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Gaithersburg Family Law Blog

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4 tips for child support during the holiday season

The holidays are when parents tend to focus on paying monthly bills on top of the added expenses of the season. For those who are paying child support, this can be a challenge. Even during the hustle and bustle of the season, it is imperative that support-paying parents insure they are adequately meeting their child support obligations.

Here are some tips that you might find helpful now, as well as throughout the year:

  • You must still pay on time. Failing to pay child support as the Court orders can lead to criminal issues. You don't need these during the holiday season.
  • Never withhold child support payments unless you are told to do so by the Court. Even if you don't think the other parent is using the money properly, don't quit paying. Document the issues that you have and find out if you need to do anything about it.
  • Discuss possible delays and other issues directly with your ex. Never use the kids as messengers. The children don't need to know about the details of child support issues that are going on.
  • Remember that memories don't have to involve material things. You might not be able to buy your children the most expensive gifts, but you can still have fun with them. Have a night in with hot chocolate, holiday movies and popcorn or read a book with them while wearing matching pajamas.

Seasonal plans need to be discussed early

Thanksgiving is right around the corner and Christmas and Hanukkah is just after that. For parents who have a child custody agreement for their children, this can be a very stressful season. Not only do they have the normal hustle and bustle of this time of year, they also have to deal with the ins and outs of the custody arrangement.

If you are facing this situation, now is the time to get started on seasonal parenting plans.

Your future depends partially on the terms of your divorce

One of the biggest issues that adults face when they divorce is the stress caused by the situation. The decisions that you make now can impact you for the rest of your life. You have to think carefully about each one, but you might not think that you have time. We are here to help guide you through the process.

We understand that you don't want to make mistakes. You might be able to reduce the risk of errors by taking the time to plan a strategy. Determine which issues need your focus and which ones you aren't as passionate about. This can serve as a guide as you go through the divorce process.

Positive attitudes can be infectious in child custody cases

Parenting your children after a divorce isn't easy at all. Some parents fall into a negative mode of thinking that makes it much more difficult than it has to be. Changing your frame of mind into one that is positive and embraces the change is one of the best things that you can do for yourself and your children.

When you make up your mind to work with your ex and put your differences aside, you are sending a message to your children and your ex that you are still a team despite the changes that have occurred. This is a big step in the right direction. It isn't always going to work perfectly, but your positive attitude will likely be infectious and help others involved in the situation to also be positive.

Lessen your stress load with these child custody tips

Divorce has a way of bringing extreme levels of stress into your life. This is even more the case if you have questions and concerns about child custody, such as when you'll get to spend time with your children throughout the year.

Regardless of what's happened in the past, there are some child custody tips you can follow in the future to prevent trouble. There's no way of knowing how the other parent will react, but here are five tips to experiment with:

  • Effective communication is essential: Don't assume you can get through the year without communicating with your ex-spouse. You don't have to talk about anything personal, but you must stay in touch in regard to parenting time and other key details. You can do this over the phone, via email or text messages or in person. Find the best way to communicate and use it to your advantage.
  • Plan in advance: If you wait until the last minute to make parenting plans, there's a greater chance you'll run into trouble. Planning in advance is one of the best ways to keep everyone on the same page.
  • Cooperate with the other parent: Even though you may have plans in mind, such as a vacation, it doesn't mean you can proceed without discussing things with the other parent. When you both cooperate, it's much easier for everyone to get what they want.
  • Be flexible: It's not always easy to do this, especially if you don't have a good relationship with your ex-spouse. However, when you remain flexible, such as the times at which you drop off and pick up your children, it has a way of reducing stress.
  • Talk about problem areas: This can be a big sticking point, as you may take one approach to a problem while the other parent has a different angle. When you discuss problem areas, you'll always know what the other person is thinking.

Plans for the end of a marriage must address immediate needs

Divorce can be a stressful journey. You are bidding adieu to the life to which you've grown accustomed while you are embarking on a new, single life. On top of the legal process that you have to go through, you also need to think about the logistics that accompany the end of a marriage. We know this isn't easy, but if you plan ahead for what's to come, you might feel less stress.

You need to handle a few things that will impact you immediately. One of these is your finances. More than likely, you have a joint account with your spouse. When you end the marriage, you will need to move your money into an individual account. Make sure that you aren't taking more out of the marital account than that to which you are legally entitled. We can help you to determine how to handle this important matter.

Encourage your children to interact with extended family

When you divorce, your child has to learn how to treat each parent's family as a separate entity. In the past, they just had aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents. Now, these might be identified by to which parent they are related. This is a difficult adjustment for many children.

One thing that you shouldn't do when you get a divorce is expect that the relationship between your child and extended family members to change. Instead, you should encourage your children to have a healthy relationship with all their relatives, regardless to which side of the family they belong.

Child support orders come after looking at many factors

Child support cases aren't always easy to handle. Both of the parents might be concerned about how much these support payments are going to be. The paying parent likely hopes that the payments don't take up too much money. Recipient parents probably hope the money can actually help with the many costs of raising the children.

The amount of child support that is ordered in a case isn't some random number. The courts have a specific formula and some very strict guidelines about what can be ordered in these cases. Typically, one of the first things the judge will consider is the information provided on a financial statement that each of the parents complete. This includes income information and can include household expenses.

Flexibility is sometimes necessary in child custody situations

Having to work with your ex to raise your children might not be as difficult as you might think it will be. One thing that can help immensely is having a child custody agreement that lays out resolutions to the most common issues you might face. Some people think that parenting plans are akin to cookie-cutter plans, but this isn't the case.

When you are working out the terms of the parenting plan, you have to think about your child. Don't think too far into the future. Address what your child needs now and in the immediate future. There isn't a way that you can make a custody plan that is going to work for a toddler and a teen. You will need to make adjustments to things as you and your ex see that the current way of doing things isn't working any longer.

Property division, credit reports and your future

The bills that you've amassed while you were married don't go away when you decide to get a divorce. Instead, you and your ex will have to divide the debts just like you do the assets. This can be problematic if you have credit card accounts and others that will end up on your credit report.

Many people don't stop to think about how their credit might be impacted by the divorce. Unfortunately, this oversight can be catastrophic down the road. Here are some important points to remember about how these two matters are intertwined:

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