Overnights for Young Children of Divorce

It is generally thought best that overnights for young children be carefully considered by divorcing parents before they are initiated. Key to the success of such overnights are good communication skills and each parent’s ability to put aside their own desires for the benefit of their young children. Above all, the child should not be witness to parental conflict and blame toward the other parent. While children are resilient and can bounce back from difficult divorces with the proper help and guidance, this is not true where the parents openly exhibit hostility toward each other. Seeking to alienate the children from the other parent can lead to lasting emotional and psychological damage that may lead to depression, drug use and other mal-adaptive behaviors on the part of children.

Divorcing parents of young children who are contemplating a parent plan that includes overnights for each parent will serve their children best if there is consistency between the two households. This consistency may include similar routines like bedtime and meals, similar limits and expectations for the children and the use of the same caregiver.

There is no one plan or one way or one guideline that fits all overnight situations for young children. Parents will do well to listen to their own higher instincts and put themselves aside as best they can, so their focus can be on what their particular child needs – and then plan around that focus.

The Value of Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreements for Stay-At-Home Mothers or Fathers

Financial arrangements in either Prenuptial Agreements or Postnuptial Agreements seem a sticky way to either begin a marriage or seemingly interrupt one. Either document serves to set forth the rights and responsibilities of the marriage partners in the event of divorce and can waive or modify Arizona Community Property Law and/or the statutory requirements for Spousal Maintenance.

Oftentimes, a Prenuptial Agreement is requested by those who marry later in life and bring into the marriage assets and employment income they acquired prior to the marriage. For these people a Prenuptial Agreement sets a clear financial groundwork for the marriage and can often bring a sense of stability and security that might not otherwise exist.

However, for couples just starting out in life, new to the work force and not yet having built up any significant retirement account or financial portfolio, the thought of entering into a Prenuptial Agreement may never enter their mind. This often continues to be the case after marriage for whatever are the young couple’s respective roles in the marriage, the farthest thing from their mind or inclination is entering into a Postnuptial Agreement. If I were giving advice it would be Think Again. Not to enter into one of these agreements may be unwise, especially for the child care giver.

Married couples wishing to have children usually plan this event ahead of time and determine what role each will have after the birth. Although the roles are becoming more interchangeable, typically it will be the husband/father who continues his employment and the wife/mother who will care for the children for some pre-determined period of time.  Often there is little discussion about the impact on the child care giver of being out of the work force a prolonged period of time.

Whatever may or may not be the degree of planning around these respective roles, the fact is that husband/father may gain a number of years building his employment resume, and wife/mother may lose a number of years not doing so.  In the unhappy event of a divorce what happens when it is expected that wife/mother suddenly enter the work force without having any connection to it for the child-rearing years? Must she then struggle and argue for financial support?  Often this can be the case.

It seems clear under these circumstances that a well thought out child-rearing and employment plan for both husband and wife – financial provider and child care provider – would include a Prenuptial Agreement or a Postnuptial Agreement to address the important issues of economic independence for both parties.  This is where the Prenuptial Agreement or the Postnuptial Agreement can provide invaluable direction. Whenever the child rearing plan for the marriage is discussed, it may be wise to make part of that discussion what additional plan is agreed upon to allow the child care providing spouse ample time and resources to address the years she missed building her own resume while she cared for the children.

Such a plan can be formally addressed in the Prenuptial Agreement or the Postnuptial Agreement. This can occur through written provisions for spousal maintenance and for the allotment of sufficient assets to aid in education, training or other retooling measures, so the former child care provider can be secure knowing aid is available for the next step into a field of employment.

The Efficiency of the Collaborative Divorce Settlement Process

Integral to the Collaborative Divorce settlement process is efficiency in making the best use of personnel for specific tasks. This personnel includes not only the two attorneys but the financial professional, the divorce coach and the child specialist.

It might seem that use of this personal is overly costly and likely reserved for the wealthy. Upon further inspection, however, it is quite the opposite. In the traditional divorce, it is the attorney who performs, or tries to perform, the tasks that are undertaken by the specialists and professionals in the Collaborative process; and the attorney does so just for his or her own client. Thus, attorneys on opposite sides of the case are often performing duplicate tasks and then arguing about the results.

In addition, the performance of the various divorce related tasks by the attorney occurs at a higher hourly wage than the non-attorney collaborative professional. As important, the skill level is not as high. Attorneys are not financial professionals. They do not normally do taxes, nor do they appraise pension plans, or devise tax impact spousal maintenance schedules or easily undertake the calculation of separately owned interests in marital property. The financial professionals do all these tasks as a normal part of their professional practice.

Another example of the collaborative professionals undertaking divorce related tasks at a higher skill level and in a less costly way than attorneys can occur when the difficult symptoms of the emotional divorce (which often occur concurrent with the legal divorce) begin to interfere with the orderly process of negotiation and discussion of the legal issues. The attorney is not normally equipped to deal with the client’s emotional issues of confusion, denial, hurt, anger and grief. This lack of experience can prolong the traditional divorce process, create numerous obstacles and exacerbate the financial costs to the client.

However, when a divorce coach is employed in the Collaborative Divorce Process, he or she has the experience to tend to the emotional needs of each client. Often one coach is used for both clients, and the coach can help with such issues as communication deficiencies, normalizing the grief and loss process and calming the emotional turmoil experienced by many clients during a legal divorce. This work by the divorce coach can short circuit potential difficulties in the legal discussions and negotiations and help restore the process to the calm waters needed for rational decision-making. Thus, impasse can be avoided.

Finally, unlike the attorney, the child specialist employed in the collaborative process has the experience and skills needed to focus on the needs of children caught up in the divorce. The often unheard voices of children can be brought to the table and laid bare for the adults to consider. This will facilitate discussions around needed parental attention and thoughtful parent plans that can be made part of the final agreement.

Decision Making Around Divorce

In such significant, life altering areas as whether to end a marriage, or if a decision to end a marriage seems to have already been made, it is important to know whether the choice was made from a place of clarity or confusion. We need not focus on clarity here, since this state of mind points to a path where doubt is not operative and an open way forward is the predominant sense.

However, confusion around such decisions can be painful and anxiety producing and may result in a feeling of being struck and going nowhere. It can be very helpful to have a way to personally approach a significant decision like the decision to divorce, or even a decision around any aspect of the divorce process, such as whether to use a collaborative divorce process or mediation or litigation; or, how to treat an ex-spouse; or, what kind of attitude do you want in a Tucson divorce attorney; or, whether to proceed with a “take no prisoners” mentality or one that will support preserving an appropriate and cooperative relationship with an ex-spouse, especially if that person is the other parent to your children. These and many others are the kinds of decisions where guidance in the midst of confusion can be helpful.

One way to help become clear where confusion seems to reign, is to know what are our larger choices and how to apply them to the specific decision at hand. We can be helped here by recounting the Cherokee fable told by an elder to his grandson. The fable is about a battle that goes on inside people when making certain decisions, whether large or (seemingly) small. The elder says: “My grandson, the battle is between two wolves inside us all. One wolf is the animal of Suffering; it is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, false pride, lies, superiority and all the negative aspects of ego.”

“The other wolf is the animal of Peace; it is love, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”

The young boy thought about what his grandfather said and then asked, “Which wolf wins?” The old Cherokee replied: “The one you feed.”

For us, in our own decision making of all kinds and at all levels, what wolf do we feed when we choose this path or that one? When that answer is clear, the decision can make itself.