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The Divorce Encyclopedia
After Divorce (Emotional Aspects)


Term Definition After Divorce (Emotional Aspects) - new music for an old dance.
Application in Divorce Ideally, when a couple divorce, the two partners eventually become benignly indifferent to one another, and this is most easily achieved in childless marriages where the former spouses can go separate ways.

In marriages where unmancipated children demand (and are entitled to) the love and attention of their divorced parents, this is far more difficult.

Divorced spouses must still be parents, and this means they are still connected to each other and will be the rest of their lives -- or at least until the children achieve a majority.

Ben Franklin’s observation about war and peace ("There never was a good war or a bad peace") finds application here. Divorced spouses must redefine themselves as divorced parents, who can now, to the best of their individual and joint abilities, must put the bad war of divorce behind them and make the good peace of divorced parenting work, if not for each other, then for the children.

What is salient about after divorce parenting is divorced parents must do everything undivorced parents do and do it without the benefit of each other presence and reinforcement. This tough set of marching orders ignores the fact that the two divorced parents march across terrain now made rugged by diminished finances, unresolved anger and bitter remorse.

It is easy to see why the "kid connection," as it has been called, can become a test of character for the former spouses.

For one, the former spouses must deal with the new routines and regimes brought into play by child custody and visitation. No parenting plan, no matter how well crafted, can foresee all the eventualities that may come into play down the road. The strength of the plan and the people who made is in its flexibility, which means its ability to bend without breaking. Very likely, one spouse will ask the other to make adjustments because events will come together in unforeseen ways. This adjustments often happen in conjunction with the pickup and return of child during visitation by the noncustodial parent.

In America’s very mobile society, very frequently divorced parents face the situation where the custodial parent wants to relocate. This may difficult for the noncustodial parent whose visits with the children now will be more difficult and expensive. A move is an all-or-nothing proposition, and relocation may require court approval since many couples agree to restrictions as part of the divorce. In most jurisdiction, the custodial parent is free to relocate unless the noncustodial parent can convince the court that the move is being made to frustrate visitation.

Changing circumstances of finances sometimes require divorced spouses to amend financial arrangements.

Like relocation, changes in circumstance sometimes warrant changes in child support, and either the payor or the recipient may initiate these actions. In general, the change in circumstance must be involuntary. For example, a job loss on the part of payor may be grounds for a reduction in the amount of support, or serious illness on the part of the recipient may be grounds for an appeal for increase. Or, if income of the noncustodial payor spouse Increases significantly, the custodial parent may have grounds for an increase in child support. In general, either the payor or the recipient must prove that an event or circumstances beyond his or her control now prevent a party from support at the agreed upon levels. For example, voluntary job changes that reduce income are generally not grounds for a motion for an increase in child support against the other spouse.

As a rule, courts are less likely to change spousal support because often the terms and conditions of spousal support are said to be nonmodifiable, but the same general reasoning applied to increases or decreases in alimony.

The introduction of a new partner for one spouse or the other may be very difficult, not only for the former spouse, but also for the children. One of the most persistent notions of the children of a divorced family is the reunion of the parents.

Most people who divorce eventually marry again. A second or third marriage often brings with it children from the new partner’s previous marriage in what are now commonly called blended families -- the yours, mine and (eventually) ours.

After divorce, the ideal outcome is for parents to be able to deal with any of these after divorce events -- custody and visitation, relocation, modification of child and spousal support, new partners and new spouses -- as civilly as possible, with the court and litigation as the option of last resort.

See also Relocation (Removal) of a Minor Child; Modification; Change in Circumstance; Imputed Income; Child Support; Alimony; Spousal Support.

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