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Bay Area Family Law Blog

Discussing divorce with kids: Make an age-appropriate discussion

Explaining divorce has benefits for children, because they learn what it means to go through a divorce and how a divorce will affect them. Of course, when you talk to your kids about a divorce, you have to make sure that you do so in an age-appropriate manner.

How you speak about divorce with a teen is going to vary significantly from how you'd talk to your toddler about what's happening. Here are some tips for breaking down divorce to children of all ages.

When to consider modifying your child custody agreement

When your current custody agreement went into effect, it was based on a snapshot of your family life at the time and conjecture when it came to what could happen in the future. You and the other parent may have considered how things might need to change as your children aged, but you could only account for so many potential changes.

Now, you may be wondering whether things are working out as you thought they would. Should you consider modifying your agreement? That depends on the circumstances, since courts, including those here in California, generally don't consider changing agreements that seem to work.

Do you have to divide your assets in half during divorce?

High-asset divorces can be tricky to handle. You may have many properties, multiple investments, loans, stocks and other assets that all need to be identified and divided in accordance with California's laws. Since California is a community property state, there is a likelihood that your marital assets will be split down the middle. If you're not comfortable with that 50-50 divide, then you and your spouse can discuss dividing your assets in another way.

Why would you choose to divide your assets when you could get half of all marital assets?

Struggling with parenting disputes? Negotiate to resolve them

Parenting issues can crop up from time to time, especially if you're divorced. Maybe one parent has different ideas about punishments when your child doesn't do well at school or a parent wants to enforce different rules in the home. Whatever the issue is, it's important that you both get on the same page.

It is never a good idea to have vastly different rule sets in each home, because it's harder for children to adjust. Instead, you and the other parent should sit down together and talk out the differences that you'd like to address. If you are willing to discuss your reasoning for certain rules in your home, then having a discussion could make it easier to resolve the issues you're having.

Worried about custody? You might want to go back to court

You love having kids, and you can appreciate that your ex-spouse was once someone that you wanted to have children with. You don't want to limit their time with your children, and you don't want to be limited, either.

Unfortunately, you've had a lot of problems with your custody arrangements. You're trying to decide if you should go back to court or keep trying to work something out casually.

Your complex case may be difficult, but there's help available

Sometimes, it's not easy to divide your property. You may have been together with your spouse for many years or have unusual assets that may be difficult to separate.

Your case may be complex, and if so, it's a good idea to get to know your legal options. While it's never a great idea to try to separate your assets on your own, it's even more difficult to know the true value of what you have and to separate your marital assets fairly in complex cases.

Parenting issues can be resolved if you're willing to compromise

Parents always struggle to be on the same page when it comes to their kids. Whether it's trying to decide on the best school or having true arguments about how to raise their child together to become a positive member of society, conflicts are normal. Even parents who get along well and who agree on most things about raising children may find themselves at odds at time.

Parenting issues are even more common in cases where people have divorced. Why? It depends on the couple, but there could be some frustration or disrepect playing a role in the issues. For example, if one ex-spouse feels that the other is irresponsible and that they aren't being firm enough with their child's care, that could become a major disagreement. Similarly, an ex-spouse who believes the other is too strict may find problems with the way they parent as well.

Things to know about spousal support in California

Are you getting ready to work through the divorce process? Are you wondering what it is you'll be able to walk away with? Are you particularly worried about paying or receiving spousal support? If you are, you are not alone.

Spousal support is not something offered in every divorce case. There are certain factors the courts look at before granting an order of support. What are these factors? If given, how long will the order last? Can you ever change an alimony order?

Set up a cohabitation agreement and protect your interests

If you and another person want to live together but aren't going to be married, one kind of protection that you might want to look into is a cohabitation agreement. This agreement, also known as a "living together" agreement is a legal document that you should carefully consider because it allows you to safeguard yourself and to protect your individual interests and assets.

When you're unmarried and living together, the reality is that it's easier to split up. You may end up separating eventually, but you won't have the same protections as you would during divorce. To help eliminate the risk of separating and losing what is yours, you may want to sign a cohabitation agreement.

Provide support for your child after your divorce

One thing should be clear about divorce, and that's the fact that it can have a negative psychological effect on children. Even if the divorce itself is relatively calm and collected, children may still suffer from the changes that they face. They have a lot of emotions to process, and they may need support to bounce back.

Divorces are stressful for all children, but some bounce back faster than others. Why? It all comes down to handling the psychological effects that are having a negative effect on the child.