Signs That a Parenting Plan is Not Working

Signs That a Parenting Plan is Not Working

Ask most any parent going through a divorce, and he or she will tell you that the welfare of the kids is of the utmost importance. Unfortunately, it does not always play out that way. Kids are human beings, just like adults, and they will react both positively and negatively to various circumstances. It is important for divorcing parents to develop a good parenting plan, and then pay attention. Given the human variable, children may not always fare well under even the best of plans.

An important thing to remember is that children have not reached maturity. As they go through developmental stages, the parenting plan may need to be adjusted. For example, visitation by a non-custodial parent for an infant will be much different than for an adolescent. Along the way after a divorce, parents should be watchful for signs of distress in their children and recognize that it looks different depending on age.

An improperly parented and cared for infant may cry excessively, eat inconsistently or not fully, and not sleep properly. This can lead to growth and development problems such as being underweight and general malaise. Divorced parents who witness these tendencies may want to consider whether their care arrangements are causing any of the problems.

As a child grows during infancy, he becomes more aware of his surroundings and the people in his life. This becomes more relevant as a child reaches the toddler stage. Stress in children at these stages can, in addition to crying, include abnormal attachment to a parent or caregiver, sleep and appetite issues, and attention-getting behavior. Toddlers will begin to express concerns orally, asking about the other parent, refusing instructions, and making demands.

As children get older and start to have interests beyond the home, stress resulting from parenting issues will take other forms. Kids may demonstrate anti-social behavior with peers in school, clubs, and sporting activities, single out one parent for blame, and withdraw from others at home and school. As adolescence is approached, depression can be a sign of parenting issues, as well as aggressive behavior and confusion over loyalty to one parent or the other.

Adolescence can bring a whole host of behavioral problems to children that have nothing to do with a parenting plan. Therefore, it can be hard to discern whether parents are making mistakes. In addition to depression during this stage of development, suicidal thoughts may occur, as well as drug or alcohol use. While withdrawal is a common thing for adolescents, anxiety over parental issues may make it worse, so parents should be sensitive to whether that behavior can be connected to custody transitions or other events involving one parent or the other.

Parenting children is complicated even in the traditional nuclear home. All of the stress-related behaviors mentioned can occur in any family. For divorced parents, however, balancing the custody and care responsibilities for children naturally produces some level of stress. It is important to watch for signs of undue stress and adjust accordingly.

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger have extensive experience in family law matters, including complicated parenting plans. We can advise you about the many different issues that can impact the parenting of children after divorce. Contact us today to learn how our attorneys can help you in your case: (415) 293-8314.

Age-Appropriate Parenting Plans

Age-Appropriate Parenting Plans

For divorcing couples with children, perhaps the most important thing to address is a parenting plan. Property and money issues are usually more straightforward because they are assigned a value and appropriated according to legal standards. Deciding what is in the best interest of a couple’s children, however, is never easy.

A parenting plan must be established and approved by the court for the good of both the parents and the children. For the parents, it will define the respective roles to be played in the many and varied important issues involved in raising children. For the children, the plan will be critical to help them adjust to the effects of their parents divorcing. If handled poorly, that outcome can affect children for the rest of their lives.

Perhaps the most important aspect of a parenting plan is the age of each child. Infants, for example, need a consistent schedule for sleeping and eating. They also need physical comfort and bonding with the mother, particularly if being breast-fed. The non-custodial parent should visit on a regular schedule to also promote bonding.

Toddlers also need consistency in their environment, but the environment can be more flexible. Regular time with the non-custodial parent in their home is appropriate at this age, but the rules of each household should be the same for the child. If one parent has the primary parenting role, visits to the other parent should limited to 24 hours at a time. If shared custody is the plan, the time split should be limited to three days at a time.

Children at the pre-school age can adapt to longer periods away from a primary parent, again, with consistent rules in both households. Children at this age begin to need to know in advance when a change in location or caregiver is to occur. A sense of security is important at all points in a child’s developmental years, and at this age range, unexpected change can induce insecurity.

During the childhood years of 6 to 10 years of age, children begin to participate in a world outside the home and control of their parents. This can also cause insecurity, so it is ever more necessary for the parenting plan to provide a safe and secure home environment. Clear plans for time spent with each parent are important, as is the involvement of both parents in school and outside activities. Children need to feel supported by both parents in their school and other activities. This adds to their feelings of security and self-worth.

In pre-adolescence, children’s relationships with people outside the home increase and their time spent with parents starts to decrease. A child will begin to want variations in the parenting arrangement to accommodate his or her outside interests. It is fine for the child to have some say in when and where she will spend time, but it is important to demonstrate that the decision is still made by the parents, preferably together. Parents may need to sacrifice some of their time for the child to participate in outside activities.

The adolescent stage is when the parenting plan begins its descent, so to speak. Kids in this period are becoming more independent as they head for adulthood. They are increasingly in control of their schedules for school, sports, and other extra-curricular activities. Parents need to work together to allow this to occur while maintaining control. Children may try to play their parents off on one another to achieve a goal neither parent would otherwise approve. It is more important than ever for divorced parents to work together supervising adolescent children. At this age, ill-conceived actions by an unsupervised child can have dire consequences.

Obviously, there cannot be a one-size-fits-all parenting plan. The plan must be both rigid and flexible, depending on the needs of the children and the parents. The observations contained herein, however, can provide some insight as to a broad framework within which a plan can be refined.

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger have extensive experience in family law matters, including complicated parenting plans. We can advise you about the many different issues that can impact the parenting of children after divorce. Contact us today to learn how our attorneys can help you in your case: (415) 293-8314.

Get the Best Result by Working With Your Divorce Lawyer

Get the Best Result by Working With Your Divorce Lawyer

Divorce proceedings can sometimes take a while to reach a conclusion. This period of time can sometimes feel lonely as your world and relationships are reshaped.  One person with whom you do not have to reshape a relationship is your divorce attorney. Typically, you did not know this person before you needed legal representation. It is important to remember that working with your attorney can be one positive relationship during a difficult time.

The key to a positive relationship with your attorney is communication. Sometimes, clients are reluctant to tell their attorneys the whole story about their marital relationships and what led to the breakup. This is understandable. Many details are intensely private, maybe even embarrassing. Consequently, some may choose to leave out ugly details, and some may trick themselves into thinking some things are not really relevant.

It is important to recognize that a divorce attorney is the best person to determine whether information is relevant. An experienced attorney has “heard it all.” She is not likely to be shocked or surprised by anything you reveal. In this regard, telling the whole story can actually have a therapeutic effect. Knowing that others have had the same or worse issues can help you breathe a sigh of relief and open up about relevant details. And remember, your lawyer is there to help you. When the two of you communicate about your case, those communications are private.

Another aspect of communication is to keep your attorney apprised of any developments while the action is pending. Actions taken by you or your spouse with regard to marital property, harassment, or child issues could have an effect on the proceedings. Even if you have done something you should not have, tell your lawyer. The worst thing you can have happen is for your attorney to be surprised in a hearing before the judge with information about inadvisable conduct on your part. Likewise, if your spouse has acted inappropriately, your attorney will know whether and how to use that information to benefit you and your children.

A third aspect of communication is your documentation of income, expenses, marital assets, and private assets. You can’t rely on memory for this type of information; records are essential. Make sure you provide all necessary records and, again, do not assume something is not relevant or needed on your own. In a court of law, a fact is not true unless backed up by proof. Written documents are often necessary to establish proof.

If you work well with your attorney, you have the best chance of achieving the best possible result in your divorce. What’s more, working well with your attorney provides you with a positive influence and maybe even strength during a trying time.

For compassionate legal counsel during this difficult time, contact the experienced family attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger. We will provide legal support tailored to your specific situation. Make the call today to learn how our attorneys can help: (415) 293-8314.

How a “Typical” Divorce Case Proceeds

How a Typical Divorce Case ProceedsBeing a party to a divorce proceeding is no walk in the park. The emotional toll of ending a relationship is enough for it to qualify as one of life’s least desirable experiences. Actually navigating the divorce process through the court system can also take its toll, but the state does provide a framework that allows for amicable or adversarial proceedings, depending on the desires of the parties.

Naturally, a divorce case begins with a decision by one or both parties to a marriage that the union should end. At this, and any other point in the process, the parties are free to mutually agree to terms of the divorce, including allocation of property, child support and custody, and spousal support. In this best of circumstances, the parties can file the appropriate documents with the court and seek a divorce order reflecting their mutual agreements. 

Whether or not mutual agreement is reached, the divorce must be initiated by the party seeking the divorce (called the petitioner) filing a petition with the appropriate court. The petitioner must also have a copy of the petition independently served on her spouse. The responding party then may file a response with the court within 30 days of having been served with the petition. Just as with the petition, the response must be independently served on the petitioner. 

After the proper filing of the petition and response, the parties will exchange financial documents that show their assets, such as money and property, as well as their earnings. Assets attained during the marriage are normally considered to be marital property—that is—owned by both parties and subject to equitable distribution. Assets owned by a party prior to the marriage or attained after separation are usually considered the separate assets of that spouse. 

If the parties have not reached a mutual agreement for the terms of their divorce, the court will hold a hearing to allow both sides to present their views of how the assets should be divided, whether spousal support should be paid, custody plans, and child support for minor children. The court will ultimately issue a decree officially ending the marriage and spelling out the terms of the divorce. 

The process is pretty straightforward, but it can become very convoluted. Bitterness and anger often prompt excessive legal wrangling. In addition, complex financial issues, such as business and other asset valuation, can complicate the proceedings. 

If you need assistance in a family law proceeding, you should consult with an experienced California lawyer. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger will provide authoritative legal support tailored to your specific situation. Make the call today to learn how our attorneys can help: (415) 293-8314.