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Phone: 813.586.0811

Blended families: a display of pure Hope!

Hope, that is, on the part of the “new” adult couple; because for the children of a newly blended family, stepparents create loyalty issues for the children – regardless of the children’s ages.  As discussed in this article:

  • Liking or loving a new stepmom creates perceived loyalty issues:  the child may feel s/he is being disloyal to mom, yet loyal to dad
  • Hating the new stepmom is the opposite:  the child feels loyal to mom, yet disloyal to dad.  (The same, yet opposite, is true for new stepfathers)

The child is trapped in a “loyalty bind” at seemingly every turn.  Depending on the child’s age and level of maturity, the degree of stress caused by these loyalty issues will differ, as will the child’s ability to manage the situation without having to “choose” one parent over the other.

At Tampa Friendly Divorce, we have found one thing is certain: the more supportive mom and dad are about the child developing a good relationship with their ex’s new partner, the easier the transition will be for the child.


Divorce, Older Kids, and the Holidays

As we approach the Winter Holiday season, I realize we often give advice to recently divorced or separated parents on how to manage the first holiday as co-parents living in separate homes; but this year I wanted to take a moment to address some things that Teens and/or Adult Children of recently separated or divorced parents may wish to consider when planning how to navigating the holidays.

  1. Humor! If you can make light of the challenging situation with managing your parents recent separation or divorce, you can diffuse (at least temporarily) the sadness and anxiety.
  2. Be authentically you and stop pretending everything is ok. Pretending is more painful. Try and confide in someone empathetic at your family gathering—perhaps your favorite cousin or an uncle with whom you are close. You will most likely find comfort in expressing your feelings to someone outside of your immediate family.
  3. If you have siblings, rely on each other for emotional support. If you don’t have siblings, ask for support from a friend who has had a similar experience.
  4. Excuse your family members. If you are at a family gathering and your extended family members don’t ask about your other parent (not present) or don’t acknowledge the difficult situation you are going through, know that they love you dearly but are limited in their ability to expresses their feelings. They simply just don’t know how to do it. Excuse them for this.
  5. You are not alone. Remember almost everyone deals with some level of challenging family dynamics during the holidays – not just those with separated or divorced parents. There are plenty of other crappy family holiday showdowns going on out there too!
  6. Create boundaries. If you’ve moved away and are heading back to your hometown for the holidays, stay at a hotel or a friend’s home instead of with your family. You may need your space. Sometimes staying in your childhood home amidst your parents recent divorce can make the wounds worse.
  7. If you live on your own, consider hosting one of the holidays at your own home. Ask your family to your home for the holidays and start creating a new way of doing the holidays. Planning and preparing to host might just be the distraction you need.

We hope this helps – and Happy Holidays!

(Modified from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/adrienne-partridge-/adult-children-with-recen_b_6338524.html)

But, who gets Rover and Miss Kitty?!?!

As American pet lovers, we’re glad the Texas Judge in article below considers what will happen with the pets when reviewing divorce cases.  http://www.kaufmanherald.com/community/article_660c8bc4-4911-11e6-96f7-8fa19ac96306.html

We at Tampa Friendly Divorce guide spouses through conversations and negotiations where the couples goal is to find PEACE with their Marital Settlement Agreement:

  • Parenting plan or how to co-parent the children of the marriage;
  • Equitable division of your assets and debts;
  • Alimony or spousal support of some kind (in many cases);
  • Child support regarding children of the marriage; and
  • Everything else you and your spouse might decide to include.

While some lawyers might still try to use the argument that “pets are like a member of the family”, the courts here in Florida have ruled that pets are personal property and they do not have the authority to grant custody or visitation rights to “personal property”.  So, family pets generally fall into the “Equitable Distribution” category.  In fact, if the pet is valuable as a source of income (award winning show pets, breeding, future litters, etc.), the pet may also figure into alimony/spousal support!

Read more…

Florida alimony reform bill vetoed by Governor

On Friday, April 15, 2016, Governor Rick Scott, for the second time, vetoed a significant alimony reform bill.  His stated reason was that the bill required judges to assume 50/50 time with each parent when determining time sharing for children of divorce, versus the judge being able to determine what is in the best interest of the child on a case by case basis.   So, while Florida does have a formula for calculating Child Support based on parental finances, there is not currently a formal calculation that is used for Alimony.  See the article here: http://www.tampabay.com/news/politics/stateroundup/gov-rick-scott-vetoes-controversial-alimony-bill/2273409.

With the failure of the Legislature to pass the bill in 2015 due to legislator shenanigans, the Governor’s second veto makes it three years in a row that this comprehensive reform of Florida’s alimony and timesharing laws – supported by many different groups – has not become law.  We at Tampa Friendly Divorce believe the best thing for children of divorce is that divorcing parents should be able to determine what is in their children’s best interest, based on their unique family dynamics and needs, but we did not see the alimony/time-sharing bill as preventing – or even seriously limiting – the parties’ ability to negotiate what they believe is in their – and their shared children’s – best interest.

Read more…

Will Florida change its Alimony and Custody Laws in 2016?

During the 2015 legislative session, it came close – now it appears our legislators are at it again!  So… what is being considered in 2016?  Two separate pieces of legislation:

  1. Ending the ability for a spouse who has been in a “long-term” marriage to receive permanent alimony (for the remainder of their life); and
  2. A legislative push for judges to implement 50-50 time sharing between divorcing parents.

Stay tuned for further updates on the status of these bills!


Co-Parenting Assistance (during and after the divorce…)

Do you have or anticipate having problems co-parenting during or after your divorce? Perhaps you have heard of Parenting Coordination, which is a court-ordered parenting assistance program for high-conflict families (providing accountability as well as communications with the judge and decision-making on limited matters, as needed). Of course, if you are considering Tampa Friendly Divorce – you are probably not a “high-conflict” family – but you may still want some assistance with co-parenting with your ex-spouse.

Read more…

Do I really want a Divorce? Discernment Counseling might help…

Well, you’ve found the Tampa Friendly Divorce blog, so you are at least considering a divorce.  But if you have any questions at all as to if divorce is the right decision for you, please read on.

Like many of you, I am familiar with Couples Counseling as a way many couples attempt to address concerns with their relationships and/or as a way to improve communications.  This week, I had a chance to speak with Barb LoFrisco, PhD, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, here in Tampa, to learn more about how people decide to stay together or separate – and I learned a ‘couple’ of surprising things:

Read more…

History of Domestic Violence in your present relationship? Read on…

You have found the Tampa Friendly Divorce blog, which means you are interested in our divorce mediation process and all the advantages this process has to offer to you and your family.  However, you are also reading our blog related to Domestic Violence (physical, mental, financial, etc.), so there are a few items I would like to highlight:

  1. One of the core principles of any mediation is Self-Determination – that each party has free will to decide if he or she is interested in negotiating and/or agreeing to any terms of a potential deal.
  1. In Divorce Mediation specifically, one of the major stumbling blocks to realizing Self-Determination can be a history of Domestic Violence (DV). If one party has used DV to obtain power, then, as mediators, we may question if the other party is truly exercising self-determination, or if the threat of further DV is removing or decreasing that possibility.

Since we at Tampa Friendly Divorce are mediators, not mental health professionals, once we hear about a history of domestic violence, we cannot ethically mediate your divorce because we feel the risks (around whether the parties truly can exercise self-determination) are too great to move forward with the process.  Thus, typically, we would recommend that parties in that situation follow the traditional “attorney-driven divorce” route.  And, while mediation may still (eventually) be part of that process, an attorney will be available to ensure your rights, and your family’s rights, are protected.

Read more…