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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

7 Misconceptions about Divorce in Nevada

1. My wife says she won’t’ give me a divorce. Do I have to stay married to her?

No, you do not. Despite the fact that this hasn’t been true for a number of years, especially in Nevada where no-fault divorce has existed for a number of years, we still hear the question often.  This misconception used to be true (hence, how it became one), back when a specific reason and strong proof had to be given to obtain a divorce in Nevada, but it’s no longer the case.

Your spouse can make getting a divorce more difficult, prolonging the process, in a number of ways (avoiding service, sending you on wild goose chases for documents and old bank account statements, etc. filing motions that are essentially harassment, etc.), but no Nevada judge is going to force you to stay married to him or her.

 

2. I get to keep my house if I divorce in Nevada because I bought it before my marriage. Correct? divorce in Nevada

Maybe. Maybe not. Nevada is a community property state, which means that anything owned in either spouse’s name alone still belongs with the community property assets, with some exceptions.

For instance, if you owned the house before the marriage and used only your separate funds, earned before the marriage, to make mortgage payments and to handle the upkeep on the property and to make improvements, then yes, the house will go to you in a divorce.

If any community funds were used to cover upkeep or to make improvements, the house moves into the realm of community property. It makes no difference if the mortgage or deed is held in the name of one spouse only.

If you did use community funds for the aforementioned house expenses, your spouse would be entitled to half of the increase in value of the property since the time of your marriage. You would retain whatever down payment you made on the house before the equity is split.

Community funds in the context of this answer are funds from a joint bank account, and any funds earned during the marriage by either you or your spouse even if they are in an account you do not share with your spouse.

 

3. My spouse cheated on me. I’m going to get all of our property, correct? 

Not correct.  Because Nevada is a no-fault state on divorce, it doesn’t matter at all who cheated and who didn’t; it’s not even looked at by the court when it comes time to divide marital assets.

Yes, we understand you feel it’s unfair. We feel for you. Nevertheless, it’s still a fact around which there is no getting around. Even if your spouse cheated, he or she will receive his or her equitable share of the marital assets.

You can always try to mediate this if you feel very strongly that you should get more of the assets than your spouse (mediation is a far superior way to handle property division in a divorce, whether or not cheating or any other wrong-doing took place), but if a Nevada judge gets to make the decision, the assets will be divided fairly between the two of you.

 

4. I’ve been a stay-at-home mom throughout the marriage so I will get full physical custody of our children. 

This is a very common misconception. Again, because it used to be true.
You could possibly get full custody of your children; however, Nevada family courts favor shared physical custody and are likely to grant each parent equal time with the children, unless the children are at risk of coming to harm in the presence of their other parent.

Of course, if your spouse agrees that the children should live with you full-time, and will visit with him or her on weekends, the court will not object. But, the court is not likely to grant you full physical custody of your children if you ask for it and your spouse is not willing to give it voluntarily. Unless, again, there is a good reason as to why the children aren’t safe with their other parent (drugs, alcohol, mental illness, abuse of any kind, etc.)

Custody of the minor children: some people confuse physical and legal custody when they divorce in Nevada.

Legal custody is

    •  the right of a parent to see a child’s medical and school records and to have a say about the child’s education and religious upbringing. No more, no less. A parent can have legal custody without having any physical custody at all.

 

  • Physical custody determines which parent the child lives with, or states that a child lives with both parents, sharing about equal time between them. Typically, a parent who has either full or shared custody also has legal custody.
  • There is also Sole custody, meaning that a parent has both legal and full physical custody, with the other parent having essentially no say in a child’s upbringing.

In all of the above scenarios, visitation can still take place. In other words, a parent with no legal or physical custody rights could still be granted visitation.

Finally, be careful before you ask for full physical custody unless you have a strong provable reason that your child would be endangered by their other parent. Family court in Nevada highly favors shared physical custody and is likely to see you as a trouble maker if you push for full physical custody without a really good reason.

 

5. If we have shared custody, neither of us pays child support, correct?

This is also a very common misconception. One party will typically still pay some child support to the other party even with shared custody. The court follows the formula below – you can read about this in more detail on our divorce with children page.

Easy formula to figure out your child support obligation:

  1. Take the percentage of each party’s gross salary according to the number of children:

Statutory Percentages (NRS 125B.070 (1)(B):
One (1) child: 18%
Two (2) children: 25%
Three (3) children: 29%
Four (4) children: 31%
Five (5) or more children: 2% more over amount for four (4) children for each additional child.

Subtract the smaller amount from the larger amount The party with the higher income pays the difference to the other party. Example:

  • John and Jane have one child and no reason to deviate from the Nevada statutory guidelines on child support.
  • John’s gross monthly salary is $1000 per month, so his obligation to Jane for child support is $180 per month.
  • Jane’s gross monthly salary is 800 per month, so she is obligated to John for $144 monthly for child support.
  • Difference between $180 and $144 is $36, so John pays Jane $36 per month.

 

6. I didn’t work during our marriage. I will get alimony for the rest of my life if I divorce in Nevada. Correct?

This used to be true, especially for long-term marriages where the wife stayed at home raising the children and had not worked at all during the marriage.

It’s no longer the case.

Courts are a lot less likely to grant life-long alimony to a spouse, unless it was a very long marriage, the other spouse never worked and is incapable of earning due to physical or mental disability.

Otherwise, a judge might grant temporary alimony while the spouse that stayed at home retrains in a new career, or revives an old career.

Nevada law on alimony (NRS 125.150 states the following regarding the circumstances under which a judge might grant alimony in a divorce:

    • the standard of living to which the couple was accustomed
    • the career of both spouses before the marriage
    • whether one spouse has advanced the other spouse’s career
    • age and education of the parties
    • the ability to pay of the spouse who will be paying alimony

 

7.  My friend told me I can get a divorce in Nevada in just one day. Is that true?

Not anymore. We do wish this misconception about getting a divorce in Nevada would go away. We still get the question nearly every day despite the fact that this hasn’t been true for at least 10 years!

Back in the 50’s when it was popular to get a divorce in Nevada because of the short residency requirement, yes, you could often get a divorce in Nevada in a day (after establishing residency). And even just 15 years ago, you could get it done in just a few days. What happened is that between budget cuts, the now much larger population of Nevada, and the many people who establish residency to get a divorce, family courts in Nevada have become overwhelmed.

How long a divorce in Nevada takes depends in large part on how busy the court is at the time your divorce is filed. It also depends on how busy your divorce judge happens to be at the time he or she is assigned your case.

Our office does get final decrees back from the court in just two or three days occasionally, but the norm is more like 7 to 10 days and even up to three weeks sometimes.

All of the above timeline is based on a joint petition divorce (you both signed the divorce documents before filing the case). If you file a complaint for divorce, it will take 12-16 weeks or so if your spouse can be personally served and up to 26 weeks if publication has to take place.

The best thing to do to dispel misconceptions about divorce in Nevada is to talk to your attorney about any concerns you have regarding any aspect of your divorce. Don’t assume and don’t just accept for granted what your friend who went through a divorce three years ago tells you. That person is not in the trenches every day dealing with divorce court and they don’t know the law like your lawyer knows it.

5 Things to Avoid Doing to Your Children When You Go through a Divorce

Divorce with children always make the process more painful, and often more difficult.  Too often, parents will put their children in the middle, sometimes without even realizing that they have done so, or without thinking of the consequences to the children.  This then makes the divorce not only painful for the adults involved, but excruciating  for the children, not to mention the long-term psychological damage they can suffer from having been forced to act as referees between their parents.

  1. Do not use them to deliver messages to you ex. Asking your children to say to your ex, for example, “tell your father (or mother) to not bring his girlfriend (or boyfriend) to your birthday party” puts them in an awkward position. They might have a relationship with that boyfriend or girlfriend and will feel confused and guilty about having to relay such a request.
  1. Don’t tell your child to ask his other parent for the money needed for a school project, allowance, or the pair of shoes you would have given him or her without discussion before the divorce. Your child can’t comprehend the money issues of adults going through a divorce and will only feel guilty about asking. They might even stop asking all together for things that are even urgently needed, like school supplies. Some kids have been known to start stealing them rather than have to ask for them.
  1. Do you have a new significant other in your life? Don’t ask your child to keep this information from your ex-spouse. And don’t ask your child to not tell your ex about your new relationship. This will put undue stress on your child and possibly put them in a position of having to lie. If your wife asks your child whether or not you have a girlfriend, your child shouldn’t have to debate whether or not to tell the truth.
  1. Don’t use your children as a sounding board for problems you are having with your ex. They don’t need to hear how your ex refuses to communicate about school issue and how her being late for every pick up or drop off is creating turmoil in your own life.  This will make them feel like they have to take your side and make them feel disloyal to their other parent.  They should be able to feel equally loyal to both of you , and not have to worry about getting their mother to pick them up or drop them off on time.
  1. Find a way to attend school functions even if you have a difficult time being with your ex. And, yes, it’s hard, but don’t stand on the other side of the room and avoid all contact with him or her. This will make your children feel embarrassed and anxious in front of their peers. It will also make them feel disloyal to both of you as they hang out first with you, then with their other parent separately. You were once married to this person and created a beautiful child with him or her. Unless there is a physical danger to you (and/or your child), find it within yourself to be somewhat together in the same room with your ex and be civil to one another for the short duration of these events.

If you need help to accomplish the above, don’t be afraid to seek it professionally rather than put your children in the middle.  A divorce is probably one of the hardest things you will go through in life, if not the hardest. There is no shame in needing help to make it through; just don’t get that help from your child. He or she will suffer emotional consequences from it.  There are plenty of studies that demonstrate the emotional and psychological trauma endured by children put in middle by their divorced or divorcing parents.

Even if you are not required to do so, consider taking a parenting class for divorcing parents. In Nevada, where such a class is mandatory before a divorce will be granted, it can be taken online. Our office will direct you to a class that is approved by the court.

 

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.

3 Important Tips on How to Cope with a Divorce during the Holidays

Are you having an unusually difficult time with your divorce because it’s also the holiday season? A divorce is one of the most difficult and stressful period of your life, especially with children, yet everyone around you expects you to look and feel happy because they do.

You need a plan.

I’ve been a family law attorney in Las Vegas, Nevada for more than twenty-five years. During that time, I’ve seen lots of people going through a divorce during the holidays. I know a few things about how to cope, but I also went looking for unusual tips from experts who aren’t lawyers in an effort to give you a broader spectrum.

I included one tip from each expert with links to their articles, followed by my own tips.

divorce during the holidays

rights purchased from dreamstime.com

Robert E. Emory, PHD, of http://bit.ly/1IM8DlO offers ten tips. My favorite on his list is “Celebrate with your children’s other parent.” Unusual? Shocking?

I know that for many people, yes, it is, but think about it. If you can manage one event, small or large, with your ex, your children are sure to feel more relaxed about then being separated from one parent or the other for the remainder of the holidays.

Dr. Karen Finn, http://bit.ly/1liY4Sy — has a great tip that can help whether or not you have children. She recommends giving yourself a gift.

© Liz Van Steenburgh Dreamstime Stock Photos

And why not? You most likely will not be getting a gift from your spouse or be gifting him or her either. Grab the opportunity to buy yourself something you really like.

 

 

 

Below is my list on how to cope with the holiday season while in a divorce:

  1. Start a new tradition, on your own or with your children if you have them, rather than continue with the ones you followed with your spouse.
  2. If you are single, or if your children will be with your ex, plan ahead of time to do something to help others. It’s a well-known fact that helping others lifts our own mood in turn. Volunteer at a shelter, for instance, or visit people in hospitals with no family, or give friends with children a night off while you watch the kids.
  3. Do NOT become a recluse. 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.

Your spirits will lift from your new activities! We are social creatures and even when feeling low, we derive comfort from being around others. You will also feel empowered from having weathered holiday events on your own.

Now, go forth and make merry!

Conexa, LLC, Discount divorce law firm in Las Vegas, Nevada.

 

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