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Pleasanton Family Law Blog

Divorcing with a special-needs child

The most vulnerable victims of divorce are the children of the divorcing parents. When children with special needs are involved, there are even more challenges to be managed.

Parenting a special-needs child can be quite stressful on the parents' marriage. This is especially true if their parenting styles are markedly different. Of parents rearing autistic children, for example, the divorce rates typically rise precipitously.

Differing parenting styles can make custody decisions tough

If you are in the throes of divorce, setting up your child custody arrangements can seem like it's a nightmare that never ends. After all, if you were able to agree with your spouse on important issues like how to raise the kids, you might not have wound up in divorce court to begin with.

But differing parenting styles can definitely cause havoc in your plans to draw up a workable agreement with your soon-to-be ex-spouse. Perhaps your husband is a stickler for discipline and thinks that the kids get away with murder when they are with you. You may counter that your ex is far too strict and is at risk of alienating your pre-teen who just wants to hang around the house playing Fortnite. What's the harm?

State restrictions could pose child care nightmare

Nearly 40 million Californians are waking up to mandated home restrictions put in place by Gov. Gavin Newsom in a response to the coronavirus pandemic. Yet, still many others have to go to work at jobs that are considered essential.

For many divorced California parents, this creates a child care nightmare, as they have nowhere to take their children for responsible and reliable supervision.

Are you prepared financially and emotionally for divorce?

When you are a parent facing divorce, you have different challenges ahead than couples who divorce but have no children. Not only do you have to manage the plethora of emotions that you experience with your divorce, but you also have to be able to defuse your children's often fluctuating emotions regarding the split.

But that is not the only hurdle that you must face. You also need to make a series of decisions about your financial future going forward. A misstep here can bring with it a host of problems that can dog your steps well into the foreseeable future.

Could mental illness cause you to lose custody of your kids?

Mental illness robs its sufferers of many things, but perhaps the cruelest is the right to parent their own children. Loss of custody rates for those diagnosed with mental illnesses can be as high as 80%.

If you are a parent who is living with a mental illness, you could one day find yourself in that unfortunate number. Below are some things that you should know about parenting your children while coping with mental illness.

Mediation may keep you out of the courtroom

Mediation is an excellent way to work through disputes during your divorce without having to go to court. If you and your spouse have both agreed that you want to keep your divorce as private as possible and avoid going to trial, then mediation is one option that may help you.

Mediation is a simple method of dispute resolution. It requires you and your spouse to come together with a third-party mediator. That mediator will guide conversations about your dispute and help you move toward a resolution. Mediators won't make decisions for you or be representing one person over the other. They're totally neutral, and they're there to help.

Learn how to negotiate your divorce like a pro

If you plan to divorce, you may fare far better and spend much less money by engaging in divorce alternative dispute resolution as opposed to litigation. Negotiating your settlement with your other spouse with no professional assistance is sometimes possible.

But, typically, retaining a Pleasanton family law attorney to help you negotiate any sticking points will net you a larger divorce settlement. Regardless, the negotiation tips listed below may help you reach resolution and save yourselves thousands in legal fees.

Can you afford to rear your grandchildren?

When you pictured your golden years as a young parent, what did you envision? Likely, you dreamed of a comfortable retirement, maybe some travel visiting with and spending quality time making memories with the grandkids.

What you probably didn't picture was having to delay your retirement plans — and perhaps put off retiring at all — because you had to rear your own grandchildren.

Are you mentally prepared for your divorce?

No one should decide to divorce hastily, as this is a big decision with many repercussions — especially if you have children with your spouse.

Sometimes, however, divorce is inevitable. But before pulling the plug on a bad marriage, ask yourself these questions:

Keep the terms of your divorce private with mediation

Divorce is not for the faint of heart. The end of a marriage can be quite messy. This is especially true when infidelity is a factor in the split.

But that is not the only embarrassing detail that can spill out in a divorce. Circumstances like a spouse's alcoholism or drug addiction, incidences of domestic violence or bankruptcy filings can all become public knowledge in a litigated divorce. One day, even your children could learn of lurid details surrounding the divorce that you prefer they never discover.

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John T. Chamberlin, Attorney at Law
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