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5 Tips to Survive Divorce During the Holidays

divorce during the holidays

Divorce clients who come to us in December often seem a bit more distressed than they are the rest of the year.  We get it.  A divorce scores 73 on a 1-100 stress scale with 100 being the most stressful event in a lifetime. Add to this the holidays and expectations to give more, love more, and forgive more. They feel confused and wonder how to find it within themselves to do that in the face of a divorce during the holidays. If children are involved, this time period becomes even more difficult and emotional to navigate.

1.  If you’re in the middle of a divorce during the holidays,  you need a plan.

The first thing you can do is to remember that our emotional state is attached to familiar actions and surroundings. Therefore, the first thing you should do to make the holidays easier and even enjoyable for you and your children is to change those actions and change those surroundings. 

If possible, take yourself out of your usual holiday surroundings.Visit out-of-state family, for instance. If this is not possible…

2.  How about starting a new tradition? Do this on your own or with your children if you have them. It’s probably best for your emotional well-being to not continue with the traditions you followed with your spouse. Having your very own traditions will keep you focused on the positive and new rather than distressing over going through a divorce during the holidays. For the kids, it could be fun and distract them from what’s now different, namely, that, possibly for the first time in their lives, they are only with one parent at a time for this year’s holiday.

Justin had always wanted to take his children ice-skating around the holidays, but his  soon-to-be ex-wife didn’t like it at all, so they never went. He decided to now make it a holiday tradition to spend an afternoon at the ice skating rink with the kids and then take them out for hot chocolate after. It turned out to be a hit with them. It also gave everyone hope that the holidays could still be a happy time for them despite the divorce.

3.   Are you single? Or are your children scheduled to be with your ex during this holiday season? Plan ahead to do something to help others when going through a divorce during the holidays. It’s a well-known fact that helping others lifts our own spirits. Volunteering your time to a shelter, for instance, would take your mind off your own suffering and warm your heart as you help others even less fortunate than you. Or find other single parents whose children will be with their other parent that day and celebrate together, doing something none of you usually does on that day.

Karin reached out to two other friends whose children were going to be with their other parent for the last day of Hanukkah. She arranged ahead of time for them to visit residents of a nursing home who didn’t get visitors or whose families were out of state. They bought several low-cost gifts and wrapped them brightly and delivered them to these residents with good wishes, bringing tears of joy to the eyes of some. This made the women feel very happy inside and thankful for the happiness they still had in their own lives. They followed this up with a special dinner at a restaurant none of them had ever been to before.  They vowed to do it again the next time their children were with their other parent for a holiday.

4.  No matter what, make sure that your children feel loved by both parents during this time. Make sure they don’t feel pulled between you and made to feel guilty for being with one or the other parent on any given special day. If you are still working out the holiday visitation schedule, be sure that the children have ample time with each parent and vary it up, from year to year if the children have to travel some distance between you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse.

If a certain holiday is very important to both you and your spouse, make it so that you both get the children for a portion of it, but be sure and do it in a way that is enjoyable for the children too. If you live far apart, it would most likely be best to agree to an alternate-year holiday visitation schedule.

Robert and Diane, who live 500 miles apart, agreed that their two children should spend all of the holidays with one another at least until their late teens, and made it so that the children spent the Christmas holiday with Diane during odd years and with Robert during even years.

Having to fly or take a bus to get from one parent to another on an actual holiday to meet a visitation schedule would most likely make your child dread that holiday rather than look forward to it.

5.  Lastly, but most importantly, do NOT become a recluse if you are going through a divorce during the holidays. Even if you’d rather  pull a double shift at work, or stick your hand in fire,  force yourself to go out and mingle with good friends or family (stay away from those who constantly bring up negative things about your ex or ask them to stop). Your spirits will lift from your new activities! We are social creatures and even when feeling low, we derive happiness and comfort from being around others.

Happy holidays to all!

 

P.S. If you haven’t retained an attorney yet and want a more affordable solution, visit our divorce website, NevadaDivorce.org

Should you take the parenting class when you divorce in Nevada?

Clients often ask us why they have to take the parenting class. It comes up sooner or later in every conversation we have with divorce clients.

We all have too much on our plates; that’s a fact. When we are going through a divorce, there’s even more to do, not to mention the stress it adds to your already over-scheduled day.

So, who wants to add one more thing to their to-do lists by taking a parenting class, even if it’s online?

First off, if you live in Clark County, Nevada and file a divorce here, it’s required by the court. Your divorce will not be granted otherwise.  The court made it mandatory in the hope that it would remove bickering divorced parents from the very busy court calendar.

Luckily, it’s now possible to take it online, so no driving, parking, and blocking out a particular time on a particular day. Just take it whenever you can fit it in, in the middle of the night even, if that’s what works best for you.

You might feel resentful at being told by a court that you have to take it in order to get your decree of divorce, and this can affect how you receive the information.

You might be tempted to take it in a hurry just to get the certificate you need, and you might not want to pay it much attention, but here’s why you should pay attention and give it as much time as it requires for you to retain the information in it and actually be able to use it later. Figure out how to see it as something valuable to you rather than just one more chore.

Because it is valuable to you. Very valuable. Even if it’s not a requirement where you live, you should strongly consider taking it.

Essentially, you’re trading the three to five hours it will take you to go through the course against possibly hundreds of hours of frustration with your ex (depending on how long you’ll co-parent your child(ren) with him or her), as well as saving your children from emotional damage associated with putting them in the middle.

Here’s how you will benefit:
1) You will learn the skills you need to avoid your children emotional harm caused by certain behaviors too often typical of divorcing parents:
o Having your child carry messages rather than communicating directly with your ex
o Questioning your child about what goes on in your ex’s house
o Putting you ex down verbally to your children
o Discussing money problems with your child
o Issues related to long-distance parenting

2) You will learn strategies with which to deal directly with your ex, which will benefit both of you as well as the children you must parent together:
o Deal with your ex in a respectable manner
o Learn tactics to control any anger you might feel toward your ex
o Learn to not play the “loyalty” game with your children. Your children love both of you and should be free to be loyal to both parents.

Think of the time and aggravation you’ll save yourself by simply having the tools to deal with potentially explosive situations with your ex and weigh it against just a few hours of your time now.  We think you know the answer now as to whether or not you should take the parenting class when you divorce in Nevada.

Should you move out of the marital home?

Many divorcing people ask themselves whether they should move out of the marital home. First of all, if you are in a dangerous situation and the only way to stabilize things and keepmove out of marital home yourself safe is to move out, then do so immediately, of course.  Nothing is worth compromising your safety. A little later in this article, we tell you what to do and what to take if you feel you must leave the home immediately for safety’s sake.If you have minor
children and wish to obtain either full or shared physical custody, it is best, if it is safe to do so, that you not move out of the marital home.

We had a client whom we’ll call Wayne whose wife had moved out of the home and went to live three blocks away at a friend’s home for the duration of their divorce because, as she apparently told our client, “I can’t wait to get away from you.” Well, this divorce took two years to finalize due to a lot of paperwork coming at us from wife’s attorney, many motions filed, and a packed court calendar.

Though our client’s wife remained involved in their three children’s lives on a nearly daily basis, they never spent the night with her due to a lack of space at the friend’s house. Essentially, they were living with Dad, our client, full time.

When it came time for the judge to make a decision on physical custody, it was easy enough for us to get the judge to grant our client full physical custody because the judge was naturally reluctant to uproot the children from Dad’s house for several days each week. Wife was told by the judge to get her own place and have the children spend her visitation weekends there with her and ask again in no sooner than six months about changing to a shared custody arrangement.  Wife lost out on her desired shared custody because she was too quick to leave the marital home.

So, unless you are in immediate danger, it might be best for you to bite the bullet and stay put. If you do leave because it is not safe for you to stay, be sure to get all of your important financial documents and records and take them with you. It’s even more crucial to do this if you are forced to leave the house by the court or the police.  If this occurs, you are not likely to be allowed back in until after a court hearing, if at all.

This is a list of most commonly-needed documents in a contested divorce situation:

  • tax returns
  • paycheck stubs if you are an employee
  • 1099s if you are a freelancer or independent contractor
  • mortgage loan documentation
  • car titles if you own your vehicle(s) free and clear
  • bank statements
  • brokerage account statements
  • loan agreements with family or friends if applicable
  • stocks and bonds you have on hand
  • credit card statements
  • loan documents for any outstanding loans

Take photos of any high-value artwork, collections of value, such as baseball cards, memorabilia, jewelry you can’t take with you (if you’re a man that would be your wife’s jewelry), even high-value clothing such as high-end handbags (Louis Vuitton, etc.)

The next thing to do, if you are moving out and your children are staying in the marital home, is to find a place to live nearby.  When the judge decides on physical custody, you are a lot more likely to win shared physical custody if the children’s school and extra-curricular activities’ schedules will not be disrupted by going from one home to the other.

Be sure to have your children spend time with you overnight as much as possible in your new home so that you are already following a semblance of a shared parenting schedule when you get to your day in court. The judge will want to know that the standard of living for the children in your new home is similar to what they are accustomed to in the marital home.

It’s sometimes a tough decision to make, but if there is any way possible, it’s probably best to stay in the marital home until everything has been decided.

Nevada divorce and residency of a minor child

If you have children under the age of 18 with your current spouse, and the children reside Nevada divorce and residency of minor childin Nevada with you, they must have resided in the state for a minimum of six months before Nevada District Court Family Division will take jurisdiction over them, in the event of a divorce.

There is some confusion over this because you, as a party to the divorce, are considered a Nevada resident after living here consistently for six weeks and you can file a divorce at that point.

At the six-month mark, Nevada is considered the “home state” of the children and the Court will pass rulings on physical custody, visitation, and child support.

What prevents the court from taking jurisdiction over the children until they have lived here for six months is the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (UCCJA). This came into effect in 1968 and by 1981, it had been adopted by every state in the U.S.  This law was designed to discourage parents from taking their children to another state without the permission of the other parent, as was happening on a frequent basis in divorce situation, creating confusion, not only for the children, but for the courts who had to make rulings on the residency of the children involved.

As you can read here,  http://bit.ly/1sgcaY1, the UCCJA operates upon novel principles that 1) establish jurisdiction over a child custody case in one state; and, 2) protect the order of that state from modification in any other state, so long as the original state retains jurisdiction over the case.  If a non-custodial parent cannot take a child to another state and petition the court of that state for a favorable modification of an existing custody order, the incentive to run with the child is greatly diminished.

There are exceptions, however. Did you move to Nevada with your minor children less than six months ago and are now divorcing?

Is the safety of a child at stake because of bad behavior on their other parent’s part? If so, Family Court here can make an exemption to the six-month residency rule in a Nevada divorce and the residency of minor child.

If you are able to show an emergency as defined by Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act, a Nevada judge could make a ruling over your child(ren) who have resided in Nevada for less than the required six months.  This could be either a temporary, or permanent ruling.

Understand that such cases can become complicated. In order to protect your children’s rights and your own rights, you should retain a highly-experienced family law attorney well-versed in divorce and child custody law.

Can I leave the State of Nevada with my children?

You’re married with children and have become accustomed to leaving the state with your children, without their other parent, on a regular basis to visit family, friends, or for vacations, or just because. You are move out of state with childrennow facing a divorce with the other parent of your child(ren) and you want to move to another state or country to be closer to family, or because of a great job offer.

The glitch is that by Nevada law, the rules on your comings and goings from the state with your children have changed once a divorce has been filed.

It comes as a surprise to some that they cannot leave the state with their children without the permission of either the other parent of their child(ren),  or of  the judge in the form of a court order.

If you leave the state before a divorce action has been filed, it is assumed that the permission of the other spouse was obtained. There are no assumptions anymore once a divorce has been filed by either of you, even if you filed a joint petition divorce.

If the child(ren)’s habitual state of residence has been Nevada and you do relocate to another state, or country,  with your child(ren) before a divorce action has been filed and your spouse then files a Complaint for Divorce asking for physical custody, a judge might well order the children back to Nevada, especially if it appears that the intent behind the move was malicious towards the other parent rather than moving because of work or to be nearer to family for help with the child(ren).

The jurisdiction of children under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act is the state where the children have lived for the majority of the 6 months immediately preceding divorce filings.

There are some exceptions to the rule, of course, especially if the court finds that Nevada is not a proper forum in which to decide physical custody of the child(ren):

NRS 125A.365  Inconvenient forum.

 A court of this state which has jurisdiction pursuant to the provisions of this chapter to make a child custody determination may decline to exercise its jurisdiction at any time if it determines that it is an inconvenient forum under the circumstances and that a court of another state is a more appropriate forum. The issue of inconvenient forum may be raised upon motion of a party, the court’s own motion or request of another court.

 Before determining whether it is an inconvenient forum, a court of this state shall consider whether it is appropriate for a court of another state to exercise jurisdiction. For this purpose, the court shall allow the parties to submit information and shall consider all relevant factors, including:

(a) Whether domestic violence has occurred and is likely to continue in the future and which state could best protect the parties and the child;

(b) The length of time the child has resided outside this state;

(c) The distance between the court in this state and the court in the state that would assume jurisdiction;

(d) The relative financial circumstances of the parties;

(e) Any agreement of the parties as to which state should assume jurisdiction;

(f) The nature and location of the evidence required to resolve the pending litigation, including testimony of the child;

(g) The ability of the court of each state to decide the issue expeditiously and the procedures necessary to present the evidence; and

(h) The familiarity of the court of each state with the facts and issues in the pending litigation.

 If a court of this state determines that it is an inconvenient forum and that a court of another state is a more appropriate forum, it shall stay the proceedings upon condition that a child custody proceeding be promptly commenced in another designated state and may impose any other condition the court considers just and proper.

If you do move out of the state with your child(ren) and with your spouse’s permission, and no divorce is impending, it is best and safest for you to get that permission in writing, preferably notarized, in the event a divorce follows later.

For your best course of action if you find yourself in a divorce situation and need to move outside Nevada with your minor children (under the age of 19), if your spouse will not give you written permission, is to contact your attorney for advice.

Do I have to take the C.O.P.E. class if I have children?

If you live in Las Vegas (Clark County) the short answer is “yes.” This one-time (can now be taken online) class IS required of all divorcing parties in Nevada who have children together.

You will see ways to avoid taking this class as you browse online, but the way to avoidcope class in las vegas it involves filing your divorce case in counties other than Clark County that do not require it.  At first glance this might seem like a good deal for you, but based on years of divorce experience and of domesticating (moving) cases from those other counties to Clark County to address child support and visitation issues, it’s not a good deal at all in the end. Chances are high in a divorce with children that you will return to court at some point.

Reasons you might return to court after your divorce is granted:

  • Review child support (you are entitled to review child support every three years)
  • Address physical custody
  • Address visitation
  • Address the court for permission to take a child on a vacation if the other parent objects
  • Address issue of the cost of extra-curricular activities as your children grow up
  • Address any issue you might be having with the other parent not complying with the decree of divorce in regards to visitation, child support, or other issues.

Calculate how many times you might return to court between the time your divorce is granted and your child reaches the age of 18.

If you live in Clark County and your divorce is filed in a county located a day’s drive, or an hour flight away, it means you’ll have to spend money to either travel to court there, or move your case to Clark County before addressing issues. When a case has to be moved from one county to the next, these are the steps that must be taken:

  1. File a motion to change venue in the court where your decree was granted
  2. Appear at Court to have it granted
  3. Submit an Order to Transfer Venue to the judge and wait for it to be signed and filed.
  4. Once the court clerk in Clark County receives your file you will have to pay a filing fee here to complete the transfer.

Only after all of the above has been done can you address the court in Clark County to modify any of the clauses in your final decree of divorce.  The average attorney fee to do this is $750 plus the filing costs of approximately $326.

As you can see, both are costly choices compared to the $45 it will cost each of you to take the class. You can take it in person for $40 if you prefer that to doing it online.

That’s the financial aspect of things. The most important reason for you to take the COPE class is certainly for the well-being of your children. Even if the court didn’t require it, it would certainly benefit parents to take the class which helps you with the following:

  • How to focus on the needs of your children
  • How to lower the stress of your children
  • How to co-parent and work together for the benefit of your children
  • Less child reported stress (22%)
  • Fewer school absences (70%)
  • Fewer doctor visits (54%)

It has been proven that a divorce, a major event in the life of a child, when not handled right, can cause high stress and long-term psychological burden on children. Taking the COPE class helps you help your child through your divorce in a way that will minimize stress. It also teaches you ways to deal with a difficult co-parent.

All in all, it’s a huge benefit for a small investment.

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