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Lafayette Family Law Blog

If you may lose your marital home due to divorce

It may indeed be true that home is where the heart is. Perhaps your heart resides squarely in the home that you and your spouse have resided in over the course of your marriage. If financial necessity, procedural necessity or a fundamental disagreement as to which spouse should remain in the house after your divorce is threatening your ability to reside in that home, you may understandably feel frightened, frustrated or even devastated.

We frequently write about the importance of processing any negative emotions or grief that you may be struggling with during divorce. By processing your emotions and grief in healthy ways, you will place yourself in the best position possible to obtain a fair divorce settlement and to move positively into your future. This same logic applies to the grief process associated with losing a marital home or fear of losing a marital home.

What kids and teens want co-parents to understand

Not so long ago, there was a cultural norm that insisted children should be seen and not heard. Thankfully, American culture has generally moved past this outdated approach to raising children. However, simply because children and teens are often encouraged to speak up and to express themselves does not mean that adults always understand what children and teens are feeling. As young people are still developing emotionally, it is not always easy for them to express deep, complicated feelings and thoughts.

When children and teens are told that their parents have decided to divorce, they tend to feel emotions which are complex and vulnerable. Sometimes their feelings seem to contradict each other and sometimes their feelings may even frighten them. As a result, it is important for co-parents to understand where their children are likely coming from as kids may not always be able to express themselves articulately on their own.

Examining some of the risk factors for divorce

When the difficult decision to divorce is made, there is a very good chance that both spouses will spend some time pondering how it was that they came to join the ranks of the 50 percent of U.S. couples whose marriages ultimately break up.

While such exercises are often futile given that there is typically no single reason for a couple's divorce and even counterproductive as it can create more emotional difficulty, the fact remains that researchers have identified certain risk factors.

Avoiding divorce 'frenemies'

Sometimes it is best to avoid interacting with certain friends, loved ones and acquaintances during particularly sensitive times. Even individuals who care about you very much may do more harm in a particular situation than good. For example, if you have a severe migraine headache and cannot handle loud noises, it is probably not a good idea to invite over your sister-in-law who laughs more loudly than a fog horn blare blasts.

Similarly, it is best to avoid certain friends, loved ones and influences during your most vulnerable moments in the wake of your divorce. Leaning on these people and influences during peak moments of vulnerability can compromise your divorce settlement, imperil your child custody case or negatively affect your ability to move forward in healthy ways.

Navigating the immediate emotional aftermath of your divorce

If you and your spouse have decided to divorce, that decision is likely to impact your life in various ways for years to come. However, it is also likely that your divorce will impact your life most significantly during the divorce process itself and in the immediate aftermath of the process. We have previously written about how important it is to take care of yourself physically and emotionally during the divorce process. However, you may understandably be wondering how you can possibly devote energy to self-care when your emotions are so conflicted and depleted at this point in your life.

You may find yourself angry one moment, grief-stricken at another and hopeful the next. Your sense of hope may be mingled with fear and regret. It is completely normal to feel a host of conflicting emotions at this time. It is also normal to feel so raw and emotionally depleted that you have a difficult time moving forward. This is where a strong support system, self-care and introspection come into play.

Learning from your parents' divorce before you divorce

If your parents divorced when you were a child and you are considering divorcing your spouse, you are likely concerned that your children will be affected by your divorce in the same ways that you were affected by your parents’ divorce. Thankfully, you have the power to change the way that divorce progresses and is processed in your family.

Not so long ago, most divorces involved one parent, usually a father, leaving behind a spouse and children. Occasional visits and some child support checks would follow, but the family dynamic would be forever changed in truly significant ways. Nowadays, many couples choose to co-parent their children in the wake of divorce. Allowing children significant access to both parents may give your children a chance to grow up in a broader and more stable family situation than you may have had.

Worried about your child post-divorce? Consider this - Part II

In our last post, we began a discussion about addressing your child’s emotional aches and pains during divorce and in the aftermath of the divorce process. You know your child best. And as a result, you likely know his or her limits better than anyone. But even parents can become stumped occasionally by the challenges of divorce-related angst.

If you are doing your absolute best to advance your child’s best interests, do not fret too terribly. Chances are that the major shift in your family’s dynamic is affecting your child in ways that will be resolved as time moves forward. There are things that you can do to aid your child during this period of time. Although if these tips and tricks do not seem to be resolving your child’s challenges effectively enough for you, please do not hesitate to speak to your pediatrician and your attorney about your child custody situation.

Worried about your child post-divorce? Consider this - Part I

As his or her parent, you almost certainly know your child better than anyone else does. This knowledge can be comforting but it can also be frustrating. When your child is hurting emotionally and you are unsure of how to help him or her, the idea that you know your child best and are still struggling with how to approach this emotional ache can be disconcerting. However, it is important to remember that even though you know your child well and care for him or her tremendously, you do not need to have all the answers at all times.

As you navigate the process of your divorce, you do not need to know all the answers. You “simply” need to advocate for your child’s best interests, do your best to foster these interests and do your best to figure out the answers to tough questions when tough questions arise. If your child is acting out or seems to be internalizing divorce-related stress, you may benefit from speaking with your pediatrician. You may also benefit from consulting numerous books on this subject that can be found at your local bookstore or library.

Are you divorcing an emotionally abusive spouse?

Emotional abuse is a phenomenon that is not always easy to identify. It may be particularly difficult for an individual involved in a romantic relationship with someone who is emotionally abusive to identify this reality. Although this may seem counterintuitive, emotional abuse is not an issue that is widely discussed in popular culture, so many individuals are not readily given the tools to identify this kind of abuse properly. And given that emotionally abusive partners tend to make victims feel that the treatment they receive is their fault, it becomes harder to identify the abuser as abusive.

It is important to identify whether the individual you are divorcing is an emotionally abusive individual. If you remain in the dark about this information, you may leave yourself vulnerable to manipulations that will affect your divorce settlement, your child custody dispute and your future wellbeing. If you have concerns that your spouse may be emotionally abusive, do not hesitate to seek out the opinion of a mental health professional. In preparation for an appointment with a professional, you may want to keep the following red flags in mind.

Should your child testify in your custody dispute?

If you and your child’s other parent disagree about where and with whom your child should live, you may find that you need to litigate your custody dispute. Many parents are able to negotiate the terms of a child custody agreement with the aid of their attorneys and perhaps a mediator. However, other parents disagree so fundamentally that negotiation and mediation are not viable approaches for their situation. In these cases, it may be necessary to go to court.

While litigating a child custody dispute, you may or may not have concerns about your child being asked to testify. On the one hand, you may feel strongly that your child’s opinion should be both heard and weighed by the court. On the other hand, you may be concerned that testifying will place your child in a position that compels him or her to “choose” between you and your former romantic partner. This can be a terrible spot to place a child or a teen in, so your concerns are certainly warranted.

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