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OurFamilyWizard and Co-Parenting

By Jake Jenkinson

There are numerous issues that can arise for divorced parents who have difficulty communicating and/or working together after their divorce. Unfortunately, in transitioning from former spouses to co-parents, many of the same issues that led to the divorce may continue to impede the ability to maintain a positive co-parenting relationship. This is because co-parenting inherently requires regular communication, cohesiveness, and flexibility to address all of the issues and decisions that arise when raising a child. Fortunately, there are resources that can serve to assist co-parents who are unable to manage amicable and non-confrontational direct communication.

            OurFamilyWizard is a website which assists co-parents with communication, scheduling, and providing a centralized place for all child-related information. Through OurFamilyWizard, co-parents are able to work together more efficiently and effectively, which will hopefully lead to less stress and tension between the parents.

            Scheduling through OurFamilyWizard allows parents to track their parenting schedules, make child-related appointments, and create custom holiday parenting time schedules. Co-parents can use the site to communicate a parenting time change or pick up change. There is also a “Tone Meter” which monitors communications between the parents and flags any messages that appear to contain emotionally charged language before the message is sent.

            OurFamilyWizard also allows parents to keep expense logs which allows for tracking shared expenses, transmitting receipts, and maintaining records of payment histories. Parents can even use the site to pay each other for his or her portion of child-related expenses.

Finally, OurFamilyWizard has an info bank which stores any information about their child. Either Co-parent may add to the information bank and information that may be added includes insurance information, emergency contacts, school schedules, medical histories, files and anything that may be relevant that can be added in the information bank.

Going through a divorce can be a difficult and traumatic process for both the parents and children involved. Using resources like OurFamilyWizard can help to make co-parenting easier when parents have a particularly difficult direct relationship. If you or anyone you know is struggling with any kind of divorce or post-divorce issue, please contact one of the attorneys at Lyons & Associates, P.C. We place a premium on personalized attention for your personal matters and pride ourselves on giving the appropriate guidance and information no matter how obscure the subject matter may be. For a private consultation, contact us by e-mail or call our office at 908-575-9777.

What are Some Back to School Co-Parenting Tips?

As the new school year approaches, parents who have gone through a divorce should consider ways to make co-parenting go smoothly in September. The start of school is a good time to reevaluate current child custody and visitation agreements and consider what worked, or did not work, the year before.

Because this year is likely to be much more unpredictable, it is even more important for parents to get on the same page for September. Beyond the usual details of schedules, homework, sports, and after-school activities, parents also face unique challenges created by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Here are some ideas and tips to streamline co-parenting as children go back to school this fall.

Use a Shared Calendar

Children have busy lives. There is plenty to remember with school assignments and events. Add in child’s sports, lessons, religious instruction, and other activities, and it is clear to see how parents can feel overwhelmed by the family schedule.

To simplify things and ensure nothing is overlooked, co-parents should utilize a shared calendar. Several user-friendly digital apps are available to keep every member of the family informed:

  • Coparently: (http://coparently.com/) Stores important contacts such as doctors and babysitters, includes a shared calendar, and tracks shared expenses.
  • Talking Parents: (https://talkingparents.com/home) Offers a shared calendar, vault storage for photos and documents, and Accountable Calling, which records and creates transcripts of phone calls with a co-parent.
  • Our Family Wizard: (https://www.ourfamilywizard.com/) Allows parents to schedule events, communicate through an online message board, and track child-related expenses.

Maintain Good Communication

Although shared calendars and custody apps make it easier for parents to communicate and stay connected, it is also good for co-parents to have open and transparent dialogue with each other. When parents withhold information or block their ex-spouse, children are the ones who get hurt.

To keep positive communication flowing, it is best to stick to child-related topics, avoid attacks and accusations, and never send messages to the other parent through the child.

Obviously, there are some co-parents who feel animosity toward each other. They are probably better off communicating through email, a mediator, or their lawyers. But if parents are willing and open to staying in touch, that will make co-parenting a lot easier.

Consider a Single Email Address

Another practical tip to help co-parents transition into the new school year is to create a central email address for the child.  Both parents should have access to the email account and provide it to the school, coaches, tutors, and anyone who may contact them. This way, all child-related information is in the same place, available to both parents.  With a central email address, a parent can never say they missed something important.

Agree on a Regular Routine

Children thrive when they have a stable routine. And although that can be difficult for children who transition between two homes, there are ways to reduce the stress of shared custody on a young child.

A shared routine is one way to create consistency.  If co-parents can agree on bedtimes, chores, and house rules, children know what to expect. That familiarity from day to day gives them a sense of security.

Share a Parent Backpack

Another easy way to facilitate co-parenting is to have a parents’ backpack for transporting items back and forth between homes. It takes the responsibility off the child to give something from one parent to the other, and it prevents children from seeing things they should not, such as divorce or financial documents.

Attend School Events and Conferences Together

Divorced parents may not see eye to eye on many things, but education should be one on which they agree. Attending parent-teacher conferences and school plays together sends a strong message. It shows the child, and school, that parents are on the same team when it comes to supporting the child.

Again, this is not always feasible, especially if co-parents have a high-conflict divorce or the court has issued a no-contact order. When in doubt, a trusted divorce lawyer can clarify the terms and guidelines of the parenting plan.

Tell the School about the Parenting Plan

Teachers do so much more than just teach the ABCs. The best teachers are truly invested in their students’ academic success and emotional well-being. Co-parents should notify the school about what is happening at home, as far as where the child lives on a particular day, where to send communication, and how the child is handling the divorce.

Sharing this information helps avoid confusion for teachers and staff, and it gives the teachers a heads-up to look for any issues of concern with the child as they navigate the changes in their family.

Enlist a Parent Coordinator to Help with Roadblocks

The reality is co-parenting is going to come more naturally to some parents than it will for others. Every set of parents have their own history and experience. Co-parents with a more contentious relationship can enlist the guidance of a parenting coordinator to facilitate the resolution of day-to-day parenting issues that may come up.

In New Jersey, a parent coordinator is a qualified, objective person who is either appointed by the court or agreed on by both parties. A parent coordinator can be a licensed mental health professional, lawyer, or otherwise qualified professional. They listen to both sides and make a recommendation to the parents and their lawyers based on the child’s best interests, above all else.

Always Put the Child First

Back to school co-parenting is always going to be more successful when parents put their children first. The child’s best interests are the guiding force in all divorce and custody decisions in New Jersey and should take precedence in the home and school too.

As hard as it may be, every parent should do their best to separate the relationship with their ex-spouse from their role as a parent. This will go a long way to help the child feel valued, supported, and loved at every age and stage of development.

COVID-19 and Co-Parenting for Back to School

COVID-19 has upended nearly every aspect of daily life. And co-parenting is no exception.

At this time, New Jersey schools are open for full-time, in-person instruction. But as the current pandemic has shown, that can very well change from week to week, or day to day.

When someone in the family tests positive for COVID-19 or comes in contact with someone who tests positive, children may have to quarantine and attend school online. Community outbreaks and positive cases among students may compel districts to close schools and transition students to remote learning at any time.

Co-parents are advised to have a back-up custody plan for the school year in case their child’s school closes or the family needs to quarantine. Depending on the child’s age, they may need supervision at home and help with remote schooling. For example, a parent who works from home may assume custody for a child who is remote learning, even if it is not their scheduled parenting time.

Beyond those issues, co-parents should come to an agreement about how they are going to navigate the day-to-day challenges during this ongoing health crisis.

Are children going to wear masks in public? Are they permitted to hang out in large groups, among children who may not be vaccinated? Should they participate in group sports and activities if the number of cases begins to rise?

These are all valid questions parents will have to address in the days and weeks ahead.  The hope is co-parents can have open and productive discussions about what is best for the child. If not, a parent coordinator may be able to help.

Either way, back-to-school co-parenting during a pandemic will require flexibility, understanding, and compromise, on both sides. Parents who cannot seem to get on the same page for the new school year will benefit from the guidance of an experienced divorce lawyer in their area.

Morristown Divorce Lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. Help Clients Update Parenting Plans as Children Go Back to School

Co-parenting during COVID-19 presents new and unique challenges, especially as children return to in-person instruction in New Jersey. If you have questions about a parenting plan or want to make changes before the new school year, the Morristown divorce lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. can help. Our firm takes a holistic approach to divorce, helping you transition from pre-divorce life to post-divorce life, tackling every legal challenge that arises along the way. We take a personal approach to personal matters. Call us at 908-575-9777 or contact us online to schedule a consultation. Located in Somerville and Morristown, New Jersey, we proudly serve clients in Somerset, Woodbridge, Morristown, Parsippany, Rockaway, Short Hills, Chatham, Randolph, Madison, and Morris Plains.

Who Pays for Summer Camp Activities When Parents are Divorced?

As the school year winds down, parents are starting to plan summer activities for their children. However, camps, sports, youth groups, and pool memberships can be quite expensive. For some divorced parents, financing summer fun is a source of conflict.

Guidelines for financing summer camps and other activities depend on how they are viewed under the law. Child support generally covers necessities but not extracurricular activities. Younger children may need to go to camp if both parents work, making it a necessity. If older children attend summer camp for fun, the camp might be seen as an extracurricular activity. If summer activities are part of the parenting plan, it is important to establish who pays for them in the divorce agreement. Once the divorce is finalized, persuading a reluctant parent to help pay the expenses may be difficult.

Custodial parents who work full-time often depend on summer camps and programs for child care when the children are out of school. In most states, this makes camp a necessity under the law. Since it is considered a necessity, it falls under the expenses covered by child support.

When calculating child support, the lawyers and the courts will arrive at a number based on tuition costs for specific camps and activities for the current year. Also, parents may agree to a certain dollar amount that seems reasonable for camps and programs in the area. That amount is included in the final child support award.

Older Children and Summer Activities

While older children may not necessarily need child care, they certainly still want to have fun and socialize. Summer activities for older children who can supervise themselves are considered extracurricular activities and are not automatically included in child support awards.

Sports, camps, and music lessons are viewed as entertainment-related costs, which are not mandatory under family law. That means the non-custodial parent is not required to help pay these entertainment-related expenses.

How can Parents Work Together?

If summer programs are not considered necessary and excluded from mandatory child support, co-parents need to work out a plan to pay for them. Those who agree to send the child to summer camp can either split the costs in half, split them according to each parent’s income, or decide which parent will pay for them entirely. If they cannot agree on summer activities, the parent who wants the child to go has to pay.

However it works out, it is essential to include provisions for extracurricular activities in the divorce or parenting agreements. These costs add up quickly, and knowing where the money is coming from will make budgeting for these activities much easier.

Children look forward to summer fun. Whether it is a church youth group, a local baseball team, or an outdoors summer camp, children like to stay busy and spend time with friends in summer. Listed below are some tips for parents to negotiate the costs of these summer activities.

Treat Summer Camp as a Negotiable Item

It is a mistake to put the topic of extracurricular activities aside and assume they will somehow be paid for. Some parents feel the costs are too excessive or just do not see the value of structured summer activities. To eliminate last minute disputes, it is important to negotiate these details during the divorce process. Ideally, parents are able to resolve matters in mediation. If not, the parent pushing for summer camp must justify to the courts that camp is in the child’s best interests and the other parent should help pay for it.

Be Open to Compromise

Even when co-parents agree that summer activities are a good idea, they may not always agree on which camps and programs make the most sense. If the other parent is reasonable and open to discussion, then compromise is possible.

If an ex-spouse agrees the child should attend summer camp but does not feel the specific overnight camp makes sense financially, the other parent should try to meet them halfway. Parents should find the middle ground and choose a local camp offering some of the child’s favorite activities.

Be Creative

Sometimes, parents are on the same page and want the children to go to summer camp, but it is just not in the budget. Think outside the box and look into creative ways to provide child care or pay for summer activities. There are a lot of resources available to help single parents offset these costs. Start by contacting local churches and schools to ask about low-cost summer programs or financial aid for families in need.

Contact a Lawyer

When co-parents cannot agree on decisions regarding the children, it is time to contact a lawyer. The lawyer can step in when the negotiation process breaks down or when a parent stops honoring the terms of the parental agreement. A lawyer can also handle child support modifications and reductions when a family dynamic shifts.

How can Parents Offset Camp Costs?

According to the American Camp Association (ACA), summer camp fees can range anywhere from $100 to $1,500 per child per week. However, these costs do not have to be prohibitive for low-income families. Listed below are some ways to help offset the costs of summer camp activities.

Inquire About Camp Discounts

Most camps offer some sort of discount for early registration, siblings, or based on need. Some offer flexible scheduling where children can go half-days or every other day at a lower cost. Other camps allow children to attend anywhere from one to eight weeks, depending on a parent’s budget. This option is especially good for older children who do not need full-time child care but still want to enjoy the camping experience.

Apply for Scholarships

Ask camp directors about scholarships based on need or merit. Parents may be surprised just how eager they are to work with families and meet their needs. To get started, research summer programs as soon as the new school year begins.

Look into a Tax Credit

Parents who are either attending school, working, or seeking employment at the time camp is in session may qualify for a tax credit to offset camp fees. The exact amount depends on income. A financial planner can assist in this area.

Financial Assistance Resources for Parents

Here are two additional resources to get assistance with child care and summer camp activities:

New Jersey Cares for Kids Program: The New Jersey Cares for Kids program assists with child care costs for parents who are working or going to school. Several programs fall under the program’s umbrella, including the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) and the Community Care Voucher Centers (CCVC), which saves a certain number of slots in approved day care centers for families across the state.

New Jersey Child Care Subsidy Program: Parents participating in certain state programs can apply for a child care subsidy through the state of New Jersey to alleviate some or all of the costs of child care with a licensed, approved provider.

Summer camp is a contentious topic for many parents. One parent sees summer camp as a rite of passage, while the other sees it as a frivolous expense. To avoid further issues, it is best to negotiate who is responsible for child care and extracurricular activities during the divorce. If post-divorce modifications need to be made, a lawyer can help.

Morristown Divorce Lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. Help Clients Resolve Summer Camp Child Support Disputes

Summer camp is important for many children, but divorced parents may feel hesitant about who pays for the costs. The Morristown divorce lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. are ready to help you negotiate the terms and costs for summer activities and other child-related expenses. To learn more about our legal services and to schedule an initial consultation, call us at 908-575-9777 or contact us online. We are located in Somerville and Morristown, New Jersey, and we proudly serve clients throughout Somerset, Woodbridge, Morristown, Parsippany, Rockaway, Short Hills, Chatham, Randolph, Madison, and Morris Plains.

Should a Child’s School be Notified About a Divorce?

When a couple begins the divorce process, there are many people and organizations that must be notified about the change in marital status for legal and financial reasons. However, some parents may feel hesitate about releasing that personal information and may wonder if it necessary to notify their child’s school. While it may seem wise for parents to hold back information in an effort to protect their children’s privacy, educators who know what is going on with the children at home are better equipped to support them in the classroom. Listed below are reasons why educators should know about a divorce and tips on communication.

Why Should Teachers Know?

In a study conducted by global leadership training company, VitalSmarts, 94 percent of the teachers polled said they felt it was important for parents to let them know about a divorce or separation. However, only 23 percent of the polled parents actually shared this information with their children’s educators. Parents should keep educators informed so that they can monitor and help the child with their education.

The study also identified five major life changes as potential barriers to learning:

  • Death in the family
  • Major illness
  • Mood changes
  • Possible drug use
  • Divorce and other marital problems

These life-altering disruptions can impact a child’s behavior and performance in school. Knowing about a child’s major life transitions sooner rather than later enables teachers and counselors to better serve their students. Knowing the entire picture of what a student may be going through at home helps educators connect the dots and address attendance issues, behavioral problems, and affected grades quickly and effectively.

How Should I Inform the School About the Divorce?

Parents should not wait until the divorce is finalized to tell the school; it is better to notify the school as soon as possible. It is not necessary to wait until the final divorce decree is issued. Children can be affected by turmoil in any form, such as verbal and physical altercations, a parent moving out, or a divorce. Teachers who know more about what is going on at home may approach in-school issues with more compassion and understanding.

Information about home issues may be shared with other staff at the school. From administrators and counselors to nurses and teachers, ideally, the entire school staff will work together as a cohesive unit to help every student. It is important to know that information relayed to a teacher or counselor will likely be shared with all school employees who may interact with the child. This helps everyone stay on the same page and best support the student. At the same time, the school also has a duty to keep this information confidential.

It is important to keep personal details private. Teachers do not need to know why the marriage ended or who is to blame. It is possible to inform that school while remaining discreet. Simply state the facts, and keep the school informed about ongoing changes.

A system should be created to help both parents to be engaged in the child’s education. Parent engagement is when both parents and teachers work together to help children reach their educational potential. Among many households, one parent takes over the school duties while the other may handle the sports or another facet of the child’s life. Children benefit when both parents are actively involved in their studies. This may seem a bit more challenging after divorce when children transition between two separate households, but it can and should be done.

Tips for Coparenting School-Age Children

Some helpful tips for coparenting are listed below.

Notify the School

Notify the school in writing about major changes at home, including a separation or divorce. Direct the correspondence to the principal, counselor, and any teachers the student regularly interacts with. Share any updated contact information, such as a name, address, or phone number.

Share Parenting Schedules

Any schedule changes should be shared with the school as well. Some couples with especially contentious divorces where one parent does not share child custody may need to provide a copy of the parenting plan. The school needs to know who is legally permitted to take the child out of school for any reason.

Use Technology

Families have many technological tools to help with coparenting and parenting time. Virtual meetings and classrooms and emails help parents, teachers, and school counselors communicate quickly and efficiently about a child’s progress. All of these tools are ideal for coparents who do not live together but want to be equally informed and involved with their child’s education.

Request Copies of Documents

When parents share legal and/or physical custody, it is helpful to ask the school to send school newsletters, report cards, and other information to both of them. This way, parents are informed even if the child is staying with the other parent. Most schools store most or all of this information in online portals, making it easier for coparents to access it at any time.

Keep Communication Open

In New Jersey, divorce matters are managed with the children’s best interests in mind. Coparents should do their best to communicate productively and positively regarding the child’s education. If something comes up at school, discuss how to best handle it together before approaching the child. This type of ongoing open dialogue is not going to work for every set of coparents. If a parent shuts down or stops communicating about school or anything affecting the children, it may be time to contact a lawyer for assistance.

Stay Positive

For children going through a tough time at home, school can be a positive distraction. It is a place to leave the conflict at home challenge themselves academically, connect with peers, and explore their passions through sports and other after-school extracurricular activities. Regardless of what is going on between parents, they should work together to make sure their child has proper education. By supporting teachers and administrators, parents set the tone that education is important.

Should I Speak to a Lawyer?

Even the most agreeable ex-spouses can hit roadblocks when making decisions regarding their children. It is common for coparents to have different ideas about what is best for their children. For that reason, every parent involved in a coparenting relationship should enlist the assistance of an experienced divorce lawyer.

A lawyer’s job is to look at the overall picture, which may mean mediation and litigation. Working with a divorce lawyer does not mean that the divorce will become contentious. Legal representation can help reduce conflict and encourage a smoother divorce process.

Morristown Divorce Lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. Help Parents Navigate Challenging Custody and Support Issues

The Morristown divorce lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. know how challenging it can be to coparent after a divorce. Through years of experience resolving tough divorce disputes, our team has developed the necessary skills to resolve your divorce case. We can make sure you have an effective parenting plan so that your child receives the education that they need. Call us at 908-575-9777 or complete our online form for an initial consultation and more information about your case. Located in Somerville and Morristown, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout Somerset, Woodbridge, Morristown, Parsippany, Rockaway, Short Hills, Chatham, Randolph, Madison, and Morris Plains.

10 Tips for Divorcing Parents

Divorce is hard on the couple, their children, and their family and friends. However, there are several things you can do to make the process go as smoothly as possible for your children. Living in two homes with happy, separated parents is better for children than living in one house filled with fighting and anger.

How Divorcing Parents Should Navigate Co-Parenting and Custody

Although divorce negotiations include many factors, the two most important factors for divorcing parents are working out a co-parenting plan and determining custody.

Follow these ten tips to help your children adjust to a new normal.

1. Create a Parenting Plan

In New Jersey, the courts use the term parenting plan to describe a visitation schedule. These are an essential aspect of co-parenting as they determine when and for how long you will see your children, including a plan for holidays and visiting grandparents. They also often affect child support. You’ll want to work with a lawyer to ensure that your parenting plan follows New Jersey requirements.

2. Consider Mediation

Divorce often involves intense feelings, especially if one spouse feels betrayed. Mediation can help divorcing parents to cordially discuss challenging issues and eventually come to an agreement.

3. Choose the Best Custody Plan for the Children

Many divorced parents fight for full custody of their children because they can’t bear to be away from them. However, studies have found that joint custody is best for children’s mental health, barring abuse, or negligence.

4. Communicate Well

Although you may hate your soon-to-be ex with a passion, you must maintain a clear, calm line of communication. You will need to talk about any issues your children face, whether medical or social. The more cordial you can be, the easier it will be to co-parent in the future.

5. Don’t Argue In Front of the Kids

You and your ex will not always see eye to eye, and that will inevitably cause arguments. Disagreeing in front of your kids is fine, as long as you can both keep your temper and refrain from insults. However, if your disagreements often become loud, it’s best to keep them private. You also should only discuss custody disagreements away from the children since they could cause them discomfort.

6. Consistency is Key

When co-parenting, you’ll need to check in with your ex about discipline and rules. It’s best that you both agree on a bedtime, use similar disciplinary measures, and have similar rules. While this isn’t always possible, try to work together so your kids have a sense of consistency.

7. Be Willing to Compromise

You both want what’s best for your children, and sometimes that may mean compromising your wants. Always put your children’s needs first, whether that means agreeing to an inconvenient custody schedule or upping your child support.

8. Let Your Kids Know This Isn’t Their Fault

Many children of divorce believe they caused their parents’ separation. Make it clear to them that you love them and they did not cause the divorce. You may want to consider family or individual therapy to help your children through this significant change.

9. Don’t Disparage Your Ex to Your Kids

Courts don’t appreciate parental alienation, which is when a parent puts down their ex to their children. If proven, it could negatively affect your custody.

10. Work with an Experienced Lawyer

At Lyons & Associates, P.C., we have extensive experience helping divorcing parents in New Jersey create parenting plans, custody schedules, and determining child support. Contact us online or call us today at (908) 575-9777 to arrange a free consultation.

Looking Ahead to Summer 2020 and Covid-19’s Impact on Summer Vacations

Written by Marissa A. Del Mauro

With Memorial Day just around the corner, a weekend that has long been hailed as the unofficial start to summer, we are now looking ahead to how this Summer 2020 will be unlike one neither we  nor our children have ever experienced. With some parks and golf courses now open, and with hopefully a path to reopening of the Jersey Shore, how do we navigate this in the wake of the standard two weeks of summer vacation each parent gets with their children each summer? And what happens for those who have already booked domestic or international trips for the summer?

It is important, first and foremost, to place your child’s best interests at the forefront. That may mean, for Summer 2020, to reschedule domestic and international travel, and to stay up-to-date on all travel advisories.

According to Travel and Leisure, some major airlines have instituted required face mask policies, instituted social distancing by limiting the number of passengers on flights, and some major hotel chains have touted their new hygienic protocol and innovated a new check-in experience[1].

When faced with any disagreement on travel destinations, dates of travel and the summer parenting schedule during this upcoming and unprecedented summer, it is important to speak with a knowledgeable attorney to help guide you to a fair, reasonable and expeditious resolution of this matter that ultimately protects your children.

For more information regarding the effects of Covid-19 on summer vacations and parenting time in New Jersey contact the Law Office of Lyons & Associates, P.CAt the law office of Lyons & Associates, our team represents parents throughout New Jersey.  We place a premium on personalized service and attention. For a private consultation, contact us by e-mail, visit our website, or call our office at 908-575-9777.

[1] Eric Rosen, Here’s What Summer Travel May Actually Look Like, According to Experts, Travel and Leisure (May 13, 2020), https://www.travelandleisure.com/travel-tips/travel-trends/summer-travel-predictions-coronavirus.

Co-Parenting a Child with Special Needs

Divorce can be stressful for the children involved, but this is especially true when the children have special needs. While all divorcing parents must find a way to put their children’s needs ahead of any animosity toward their ex-spouse, parents of children with special needs have an even more pronounced obligation to be open to working together for the good of their special needs child.

Experts often advise divorcing parents to focus on what is best for their children when making childrearing decisions. This advice is the perfect starting point for any co-parenting arrangement, but a divorcing couple with a special needs child has additional requirements for cooperation as well.

Create a Parenting Plan

A clear parenting plan provides a list of agreed-upon priorities for both parents to use as a guide to keep them on track to provide their children the best care possible. Parenting plans should include a list of your parenting goals, such as supporting your child’s efforts in school, recreational activities, and social engagements.

As parents of a special needs child, your parenting plan should address such issues as education, diet, and medical or behavioral treatment plans, including therapy appointments and home modifications to accommodate your child’s needs. The plan should address these immediate needs, as well as a long-term care plan for your child’s future.

Strive for Consistency

Children with ADHD, Autism, or anxiety disorders often find comfort in consistency. Divorce upends a lot of the consistency in a child’s life, so it is important to create stability where you can. Routines help and having a consistent schedule for morning, bedtime, and homework routines can provide a sense of comfort. Discipline and other parenting approaches should also be streamlined where possible. A professional can help determine what concessions should be made by both parents to help them stay focused on the outcomes most beneficial to their child.

Share Tips and Work Together

In many families, one parent acts as the primary caregiver. That can work when the marriage is intact, but when the family is split between two homes, the primary caregiver parent should be willing to work with the ex-spouse to make the child’s life comfortable in the secondary home. While it may make sense for the primary caregiver to request a larger share of custody, it can still help to provide helpful advice for the times when the other parent has the child.

Child Support

Raising children is expensive. The added costs of accommodating a child with special needs can become overwhelming if the costs are not shared. The child support arrangement should address the added costs of your child’s special care.

Somerville Child Support Lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. Help Clients Arrange Support for Special Needs Children

In families of divorce, parenting responsibilities are usually a major ongoing concern. Divorcing parents have additional concerns when it comes to caring for a child with special needs. The Somerville child support lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. help families figure out the best way to work together to support the needs of their children by working out a feasible parenting plan and a fair child support arrangement. Contact us online or call us at 908-575-9777 to set up a free consultation. With offices in Somerville and Morristown, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout Somerset, Woodbridge, Parsippany, Rockaway, Short Hills, Chatham, Randolph, Madison, and Morris Plains.

Co-Parenting Through the Holidays

Woodbridge child custody lawyers help clients develop co-parenting for the holidays.Every family has their own holiday traditions, and most experience some form of stress during this time of year. This is particularly true for separating or divorced spouses and their children. Those that are facing the holidays for the first time after separating may feel even more anxiety, but there are ways to keep the holidays happy for everyone.

New Traditions

Rather than focusing on past difficulties, separated and divorced parents can concentrate on establishing new traditions that still incorporate treasured memories. Having the same decorations, spending time with grandparents, and attending religious services can remain part of the festivities, but certain things will have to change.

No holiday season is perfect, and strict rules about how to celebrate no longer apply. The most important tool is a positive outlook along with keeping  the children’s best interests at the forefront. In these situations, it is vital to receive ongoing feedback from your children and to take their input to heart.

Sharing Holiday Time

A key way to successfully share the holidays is to carefully plan ahead and be willing to make adjustments. Some ex-spouses live close to one another and can split the holidays in half; for example, the children can have brunch with one parent and dinner with the other. Some holidays are more easily divided, with one parent hosting  Christmas Eve and the other on Christmas Day.

Other options include assigning fixed holidays where the children spend the same holidays with the same parent each year. Alternating holidays also works well for some families. Naturally, there will be some disagreements as to who spends time with whom, but keeping calm and showing a willingness to compromise will smooth the process along.

Quality Time

Many parents admit to overscheduling their children, and the holidays are no exception. Children need down time, especially during this busy time of year. Setting aside a few hours to relax at a movie or enjoy a peaceful meal with family and friends can reduce stress levels and build long-lasting bonds.

Ex-spouses that feel a need to outdo one another during the holidays may want to scale things back a bit to preserve everyone’s sanity. A more laid-back approach could be the best thing for the family, and the children may appreciate it. It is also important to schedule personal time for yourself during this hectic time of year.

Woodbridge Child Custody Lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. Help Clients Develop Parenting Plans for the Holidays

If you are struggling with co-parenting issues, the experienced Woodbridge child custody lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. can help. Call us at 908-575-9777 or complete our online form for a free case evaluation today. Located in Somerville and Morristown, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout Somerset, Woodbridge, Morristown, Parsippany, Rockaway, Short Hills, Chatham, Randolph, Madison, and Morris Plains.

Co-Parenting Tips for a Happy Halloween

Somerville child custody lawyers have co-parenting tips for a happy Halloween.Seeking candy and fun on Halloween does not have to be difficult for divorced parents. In fact, it can still be a treat for both parents and their children. Following a few simple guidelines helps eliminate the challenges for everyone involved by ensuring the night has a happy ending.

Talk About Which Neighborhood the Child Will Visit

Unless parents are still residing under the same roof, they may be living in differing neighborhoods. Therefore, they need to decide where the child will trick or treat before the day occurs. They should also coordinate schedules if one parent is not scheduled to have the child for the night but wants to participate.

Some communities celebrate Halloween on different evenings. This can be a huge benefit for divorced parents and their children because they can enjoy two different trick or treating experiences. If children want to trick or treat with their friends, parents need to remain flexible.  Parents may also need to accept that their youngsters may not want to trick or treat at all or would prefer to go to a friend’s party.

Get on the Same Page with Plans

Divorced parents should avoid turning costuming their children into a war. Even if one parent expects a child to dress a certain way, the parent may have to adapt to the child’s decision. Plus, a parent who typically makes all the Halloween costumes may not be able to do it this time around. The goal should be to talk to the child and the other parent, not make assumptions. Children have their own ideas when it comes to costumes, and they may be ready to tackle their costumes themselves, regardless of what their parents expect. Separated parents who do not get along may want to divvy up the trick or treat trail with their child instead of risking an angry confrontation. The less friction that happens during the walk around the neighborhood, the better.

Put Your Children First

Above all else, parents who have gone through a divorce since the prior Halloween have a responsibility to be the adults in the room. Everything has changed for the children, and they may feel as if their world has become unstable. Having a Halloween adventure plan that focuses squarely on the children’s needs and safety will go a long way toward showing them that they can still have amazing experiences despite their new household situation.

Somerville Child Custody Lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. Help Clients Negotiate Holidays

If you are dealing with child custody issues or have concerns, contact a Somerville child custody lawyer at Lyons & Associates, P.C. Call us at 908-575-9777 or fill out an online form for a free consultation. Located in Somerville and Morristown, New Jersey, we work with clients throughout Somerset, Woodbridge, Morristown, Parsippany, Rockaway, Short Hills, Chatham, Randolph, Madison, and Morris Plains.

Back to School Co-Parenting

Bridgewater family law lawyers assist clients with back to school co-parenting. The beginning of a new school year can be a stressful time for students and their parents. As children get ready for new changes and routines, co-parents may find new challenges arise. Setting the right tone for the school year begins by remembering the following important tips.

Anticipate School Year Needs

Preparation is an important part of transitioning to back to school routines. Prior to the start of the school year, co-parents should make decisions on how custody modifications, parenting time changes, and payment of school expenses should be handled.

Common questions that arise during back to school time include:

  • Which parent is purchasing or paying for school supplies, including school clothes?
  • How school information will be communicated to both parents throughout the year?
  • Where does the child go on scheduled days off?
  • Who will be responsible for dropping off or picking up at extracurricular activities?
  • What will happen to the child if the school day is cancelled or delayed due to bad weather?
  • Who will pay for extra tutoring if needed?

Reviewing these areas prior to the start of the school year can help avoid future disagreements.

Communicate Expectations

Miscommunication can result in unnecessary conflicts. By avoiding assumptions and communicating school year expectations, parents can make sure everyone, including the school, teacher, and child is on the same page. The start of the school year can cause emotional or behavioral challenges for children. Communicating any changes in a child’s moods or usual activity level with the other parent can ensure these types of issues are addressed immediately.

If both parents want to receive their own copies of important school materials such as calendars or report cards, this expectation needs to be shared with the appropriate school authorities in the beginning of the school year. Most schools will be open to sending home multiple copies when notified in advance of the family situation. Some families create a shared calendar using online options like Google Calendar, OurFamilyWizard, or Cozi to track important school deadlines and events.  Parents can also obtain their own user name and passwords for online grades and activities.

Keep the Goal in Mind

Both parents must remember that a successful school year for their child is the goal. Using changes caused by the new school as leverage in custody disputes rarely is in the best interest of the child and can lead to deep distrust and the other parent’s unwillingness to cooperate in the future. By presenting a unified front on the importance of homework and other school rules, the child ultimately benefits.

Allowing both parents to be actively involved in their child’s education will benefit the entire family. This includes planning ahead so both parents can attend important school functions including parent-teacher meetings, concerts, sporting events, and awards ceremonies.

Revise Parenting Plans

Often custody and visitation agreements need to be modified to accommodate sports practices, music lessons, and other school activities. To protect the rights of both parents, changes to existing parenting plans should be made formally in writing with the assistance of an experienced Bridgewater family lawyer.

Bridgewater Family Law Lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. Protect the Rights of Divorced Parents Throughout New Jersey

At Lyons & Associates, P.C., our dedicated Bridgewater family law lawyers handle divorce, child custody, child support, visitation, and alimony issues for families throughout New Jersey. With offices conveniently located in Somerville and Morristown, New Jersey, we proudly represent individuals throughout Somerset, Woodbridge, Morristown, Parsippany, Rockaway, Short Hills, Chatham, Randolph, Madison, and Morris Plains. To schedule a free initial consultation with a Bridgewater family law lawyer today, call us at 908-575-9777 or contact us online.