Managing Same-Sex Parenting of Blended Families

With two kids and three moms, Dr. Colleen Logan, a psychotherapist, found her parenting situation to be quite different from the norm. She recently wrote a few tips in a HuffPost article that any other blended families with same-sex parents might find helpful. California now allows same-sex marriage and we’re sure there are couples in California that may need these tips:

1) Work out a schedule. It’s always easier to figure out who is parenting when well in advance. It avoids favortism, making the child choose, confusion and frustration. This goes for the split couple as well as the parents who re-married. The child might be biologically yours, but if your partner is also now going to help raise the child, make sure he/she has every opportunity to parent as you do.

2) Include everyone on forms. Your kids will bring home permission/consent forms or you may need to fill them out for things like taking them from school. With at least three, possibly four, parents in the mix it can get confusing. Especially if there’s only one line for “mom,” it can be confusing. Try to include all parents to avoid drama down the road.

3) Meet others as a unit. It can be confusing to some families and you should know that it may take some getting used to. Meet coaches, other parents, etc. as a unit–all three of four of you and explain the situation. Do so with a sense of humor and understanding that it’s different and it will go over smoother than you may expect.

4) Communicate! Most people say this is key to a relationship, and it’s certainly true when your family is unique. There may be complications with who is the “biological” mother and who is married in, who’s step-mom, who’s “real” mom, etc. The kids will naturally accept all parents as parents in their own way and in their own time, but same-sex partners need to communicate with each other honestly and effectively when their is a co-parenting or step-parenting issue. It’s the only way to solve and/or avoid real problems.

Pregnant and Divorcing

It’s not rare for either spouse to have an emotional freak out when you get pregnant. This can often lead to divorce, marital issues or separation. As hard as it may seem, it might be best for you and your child in the long run. So what’s it like to be going through a divorce while pregnant? After getting pregnant and leaving her husband, one woman wrote this on Reddit, “I feel like the only person in the world dumb enough to proceed with a divorce while pregnant. I am not regretting my decision — his anger and lack of joy was too much for me. I just wish I could hear from others that have been through this and came out on the other end in once piece.”

Wonderful Reddit users shared advice with her that we think is brilliant, and we wanted to share it with you:

1) The uncertainty you feel is normal. Your future is uncertain, and your relationships are uncertain and it’s ok to be scared of the future. Take the time to be scared, but then decide you’re not going to let it get the best of you. You’re going to face that fear head on and make the most of every day.

2) You’ll be glad later on. If you can’t handle being pregnant through a marriage , you definitely can’t handle raising a child while being married to that person. So you’ll be glad that you put your child through the divorce while he/she is still in the womb, not when he/she is around to live through it.

3) You can co-parent successfully. You do NOT need a second parent to be good at this job. In fact, many single parents are better at parenting than both parents combined!

4) You’ll rebound. It may take a week, it may take 5 years… but you will bounce back and you’ll be stronger than ever. And you’ll want to date again. Let it happen in its own time.

How to Succeed at Divorce

We spend a lot of time talking about how to “get through” a divorce, but what about coming out on top? Is it possible to “succeed” at divorce? The editors at HuffPost think so, and we agree. With the help of an experienced family divorce attorney, you can “win” divorce.

Here are a few tips Laura Miolla provides:

1. Silence your saboteurs. Notice those negative voices and acknowledge them in your mind. Realize that they are trying to create a dark future for you. Once you’re recognized them you have a choice- believe them or choose to put their opinion aside and think positively.

2. Identify what you want. Too many people go into a divorce just trying to get past it, without taking the proper time to consider what it is they want out of the process. You have a lot to win and lose in a divorce process and you need to know what it is you’re hoping to achieve.

3. Honor your values. A divorce or separation can leave you feeling hopeless and lost. These feelings of loneliness are common and will come and go. However, one thing you don’t want to lose are your values. Don’t end the divorce feeling like you intentionally destroyed your ex or hurt your children. Things will get ugly and you may want to play dirty, but coming out of the divorce with your dignity is more important for your emotional health than one may realize.

Divorce: A New Year’s Resolution

Posted by California Divorce Lawyer: It’s mid-way through December, so if you haven’t started thinking of your new year’s resolutions yet… it’s time. “Divorce” is certainly not as common as “going to the gym” when it comes to resolutions. In fact, it may seem odd. However, Bari Weinberger, Esq. believes that it’s fairly common… and a good idea.

According to a recent HuffPost Divorce article, January is the most with the most divorce filings. Here are three reasons why you might want to jump on the bandwagon:

1) New year, new you: Enjoy the holidays. Don’t file for divorce early or mid-December unless you really need to. Let the holiday spirit get you through that time and into the new year. This is especially true for parents who know the divorce will upset their children.

2) Bonus check: A more logical reason might be that you just received your holiday bonus. Divorce is expensive and you’ll want to figure out your budget as a single person again for the new year. A holiday bonus is definitely a good way to start off the year/divorce process on the right foot.

3) Planning for the new tax year: There are many divorce tax implications, and it’s smart to finish the year before drastically changing your financial circumstances. You will have more time to attend to tax planning for the year, figuring out things like who will get the mortgage interest deduction and who will take exemptions for kids. While filing in January doesn’t guarantee that you will meet the end of year requirements for filing differently next year…you have a better chance.

 

When Co-Parenting is Tough

Parenting is known as the hardest job in the world, and that’s when both parents are under one roof. After a divorce or separation, parenting (or “co-parenting”) can be even more challenging. You’ll go through ups and downs, and some days will be more challenging than others. Psychologist Dr. Peggy Kruger Tietz recently shared some advice about what to do when it’s not going as well as you’d hoped, and we thought we’d share that here:

1. Accept where you are. You aren’t in an ideal situation, and it’s silly and unhelpful to deny that. Don’t get caught up in the “it isn’t far” game. It will only hinder your progress. You’re right- co-parenting is tough. But accept the fact that you’ll have it harder than some parents, and be willing to put in the work.

2. Trust yourself. If your ex is a less-than-perfect parent, that’s not something you can control. You can’t make up for that. You’re already trying to be the best parent that you can be (right…?) so doing more won’t make up for what your ex isn’t doing. Trust that you’re doing your best and know that every parent makes mistakes along the way.

3. Create a support system. Make sure that you have people in your life who know your situation and generally give good advice. It can be a therapist or, if that doesn’t seem necessary, count on a good friend or family member to talk to. You need to strengthen yourself and have your own support if you’re going to support your children.

4. Be flexible. Dealing with your ex may not be fun and it won’t be easy, but the more flexible you are, the more flexible he/she will most likely be. Not being willing to change plans or work things out with him/her will only make it harder on both of you. Don’t cause yourself unnecessary headaches.

5. Different houses have different rules. Your kids might “hate” you in that moment because you’re more strict than your ex, but they’ll understand one day. Do what you think is best and let you ex do what he/she thinks is best. (Within limitations, of course…)

Be the best parent you can be and realize that co-parenting takes a little extra effort. But it’s nothing that you can’t handle.

Gray Divorce Revolution

A used-to-be great marriage, three kids and a few dogs later… there is an increasing number of spouses that are getting divorced in their 40’s and 50’s. Once you send the last kid of to college and you actually have to start focusing on your relationship again, your relationship may crumble.

And that can be scary. You might be terrified of being lonely, running out of money, never dating again, etc. CollegeBounder Founder Tira Harpaz shares these tips from anyone going through this “Gray Divorce.”

Know your divorce agreement inside and out. Your divorce attorney should be explaining it to you, but do your own homework and make sure you know what your circumstances are.

Reach out to friends. This is not a time to accept being lonely or having too much pride to ask for help. If you feel yourself falling into a stoop and needing some friend time, tell them that! Your friends should be a strong support system for you– even just onw or two good friends can make all the difference.

Make time for yourself. “Me” time can be invaluable. Sleep, exercise, watch your favorite TV shows and read books. These can all be relaxing, rejuvenating exercises that can remind you that you can be happy on your own.

Let go. There will be times when you can’t control those feelings of loss, fear or loneliness. There will be times when you need to simply accept your situation and try to make the best of it. Choose to see the positive in where you currently are, instead of trying to alter each day to fit the reality you think you deserve.

New California Law Will Allow For More Than Two Legal Parents

California Governor Jerry Brown recently signed a bill into a law that will allow a child to have more than two legal parents. California is joining two other states and D.C. by making this change.

According to a press release, the bill was written to match the growing number of families with same-sex parents, biological parents, etc. Senator Leno, who wrote the bill, stated to The Sacramento Bee that he doesn’t believe this will be the case for many families, but that it needs to be a possibility for families that are in those circumstances.

The court must look at all “relevant factors” and specifically how they affect the child in determining if someone should legally have more than two parents.

The new law will take effect in 2014.

Spruce Up Your Home

Author and divorce blogger Lois Tarter recently wrote a post regarding a new, fun way to help you move on from your marriage– a home makeover! You may have the place to yourself now, and the way your house/apartment looks may remind you of your husband or wife. It may not be the smartest time to invest in a big renovation or new home, but there are cheap ways to do it right. [Read more…]

How to Prepare For Your First Mediation Session

We’ve discussed in this blog whether you should or shouldn’t use mediation, what it is, how it can help, etc. So let’s assume that you’ve decided to go through with the process. Where do you start? Divorce Mediator Michelle Rozen recently shared these eight things you should do prior to your first mediation session, and we want to share them here with you: [Read more…]

Using Experts in Divorce

While our family law attorneys are experienced in helping families throughout the divorce process, they are experts in the law. Child advocate Caroline Choi recently shared a few other experts you may want to consider using, and we thought we’d share her information with you. An expert can be court-appointed or retained by you and/or your spouse. [Read more…]