Below is a conversation I had with a reader, offering advice as she prepared for her divorce. Be advised that names have been changed to protect her confidentiality.
Reader: This Wednesday, we have child support court at 1pm. Currently, we are maintaining separate households, and I know that the court will establish visitation and address child support.
I am writing you because I was wanting to know if you have any tips on how I can ease the transition for the kids. Boy is 2 and Girl is 7 months. A major concern of mine is that Ex-husband hasn’t developed much of a relationship with Girl. Also I am going to need a divorce lawyer, as well. I am thinking that it should be a fairly simple case since we have no assets to divide. Any input or thoughts that you have would be greatly appreciated. I have not told anyone of my discussion except for my parents. Thanks in advance and I look forward to hearing from you soon.
My Response: Frequent contact and maintaining some sort of routine will be essential to easing the transition for your babies during this time. It’s important that visitation pick up and drop off times are strictly adhered to. Additionally, it’s better for them to have similar surroundings at both mom and dad’s house. For example, they should have a room at your house with some of their favorite things, as well as a room at dads’ house with some of their favorites. Basically, it should feel like home no matter where they are laying their heads for the night.
It might also help to start reading some kid friendly books to them regarding divorce. I’ve included links to a few below. The first one, Where Am I Sleeping Tonight, is for slightly older children (3rd or 4th grade), but you could “dumb it down” so to speak, for Boy. It will help to answer his questions or address his frustrations in a very matter of fact type of way. Remember, the children feed off of your emotion. If you embrace this change, your children will eventually embrace it. If you act anxious, nervous, heart broken (in front of them), then they will pick up on that as well.
As far as the visitation is concerned, I can definitely relate to your concerns. My son was 3 and a half when his dad and I parted ways and his father had never really had any involvement in his life. He is an overseas basketball player who works in Spain for 10 months out of the year. As such, he never had the opportunity to bond with him prior to our break up. The courts took this into consideration and awarded him frequent short visits, as opposed to longer overnight visits, during the summer months. As a matter of fact, this is automatically taken into consideration when deciding visitation for infants and toddlers. Attached are the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines concerning infants and toddlers. The courts usually adhere to such guidelines.
Regarding the attorney, I’ve recommended a few below. I’ve only personally used one of them, but the others are highly recommended.
Overall, be advised that it will be a huge mistake to go to court unprepared and without an attorney. No matter how simple the case may seem to you, I’ve always found that they are a lot more complicated than what we might think. Protect yourself and your children’s best interest by getting a good attorney in the very beginning. You’ll find that it will likely save you tons of money in the end.
Let me know if you have any additional questions. I’m here to help. Oh and check out those links to those books below.
Grace and Peace,
Reader: Court went very well and a tremendous burden has been lifted from my shoulders now that the order is in place. I really appreciate all that you have done and as you stated it does pay to be prepared. Ex-husband tried to say that he made 6k less a year then what he makes but because I had the last pay stub that was mailed to the house I was able to dispute that, and he also stated he had the kids 3 overnights a week but because I kept a calendar of when he did and didn’t keep the kids I was able to dispute that as well.
God is good and I know this is only the beginning of the end. I look forward to getting my life back on track and I hope to have everything in place by the end of the year.
My Response: I’m so glad that things went well for you!!! I’ve been keeping you and your family in my prayers. Additionally, I am SO glad that you were PREPARED!!! I can’t stress this enough to my clients who are going through a divorce. Often times, we don’t want to and can’t even believe that our former spouses would even be capable of such things, but divorce seems to bring the bad out in almost everybody. All of sudden they are lying about income (it happened to me), lying about visitation (it happened to me) and lying about the amount of money that they pay to take care of the child (it happened to me). As such, I always tell my clients to expect the possible worst (be prepared to defend yourself), but pray for the best.
Divorce is hard. It’s difficult to close a chapter in a book that you thought you’d be writing forever, but it can be just as exciting and rewarding to write a whole new book. Just for comfort, support and encouragement, check out the excerpt of my article on “Divorce Parties” here. Embrace this change so that you can move on, for yourself and your babies.
Good luck to you and your family! I’m so glad I could help.