Here is a link to a great article entitled, “8 Things You Should Never Say to Your Kid.” These suggestions are applicable to intact families as well as those where the parents of the children are not living together, i.e. divorced, separated, never married, etc.
The following post was written by guest blogger Scott Morgan, a Texas divorce lawyer with the Morgan Law Firm.
Everybody agrees that children thrive in happy two-parent homes. Unfortunately, divorce is a reality for so many families. If you have children, divorce isn’t just the end of a relationship–it is the beginning of a new relationship as co-parents. In the aftermath of a divorce, ex-spouses need to refocus their energy into creating a new relationship that can help their children adjust to their new family circumstances. After practicing family law for nearly two decades I am convinced that if divorced parents would put their children’s interest first and co-parent with their ex (even if deep down, they really dislike him or her), there would be very little post-divorce litigation. Co-parents need to work together to raise happy, well-adjusted children in a stable environment. So here are my top tips on on how to effectively co-parent after divorce.
Tip #1 Leave the Pain of the Divorce Out Of Your Parenting
Your children did not ask for a divorce. Your children did not cause your divorce. Do not punish your children for the actions (or inaction) of your former spouse. Specifically, you should:
- If you need to vent about your former spouse, call a friend or a therapist–do not rely on your child to be a sounding board.
- Avoid taking it personally if (when) your child tells you they prefer something about your former spouse. It is all part of the adjustment.
- Keep negative feelings and statements about your ex-spouse to yourself. Sharing them with your child will only hurt your child.
Tip #2 Communicate with the Other Parent
There is never a circumstance where it is okay to use your child as a messenger or bearer of bad news. Act like an adult and find a way to communicate with your co-parent. See if any of the following ideas can make this easier:
- If you can’t effectively speak to each other, use email or a shared journal to write notes back and forth.
- Technology can help you keep shared calendars up to date. Put important dates on this calendar, and update as soon as you become aware of changes.
- Make sure your co-parent has up to date contact information, including cell phone and email, whenever possible.
- Be sure to share information about school events, birthday parties, and sporting events. Give your co-parent enough notice that they can make make proper arrangements.
Tip #3 Treat the Other Parent With Respect, Whether Deserved or Not
If you are going to have an effective co-parenting relationship with your ex it is crucial that you treat that person with respect. As soon as they feel disrespected by you they are much less likely to be reasonable, to communicate with you, or to do any of the other things necessary for an effective relationship. Then you will be less likely to communicate with them and a vicious cycle has begun. Avoid this negative process by treating the other parent with respect. If it helps, try to deal with them as you would a difficult co-worker.
Co-parenting is not always easy, but it is much easier than the alternative of constantly fighting with your former spouse. The more you can work with your ex to establish an effective co-parenting relationship, the happier your children will be. I’m sure your children’s happiness is something you can both agree on.
You can see more divorce articles and videos on the Morgan Law Firm’s Austin divorce blog.
For those of you who follow the television show Glee, you may be familiar with the story line by which the biological child of Quinn and Puck was given up for adoption and adopted by Rachel’s biological mother, Shelby, who had placed Rachel for adoption 16 or so years earlier. In a recent episode, Shelby indicated that she wanted Quinn and Puck to be a part of the child’s life. Later in that same episode, Quinn indicated that she was going to get her child back. This episode raised several interesting issues from the perspective of current Pennsylvania law.
When a child is adopted, unless it is a step-parent adoption, the rights of the biological parents are terminated. That would mean that Puck and Quinn, in the eyes of the Court, are no longer the parents of baby Elizabeth. In most instances, this is a two (2) step process. First, the parental rights of the child are terminated. Those rights can be terminated voluntarily or involuntarily. I would suspect that the biological parents’ rights would have been terminated by agreement, i.e. Quinn and Puck had each voluntarily agreed to have his or her parental rights terminated. Under Pennsylvania law, each parent would have to sign his or her own consent to termination of rights. After the hearing on the termination of parental rights, then there would be a hearing when Shelby would have adopted the child. As part of the adoption process, the Court’s order provides for the modification of the child’s birth certificate to reflect the adoptive parents as the child’s birth parents.
In some instances, the adoptive parents and the biological parents have what is sometimes referred to as an “open adoption.” In an open adoption, there is an agreement among the parties that the biological parents will continue to have contact with the child after the adoption. The frequency and nature of the contact is determined by the parties. It can run the gamut from an annual holiday card with a picture to actual partial physical custody. Such agreements were not always legally recognized by the courts in Pennsylvania. However, with the implementation of Act 101, which became effective on April 27, 2011, such agreements, now called “Post Adoption Contact Agreements” or PACAs, are enforceable and even modifiable by the Court.
The provisions of Act 101 include who can be a party to a PACA, how and when it can be enforced, and how and when it can be modified. Most importantly, it provides who is to be given notice of the right to enter into a PACA. So there is no misunderstanding, there is no right to enter into a Post Adoption Contact Agreement. However, the parties are to be given notice of their right to enter into a PACA. The adoptive parents can decide they do not want the child to have further contact with the birth parents. In turn, the birth parents can decide to withhold their consents to terminate rights. Whether or not there will be a PACA enabling the birth parents to have some contact with the child after the adoption will be the result of negotiation and/or mediation by the parties involved.
So, if this situation with Quinn, Puck, Shelby and the baby Elizabeth took place in Pennsylvania after the effective date of Act 101, unless there was a Post Adoptive Contact Agreement, Puck and Quinn would see the baby if and only if Shelby wanted such contact to take place. At any time, however, without a PACA, Shelby could decide that she no longer wants Puck or Quinn to see the child – and there would be nothing that they could do about it. If there were a PACA, if Shelby were not complying with the PACA, they could petition the Court to enforce the PACA. All they could get in seeking to enforce the PACA is an order directing Shelby to comply. They could not recover any monetary damages. They could not overturn the adoption. The question remains open, however, as to what the sanctions could be if Shelby failed to comply with the Court order directing her to comply with a PACA. If she could be held in contempt of court which could result in a fine or imprisonment. Still, the adoption would not be set aside.
In conclusion, while it makes for interesting television drama, despite her best intentions, Quinn is not going to be able to get her child back. Her rights have been terminated. Of course, I am not going to be the one to tell her. I don’t want to get slushied.
It is not uncommon for divorcees to remake their bridal jewelry into a new ring or pendant better suited to their new, single status so it should be no great surprise that the jewelry industry is jumping onboard. But, to create a line of ‘divorce rings’? Isn’t that taking it a bit too far?
Not only can it appear callous to cash in on an emotionally trying and often devastating event but this also raises a whole slew of questions. What is the proper protocol? As Chiara Atik poses in her article, “Will ‘divorce rings’ catch on?”, does one spouse bend down on one knee, present the ring and ask his/her spouse to divorce them? Are both parties entitled to rings? Which party is required to pay for the ring/s? Can it/they be included in the settlement? The plaintiff requests alimony, child support and a 2 carat, princess cut, Cartier divorce ring.
And better yet, what does the ring indicate? Is it a celebration of newfound freedom or a warning beacon to indicate severe emotional baggage? Or just a new way for women (and men) to compete with one another? Suzie only got a 1 carat ring from Jeff but I made Bob buy me a 3 carat ring from Tiffany’s…
On the other hand, maybe the jewelry industry is on to something…I mean, wouldn’t the concept of impending jewelry help to take the sting out of a crumbling marriage? I can just hear it now, “he may have fathered a child with his secretary but he’s going to buy me one huge divorce ring”. In fact, jewelers should take it one step further and add it to the bridal set. No longer are the engagement ring and wedding band enough; the bridal set of the future has become a trio.
This post was prepared by Christina Glaser, a 1L at Rutgers Law School.