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Is Divorce Mediation Required?

When beginning the divorce process, people often worry about going to trial. They may picture themselves in a courtroom, in front of a judge, fighting to achieve a fair outcome. In reality, the majority of divorces are resolved without the need for trial. In fact, Florida requires that divorcing couples attempt to resolve the matter through mediation first. This is a step that cannot be skipped, and often this is for the best, as even the worst decisions that a divorcing couple can make together may be preferable to what a judge may order.

Divorced parents should come up with a holiday plan

Florida parents who are divorced or separated may be concerned about how to go about setting up a plan for the holidays. In order to alleviate stress, parents should open the lines of communication and cooperate with each other to make the holidays enjoyable for their children.

Putting their children above their own negative feelings is the first step, and it will likely be the most difficult one for many parents. Some people choose to involve family and friends in their holiday-related decisions. Others choose to ask a therapist for advice as he or she will not give emotionally charged advice. A support system can go a long way toward putting aside strong emotions, such as resentment, at least until the holidays are over.

Overcoming the challenges of parenting after a divorce

Florida individuals have an obligation to maintain relationships with their children even if they don't have ones with their spouses. In some cases, an inability to communicate during a marriage will carry over as it relates to raising children after it ends. If people don't have a good relationship with each other, they can still have strong relationships with their children. In fact, how a child turns out generally depends mostly on how he or she gets along with each parent.

Parents who fight or argue are better off maintaining separate relationships with their kids. This is referred to as parallel parenting. In such a scenario, each person raises his or her child as he or she sees fit with little or no input from his or her former spouse. To effectively parent after a divorce, each person needs to give up the control that they may have had while married. It is important to understand that each parent has the right to raise his or her child in his or her own way.

Helping children gain stability after a divorce

Some parents in Florida who are getting a divorce may have heard of the practice of nesting, or birdnesting, in which parents rotate in and out of the family home while the children continue living there. The idea behind it is that it gives children the stability to adjust to divorce, and experts say it often works. However, there are a few caveats.

Most parents cannot afford to maintain three households between them, so usually, they also have a small studio apartment that they take turns living in as well. For nesting to work, parents must get along well, but this situation may create conflict over the long term even when the divorce is an amicable one. The arrangement may also lead children to believe their parents are working toward reconciliation and can actually create anxiety as they wonder what it will be like to divide their time between two households. Experts recommend that nesting go on for no longer than three to six months.

Can I see my baby again after an adoption?

The decision to place a child for adoption is extremely personal and emotional, even if you believe it is in the child’s best interest. It is natural for birth mothers to worry about their child or wonder if they will be able to see them again.

For birth mothers in Florida, it is possible to create an adoption plan with an adoptive family that allows you to maintain contact with your child and stay involved in their lives. Florida is a state that allows for a written agreement for contact after an adoption is finalized.  

Keeping the family home following a divorce

For Florida former couples going through a divorce, determining whether to keep or sell the family home may be one of the biggest decisions they will have to make. Before making their decision, however, there are several issues that they will need to consider.

The former couple should determine how much equity the family home has. This issue can be particularly important as, in many cases, one party will have to sign a quit claim deed if the other party decides to keep the home. Signing a quit claim deed removes that party's interest from the home should the other party decide to sell. However, it does not remove that party's legal obligation should the other party default on the loan. Should the person who keeps the family home be unable to make the payments, both parties' credit can be affected. This could prevent both individuals from being able to purchase their next homes.

How do you prepare to meet a prospective birth mother?

Domestic adoptions often take the stance of an “open” relationship between the birth mother and adoptive family, with the biological mother choosing the parents who will raise her child. As you begin the process of preparing to welcome a child into your home, you may try to put yourself in a prospective birth mother’s shoes: what would she want to know about the people to whom she’s entrusting her child?

Choosing a home for a child is a difficult task for a biological mother, who may feel she is too young or ill-equipped to raise her child. Maybe she never wanted to raise a family. Regardless of her circumstances, be sensitive to her needs and wishes.

Situations in which there may be temporary child custody orders

When parents in Florida are going through a divorce, temporary child custody orders might be put in place until the separation is final. At that time, the temporary orders could be made permanent. The court may take other factors into account and even ask the child for input. However, the general inclination of the court is to try to avoid disrupting the child's living arrangement.

There are also situations in which non-biological parents might be given custody of a child. For example, if a parent is in the hospital, does not have the financial means to care for the child, has a demanding work schedule or is abusive, a grandparent, godparent or other family member might get custody. The custody agreement will generally specify the time period for custody, where the child will live and the parent's visitation rights. If there are any financial arrangements, these will be included in the agreement.

How a child can adjust to divorce

Parents in Florida who are separating can help their children build resilience that will make the adjustment less difficult. First, they should work to keep things consistent for the kids. This means maintaining a routine as much as possible so that there can be some stability for the overall larger adjustment of the divorce. Parents should try to agree on some basic, consistent rules between households, but even if they are unable to do so, they should not criticize the other parent's decisions in front of the child.

Children may worry that they are responsible for the divorce or that their parents' feelings toward them will change. They need reassurance that neither of these is the case. Parents should tell their kids that they love them and answer their questions about the divorce. While parents should be honest, they should also give their children age-appropriate explanations. Furthermore, it's important not to put children in the middle of a relationship with the ex-spouse. The child should remain connected to both parents.

Divorce is a bit more complicated for seniors

The economic and emotional challenges that follow most Florida divorces can be even more difficult for older couples. For starters, seniors have fewer potential working years left. Additionally, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act legislation that was signed into law in December 2017 has provisions beginning in 2019 that will impact many future divorces.

The new tax law changes how alimony is treated for federal income tax purposes. Previously, alimony was deductible by the payor and treated as earned income for the recipient. Beginning with new divorces in 2019, the payment of alimony will be considered a non-taxable event. This switches the respective tax liabilities of the payor and payee.

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