Author: Marlene Pontrelli

Five Steps You Can Take When Your Ex-Spouse Talks Negatively About You to the Children

Your child has just returned home from a visit with your ex-spouse. When you ask how the visit went, your child confides that “We couldn’t do anything because (daddy/mommy) said you took all the money.” Devastated, you wonder what to say other than to scream “That’s not true!” Such a response, while accurate, just brings the child into the parental conflict. In addition, your denial is not likely to bring positive results because the child then sees both parents as potentially being untruthful.   While in an ideal world it would be nice if you could pick up the telephone and talk to your ex-spouse about not making such comments, that option is not always realistic. Here are 5 steps you can take that may minimize the negative comments made by the other parent.  1.  Depending on the age of your child, talk to the child about how emotional the situation is for everyone. While taking the proverbial high road is often difficult, explain how when people feel bad they sometimes say things that they do not necessarily mean.   2. Give your child words of empowerment so they can learn to express how they are feeling to the other parent. Let them know it is ok for the child to tell the other parent “I don’t like it when you tell me things about mommy/daddy. It makes me feel bad.”    3.  Role model...

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Addressing the Legal and Emotional Side of Divorce

Understanding the emotional aspects of a divorce is just as important as understanding the legal process. In virtually every case there are two types of divorces taking place: the legal divorce and the emotional divorce.  One may be a little ahead of the other, but they are each important to address.  This is especially true if one spouse has gone through the emotional side of considering a divorce and making the determination to file for divorce, while the other spouse may be completely in the dark. Being served with a divorce petition and then being asked what you want to do with the house, how you want to divide assets, and what the parenting time plan should be for the children are questions that come up almost immediately. While you may be struggling with the realization that the marriage is over and there is nothing you can do to stop the divorce from happening, you are also being asked to make important decisions that affect the rest of your life. Whether the decision to end a marriage is mutual or the desire of only one spouse, the emotional pain of ending a marriage can often hinder the legal process. It is difficult to make weighty legal decisions when you feel as if your entire world has been turned upside down, sometimes overnight. Accepting your circumstances and recognizing that the...

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Top 7 New Year’s Resolutions If You Are Planning A Divorce in 2018

The presents are unwrapped, the mistletoe is put away, and you somehow managed to get through another holiday season with the in-laws.  Now, it’s a new year and reality sets in again.  If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to explore the possibility of a divorce, there are seven other resolutions you should consider:  1.  Make it a point to understand the divorce process in your state.  All states have different laws when it comes to divorce. The law that will apply to your divorce is the state where you permanently reside so long as you have resided in the state for the required period of time.  Knowing the law in your state and how it affects finances, property, and child custody is important, and may guide whether a legal separation or a divorce are worth considering.  2.   Explore other alternatives.  Consider the reasons you want the divorce and whether there are other alternatives.   Exploring these other alternatives should be done in the first consultation with your lawyer.  Other alternatives include a legal separation, establishing trusts for your finances, entering into a post-nuptial agreement, or engaging in counseling.    3.   Consider discussing the divorce with your spouse.  As difficult as it might be to discuss a divorce with your spouse, the shock and awe effect of filing without some advance warning, can make the process more litigious than necessary. ...

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A Child’s Perspective On Divorce

The people who are often hurt the most in a divorce are the minor children. If the children could really tell you what they are thinking, the results may surprise you.  Knowing how and when to react to parenting decisions, comments or complaints regarding the other parent may be easier if you consider the divorce from your child’s perspective. I am not getting a divorce, you are. You are divorcing each other, but I am not divorcing either one of you. You are still both my parents, and that will not change after the divorce. Please do not say negative things to me about the other parent. I love you both and it hurts me to hear you say bad things about the other parent. When you say negative things it just makes me mad at you for trying to make me feel bad about the other parent. Please do not put me in the middle of your dispute. I am not going to take sides, and even if I did it would only be to satisfy you and make you stop talking about it. Please do not use me to communicate messages to the other parent. If you have something to say to the other parent please find a way to communicate to them directly. I am likely to get the message wrong anyway. Do not ask me...

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How to Minimize Holiday Stress on Children During a Divorce

The holidays are approaching and with it the normal amount of family, food, and stress that go along with it.  However, if you have a child and are recently separated or divorced from your child’s other parent, understanding and helping the stress your child will undoubtedly feel during this time is important.  For you, it may be a sense of relief to not be sharing the holiday with your former spouse and his or her family. If you are the child though of recently divorced or separated parents, the holidays can bring confusion and a sense of sadness in not sharing the day with both parents. The following tips can help reduce some of the anxiety, questions, and hurt that your child may be feeling. Avoid Duplication. Avoid trying to duplicate holiday meals and activities to outshine the other parent. While it is nice for a child to be able to spend the morning of the holiday with one parent and the afternoon or evening with the other parent, depending on the age of the child, it can also be exhausting. Imagine having a big Thanksgiving meal in the morning, only to have an equally big Thanksgiving meal later in the afternoon.  If you share parenting time for the day with your former partner, consider establishing who will do the main holiday meal, and then agree to alternate it...

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The DW Family Law Blog Blog is published by Dickinson Wright PLLC to inform the public of important developments within the firm and practice areas. The content is informational only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. We encourage you to consult a Dickinson Wright attorney if you have specific questions or concerns relating to any of the topics covered in this blog.