on straight and know what you are going to be talking about with the judge.  Reflect all answers to how it is hurting your child for this to go on.  Look at the court documents and use similar language when speaking  to the judge and try to answer any questions with the least amount of words possible. It’s advisable to notate dates, times and specific circumstances that your Ex is violating a parenting plan so you have the proper facts when filing for contempt with the court.

 

Hiring an Attorney

 Hiring an attorney is what most people decide to do because tackling your own legal problems in court can be so tough.  If you are worried about how you can afford a lawyer there should be a family law coordinator in the courthouse.  You can go talk to this individual and get all of the information that you need to find affordable family legal representation.  This person can also help you to understand how to move forward and if you have a case against your ex.  In most cases you are going to have to prove malicious intent on the part of your ex for them to get into trouble.  Depending on the county in which you live, this is something that might be drastically different.  For instance in some counties your ex could be fined or jailed but in others they are basically going to get told not to do it again.  Knowing the area in which you live is going to best be able to help you understand what you should do.  You can ask for your ex to be responsible for your legal fees since they brought on the situation that required you to hire legal representation.  In some cases a judge might award you these fees but in others it might not work out.   If a judge feels that you have more money than your ex or feels as though you are both being petty then it is not something that they are going to do.

 

Hiring a Family Advocacy Group

If you are not in the financial position to hire an attorney, you can always get a free consultation with National Family Solutions. There are qualifying representative that go over your situation and see if it’s a case that they can help with. These types of programs are set up to help families that need help going through a family law proceeding but can’t pay the high cost of retainer fees. A Case Manager will be assigned to you to help you do some of the leg work yourself. For example, you will file and have a third party serve the documents so you don’t have to pay an attorney or law firm to do these two steps. This option works for many parents that need to file custody for the first time, modify a previous custody order or even file for contempt because the other party is not following a parenting plan or court order.

 

 

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