How To Deal WIth Your Children After Divorce 
In the April 2017 Issue:
Throuple Has Been Recognized With Regard To Custody and Visitation

     Most people have not heard the term "throuple" unless they followed "Marriage Boot Camp: Reality Stars" last season when they were introduced to a husband, wife and a girlfriend.  There is also a throuple in Massachusetts awaiting the birth of their first child.  While it may seem like you are truly having your cake and eating it too, what happens to the rights of the parents and the children after an unthroupling?  Justice H. Patrick Leis, Supreme Court, Nassau County, has recently had to make such a determination.

     Dawn and Michael Marano of Long Island, got married in 1994 and in 2001, they invited their downstairs neighbor, Andrea Garcia, to join the relationship. Andrea moved in with them and, after learning that Dawn was infertile, the three decided to have a child together with Michael and Andrea to be the biological parents.   Adding another twist, after the child was a year and a half old, Dawn and Andrea left Michael and became a twosome.  Dawn and Michael divorced in 2011. Andrea and Michael have since shared custody, but the boy lives with Andrea and Dawn, who are no longer romantically involved.  
     Dawn filed a petition for joint custody of the child because her existing relationship with her son was dependent on the goodwill and whims of Andrea and Michael; she had no legal rights to see the boy.  Although Andrea supported some sort of custody relationship for Dawn with the child, Michael did not.

     Two weeks ago, after trial, Judge Leis granted Dawn visitation with her son one night each week, one week of the school vacations and for two weeks in the summer.  In speaking with the 10 year old boy, Justice Leis realized that he considered all three of them to be his parents.  All were involved in his upbringing, and it was in his best interest to continue his relationships with all three of them. The boy distinguished the mommies as "mommy with the orange truck" and the other as "mommy with the gray truck".

     Justice Leis looked to the recent Court of Appeals case, Brooke S.B. v. Elizabeth C.C. that we have discussed in prior issues of the newsletter.  That recent case expanded the rights of unmarried, non-biological parents to share custody of their children.

     The recognition of Dawn's rights demonstrate the court's willingness to extend the vision of parenthood and custody that will benefit parents in non-traditional relationships. As always, the best interest of the child is what is of paramount importance. Consequently, three is not considered a crowd, but more love to go around for the child.

     Whatever your situation is, we can help. Talk to us.

Read the full article here.

Can You Stay Friends with Your Ex?
     In a recent article, Candida Crewe makes a case for remaining friends with her ex-husband.  She separated from her husband in January 2009, and divorced a year later. Although he moved to another city and has remarried, the ex-husband visits their teenage sons regularly and sometimes stays over in order to share holidays and birthdays together.
     Ms. Crewe recognizes that the shared history between her and her ex-husband outweighs the bitterness, which did not benefit anyone.  The article discusses how it is easier for two people who have children to remain friendly after a divorce; there is a common bond and common concerns that keeps the parties in touch.  Those who have divorced, but never had kids, find there is less reason to stay in each other's lives. 

     Other couples interviewed for the article share many of the same thoughts. Tara Saglio, a couples and individual psychotherapist, believes that it takes about five (5) years before the parties can settle into post divorce life, whether alone or with a new partner.

     It is possible to have an amicable divorce; we can assist you.

Read the full article   here .
How To Deal With Your Children After Divorce

     After a divorce, when you are with your children, you are the only one in charge.  This can cause situations that you had not considered before.  Social worker, Debbie Pincus, provides advice so that you can demonstrate your control and ability to support your principles so that the children will understand the rules and not allow you to become manipulated by your own guilt.

     1. It is okay to fall apart.  The children can see; this is not the same as over-sharing your personal life or relationship with your ex.  It is letting your children see that it is okay to be upset and grieve for what you have lost, but that you will get better.

     2. Don't allow guilt to rule your decisions.  If you do not continue to give out previously expected consequences due to your feeling of guilt, your children can develop some unwanted behaviors that can make disciplining harder down the road. Children understand expectations, rules and consequences.  If you are not following through, this can make the children more confused and anxious, as they will not know what to expect.

     3.  Remind your children that you are there to take care of them, not the other way around.  Many children will attempt to fill the void and try to take care of you, let them know that they can still count on you and you are able to take care of yourself and your family.

     4. Don't put your child in the middle. Children get caught in the middle when parents put them in the middle. Don't allow your children to be the messenger.  If your ex has an issue with your parenting or homework style, confirm with your children that each parent is doing what they think is best and not say anything negative about the other parent, if possible. Then there is nothing to report back and the kids are kept out of the situation.

     5. Don't allow the children to play the parents off of each other.  Remind the children that each home may have different rules and that is how it will remain.  It also helps to tell the children that you will check with the other parent when something sounds different or unusual. By letting your children know that you are reaching out to the other parent, they will learn they cannot manipulate you.

     6. Be empathetic when your children are transitioning back to your house from your ex's home. They may be "acting out" as a way of testing your boundaries or are sad of having to leave the other parent. Acknowledge your children's feelings and give them time to re-settle in.

Read the full article here.
CASE OF NOTE: Chichra v. Chichra


     In the very recent case of Chichra v. Chichra, decided March 15, 2017, the Second Department confirmed the lower court's decision that the father's petition was improper as he had failed to demonstrate a viable cause of action.

     In the stipulation of settlement that was incorporated, but not merged, into the judgment of divorce, the parties agreed that the mother would have sole legal and residential custody of the children, and that the father would have visitation with the children on the third weekend of every month, as well as on certain holidays. The father also consented to the mother relocating with the children to Pennsylvania.

     About a year and a half later, the father went to court to petition for, amongst other things, sole custody of the children.  The Family Court denied the petition, without a hearing, stating that the father failed to state a cause of action, as the father did not demonstrate a change of circumstances sufficient to warrant a hearing. The father appealed.

     In affirming the Family Court decision, the Appellate Division, Second Department, declared that a party seeking modification of a custodial arrangement is not automatically entitled to a hearing but must make some evidentiary showing of a change in circumstances sufficient to warrant a hearing.  Conclusory and nonspecific allegations relating to a change in circumstances are insufficient to justify a hearing on the issue of whether a change in custody would be in the best interests of the child.

     It is imperative to know your rights before signing any documents as well as your rights should you change your mind and try to modify a stipulation with regard to custody. 

Read the decision here.

This newsletter is for education and information purposes only, and is not intended to provide legal advice. No attorney-client relationship exists or is created by the use of this newsletter or the information provided herein. This newsletter should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a professional attorney in your state.

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