October 2007 Archives

October 17, 2007

Helping Your Kids Navigate a Divorce

Have I mentioned before how divorce can be hard on kids? Not that they won't survive it, especially if their parents can keep things relatively civil. But they'll have issues, and they may need support and information. No doubt you're doing your best to listen and talk to your kids--but that may not always be so easy. There are lots of resources for parents, and we'll get into those in another post. For now, here are some ideas of age-appropriate divorce resources for kids at all stages: 

Two Homes, by Claire Masurel (Candlewick Press) is a picture book for very young children about going back and forth between Mom and Dad's houses.

At Daddy's On Saturdays, by Linda Walvoord Girard (Albert Whitman & Co) is for young grade-school children and has text and pictures about a young girl learning to adjust to seeing her father on weekends.

Dinosaurs  Divorce: A Guide for Changing Families, by Laurene Krasny Brown and Marc Brown (Little, Brown & Co) is an extremely popular book for good reason--it uses humorous drawings and simple but straightforward text to deal with the really difficult issues of divorce, including having two homes, birthdays and holidays, stepparents you don't like, and what to do when your parents badmouth each other.

Kids' Divorce Workbook: A Practical Guide that Helps Kids Understand Divorce Happens to the Nicest Kids, by Michael S. Prokop (Alegra House) offers space for kids to write and draw about their feelings, alongside the words and drawings of other children dealing with divorce. An excellent resource for kids who might be more comfortable with writing or drawing.

 Help Hope and Happiness, by Libby Rees (Aultbea Publishing) is written by a 10-year-old and contains her advice for kids on coping with divorce; the book is only available from its UK publisher at www.aultbeapublishing.com or www.amazon.co.uk.

What in the World Do You Do When Your Parents Divorce? A Survival Guide for Kids, by Roberta Beyer and Kent Winchester (Free Spirit Publishing), is aimed at kids 7- to 12-years old, and explains divorce, new living situations, and dealing with difficult feelings in ways that should resonate with the preteen set.

The Divorce Helpbook for Teens, by Cynthia MacGregor (Impact Publishers) is a thorough, plain-language, un-condescending book offering guidance on navigating the challenges of divorce.

October 8, 2007

Britney & K-Fed: The Lesser of Two Evils is Still....

Isn't it required that anyone who blogs on family law issues must write something about the recent court order that shifted physical custody (that is, day-to-day care) of Britney Spears' and Kevin Federline's two children from mother to father? But what is there to say, really?

The significance of the decision to real people is limited. Not many of us behave quite as badly, quite as publicly, as Spears has. And judges love the status quo, so a complete change in custody is somewhat unusual and reserved for cases where, like Spears, a parent has behaved completely outrageously, abused substances, or refused to comply with court orders.

Father's rights advocates are happy with the decision, hoping that it will help to mitigate what they perceive as the system's unfair presumption that women are better caretakers than men, especially for young children. Maybe they're right that the system is slanted, but K-Fed is hardly the poster boy for responsible parenting.

As Seymour Reisman commented last week on Newsday.com, fathers "must make sure they are factors in their children's lives" by actively parenting them--in order to have their custody rights respected even when their ex-wives aren't pulling a Britney. For more information on how you can actively parent your child or children during and after a divorce, read Always Dad: Being a Great Father During & After Divorce, by Paul Mandelstein (Nolo).

October 1, 2007

Taking the High Road Saves Time and Money

Last week, the longest divorce trial in Connecticut history (and possibly in any court) finished up after 86 days. Yup, more than four months of courtroom wrangling over property and, mainly, child custody in a trial between a wealthy Wesport resident and his wife. Lynne Tuohy reports on the ugly details in the Hartford Courant, noting that the trial wreaked havoc on the family and resulted in over $13 million in legal fees and costs.

Fighting over issues is expensive. Most people don't have enough money to carry on a divorce trial of this magnitude--but many still spend enormous amounts of time, money, and energy fighting over issues that would be better resolved through divorce mediation or a collaborative divorce process.

Working out your differences is cheaper, and better for the kids. It's well documented that taking the high road in a divorce--meaning, cooperating with your ex and trying to work out your issues instead of battling them out in court--is better for children, But it's also much less expensive, both in monetary costs and in the cost to families of ongoing conflict. Learn more about collaborative law here. I posted about divorce mediation previously here. And there are lots of resources in the Family & Immigration section of Nolo's website, including Attorney-Mediator Katherine E. Stoner's excellent book, Divorce Without Court: A Guide to Mediation & Collaborative Divorce (Nolo).