How to handle special occasions when parents divorce

Special occasions like birthdays can pose many difficulties for divorced families. Scheduling issues, new significant others, painful memories and arguments about gifts can all cause tension. Here are some ways to cope:

Handling custody during divorce for family events and holidays

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Involve the kids in new traditions

Your kids might already feel stress due to new circumstances, and no child wants to feel pressure to choose one parent over the other. Reassure your children that although some traditions will change, it may be a fun opportunity to start new ones as well. Ask them for ideas so they feel involved in the changes that are taking place in their lives.

Plan in advance

While most parenting plans include set schedules for holiday timesharing exchanges, families that don’t already have a parenting plan in place will want to nail down the details about any special occasions, including pickup times and locations. Other unanticipated special occasions, such as a retirement party for a favorite aunt or a family member’s graduation, may pop up. It is important to agree on the schedule change well in advance of the actual event. Nothing ever runs as smoothly as planned, but planning will reduce the stress and help maintain the joy in the occasion.

Don’t one-up each other

Discuss a general budget for presents with your ex. Adhere to the plan and don’t try to be the favorite by buying more elaborate gifts than the other parent. Also, don’t purchase gifts that do not coincide with your co-parenting plan, like a violent video game that your ex disagrees with.

Communication is key

If plans do not go as expected, communicate all changes as soon as possible with the other parent. If the toasts run a little long at the 50th anniversary party of your kids’ grandparents, be flexible. If you’re the one who’s late dropping off the kids, call your ex with as much notice as possible. Create a conflict-free zone for your children and do not put them in the middle of your personal issues or parenting decisions. As the adults, you must find a way to work things out. You may consider working with a parenting coordinator to help you and your ex resolve some more highly disputed parenting issues.

Use your support system

Reach out to your support system to keep up your spirits up. Changing family traditions can be hard. Obtain counseling services if you feel depressed. You can contact our office for a referral to a qualified mental health professional. It is important to take care of yourself, physically, emotionally and mentally. If you find yourself breaking down, make sure to pencil some time in your busy schedule to care for yourself. Don’t rule out the idea of reaching out to your ex to discuss some of the struggles you may be experiencing on your end. It is very possible they are feeling the same way.

Use a qualified attorney/mediator

The services of a qualified attorney/mediator can be invaluable as you navigate new traditions. These professionals can help you avoid and manage conflict along the way.

Have questions about infidelity and alimony? Email, or call toll free: 877-687-1392, or locally: 239-210-7516.

Interested in learning more about the emotions that can surface during a divorce, read my free e-book, “Does Every Divorce Need a Shark?”

Does Every Divorce Need a Shark

Legal separation: Frequently asked questions about legal separation

What is the difference between legal separation and divorce?

In a legal separation, the parties are still married and a court order mandates the rights and duties of a couple for the time they are living apart. With a divorce, the parties’ marriage is legally dissolved.

Legal separation

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What are the reasons for formally separating versus filing for divorce?

There are various reasons some couples may choose to pursue a formal separation. Religious concerns, concerns about lapsing health insurance benefits, and concerns regarding social security and pension benefits are just a few examples. Some couples will engage is a “trial separation” with the hopes of eventually reconciling their differences.

Does Florida allow spouses to file for legal separation?

While Florida law does not provide for legal separation, there are various other legal instruments that allow for parties to formalize the terms of their separation. Having a clear set of agreed terms can reduce the possibility of financial and emotional conflicts later on. These include:

  • Separation Agreements
  • Petition for Support
  • Postnuptial Agreements

Reaching a common ground can be challenging and every case is unique. At Grossman Law & Conflict Management, we can provide clear guidance through the separation process along with solutions that will fit our client’s particular needs.

Have questions about infidelity and alimony? Email, or call toll free: 877-687-1392, or locally: 239-210-7516.

Interested in learning more about the emotions that can surface during a divorce, read my free e-book, “Does Every Divorce Need a Shark?”

Does Every Divorce Need a Shark

What to expect when getting a divorce

What can I expect when going through a divorce?

What to expect when getting a divorce, steps to divorce

1. Evaluate your relationship.

It is important to assess the nature of your relationship with your spouse before deciding what route to take. Not every divorce is highly contested. If you and your spouse are on speaking terms, you may want to consider the possibility of proceeding in an uncontested or cooperative manner. In an uncontested divorce the parties have worked out an agreement together and hire us to prepare the marital settlement agreement and parenting plan. If you are able to work out most but not all of the terms of an agreement, then you may want to proceed with a cooperative divorce, whereby we would help advise you as to various settlement scenarios and help move toward a final agreement.

If there is a history of domestic violence or manipulation, an uncontested or cooperative divorce may not be the best option as it is likely the abuser will attempt to employ abusive tactics to get the result he/she ultimately wants.

2. Filing a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage.

If you opt to proceed with a contested divorce, you will discuss and determine with your attorney all the requests you want to include in the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. Generally, there are five major issues in a divorce: division of property and debts, also referred to as equitable distribution, parenting, alimony, child support, and attorney’s fees and costs. The Petition is then served on your spouse, who will have 20 days after date of service to file an Answer to the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage.

3. Parenting Course

Parties to a divorce involving children are required to attend a parenting class. This class is available to parents as an online course. You must be sure to file the Certificate of Completion.

4. Mandatory Disclosure and Discovery

Both parties are expected to file Certificates of Compliance with Mandatory Disclosure and Financial Affidavit within 45 days following the date the Petition was served. The Financial Affidavit reports your monthly income, expenses, assets and liabilities. Your Financial Affidavit is a very important document and is used to determine alimony, child support and property division. Visit for an instructional video on how to create your Financial Affidavit. We make sure to work closely with our clients in preparing their Financial Affidavit.

Discovery is an opportunity for each side to request and gather relevant information. It may be necessary to schedule depositions. Depositions present an opportunity for a party to ask questions of a potential witness and have the answers documented by a court reporter.

5. Case Management

Parties will meet with a case manager at the Courthouse to check on the status of the case and ensure that the parties are meeting deadlines so the case does not become stagnant. If either party has a Motion for Temporary Relief pending, case management is an opportunity to try to resolve those issues.

6. Mediation

All cases are required to attend mediation prior to scheduling the case for trial. Mediation is a confidential process. The mediator cannot be subpoenaed to testify at a future court hearing. It is intended to be an opportunity where parties can shape their own agreement that is most conducive to their lives. If an agreement is not reached at mediation, some parties agree to return to continue the mediation at a later date.

7. Trial

If parties are unable to reach a mutual agreement outside of Court, the pending issues will be decided by the Judge following a trial, where each side will have an opportunity to present testimony and evidence in support of their positions. You will want to discuss with your attorney whether it is necessary to have experts, such as, accountants or parenting evaluators, testify at trial. Depending on the issues in the case, trials may last a couple of hours or possibly even a few days.

Have questions about infidelity and alimony? Email, or call toll free: 877-687-1392, or locally: 239-210-7516.

Interested in learning more about the emotions that can surface during a divorce, read my free e-book, “Does Every Divorce Need a Shark?”

Does Every Divorce Need a Shark

5 Signs you should bow out of your vows

Here are five signs you should consider a divorce.

Signs you may be heading for a divorce

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1. You or your spouse is cheating.

Trust is a cornerstone of all marriages. An unfaithful spouse can destroy the foundation of the relationship. There are instances when couples work to save their marriage after a spouse has an extramarital affair, but if this is a continuing pattern throughout the marriage the cheating spouse is unlikely to change, no matter how many times they may profess their regret and promise to change. At some point you, have to respect yourself and decide to strive to make a better example for your children. Don’t stay in a relationship because you are scared of being alone or breaking up the family.

2. You live separate lives.

Simply put, you aren’t really in a relationship anymore. You may live under the same roof, but you rarely spend time together. You’ve moved into separate bedrooms. You don’t plan family dinners or outings anymore.

3. You are experiencing physical changes.

You are constantly thinking about how unhappy or uncertain you are in your marriage that it is causing you to show physical symptoms. A sudden change in weight, insomnia, panic attacks, headaches, or hive break outs can all be signs that you should consider different options. You find yourself daydreaming about a life outside of this marriage.

4. You are a one-man show.

The beginning of the marriage was full of promises of how each of you would support each other, but now, without any contribution from your spouse, you find yourself burning candles at both ends to keep your family afloat. You are the one responsible for financially supporting the family, transporting the kids to school and all their activities, helping with homework, cleaning, cooking, and errand running etc. You continue to ask for your spouse’s contribution but never see any effort.

 5. You are in an abusive relationship.

Abuse isn’t just physical. It comes in all forms, mental, emotional, psychological, and physical etc., and it doesn’t have to be a constant in your life.

Have questions about infidelity and alimony? Email, or call toll free: 877-687-1392, or locally: 239-210-7516.

Interested in learning more about the emotions that can surface during a divorce, read my free e-book, “Does Every Divorce Need a Shark?”

Does Every Divorce Need a Shark