Why Mothers Can Lose Custody

Statistics show that many fathers have a 50-50 chance of being award custody of their children in a divorce case.

Custody laws are supposed to be gender neutral and many courts a living up to the rules, and this means that when the facts of a given case are presented in the courtroom, a judge may determine that it is in the best interests of the child to live primarily with the father, not the mother. The court must remain focused on what is best for the children and all options are on the table.

In custody situations, more and more courts now favor equal consideration of both mother and father as the custodial parent.  This was not always the case. In decades past, it was a rebuttable presumption that mothers were the preferable custodial parent as they tended to be the primary caregivers. Yet even now, most times courts award physical custody to the mother even where legal custody is given equally to both parents. Legal custody simply means that both parents have input into the major issues surrounding their children including issues of school, medical care and religious upbringing.

Despite the lingering preference given to mothers, it is not uncommon for mothers to lose custody of their children. All states adhere to a standard of the best interest of the child. If a court determines that a mother’s custody impedes with this standard, custody may be taken away.

A mother can lose custody because of a history of drug or alcohol abuse; obstruction of visitation between the non-custodial father and the children of the marriage; disparagement of their father in front of the children (parental alienation); abandonment of the children and the home; and abuse that threatens the children; and involvement in an abusive relationship.

Once a mother loses custody, she may find it difficult to even gain visitation rights. In cases of custody lost due to alcohol or drug abuse, the mother must prove she has completed a treatment program before she can request a return of custody rights. At minimum, she may be granted supervised visitation until the judge determines that she is no longer a detriment to her children.

Professional women, whose marriages have failed, have had to leave their children and the family home. In each of these situations, courts have considered the children to be better off living with the full-time, stay-at-home father and receiving financial support from the breadwinner mother. And as the numbers of female breadwinners continue to grow, it seems likely this trend will continue.

Households with high-flying women and stay-at-home husbands are not considered differently than households with high-flying men and stay-at-home wives. In the landmark English case, White v White in 2000, it was made clear after all that there is no distinction in law, between the breadwinner and the homemaker.

Mothers who are the primary breadwinners, must understand that they have accepted a role in the family that may distract from their ability to be best suited as the custodial parent.

Being the primary-caretaker is also no longer the overarching determinant of custody decisions. Nevertheless, most divorce-related custody decisions are made without the intercession of the courts. Litigated custody decisions focus on “the best interests of the child,” which does not imply that there is only one fit parent. Indeed, the vast majority of mothers and fathers who do not have primary custody of their children have never been proven unfit. For example, both mom and dad might be good parents, but if mom’s new residence is outside the school district, the court might be resistant to having children change schools. Dad gets primary custody, but mom is not “unfit.”

 

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Letting Go of A Marriage

In the midst of a divorce, the spouse who is left often feels powerless. He or she must work at letting go of a marriage while still bonded, sometimes very deeply, to a person who has caused more pain and suffering than imaginable. Letting go makes for a tough set of marching orders that can be unpredictable.

Paradoxically, letting go does not work by gravity. Letting go is work where the reward is an unwelcomed payoff, separation from a loved one. Letting go is an uphill climb, taking effort that often gets worse before it gets better.

Letting go may seem like an easy task, even neat and orderly, but it is not. And it cannot be rushed. Along the way, a caring friend is worth his or her weight in gold. Writing down reflections of a lost love and a failed marriage can make them clearer.

For the person who is left, letting go of a marriage means accepting that it’s ending and moving on. Absent a realistic chance of saving the marriage, it’s time to give it up “as gracefully and quickly as possible.” Here are considerations to hold in mind:

Just as the bride to be or the groom to be spread the word about a forthcoming marriage, the divorcing husband or a wife must spread the word when the marriage dies. “There’s no substitute for telling your friends, your family, and even yourself that you are getting a divorce. Not ‘we’re having a little trouble now’ or ‘I don’t know if he’s coming back’ but ‘we’re getting a divorce.’ ” Some people have a very difficult time just saying the words. Giving voice to the death of the marriage memorizes the end of that marriage.

There is no point in trying to hurt the spouse who left. Trying to get even means a person is still locked in a failed relationship, and the other spouse is still in control.

Both spouses must give up responsibility for each other. A divorce means that neither is responsible for the other.

Telling a spouse goodbye is the reciprocal of Paul Simon’s “Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover.” A private and imaginary conversation can cover a lot of ground — how much the divorce hurts and acceptance of the end of the marriage.

Letting go means redefinition — asking the question “What kind of person do I want to be now that I’m going to be divorced?” This is a wonderful opportunity for reinvention, for a fresh start. Someone may want to be thinner, or funnier, or more spontaneous, or firmer. Letting go means setting goals — short-term, specific, and attainable.

Grieving the death of a marriage means celebrating it. It means celebrating the good things and accepting that it is over. Grieving hurts, of course, but mourning the death of a marriage is essential to dealing realistically with a divorce.

 

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Adult Children of Divorce

Many people assume that, by divorcing later in life they save their children from suffering, but sadly, that is not so. Just because the children are grown does not mean that they won’t be affected when mom and dad throw in the towel.

There are many issues that make a marital breakup more financially and personally difficult when someone reaches midlife. As a person ages, life and personal finances become more complicated.  Most middle-aged couples own a house, one or two vehicles, and retirement accounts and pensions as well as a variety of debts — a mortgage, one or more car loans, various credit card bills, and maybe even student loans for their children.

Divorce over the age of 50 has its challenges that a younger couple may not encounter. A man and women married 20 to 30 or years become institutional. Family, friends, and neighbors, all know them as a couple. Becoming newly single and facing these friends as someone who is now uncoupled can be unsettling.

The newly uncouple now have to figure out how to be a single person again, no longer part of a couple. For two or three decades or more, they thought of themselves as married persons: a husband, a wife; with an intact family, now, all of that is gone. An entire identity has just vanished, and all that remains are the memories of earlier and more hopeful times.

Moreover, the former spouses have to deal with adult children, who often suffer profoundly when mom and dad part ways. Unlike young children, couples don’t concern themselves with the emotional, physical and financial toll of divorce on adult offspring.

Most adult children are shocked when they learn their parents are divorcing, even if the children knew their parents’ marriage had been headed for that way for some time. There is still a sense of loss for adult children when their parents divorce. Adult children often become cynical when their parents divorce after a long-term marriage. The adult child develops problems with trust and many become angry. They lose their faith in marriage, and in their parents.  The sense of family is now lost and the adult child finds him or herself questioning whether their entire past was a lie. When your parents use derogatory ways to describe the marriage such as I’ve wasted all these years of my life or I never should have married that man (or woman), the adult child then questions the reality of his or her life. Angry parents can thoughtlessly poison memories of better times for the adult child.

The effects on adult children of divorce are numerous including a preoccupation with declining health issues or even death. The adult child of divorce may resent his or her parents, feeling abandoned and betrayed. The effects are just as traumatic on adult children as younger children.

Divorcing seniors can reduce the impact of divorce on adult children in a number of ways.

Adult children are still children born of a marriage between the parents and may have strong feelings and emotions about the collapse of the marriage. They need to grieve because the divorce is their loss too. As with young children, the adult child should not be expected to take sides of one parent over the other.

Breaking the news of an impending divorce to children is particularly unnerving, both for parents and children. Parent should tell the children respectfully and with as much care as if the child were a minor.

Parents should also remember, the child is still their child, not a therapist or friend, someone they can (or even should) confide in. The adult child is not a confidante. When people split they need to talk. A lot. Convincing the adult child who is right or who is wrong is not up to the child to discern. It is inappropriate to put the child in the middle no matter whether the child is a minor or adult. This can become a swamp of unsought intimacy. The boundaries of appropriate conversation between parent and child collapse when parents run down one other with intimate details of a failed marriage. The lurid details of why a marriage failed are not for a child’s ears. Children are not caretakers of the parent going through divorce.

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Things to Remember – Make Yourself a Checklist

Divorce is never easy, quick or painless, but you can make your divorce easier, less lengthy and alleviate as much pain as possible by making sure you avoid very common mistakes.

If you are contemplating divorce, make a checklist, write down all your bills, credit card debt, mortgage, utilities, and all those little things you pay for that you might otherwise forget.  You need to make sure you have an idea of what your finances are, where you can maybe trim your spending, and make sure those bills you shouldn’t forget, aren’t forgotten.

Especially if you are not the one responsible for paying the bills, it is important to make sure you understand what finances are all about.  It is a good idea to get a copy of your credit report.  You will know where you start with your rating, and if there are any adverse accounts on your report, something you might not be aware of, but should be.  You should request a copy of your credit report at least once a year anyway just to keep up on who has been looking at your credit (yes there are companies that look at your credit – did you fill an online form about renting or buying a home).

If you and your spouse are living in the same home for financial reasons, but are filing for divorce, you might want to make sure your mail is kept confidential.  You can go to your post office and apply for a P.O. Box and have your mail go to your P.O. Box. This way your spouse doesn’t have access to your mail – confidential or not.

Remember your profile on Facebook, or your Tweet on Twitter, or that picture you took with your friends out at the bar you put up on Instagram?  First things first, change passwords on email accounts, or other social media, but if you are in the thick of divorce, you might want to make sure you are not putting anything up online that could be used against you – should your spouse get nasty.

If you have children, you want to sit down with your spouse and set out parenting time, schedules that work best for both of you, holiday schedule. Sometimes you can get software that helps you to keep track of schedules, who picks up, when, you can track the schedule, print reports, and even put in notes, doctors appointments, issues with pick up times.  It is great when both parents are working together to co-parent, but if things don’t always go smoothly, it is best to have a way to track any bumps in the road with custody, visitation, and parenting time.

Do you have, or will you lose medical benefits once you divorce?  If you have medical issues or ongoing medical issues, you may want to take care of any of these issues prior to the divorce.  You want to start looking for your own medical health insurance and what options are available to you once you are divorced.  You can find out from your spouse, if you are covered under his or her medical insurance what the requirements are to stay on the policy, if you can, or when you are removed (date of divorce, or is there a specific time you can still be on the insurance).

So now you are almost divorced, the paperwork is before the judge and you are waiting for the judge to sign the final paperwork.  What next?  Well did you settle retirement funds? Do you need to transfer retirement funds?  Need to value your pension?  Now you know what your pension is worth but you have to figure out how to transfer part of your retirement to your spouse.  The Qualified Domestic Relations Order commonly know as a QDRO is the document that actually tells the plan administrator to transfer the funds from one person to the other.

Did you update your Will or change your beneficiary?  These are things you need to remember to do once the divorce is final (if not before).  If you have a Will, you should update it, if you don’t, now would be a good time to make a Will.  Do you have life insurance, retirement or investment accounts – more than likely you designated a beneficiary on those accounts, now would be a good time to update the beneficiary designation.

Sometimes divorce isn’t as nice as a couple would like it go be. Feelings get hurts, lamps get broken.  If there is a time when things get a little heated, make sure the lamp that Great Aunt Bessie bequeath to you doesn’t find itself in the midst of a heated argument flying across the room.  Even if there are no arguments, make sure you remove your personal items as soon as the divorce is final or you have moved out.  When people move on, sometimes things get left behind, and if you move out, your spouse decides to have a yard sale, Great Aunt Bessie’s lamp gets put out for sale.

There is nothing wrong with making checklists to keep your affairs in order.  Financial and asset checklists could be the difference between a very organized divorce, or a very disorganized divorce.

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Foreclosure During Divorce

The couple going through a foreclosure at the same time they are going through a divorce should be aware of a number of issues that may arise. The divorcing spouses need to determine 1) who is responsible for the mortgage, 2) how will the debt be repaid and 3) which of them (if either) keeps the property.

First, they must determine whether the debt is the responsibility of one or both of them. Did one or both of them sign the mortgage documents? The documents include the deed, the mortgage and the promissory note.

Signing a promissory note and mortgage has significant and financial ramifications. The promissory note is an IOU between the borrow and the lender that contains the promise to repay the loan as well as the terms and conditions of repayment; it is the “ the promise to pay.” The mortgage provides security for the loan that is evidenced by a promissory note.

Foreclosure damages the credit rating of the spouse who signed the mortgage documents, but the other spouse’s credit score is not affected. Only the spouse who signed the documents is wholly responsible for repaying the mortgage loan. If there’s a deficiency after the foreclosure sale — and state law allows lenders to sue borrowers to recover the deficiency — the lender can seek payment from the spouse named in the promissory note. In most cases both spouses, the husband and the wife, co-sign the loan paperwork, and both own the family house as tenants by the entirety, so and both are liable for the mortgage debt.

One spouse sometimes can assume the mortgage when the couple part.

When the husband, for example, wants to keep the house after a divorce, he can assume the entire mortgage loan, even if the wife is the only signer on the mortgage or both he and she both co-signed on the mortgage, so long as there is no language in the mortgage that specifically forbids an assumption.

A prohibition of assumption requires a due-on-sale clause. While most home mortgages don’t specifically forbid borrowers from assigning their rights and obligations under the mortgage to a third party, most of them do include something called a “due-on-sale clause.” This type of clause states that if the property is sold or conveyed, then the entire loan balance will be accelerated (become due). Most mortgages contain a due on sale clause.

Generally, the due-on-sale clause is the only tool lenders have to prohibit borrowers from transferring the mortgage or the property. If there is no due-on-sale clause in a mortgage, one spouse can legally transfer title to the property and the mortgage to the other spouse without the lender’s consent.

However, even if there is a due-on-sale clause in the mortgage, one spouse can still assign the property and the mortgage entirely to the other spouse without the lender’s consent because of a law called the 1982 Garn-St. Germain Act. Under this federal law, lenders may not enforce an otherwise valid due-on-sale clause if a mortgage or property is transferred as a result of a divorce decree, legal separation agreement, or a property settlement agreement. 12 U.S.C. § 1701j-3(d). The lender can’t require any new underwriting, nor can it prohibit the mortgage transfer just because the mortgage is in default.

The spouse who wants to keep the house and assume the mortgage after the divorce should contact the lender’s assumption department rather than the loss mitigation department. The lender may ask for a copy of the divorce decree or a quitclaim deed from one spouse to the other.

Once the parties to a divorce decide what to do with the house and mortgage—whether one spouse wants to become the sole owner or neither spouse wants to take ownership—there are a number of options available to avoid foreclosure. If neither spouse wants the house any longer, they can attempt a short sale or deed in lieu of foreclosure.

If one spouse will take over the property and the mortgage, that spouse can then apply on his or her own for a modification or refinance, either under the federal government’s Making Home Affordable program or directly with their lender.

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Capital Gains in a House Sale at Divorce

In property settlements, transfers between spouses are gifts and are not taxable. However, in order to pay a settlement, sometimes couples must disturb assets in a way that creates tax consequences. For example, taxes may result when a party must withdraw funds from a pension fund.

Capital gains tax is not always an issue for most divorcing spouses. Capital gains of up to $500,000 can be sheltered from the sale of the primary residence, but the sale of other real estate may result in taxable revenue.

Other situations where taxes should be considered is when divorcing when the couple is selling an asset that is received as a result of a settlement; the marital home for example may create a capital gains liability. This is not contrary to the above statement where capital gains is not an issue for most divorcing spouses. This is when one spouse receives the marital home as part of the settlement and the home is not sold at the time of the divorce; when one of the parties take future income from the asset to be received later.

In divorce both parties should understand the basis for sheltered property, which includes the original cost, minus any improvements. Under tax laws, each spouse may exclude up to $250,000 (or $500,000 as couple) from any capital gains tax if they lived in the house for any two of the last five years.

The couple must decide how to divide the marital home, and take into consideration any capital gains tax that affects the party. In general, transfers of property between divorcing spouses are nontaxable. But there are circumstances where the capital gains tax (a tax on profits from sales of property where the gains exceed a certain amount) do apply to transfers that are made as part of a divorce.

The Basics

If the parties sell the marital home, each can exclude the first $250,000 of gain from taxable income. The capital gains exclusion applies only to the marital home if it was the primary residence that both parties for at least two of the five years before the sale of the home.

Military members can extend the five-year time frame to up to 10 years under certain circumstances.

The capital gains exclusion does not apply to a vacation home.

To figure out your taxable gain, you take the selling price of the home, minus any selling expenses, minus the amount that was originally paid for the house (or the cost to build the home). There may be some leeway for improvements to the home during the course of the marriage.

Buyouts

When one spouse is buying out the other, the sale is part of the divorce so the seller doesn’t really have to worry about any capital gains.

On the other hand, however, the buyer who stays in the house and later sells the home may only exclude the first $250,000 of gain, remember however, that you must live in the home 2 years before you sell the house or you need to meet one of the IRS exceptions to that rule.

Co-Owning the House

When both spouses continue to own the house but one of the spouses no longer lives in the home, he or she risks losing the $250,000 exclusion when the house is sold.

To avoid losing the exclusion, the spouses should make sure there is a written agreement of co-ownership. It must be made clear that the arrangement is pursuant to a divorce settlement or court order and that the agreement states both spouses remain co-owner but only one spouse lives in the home.

Capital gains can be confusing. Make sure you read and try to understand the IRS Publication 523, which may address some of the issues. If nothing else, contact a tax attorney or accountant to discuss how capital gains may affect you in your divorce.

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More to Deadbeat Dads Than Just Not Paying

Is it believed that the decline in marriage, increase in the divorce rate, and the acceptance of out-of-wedlock births as reasons why many divorced fathers do not play a prominent role in their children’s lives. Former husbands, on the other hand, often blame the former wife’s anger, continued conflict over child support, maternal bias in courts, stepfathers usurping their role, remarriage and relocation of the custodial mothers for raising barriers to involvement with their children.

Nevertheless, “Deadbeat Dads”– fathers who do not pay child support – are marked as pariahs who remain deeply loathed by society — the fully-grown man, who, having had his fun, abandons his financial responsibilities for his child. The numbers of fathers who pay little or no child support has always been staggering. In most recent years approximately 60% of child support has been paid to the receiving spouse, most of which is paid by fathers.

A significant correlation exists between a fathers’ amount of contact with his children and the payment of child support. It is found that the more active a father is in the role of rearing his child post divorce, the more likely he will continue to support his child financially. The tough part is, the option or willingness, to participate in a child’s life. The emotional side of the divorce can overwhelm the opportunities to effectively co-parent after a divorce. Without successful co-parenting the hopes of child support being paid lessens. Unfortunately in many situations the loss of the companionship of a father is compounded by the loss of financial support, which is a double hit all divorced parents need to try to avoid.

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Staying Healthy During a Divorce

Divorcing people very often find that the death of a marriage is a heroic struggle to “stay sane, healthy and hopeful” because the marital breakup assaults the body, the mind and the soul. Few life traumas effect such profound pain and suffering as a divorce, which can be made worse by neglecting health and physical well-being.

People enduring a divorce must take care of themselves each and every day throughout the experience. They must exercise, eat well, get plenty of rest, avoid heavy drinking and sleeping aids, and resist the urge to get involved with anyone else. Staying healthy physically gives a divorcee the stamina to face the emotional side of divorce, not avoid it. Pain in any manifestation — physical, mental, or emotional– must be met head on and dealt with. And that begins with self-care.

Exercise

The first step to getting through the day is just that — exercise. In sickness and health, walking is probably one of the best forms of exercise, but any type of exercise counts — dancing, swimming, yoga.

A divorce drains physical, mental and emotion energy, so the body needs additional sleep — a good 8-10 hours per night. Deep sleep is the time the body can repair itself, and it is the best time for healthy cells to grow. Exercise will help your body rest and a good night sleep will come much easier.

Eating Well

Stress and sadness can give a diet a knock-put punch. Some people stop eating, and others cannot stop eating — with predictable results in either direction. Three square meals a day that combine protein, fat and carbohydrates help keep blood sugar stable.

Social Isolation

The health consequences of social isolation cannot be neglected. When people breakup, friends they had a couple tend to fall to the side, which isolates the divorcing partners. Family, friends, co-workers, helping professionals — people who convey a positive impact — are more important than ever.

Long-Term Effects

Poor self care — which is far more common among divorced men than married couples — can have long-term health consequences. According to Mark Hayward, a sociology professor and director of the Population Research Center at the University of Texas–Austin, the stress of divorce can accelerate the biological processes that lead to cardiovascular disease. Divorced, middle-aged women, he says, are more likely to develop heart disease than non-divorced, middle-aged married women. And a recent study by sociologists at the University of Chicago showed that divorced or widowed individuals are 20 percent more likely than married people who have chronic health conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes or cancer.

The failure of a marriage demands clear-headed decisions because a clear-headed person is far better equipped to handle conflict and unpleasant behavior.

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Bankruptcy

Spousal and Child Support & Bankruptcy

You cannot dodge paying child support or alimony by filing bankruptcy.

The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (BAPCPA) places a claim of unpaid child support and alimony ahead any other creditors’ claims, even taxes.

Support is the first to be paid out of any bankruptcy filing. Any support arrearages survives a bankruptcy without the need for a dependent going to bankruptcy court to argue the matter. However, the person owed support, either child support or alimony must file a proof of claim with the bankruptcy court to receive payment.

BAPCPA requires that if there’s a claim for a domestic support obligation in a case, the trustee in bankruptcy, to give the claimant (who is the noncustodial parent) and her state’s Child Support Enforcement Agency written notice of the bankruptcy and any discharge given to the ex-spouse.

Under BAPCPA, the obligation to pay child support or alimony is not dischargeable. BAPCPA does not differentiate between alimony or child support and debts that are the result of property settlements. The latter used to be, in certain circumstances, a dischargeable debt; neither can be discharged under BAPCPA.

Under BAPCPA, the trustee in Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases are required to disclose certain information to a support creditor, who is usually the ex- or separated spouse, including the most recent known address of the debtor.

Filing Bankruptcy Before Divorce

Most divorce and bankruptcy lawyers suggest that struggling couples make a smooth and clean break by filing for bankruptcy before filing for divorce.

Start to finish, a divorce becomes much cleaner and easier with no debt obligations to distribute, particularly when spouses can come together and work towards a fresh start for both of them. Filing bankruptcy before divorce helps ensure that happens.

It almost always makes sense because filing bankruptcy means that all joint and individual debt is discharged in the action, so there is be no lingering joint debt that the non-filing spouse is responsible for.

Also, in the vast majority of cases, the spouses should file for bankruptcy before filing for divorce because when they file for bankruptcy jointly they pay one filing fee instead of two individual filing fees. Moreover, filing jointly means paying one attorney fee (and reaping significant savings).

The joint filing also makes for a larger household size, which works to the advantage of the filers who pass the means test and qualify for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy.

Filing Bankruptcy After (or During) Divorce

Filing for bankruptcy after or during a divorce make makes the action more difficult, particularly for the majority income earner, who may not be able to qualify for an easier Chapter 7 Bankruptcy.

Moreover, debt divided and assigned following a divorce decree is owed by one spouse to the other, and is not dischargeable in bankruptcy. Some people believe that filing bankruptcy after divorce means they can avoid support obligations. Bankruptcy provides no safe harbor from child support and alimony.

In addition, filing for bankruptcy during a divorce triggers an automatic stay and halts the action, which drags out an already painful action and makes it longer. Further, bankruptcy does not wipe the slate clean.

When Bankruptcy and Divorce Go down the Aisle

When it looks like a divorce and a bankruptcy are on the horizon, spouses would do well do review the basics of debt, divorce and bankruptcy.

Joint debt is a joint responsibility. When both spouses sign for a loan, a debt (for example, a mortgage or car loan), both may both be responsible for that debt even after the divorce. In other words, even if the court deems that one spouse is responsible for paying, the credit rating of both spouses might be affected should the loan go into default because of what is called joint and several liability.

For this reason, the spouses should memorialize an agreement about which of them is responsible for what debts. The bankruptcy lawyer who may have helped them file jointly, however, cannot help them because he or she is in conflict of interest and cannot act in a way that is detrimental to either spouse. So when parties want to legally divide payment responsibilities, they must turn to another lawyer to write the agreement.

Conflicts become particularly important during the three- to five-year repayment period of a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. In a Chapter 13 action, the parties must maintain their repayment schedule: If someone misses a payment, the bankruptcy trustee can move to dismiss the case, which removes the court’s protection and the chances of getting a bankruptcy discharge.

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Fathering After Divorce

Fathers often are the forgotten parent when it comes to divorce. A father is looked at as the parent who supports the mother, sometimes assisting her in the parenting of the child or children. Yet this implication can have a very toxic impact on the relationship of the divorced father and his child or children. Typically, mothers receive physical custody leaving fathers as the non-custodial parent and offering at best a liberal visitation schedule. This may be a long road to walk and often leaving the father / child relationship strained.

Mothers remain very involved with their child or children, performing daily activities for and with the child or children. The father on the other hand often is the person who walks into and back out of the child’s life with sporadic visits. Fathers aren’t even expected to spend as much time with their child as mothers are. Note the key term here is expected. As a whole, there is not as much expectation when it comes to a father’s role or involvement with the child.

Almost half of American marriages end in divorce. In about 90 percent of divorces, custody is awarded to mothers with fathers receiving visitation. Fathers might see their child once or twice a week; often children do not see their fathers at all. It is estimated that after 10 years after the divorce approximately two-thirds of the children won’t see their father at all. There are about 30% of children now born to unwed mothers, leaving some of the children to never really bond with their father at all.

If the father remarries, the child feels displaced which also leads to the deterioration of the father / child relationship. Biological children believe the father’s loyalty shifts to the new family. Often fathers and their relationship with their children are looked at harshly. Fathers are viewed as absent or dead-beat. However, if a mother remarries, the relationship with the child is less affected. If mothers remarry, it is usually not as quickly after the divorce as fathers remarry.

Divorced dads are categorized as follows:

The Disney Dad – this dad engages the child in recreation, not real parenting. Dads of this type rather have fun with their child, in and of itself is not an issue, it is the actual lack of parenting, lack of structure missing from the child’s life.

The Deadbeat Dad – this is the father who does not pay child support. Whether dad is unemployed or is having financial difficulties, he fails to meet the child support obligation for his child. Often Mom will mention just how much Dad owes in back child support, often alienating the child based on financial obligation alone.

The Disappearing Dad – this Dad is the one who moves away, remarries or cohabits with a person not the child’s Mom and now focuses his attention on the new home or family or relationship. Often the Disappearing Dad does so because of constant conflict between Mom and himself, or Mom continually taking Dad back to court for some reason or another. This father will become angry and not having enough time with his child, but will disappear anyway.

Maybe Dad has a legitimate reason to lessen the involvement with his child; but as far as the child is concerned, no reason is good enough. Dads will stop being involved with their child because of Mom’s anger, continued conflict between Mom and Dad over support, Dad may feel there is maternal bias in the court system; Step Dad takes over as Dad, custodial Mom remarries and moves away from Dad. Again, no matter the reason, no reason is good enough in the eyes of a child. A child wants to see his or her father, and will question his or her self-worth and even his or her ability to be loved if the child believes his or her father does not love them.

Once the child reaches adulthood, reconciliation and the relationship between Dad and child may improve. Some children blame their father for the divorce, worsening of finances for Mom and them, and are genuinely sad about not having their dad around. Abuse is a different story, often children are relieved that dad is gone, but there is still a sadness that lingers – even if the child no longer considers his or her father a part of his or her life.

Often the child who is enlisted in parental disputes will experience conflict between loyal to Mom but also loving Dad. Parents should always avoid tipping the scales in their favor when it comes to the love and loyalty of the child. The child has the right to both parents.

If infidelity on the part of the father, and this was the cause of the divorce, often the child cannot forgive their father. The child will blame the infidelity for the deterioration of the father / child relationship.

Communication is a key factor to having a good relationship with your child. Children who lived at least half time with their Dad had better relationships than children who saw their dad less than at least half time.

To have a good relationship with your child, after the divorce, become more involved in the actual parenting of your child. Take more responsibility for the child’s upbringing, make an effort to have a good relationship with your former spouse, and above all, spend quality time with your child. You do not have to be the father described above.

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