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Joint Custody and the Holidays: 7 Tips for Divorced Parents

Joint Custody and the Holidays: 7 Tips for Divorced Parents

How you can keep the most wonderful time of the year truly wonderful for you and your kids


The holidays can be a stressful time for anyone. But for divorced parents who are forced to split the time they spend with their children with their ex, it can be even more so. While there are millions of divorced people in the United States, sharing custody with an ex-spouse can be difficult, especially during the holidays. And it’s not just about the time or the special moments like waking up on Christmas morning or lighting the menorah, there’s also the issue of gifts, vacation, travel, new traditions and new partners.

Depending on the custody agreement, some parents may have their children during the holidays only every other year, which means one lonely mom or dad is left finding other meaningful ways to celebrate. But it’s not just parents that can feel the sting of these arrangements, children also experience sadness and stress as a result of not being with one of their parents. With that in mind, here are some useful tips for parents with joint custody on how to handle the holidays and what you can do to make it easier and more enjoyable for all of you.

  1. Remember, it’s not about you or your ex

Although the holidays can be very important to you and your ex, it’s critical to remember that it’s equally important, if not more so to your children. This is the time that they are creating lifelong memories and the last thing you want is for them to grow up with unhappy childhood experiences that will sour their spirit for the season. With that in mind, resist the urge to argue or disagree with your ex on holiday matters, especially in front of the children. If you must discuss holiday arrangements, do so without the kids present.

  2. Plan ahead

If your custody agreement calls for you to have the children every other year on holidays and this year is not yours, make plans to do something with other family members of close friends so you don’t feel lonesome or sad. While you will miss spending that time with your children, keep in mind how much time you do spend with them.

Plan special activities to enjoy with them before or after the holidays and let them know that you’re okay and that you want them to have fun. Reassuring them that you are okay will help soften the blow for them—children often feel a sense of responsibility for their divorced parent’s happiness, especially when they can’t be with them during the holidays. If you don’t make a big deal, it won’t be a big deal.

  3. Don’t be a Disneyland parent

The holidays are often a time for people to go out and spend exorbitant amounts of money to win over the affection of their loved ones. While it may be nice to shower your children with the most popular gift of the season, it’s important to remember the spirit of the season and to stay away from unrealistic or overly expensive presents. It’s also important not to try and outdo your ex by buying gifts that you know he/she cannot afford.

Instead, talk with your ex ahead of time and come up with an agreement on how much you’ll each spend and how many presents each child will receive. And remember, intentionally buying gifts that you know your ex would not approve of will only cause harm and confusion to your children—so as rule, don’t do it.

  4. Make it “business as usual”

Structure and routine is important to children, so if you can stick to holiday traditions that you’ve always done, try to continue on with them as much as possible. Even if those traditions may be differently executed without your spouse, your children will feel a sense of security, comfort and familiarity if you stick with them.

  5. Be open to sharing

Although spending any time with your ex-spouse may seem like a tortuous idea, consider sharing some of the time during the holidays so that the kids can spend time with both of you. If you are able, allow your ex to come over on Christmas morning to watch the kids open their gifts or invite him/her to come by for latkes on one out of the eight nights of Hanukah. If grandparents or other relatives are involved in your celebrations, be sure to let them know your plan ahead of time so you can avoid any awkwardness or angry behaviors—after all, it’s about the kids.

  6. Take the high road

Sometimes giving in for the sake of the children is a better route to take. If your ex is demanding and difficult and there’s no formal holiday visitation agreement, give it your all to set your own feelings aside and do what will make it a peaceful holiday for the children. If he/she wants Christmas Eve instead of Christmas Day, consider how much it will really matter if you let them have their way. In the end, you’ll not only be making it easier for your children, you’ll be showing them how to handle these kinds of conflicts in a calm, diplomatic manner.

  7. Fly solo

If you’re in a new relationship and are thinking about inviting your new love to the holiday festivities, think again. Depending on the situation (how long you’ve been seeing each other and how well your children know this person), it’s better to focus on the children and not cause friction with your ex. Think it through and if you’re determined to include your new boyfriend or girlfriend, discuss it with your ex ahead of time to avoid a difficult encounter.

The holidays can be a magical time and if you plan ahead, you can make sure that you and your children enjoy it to the fullest. Review these tips and remember that in the end, it’s not about gifts and outdoing your ex, it’s all about your children and building memories they can look back on with fondness.

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Do I Need a Defense Lawyer When I’m Charged With a Crime?

Do I Need a Defense Lawyer When I’m Charged With a Crime? on

Absolutely! Here’s why…

Have you been arrested and accused of a crime in Miami-Dade or Palm Beach County? How you react after your arrest can have a significant impact on your case, so it is critical that you understand your options and proceed with caution. Read on to learn more about the role that a defense lawyer plays and how your case could be damaged without one.

What Next? Handling an Arrest

As soon as you have been arrested, it is strongly recommended that you consult with an experienced Miami-Dade criminal defense attorney. You have the right to do so and getting advice during this time period is extremely beneficial. Your attorney can also learn more about what you have been charged with so that you are clear about next steps. Without some insight, it can be confusing and overwhelming to confront these issues on your own.

Should I Talk to the Police?

Remember that police officers are trained to get as much information as possible so that a case can proceed on to prosecution. This means that they are well-versed in how to obtain as much evidence as possible, including statements you might make.

The authorities might tell you that you’re doing yourself a favor by cooperating with them and sharing your side of the story, but you also run the risk of incriminating yourself or saying something unintentional. These statements could be used to convict you of the crime in question or it could open the door for investigators to evaluate other potential crimes, so you should tread carefully. The best thing to do in this situation is to wait to answer any questions until your attorney is present.

How Can a Defense Attorney Help?

Aside from providing you with some insight about what to expect, an experienced Miami-Dade criminal defense attorney can also play one or more of the following roles:

  • Investigator: Your attorney will look into the crime in question as well as the circumstances of your arrest. As someone not familiar with the law, you might not be aware of potential issues that could compromise the legality of your arrest. Make sure you retain an attorney who will explore all possible avenues to fight for you in court.
  • Negotiator: Depending on your past criminal history and other issues, your attorney might work directly with the prosecutor to determine alternative outcomes for your case. Having someone on your side working for this can be very helpful for minimizing or eliminating penalties you could face down the line.
  • Representative: Your attorney know the customs and rules of the local courtroom and knows how to work within them to zealously represent your concerns. Going without an experienced attorney or trying to represent yourself could mean making a faux pas that violates courtroom rules or aggravates the judge. Hire an attorney who knows how to manage your case in court.

If you have already been charged with a crime in Miami-Dade, get the help you need from a qualified criminal defense attorney.

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What Are My Rights During an Arrest?

What Are My Rights During an Arrest on

You won’t know if your rights were violated if you don’t understand what your rights are

Most people who have been arrested feel like the experience goes by in a blur. It’s hard to remember what happened or how it escalated, but sitting in jail and waiting for your Miami-Dade criminal defense attorney to arrive calls into question the circumstances of your arrest in a clearer light.

If the police violated your rights, evidence collected during the search or the arrest itself might be grounds for having your case thrown out. This is why it is so important to get a criminal defense lawyer who understands how to evaluate your situation and fight for you if your rights have indeed been violated.

Read on to learn more about your rights when the police attempt to arrest you for a crime.

Right to a Lawful Arrest

Did the police have probable cause to search your car? Were you not treated humanely during your arrest? These can all point to instances in which your rights were violated. The police must have probable cause to search something. Since this can be one of the most complex facets of the law, it is vital to have a knowledgeable attorney at your side evaluating whether the police did indeed have probable cause.

This also means that you must be mirandized during an arrest. An officer has to inform you of your rights and comply with all the requirements of a legal arrest if he or she wants to see the charges stick. Violating the law could lead to your case being thrown out altogether, but sometimes an officer is banking on you not knowing the full extent of your rights.

Unfortunately, sometimes officers cross the line in a zealous attempt to get you into questioning or to charge you with something. Even though this still happens today, the violation of your constitutional rights is prohibited. An attorney should always evaluate your case for any potential violations of your rights. These could prove critical in court or in negotiations beforehand.

Right to Remain Silent

One of the most important rights afforded to someone being accused of a crime is the right to remain silent. This is drawn from your right against self-incrimination. Be aware that police might try to convince you that talking to them is the best way to make the situation better, but you could actually end up giving them more information to be used in your prosecution. If you were coerced into questioning or forced to give responses to their questions, the police may have violated your rights. Share details regarding this with your criminal defense attorney as soon as he or she arrives on the scene.

Right to an Attorney

Another extremely valuable right you should use during the arrest and questioning process is that of speaking with an attorney. Your attorney can be with you during questioning and at trial. As soon as you request your own attorney or one to be provided for you, the police must comply. This means not being asked questions and forced to answer before your attorney arrives, too.
Have you already been accused? Don’t hesitate to get the legal help you need. Hire an experienced Miami-Dade criminal defense attorney.

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How Paternity is Established in Florida

How Paternity is Established in Florida on

In Florida, paternity is established in one of two ways

When a married woman gives birth, Florida law assumes that the child’s father is the mother’s husband. In the absence of a marriage between a man and a woman, however, there exists no presumption that a particular man is the father of a baby according to Florida paternity law. Consequently, when a single woman gives birth, the paternity of a child must be established.

Establishing paternity can occur in one of two ways in the state of Florida. First, a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity can occur. Second, paternity can be established through judicial proceedings.

Voluntary Establishment of Paternity

The easiest way to establish the paternity of a child is through voluntary acknowledgement by the mother and father. Both parties must sign what is called a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity form.

The form specifically states that both the birth mother and the specifically identified putative father (or presumed father) freely and voluntarily acknowledge that the man is the true father of the child.

A Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity does not take full force and effect for a period of 60 days after both parties sign the instrument. During this time period, either the mother or father can withdraw a signature and acknowledgement of paternity.

Once the 60 day time period passes, the acknowledgement of paternity is final. After this time period, it is very difficult to get this acknowledgment of paternity set aside. In fact, if a party wants to revoke a paternity acknowledgement after this time period, a court order is necessary. Obtaining a court order requires a demonstration that the acknowledgement was signed by a party because of fraud or extreme force.

Courts in Florida are always reluctant to set aside a paternity determination. Stability of familial relationships and permanency is considered to be in the best interests of a minor child, according to Florida law and court decisions.

Commencing Court Proceedings to Establish Paternity

A number of different scenarios exist in which court proceedings are necessary to establish the paternity of a child. Oftentimes, a birth mother initiates proceedings when a putative father is unwilling to enter into an agreement voluntarily acknowledging paternity. On the other hand, there are cases in Florida where a putative father will exert his paternity rights and play a role in the life of a child he believes to be his own.

If paternity is not voluntarily established, and neither parent initiates a court action to do so, the Florida Department of Child Support Services may start the judicial process. This can happen when governmental agencies are providing financial and other types of support to the mother and child. The objective is typically to ensure that the father provides appropriate support to the child.

In some instances, when no other party acts to establish paternity, the minor child will initiate court proceedings of his or her own accord. Because of the child’s age, this process will be started on his or her behalf by an appropriate legal representative.

Paperwork to start a judicial proceeding to establish paternity is filed in the circuit court. The initial documents filed with the court not only request a determination regarding paternity, but other orders from the court as well. These can include orders establishing child support, a formal custody arrangement and setting visiting with the non-custodial parent, who usually is the father.

One exception exists in regard to the supplemental orders from the court in a paternity case. If the Florida Department of Child Support Services commences the proceedings, the only two orders it can seek are one establishing paternity and one setting the child support obligation. In such a situation, one or another of the parents would need to request additional orders from the court regarding issues like parenting time for the noncustodial parent.

DNA Testing in Paternity Cases

DNA testing commonly plays a significant role in paternity cases. Once a case commences, the court usually will order DNA testing. Test results are used to provide the court what is virtually irrefutable evidence regarding the paternity of a child. Only in rare instances are DNA tests not the determinative factor in establishing paternity. For example, if a lab error is alleged and then demonstrated, the initial DNA results would be “thrown out” by the court. However, the court would rectify the situation by ordering a second round of testing.

Notice to Father

Once a paternity case is started, it is crucial that the putative father be given proper notice and an opportunity to be heard in court. If this occurs, and the putative father elects not to appear, the court typically enters an order establishing paternity in his absence.

Paternity Case Legal Representation

If you are in need of an experienced paternity attorney in South Florida, email to set up a no-obligation and no-cost initial consultation.

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How Assets and Debt Are Divided in a Divorce

How Assets and Debt Are Divided in a Divorce on

Who gets what in a Florida divorce and how the courts decide

One of the more contentious issues in divorce cases is the division of assets and debts. The reality is that a divorcing couple can expend a good deal of time and emotional energy—not to mention money—arguing over who should get what when it comes to property and debts.

If you are contemplating a divorce, or have taken steps to begin marriage dissolution proceedings in Florida, it is important for you to have a fundamental understanding of how assets and debts are dealt with legally in the Sunshine State.

Property and Debt Division: A Matter of State Law

Each of the 50 states establishes their own set of laws governing divorce, including how the assets and debts accumulated during the course of a marriage are divided during marriage dissolution proceedings.

A minority of states have community property laws, where money earned, debts incurred and property purchased are owned and divided equally between each spouse. Yet the influence of television and films creates the misconception that this is the way all courts deal with the division of assets and debts when, in reality, only eight states follow this law.

The Equitable Division of Property Standard

Florida is not a community property state. If you seek a divorce here, the standard applied pursuant to the law is the equitable division of assets and debts. This law states that the assets and debts accumulated during the marriage are divided between the spouses in a manner that is fair and just according to their unique circumstances.

Decisions regarding the division of assets and debts are made on a case by case basis, with the court taking into consideration an array of determining factors, which can include the work history of each party and who will have primary custody of any children born during the marriage.

Negotiated Settlements Are Encouraged by Courts

Like most, Florida judges prefer that a divorcing couple make a serious effort to negotiate a reasonable division of assets and debts on their own. The court must approve any negotiated settlement to ensure that it is fair and just. The underlying belief is that divorcing parties are best served on many levels when they reach a divorce settlement agreement on their own. The reality, however, is that divorce attorneys are usually called in to assist clients create a fair and meaningful property (and debt) settlement agreement.

Financial Documentation

When a divorce case commences in a Florida Court, each spouse must prepare documentation that sets forth the assets and debts associated with the marriage. This information must be provided completely and in a true and correct manner. An attorney will be of great service in preparing this documentation, especially since failure to properly disclose assets and debts can have serious negative consequences, including sanctions imposed by the court.

Assets and Debts of the Marriage

As a general legal principle in Florida, only assets and debts accumulated or acquired by the spouses during the term and course of the marriage are subject to division during divorce proceedings. For example, if one spouse owned furniture before the marriage, those items would belong that individual and not be subject to the property division process.

Retaining Experienced Legal Assistance in Your Divorce

The best way to protect your rights and interests regarding property and debt issues in a divorce is to engage the services of an experienced divorce attorney. Call 954-745-8051 to schedule a consultation with an attorney from the Lauriston Law Firm and discuss your case in detail.

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Adoption: The Pros, Cons and When to Call Your Attorney

Adoption: The Pros, Cons and When to Call Your Attorney on

The benefits & challenges you’ll face on the road to adoption.

Many people who’ve gone through the adoption process have had a positive experience, while others will tell you it was difficult, both emotionally and financially. Before deciding whether adoption is the right choice for you, consider both the positives and the difficulties, and the possibility that you’ll need an attorney.

The Great Things About Adoption

  • Giving a child a safe home: It goes without saying that rescuing a child who has been removed from their home because of abuse, neglect or because the parents are unfit to care for them, is much more than a good deed. Providing a loving, safe and nurturing environment for this child is a beautiful endeavor that can change lives – the child’s and yours.
  • Getting the child you’ve always dreamed of: For many folks who are unable to have children of their own, adoption is the best alternative. It’s not only a win for the child; it’s a win for the parents. Whether you are adopting from a birthmother (in many cases a teenager unable to handle the responsibility) or through an agency, many people have had great success adopting newborn infants or very young children.
  • Helping the birthmother: An unplanned pregnancy is often a turning point in a person’s life. Whether a teenager or a woman who doesn’t want to or simply can’t raise a child, adoption is a lifesaving solution to a serious problem. Adoptive parents can provide the home that the mother cannot or doesn’t want to provide, reliving the mother of unwanted responsibility and the child from growing up in a negative or difficult environment.

The Not So Great Things About Adoption

  • It’s a long, hard road: In most cases, adoption is not an easy, fast or convenient process. Even if all the parties are in agreement and consent to it, it can still take very long to complete. When dealing with an agency or through your local department of children and families, there’s always an application process, an in-home study to ensure that you can provide a safe and loving home and that you are able to raise a child. Sometimes you’ll find yourself placed on a waiting list, in which case it could take months, even years before you get the call that there’s a child ready to be adopted.
  • Financially challenging: Adoption can be very expensive. According to statistics from the US Department of Health and Human Services, some agency adoptions can cost upwards of $40,000. For most folks, that’s a huge amount of money. That being said, there are programs available to assist parents with these expenses including tax credits, grants and financial aid.
  • Emotionally straining: Adopting an infant or very young child is often preferred by parents because these children usually have little or no emotional issues assimilating into their new family. Older children, who’ve either been in foster care or have lived with their biological parents and been removed for whatever reason, may suffer from various emotional challenges in their adjustment to their new home. Working with a family therapist or counselor can help make the transition easier and of course lots of love, support and reassurance is always helpful.

When to Call an Attorney

Whether you’ve already made the decision to adopt or are just considering it, speaking to an experienced adoption attorney is a smart route to take. An adoption lawyer can handle all the aspects of the process, including preparing you for hearings, home visits, etc., filing all the necessary paperwork and representing you in court if that is necessary.

Choosing an Adoption Attorney

Selecting an attorney is a decision not to be taken lightly. Before making your choice, consider that you want an adoption attorney who is not only experienced, but is local and knowledgeable in your state’s adoption laws and procedures.

You’ll also want to factor in how many adoptions they’ve completed, what percentage of those were successful (without either party changing their mind, etc.) and how much of their practice is dedicated to adoptions.

Another important factor to be mindful of is the attorney’s fees. Many adoption attorneys will charge a flat fee, but be aware of how much it is before you decide, as the adoption itself can be very expensive.

Making the choice to adopt a child, no matter what the circumstance, is a lifetime commitment. If you’re considering adopting, be aware of the pros and cons and call us at Lauriston Law Firm to help you with the process.

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What to Look for in a Personal Injury Lawyer

How to make sure you don’t get hurt twice

When you’ve been injured by someone else’s negligence, you deserve justice. To ensure you make a strong case and get the settlement you deserve, you’ll need a personal injury lawyer acting on your behalf. With a personal injury lawyer acting on your behalf you’ll have the peace of mind knowing that you’ll make the strongest possible case for the maximum compensation.

Yet when you’re suffering physical or emotional pain, it can be difficult to find and evaluate an attorney. Follow these tips to ensure the attorney you pick is able to give you the best representation.

Get a consultation.

You’re hurt, upset and suffering because of someone else’s actions. But do you have a case? Any personal injury attorney worth her/his weight will be able to tell you this after providing an initial consultation. Some offer free consultations and will listen to the details of your case and be able to tell you if there’s a potential lawsuit or not. Make calls, ask questions and find an attorney who will hear you out before making any decisions.

Run fast from ambulance chasers!

Many people will tell you about how they received letters, emails and phone calls from personal injury lawyers after their accident. This practice is called ambulance chasing and it’s not legal in most states. If a lawyer is trying to get in touch with you in this manner, avoid this person and continue your search – they are already doing something they shouldn’t be.

Ask trusted friends and relatives.

We’ve all seen those TV commercials and billboards with friendly smiling faces of lawyers who claim to have your best interest at heart. Making a decision based on advertising alone is never a good idea. Talk to people you trust, ask your family attorney for a reference or research personal injury attorneys online. Read as many reviews as you can about each attorney that you’re considering — people talk about their experiences, whether they won their case or not and whether or not they were happy with the attorney they chose.

Ask about experience.

It only makes sense that if you’re seeking compensation because of an injury you suffered caused by someone else, you’ll want someone with this exact experience in your corner.
If you’re looking into attorneys, be sure to choose one that has years of experience practicing this type of law.

Seems simple enough, right? But many attorneys have a list of areas they practice in and while personal injury may be listed, it could an area that’s weak for them or one that they have not had a lot of cases in. You want to find a personal injury attorney who knows how to build your case, take it to trial and negotiate with insurance companies. They’ll also know when it’s better to accept a settlement offer and when to forge on to trail.

What’s their success rate?

Once you’ve found a few possible attorneys, remember that beyond their experience, you’ll want to know their track record. Because it’s not just important that they have dealt with personal injury cases before, it’s crucial that they’ve had success with those cases. Check into how many cases they’ve handled and how many of those they have won and lost.

How much will representation cost you?

Most personal Injury attorneys will work with you on a contingency basis. This means that they won’t take any money from you unless the case is won. The percentage they receive will vary depending on the attorney you choose, so be sure you compare rates before you hire one to represent you.

Look for a specialist.

Not all personal Injury attorneys are created equal. Depending on the cause of your injury, you may want to seek out an attorney who specializes in that type of case. There are many that focus their practice on medical malpractice, wrongful death, car accidents, slip and fall, etc. If you can find one that has built their practice on your type of case, you’ll benefit from their extensive knowledge and experience.

Of course, there are many personal injury attorneys who work on a myriad of cases that include all sorts of injuries. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re weak in any of those areas, which is why it’s important to research their track record on your particular kind of case.

Honesty is still the best policy.

No matter what happens, seek honesty from your personal injury attorney. A credible attorney will tell you if you don’t have a case and what the odds are of you winning or losing. If anyone tells you they can guarantee a win, that’s not only a bad sign, it’s a reason not to hire them.

Do you click?

After you’ve done all your homework and compiled a list of personal injury attorneys, take the time to speak with each one. Do they seem to empathize with your situation – do you feel they truly care about what you’ve been through? Make sure you feel comfortable, that your personalities are in sync and that the attorney you choose truly has your best interest at heart.

When you’re hurt or suffering from an injury, the last thing you need is to hire the wrong person to represent you. Take your time and follow these tips on finding the right personal injury attorney. If you’ve been injured and are seeking legal representation, put Lauriston Law Firm at the top of your research list and contact us today.

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How to Have a Good Divorce: Tips From a Lawyer

How to avoid the drama and have a “good” divorce.

We all know the statistic: about half of all marriages in the US end in divorce. And while no relationship’s end is exactly pretty, is there such a thing as a good divorce? While some parties would claim a good divorce is one where they get everything, a divorce lawyer would say it’s one with minimal drama, where the couple is able to split up without either of them suffering complete emotional or financial devastation.

Unraveling, But Not Unraveled

Fear, anger, resentment and grief are all natural feelings. But couples who split up feeling only that are actually considered “the lucky ones.” Others have their self-esteem crippled, their friendships strained and their finances ruined. So when a marriage unravels and doesn’t entirely unravel the lives of those involved, that’s a “good divorce.”

1. Get Good Legal Advice

Find a lawyer whose practice is dedicated to family law and divorce, even if you can’t afford a board-certified family law attorney. This person will know divorce law better than someone who is not devoted to its practice.

2. Get Smart About Money

Divvying up assets is complicated no matter what tax bracket you’re in. It’s not as simple as splitting everything down the middle because, when it comes to divorce negotiations, all money isn’t equal.

Be acutely aware of your finances. Understand exactly which assets are community property and which aren’t. Part of having a good divorce is not asking for more than you entitled to, but knowing how to ask for every penny of your fair share. You can only do this when you understand your finances and know exactly what your fair share should be.

3. Get Reliable Support

While our friends want to support us and they generally mean well, they won’t always give you the best advice. So lean on them when you need to, but don’t feel like you have to share every detail of your divorce – or any at all for that matter. It’s generally better if you let them support you in other ways, with fun nights out and delicious dinners in.

Instead, consider joining a support group designed to help you through the divorce and move one when it’s over. Share your stories, your worst thoughts and your fears there. The group is designed to help you systematically put your life back in order when you’re feeling low and wondering what you’re going to do with your life.

4. Get Untangled Peaceably

Instead of ending the marriage with unresolved feelings of anger, resentment and bitterness, try to work with your spouse to end things in a way that is healing for you both. A “good” divorce isn’t about vilifying the other person, or beating yourself up because you feel like a bad person. It’s just coming to the realization that one or both of you aren’t going to be happy in this marriage, accepting that fact and deciding you want to change that for yourself, and maybe even for them.

When you realize that neither of you is inherently bad, even if you’ve done some bad things, and that you’re just two unhappy people doing their best to get by and make things better, it becomes a lot easier to forgive and settle things amicably.

Out of all the things on this list, this is the one most people will balk at or feel uncomfortable with, but making amends with your ex-spouse is an incredibly effective way to heal, move on and enjoy life. Leaving a relationship rife with mental or physical abuse is an obvious exception to this tip.

5. Get Reborn

When you’ve been married to someone for decades, it’s easy to lose track of who you are without that person in your life. Starting over can be seem extremely overwhelming and dreadful. How do you get back into the workforce after being a homemaker for 30 years? How do you start dating?

How you choose to think about your divorce will affect how it plays out in your future. The only thing that’s real is now. And what you have right now is possibility. What do you want to do? Who do you want to be? You don’t have to answer these questions immediately, but keeping them in the back of your mind and thinking about them every so often will open you to all the opportunities that surround you.

Whether you cut your hair or take up a new hobby, move where you’ve always wanted or stay right where you are, find something to change that makes you feel in control of your life and happiness. Times of upheaval and change can be absolutely terrifying, but they’re also full of regrowth and possibility.

“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.” – Rabindranath Tagore

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How to Make the Best of a Shared Custody Arrangement

How to Make the Best of a Shared Custody Arrangement on

Quality time with your kids shouldn’t be a battle

Divorce is never easy, but when children are involved you’ll still have to be in contact and make arrangements with your ex. With so much to figure out, shared custody can easily become an emotionally charged and heartbreaking situation.

Who will take primary responsibility for the kids? Where will they spend most of their time? Who gets the kids on which holidays? How will you schedule visitation? These are a lot of heavy discussions to have with someone you ended a relationship with.

So what can you do to make it easier on yourself – and the kids?

Don’t Badmouth Your Ex

At least not in front of the kids. It’s important to remember that your ex is part of who your children are. Since children are still forming their sense of identity, it can be easy for them to internalize these messages and believe the negative things you say are also true of themselves.

And while it may not have worked out between you and your ex, your child still loves his or her parent and should have the peace and freedom to continue loving them. So regardless of your true feelings –and whether or not they’re justified – try to focus on your kids’ lives instead of your ex’s or your own.

Don’t Turn Custody into an Agenda

Your needs were addressed during the divorce. Custody is all about what’s best for your kids. And the truth is that what’s best for them may not always feel good for you.

A divorce can be extremely emotional and the relationship may not always end on good terms. Many times parents will become so focused on their own pain or the need to get back at their ex that they make demands at the cost of their children’s well-being.

Don’t try to force your children to choose a side. Their time and affection is not something you have to win or wrestle away from your ex. If you’re able to put your ego aside, do what’s in their best interest and enjoy the time you do get to spend together, you’ll find that a child’s heart is big enough to hold you both.

Consider Everyone’s Schedules and Commitments

With so many emotions and future implications surrounding a custody arrangement, it becomes easy to demand unrealistic terms. Doing your best to remain unbiased will help you make decisions that have your children’s best interest at heart.

Focus on the facts and talk to your children (if they’re old enough) about what would suit them best. Consider their ages and personalities. Be honest about your work schedule and social commitments. Will you have time for the academic and extracurricular activities in which your children are involved? Is your ex’s schedule more or less flexible?

Keep in mind that the divorce is already a major change in their lives, which will require a significant amount of adjustment. Would forcing them to switch schools and friends at this time be the right decision?

A Failed Marriage Does Not Mean Failed Parents

The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) agree that, “It is generally in the children’s long-term interest to have continuing and meaningful contact with both parents after a divorce.”

The relationship didn’t work out, but that doesn’t mean that either of you are bad parents or will become bad parents. And while your ex may have driven you mad or not been faithful, it doesn’t automatically make him or her a bad parent.

No matter how you feel about it, your children will want and need love from both of his or her parents. Part of being a parent is putting their needs and well-being above your own. If you’re upset by the thought of your children spending time with your ex, or worry about how he or she will talk about you, remember that they’re with the one person who loves them as much as you do.

Keep the Lines of Communication Open

While this may not have been a strong suit in your marriage, figuring out an agreeable way to communicate with your ex will make the shared custody arrangement work much more easily. Custody arrangements will generally work best when both parents agree to be respectful and cooperative so that the children’s needs are put first.

Now that you’re not living together, you won’t have to communicate face-to-face if you don’t want to. Instead, talk about all the different tools at your disposal – texting, email, cell phones, digital calendars – and work out a plan that both of you will consistently stick to.

Communication won’t always be easy and disagreements may arise. When they do, be objective. Consider whether the issue is really worth fighting over and choose your battles wisely. Deciding to part ways doesn’t mean that every conversation has to be fraught with negativity or become a battle of trying to “one-up” each other.

Remember that if you and your spouse can’t work something out, a judge will do it for you. And that decision is likely to please no one.

Talk to Your Children and Stay Flexible

While you shouldn’t discuss the details of the case with your children, or put them in a position to choose sides, you should take time to check in with your kids. Ask them how they’re feeling and, if they’re old enough, what they’d like to see happen with the custody arrangement. Allowing them to have input will encourage them to feel more comfortable with the idea and confident that your feelings toward them haven’t changed.

Giving teens and preteens room for input will also make it more likely that they’re agreeable to the schedule and ensure that it fits into their existing schedule, which will minimize conflicts in that quarter. Younger children may just want a say in what doll or pajamas they bring to their mom and dad’s house for the weekend.

And while letting them be heard is important, it’s just as important to make decisions that will benefit their well-being in the long term. Take time every so often to review the arrangement and speak with everyone involved to make sure that it’s still working. People mature. Situations and circumstances will change. Be flexible so that everyone’s needs are addressed.

Divorce can be an extremely tumultuous time in someone’s life, especially for parents and children. A family lawyer can help you navigate the difficult terrain of your custody agreement and figure out what will work best for everyone involved. Contact us today to speak with an experienced family lawyer in your area.

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How to Choose the Right Family Law Attorney

Steps on how to find the best lawyer for your family law needs.

How to Choose the Right Family Law AttorneyFamily law attorneys deal with cases involving marriage, divorce, child support, alimony, timesharing (visitation rights), division of assets, paternity, domestic violence, adoption and guardianships. If you need a pre-nuptial agreement, want to file for divorce or are considering adopting a child, you can benefit from hiring a good family law attorney. Attorneys may be a dime a dozen, but not all have the same value.

How Do You Know If You Need a Family Law Attorney?

The first step to finding the right attorney is determining if you really need one. If any of the following apply to you, it is to your benefit to hire a family law attorney:

  • You are considering a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement before getting married
  • You are considering divorce, annulment, or legal separation
  • You need a divorce agreement modification
  • You need child custody and support guidance
  • You are considering adopting a child
  • You need help with a restraining order

What Is Your Venue?

For family cases the venue is normally where both parties intended to reside together as husband and wife. There are some exceptions to this policy, such as when the individual is in the military or resides in more than one state. For determination of paternity the proceedings must be in the circuit court of the county where the plaintiff resides or the county where the defendant resides.

The Search for the Right Attorney

Once you have determined the venue of your case, search for family law attorneys in your area. Attorneys who are familiar with the judges, local jurisdiction and with other attorneys involved in family law will be able to serve you better.

Once you have written down some names, do some online research on them. Google them, seek articles or reports on them (or by them), news stories or reviews. Many law firms use social media for marketing or advertising purposes, so look up the lawyer or law firm on any of the major social media networks such as Facebook or Twitter.

Narrow down your choices.

If you have asked for references from others and have researched enough on the attorney, you should have a proper sense of good attorney candidates. It is advisable that you schedule an in-person meeting with at least two attorneys which will help you make a firm decision. It is essential to know how you will interact personally with an attorney before you hire one.

Call and Make Your Appointment for a Consultation.

Some attorneys offer a free preliminary consultation on the telephone or in person. Make sure you inquire into:

  • Whether the attorney offers a free consultation
  • The approximate total cost for handling your matter
  • Whether fees can be negotiated or if a payment plan is offered
  • The attorney’s amount of time practicing
  • The attorney’s handling of cases similar to yours
  • An honest opinion as to the possible outcome of your case
  • Who will be handling your case
  • The type of information you need to bring to your first consultation

Make a list of all the questions or concerns you want to ask the attorney and bring them with you to your first consultation. Take notes of the attorney’s answers or suggestions.

Make Your Choice

Once you have met with your family law attorney candidates and done your research on them, you should be able to make a decision as to which attorney you will hire. Choose an attorney who makes you feel comfortable, who answers your questions in a way you understand. Address any concerns or doubts to your attorney and be sure you are both on the same page. Avoid any attorney who has solicited your business or who suggests anything unethical, such as a “guaranteed result.” Nothing in life is guaranteed. The right attorney will not pressure you into hiring him/her, and he/she will not hesitate to give you any references or credentials you request on the attorney’s experience.

Here at Lauriston Law our mission is to provide effective, quality service to help deliver successful outcomes through hard work and dedication to our clients’ cause. Let us help you, contact us today, our staff is multi-lingual and diverse to meet the needs of the South Florida community.

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