How To Avoid A Negative Divorce With Children

Seattle Divorce Services - How To Avoid A Negative Divorce With Children

Children tend to prefer stability and predictability over change. Stability and predictability feel safe. Divorce means change.

On the other hand, a home with significant conflict also does not feel safe, and even without open conflict a home where love between the parents is missing sets our children up to accept that as normal. A bad marriage is not what we want to teach our children to expect for their own futures.

Therefore, if we want to avoid a divorce being an overall negative for our children, we need to find ways to make the change lead to something better. A reduction in conflict between the parents because they are not living together can be a positive. New and better relationships can be a positive.

The secret is to allow the positives while avoiding the negatives. Ways to do this include:

1.  Keep the conflict away from the children. Don’t argue in front of them.

You will need to have discussions about various divorce issues, but save those discussions for times or places away from the children. Meet at a coffee house, step away from your desk at work, go for a walk, etc. This also means not criticizing the other parent in front of the children, even in conversations with friends (children have big ears).

2.  Let a professional guide the conversation.

Discussions about divorce issues can be very frustrating when we disagree but don’t know how to resolve the disagreement. When that happens, tempers flare, and the discussion gets even less productive. A professional mediator or family therapist has tools and methods for leading the discussion down productive paths and avoiding the less helpful tangents, for putting out brush fires that block the path, and for jointly setting the goals the path should lead toward.

3.  Reassure the children.

Emphasize that both of you still love them and will be continuing to work together on parenting. Be positive, and this means you have to feel positive – children readily see through you faking it. To be able to convey a positive attitude, you need to develop a positive attitude. Meditate on the positives of your new life like new relationships, new opportunities, and reduced conflict rather than the negatives.

4.  Focus on presenting a united front.

Even when the two of you disagree about parenting, find a way to work out those differences away from the children and then both support the agreement in front of the children. Not only will this give the children much greater stability and less confusion in their lives going forwards, but it will avoid the children learning to play one parent off against the other (“Mom lets us …”, “Dad doesn’t make us …”, etc.), and that will make YOUR lives easier.


Holiday Planning For Divorcing Parents

Holiday Planning for Divorcing Parents - Seattle Divorce Services

In the course of a divorce involving children, the parents will need to develop a parenting plan that determines how they share time with the children, including various holidays and special occasions.

For many families, the December holiday season is one of the most important family times of the year, and requires special thought about how best to plan it around the new family relationship where the parents are not living together. This can become a difficult conversation, since the holidays are laden with so much emotion and meaning for each parent. [Read more…]

Can I Afford To Divorce In This Housing Market?

Can I Afford to Divorce in this Housing Market - Seattle Divorce Services

Over the last couple years, Seattle has seen an extreme rate of growth in housing prices.

Right now we are leading the nation in housing price growth. While this may be good for sellers and landlords, it is making it harder and harder for buyers and renters. One impact is that some people in the area are questioning whether they can afford to divorce, given how hard it may be to find new housing if they move out. [Read more…]

Can I Have My Spouse Pay For Both Divorce Attorneys?

Can I Have my Spouse Pay for both Attorneys - Seattle Divorce Services

If your spouse agrees to pay for both divorce attorneys, certainly it is possible.

Some attorneys may be reluctant to accept payment from the other spouse, citing conflict of interest concerns, but I would expect most would be okay with it. Even if the attorney does not want to take direct payment from your spouse, your spouse could always give you the money for paying the bills.

Keep in mind that even if your spouse agrees to pay your attorney fees, the attorney’s contract is still with you, and you remain primarily responsible for making sure the bill gets paid, one way or the other.

The more difficult question is whether you can force the your spouse to pay for both attorney fees. The short answer is you cannot, but the court can. The court has the authority to order your spouse to pay towards your attorney fees. The court can order the spouse to advance a certain amount for current and future fees, or it can order the spouse to reimburse you a specific amount for past fees.

Generally an attorney is not going to take on a case without some fees advanced up front, which means you will need to come up with the initial deposit yourself. Once you have hired the attorney, they can bring a motion asking the court to require the other spouse to pay some amount towards your attorney fees. Also, at trial, your attorney can ask the court to include a judgment for attorney fees in the final orders.

The usual standard for evaluating attorney fee requests is “need and ability to pay”. This means that the court looks at how much the one party needs help with their legal expenses, and at how much the other party has the ability to help pay those expenses.

Typically the amount the court awards is only a portion of the total legal expenses. You remain responsible to your attorney for any amount the court has not ordered the other side to pay, and in fact also for any amount the other side is ordered to pay but fails to pay.

For this reason many attorneys will still require you to front the money, and then seek reimbursement from your spouse.

What To Ask For In A Divorce

What to Ask for in Divorce - Seattle Divorce Services

The main thing you need to be aware of (at least in Washington State): you don’t need to know every detail about what you will ask for at the time the divorce is filed.

The Petition, or Response to Petition, can be framed in very general terms. All you need to know are the broad categories. For instance, the Petition should state whether or not you are requesting:

  • property to be divided
  • a parenting plan
  • child support
  • spousal maintenance (alimony)
  • restraining orders
  • a name change

As the divorce process progresses, you and your attorney will work together to determine what specific settlement terms are appropriate to request in negotiations. And of course as the negotiations progress, the terms will likely change.

[Read more…]

Questions For Your Attorney About Divorce

Questions to ask your divorce attorney

Last week I discussed questions to help you decide which attorney to hire. This week, I wanted to suggest some questions to ask to help you be better informed about the divorce process itself and to help you make decisions about the divorce.

[Read more…]

Questions For Your Attorney Before Divorcing

Questions to ask your Lawyer before a divorce - how to choose your lawyer - Seattle Divorce Services

Next week I plan to write about questions for your attorney about the divorce. This week I am focusing on questions to ask to help you decide which attorney to hire.

One very important thing when hiring an attorney is deciding whether they are a good fit for you. Every attorney is different and every client is different. No matter how good the attorney is, they may or may not be a good fit for you. When the fit is not good, it is going to be a frustrating experience for you both.

[Read more…]

How To Navigate Divorce With Children

How To Navigate Divorce With Children - Seattle Divorce Services

Children do make divorce harder.

Because they are so easily hurt by the divorce, we have to work much harder to create an outcome that will not only be positive for ourselves, but positive for them as well – and sometimes those two goals are not well matched. [Read more…]

Can You Stop A Divorce After Filing?

Can you stop a divorce> - Seattle Divorce Services

At least here in Washington, and I imagine in any state, you can stop a divorce action before the divorce has been finalized if both parties agree to the dismissal.

A dismissal ends the case so that the divorce does not move forward. Also, if the other party has responded to the Petition for Dissolution, the party who filed can dismiss on their own. [Read more…]

Can We Divorce Without A Lawyer?

can I get a divorce without a lawyer - Seattle Divorce Services

It certainly is possible in Washington State to divorce without a lawyer, although as a lawyer I need to clarify that I do not recommend it. I have had clients spend a lot of money trying to undo mistakes they made writing their own court orders (remember the old car care commercial “Pay me now, or pay me later”?).

For those who are considering a divorce without a lawyer, there is a state website where most of the forms that you would need are available. Also, you should review the court rules. For some local forms, you may need to go to the superior court website for your county. Here are some links to King County forms, local court rules, and information about Family Court. Finally, you should also review the laws regarding divorce in Washington. [Read more…]