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Co-parenting a special needs child after divorce

Many Missouri residents ending a marriage do not have an easy time working out the details. In most cases, parents who decide to separate encounter a particular set of challenges as they navigate new circumstances co-parenting their child. Some parents going through the divorce process have to work through additional considerations if their child has special needs, and this situation can be especially difficult in the case of a high conflict divorce. An expert offers a few tips for divorcing parents of a child with special needs (ADHD, autism and anxiety, to name only a few).

Firstly, while most children thrive best with consistent routines, many children with special needs especially require consistency between parents' homes. Parents in this type of situation should confer and agree upon routines around homework, bedtime and other daily activities. Secondly, sometimes, one parent has been the primary caregiver for a child with special needs, and that person may not trust the other parent to properly care for the child. However, divorcing parents of this type are smart to realize the wisdom of sharing with the other parent helpful information about caring for the child, rather than seeking greater custody.

Child support issues to keep in mind in divorce

Co-parenting can be challenging, even for married couples in Missouri who have been together for decades. If you divorce, you may have to resolve numerous issues regarding child custody and child support. If you and your ex disagree about such matters, you may have to leave it up to the court to decide if you're unable to achieve an agreement.

Perhaps you've been a full-time stay-at-home parent during marriage. On the other hand, maybe yours has been a dual-income household. Either way, the court believes your children should be able to maintain the same standard of living to which they were accustomed during your marriage. This belief is often the basis for ordering child support.

Behaving badly toward spouse during divorce has negative effect

Ending a marriage tends to bring out the worst in people. Even if a person generally behaved kindly and positively toward his or her partner during the marriage, once a divorce is in process, that same person may act out of character sometimes or even often. Negative behavior may take the form of harsh comments about the spouse to a third party or to the spouse directly. However, divorcing Missouri couples who may be inclined to deliver nasty comments should first consider the following potential benefits to keeping that hostility in check.

First, divorce is stressful enough already, and couples who have an amicable divorce tend to reduce that stress load. In avoiding conflict, divorcing couples can also ease the process of reaching a settlement that suits both of them and, if children are involved, pave the way for a better co-parenting situation. People who avoid bad behavior, particularly within the spouse's professional environment, may also increase their chances of ending up with a fair share of assets, since picking a fight in a spouse's workplace could negatively affect that person's business relationships as well as earning potential.

Are you at your wit's end in a high-conflict divorce?

Perhaps, you and your spouse argued often in the months leading up to your ultimate decision to divorce. When a relationship becomes contentious, it's stressful for everyone involved. In fact, it would be understandable if you were to say that constant conflict was a leading factor in your decision to end your marriage in a Missouri court. While you might have hoped that you'd be able to settle things as swiftly as possible, if your spouse is looking for a fight, it might not be that easy.

A high-conflict divorce can be challenging to finalize. If you and your spouse disagree on important issues, such as child custody, property division or alimony, there's no telling how long it might take to try to achieve a fair settlement. The emotional consequences of conflict can quickly take their toll as well. Reaching out for support can be a valuable coping skill.

Child custody negotiation when a parent has a demanding career

When Missouri couples decide to legally end their union, they often face a number of challenges. People involved in the process of divorce who are also parents may find navigating the area of child custody particularly stressful, but no doubt divorcing parents would agree that time spent with their children is precious, and any amount of difficulty they must endure during negotiations is well worth the outcome. Divorcing parents with a time-consuming career may be concerned about losing quality parenting time in the divorce as a result of the demands of their working life. Experts offer some tips for such individuals.

First, it is important for divorcing parents to always keep in mind the best interests of their child, rather than a win for themselves. People should think carefully and honestly about their child's daily routines, and consider various scenarios and how they would be handled when the child is with them. For example, parents need to think about how they will manage weekday mornings, after-school time and sick days. Divorcing parents are also wise to be realistic about how much available time they have to spend with their children each day and avoid overestimating.

Older couples face additional challenges during divorce

Although many Missouri residents may think of the typical divorcing couple as young to middle-aged, a recent trend indicates more older couples are deciding to end their marriages. Statistics show that the number of divorced adults over age 50 has increased significantly in recent decades, and the rate is expected to continue rising, prompting a special term for this situation: "gray divorce." Most divorcing couples of any age experience a great deal of emotional and financial stress, but couples divorcing at an older age often encounter additional challenges, both during the process and once the divorce is finalized.

For one, when it comes to dividing assets, divorcing older people may find division of retirement benefits particularly challenging. The general rule is that any money accumulated during the time of the marriage is split equally between partners, regardless of the earnings of each person. This means that one person may see his or her retirement fund diminish in value once it is split down the middle. Divorcing couples may also struggle with determining property division. Although property acquired prior to the marriage typically remains with the person who accumulated it, because of the length of the marriage, in the case of gray divorce, it can become especially challenging to clearly determine what belongs to whom.

Raising children together after a divorce

Most parents in Missouri would quickly agree that parenting is difficult. When two parents are no longer in a romantic relationship, there are often even more struggles. Fortunately, there are some steps that parents can take to help create a peaceful co-parenting relationship following a divorce.

The most important aspect of such a relationship is effective communication. This includes both the content of communication and method. That is, couples will decide if they prefer communication through text, email, phone call or in person, for examples. They may ultimately determine that one method is appropriate for certain types of information (such as a text over an inconsequential schedule change), but other decisions (such as what school a child will attend) will require an in-person meeting, perhaps facilitated by professionals. Keeping conversations respectful and focused -- including avoiding rehashing unresolved issues from the past -- can also maintain a positive relationship going forward.

Family law: Situations in which a postnuptial agreement is useful

When couples in Missouri and across the country are planning their wedding, it may be difficult for them to consider a time when they are not happily wed. For this and a variety of other reasons, they may determine that creating a prenuptial agreement, a family law tool that can help guide the divorce process, is not necessary. However, as time passes and their circumstances change, they may ultimately determine that some protections need to be in place. 

For those couples, a postnuptial agreement may be useful. Like a prenup, it requires a full and accurate disclosure of finances, but it can be signed after the marriage occurs. There are a variety of different circumstances that could lead to the decision to create such a document.

Divorce: Many Missouri spouses say these issues were factors

If you've been married 10 or more years, you've no doubt had to overcome challenges in your relationship. Some issues are definitely more serious than others. For instance, if your spouse leaves dirty dishes in the sink, it might irritate you but wouldn't necessarily make or break your relationship. If you discover that your spouse cheated, that might be the straw that breaks the camel's back. Many Missouri spouses say infidelity was a causal factor in their divorces.

Do you ever talk to a trusted friend or family member about marriage? If so, you might find that you relate to his or her experiences. Every marriage is unique and many issues can affect a relationship, such as career, children, relatives, location, finances and more. You might find that you and your spouse rebound just fine after some types of problems but not others. A strong support network can help you navigate tough marriage problems; it can also help you navigate divorce.

Do grandparents have visitation rights with their grandchildren?

The relationship between a child and his or her grandparent is sometimes a strong one. However, there are times when a parent in Missouri may wish to deny a grandparent access to children. Despite a parent's desire, grandparents are often legally entitled to visitation with their grandchildren in certain circumstances.

All states have laws that allow visitation with grandparents, though those laws vary by state. Courts will also give consideration to a parent's desire for denying visitation as long as their reasons do not stem from a desire to hurt the grandparent. Often, when such a case ends up in court, a parent who presents a proposed plan to the court may be looked upon more favorably.

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