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The Science of Fatherhood

Parents in general play a major role in a child’s development, but recent studies and reviews show that a father’s participation has a major impact on a child’s behavior; specifically their self-esteem and overall psychological adjustment within society.

shutterstock 209165650 300x214 The Science of Fatherhood

Despite decades of assumptions to the contrary, a father’s role can be incredibly influential in their child’s development.  In fact, a review of 24 of the best studies of father involvement performed by

Researchers at Uppsala University presented some very persuasive findings. They found that there were a multitude of social and psychological benefits resulting from a father’s engagement with his children. Those children who had fathers that played with them, read to them, and interacted frequently with them had fewer behavioral problems in their early education along with less delinquency and criminal behavior as adolescents. In addition, among the prematurely born, children whose fathers cared for them had higher IQs.

Studies also show that fathers may play a significant role in their children’s ability to persevere. According to a study performed at Brigham Young University, researchers found that fathers who exhibit above-average levels of authoritative parenting tend to rear children that are much more likely to be persistent. This manner of authoritative parenting is characterized by a warm, loving demeanor with strict adherence to the rules backed by appropriate support and freedom. As a result, the child’s increase in persistence leads to better school engagement and less delinquency.

There have been a great many studies conducted that focus on the benefit of a father’s involvement in the rearing of their children, resulting in a large amount of literature on the subject. In a compilation of research evidence on the effects of father involvement, researchers at the University of Guelph, Ontario found the following supporting evidence for children of involved fathers:

  • They are higher academic achievers.

  • They are more competent problem solvers.

  • They are more adaptive and resourceful.

  • They are more playful and skillful.

  • They have a higher level of self-acceptance in addition to personal and social adjustment.

  • They are more attentive when presented a problem.

  • They are likely to score higher on standardized tests.

  • They are more likely to enjoy and engage in school and extracurricular activities.

  • They are more likely to have higher levels of economic and educational achievement.

  • They experience higher levels of life satisfaction.

  • They are more stress and crisis tolerant, and exhibit better self-control.

  • As young adults they are more likely to exhibit higher self-acceptance.

  • They have more positive peer relations and greater popularity.

  • They are more likely to have positive interactions with their siblings.

  • They are more likely to exhibit tolerant and empathetic behavior.

  • They are more likely to be morally mature.

In contrast, children without engaged and invested fathers experience fewer of these benefits, leading to more antisocial and delinquent behavior, less empathy, lower life satisfaction, decreased perseverance, lower academic achievement, and a greater chance of depression and substance abuse, to name a few.  

Enough data has been gathered to make the compelling argument that society and the government at large should begin to place an increased emphasis on the positive impact that a father’s presence has in the successful rearing of a child. It is clearly evident that father engagement has a significant impact on a child’s cognitive development as well as their social and emotional well-being.

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The Best Books about Being a Dad

Being a parent is perhaps one of the most difficult and rewarding challenges a person will ever face. After all, as a parent you become responsible for the safety, development, and happiness of another person. So where can you turn when you need some extra guidance? Parenting books could be the answer.

shutterstock 301187570 300x200 The Best Books about Being a Dad

More fathers than ever have begun to write books about the parental journey, opening up a new range of insight for dads looking for guidance. Whether you’re searching for a book written to help you make the transition from man to father, or looking for a piece that will help you to better understand your role and your children’s behaviors, the following list should help.

Books for New Dads

Becoming a father means accepting a new role in your life that you may feel completely unprepared for – even if you’re the world’s most excited father-to-be.

1. The Expectant Father: Facts, Tips and Advice for Dads-to-be (Armin A. Brott and Jenifer Ash)

Written for the modern father, this guide to everything “Dad” provides a wealth of information designed to prepare you for pregnancy, caring for a baby, and managing those first crucial years of parenthood. It even offers a number of tips for men considering life as a stay-at-home dad. Similar to any “what-to-expect” set of tips, the book includes a number of ways in which fathers can support their partners during parenthood. However, it also helps father’s discover their own role in a strange new world.

2. Be Prepared: A Practical Handbook for New Dads (Gary Greenberg and Jeannie Hayden)

Supplementing your education on the route to becoming a father doesn’t have to be all work and no play. There are plenty of fatherhood books out there that approach the issue from a more humorous angle. For instance “Be Prepared” covers everything from how to make your baby laugh, to how to choose a new stroller. Packed with charming illustrations, this step-by-step guide also teaches dads how to baby proof the house, and change an emergency diaper at a sports game.

Books for Dads with Toddlers

Once the baby years are over, dads may need help on dealing with a whole new range of behaviors and concepts. During the toddler years, children are much more mobile, and they’re capable of causing more trouble. At the same time, they’re learning to speak, bond, and discover more about the world around them.

1. Dads, Toddlers, and the Chicken Dance (Peter Downey)

A helpful and humorous book designed to describe the realities of raising a toddler, Downey’s book is an informative, and refreshingly hilarious option for fathers who want the tips, without the serious edge. This book offers everything from information about speech development, to common illnesses, nutrition, and toilet-training. However, it may not appeal to the more sensitive readers out there.

2. Crouching Father, Hidden Toddler: A Zen Guide for New Dads (C.W. Nevius)

A book all about helping fathers discover the patience required to raise an excitable toddler, Crouching Father offers an array of short essays that cover common worries from a humorous angle, such as “What is the sound of one child napping”.

Books for Dads with School-Age Children

The elementary age, pre-teen, and teenage years provide a new selection of worries and anxieties to deal with. Not only are fathers responsible for teaching kids necessary skills and, keeping them away from bad habits, but they also have the task of instilling them with important values.

1. But I’m Almost 13! : Raising a Responsible Adolescent (Kenneth R. Ginsburg and Martha M. Jablow)

Don’t be fooled by the light-hearted title, this book is full of tips and tricks to help keep your growing child away from the risks of youth, from emotional problems like depression and anxiety, to reckless behavior like drug use and the results peer pressure. It provides advice on nourishing your child’s independence, while making them aware of the problems and consequences they could face.

2. Yes, Your Teen is Crazy: Loving Your Kid without Losing Your Mind (Michael J. Bradley)

Written by a psychologist drawing on research into the teenage brain, this book argues that the average teenager is basically insane, showing plenty of dysfunctional, unstable, and unpredictable behavior. Fortunately, the book also delivers plenty of information on how to encourage and guide your children through these difficult years as a father, and a friend.

Books for Dads with Kids Who’ve Left the Nest

It’s not just mothers that suffer from empty nest syndrome – but fathers too. The following books help dads overcome the emotional issues that can set in after a child vacates the family household.

1. The Empty Nest: How to Survive and Stay Close to Your Adult Child (Celia Dodd)

Written from an optimistic and realistic point of view, this book covers all of the issues a father might experience when living in a child-free home. It reminds readers that children continue to need their parents after they leave the nest, just as parents continue to need the love of their children.

2. Fun without Dick and Jane (Christie Mellor)

Dedicated to parents with a sense of humor, this light-hearted book offers creative insight into how to rediscover yourself as an individual after your children leave home. It could be the perfect solution for the father whose identity has become all about his kids.

What are some of your favorite books about being a dad? Share with us in the comments!

 

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When Your Child is a Picky Eater

Many single parents struggle with children that are picky eaters. This can happen to many kids, even those who started out with an adventurous outlook toward food. It’s a good idea to think about various strategies and mindsets to avoid dinner time becoming a battle for both parent and child.

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Children can become picky eaters young; usually between the ages of 2 and 6. According to research, this sometimes has less to do with the actual food and more to do with their budding sense of independence. As children learn and grow, they want to be able to be their own people. This can be a struggle for some parents, as they may be worried their children are not getting the nutrition they should have. During these mealtime struggles, it is important to remember that as the parent, your goal is to encourage healthy eating habits for a lifetime instead of just at one dinner. This means that it is better to avoid punishment or arguments that can that can cause a child to associate mealtime with stress, anxiety, and power struggles.

Encouraging Healthy Attitudes Towards Food

To encourage healthy attitudes toward food, there are a number of ideas to remember as you help your child develop. Since independence can be a large factor in food preferences, involving children in food preparation (within safe limits, of course) can make them feel as if they are choosing the meal instead of the choice being made for them. When you are grocery shopping, you can try taking your children around the produce section to find fruits and vegetables they think are interesting. Having meals with a “serve yourself” component, such as toppings for tacos, can also create a great sense of self-sufficiency.

Introducing New Foods

Keep in mind it can take multiple tries for a child to fully accept a new food—in some cases, a dozen or more tries is normal. This process can feel frustrating, but sticking with it can give you surprising results. Some people recommend a rule of trying at least two or three bites of a food. This has helped a lot of people, but pushing for more than a few bites can lead to pressuring and arguments. Pairing a new food with food your child likes also helps to make the new food seem less strange and more likeable.

When you are introducing a food to your child, consider presenting it in different ways. Sometimes, children respond to new stimuli and interesting displays. For example, roasted vegetables can be sweeter than raw vegetables, while raw foods can be more colorful than boiled foods. Adding certain seasonings and dressings can make the food more interesting to your child. Additionally, some children may react more to texture or temperature more than others, which can change how they feel about certain foods. Consider asking your child about how he or she experiences food — instead of just asking about taste, ask about smell or how food looks.

Setting the Mood

It’s also a good idea to make the experience of eating fun and enjoyable. Turning off distractions, such as televisions and toys, helps to create a calming environment. Getting creative with presentation, such as cutting food into shapes or naming it after the child can make the food more appealing. Spending mealtime talking about fun events also creates an enjoyable mood.  Consider using enthusiasm to introduce new foods

It’s also a good idea to remember that time may be an influence on how meals feel. Depending on the child’s age, sitting for ten or fifteen minutes can be difficult. Eating too late can make children cranky and less open to trying new things. Having a routine with food throughout the day, in terms of times and amount of food, can help meals seem less chaotic.

You might also benefit from considering your own approach to food in trying to get your children to eat. Trying to bribe children with treats if they eat certain foods sends a message that there is more to foods than nourishment, setting the stage for unhealthy eating later. If your children see you eating a food, they’ll probably want to try it as well. It is also important to remember that children do not need as much food as adults do, so a child who is not eating may not be hungry at all.

Many families find mealtimes a struggle. However, this doesn’t always have to be the case. Considering your children’s feelings and needs can go a long way toward a happier time for everyone during meals while teaching your children habits that will last a lifetime.

Have you dealt with a picky eater, or been one yourself? How have you addressed eating woes?

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How to Create Happy Holidays for your Kids Despite the Divorce

Celebrating the holidays can be tricky for families going through a divorce. Some parents try to overcompensate with elaborate gifts and big parties. Others try to keep everything as normal seeming as possible, as if nothing has changed. Therapists tell us both strategies can miss the mark. Use these tips to keep the holidays as happy as possible for children, even when you’re divorcing.

shutterstock 136081736 300x200 How to Create Happy Holidays for your Kids Despite the Divorce

1. Be Aware of Limited Emotional Energy

If this is the first holiday after the divorce, know that the inescapable emotional turmoil will deplete your energy. You may not be able to take your children to the same amount of holiday events or put on the huge feast you did in prior years. Give yourself permission to have a mellower, limited Christmas this year. Most likely, you’ve attended or even put on large celebrations in previous years and at least “put in an appearance” at various parties. You WILL be part of these again. A small, low-key Christmas can be precious in its own way. Share these thoughts about doing less with children, demonstrating that while circumstances are different, they are still good.

2. Do Not Overcompensate by Over-Spending

The best present you can give to your child is an unstressed, present, involved parent; not a hoverboard or mini-drone. Over-spending quickly leads to anxiety, which can lead to overwork, and bad mood. As Abigail Van Buren (Dear Abby) once said, “If you want to raise great kids, double the time you spend with them and cut the material stuff in half.”

Experiences do more for children long term than material goods. Cornell researcher Dr. Thomas Gilovich explains that, “We buy things to make us happy, and we succeed. But only for a while. New things are exciting to us at first, but then we adapt to them.” Further, our satisfaction with purchased items goes down where satisfaction with experiences rises, according to Dr. Gilovich.

Creating unique experiences with your children doesn’t have to cost a lot. The Center for a New American Dream is a non-profit organization that advocates the creation of a new American ethic, one that emphasizes relationships, community and sustainability over material pursuits, ever-larger homes and fancier cars. It has created a free download called Simplify the Holidays. Rather than taking away the fun of the holidays, it encourages families to create non-materialistic themes for their celebrations, possibly a celebration of nature, a search for new family activities or a creation of new rituals. These strategies don’t overwhelm family time or credit cards. In 17 pages it provides suggestions for handmade gift parties, low waste wrapping, simple gifts for grandparents, changing gift-giving traditions and ideas for connecting with children.

3. Solidify Holiday Plans Early

Work cooperatively with your ex-spouse to determine where the children will be on important dates like the first day of Hannukah, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve. This strategy supports every divorced parent’s goal of providing stability in the home and well as routines the children can rely on. Younger children shouldn’t be relied on to help with plans or carry planning messages between parents. Consider allowing adolescents to chime in on plans, but keep final decisions with adults. All minors need to know parents are ultimately in charge. Younger children separated from one parent on the holidays will appreciate positive phone calls, stories recorded by the other parent, Skype sessions and gifts from the other parent.

4. Consider Some Old and Some New Traditions

Keeping old traditions you shared during your marriage provides reassuring consistency. It also indicates that the previous family structure had many positives. Both messages improve self-esteem and familiarity during the season.

This said, it can be fun to introduce new traditions as well. The Simplify the Holidays booklet from the Center for a New American Dream mentioned above lists several.

5. Prepare for Sadness

Both you and your children may experience some sadness over the holiday. Know that experiencing a rush of feelings for a few minutes or some tears at the table doesn’t ruin the entire holiday. This could be a transitional holiday where you are letting some things go. No matter the circumstances, the change in family structure most likely amounts to a loss on some level both for children and adolescents. If a child expresses some emotion, validate their feelings, even if you don’t agree, by saying, “I see you’re feeling angry” or “you’re really sad right now.”  Even, “you’re really mad at me right now; aren’t you?” If the child needs to collect themselves in another room, resist feeling insulted or embarrassed in front of any guests. Most should understand.

Divorce During the Holidays

Ultimately, divorcing parents have a responsibility to model stability, positivity and maturity during a divorce. The holidays can have tough moments for adults and children alike, but they’re also an opportunity to connect with children and build new traditions.  

Read our past blog posts and testimonials about our work  to witness our dedication to helping fathers through every aspect of child custody and divorce. Our complimentary consultation can clear up your most pressing questions and concerns. Call us at 1-800-4-LAW-HELP to speak with a dedicated attorney today.

 

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The Impact of Parental Alienation

While divorce itself is devastating, the manner in which parents behave afterwards can have more intense, long-term impact upon children than the split. When one parent criticizes the other and keeps the child away from the other parent, he or she is said to be “alienating” that child’s affections from that parent.

shutterstock 90897806 300x200 The Impact of Parental Alienation

For the sake of your children’s long-term emotional health and relationships, do not sit quietly while your ex degrades your relationship with your children. Multiple research studies  of parental alienation indicate that upon becoming adults, children who’ve not had the benefit of both parents in their lives suffer greatly. Every child has an innate desire to love and be loved by two parents. They should be entitled to this opportunity. In addition to the lack of presence of one parent, children, no matter how much they seem to side with the targeting parent, suffer emotional distress upon hearing criticisms.

Consequences of Parental Alienation

Adult children who eventually recognize they’ve been the victim of one parent’s indoctrination wind up suffering severely. Researchers have documented that these adult children suffer far higher and more intense incidences of:

  • low self-esteem

  • lack of trust

  • unstable relationships

  • substance abuse

  • depression

  • inability to give and accept love from any parent or partner

  • severe guilt stemming from what they perceive as their betrayal of the alienated parent

  • becoming alienated from their own children

Today, researchers view these often life-long effects as severe. Indeed, the lack of self-awareness and the emotional issues at work that allow one parent to cause this level of damage indicate that the parent is narcissistic enough to engage in additional physical, sexual and emotional abuse. Do not regard parental alienation as a sad but expected consequence of divorce. You must fight it.

Fighting Parental Alienation in the Courts

The courts consider some parents that engage in this behavior as “Hostile, Aggressive Parent” or “targeting parent” and those that are the target are the “targeted parent” as well as a victim of “parental alienation.”

The good news is that the courts have seen these behaviors for decades and do not allow perpetrators to use with them to win custody, alimony, child support, or the affections of the children. When the targeted parent brings this up in the court, judges recognize behaviors and insist on testing.

The “hostile aggressive parent,” known to the courts as the HAP, tends to:

  • Constantly demean and disparage the targeted parent

  • Blames him/her for diminished financial circumstances

  • Coaches the children with statements to make to court officials and child protective services

  • Refuses to provide medical or school records to the targeted parent

  • Insists on rigid visitation rules when targeted parent has a special event that falls outside the days stipulated

  • Implies that having fun at targeted parent’s home is a betrayal

  • Gives permission to refrain from visiting the targeted parent despite court mandated visitations

 

Children involved in a situation where parental alienation is going on often:

  • Provide details of the divorce in verbiage beyond their years

  • Demonstrate a sudden resistance to spending time with the “targeted” or alienated parent

  • Become incredibly rude to the targeted parent

  • Act either frightened of, angry at or cold to the targeted parent

  • Resist visiting targeted parent during scheduled times

Father’s Rights Law Center Arms You to Fight Parental Alienation

The experienced attorneys at the Fathers’ Rights Law Center have seen hundreds of cases of parental alienation. When we present them to the courts, we make sure to have rigorous documentation. Our testimonials from clients who’ve won these cases reveal how hard we fight to ensure the long-term well-being of children. Our complimentary consultation can help you find clarity on whether your ex may be actively alienating your children’s affections from you. Call us at 1-800-4-LAW-HELP to speak with a dedicated attorney today!

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Simple Recipes for Healthy, Tasty School Night Dinners

As rewarding and amazing as children can be, we all know how stressful it can be to combine work and school routines, with healthy food and good nutrition. When you’re dealing with a deadline at work, encouraging your kids to get ready for after-school activities, juggling house chores and helping with homework all at the same time, a proper meal often takes a back seat in favor of quick and easy junk food. However, as impossible as it might seem, putting together a nutritious and delicious meal for the entire family may not be as difficult or time-consuming as you think.

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In fact, there are plenty of recipes out there packed with the vitamins and minerals you need to nourish your child’s growing mind and body, and many of them take less than thirty minutes to prepare! These quick and simple weeknight meals are brimming with kid-friendly ingredients. What’s more, each option should help you get dinner on the table fast, for happy stomachs all around.

  1. Pizza Quesadillas

Try to find a kid that doesn’t love the idea of pizza for dinner, and you’re likely to come up short. No matter how fussy your children may be, these quick and simple pizza meals with a Mexican twist are bound to be a family favorite in no time. This is an ideal way to sneak a variety of colorful vegetables into your kids’ diets too, so long as you’re prepared to combine peppers and spinach with plenty of golden cheese. Another great thing about this meal option is that you can allow your kids to personalize their food by adding their own preferred ingredients. For example, chunky mushrooms will pack in a dose of bladder-healthy selenium and body-boosting vitamin D. Prep included, this pizza quesadilla recipe takes around sixteen minutes to get from fridge to table.

  1. Vegetable and Pancetta Risotto

For many busy dads, the idea of risotto seems like a culinary experimentation far beyond the boundaries of their kitchen skills. However, baked risotto could be the perfect way to take the complication out of the meal and still offer a dinner solution that’s bursting with vitamin-packed vegetables and delicious flavor. This baked risotto recipe with asparagus, peas, and pancetta delivers four to six servings, and can be prepared last-minute, or in advance depending on what your schedule allows. Once again, don’t be afraid to add your own twists to the meal if you think of something your children might enjoy.

  1. Grilled Cheese With a Twist

If you’re looking for a light and easy recipe that makes use of delicious comfort foods and can give your children a boost of energy before they head off to after-school classes and clubs, a simple grilled cheese could be the ideal option. This pepperoni, spinach, and mozzarella option combines the traditional treat with Italian elements for that much-loved pizza flavor. Not only is this a great way for you to sneak some spinach – full of vitamin K, C, E, iron, and magnesium, into your kids’ diets, but it can also be ready in fifteen minutes or less.

  1. Simple Chicken Scaloppini

A meal packed with protein and flavor, this chicken scaloppini recipe can be on your table in less than thirty minutes. Not only is it fast, easy, and filled with flavor, but it can also be the ideal option for dads on a budget, as all of the ingredients that you need are relatively low-cost. The delicious roast chicken is a great source of low-fat protein, and a bed of seasonal greens and spinach will help boost the nutritional value, with everything from calcium, to zinc, and dietary fiber.

  1. Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry

A delicious meal for the whole family, this quick and flavorful dish takes around twenty five minutes to cook and serve. A beef and broccoli stir fry is a great way to introduce your kids to some new and more exotic flavors, while keeping their bodies healthy using a selection of delicious greens and ripe vegetables. Not only will the broccoli help to boost your childrens’ immune systems, but a helping of lean beef can also be a great source of vitamins B6 and B12.

  1. Nachos Supreme

Finally, this delicious meal is super-easy to assemble in a flash, and can be a great opportunity to let your kids help you in the kitchen with some of their customization skills. Use this recipe featuring sweet chili rice crisps, or use your existing favorites and smother them with delicious toppings and vegetables. For example, chop up some raw peppers for a touch of extra color, or add some ground turkey for a rich source of protein. Add a handful of lettuce, and this meal can be good to go in less than ten minutes.

Conclusion

Throwing healthy meals together after school doesn’t have to be impossible, so long as you have the right ingredients on hand. Share some of your favorite quick and simple meal recipes with us in the comments below!

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There are 5 Types of Divorce in California. Which is Best for You?

Now that you’ve made the difficult decision to divorce, your next move is to review the types of divorce that will best ensure long-term emotional and financial well-being for yourself and your children.

917 4013302 300x200 There are 5 Types of Divorce in California. Which is Best for You?

There is no one best way to divorce. The decision depends upon the specific circumstances and personalities involved. Clarifying your primary goals is the first step in determining which divorce type will work best for you. First and foremost, do you want:

  • To remain in the family home?

  • Majority custody?

  • To protect a family inheritance you received during the marriage?

  • To remain a stay-at-home parent for a few years?

  • To have the option to move out of state?

  • To protect your retirement, pension or social security?

  • To receive or avoid paying alimony?

If you haven’t filed or if your spouse hasn’t responded, you may not even know what kind of divorce you’ll end up with. Clients are often surprised by their ex-partner’s decisions once papers are served. Knowing the difference between the types of California divorces helps keep you balanced when you are blind-sided by unexpected actions. No matter how amicable you expect the divorce to be, obtaining legal counsel before papers are served helps prepare you to achieve your goals.

Uncontested vs. Contested Divorce

The uncontested divorce proceeds much more quickly and smoothly than the contested divorce. The two parties can carry out an uncontested divorce when the parties agree on terms they set forth together. Carrying out an uncontested divorce is much simpler when neither joint property nor children are involved.

Divorce begins when the petitioner files a formal petition at the courthouse. A process server serves the paperwork to the respondent. If the respondent answers within 30 days with terms that diverge from those set forth in the first petition, the case is contested. If the defendant does not answer, the divorce is uncontested.

In the no-fault, uncontested divorce (the simplest of divorces) two parties agree on division of assets, child custody and alimony. Those without children or significant assets involved can divorce with little attorney intervention. The action can be completed by going to family court and filing papers.

Mediated Divorce

When former partners cannot agree but aren’t too far apart, a trained mediator can help. This professional does not make any decisions regarding custody, assets or alimony. Instead, he or she keeps the discussion progressing so that the two parties can agree.

Research shows that divorce settlements created using a mediator have a far lower incidence of being contested years later.  That the spouses hammered out the agreements themselves helps them feel confident about the decisions long term. When all items are agreed upon and documents finalized, either party or an attorney can submit the divorce judgment, marriage settlement and custody agreement to the court.

Mediation can save significant money and emotional turmoil. Once the divorce is final, parties escape the painful past and blame game and move on to build new lives. This said, however, the mediator strives for speedy resolution of the disagreements, not your individual rights. Only an attorney will fight for your specific goals.

Collaborative Divorce

Slightly more involved and potentially more adversarial than the mediated divorce, the collaborative divorce features separate attorneys representing each spouse. The four individuals meet in person to discuss the settlement and any child custody. For the collaborative divorce to be fair and effective, each party must trust the other to disclose all financial information.  In the beginning of the discussion, everyone agrees the divorce will not go to trial. The collaborative divorce is still considered an uncontested divorce.

Contested Divorce in California

Spouses who cannot agree about the division of property, child custody, alimony and more wind up in a contested divorce. Each spouse hires a divorce attorney to represent his or her interests. The two attorneys negotiate, but if no agreement can be reached, another option, arbitration, can still keep the former partners away from an expensive court trial.

Arbitration

In California, retired family court judges and others make themselves available as arbitrators in divorce cases. These professionals read all documents, meet with the parties and then base their final decisions on California family law. Arbitrators’ decisions typically come very close to the decisions the acting judge makes in a divorce trial.

Taking a Divorce to Trial

While television and movies love to depict divorce court proceedings, the truth remains that 98% of California divorce settle cases via collaboration, mediation or arbitration. Divorces go to court mostly when tens of millions of dollars or emotionally charged child custody issues are involved.  

Father’s Rights Law Center Explains All Options Clearly

The experienced attorneys at the Fathers’ Rights Law Center work with you to achieve your primary goals in a divorce. Read our past blog posts and testimonials about our work  to gain a comprehensive picture of our dedication our fathers’ rights. Our complimentary consultation can clear up your most pressing questions and concerns. Call us at 1-800-4-LAW-HELP to speak with an attorney today!

 

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How to Set up a Visitation Schedule

Setting up a proper visitation schedule can help alleviate some of the stress and struggle of sharing custody. Raising children while living in separate households can be a challenge, but with proper planning and respect for all parties, it can be managed in a manner that is favorable for everyone involved.

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When it comes to setting up a fair visitation schedule with your ex, it’s important to be as detailed as possible in order to ensure that everyone is in agreement. Whether the separation was amicable or a bit rocky, figuring out what to do during summer breaks, weekends, and vacations well in advance can help limit confusion ahead of time.

To ensure visitation agreements are executed without a hitch, a preparation plan, strict adherence to rules, and attention to specific considerations can help.

  • Check with your state or county to see if there are tools available to help you establish a proper, compliant visitation schedule.

  • Review state guidelines containing visitation rules for children in specific age groups.

  • Create a standard visitation schedule before addressing vacations and holidays. This basic schedule can help you focus on what the most optimal schedule is for day-to-day management.

  • Your child’s wants and needs should be factored in to every decision. If a specific visitation schedule would unreasonably disrupt their emotional, physical, or social needs, reconsider the decision.  

  • Determine if there are specific restrictions that should be enforced, such as restricting visitation in specific areas or homes, or with certain people.

  • Any modifications to the schedule should be discussed in advance. It may be helpful to instill a limit on just how far in advance a modification can be reasonably requested by either party (with the exception of emergencies).

  • It’s ok to remain flexible. If you and your ex are on good terms, then neither parent should feel required to nail down every hour of their custody. Flexibility can be maintained as long as it serves all parties equally.

  • Ask the children. Perhaps the child or children have a favorite holiday or vacation with one parent, or they prefer certain weekends or special events at one location rather than another. Although it is important for each parent to feel that they are receiving their fair share of visitation time, children should have an equal voice in the decision-making process wherever possible.

  • Keep child support and child visitation as separate matters. Neither parent should punish the other by means of restricting visitation. Even if emotions are running high, it’s important to help your children maintain a positive relationship with both parents.  In addition to being unfair to the children, the withholding parent can also find themselves in significant legal trouble.

  • At all times, keep in mind your state custody guidelines and the decisions of the court. If you need exceptions, make sure they are legally cleared well in advance of executing on those decisions.

  • Make revisions where appropriate. If the visitation schedule is consistently being adjusted because it is not working for one parent or the other, or the child’s social or educational obligations are getting in the way, it may be time to make a permanent modification to the visitation schedule so that it more accurately reflects reality.

Every custody situation and visitation schedule is different, and what may work for one set of parents and their children may not work for another. But that doesn’t mean that any schedule is necessarily wrong. When setting up your visitation schedule, try to remain as objective as possible, follow all legal guidelines, and plan your exceptions in advance wherever possible.

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Your Top Alimony Questions Answered (and 3 Myths Debunked)

Too many stay in unsatisfying or even bruising marriages because they believe the rumors friends and family members tell them about alimony.

112 3044384 300x183 Your Top Alimony Questions Answered (and 3 Myths Debunked)

Have you heard these?

  • “Alimony is an absolute right.” False. In California, the courts have broad discretion to deny spousal support completely. Just 10 to 15% of California divorces or separations include spousal support in the final divorce judgment.

  • “After 10 years, alimony is guaranteed for life.” No again. Temporary spousal support is initially determined by the “dissomaster, ™” a computer program that weighs income, custody, child care expenses, insurance premiums and more before determining which spouse pays what. Those who want to get an idea of what potential alimony may be can check California’s Child Support Calculator, (a tool similar to the online mortgage calculators) to estimate what alimony could amount to. Keep in mind, however, that this figure is not the final amount as it does not include all factors listed in California Family Code Section 4320. Good attorneys fight for appropriate amounts based on more subtle factors as well.

  • “Spousal support isn’t due until the judge determines it at trial.” While California divorces that go to trial can take 18 to 24 months to appear before a judge, divorcing partners file an “Order to Show Cause,” which a judge rules on in 14 days. This order stipulates temporary spousal support. Neither spouse is left without a way to survive.

With those common misperceptions out of the way, we’d like to answer the most common questions we receive in our San Diego offices.

How Much Alimony Will I Have to Pay and for How Long?

This simple question unfortunately has a long and complex answer. As we mention above, each partner submits documentation on income, expenses, child care expenses, insurance and more. A conscientious attorney will guide his or her client through which documents to submit. The Dissomaster comes up a figure and partners and their attorneys undergo more negotiations until an agreement is reached or the matter goes to trial.  

How and When Do I Ask for Alimony?

If you’re only dealing with family court and not an attorney, you ask for alimony during the divorce proceeding, typically when you first file with your “Order to Show Cause.” The judge will rule on temporary spousal support until your divorce is finalized. If the partners agree on spousal support, ask the judge to make the agreement as part of the court order.

I Don’t Need Alimony Now. Can I Change My Mind Later?

You cannot change your mind and get alimony after the divorce is final. If you want alimony, you must petition for it during the initial divorce proceeding.

Can Men Actually Win Alimony?

Absolutely. Men win alimony in California courts every day. If a female partner makes more money or a father has sacrificed his career to provide childcare, judges often rule for a portion of the woman’s income to be diverted to her spouse.

How Long Am I Guaranteed Alimony?

Should you come to an agreement with your spouse, you will receive alimony for the amount of time you stipulate. If you cannot agree, the judge decides for you. If the judge awards “indefinite” or “permanent” alimony, payments continue until either spouse dies or the court deems it inappropriate (in the case of re-marriage, for instance.)

Will Affairs Impact the Amount of Spousal Support?

No. California is a no-fault jurisdiction, meaning that only income and expenses figure in to spousal support determinations. If an ex-partner is living with someone, however, his or her expenses will be lower, and less support should be needed.

Will Getting Remarried Interfere with My Alimony?

Not necessarily. First, the ex-spouse paying the alimony must file an order asking the court to terminate or reduce alimony because of your remarriage.  

What Happens When My Spouse Want to Pay Me Less that What I Need to Live On?

In these cases, if the matters cannot be agreed upon outside of court, a judge decides. The judge will take into consideration:

  • length of the marriage

  • ages of divorcing partners

  • physical and mental conditions of both partners

  • your ability to support yourself

  • time and training necessary to enable you to support yourself

  • the standard of living to which you’ve become accustomed

  • ability of paying spouse to support him or herself while paying alimony

  • financial assets of each party including homes, investments, retirement benefits and more.

What Is the Difference Between Alimony and “Separate Maintenance?”

Alimony is paid upon divorce. Judges and court orders stipulate “separate maintenance” when the ex-spouses desire to stay married but live apart.

My Ex Just Got a Big Raise, Can I Receive More Alimony?

No. Post-separation earnings cannot be a basis for awarding more support than that stipulated in the divorce decree. Your children may be entitled to more child support, however.

My Ex Just Got a Big Raise; Can I Lower My Alimony Payments?

Yes. When the supported spouse starts earning more, they have less need for alimony. Once again, a trip to court is in order.

I Was Just Laid Off. Can I Pay Less Alimony?

Yes, but you must file for a temporary abatement of support.  If you cannot get a job at the compensation level you had when the divorce was finalized, you may be able to get a permanent spousal support reduction.

 

Father’s Rights Law Center

The prospect of paying and winning alimony intimidates all divorcing partners. Often, homes, insurance and sufficient funds to care for children are at stake. These practical aspects of life come with significant emotional baggage. Rest assured that the courts strive primarily for the well-being of the children. They no longer “favor” either mothers or fathers, men or women. When no children are present, they divide the assets as the law prescribes, not according to who cheated, who made the travel arrangements or who did the shopping.

Divorce doesn’t have to be a financial disaster. Making the best decisions up front saves you money long term. If you or a friend is undergoing a divorce, marital dissolution or custody battle, we can help. We’re happy to provide a complimentary consultation to answer the many questions you probably have that we didn’t cover above. Call us at 1-800-4-LAW-HELP to speak with an attorney today!

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What is Termination of Parental Rights?

The facts bring clarity to the difficult and complex issue of the termination of parental rights. Parents have both rights and responsibilities when it comes to their children. In California, as well as other states, children have rights to financial support and care from both parents. In considering either voluntary or involuntary termination of parental rights, first understand that the courts (read: “judges”) put children’s rights before parents. Therefore, terminating parental rights does not enable a father or mother to escape child support payments. The state’s main goal is to have the child supported by both parents.

770 4604235 300x200 What is Termination of Parental Rights?

Voluntary Termination:

Because the courts’ aim is to deliver the privileges of both parents to the child, they will proceed with a voluntary termination only if there is “good cause” to do so. Most often, this comes when a step-parent shows intent to support the child both financially and emotionally. When a biological parent is willing to terminate rights and a step-parent stands ready to assume them, the voluntary termination goes smoothly.

A parent desiring to have the other parent completely out of a child’s life without a step-parent present, however, will be surprised that he or she still doesn’t have good cause for voluntary termination, despite the other biological parent’s green light. Even if the non-custodial parent is ready and willing to give up his or her rights, the courts may still want child support from him or her.  

Parents willing to terminate parental rights needs to know that in doing so, they completely extinguish all rights and responsibilities of parenthood. They cannot have a say in where the child lives, goes to school, what doctor or medical care is best and so on. The terminated parent has no custody or visitation rights with the child. The family law code oversees the rules and procedures for termination and post-termination access, if any. 

Involuntary Termination

Often, the state or the custodial parent seeks involuntary termination of the non-custodial parent. When Child Protective Services removes a child from a dangerous home for a foster care stay, they begin a process to evaluate the parent’s competence. A series of legal actions leads to the involuntary termination of parental rights.

The courts insist that “good cause” be shown in involuntary termination of parental rights cases. Good causes include:

  • Severe or chronic abuse or neglect

  • Sexual abuse

  • Abuse or neglect of other children

  • Abandonment

  • Failure to support or maintain contact with the child

  • Involuntary termination of the rights of the parent to another child

  • Long-Term mental illness or deficiency of parents

  • Long-term drug dependency

  • Commission of a felony

  • Lack of access due to serving a prison sentence leading to child’s entrance to foster care

The courts look at all the evidence regarding these issues and then rule in what they consider to be the child’s best interests. It’s critical to have legal representation in termination of parent’s rights cases to either prove or disprove these accusations.  

How to Terminate Your Parental Rights in California

As mentioned above, the only way to terminate your rights in California is to have another ready to adopt your child. Those no longer interested in participating in the child’s life cannot escape payments due for his or her maintenance, unless serving jail time or dangerous to the child. Those who commit crimes, abuse or the other causes above will have their rights terminated by the state if they do not meet the criteria set by the courts when the children were removed from the home.

Reinstating Parental Rights once They Have Been Terminated

The courts do not reinstate parental rights easily and getting this done has a lot to do with why you lost them in the first place. Those who voluntarily gave up parental rights often do so to make to make a child’s adoption by another possible.   

In 2005, however, California Assembly Bill 519 created a way for parents with terminated parental rights to regain custody of their children. The law is very clear-cut and subject to caveats. First, another adult must not have adopted the child after your rights were terminated. Secondly, your child must inform his social worker or foster parent that he or she wishes to live with you. Finally, the child has to make this preference within three years of the termination of your parental rights.  Then, meeting all of these and more criteria, the court can reinstate your rights. Again, getting your rights reinstated takes the expertise of an aggressive family law attorney.

Father’s Rights Law Center

The experienced attorneys at the Fathers’ Rights Law Center have brought hundreds of custodial and child support actions to court on behalf of fathers. We will prepare your case based on how local judges interpret the law. Testimonials about our work  make it clear how hard we work on each, specific cases. We’re happy to provide a complimentary consultation to clear up your most pressing questions and concerns. Call us at 1-800-4-LAW-HELP to speak with an attorney today!

 

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