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Should I Wait Until after the Holidays to Divorce?

The holidays are a time for coming together with family and friends, celebrating cherished traditions, and making memories. But for some spouses, this holiday season will be the last they spend together as a married couple. Are you wondering if you should move forward with your divorce or wait until after the holidays?

This discussion will weigh the advantages and disadvantages to help you make an informed decision for your family and your future.

January Is Considered Divorce Month

In legal circles, January has long been considered the month for divorce because so many married people wait until right after the holidays to start the divorce process, while most divorces are filed in March.

If the couple meets with their respective lawyers at the start of the year and take a few weeks to get their documents in order and file the appropriate paperwork, that gap makes sense.

Common Reasons Why Couples Put Off Divorce Until after the Holidays

If you ask couples why they waited until the new year to divorce, you will get a variety of responses. Here are some of the common reasons couples postpone divorce until after the holidays.

To preserve family peace. Holidays are often spent enjoying the company of family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers. News of a divorce can put a damper on that holiday joy. Some couples wait because they do not want to disrupt the family peace during what many consider the most festive time of year. Although their intentions are certainly good, it may be quite stressful for couples who do not get along to tolerate each other at dinners, parties, and religious ceremonies.

To give the children one last family holiday. Couples with children may see the holidays as one last time to spend them together as a family unit before their lives are changed forever. Again, parents certainly have their children’s best interests in mind, but they should be careful they are not sending giving children false hope that their troubled marriage is on the mend.

It may be more difficult for kids to process divorce if they are under the false assumption that everything is fine and their parents are happy. If you are unsure about how to talk to your children about marital issues, make an appointment with a family therapist to learn age-appropriate ways to discuss these topics at home.

Too busy to handle the divorce details. Sometimes couples wait to divorce because it is just practical. The holiday season is the most hectic time of the year for some families. Between baking, shopping, decorating, and hosting, free time is hard to come by. Some married people decide they just do not want to add another thing to their to-do list, opting to wait a few more weeks to file for divorce.

Do not want to associate the holidays with divorce. People who are especially sentimental about the holidays wait to divorce because they do not want to associate this special time with the pain of divorce going forward. They would rather wait it out than have their holiday season forever remind them of when they filed for divorce.

Wait until January for financial reasons. In addition to the emotional and legal implications of divorce, the end of a marriage has a significant impact on a couple’s finances. That is especially true for high asset marriages with significant and complex personal wealth. A spouse might wait to file because they can benefit from their partner’s end-of-year bonus or commission.

Another reason is to make strategic moves to benefit tax-wise. Generally, if a couple is married for even a single day of the new year, they can file taxes jointly as a married couple. That can ease their tax burden for the year, while giving them time to find their financial footing as single people. 

To see the new year as a fresh start. Sometimes, the reason a couple waits until January to divorce is purely symbolic. January represents a fresh start and a time to release the old and welcome in new beginnings. Saying goodbye to a troubled marriage and starting a new life can be the ultimate New Year’s resolution.

To give the marriage one more chance. More ambivalent couples may not be ready to give up until they give the marriage one more chance. For them, the holidays are the last-ditch effort to rekindle the union and keep the family together. They hope that happier times will remind them of why they first fell in love and inspire them to keep working on the marriage.

Why You May Not Want to Postpone Divorce

Although all these reasons may make sense for couples considering divorce, delaying the inevitable can also be emotionally taxing for everyone involved. If you have a high-conflict relationship, or the home environment is especially toxic, waiting may not be the best choice.

In a marriage in which there is emotional, verbal, or physical abuse, it is best to part ways as safely and as quickly as possible. If this is your experience and you are concerned about the safety of you or your children, contact law enforcement and consult a lawyer. They can assist you in filing an Order of Protection in your state.

Steps to Take Now if You Plan to Divorce after the Holidays

If you are not in danger and you have decided to wait until the holidays have passed to start the divorce process, there are things you can do now to help the process go smoothly in the new year.

Get finances in order. Take time to gather all your financial documents, including taxes, pay stubs, bank accounts, and investments. Make copies of everything. Whether you go through mediation or handle your divorce in court, you will be required to disclose all your assets, debts, and liabilities.

Get counseling. Counseling during a tough time such as a divorce can be incredibly beneficial. Preemptive therapy can teach you coping skills and provide support as you navigate the end of your marriage. Look for a family therapist specializing in clients going through divorce. Many therapists are currently offering telemedicine, so you can meet with them from the comfort of your home.

Invest in your career. As you approach divorce, it is a good time to make your career a top priority. If you have not worked during the marriage, considering enrolling in education or job training. Making yourself more employable and increasing your income will only benefit you post-divorce.

Women especially take a big financial hit during divorce. According to research on the subject, one in five women fall into poverty after divorce. Many lose their health insurance for a time, and some with child support orders do not receive their full payments.

Good legal representation and a firm divorce agreement can help prevent these issues and help clients come through divorce in good financial standing. Growing your career and earning potential is a huge step in the right direction.

Contact a lawyer. Choosing a lawyer is one of the most important decisions you will make during divorce. Ask family and friends for their recommendations and check online reviews from past or current clients. Divorce lawyers typically offer free consultations so you can meet with them and see if they are a good fit at no cost to you.

Although this discussion has provided some information, ultimately, when you choose to divorce is a highly personal decision. A consultation with an experienced divorce lawyer is a good way to get some insight on your individual situation.

Somerville Divorce Lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C., Help Clients Navigate the Divorce Process from Start to Finish

Divorce is never easy, no matter when it happens. However, the Somerville divorce lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C., are here to make the process go as smoothly as possible. We advocate for you every step of the way to help you come out on the other side ready for the next chapter of life. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, call us at 908-575-9777 or contact us online. 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.

How Can I Celebrate My Children’s Birthdays after Divorce?

Divorce when children are involved can be especially emotionally challenging. It is not as easy to sever ties with an ex-spouse when you still have years of coparenting ahead of you. When it comes to parenting schedules, some ex-spouses opt to stick to a firm parenting plan with no room for flexibility.

Other coparents take a more casual approach. The tough part for many ex-couples is how to handle special occasions when both parents want to be involved. If you are newly divorced and wondering how to handle your child’s birthday as coparents, here are some tips to make their special day fun and worry-free.

Your Child Comes First

It is easy to focus on how you imagine celebrating your child’s birthday: the food, the decorations, and the guests. After all, it is a joyous milestone and one that is no doubt important to you. And if you have recently divorced, an upcoming birthday is probably going to stir up a lot of emotions, including memories of past holidays celebrated as a family and worries about an unknown future.

But remember to take a deep breath, pause, and refocus your thoughts and energy on your child and their special day. A birthday is not the time to talk bad about your ex-spouse or introduce a new partner. If you and your ex-spouse are hosting a joint party, rise above the negativity and avoid criticism and bickering. 

This day is all about your child. Focus on making their day special and making happy memories to last a lifetime.

Is a Joint Celebration Feasible?

Many children want both parents at their birthday party. But only you and your ex-spouse can determine if this is a reasonable possibility. Do you have a relatively peaceful coparenting relationship? Can you both put aside your differences and remain civil? Can you work together in a cooperative manner to plan the celebration? If you answer yes to these questions, a joint birthday party may be the right way to go.

Consider Creative Solutions for Celebrating Separately

If you have a contentious relationship with your ex-spouse, a joint birthday party is probably not a good solution. That last thing you want your child to see is their parents fighting on their special day. Coparents who want to host separate celebrations have a few options.

Share the day. If you live in relative proximity to your ex-spouse, consider splitting the day. For example, your child can spend the first part of the day with you, celebrating with family and friends before heading to your ex-spouse’s home for the second round of festivities. This plan is often better for older children, as toddlers and preschoolers may find a longer day too exhausting. Or, if you are hosting a party at another venue, one parent can stay for the first half and the other can host the second half of the event. That may be a bit more manageable for younger children.

Alternate from year to year. When parents live further apart or are not willing to share the child’s actual birthday, they can consider alternating from year to year. One parent has the child on their birthday on the odd-numbered years, for example, with the child spending their birthday with their other parent on the even-numbered years. Many divorced parents use this arrangement not only for birthdays, but also for other major holidays and even vacations.

Celebrate during your parenting time. The final and perhaps most common option is to celebrate your child’s birthday during your scheduled parenting time. For example, when you have physical custody, you can plan a party when your child is with you. Your ex-spouse can host another birthday celebration during their regular visitation time. With this option, children get two birthdays. What child would not love that?

What Does Your Child Want?

When making plans to celebrate your child’s birthday, start by asking what they want. As children get older, especially as they enter the tween and teen years, they are more likely going to have opinions about how, when, and where they want to celebrate. If their ideas are reasonable, follow their lead.

Birthday Celebrations Will Change as Your Child Grows

It is helpful to remember that planning a birthday party for your five-year-old is going to be much different than celebrating when they turn 16. Older children are more invested in their social connections and for them, friends may be a top priority. Keep that in mind as you and your ex-spouse schedule parenting time around your child’s birthday.

Who Pays for the Birthday Party?

Divorced couples may be unclear about who should pay for the child’s birthday party. Again, there are a few different scenarios. Ex-spouses can split the cost of a shared birthday party. They can each pay for their respective celebrations. Or, they can include terms in their divorce agreement clarifying which parent is responsible for covering extra non-essential expenses for things such as parties, vacations, and extracurricular activities.

New Jersey Parenting Plans and Custody Agreements

The details of when children reside and spend time with each parent are spelled out in a parenting plan or child custody agreement. It is basically an outline of how separated or divorced parents will cooperate in raising their children. Birthdays can be included in a parenting plan if that is what the parents wish.

Some divorced parents work out these details through a process called mediation in which they, along with their divorce lawyers, discuss the child support, visitation, and other details and come to a mutual agreement. Couples who cannot settle these issues in mediation turn to the court for resolution. Either way, the final custody order must be approved by a judge.

Parenting plans generally address matters that impact a child’s best interests, such as: 

  • Education
  • Medical care
  • Religious involvement
  • Supervision by grandparents and other caregivers
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Vacations

Parenting plans also cover the child’s primary residence and expenses for their basic needs, including the following:

Physical custody. Physical custody determines where the child lives. Parents can share custody or have an arrangement in which one parent has sole custody with the other having scheduled visitation time as noted in the custody schedule. 

Legal custody. Legal custody defines who makes decisions about the child’s welfare. One parent can have sole legal custody, or both can share legal custody and input in the choices about how to raise their child.

Child support. This ensures both parents contribute to the child’s necessities. The amount is calculated based on a range of factors including who has custody and both parents’ income and expenses.

Compromise Is Key

The reality is, after divorce, only one parent may be able to see the child on their actual birthday. When it comes to birthdays and other holidays and special occasions, only you and your ex-spouse can decide how much you are willing to compromise.

Reduce Conflict with a Solid Parenting Plan

The most effective way to prevent bitter battles and undue stress over these events that should be happy is to set the guidelines for parenting time in your child custody order and parenting agreement. Try not to let a difficult past with your ex-spouse put a damper on what should be a joyous occasion, your child’s birthday.

If you think compromise will be a problem, include clear plans for holidays and special events in your parenting schedule. If your parenting agreement is unclear about birthdays and you anticipate a fight, schedule a meeting with a divorce lawyer to discuss your options. 

Morristown Divorce Lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. Help Clients Resolve Complex Child Custody and Support Matters

If you are coming up on an important family event like your child’s birthday but are unsure about how to manage the day after divorce, the Morristown divorce lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. can help. We work with clients to create firm and fair parenting agreements to reduce conflict and encourage positive coparenting. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, call us at 908-575-9777 or contact us online. 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.

What Is the Difference between Legal and Physical Custody?

New Jersey courts recognize two types of child custody: legal custody and physical custody. The two are not interchangeable. Under each category, legal and physical custody can further be broken down into multiple different custody arrangements. Also, child custody arrangements vary from family to family.

Knowing more about different custody terms and what they mean under the law will help you make informed decisions for your child’s best interests.

Legal Custody

Legal custody is the right to make decisions for the child, including decisions about their education, medical care, and religious upbringing.

Joint legal custody. The term joint legal custody means both parents have input in these decisions. When coparents share legal custody, they both have access to the child’s academic records, medical records, and other important documents. Legal custody has nothing to do with where the child lives. Parents who live on opposite ends of the country can share legal custody.

Physical Custody

A parent who has physical custody of their child is responsible for their day-to-day care. It is their right and obligation to care for the child every day, and for the child to live with them primarily.

Shared physical custody. Like legal custody, parents can also share physical custody. In fact, that is preferred in cases in which both parents are capable, willing, and eager to be engaged in their child’s life. However, because it is not always in the best interests of the child to be continually shuttling back and forth between homes, the courts will generally designate one parent as the primary physical custodian and give the other parent secondary physical custody.

Primary physical custody. With this arrangement, the child’s primary residence will be with the parent who has primary physical custody, and the child will spend time with the other parent according to the visitation schedule agreed on in their parenting plan. It is important to remember that this arrangement is not always a reflection on who is the better parent. It is more of a way to give the child a sense of stability, continuity, and a place to call home.

Structuring Parenting Time

Essentially, parenting time is the time a parent spends living with their child. The schedule a family adopts for parenting time is important because it can impact the relationship the child has with each parent.

Decisions about custody and parenting time should always focus on what is best for the child and evolve as their needs change over time, always encouraging healthy and consistent interactions with both parents. Research shows that children benefit from frequent contact with both parents.

Visitation schedules should also allow for frequent quality time with the non-custodial parent without disrupting the school week or preventing the child from developing relationships with their peers and becoming involved in the extracurricular activities that is a part of a well-rounded childhood experience.

The hope is both parents will agree on the big issues and work together to maintain a parenting schedule that helps their child thrive at every age and stage of development.

Can Couples Decide Custody and Visitation Without Going to Court?

The answer depends on the relationship the ex-spouses have with each other.

Many divorced parents, or coparents who have never been married, have an amicable relationship and are willing to put pride and past resentments aside to focus on the business at hand: deciding what is best for their child.

Parenting plans can be as simple or complex as parents desire. Some coparents have a level of understanding and flexibility that does not require a highly detailed agreement. Others want every detail in writing to prevent confusion and disagreements.

Parents can work with the assistance of their respective divorce lawyers to create a parenting plan that checks every box and meets their child’s needs, while offering both parents plenty of time with the child.

Once parents mutually agree on a parenting plan, it is presented for the court for approval. If the judge agrees the plan makes sense and is best for the child, they will sign off on it, making it official. This option is ideal because it offers the most input for both parents, reduces conflict, and saves time and money.

Custody and Visitation for Parents Who Cannot Agree

Physical and legal custody of minor children are often some of the most contentious points of divorce. Most parents will agree nothing is more important than their child’s welfare, but divorced parents may not always agree on that that means. That is where heated custody battles come into play.

A custody battle is a legal fight between unmarried parents over who will take care of the child. Unfortunately, this fight can get quite ugly and quite expensive. If parents cannot agree on a parenting plan, particularly where and with whom the child should live most of the time, those decisions will be left for the courts to decide.

What Does a Judge Consider When Determining Child Custody?

A custody arrangement will significantly impact the child’s life. For that reason, child custody decisions are not taken lightly by the courts. The judge considers a wide range of factors to ultimately decide which parent can better meet the child’s needs and who should receive primary custody.

Some of those considerations include the following:

  • The age and number of children in the family
  • The coparenting relationship, how the parents cooperate and communicate
  • If the parents can provide a stable and healthy home
  • Where each parent lives and their proximity to each other
  • Which parent is seeking primary physical custody and their relationship to the child
  • If the child has siblings, and the nature of their relationships
  • If there is a threat of substance misuse, domestic violence, emotional abuse, and other safety concerns in the home
  • The child’s preference if they are old and mature enough to understand the dynamics at hand

To sum up all these considerations, the judge’s job is to determine what is best for the child and create the custody arrangement that best reflects their best interests, above all else.

How to Modify a Custody Arrangement in New Jersey

Once a child custody plan is determined, there may be a need to make changes at some point in the future. Changes in a parent’s job schedule, a move, or a remarriage may necessitate a revised parenting schedule.

The child’s needs may change as well. For example, as children enter the teen years, their peer relationships become more important. Parenting plans may be revised to ensure youngsters have time to socialize in healthy, age-appropriate ways as they get older.

In New Jersey, there are two ways to modify a child custody order: through parental consent or by filing a motion. Minor changes can usually be made if both parents mutually agree the revised plan is best for the child. They would update the parenting plan and present it to the judge, who will sign off if they approve.

If one parent wants a change and the other does not, the parent who wants the change files a motion with the court to modify the child custody order. To prove their case, they need to show there has been a substantial change in circumstances that warrants a change in child custody.

Skilled Legal Guidance Is Essential When Navigating Child Custody Matters

The assistance of an experienced and dedicated divorce lawyer is invaluable for any parent dealing with complex custody matters. The right lawyer understands New Jersey custody laws, listens to their client’s concerns and goals, and advocates for the welfare of the child first and foremost.

Somerville Child Custody Lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. Handle Complex Custody Matters to Protect the Child’s Best Interests

As stated, it is important for parents who are divorced to understand the forms of child custody so that decisions can be made in the child’s best interest. If you have questions about legal and physical custody, the Somerville child custody lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. are here to help. We will answer your questions and provide exceptional legal guidance for all divorce matters. To learn more about our approach or to schedule a free consultation, call us at 908-575-9777 or contact us online. 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.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Divorce in New Jersey?

If you are considering a divorce or have already started the process, you are probably wondering when you will be officially divorced.  The answer depends on several factors. Some are within your control. Others fall under state divorce law. From the time one spouse files the initial complaint, it can take anywhere from two to 12 months to finalize a divorce, depending on how well both spouses work together to achieve a common goal: a divorce agreement.

Here are some common issues that impact the divorce timeframe and some ways to speed up the process.

Factors that Affect the Divorce Timetable

There are many details to be resolved before a divorce is final. The more you know and prepare for these issues early on, the better chance you have of avoiding common divorce roadblocks and moving the process along as quickly as possible.

Here is an overview of common issues that affect the divorce timeframe:

  • Your location and the divorce requirements in your state
  • Whether you are filing a no-fault or fault-based divorce
  • If you are able to locate and serve your spouse with divorce papers
  • If your divorce is contested or uncontested
  • The extent of your marital assets and if they are easy, or not so easy, to locate and valuate
  • If conflicts regarding child custody and visitation require an evaluation from third-party expert
  • If your local family law court is running on time or has a backlog of cases

State of residence. Every state has its own guidelines for divorce. Most require individuals to verify they have resided in that state for a certain period before filing.

In New Jersey, at least one spouse must be a resident of the state for at least a year prior to filing. The only exception to this residency requirement is if adultery is involved. In that case, one spouse must have lived in New Jersey for any period prior to filing. If a spouse is new to New Jersey, this residency requirement may add some time to the divorce.

Some states also require couples to complete a separation period. Looking at the state of New Jersey again, couples seeking a no-fault divorce must be voluntarily separated without interruption and no hope for reconciliation for at least 18 months. However, there is no formal process or form to establish that separation period. If you have questions about this separation period and if it makes sense to sign a separation agreement, contact your lawyer.

If 18 months sounds like long time to wait, consider filing on the basis of irreconcilable differences, which comes with a shorter, six-month waiting period in the Garden State. If one spouse files for divorce on fault grounds, there is no waiting period to file for divorce; however, there are specific guidelines to meet each category of fault.

Fault or no-fault divorce. it makes sense to discuss what fault means in terms of divorce or dissolution of the marriage. Of course, when couples divorce, they are likely to blame each other for the various failures in the marriage. However, in a legal context, fault means something much more specific.

Either spouse can file for fault-based divorce on the grounds of:

  • Adultery
  • Constructive desertion
  • Desertion
  • Deviant sexual behavior
  • Divorce from bed and board
  • Extreme mental or physical cruelty
  • Habitual drunkenness or drug habituation
  • Imprisonment
  • Institutionalism

Each of these grounds for fault divorce has their own specific guidelines in New Jersey. For example, to file for divorce based on imprisonment, the other spouse must be convicted of a crime requiring at least 18 months of time served in jail.

For institutionalism, one spouse must be deemed certifiably insane and reside in a hospital or other institution for at least two years. An experienced divorce lawyer can tell you if you meet any of the grounds for fault-based divorce in New Jersey.

Irreconcilable differences. These fault-based scenarios are highly specific and not as widely used as the more commonly cited irreconcilable differences. A no-fault divorce based on irreconcilable differences means neither spouse was to blame for the end of the marriage. It just no longer works and is beyond repair.

Because spouses are not required to submit proof for this option, it is much smoother and faster path to divorce. No-fault divorce eliminates blaming and the disputes that tend to drag out the divorce process.

Again, to file for divorce based on these grounds, one spouse must have lived in New Jersey for at least 12 months prior to filing and the couple must have experienced irreconcilable differences for at least six months with no prospect of reconciliation.

Contested or uncontested divorce. A divorce can really go one of two ways. It can proceed amicably, or it can turn bitter. You know your spouse. Are they likely to collaborate with you to resolve the key issues such as custody, alimony, and splitting assets, or are they going to fight you every step of the way?

A contested divorce, in which one or multiple issues cannot be easily resolved, can take much longer than an uncontested divorce that is resolved out of court. Once the residency and six-month period of irreconcilable differences requirements have been met, an uncontested divorce can be completed in as little as six to eight weeks from the date of filing.

When spouses cannot agree on certain divorce terms, these issues must be resolved in family court. That can add up to as much as a year on to your divorce, depending on the caseload in your county court. Talk to your lawyer about collaborative divorce, mediation, and ways you can reduce the waiting period for your divorce.

Child custody conflicts. Child custody is one of the most contentious and complex issues that slow down the divorce process, and with good reason. When precious parenting time is at stake, it makes sense that divorcing parents are willing to fight for custody of their child, no matter how long it takes.

In some child custody disputes, one parent accuses the other of being unfit. They may accuse their ex-spouse of using drugs; engaging in criminal activity; or being mental, physically, or sexually abusive to them or their child. The state’s goal is always to rule in child custody cases in a way that honors the best wishes of the child, above than anything else.

To do that, they may require the guidance of a third-party professional to observe the family and make their recommendation for the ideal custody arrangement for the child’s health and well-being. That professional might be a therapist, psychologist, or physician. Any child custody dispute will add time to your divorce, especially when third-party experts are involved.

Distribution of marital property. The division of property is another divorce matter that tends to lead to conflict. It takes time and care to catalog all the many types of assets acquired during the marriage, including items such as homes, vehicles, investment accounts, antiques, jewelry, and businesses.

Once assets are identified, their value must be determined. This often requires the expertise of a financial advisor or business appraiser, again adding more time to the divorce process. Because high-asset divorces involve more complex financial details, they tend to take longer than more simple, straightforward divorces.

Spouse hiding assets. If you suspect your spouse is hiding assets, it is best to reach out to your lawyer. Although it may take time to investigate, you do not want to take a chance of walking away from assets for which you may be entitled. Your lawyer may enlist the services of a forensic accountant to dig deeper and look for investments, property, and other assets your soon-to-be ex-spouse did not disclose.

A Skilled Lawyer Can Help the Process Go More Smoothly

As noted, there are many different variables that can delay your divorce. But one fact is universal. The right divorce lawyer can help you avoid common roadblocks that stall the process. They can help you see where it is best to compromise, and when to hold your ground. Your divorce agreement will impact your future, so make sure it aligns with your goals and vision for your post-divorce life.

Somerville Divorce Lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. Can Help You Avoid the Common Pitfalls That Delay Divorce  

It is never smart to rush the divorce process. The terms you determine now will have an impact on your family and your finances for years to come. However, the Somerville divorce lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. help you focus on what really matters so you can reach your goal faster, and with less conflict. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, call us at 908-575-9777 or contact us online. 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.

The Rise of Conscious Uncoupling

Ending your marriage or domestic partnership is complex. Every family has different needs, and each state has its own set of regulations guiding divorce proceedings. If you’re thinking about ending your marriage in New Jersey, consider hiring a divorce attorney to mediate the process. The lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. will represent your rights and can help you reach a more amicable solution through uncoupling.

What is Uncoupling?

Conscious uncoupling is a term first used by psychotherapist Katherine Woodward Thomas, referring to the amicable ending of a relationship. In conscious uncoupling, the partners focus on ending their relationship through a respectful, loving process that leaves them at peace and with closure.

Woodward Thomas advises couples to turn their emotional pain and distress into an agent of positive change and make breakthroughs in other areas of their lives. It protects your family from the negative aspects of divorce as you end your relationship with your partner.

How Does Conscious Uncoupling Work?

There are five important steps you and your partner need to go through during your conscious uncoupling.

Recognize and Manage Your Emotions

Learn how to identify your emotions instead of letting them control you. It’s normal to feel anger, bitterness, and resentment during your divorce. Acknowledge the emotions you are experiencing and see how they impact your life. Learn to be more mindful of your feelings and the words and actions you use. Try to approach situations and each other with more compassion.

Honor Your Past and Look Toward the Future

While you shouldn’t dwell on the past, it’s important to understand the past actions that led to your current situation. Take accountability for the role you played and learn from your mistakes. Make a conscious effort not to repeat the same choices in your future.

Break Old Patterns

A therapist helps you examine your relationship history and identify behavioral patterns. It’s important to self-reflect and understand how you contributed positively and negatively to your past relationships. Identify behaviors and actions you can change to improve your future relationships.

Set Clear Boundaries

Work with your ex-partner to set boundaries and expectations for the next phase of your relationship. Setting clear boundaries prevents misunderstandings and conflict from arising. It helps you define roles in your relationship and treat each other with more kindness.

Move Forward With Your Life

The last step in conscious uncoupling is developing new relationships with friends and romantic interests. It involves learning how to co-parent your children while you or your ex-partner are involved in other relationships. It’s also about supporting the other person, and their goals as both grow into your new and separate lives.

Is Uncoupling Right for Me?

Anyone who wants to end their relationship with respect and the ability to maintain a positive, constructive relationship with their ex is a great candidate for conscious uncoupling. It’s not an easy process, but if you and your partner are committed to doing the work, you’ll be building a better future for yourself and your children. Uncoupling is a great way to have a more amicable divorce.

How Our Firm Can Help You Consciously Uncouple

Consciously uncoupling from your partner still requires you to file legal documents to dissolve your marriage or domestic partnership. You’ll still need to come to agreements about spousal support and the custody of your children.

Residents in New Jersey should consider a family law firm like Lyons & Associates, P.C. for their divorce or uncoupling needs. Our team of divorce lawyers can help you through a more amicable separation or divorce. Contact our law firm today for a consultation.

What Role Does Religion Play in Divorce?

Religion is an important factor for many couples seeking divorce. That is because although marriage has legal implications in New Jersey and across the nation, many popular religions also have their own set of guidelines for marriage and divorce.

If you are a person of faith and want to know how your divorce may impact your religion, this discussion may provide insight.

What is a Civil Divorce?

Divorce or the secular dissolution of marriage is the legal termination of the marital relationship. A civil divorce refers to the end of the marriage in the eyes of the law. When a couple divorces, they must resolve certain issues including the division of assets, alimony, child support, and child custody.

Although some couples opt to separate without getting formally divorced, it is important to complete the civil divorce process for a few reasons. A legal divorce severs the connection between spouses, ending their ability to make financial and medical decisions on each other’s behalf.

If those financial ties linger, you may be responsible for any debts your estranged spouse incurs. And you cannot remarry until you officially divorce your spouse. Even if you and your ex-spouse are living separate lives, you cannot truly move on legally, financially, and emotionally until you have that final divorce decree.

What is a Religious Divorce?

Most religions recognize the institution of marriage. Some also recognize divorce, although attitudes toward divorce tend to vary from faith to faith. Many couples going through a civil divorce have the added task of getting a religious divorce, particularly if they want to remarry in their own house of worship.

How Different Religions View Divorce

Although the process looks different from religion to religion, the following is a basic overview of the most commonly practiced faiths and how they view divorce.

Christianity and divorce. Christianity is the world’s leading religion, with more than 2.5 billion observers across the globe. That means an estimated one-third of the world’s population observes some form of Christianity, with the majority located in the United States.

Generally, Christianity views marriage as a life-long commitment between two people, and divorce is typically frowned on. However, Christianity encompasses several denominations, each with their own specific views on divorce.

Mormonism, for example, frowns on divorce but does allow couples to get a so-called cancellation of sealing to end the marriage within the church. Protestantism also permits divorce if the marriage is beyond repair, and they also support remarriage in the church.

Roman Catholicism is less lenient when it comes to religious divorce. Because Roman Catholics consider marriage one of the holy sacraments, divorce is considered a sin in the church. Marriage for Catholic couples ends only if one partner dies, or the couple gets an annulment.

Annulments. In contrast to a civil divorce that legally ends the marriage and declares the partners single, an annulment renders the marriage null and void, as if it never happened at all.

Annulment is not the same thing as divorce. With divorce, one or both spouses want out even though they acknowledge the union existed. With an annulment, one or both spouses believe the marriage is invalid and never should have happened in the first place.

There are two types of annulments: legal annulments and religious annulments. 

Legal annulments render a marriage invalid based on a variety of reasons that vary: 

  • One or both spouses was tricked into marriage.
  • One or both spouses were not of legal age to get married.
  • One or both spouses were already married at the time of the marriage; bigamy.
  • One or both spouses were not of sound mind to marry, owing to drugs, alcohol, or mental illness.
  • One or both spouses concealed a major issue such as a substance abuse problem or criminal past.

Regarding religious annulments, the Roman Catholic Church has certain procedures for couples to get an annulment. First, a civil court must declare the couple divorced before they can seek a religious annulment.

Next, at least one spouse must provide their baptismal certificates, civil marriage license, and other documents, along with a formal annulment petition explaining why the marriage should be invalid.  The other spouse must be notified but does not have to participate in the annulment process. Perhaps the most common reason couples seek an annulment is so they can remarry in the Catholic Church.

Hinduism and divorce. Hinduism is the world’s oldest religion, dating back more than 4,000 years. Today, an estimated 900 million people follow Hinduism, with the majority of followers living in India. As opposed to a single, organized religion, Hinduism is more of a way of life and a series of principles.

Hindus believe in the universal law of cause and effect, karma, and they strive to have good morals and values. Historically, divorce was forbidden in Hinduism and marriage was considered a sacred union, much like in Catholicism.

However, the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 allowed divorce in certain circumstances, including abandonment, cruelty, and infidelity. Still, divorce tends to be less common among Hindus, when compared with people of other faiths. 

Islam and divorce. With around 1.8 million followers, Islam is the second largest religion in the world behind Christianity.  The word Islam means “submission to the will of God,” and observers, Muslims, aim to live a life in complete submission to God, Allah.

Again, like other leading religions, Islam has several smaller groups, and each may have their own respective views of divorce. However, generally, divorce is permitted in Islam, but only as a last resort.

Couples seeking a divorce may be encouraged to visit a mosque to resolve their conflicts and possibly avoid divorce. In Islam, divorced men can remarry immediately, whereas women must wait for a certain period before they can wed again.

Judaism and divorce. Judaism is the world’s oldest monotheistic religion. It dates back nearly 4,000 years. Jewish people believe a single God established an agreement, or covenant, with them. God communicates through prophets, rewards good acts, and punishes evil.

Divorce is not encouraged in Judaism, but it is allowed. Orthodox Judaism is the strictest of the different sects. In Orthodox Judaism, only men are allowed to divorce their wives. And that divorce must take place in a rabbinical court before a written document, or a get, can be granted.

Without a get, some Orthodox Jewish women are unable to remarry under Jewish law or have future children who are considered religiously legitimate. However, Reform Judaism and other more liberal sects allow both spouses to seek divorce.

Will a Religious Divorce Impact a Civil Divorce?

The answer is yes. Divorce is more complex for couples who have a strong faith and are bound to the marriage guidelines of their religion.  For this reason, legal counsel prior to civil and religious marriage is always strongly advised.

To prevent undue stress, delays, or complications in the future, anyone getting married should meet with an experienced divorce lawyer to fully grasp the civil implications and religious factors involved if they decide to end their marriage.

The reality is that couples who get legally divorced may still be bound to each other because of the rules of their religion. It takes a capable lawyer knowledgeable in the views and guidelines of different religions to resolve these issues.

Although divorce is never the desired outcome, it is in your best interests to be practical and consider that worse-case scenario should you decide to divorce your spouse, especially if you want the option to remarry in your church, mosque, or synagogue.

Beyond these four widely practiced religions, people observe many other faiths. If you have specific questions about your own faith and divorce, contact a trusted religious divorce lawyer and an advisor or elder from your own religious community for guidance.

Morristown Religious Divorce Lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. Help Clients Dealing with Civil and Religious Divorce Matters

For many people, their religious faith is their foundation, their inspiration, and their moral compass.  But religious tenets do not always neatly align with civil laws, especially when it comes to divorce. The Morristown religious divorce lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. understand the complexities involved with religious divorce and can help you navigate these challenges in a way that honors your faith and upholds the law. Reconciling the two is not always easy, but it is necessary to give you resolution and peace of mind to start the next chapter of your life. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, call us at 908-575-9777 or contact us online. 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.

The Importance of a Valid and Enforceable Prenuptial Agreement: A Lesson from Kelly Clarkson’s Recent Divorce

By Marissa Del Mauro, Esq.

            Kelly Clarkson’s divorce made recent headlines, in which the Court confirmed she has been awarded the parties’ Montana ranch valued at over $10 million dollars. While this may seem like a stereotypical celebrity divorce battle, the important take away is that the Judge’s decision came down to the enforceability and validity of the parties’ prenuptial agreement.

            While we do not have the actual prenuptial agreement before us, articles state that the prenuptial agreement has clear definitions of what is deemed separate property, which includes but is not limited to the Montana ranch, and all income derived by Ms. Clarkson during the parties’ marriage. Separate property, when defined in prenuptial agreements, is not subject to equitable distribution between the parties upon the commencement of a divorce action and when the prenuptial agreement takes effect.

            Despite her ex-husband’s attempts to contest the terms of the prenuptial agreement as it pertains to the Montana property and any testimony he put forth regarding it, the Court relied upon the validity of the prenuptial agreement. 

            Looking at this situation through a lens of New Jersey law, N.J.S.A. 37:2-38 provides for the grounds under which a prenuptial agreement may be unenforceable. In applicable part, N.J.S.A. 37:2-38 provides as follows:

The burden of proof to set aside a premarital or pre-civil union agreement shall be upon the party alleging the agreement to be unenforceable. A premarital or pre-civil union agreement shall not be enforceable if the party seeking to set aside the agreement proves, by clear and convincing evidence, that:

a. The party executed the agreement involuntarily; or

                        . . .

c. The agreement was unconscionable when it was executed because that party, before execution of the agreement:

(1) Was not provided full and fair disclosure of the earnings, property and financial obligations of the other party;

(2) Did not voluntarily and expressly waive, in writing, any right to disclosure of the property or financial obligations of the other party beyond the disclosure provided;

(3) Did not have, or reasonably could not have had, an adequate knowledge of the property or financial obligations of the other party; or

(4) Did not consult with independent legal counsel and did not voluntarily and expressly waive, in writing, the opportunity to consult with independent legal counsel.

d. The issue of unconscionability of a premarital or pre-civil union agreement shall be determined by the court as a matter of law. An agreement shall not be deemed unconscionable unless the circumstances set out in subsection c. of this section are applicable.

It is important for every client seeking to obtain and/or enforce a valid prenuptial agreement to understand all requirements under New Jersey law.  For more information regarding established and experienced representation on preparing and enforcing prenuptial agreements in New Jersey contact Lyons & Associates, P.C. For a private consultation, contact us by e-mail or call our office at 908-575-9777.

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 is a No-Fault Divorce?

If you ask someone going through a divorce what their partner did wrong, most will have a laundry list of misdoings they can mention. But under no-fault divorce law, it is not necessary to prove your spouse did anything wrong to end the marriage.

Instead, you would cite irreconcilable differences, which is a fancy way of saying you just do not get along and there is no hope of getting back together. This discussion explores the benefits of a no-fault divorce, if you are eligible, and how to start the process in New Jersey.

Advantages and Disadvantages of No-Fault Divorce

Although some divorces are quite bitter and contentious, many are not. The reality is some couples just gradually grow apart or realize one day they are no longer compatible. In some cases, one partner wants out even if their spouse is still invested, even if they have not technically done anything harmful or malicious. These are some common scenarios in which a no-fault divorce makes sense. 

If you decide to end the marriage, there are some advantages to no-fault divorce:

No worries about fabricated evidence. You might be surprised just how many married partners lie or make up evidence about a spouse to make the divorce go in their favor. Without allegations of wrongdoing, neither spouse has to worry about defending themselves against fabricated evidence.

Shorter wait time for a hearing. Because a no-fault divorce comes with fewer motions, the process tends to move faster overall. There is no need to dispute allegations of fault, which saves time and money.

Smoother settlement negotiation. There is no need to disparage a spouse because fault does not matter. That means fewer legal actions and a smoother, shorter, and more peaceful path to settlement.

More privacy than fault divorce. The no-fault divorce option offers more privacy without details of infidelity and other issues being disclosed in open court.

Less stressful for the children. In a no-fault divorce, the children are less likely to hear the gritty details of their parents’ divorce and who did what to whom, which, it is hoped, makes an already difficult process a bit less difficult for them.

However, there is one disadvantage for which you should be aware if you are contemplating no-fault divorce. Going the no-fault route may prohibit you from mentioning things in court that can potentially influence child support and child custody matters in your favor. Not only can this change the outcome of your case, but also it leaves some spouses who have been victimized by their partner missing that sense of justice or closure.

Requirements for No-Fault Divorce in New Jersey

You can file for a no-fault divorce in New Jersey if you and your spouse meet the following requirements:

  • At least one spouse has lived in New Jersey for at least 12 consecutive months before filing.
  • You and your spouse have experienced irreconcilable differences for at least six months or more.
  • Those irreconcilable differences led to the breakdown of the marriage to the point at which it should end.
  • There is no reasonable chance for reconciliation.

Couples in New Jersey can also file for divorce on the grounds of separation, provided they have been living separate and apart for at least 18 months without the chance of reconciliation.

Does My Spouse Need to Agree to a No-Fault Divorce?

Laws on this issue vary from state to state. If you are getting divorced in new Jersey, you do not need your spouse’s consent to proceed. If one decides to file, the other has no say in the matter.

Once the legal papers are filed, the divorce has an official docket number and begins proceeding through the courts. If one spouse refuses to accept or respond to legal documents, the divorce will still happen, by means of a default judgment.

What is a Fault Divorce?

Although New Jersey allows no-fault divorce, it is not strictly a no-fault state. Couples divorcing in the state also have the option to divorce based on fault.

As mentioned above, there are cases in which one spouse is blatantly responsible for the end of the marriage, and this information is relevant to the case. These issues are especially important when children are involved and may be in danger while in the other parent’s company.

Grounds for Fault Divorce in New Jersey

In New Jersey, the grounds for fault divorce include:

  • Abandonment/desertion for at least 12 months
  • Adultery
  • Alcohol/drug abuse for at least 12 months
  • Deviant sexual conduct
  • Extreme mental or physical cruelty
  • Incarceration
  • Institutionalization

How Do I Know if Fault or No-Fault Divorce is Right for Me?

When deciding whether to file for fault or no-fault divorce, keep in mind it will not have any impact on how your property will be divided. However, it may play a role in alimony, for example, increasing spousal support for the person who has been deserted or cheated on. Dangerous behaviors will likely affect issues involving children, particularly visitation and custody.

If you decide to file for a fault divorce, it is your responsibility to present evidence and even witnesses to back up claims of abuse, cruelty, addiction, and other behaviors. Because every case is unique, it is always best to discuss your circumstances with a reputable divorce lawyer who can go over the benefits and drawbacks of both options.

How to File for No-Fault Divorce in New Jersey

If after discussing your options with your divorce lawyer, you have decided that no-fault divorce is the most sensible route for you and your family, the first step is to make sure you meet the basic requirements.

Check requirements. Have you, the petitioner, or your spouse, the respondent, lived in the state of New Jersey for at least 12 consecutive months prior to filing? Have you experienced irreconcilable differences for at least six months? Or have you lived apart for at least 18 months without any hope of reconciliation? You can proceed if you answered yes to these questions.

File the petition and other forms. The next step is filling out the proper paperwork, including a Petition-Marriage form and a Summons Form. Couples who have children will need to complete several additional forms. It is always a good idea to make several copies of each completed document and store them in a safe place.

Your divorce lawyer will walk you through the process, make sure everything is completed properly, and file them per state and local laws.

Serve your spouse and await a response. Next, you give your spouse a copy of all the paperwork and file a proof of service with the court showing you gave them a copy of the petition. This is where legal assistance is critical. If this step is not completed correctly, the judge will not move forward with the process.

Your spouse has a certain amount of time to respond and dispute allegations in a fault divorce or disagree with issues related to property, support, and custody, among others.

Negotiate a settlement. At this stage, both parties discuss the terms of the divorce, including how marital assets will be distributed, if and how much alimony is appropriate, and who will have custody of the children. Some couples can successfully work out these details through mediation.

Without grounds for fault, it is more likely that divorce negotiations can proceed fairly smoothly. Both spouses acknowledge that divorce is inevitable, and they are willing to help the process move along without costly and time-consuming legal maneuvers to stall the process.

For other couples, negotiations break down despite their best efforts. They must turn to the courts for assistance, and a divorce trial takes place. Finally, through mediation or litigation, a divorce settlement agreement is finalized.

Although this discussion provides a brief overview of the divorce process in New Jersey, in reality divorce is much more complex. No two divorces are alike. Therefore, what worked for your sister, or your friend, may not be the best path for you. To protect your interests and increase your chances of a favorable outcome, hire a seasoned divorce lawyer to manage your case.

Woodbridge Divorce Lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. are Committed to Achieving Positive Results for Their Clients

If you are considering divorce but do not know which type of divorce is right for you, the Woodbridge divorce lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. can lead the way. From your first consultation to the time your case is final, and after, you will notice our compassionate and confident approach to family law. We take the time to listen to your concerns, answer your questions, and work together to build a solid case from start to finish. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, call us at 908-575-9777 or contact us online. 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.

Should I Postpone My Divorce for My Children?

Although divorce rates are at a 50-year low for couples of all ages, one age group is bucking that trend. Divorce among couples with spouses ages 55 and older is on the rise, coming in with a divorce rate of around 43 percent.

For many couples going through so-called gray divorce, children are the motivation for waiting to end the marriage. Parents choose to stick out a bad marriage until their children reach adulthood, thinking they are protecting them from unnecessary pain and trauma.

But is it really a good idea to postpone divorce? Some experts say no. This discussion explores why it is not always best to delay the inevitable.

A Delayed Divorce Puts Years of Undue Stress on a Family

Parents who wait until their children are grown to end a marriage certainly have the best of intentions.

They want to protect the children from emotional trauma and keep their lives as stable as possible. Many parents want to keep their children from having to go back and forth between parents’ homes. For others, it comes from a desire to give their children the stable childhood they did not have themselves as a child.

However, although parents want to insulate their children, they may be subjecting them to years of added stress. Yes, divorce is stressful. But once it happens, parents and children can take time to process it and move past it. But when divorce is delayed, that unseen tension is ever-present. 

An unhappy marriage is like a heavy weight family members carry with them for years. Even if parents are married on paper, they may not be able to bury the feelings mistrust, resentment, or anger that emerges for many couples at the end of a relationship. That makes for a stressful environment and a very tense home life.

Conflict can be More Damaging than the Actual Divorce for Children

It may seem like a selfless decision to wait to divorce until children have graduated high school or college, or moved out of the house. However, it can have serious emotional and mental ramifications for the children.

Often, it is not the actual dissolution of the marriage that throws children for a loop. It is the years of conflict that lead up to the divorce that cause children lasting trauma. Children have an inherent desire to want their parents to be happy. They pick up on their sadness, tension, and resentment. They may sense that divorce is inevitable and feel anxious wondering when it will happen.

In 2002, researchers at UCLA reviewed 47 different studies analyzing the link between unstable family environments in childhood and problems in adulthood. They determined that children who grew up in homes where there was a lot of conflict had more social, health, and emotional issues later in life compared with other kids. They were more likely to abuse substances, suffer from depression and loneliness, have trouble connecting to others, and experience immune and vascular problems as well.

Children See a Skewed Version of Marriage

Parents who grin and bear it for the benefit of the children should consider what they are teaching their children about love, relationships, and marriage, without even saying a word.

Children who are not exposed to a healthy, mature model of marriage are more likely to repeat that pattern and end up in unfulfilling romantic relationships as adults. They do not learn that love is about focusing on each other and helping their partner feel safe, secure, and supported. Instead, they may get the message that love means keeping secrets, sacrificing one’s own happiness for the sake of others, or tolerating harmful or abusive behavior from a partner.

A parent who chooses to end an unhappy marriage shows their children that you do not have to settle for an unfulfilling relationship. They model courage in the face of adversity, and the self-esteem to choose happiness in challenging times.  

Parents Should Know Children are Incredibly Resilient

Parents tend to dread their child’s reaction to divorce, so they prolong the marriage, only to discover the child handles it better than expected. Many youngsters look at the bright side. Now they have two celebrations for each holiday!

Tension in the home is like a ticking time bomb that can impact every family member for years to come. Children living with parents who do not get along or constantly bicker may look for opportunities to be out of the house, spending time at their friends’ homes instead. Many even want their parents to divorce just so the fighting will stop. 

Parents often assume children will take divorce much harder than they actually do. And although youngsters can be quite resilient, it is important for parents and extended family to guide and support them through every step of the process.

Tips to Help Children Deal with Divorce

The way children process divorce depends a lot on how their parents separate. Here are some practical tips for helping children navigate divorce.

  • Keep your routine. Divorce involves a lot of change. One way to ease the transition from one household to two is to stick to a consistent daily routine. Try to keep bedtimes, chores, and ground rules the same with both parents. This shows children you and your ex-spouse are on the same page when it comes to parenting and gives them a sense of security.
  • Avoid criticizing your ex-spouse. It is true you are getting a divorce for a reason. However, right now, while your children are young, they do not need to know the gritty details of what went wrong. Children have their own relationship with each parent, and taking on your anger and resentment about their other parent will only cloud their own feelings about your ex-spouse. Give your children the space and freedom to love each parent on their own terms.
  • Never fight in front of the children. Some couples are fortunate enough to divorce relatively amicably and uneventfully. But unfortunately, that is not the case for all. Other divorces just get downright ugly. But it is very important to protect children from the fallout of a high-conflict divorce. Heated verbal or physical battles are traumatic for children. Avoid fighting in front of your children at all costs.
  • Encourage the children to share their feelings. It takes incredible courage and strength to go through a divorce while helping your children through it at the same time. Often children shut down and hold in their emotions because they do not want to add to their parent’s emotional burden. Check in with your children often and encourage them to talk about what they are feeling.  Reassure youngsters that whatever they are feeling is normal and they have always your unconditional love and support.
  • Consider counseling. Family counseling is a great tool to support children during divorce. It offers kids a safe, neutral environment where they can share their cares without judgement, release anger, and learn coping skills to help manage the feelings that come with divorce. Visit the online database at Psychology Today to find a therapist in your area specializing in family counseling and divorce.

Whether you choose to do it now or wait for the children to leave the nest, divorce is never easy. Parents delaying the inevitable should consider whether it is worth living in limbo and postponing their own happiness for the sake of the children.

A childhood spent in an unhappy home can often have greater long-term effects on a child’s emotional and mental health than the actual divorce. Before making any decisions, it is always a good idea to discuss your situation with a trained counselor and a trusted divorce lawyer who can explain your options and help you make informed choices about your future.

North Jersey Divorce Lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. Help Clients Navigate Divorce with Children

It can be difficult to end a marriage when children are involved. That is why the North Jersey divorce lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. handle every case with the utmost care and compassion. We are sensitive to the needs of your family and always advocate for your child’s best interests above all. To learn more about our understanding approach to divorce, or to schedule a free consultation, call us at 908-575-9777 or contact us online. 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.