Gray divorce is increasing

Over the past couple of decades, divorce rates among people over 50 years old have doubled in the US.  When individuals who are middle-aged or older get divorced, sometimes it’s a step they planned for years; they’ve waited, for instance, for their children to leave the house first.  In other cases, they never anticipated that their marriages would end and that they’d need to make major adjustments to their lives at a point when they thought they’d have more stability. In any case, open attitudes about divorce, and frequent coverage in the media have created a more permissive environment for divorce. Ages ago people expected to go to their grave within the same marriage. Now it is more acceptable to start a new life at any age.

A ‘gray divorce,’ such as it’s sometimes called, poses its own unique challenges.  One major issue that comes up is how to divide the assets that the couple has built up together over the years.  Whereas younger people who get divorced sometimes don’t even own a home or have much in the way of savings, it’s more typical for an older and established couple to have their own home, more substantial savings and a wider variety of accounts, and funds set aside for retirement and medical expenses.  What are the criteria for an equitable split of assets? Which assets are less desirable? These questions will need to be assessed on a case-by-case basis by expert lawyers, to be sure that both parties are receiving fair treatment. Another issue is directly related to the age of the divorcing couple; they do not have time to correct for major mistakes in a division of assets.

Other issues involve changing the will and making other alterations to estate planning.  For instance, one spouse may have designated the other to make important life-or-death medical decisions for them in the event that they’re mentally incapacitated; with the divorce, they may want to give someone else these powers, such as an adult child.  Beneficiaries listed in a will could also change, and you’d need to revise your estate planning in light of the assets you’re left with after the divorce.

Other adjustments may be social. You may feel cut adrift from the circle of friends that you shared with your spouse.  If you need to move to a new home, you may feel as if your life is starting over again.  And if you’re unused to living alone, it may take you time to adjust to doing various things by yourself.  One important consideration to make is that if you have little experience working on personal finances, and tended to leave such matters to your spouse, you’ll need to learn quickly to manage them so that you don’t get taken advantage of.

When undergoing a divorce in the later years of your life, be sure to have a good attorney on your side, so that your best interests will be met.  You don’t want to harm yourself, and ruin your chances of stability in the golden years of your life, by agreeing to a divorce settlement that’s unfavorable to you.

 

Effects Of Domestic Violence On Children – As Per Age Group:

Effects Of Domestic Violence On Children – As Per Age Group:

Exposure to domestic violence has negative effects on children. To properly understand these effects, it is important to first understand the dynamics of domestic violence. Domestic violence is prevalent in all groups of people regardless of age, education, race, occupational, social-economical and religious factors.Characteristically, it involves a series of repetitive abuse, including psychological, physical, economical and emotional abuse. The perpetrator uses violence to gain control and power through the use of humiliation, intimidation, and fear.

Children get affected by domestic violence differently at various developmental stages. This is because as they grow and develop both mentally and physically, they learn new things at each age. Being a victim or witnessing domestic violence can interfere with the child’s normal growth and threatens their sense of security.

Studies indicate that children who have been exposed to domestic violence have a greater likelihood of experiencing various difficulties than their peers.

These difficulties can be categorized into:

1. Emotional, social and behavioral problems:
Exposure to domestic violence by children is likely to make them anxious and depressed or exhibit antisocial and aggressive behavior. Other negative effects may include higher levels of hostility, low self-esteem, anger, disobedience and oppositional behavior; fear and withdrawal; and poor sibling, peer, and social relationships.2. Attitudinal and Cognitive and problems:
These children are likely to experience difficulties in school and have poor performance in assessments of motor, verbal and cognitive skills. Moreover, they are likely to have a slow cognitive development, limited problem solving skills, lack of conflict resolution skills, aggressive attitudes, and a rigid belief in gender stereotypes such as male domination.3. Long-term (Behavioral) Problems:

Studies indicate males exposed to domestic violence at a tender age are more likely to develop violent behavior; likewise, females are more likely to become victims.Effects Of Domestic Violence On Children – As Per Age Group:Unborn Child (Infants): 

Infants and toddlers learn through play and exploration, how to form secure attachments. If exposed to violence at this age, they learn that the parents are not likely to constantly respond to their needs which hinder the development of a strong bond between the parent and the infant. Thus, the child becomes afraid to explore their world, which interferes with play and slows down their learning process.

The effects to Infants include:


1. Emotional Effects: Hyper-excitability; Anxiety Tension and stress; Helplessness; Terrorized and Traumatized.
2. Cognitive Effects: Brain damage; Nervous system disorders and Developmental delays.
3. Physical Effects: Birth defects, forced abortion or miscarriage, low birth weight, premature birth, unwanted by parent and abandoned by parent.The effects to toddlers (children less than one year old):

1. Emotional Effects: Traumatized, jumpy, nervous, hyper-alert, anxious, stressed, and fearful; Emotional deprivation; and Strong need for safety.
2. Cognitive Effects: Unresponsive; Developmentally delayed.

3. Behavioral Effects: Colicky, excessive crying; Injuries and bruises; Chronic constipation; Eating problems; Sleep disturbances; Malnutrition; Digestive problems; Allergies/skin rashesPreschoolers (One To Five Years):Children at this age bracket have started learning how to express most of their emotions, including those of anger and aggression. Thus, children at this age living in situation where there is domestic violence can learn detrimental ways of expressing anger and frustration. Moreover they get confused with the mixed messages their parents are sending them; for instance, they are punished for talking rudely while their parents talk rudely to each other.

The effects to Preschoolers include:


1. Emotional Effects: Fearfulness; easily frustrated; anxiety; fearful of abuser; feels split between parents; hesitant and uncertain; low self-esteem, and feels powerless to protect self.
2. Cognitive Effects: Sleep disorders; disrespect for women; unable to focus; and developmentally delayed.
3. Behavioral Effects: Tantrums; models abusive behavior; mimics abuser’s behavior; parrots name-calling; bedwetting; spitting; acting out behaviors; slaps, kicks, punches, swears; tries to protect mother; protective toward younger children; breaks toys; bullies younger siblings; thumb sucking; and nervous habitsSchool-Age Children (Five To Twelve Years):

The children have a better sense of their own emotions and can also recognize the emotions of others. They are more conscious of their own actions and reactions towards violence inflicted to them and may worry about their father being jailed or their mother being harmed. This distracts the child development process which at this age revolves around social and academic success. They become distracted hindering their ability to learn in school. Moreover, they develop poor social skills and tend to pay more attention to negative responses from their teachers and peers and miss hearing positive responses leading to low self esteem. At this age group, the children begin to have multifaceted thoughts about what is right and wrong. Thus, they are more susceptible to learning and accepting biased, incorrect explanations to support violence.The effects to School-Age Children include:1. Emotional Effects: Cries easily or frequently; lack of trust; lack of normal feelings; feelings of despair; helplessness or hopelessness, lack of empathy or concern for others; and anger towards the parents, especially the mother.

2. Cognitive Effects: Learning disabilities or has special needs; suicidal thoughts; withdrawn or quiet; lack of focus and structure; attracted to cults or pornography; overly responsible or tries to be too adult; and lack of responsibility.

3. Behavioral Effects: Violence towards abuser; Destroys property; Tries to be in control; Violent acting out behavior; Perfectionism; Running away; Lack of boundaries and limitsAdolescents (Teenagers):These children are fully aware of what is right or wrong but have the need to have a sense of belonging. They experience similar problem that the school-age children undergo but at a higher level. They are characterized by secretive and guarded behavior about the situation at home and are also embarrassed of their family members. Thus, they do not invite friends over and are likely to spend most of their free time away from home. Aggression and Denial are the major ways of solving problems.

The effects to Adolescents Boys include:


1. Emotional Effects: Feelings of guilt and powerlessness; withdraws and shuts down; embarrassment and Shame; Needs to control; and Lack of friends.
2. Cognitive Effects: May drops out of school; school attendance problems; Suicidal thoughts; “Macho” attitudes; Thinks violence is okay in relationships;
3. Behavioral Effects: Uses violence to solve conflicts and problems; abuses alcohol and drugs; acting out behaviors; antisocial behaviors; suicidal; problems with relationships; self-harm behaviors; homicidal towards abuser; and sexual problems.The effects to Adolescents Girls include:

1. Emotional Effects: Distrustful of others or have trust issues; blames or hates mother; needy – wants to be taken care of and protected; restlessness and feelings of tension; Feels hopeless or helpless; Confused about role models; self-blame and feels guilt about abuse; manic-depressive and “Numbs out” emotionally.
2. Cognitive Effects: Looks for protection from a male figure; school work problems; Lack of self understanding; Lack of boundaries and limits; mimics or takes on others’ personalities; multiple or split personalities; and Problem with concentrating and focusing.
3. Behavioral Effects: Unable to function at home; Drug or alcohol abuse; Unable to function in relationships; Runs away from home; Pregnancy or early marriage; gets involved in prostitution; distorted perceptions of body and Eating disorders.

Author Bio:
Cally Greene is an online consultant for domestic violence lawyer at JoeyGilbertLaw. She likes blogging about Legal issues,Business law,Family Law and other Legal advice.
You can contact her via Twitter.

“FRAPED!” – Is it a grounds for divorce?

“Fraped”. Adj. the act of posting on someone else’s ‘Facebook’ page, often as a result of leaving your profile open or poor password protection

It’s been going on for ever. Childhood sweethearts reunited after many years apart rekindle an old relationship and cause pain and upset to their current partners, possibly leading to a separation or divorce. In the late 1990’s this issue became more prevalent in divorce cases with the advent of early social networking sites such as “Friends Reunited”. Dwarfed now by Twitter and Facebook, the involvement of social networking has been cited increasingly in divorce cases. Some recent surveys in US and UK show that Facebook is now referred to in some way in between a quarter and a third of cases.

Keep it private

It isn’t always old flames that cause problems on Facebook. Flirting with new friends and strangers on your laptop or handheld can cause ructions in relationships especially if your activity is not as private as you thought it might be. Failing to log out of your profile leaves it open for snooping and for others to post on your behalf. Known as “fraping”, this activity can be innocent and fun or dangerous and offensive.  Many examples of exposing the misdemeanours of others exist online. These are normally easy to spot but beware the imposter who can easily post on your behalf.

The exposure of a partners fling or unreasonable behaviour – proper grounds for divorce – are increasingly taking place online. This practice is also rife on twitter where revelations involving celebrities activities have been the subject of debate for some time.

But my password is safe, isn’t it?

Taking good care of protecting your profile is one thing. But how safe is the information that you store? A judge in America recently ordered that a divorcing couple hand over their facebook passwords to each other’s lawyers as it was believed that the profiles contained information that was essential to the case. The injunction included an obligation on the spouses not to post on their former partners page. Despite contravening facebook’s own privacy policy, this sets an interesting precedent adding a whole new dimension to evidence gathering in divorce cases.

Don’t want to get caught. Don’t do it!

Controlling the flow of information is almost impossible in the instant messaging, micro blogging, always connected world that we now inhabit. The only way to stop your facebook page from being used against you in a divorce court is not to do it in the first place. If you don’t want to get caught with your trousers down don’t post it on your facebook page.

If you’re going to share any information on your facebook page, please do share this!

Some things you didn’t know about your finances during a divorce

Guest family law blog post regarding finances and divorce.

Going through a divorce can be a difficult time emotionally never mind debating who is going to get the house, the car and even the cat. One of the most argued elements of a divorce will always be the finances regardless of how much or how little that couple had. Here are some things you might not have known when it comes to divorce proceedings and your finances.

First steps and temporary agreements                                                                                                                      

Self-divorce, divorce legal adviceNormally before any divorce proceedings take place there will be a separation period for both partners. During this time it can be difficult to support yourself, especially if your partner was the one bringing home the majority of the household earnings. You can apply to the court for interim maintenance or maintenance pending suit if you were married or in a civil partnership. This can be quite costly and the legal costs may be more than you are awarded so it is always worth talking to a legal advisor before making a decision on this. It may be that your partner is willing to make some kind of arrangement for maintenance payments before divorce proceedings go through.

Financial settlements

One of the most cost effective way to agree on a financial settlement is to do it between you and your partner, as opposed to involving mediators, lawyers or even going to court. If this can be done then you will find the break up to be a lot easier and also save you plenty of money on legal aid. If you make an agreement between the two of you then it is not necessarily legally binding. There are some ways to ensure that your financial settlement is more formal and would therefore stand up in court. Make sure that you write down the agreements that you have made together and take this to a solicitor for their advice. The solicitor can then send this agreement to a county court judge who will make a decision based on how fair they feel it is. As long as the outcome is ‘fair’ to both of you and you both have had independent legal advice then it is much more likely to be accepted.                                                                                                           

Lump sums                                                                                                           

In most divorce casMoney and divorcees there will be a maintenance payment and perhaps a lump sum of money from one partner to another. This could be to share the assets more fairly between partners, to enable one partner to purchase a house to live in or a lump sum to replace ongoing maintenance payments. A capital lump sum will tend to be paid in one go and can enable a ‘clean break’ so that partners no longer have to communicate. The best thing to do with a lump sum settlement is talk to an accountant who will be able to advise you further on investing the money wisely.

Hopefully this article will have touched upon some points that may have been unclear when you first start divorce proceedings. Remember to ask for legal help when needed and also seek the advice of an accountant if large sums of money are involved.

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Some things you didn’t know about your finances during a divorce

 

Going through a divorce can be a difficult time emotionally never mind debating who is going to get the house, the car and even the cat. One of the most argued elements of a divorce will always be the finances regardless of how much or how little that couple had. Here are some things you might not have known when it comes to divorce proceedings and your finances.

First steps and temporary agreements

Normally before any divorce proceedings take place there will be a separation period for both partners. During this time it can be difficult to support yourself, especially if your partner was the one bringing home the majority of the household earnings. You can apply to the court for interim maintenance or maintenance pending suit if you were married or in a civil partnership. This can be quite costly and the legal costs may be more than you are awarded so it is always worth talking to a legal advisor before making a decision on this. It may be that your partner is willing to make some kind of arrangement for maintenance payments before divorce proceedings go through.

Financial settlements

 

One of the most cost effective way to agree on a financial settlement is to do it between you and your partner, as opposed to involving mediators, lawyers or even going to court. If this can be done then you will find the break up to be a lot easier and also save you plenty of money on legal aid. If you make an agreement between the two of you then it is not necessarily legally binding. There are some ways to ensure that your financial settlement is more formal and would therefore stand up in court. Make sure that you write down the agreements that you have made together and take this to a solicitor for their advice. The solicitor can then send this agreement to a county court judge who will make a decision based on how fair they feel it is. As long as the outcome is ‘fair’ to both of you and you both have had independent legal advice then it is much more likely to be accepted.

                                                                                                           

Lump sums

                                                                                      

In most divorce cases there will be a maintenance payment and perhaps a lump sum of money from one partner to another. This could be to share the assets more fairly between partners, to enable one partner to purchase a house to live in or a lump sum to replace ongoing maintenance payments. A capital lump sum will tend to be paid in one go and can enable a ‘clean break’ so that partners no longer have to communicate. The best thing to do with a lump sum settlement is talk to an accountant who will be able to advise you further on investing the money wisely.

Hopefully this article will have touched upon some points that may have been unclear when you first start divorce proceedings. Remember to ask for legal help when needed and also seek the advice of an accountant if large sums of money are involved.

Ruling Ignoring the Safety of the Family?

Guest post from family law solicitors. 

The Government is planning on protecting the rights of divorced parents to see their children, which is putting victims of domestic violence in danger; not to mention, their children too. With shared parenting as a priority, the welfare of domestic violence victims is routinely ignored. The failings of the family court system are such that vulnerable men and women are frequently placed in unsafe environments where they’re open to intimidation from their violent ex-partners.

52% of women who’ve suffered from an abusive relationship are subject to cross-examination from their violent exes, who have chosen to represent themselves in court. Obviously this can be an emotionally traumatic experience for many people women and men who’ve previously been bullied and intimidated by their ex-partner.

Extortionate Costs

In fact, it can be equally as distressing to be the cross-examiner of previous abusive partners, and with the heady costs of hiring a lawyer hanging over their heads, can victims of domestic violence afford legal fees, especially if they’re struggling to raise a child? With coalition plans to reduce the amount of court benefits low-earners receive, this could mean many abuse victims are forced to represent themselves in court, with absolutely no legal training.

Severe Lack of Protection

There have been cases of abuse victims being intimidated with prolonged staring in the waiting room, as well as being forced to attend mediation sessions with ex-partners that are under restraining orders. When there are protective measures in place, why are they being ignored in a court of family law?

Many domestic violence victims complain of their concerns being sidelined and ignored by the court, dismissed as inconsequential when it comes to shared parenting, even though the children are the best weapons an abuser has to ensure access to his or her previous victims. Also, a violent or abusive person is not an ideal candidate for mother or father of the year, and it seems likely that the child’s welfare would also be in jeopardy.

Fathers’ Rights Groups

Yet Fathers’ Rights Groups have been protesting against the hostility towards protected shared parenting, calling it ‘scaremongering’ and insisting that false accusations keep fathers away from their children. Unless the accusations have been proven by court, there should be no reason to listen to abuse charges.

With 93% of residencies awarded to mothers, Fathers’ Rights Groups need all the help they can get. However, fathers stand to gain by abuse protection in the family court too, as more than 40% of domestic violence victims are male. If you can, please do contact a divorce solicitor in Liverpool, as they could make or break your case.

There have been cases where parents on the sex offender’s list have been allowed to enter a family court of law to argue their case for the custody of children. In this situation a husband had raped and duct taped a 14 year old girl and had been charged with an assault against his ex-partner. For years, he stalked his partner, before taking her to court, and it took a social services independent report to eventually deem the man as ‘dangerous to children!’ He is still free to reapply to the courts for child custody.

Produced by Denver working with Hughes Carlisle divorce solicitors who specialise in a range of other legal disciplines, providing an opinion on current topics which are affecting families throughout the country.

What Happens to College Payments During a Divorce

Most marriages end in divorce. Different jurisdictions have different rules pertaining to how assets and liabilities are distributed to the parties after a divorce. When young married couples decide to divorce, student loan debt is a common liability that the parties must cope with. Ongoing expenses that may be incurred if one spouse is actively attending college can influence the amount of alimony awarded to a spouse.

How States Treat Assets During Divorce
Our lawyers at Tenn And Tenn, P.A. tell us that states generally fall into three categories when discussing divorce. In community property states and if the parties have not agreed to distribute assets in a certain manner, the court will divide the marital assets in half. If the debt is incurred during the marriage, the courts will view student loan debt as community property. Student loan debt is a liability and hence is subject to being apportioned between the parties.Other states follow a common law rule. For example, New York also seeks to divide marital property equitably. Unlike a common law jurisdiction, however, the court need not divide everything equally. A court that follows a common law rule will consider a wide array of factors in order to achieve what it perceives to be a fair outcome. Such factors include whether one spouse has title to a property, whether a spouse has commercial interests, and the couple’s living arrangements.

Some states stretch the equitable distribution concept even further. Some states, like Massachusetts and New Hampshire, also seek to provide an equitable distribution during the asset and liability allocations. These states uniquely consider all property owned by both parties, regardless of whether the assets were acquired during the marriage or owned personally. The fact that a party owned an asset or a liability prior to marriage may be a factor for consideration, but is not determinate of the outcome.

Responsibility to Pay for an Education

Whether a party is responsible for continuing payments on a divorcing spouse’s student loans varies depending upon the court’s decision. Even in community property states, courts have some degree of latitude in making asset decisions. Most states permit courts to order parties to pay other liabilities if the court finds that it would be in the interests of justice to do so.

If one spouse is actively attending college, the issue becomes one of spousal support. Tuition and literary expenditures may increase one party’s living expenses, which can increase the alimony award. Among other factors, courts will often consider retraining or educational expenses in awarding spousal support to one party. If a party who is receiving alimony is attending college or seeking job retraining, the court may increase the award of alimony accordingly. If a court order is issued compelling one party to pay spousal support, that party must do so regardless of whether he or she agrees with the award.

While courts normally follow statutory guidelines, the goal in most states is to achieve an equitable dissolution of the marriage, not an equal one. In most states, courts have a wide degree of latitude to make decisions regarding asset allocations, liability allocations, and spousal support. Navigating the laws and presenting a compelling case in the pleadings requires the knowledge of an experienced local attorney.


Saam Banai is a freelance writer and editor and proponent of fair dispersal of assets after divorce. If you find yourself in the midst of a divorce and have costly college payments to make in addition to everything else, contact a divorce attorney from the firm, Tenn And Tenn, P.A. Their experienced attorneys are uniquely equipped due to their training and experience to provide large law firm excellence in a more client-centered atmosphere.

Family court judges fear for their security from parents in courts

The family court judges across England have raised concern over lack of security from being attacked by angry or disturbed parents as often the security provided at the courts were dangerously inadequate.

Though judges have raised such concerns it is very rare for them to be openly critical about the security at the principal registry of the family division in central London and also at district courts around the country.

The concerns have been rising stemmed from the fact that in an incident a female judge was seriously injured in an attack and instances when parents shouted threats at them as well as throwing books and cups.

Speaking to Guardian on anonymity a judge had said that an angry father stood up and shouted anti-semitic threats at him. Another father had thrown a cup of water across the courtroom and another had thrown a book but fortunately the judge was far away from its reach.

Another judge said that he was constantly exposed while working as there was no security in the courtroom and sometimes he was alone with a parent. Generally they sit with a clerk who is mostly an elderly woman and vulnerable herself to make any defence in case of an attack.

He added how they were exposed while moving in corridors between the courtrooms, entering and leaving the building, going to toilets when they are to pass through a public area.

A third judge who has worked in the PRFD and courts across London said most district judges, even those doing highly charged family law cases, do not have courtrooms at all but hear the cases in their chambers with the public sitting around the table, and they don’t have anyone in the court room at all.

Judges said county courts often do not have a courtroom and a retiring room for district judges. This forces them to hear cases in their chambers, with those involved often sitting uncomfortably close, while the lack of a retiring room means judges have nowhere to go to go if it became necessary to escape an aggressive parent.

If anything happens only way of escape is through an adjoining door between the judges’ couirt and that of the other district judge said a family judge in London.

District judge Nicholas Crichton, founder of the family drug and alcohol court at Wells Street family proceedings court in central London, who was given a CBE in this year’s Queen’s birthday honours list, said it was a “recipe for flashpoint” to compel judges to walk through public areas and share corridors. Crichton said it was unfair to put anxious parents under the added stress of close proximity with the judge ruling on their case.

It was a hot spot where emotions run high with parents coming to court feeling criticised about their treatment to their children and possibility of their children being removed from them.

A spokesperson from her majesty’s courts and tribunal’s service said HMCTS took the security issue of judges within courts extremely seriously. And the security system was continually monitored to ensure that it was effective and proportionate and mitigates against risks faced.

Indiana’s Parenting Time “Nightmare Before Christmas”

It’s that time of year again. People run all over town to do their Christmas shopping, to decorate their homes, and attend holiday parties to spread cheer among their friends and themselves. However, this is also the worst time of year for lawyers, parents, and most importantly, children, because of what is known around our office as “Indiana’s Parenting Time ‘Nightmare before Christmas.’ ”

A number of years ago, some brilliant (and I say “brilliant” both literally and sarcastically) people put together what is known as Indiana’s “Parenting Time Guidelines” (guidelines that apply in all legal custody cases to assure that children have frequent and meaningful contact with each parent).  Although these are to be utilized as “guidelines,” they are far from it.  Many lawyers give copies of the guidelines to their clients without guidance on how to apply them, and the clients (or those who act as their own counsel and search the Internet), utilize the guidelines as the Bible of Parenting Time; no exceptions, no deviations, no thought or consideration to the consequences of how they affect who the Guidelines are suppose to protect: the children.

Although the parenting time guidelines provide guidance on many issues (most of which should be common sense), the one area that creates the most confusion for clients, and often times lawyers, is the portion that addresses Christmas Parenting Time for parents with their children.

Christmas Break is supposed to be a time when children are happy with the expectation of gifts, seeing family and friends, and most importantly to them, not going to school. However, the revolving door contained in the Christmas Break provisions of the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines create not only a nightmare for children, but a nightmare for parents and attorneys alike.

My practice is primarily based out of Porter County, Indiana. Porter County has six school districts, most of them on the same Christmas vacation schedule.  However, due to the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines and how they cause children to be bounced around during their two-week Christmas break, the nightmare occurs for parents and attorneys who must get out calendars, calculators, slide rules, iPads and many other devices in order to simply figure out how the children are going to be shuffled about during their Christmas vacation.

The confusing (and oftentimes, disastrous) pertinent parts of the IPTG provide:

D. HOLIDAY PARENTING TIME SCHEDULE
2 B. Christmas Vacation.
One-half of the period which will begin at 8:00 P.M. on the evening the child is released from school and continues to December 30 at 7:00 P.M. If the parents cannot agree on the division of this period, the custodial parent shall have the first half in even-numbered years. In those years when Christmas does not fall in a parent’s week, that parent shall have the child from Noon to 9:00 P.M. on Christmas Day. The winter vacation period shall apply to pre-school children and shall be determined by the vacation period of the public grade school in the custodial parent’s school district.

2 C. Holidays.
In years ending with an even number, the non-custodial parent shall exercise the following parenting time:
[1] New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. (The date of the new year will determine odd or even year).
From December 30th at 7:00 P.M to 7:00 P.M. of the evening before school resumes.

Huh?????

Based upon Indiana’s Parenting Time Guidelines and the main school districts of Porter County’s vacation time, as well as the majority of the other school districts in the State of Indiana, the once-deciphered guideline schedule for division of children causes the following “bouncing” to occur:

(Last day of school: December 21, 2012 – School Resumes: January 7, 2013)

Custodial Parent:
(a) Friday, December 21 from 8:00 PM until Tuesday, December 25 (Christmas Day) at 12:00 Noon, and
(b) Tuesday, December 25 at 9:00 PM until Wednesday, December 26 at 3:00 PM, and
(c) Sunday, December 30 from 7:00 PM until Sunday, January 6 at 7:00 PM.

Non-Custodial Parent:
(a) Tuesday, December 25 (Christmas Day)  from 12:00 Noon until Tuesday, December 25 (Christmas Day) at 9:00 PM, and,
(b) Wednesday, December 26 at 3:00 PM until Sunday, December 30 at 7:00 PM.

*** THIS ALSO APPLIES TO PRE-SCHOOL CHILDREN AND IS GOVERNED BY THE SCHOOL DISTRICT IN WHICH THEY RESIDE***

Pack your bags, kids… and leave them packed until New Year’s Eve because you and your suitcases will be travelling between Mom’s house and Dad’s house more in the next few weeks than a steamer trunk traveled the Atlantic Ocean.

Now, don’t be fooled by the phrase in the Guideline “One-half of the period… .”  This year (odd or even… this break counts as an “odd”) provides for the custodial parent to have the time from December 30 until the night before school begins, so in actuality, the custodial parent has the children 13 days compared to the non-custodial parent’s 6 days; one of which is 9 hours on Christmas Day.

Five back-and forths in a short period of time?  That makes a lot of sense.  Yet parents don’t care. If I had the proverbial nickel for every time in my nearly 30 years of practicing Family Law that I heard, “It’s MY time, I want it!” I’d be sipping scotch on the rocks on the beach outside my house in St. Maarten.  But I don’t have those nickels, I don’t have a house in the Carribean, and already, the phone calls have started asking “When do I get my kids for Christmas?”

Thank God the scotch is readily available this time of year, even if the nickels and beach house aren’t.

Wait a minute… isn’t the “Holiday Season” and the associated break from school suppose to be for the children?  Isn’t that a time when they are suppose to be happy and having fun?  Santa, snow-persons (politically correct, I believe), movies, junk food and sleeping in?

Nope!  This is another excuse for misguided parents to jab at one another, cause needless and unwanted turmoil, and drive their lawyers crazy with fights over “She’s getting 12 more minutes than I am” or “My family always celebrates on Christmas Eve and he won’t let me have them.”  On and on it goes… where these parents will stop, nobody knows.

Indiana has a draft of “revised” Parenting Time Guidelines that is floating around in limbo.  They’ve been circulated for nearly nine months, but for some reason, can’t be/haven’t been adopted.  Why? Because the professionals who know what’s best for children can’t agree on what’s best for Indiana’s children.  Sound familiar?

If they are ever adopted, the Christmas Vacation merry-go-round may finally come to an end. The mystery draft has the following solution to ending the constant back and forth:

B. Christmas Vacation.
The Christmas  vacation shall be defined as beginning on the last day of school and ending the last day before school begins again.    Absent agreement of the parties, the first half of the period will begin two hours after the child is released from school.  The second half of the period will end at 6:00 p.m. on the day before school begins again.
Each party will receive one half (1/2) of the total days of the Christmas vacation, on an alternating basis as follows:
1.In even numbered years, the custodial parent shall have the first one half (1/2) of the Christmas vacation and non-custodial parent shall have the second one half (1/2) of the Christmas vacation.
2.In odd numbered years, the non-custodial parent shall have the first one half (1/2) of the Christmas  vacation and custodial parent shall have the second one half (1/2) of the Christmas  vacation.
3. In those years when Christmas does not fall in a parent’s week, that parent shall have the child(ren) from Noon to 9:00 P.M. on Christmas Day.
4. No exchanges under this portion of the rule shall occur between 9:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m., absent agreement of the parties.

New Year’s Eve and New Year’s day shall not be considered separate holidays under the Parenting Time Guidelines.

A little more simple? Absolutely. Less suitcase mileage?  Finally! Will parents still find ways to fight about the breakdown of time and count their minutes to make sure the other parent doesn’t get a few seconds more?  Most likely.  Will lawyers still have to deal with parents arguing over the amount of time they demand over the Christmas holiday, even though most of the parents will still have to go to their own daily job and not be able to actually spend any extra time with their children after all (oh no… here comes the “First Right of Refusal” fights!)? Sadly, yes.

As Family Law attorneys, it is our job to help guide our clients through rocky times.  However, we can’t properly guide them if we don’t explain the road map we give them; simply handing them a copy of Parenting Time Guidelines and saying “Read the book… Good Luck!” is not enough.  On the other hand, if the road map we give them is so confusing and leads to more hazards than assistance, it’s the responsibility of the drafters of the revised guidelines to get them finished, get them approved, and make them simple enough for everyone to understand and apply.

The solution to Indiana’s “Nightmare Before Christmas” can be solved with a few simple steps that end with the same conclusion:

1. The new Parenting Time Guidelines that appear to address a more reasonable division of the Christmas Break need to be approved NOW; keeping in mind, not what’s best for the parents, but what’s best for the children,

2.  Parents need to AGREE on how to divide the time their children have off from school for the holidays, long before December 20 each year; keeping in mind, not what’s best for the parents, but what’s best for the children,

3.  Family Law attorneys need to better explain the Guidelines to their clients and not just hand them a copy, wish them well, and send them on their way; keeping in mind, not what’s best for the parents, but what’s best for the children, and

4.  Drafters, attorneys and parents MUST realize that the Christmas Holiday Break, as well as all other parenting time, is a time for the children.  Petty differences over minutes and overnights should be put aside… THAT is what is best for the children.

The drafters of the new guidelines need to act quickly in making their final revisions.  Lawyers need to provide input as to what we see in the field as reality, not what “studies show” or “other states have done… .”  The Indiana Supreme Court needs to promulgate the new guidelines as soon as possible so holiday issues have more clarity and resolution in 2013.  But most importantly, everyone involved in the Family Law field has to realize that quality parenting time does not equate to hours, minutes and overnights with a child.  Quality parenting time is what is done during the time a parent and child are together.  As soon as attorneys, at the commencement of a case, start advising their clients to look at the parent’s time with their children as a precious commodity, instead of “time of possession,” everyone will be better served, especially the most important people of all… the children.

How to Prepare for a Custody Trial

(US family law procedure and generally) When a relationship ends, whether it is a marriage or two people living together, the emotional and financial toll it takes on the parties can be overwhelming. The impact of a break up is multiplied when the couple is embroiled in a dispute over custody of their children.

People fail to realize that a judge hearing a child custody case does not know either of the parties or the circumstances that brought them to court. A judge’s decision in a case is based only on the evidence presented by each side in the dispute; therefore, it is essential that you be prepared to provide your lawyer with the information, witnesses and documents she needs to prove that you are entitled to have custody of your children.

Do Not Involve the Children

If the children are living with you, do not bring them to court unless your attorney or the judge instructs you to do so. A child custody case is a dispute between the parents that affects the children. The children should not be made parties to the dispute.

Parents who speak negatively to their children about the other parent in an effort to win the children to their side are only hurting themselves. Judges hearing a custody case will usually speak to the children privately at some point in the proceedings. One reason for the interview is to determine if either of the parents has attempted influence the children.

Maintain a Diary

Your lawyer needs an accurate account of the facts and circumstances in the relationship both you and your partner had with the children. You should prepare a diary for your lawyer of current and prior incidents that have a bearing on the question of custody or the relationships you and your spouse have with the children.

Each diary entry should begin with the date, location and names of people who were present. After this preliminary information, there should be a brief, factual description of what occurred including statements that were made. Keep the description as accurate as possible and limit it to occurrences having to do with the issue of custody.

Witnesses

Witnesses who have information that bears upon your relationship with your child are more important than testimony from your high school classmate saying you were a wonderful person when she last saw you 15 years ago. The following are examples of useful witnesses in a custody case:

• Counselors who have treated you or your child
• Your child’s teachers
• Guidance counselors at your child’s school
• Friends and neighbors who have witnessed your interaction with your child
• Doctors and other health care workers

Documents and Other Evidence

Documents such as letters and photographs that are related to the issue of custody should be gathered and shown to your attorney. Keep in mind that not every piece of evidence can or should be used be used in court, so do not get upset if your attorney decides not to use something you believe the judge should see or hear. For instance, you may have a tape recording of a conversation you secretly recorded between your spouse and the children that your attorney refuses to use in court. Your attorney will probably advise you that such secret recordings are illegal in most states.

Listen to Your Lawyer

A family law attorney knows the custody laws in your state and the rules for the admissibility of evidence in child custody cases. Following your attorney’s instructions and advice is the best way to achieve a successful result.

Karen White knows how stressful custody trials can be. Seeking help from a Dallas family lawyer can bring good results to your divorce and custody trial cases.

Post-Recession Surge in Divorces Expected, Say Lawyers

With reports suggesting that the UK may be moving out of recession, many lawyers are predicting a big spike in the amount of divorces they will have to invigilate. Some firms are indicating that they have seen up to a 30% increase in the amount of divorce cases they have to deal with, this could be due to the fact that many couples were putting off a split due to the negative financial implications.

Huge Divorce Drop Back in 2008

The recent rise mirrors a huge drop that occurred just over four years ago when the economic downturn really took hold. With money being too tight to mention and other seemingly more important things on their mind, it appears that couples have just been too busy or broke to consider parting ways, but this looks set to change as the nation starts to look at the possibility of some more stable times ahead.

The official figures actually show that the number of divorces in the United Kingdom dropped for the first two years of the recession and then rose again in 2010 to around 119,00 when the outlook started to look a little bit better.

Equity

Another factor that is seen as fundamental is the fact that couples may have been waiting for the price of their property to creep back up again. As the recession worsened, it seems that people became increasingly concerned about their lowered incomes and how much they would get back if they sold their house. Many divorce lawyers believe this led to many couples postponing their plans to split until they could both walk away with a decent return.

Evidently, not many couples predicted that this would actually be the worst recession in modern times and that the financial doom and gloom would continue for so long.

Larger Rise Could Be On The Way for 2013

Now that many believe there is light at the end of the tunnel and property prices may start to rise very soon, a lot of solicitors are seeing a noticeable rise in divorce proceedings and this is set to gather real pace over the next 12 months.

The figures echo predictions from a number of the United Kingdom’s divorce solicitors and represents some of the first clear cut evidence that an even larger spike in divorce applications could be on the way.