Ideally, both parents would wholeheartedly follow child custody agreements and work together cooperatively for the best interests of the children. Violations of custody orders only harm the child, and unfortunately, they are quite common. When child custody issues affect families in Owings Mills, a divorce attorney can help the non-violating parent find a good solution. It’s advisable to take action sooner, rather than later. Unless the violation was an honest mistake, it’s quite likely that the violating parent will repeatedly test the limits of the other parent’s patience.
Parental alienation is arguably the type of violation that is most damaging to the child. It often stems from violations of the non-disparagement clause, which requires both parents to refrain from badmouthing the other parent in front of the child. Disparagement can take many forms. It can include hypothetical statements like, “Your father is always running late. I wonder if he even really wants to see you,” and “Looks like the child support is late again,” and “If you’d rather stay with your friends this weekend instead of seeing your father, that’s fine with me.” Disparagement of the other parent is so damaging because it causes highly impressionable children to turn away from the disparaged parent. In severe cases, the children may voluntarily cut off all contact with the disparaged parent because they’ve been made to think, wrongfully, that this parent is evil or abusive.
When the violating parent has engaged in disparagement and encouraged parental alienation, children often refuse to see the other parent. In other cases, the violating parent may decide to refuse to let the kids go with the other parent. Aside from protecting the kids from an imminent risk of harm—such as if the visiting parent arrives in an intoxicated state—there is no lawful reason to deny visitation. Late child support payments have nothing to do with a parent’s right to spend time with his or her children.
Even if visitation isn’t denied outright, the violating parent may attempt to interfere with it in some way. Violating parents might make a habit of scheduling doctor or dentist appointments during visitations, for example.
Custody violations can include violations of joint legal custody. Legal custody refers to the authority to make major decisions for the child’s upbringing, such as decisions about schooling. If the parents share joint legal custody, then they must both agree to major decisions. An example of a violation occurs when one parent pulls a child out of school and enrolls that child in a different school without consulting the other parent.
Even if you and your ex have a rock solid child custody agreement, it’s virtually inevitable that some moments of tension will occur. With a joint type of child custody , parents will likely have to meet each other briefly to exchange the child. You and your ex might not look forward to seeing each other again, but it’s crucial to keep the exchange as neutral and conflict-free as possible. Remember that kids easily pick up on tension, and they are apt to be psychologically harmed by it. If you’re still going through the divorce, consider talking to a family lawyer in Owings Mills about specifying the details of the exchange in the parenting agreement.
Understanding the Child’s Best Interests
For a child exchange to be conflict-free, it’s essential that both parents be on the same page about the best interests of the child. When the exchange is contentious and stressful, the child becomes anxious about each exchange, less able to enjoy spending time with either parent, and more likely to suffer from damage to self-esteem. Remember that children of divorce tend to feel significant guilt. When they see their parents fighting, they often blame themselves. Your child needs emotional stability, and only you and the other parent can provide it.
Communicating with Alternative Methods
You may need to have your family lawyer include provisions in the parenting agreement that spell out acceptable methods of communication between parents . Phone calls can be tricky when the relationship is contentious. Written communication, such as emails and texts, may be best, although phone calls will still be needed for last-minute changes in plans. By agreeing to communicate about important matters before or after the exchange—not during it—both parents can reduce the risk that a conflict will affect the child.
Adjusting the Child Exchange Method
Sometimes, despite the best intentions of the parents, child exchanges become less than harmonious. It may be best to adjust the method of the exchange before the child becomes significantly affected. Email the other parent and tell him or her that you’re concerned about the emotional well-being of your child, and would like to explore the possibility of adjusting the exchange. It may be possible to have another responsible adult with a valid driver’s license provide transportation for the child, such as the child’s grandparent or stepparent. If this isn’t possible, then consider doing the exchange in a public parking lot. Both parents could stay in their own cars and supervise the child as he or she walks from one car to the other.
Many marriages end with a prolonged divorce case contentiously argued in court, but not all divorces have to take this route. Your family law attorney in Owings Mills may recommend that you give mediation a try, especially if you’re interested in getting the case finalized quickly and retaining some control over the outcome. Divorce mediation is particularly helpful for resolving child custody issues. This is because it establishes a foundation of working together for the best interests of the children. Your divorce lawyer will help you prepare for your mediation session.
Preparing for Your Appointment
You can get the most out of each mediation session by arriving prepared. Organize all of your divorce-related paperwork and keep it in one folder. You should bring paperwork that details your assets, debts, retirement funds, and income. The mediator may send a packet of materials to you that you should review in advance. You might be asked to sign a confidentiality agreement, for example.
Identifying the Issues
After explaining the purpose and format of mediation, the professional mediator will establish the rules for speaking. When one party is given the floor, the other person is expected to refrain from interrupting. You’ll each have an opportunity to identify the issues that need to be resolved. These generally include child custody, child support, spousal support, and property division. Within those categories, it’s helpful to work on one specific issue at a time, such as who will live in the family home, how the parties will communicate with each other, and how household rules will remain consistent across both of the child’s residencies.
Discussing Concerns and Proposals
As the group works through each issue in mediation, both spouses will have an opportunity to clarify his or her concerns, goals, and proposals without interruption. After each person finishes speaking, the mediator can help him or her elaborate on these concerns. The other spouse will then have an opportunity to ask questions and respond. The mediator helps each spouse, together or separately, develop a proposed solution. The other spouse may choose to accept part or all of the solution, or offer a counter-proposal. In this way, the group works toward solutions that are mutually agreeable.
After a divorce or legal separation, you and your ex will follow a court-ordered parenting plan. This document establishes the type of child custody that both parents will have and it specifies when the child will be with each parent. Visitation is difficult to adjust to for both parents and children, but as time passes, the arrangement will start to feel more normal. Remember that it is possible to petition for a modification of the visitation schedule as your child grows and situations change. Talk to a family law attorney near Owings Mills for guidance.
Maintaining a Routine
Try to imagine how difficult it must be for a child to live in two separate households with two separate routines and sets of rules. Consistency across both households will help your child feel more secure and may even curb problematic behaviors as he or she grows older. Ideally, you and your ex can maintain similar daily routines and household rules, such as finishing homework before playtime and having dinner by a certain time.
Feeling at Home
If you’re the parent who moved out of the family home, you have the added challenge of helping your child feel at home in the new residence. Your child should have a bedroom of his or her own. Your child should arrange and decorate the bedroom to take ownership of the space. Extravagance is not necessary, but comfort is. Resist the temptation to purchase lots of new toys for your child for the purpose of distracting him or her from the new arrangement. Instead, focus on spending quality time together enjoying activities that you would normally do with your child.
Overnight visitation can be stressful for young children, particularly during school breaks when a child might live away from the primary residence for a week or longer. Do not take it as an insult if your child expresses homesickness or misses the other parent. Encourage your child to share these feelings openly and offer judgment-free reassurances.
Children should always feel free to contact either of their parents regardless of which parent they are currently with. Phone calls, text messaging, and video calls strengthen the child’s relationship with each parent. Whenever it’s practical to do so, give your child privacy as he or she chats with the other parent.
As difficult as a divorce might be for you and your spouse, it’s far more difficult for your children. Throughout each stage of the divorce process , prioritizing your children’s well-being and quality of life will help them get through the transition. After a divorce lawyer in Owings Mills files the divorce petition on your behalf, you and your spouse should sit down together with the children to break the news.
This featured video offers some tips for telling kids about a divorce or legal separation. These parenting experts recommend avoiding the details of why the divorce is necessary. Instead, offer concrete examples of how daily life will change and provide plenty of reassurances of your love to help your children feel secure. Both during and long after the divorce, it’s essential to avoid disparaging your ex in front of the kids; they shouldn’t feel as though they must choose sides.
It isn’t easy to inform your spouse that you want a divorce , even if both of you can clearly see that the marriage is deteriorating. If you fear that your spouse will have a dangerous or violent reaction to the news, it’s best to have the discussion in a public place. You can also protect yourself by consulting a lawyer in Owings Mills ahead of time. Even if you do not fear that your spouse will have an intense reaction, you should take some time to prepare for the discussion.
Watch this featured video to get some practical tips on discussing divorce. It recommends writing out what you want to say in advance because this gives you an emotional outlet and allows you to clarify what you want to say. Avoid discussing the details of the divorce until you’ve had a chance to meet with your family lawyer. Try to avoid assigning blame for the divorce and allow your spouse plenty of time to respond.
Property division is often a contentious issue in divorce cases. When you consult your divorce lawyer in Owings Mills , be sure to bring along a complete list of all of your assets, including retirement accounts. Every divorce is different, depending on the exact types of retirement accounts that are involved. For example, if you and your spouse have an IRA, then you should be able to transfer some of the funds into a new account for one of the spouses. If done properly, no taxes should be assessed; change in fund ownership will be treated as an IRA rollover or transfer by the IRA custodian. Your family lawyer will ensure that the transfer is handled correctly to avoid tax assessments and early withdrawal penalties.
Qualified retirement plans are handled differently from IRAs during a divorce. Spouses must use a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) to divide the assets in the account between the account owner and the current spouse, ex-spouse, child, or other dependent.
Under Maryland divorce laws, marriages can be ended through either contested or uncontested divorces. Uncontested divorces require the least amount of conflict and legal wrangling by divorce lawyers, but they are not appropriate for all cases. When you meet with a lawyer in Owings Mills about your divorce case, he or she will help you understand your options and determine which type of divorce is right for you. Here is a look at the differences between these two types of cases.
Contested divorces occur when the parties cannot agree on at least one aspect of the divorce agreement, such as division of property, child custody and support, and alimony. For a contested divorce, one person must file a divorce petition with the courts, and the divorce papers must be served to the other party, who then must answer the petition. Typically, a contested divorce will make an accusation that the one party in the marriage committed an act that is considered grounds for divorce under Maryland law, such as adultery or desertion. In the response, the other party must file a defense against those charges and may make counter-charges against the filing party. Contested divorce agreements are determined by a judge after a lengthy period of negotiations between divorce lawyers and, if then necessary, testimony by both parties. The decree issued by the judge, which can take up 18 months or more to receive, is binding and can only be changed through further legal proceedings.
An uncontested divorce is possible when both parties can agree with all of the issues surrounding the divorce. Although uncontested divorces must still be filed with the court, only one party usually needs to appear before a judge, and typically the court simply ratifies whatever agreement is put in place through negotiations between the two parties. Although giving a reason for the divorce is often required, most couples in uncontested divorces find it easiest to use the grounds of being voluntarily separated for one year, since it doesn’t put blame on either party specifically. Because uncontested divorces require less back and forth in the courts, they can often be completed in about three months.
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