Everett Family Law Blog

Getting along in a blended family: After your divorce

Parents of minor children need to get along even after a divorce. For instance, if your ex remarries, you will need to learn how to manage your interactions with the new spouse while caring for the children you share.

Blended families, the name given to families with stepparents or stepchildren, face many challenges. They have to learn to work together despite past conflicts — which isn't always easy.

Court issues new custody and parenting orders to Pitt and Jolie

Washington fans of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are among others who have been following news of their personal lives since they announced their divorce. The former couple has been fighting over custody and parenting issues, unable to agree on what is best for their six children. Making news headlines once again, Pitt has apparently gained the court's favor; in fact, some say the current situation may cause Jolie to lose custody altogether.  

The court reportedly issued a recent ruling that Jolie must provide each of her children a cell phone. The devices are meant to help keep lines of communication open between the children and their father, Pitt. The judge noted that Jolie is not permitted to review any text messages that the children and their dad exchange.

Using mediation to keep divorce civil

Even when a couple is fair-minded, divorce is rarely an easy experience to navigate. For those who serve in the armed forces, additional strains of service and the structures of military life often make divorce more stressful, not less.

If you and your spouse face the difficult task of navigating divorce and you hope to do so in a fair, responsible manner, you may want to consider using divorce mediation. Mediation features many benefits, and is frequently used by those who want a quick, civil divorce with as little conflict and unnecessary complication as possible.

After divorce, make both parents' homes inviting to the kids

When parents of minor children divorce, it is usually difficult for the children to cope with all of the changes — at least initially. Kids may feel insecure and/or regress to earlier developmental stages as part of their coping mechanisms.

Divorced parents can ease their children's transition between homes when sharing custody or visitation. The following tips may be useful if your children are struggling to adjust to their "new normal."

Keep stress to a minimum in a Washington divorce

No one can predict which marriages will last a lifetime and which will end in court. Every relationship is unique even if some spouses may share certain types of experiences in common. Most Washington spouses would agree that a high priority in divorce is to keep stress levels as low as possible.  

There are several ways to do that, the first of which involves a self-awareness exercise. Before filing for divorce, it's always a good idea to make a list of one's immediate and long-term needs and goals. Knowing exactly what one wants can help a person streamline his or her efforts in divorce proceedings.  

Virtual visitation and child custody

Over the last decade, the widespread use of smartphones, tablets and other similar devices have revolutionized the way that we communicate and spend time together. Not only do we see these changes in our professional and creative lives, but also in our closest relationships. For parents who share custody of a child, or may soon raise a child separately, these means of communication present both benefits and drawbacks, and deserve careful consideration.

Courts now recognize that communication through devices like these has great value to parents as they raise their children, especially in instances where parents do not live physically close to each other. In the legal setting, this is referred to as virtual visitation.

Ideas for those facing custody and parenting issues in divorce

"Divorce is easy, " likely said no Washington parent, ever. In fact, most people who divorce expect challenges along the way as they prepare for new lifestyles with their children. Custody and parenting issues are often central focuses of divorce. Parents can avoid much stress if they think ahead and set the tone for amicable post-divorce relationships.  

Most family advocates agree that one of the worst things parents can do is speak ill of their former spouses in front of their kids. Not only can such behavior confuse children as to where their loyalties should lie, it often causes children to internalize such issues. A child who hears a mother or father badmouthing the other parent may think the one doing badmouthing feels the same about him or her.  

Which litigation alternatives are available options for you?

There's a certain stigma attached to divorce that makes it seem as though all marital splits involve contentious, drawn-out court battles. However, not only is that not a true statement, many Washington spouses are able to achieve satisfactory settlements without ever stepping foot into a courtroom. The answer for some is divorce mediation. The process is definitely not one-size-fits-all, though, so anyone considering litigation alternatives should speak to someone experienced in it before determining whether it is the best court of action in a particular circumstance.  

Mediation is considered one form of alternative dispute resolution. Some spouses choose this method of negotiation themselves because they want to stay out of court and achieve fair settlements in the swiftest, least expensive manner possible. At other times, the court may, for various reasons, order spouses to mediate.  

Parenting plans: A vital part of any military divorce

In the military, there may always be times when you'll be away. Since you and your spouse are part of the military, you know that following your divorce, you'll have to make special arrangements for your children. If one or both of you is deployed, there is no option but to have a plan in place to protect your children while you're away.

What you need is to create a parenting plan first, then make exceptions for times when you can't be there. Here are a few good examples of what you can do to make sure your children are taken care of.

Tragedy leads to complicated custody and parenting issues

A 2-year old child was left motherless when a recent tragedy occurred in another state. Sadly, the woman's death is believed to have been caused by her husband, who is not the child's biological father. The latter has come forward, however, prompting a complex custody and parenting situation that will now be left to the court to resolve. Washington parents facing similar issues may want to follow this case.

The toddler's father apparently proved his paternity through DNA testing more than a year ago. He says the only reason he was not able to actively parent his own daughter during that time is because her mother's new relationship made it impossible. He also stated that he knows in his heart the child's mother would want him to have custody of his daughter.  

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