It’s discouraging when the person to whom you promised to spend the rest of your life with simply disappears, seemingly without a trace.
We had a female client recently, we’ll call her Lisa for the purposes of this article, whose husband of ten years left the home without notice, just leaving a brief note to say he was leaving and not coming back. The parties own a home and have two children together.
Months went by and the Husband made no contact with Lisa, and no amount of asking relatives or friends turned him up. Finally, not knowing what to do, she called our office wondering if she could even file a divorce since she could not find him anywhere.
We reassured her that, in Nevada, the law allows for being able to obtain a divorce even in these circumstances. This is how to obtain a divorce when your spouse has disappeared.
We then do a skip-trace to attempt to find the Defendant (the missing spouse).
If he or she cannot be found that way, we will obtain an affidavit of due diligence. Based on that, we’re able to get an order to publish from the judge.
Once publication has taken place, once a week for five weeks, we are able to submit a Default to the court on Day 22 after the last date of Publication, if the Defendant has not filed an Answer in court.
Once the Default has been granted, we submit the final decree of divorce for the judge’s signature.
After the judge has signed the decree, the court clerk files it and the divorce becomes final.
Because Lisa owned a home with her husband and had two children with him, we also did the following:
Obtained an Order from the judge to allow the judge’s clerk sign a Quitclaim deed that transferred ownership of the parties’ house to Lisa only.
Obtained full physical custody of the parties’ children for Lisa. If her spouse, the children’s father, ever wants visitation, he will have to petition the court. Both parties still retained legal custody as this is a separate matter from physical custody and must be addressed separately.
Once the divorce was granted, we forwarded a copy of the final decree of divorce to the District Attorney’s Family Support Division so that Lisa could get child support for the children. The District Attorney’s office has many investigative resources and powers to find Lisa’s husband. Once they do, they will garnish his wages, suspend his licenses, or attach any IRS refund due him to cover any child support due to Lisa for the children of the parties.
In addition to all of this, though this didn’t happen in Lisa’s case, the judge might order a Plaintiff to pay a private investigator to find the missing spouse. Also, if there is equity in the house owned by the parties and it gets sold by the Plaintiff, the judge might also order the Plaintiff to keep Defendant’s share in a separate account for him or her, for at least a period of about a year.
This should help answer your most pressing questions if you are either contemplating divorce or are currently going through a divorce and you have children with your spouse. In most divorces that involve children, we get asked most of these same questions each and every time.
Why do I have to pay Child Support when I share physical custody with my spouse? In many cases, even when parents share physical custody fairly equally, one parent will end up paying at least some child support.
First off, for your arrangement to be considered shared physical custody, the court likes to see a time split that amounts to a near-equal number of hours shared by the parents, outside school hours. For instance, if your child is with you from Friday after school until Monday when you drop him off at school, and is then with your spouse from after school on Monday until Friday morning school time, that would be considered equal time even though your child is with you for only two full days. This is because, since there is no school on the weekend, you have spent pretty much the same number of the child’s awake hours with the child, as did the parent who had the child from Monday after school through Friday morning before school.
In Nevada, child support is calculated according to a specific formula which you’ll find on our Divorce with Children page.
Do I have to buy health insurance for my child(ren) even though they don’t have coverage now? Nevada expects one parent to be responsible for health care cost of the child(ren), usually in the form of a health insurance policy. If neither parent can cover this cost, an explanation must be given in the divorce pleadings. Both parents are expected to share, fifty/fifty, medical costs not covered by the insurance. If Mother incurred the medical expense for the child, she must present Father with the invoice within 30 days of incurring it. Father must then reimburse Mother his fifty percent share of that expense.
Can I include college expenses into the decree of divorce? Nevada has no rules or laws about this, so it’s discretionary. The parties can agree to include it in the decree of divorce, but the judge has no jurisdiction over it, therefore cannot force a parent to pay for the college education of a child. Can I ask for money for extra-curricular activities for the child(ren)? Quite possibly. Extra-curricular activities such as sports, private school tuition, costs of child care, are all items on the allowed list of deviations from the child support guidelines. (NRS125B.080). Below are some of the most common deviations:
Cost of health insurance
Cost of child care
Special educational needs of the child
Age of the child
Legal responsibility of parents for the support of others (such as children from a previous relationship)
Value of services contributed by either parent
Any public assistance paid to support the child
Any expenses reasonably related to the mother’s pregnancy and confinement
The cost of transportation of the child to and from visitation if the custodial parent moved with the child from the jurisdiction of the court which ordered the support and the noncustodial parent remained
The amount of time the child spends with each parent
Any other necessary expenses for the benefit of the child
The relative income of both parents
Can I move out of the State of Nevada with my children? Leaving the state permanently or temporarily without your spouse and taking your children with you while you are married is perfectly legal. Once you file a divorce, however, the rules change. You will need your spouse’s written consent and if your spouse won’t give permission, you will need to obtain a court order from the judge assigned to your divorce case.
If the child(ren)’s habitual residence has been Nevada for at least six months and you move outside the State of Nevada with your child(ren) and your spouse subsequently files a Complaint for Divorce asking for physical custody, a Nevada judge might well order the children back to Nevada. The judge would look at your reason for moving; if moving closer to family or work was not the reason, and it appears that the move was simply malicious towards your spouse, it’s highly likely that you’d have to return the child(ren) to Nevada.
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.
As always, this is general information; you should always consult an attorney before taking action.
In Nevada, child support is pretty much set in stone, except for a few court-allowed deviations. You never have to scratch your head too much on how much child support has to be paid.
Essentially, it goes like this:
18% of your gross income for child support for 1 child
25% of your gross income for 2 children
29% of your gross income for 3 children
and 2% more of your gross income for each additional child if you have more than 3 children.
Child support is paid to the primary physical custodian from the other parent’s wages, salary or other income.
However, if the parties have a 40/60, 60/40 or 50/50 time share of physical custody, then the Court will take a look at both parents’ incomes and figure out child support as follows:
If one parent makes $2,000 a month and the other parent makes $4,000 a month and they have 2 children, then the parent who makes $2000 per month pays the other parent $500 per month, and the parent who makes $4000 per month pays the other parent $1,000 a month. The Court subtracts the lower amount from the higher amount so that the parent who makes $4000 per month pays to the parent who makes $2000 a month $500 a month in child support. Confusing?
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.
Aside from child support the parents must maintain medical insurance from the children. The custom and practice in Nevada is to divide any out of pocket medical deductibles, premiums, co-pays are non-covered items equally.
The parent who incurred the expense has 30 days to submit the medical provider’s bill to the other parent, who then has 30 days to pay his or her half share.
Facts you should note about child support:
it is not tax deductible to the parent paying it.
child support in Nevada is paid up to the time the child either graduates from high school at 18 or until the child has reached the age of 19 if the child has not graduated from high school.
There is no legal obligation for a parent to pay for college, although the parties can contract for that in a child support agreement.
The minimum amount of child support in Nevada is $100 a month per child
The Court is able to deviate both upward and downward on the child support obligation but it’s discretion is limited, and the Court has to make specific findings for the deviation.
Even if the parents make the same amount of money and share legal and physical custody equally, the Court still wants the amount of the child support obligation of each parent in the Decree of Divorce or Child Custody Agreement.
This is so that the District Attorney’s Child Support Agreement will have something to enforce in case one parent leaves the children with the other parent full-time and does not start to make child support payments.
Child support is reviewed at least every 3 years. If there is an increase in income of more than 20% or a decrease in income of more than 20%, then child support can be reviewed at any other time.
Willfully under-employment or unemployment is not eligible for a decrease in child support.
Child support must be paid even when the spouse who has physical custody refuses to allow child visitation.
Being late 30 days will allow a wage garnishment on your wages or salary to occur.
Additional remedies for non-payment of child support include seizing tax returns, suspending professional and drivers’ licenses, denying issue of a passport and possible jail time.
If a party gets re-married, has another child and get divorced again, child support to the first child will continue as is while additional child support to the second child will be ordered, though it will be modified due to the first obligation.
Contrary to popular belief spousal support and alimony are alive and well in Nevada.
Spousal support is financial support given by one spouse to the other while the parties are still married, before a divorce, usually as part of a separate maintenance action (a.ka. legal separation).
Alimony is financial support given by one spouse to the other spouse after a divorce. Alimony payments are deductible to the payor and considered income to the payee by the IRS.
Alimony is separate from any property settlement. Since women have entered the workforce, alimony isn’t granted to them as often as it was in the past when a large number of women were stay-at-home moms or homemakers.
But, again, each situation is different. Even if a woman is employed, she might be entitled to some alimony for a period of time if her income is well below that of her spouse, or if she needs to study to get a degree or training of some sort to be able to support herself. This can go both ways. If Wife has been making considerably more money than Husband, she might have to pay him spousal support, or alimony.
If the marriage was short-term, but a spouse will suffer unduly because of a big difference in income between the parties, a judge might well grant short-term alimony to allow that spouse time to figure out how to increase his or her income.
If one of the spouses needs to be trained, or retrained, in a career, rehabilitative alimony might be granted. If you have to pay this, it would be wise to set a termination date on it to keep the party receiving the rehabilitative alimony from stretching the training for longer than necessary.
WHEN DOES A JUDGE CONSIDER GRANTING ALIMONY?
when there is a disparity in income between the parties
when the couple has been married or in a domestic partnership for a long period of time
when a spouse needs financial support because of a health issue
when a spouse needs retraining to get back into the workforce
Other considerations under NRS 125.150 (Nevada law on alimony) include:
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
Note that Nevada is a “no fault” state, so bad acts (such as cheating on a spouse) that do not cause economic harm or “community waste” are not grounds for temporary spousal support or alimony. If you need support right away when you file for divorce, you can file a motion with Family Court for temporary spousal support. This will get you a hearing in front of the judge sooner.
In Nevada, a judge has a lot of discretion in deciding whether to grant alimony or not, as well as how much and for how long:
If it’s a marriage of less than 3 years, alimony is unlikely though not impossible.
If the marriage is from 3 to 20 years, alimony could be granted for as many years as half of the length of the marriage, e.g, if married for 10 years, alimony is paid for five years.
If the marriage was longer than 20 years then permanent alimony is highly possible, and even likely.
By law (in Nevada), alimony stops when the spouse receiving alimony either passes away or remarries.
You can modify alimony if there is an increase or decrease of 20% of more in the paying party’s income. This is considered a change of circumstances. However, the Court will look to see if the payor is under-employing or un-employing himself to avoid paying an amount he or she does not wish to pay. A motion for change must be made in good faith, such as a lack of employment opportunities or a change in health making it impossible to continue paying the same amount due to loss of income because of it. A request to modify alimony must be made in good faith.
Parties also have the option to stipulate to non-modifiable alimony which would preclude a modification motion. An option to monthly alimony payments is a lump sum non-modifiable alimony. In fact, with much older couples the Court will often consider lump sum alimony instead of periodic payments simply to avoid the payee becoming suddenly destitute because of the untimely death of the payor.
Ready to file your divorce, or have questions about filing? We’re here
Because of a new law in Nevada, paralegals and legal document typists now have to act only as scriveners and cannot give any sort of advice or guidance to their clients. They are also more closely regulated by both the Secretary Of State and the Nevada State Bar. Paralegals who are non-attorney supervised can only assist the public through entities called Document Preparation Services. All paralegals are required to be registered with the State of Nevada, exemptions limited to employees of lawyers and certain nonprofit entities.
Under the new law (NRS 240A), a Document Preparation Service (DPS) must register with the Secretary Of State, be issued a unique registration number, and post a $50,000 bond to protect the public against fraud and/or incompetence, all before they can do business in Nevada. The law makes clear a distinction between document preparation services and the practice of law. The Nevada Bar has authority to charge the DPS with the unauthorized practice of law and subject the DPS provider to misdemeanor charges as well as cease and desist orders.
This new law regulates what a DPS can and cannot do. One of the things they are forbidden to do is give legal advice.
What you need to know if you plan to file your own case at court and have the documents typed by a paralegal or typing service instead of being represented by an attorney:
Paralegals who own and, or, operate, a DPS would be advised to have their clients consult with a lawyer first so that the client is not only properly advised, but also understands clearly which forms to ask the DPS to type.
Only after that consultation with the attorney can the DPS type up, as a scrivener, whatever legal documents have been advised by the lawyer should be filed for a specific type of case.
This new law does not permit a paralegal or typing service to advise a client of a mistake they might be making when requesting that any certain document be typed up and filed. Should this situation occur, the only option left to the paralegal or typing service is to tell the client to consult with an attorney before coming back to him or her for the typing of the documents.
The DPS must have a written contract with each client clearly stating its fees.
The DPS contract must provide client with an estimate of time it will take to prepare the documents requested by client.
The contract between the DPS and the client must state that the document preparer is not an attorney.
The contract must also state that the client has the right to file a complaint with either the Secretary Of State or the Nevada Bar against the DPS for any wrongdoing.
DPS must give written notice to the client that no attorney will represent client at court.
DPS must show each client its bond and Secretary of State registration information.
DPS must provide client with the names of all document preparers working in its offfices.
The contract and notice must be translated into Spanish or into any other native language of any clients serviced by the DPS.
The client must be told that they are not protected by the attorney/client privilege insofar as his or her discussions with the document preparer.
DPS must provide client with its local business license(s).
Receipts must be given and monthly statements if appropriate–all on the letterhead of the DPS
The letterhead for the DPS must contain its address, phone, tax identification number and registration number with the Nevada Secretary Of State.
What many people don’t understand when they hire a paralegal or typing service is that they are representing themselves at court. Even if a client hires a paralegal or typing service that claims that they are “attorney supervised,” only the client’s name(s) appear on the court pleadings; not the name of the attorney who supervises the typing service.
Should a DPS be found to break any of the above rules, the Nevada State Bar would send them a Cease and Desist through Civil Court. If the DPS does not abide by it, the Attorney General will file criminal charges against the DPS, and, or force the service to close.
Gwyneth Paltrow certainly got tongues wagging with her way of handling, and looking at, the dissolution of her marriage to Chris Martin. Perhaps in the future couples will say that they are uncoupling rather than divorcing. The more enlightened ones might even say that they’re undergoing a “conscious uncoupling” as Ms. Paltrow said. With people living longer than ever, and our world advancing at an unprecedented pace, marriage might one day not be expected to last forever. This is merely an exploration of what might be and not said to offend those who still believe that couples should mate for life.
No matter what you choose to call it, if you married legally and no longer want the relationship, it all boils down to divorcing, albeit if done consciously, it will be without fighting, without “punishing” your soon-to-be-ex by manipulating community funds, or taking all the money out of mutual accounts, without using the kids to fight battles, without bashing your spouse to anyone who will listen. You could say that conscious uncoupling is a collaborative divorce, albeit one on steroids, since the premise behind conscious uncoupling includes nurturing the spiritual aspect of divorce.
If you think about it, divorce involves moving forward and changing for both parties, for the children too, even. Moving forward in life and changing is essentially personal growth. Furthermore, personal growth and spirituality go hand in hand. When you make personal growth a priority in your life, you become spiritual; when you make spirituality a priority, in time you grow into your best self. The best way to keep a divorce civil, to remain conscious during the split, is to divorce in a non-combative, collaborative way. What’s the best way to do so?
Resign yourself to biting your tongue a lot throughout the process, for one. In other words, commit to remaining civil with your spouse at all times. During negotiations over how to split the bills and any money you both have a right to, commit to not blurting out what he or she did that might have brought on the divorce, such as cheating, or not helping carry the load, or allowing the kids to eat Cheetos for breakfast in front of the T.V. It has nothing to do with property and debt division. Same with going off about money in the middle of a conversation to decide physical custody and visitation. Be open-minded when discussing physical custody and visitation with the children. That other person is still their parent, just like you. Also, arrangements about the children that work for John and Mary may not be the best thing for your family. Think. What’s right for your particular situation? Don’t just mimic what other people are doing. Both parents should spend a few days going over in their own mind how it might best be handled and then, if not able to share it with each other in person because you fear you’ll fight about it, do it by email until you can come up with a plan that works best for the children to continue thriving between your two households. Be careful and conscious before you click Send. Do the same when deciding how you’ll split property and debts and any retirement accounts.
Lastly, agree to disagree civilly on the things there is no way you’ll ever agree on—these things are most likely the reasons for your divorce. People do keep growing as individuals and sometimes, unfortunately, you grow at a different rate, or in a different direction from your spouse. If you aim to be a conscious, spiritual person, or just someone who wants the best for your children, someone who wants to respect the love you once had for the person you are now divorcing, you will aim for a conscious uncoupling.
If you feel you might have difficulty negotiating directly with your spouse, especially if you have children and property to divide, you might consider a mediation session with a qualified divorce mediator, many of whom are family law attorneys. A divorce with terms arrived at with the help of a licensed, professional mediator is known as a Collaborative Divorce, or Mediated Divorce. We explain this in detail here.
In a large majority of divorce mediation cases that come through our office, just an hour or two resolves all issues. Besides feeling good about your conscious uncoupling, the glicken is that you stand to save thousands of dollars in attorney fees.
As you might know, filing a Joint Petition Divorce is currently the simplest and fastest way to dissolve a marriage in Las Vegas. Actually, all courts in Nevada accept joint petition divorce filings, so they’re not just for a Las Vegas divorce.
That said, filing a joint petition divorce requires the participation of both parties which is why we sometimes refer to it as a two-signature divorce. Note that if your situation is highly acrimonious and you fear harm from your soon-to-be ex-spouse, this article isn’t for you. Protect yourself first and foremost. In this case, a one-signature divorce is the best option for you.
If there are no children, no debt, and no property, and even if there are, a joint petition is the simplest, and least costly, way to obtain a divorce in Las Vegas, provided both parties are willing to sign the divorce papers.
If children, property (this can be anything from a house to a couch or television for divorce purposes) or debt are involved, obviously an agreement on issues such as child support, child visitation, physical custody, and property and debt division will be required before you get started.
Before you make the above decisions, a little research would go a long way towards avoiding arguments. For instance, in Nevada, child support is pretty much set in stone, so you can just look up the child support guidelines and follow them. The guidelines also contain allowed deviations.
This being a community property state, as far as property and debt division is concerned, you’d expect it to be a 50/50 split between the parties. However, this isn’t always the case; there are many exceptions. For instance, a vehicle or a house owned by only one of the parties before the marriage is likely to be awarded to that party were you to go into a divorce trial. Many things are considered, such as investment of the community property funds (when both parties share a checking or savings account and those funds are used for home improvement or paying the mortgage, for instance). If one of the parties owned a house before the marriage, the other party would only be entitled to half of any increase in equity from the time of the marriage.
If you feel that a Joint Petition divorce is a good option for your but feel uncertain about how to divide your debts and property, or if you have children with your spouse and want to know what’s appropriate as far as child support and visitation, consider Collaborative Divorce. This is a good option for longer term marriages, especially when the parties have many assets and, or, retirement benefits come into play. Some attorneys’ offices, like ours, offer divorce mediation services (collaborative divorce by a different name) in preparation for doing a Joint Petition divorce. Generally speaking, during mediation , the parties find out what they’re likely to be granted if they ended up in a divorce trial. Find out more about it here, Collaborative Divorce in Nevada
Bottom line is that when filing for a divorce in Las Vegas, a joint petition, except in a few situations, is the best option for everyone involved. You save time and money and the even bigger heartache of divorce court.
In our busy family law office, there are certain questions that, regardless of their situation, ALL clients ask us during their first conversation with us. Here are the 5 Most Asked Questions About Filing a Divorce or Annulment in Nevada – questions we hear every day. And, more importantly, the answers.
1. Am I eligible to file in Nevada? Divorce: To be eligible to file a divorce in Nevada, you must have lived in Nevada for a minimum of six weeks before filing. The court will require proof of your residency in the form of an affidavit by another Nevada resident. This affidavit will state that you have lived in Nevada for a minimum of six weeks before filing your divorce action and that you have the intent to remain in Nevada.
Annulment: If you were married in Nevada, there is no residency requirement for filing an annulment here. If you were married outside Nevada, the same residency rule for filing a divorce applies to an annulment.
2. I’ve never done this before. What kind of divorce (annulment) do I need to file? In a divorce, if your spouse and you agree on all the issues, and your spouse is willing to sign divorce papers, you’ll want to file a Joint Petition Divorce. If your spouse does not agree to sign the papers, you’ll want to file a Complaint for Divorce (which requires only your signature to file). Click here to read the procedure to follow in detail if your spouse won’t sign divorce papers.
3. What if I can’t find my spouse? For either an annulment or a divorce, we file your case, get a Summons issued and then procedure requires us to do what’s called a “skip-trace” based on your spouse’s last-known address in an attempt to find him or her. If the process server is able to find your spouse based on the skip-trace search, the process server will attempt to serve the Complaint for Divorce and the Summons on your spouse. If the process server is unable to find your spouse, he or she will provide us with an Affidavit of Due Diligence, which must be filed before the judge will sign an Order to Publish. The Summons will be published once a week for five weeks as per court requirement.
In both above instances, the Defendant has 21 days to file an Answer and Counterclaim at court after he or she has been served, either personally, or through the process of publication. If, after being served, the Defendant does not respond by filing an Answer and Counterclaim, a Default will be requested and once granted, the final decree submitted for the judge’s signature.
4. How much does it cost? Uncontested Divorce:
If both parties sign the divorce documents, the attorney fee ranges from $350-$425 (plus court costs).
If only one of the parties to the divorce signs the documents, the attorney fee is $650, provided the Defendant does not contest the divorce (plus court costs). If only one party signs, the other party will have to be served with the Complaint and Summons; the cost of the process server varies.
If both parties sign, the attorney fee is $499, plus court costs.
If only one party signs, the attorney fee is $799. Court costs and process service costs are separate.
We add up the attorney fee and the court costs and divide the total into two equal payments. The process server fees are collected approximately 10 days after filing, right after the Summons has been issued by the Court.
5. How long will my divorce or annulment take?
Whether it’s a divorce or annulment, if both parties sign the papers, it takes 1-2 weeks, at the most 3 weeks (if the court is very busy) for the judge to sign the final decree of divorce or final decree of annulment, after which the decree is filed with the court clerk, the last required step to finalize your divorce or annulment.
If your spouse did not sign the documents, it will take approximately 6-10 weeks to finalize your case if your spouse can be served personally, and approximately 16-20 weeks (sometimes longer) if publication must take place.
We hope we’ve answered these 5 most asked questions about filing a divorce or annulment in Nevada in a way you understand. If not, feel free to contact us for clarification.
This is a question we get asked so often from both annulment and divorce clients that we decided to address it in more depth here.
First off, whether you are filing an annulment or a divorce, it is always less expensive and faster to have it granted if your spouse signs the papers. This is because, if your spouse won’t sign, Nevada law requires that your spouse be served with the Complaint for Divorce (or Complaint for Annulment), and then be given 21 days after the date of service (consecutive calendar days and not business days) to respond to the complaint.
Please note, that if you are in a domestic violence situation, it would be far better to have the Defendant served rather than face a violent situation when you ask your spouse to sign the papers.
If you have no idea where your spouse resides and a skip-trace does not turn up a current address for him or her, then permission from the judge may be obtained to publish the Summons as a way to notify the Defendant of the annulment or divorce action. Publication of the Summons takes place once a week for five weeks (when filed in Nevada). And just as in when the Defendant is served personally, there is a 21-day waiting period after the last date of publication to give the Defendant an opportunity to respond.
If the Defendant does not respond, we can now submit a Default to the court. A Default essentially means that the Defendant does not object to the divorce or annulment because he or she did not respond. A Default is granted by the court with proof of service, either personal or by publication.
To properly respond to a Complaint for Divorce (or Complaint for Annulment) the Defendant must file an Answer and CounterClaim with the Family Court where the case was filed, and must do so no later than 21 days after he or she was served with the Complaint.
Should your spouse actually file an Answer and CounterClaim after he or she has been served, your divorce or annulment is now considered a contested matter.
If your spouse contests, the first thing the court does is set a Case Management Conference, which is essentially forced mediation. We are strong advocates of mediation as it avoids much anxiety for the parties as well as save them a lot of money. Our philosophy is, if you can’t come to an agreement on your own, why not enter into mediation before filing and therefore avoid high attorney fees for both sides (minimum of $2500-$5000 for each party in most cases) just to end up in mediation anyway?
The actual Case Management Conference takes place at court. Both Plaintiff and Defendant and their attorneys are expected to appear. The goal of the Case Management Conference is to come up with an agreement that will avoid a costly trial. If no agreement can be arrived at, the court will set a date for trial and the judge will decide on the matters of property and, or, debt, division as well as on the matters of child support, custody and visitation if you have children.
In our busy law office, clients who come to us in December always seem a bit more distressed or upset than at other times of the year. We understand. They are going through one of the most difficult and stressful period of their lives at a time of year where everyone is expected to give more, love more, and forgive more. They feel confused and wonder how to find it within themselves to do all of 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.
No doubt you need a plan.
One thing to remember is that oftentimes, our emotional state is attached to familiar actions and surroundings. So, the very first thing to do is to change those.
1. If possible, take yourself out of your usual holiday surroundings. Visit out-of-state family, for instance. If this is not possible…
2. 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. This 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 take their minds off what’s now different, namely, that for the first time in their lives, they are only with one parent at a time for this year’s holiday.
Tom had always wanted to take the kids 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 and gave everyone hope that the holidays could still be a happy time for them despite the divorce.
If you are single, or if your children will be with your ex on the holiday itself, plan ahead of time to do something to help others. It’s a well-known fact that helping others lifts us in turn. Volunteering your time to a shelter on that day, 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 of them. 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 visited. They vowed to do it again the next time their children were with their other parent for a holiday.
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 that, but be sure and do it in a way that is enjoyable to 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 a holiday to meet a visitation schedule would most likely make your child dread that holiday rather than look forward to it.
Lastly, but most importantly is, 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 (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.
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Here are some books that will help you create new holiday traditions and give you ideas on how to make the season filled with cheer despite this trying time. And some are simply packed with great ideas on how to move beyond and rebuild a successful life post-divorce.