When is the best time to get divorced with kids? When is the best time to get a divorce financially? These are questions that don't come with easy answers but there is hope. It doesn't have to be guesswork and there are specific issues and facts you should consider when evaluating its timing. So read on and agonize no more!
If after reading this article you have questions, please don't hesitate to contact our divorce and child custody lawyers.
How does the age and maturity of the children factor into the timing of divorce?
Children age 5 deal very differently with divorce then children age 15. The younger the children are, the more difficult it may be for them to understand and process why the divorce is happening and to deal with any parental conflict that may exist. Younger children are also less self-sufficient and therefore make the life transition that divorce can cause more challenging. This age and maturity issue is something you should consider when you read the rest of this article about the best time to divorce when you have kids, especially when dealing with issues such as domestic violence, child abuse or parental alienation in a divorce.
How does domestic violence impact when may be the best time to get divorced?
Domestic violence rips the fabric and peace of a family unit. Like any other form of intimate violence, the goal is usually power and control. Children are especially susceptible to adverse effects of domestic violence because they do not yet have the mechanism to cope with questions such as "why" the domestic violence is occurring and "how" to make it stop.
If your household faces ongoing domestic violence, the issue of divorce becomes simpler on the one hand and more complicated on the other.
Staying in a marriage where domestic violence has occurred and especially if it has been prevalent may cause serious long-term harm to children. Studies have shown that children who are witnesses to domestic violence can themselves fall into its traps when they get into their own relationships later on in life. Studies about the effect of domestic violence on children have shown many negative psychological outcomes arising from it.
What can you do?
When considering divorce in domestic violence situations, parents should consider whether or not the children have to take immediate priority and be removed from the violent circumstances. In California, an abused parent can seek a domestic violence restraining order, a residency exclusion order and orders that require the abusing parent to not only stay away from the abused parent and the children but also order the abusive parent to attend and complete anger management, surrender for destruction all firearms, and more.
Seeking these immediate restraining orders also give the abused parent the ability to obtain temporary child support, spousal support and attorneys fees in anticipation of filing for divorce. While many domestic violence cases are filed in conjunction with a divorce, it doesn't have to be that way in California. If the goal is protecting the children and yourself, which is exactly what it should be, California child custody law allows you to file a domestic violence restraining order and seek all of the orders mentioned herein and more to bring some sense of stability to your immediate family unit while you consider when may be the best time to get divorced.
How does child abuse impact the best time to get divorced?
Child-abuse, like domestic violence, is a growing problem and, also like domestic violence, can have long and far-reaching negative impact on children.
Depending on the nature of the abuse, whether it is emotional and/or physical, there will likely be a need for immediate action.
If the children are being actively abused and the abuse is of a serious physical nature, there are many options available to you when considering when you should file for divorce.
First, California law allows a parent to seek immediate emergency custody orders if there is an imminent risk of harm to the children. Physical child abuse is very often an imminent risk of harm. Therefore, you can protect your children from further abuse by filing for divorce and seeking emergency custody orders.
California law also allows a parent who is seeking to protect the children from violence to seek domestic violence restraining orders to protect the children from the abuse, similar to a situation where the parent is him or herself the one being abused.
One important consideration a parent should keep in mind when evaluating the timing of a divorce when the children are being abused is what may happen to your own custody rights if you do not proceed. In California, parents are obligated to protect the health, safety and welfare of their children. If a parent allows child abuse to continue to occur in his or her home by the other parent without taking action to protect the children, it may be that non-acting parent who will come under the microscope if Child Protective Services or other social service agencies become involved. Failure to take reasonable steps to protect children from abuse can be deemed neglect and could result in the children being taken away from both parents.
In addition, if your children are being abused and you do nothing substantive to protect them, you may have a difficult time persuading the family court that there is an imminent risk of harm. By allowing the abuse to continue and not doing anything about it, you may be making your case progressively more difficult to prove and easier for the abusive parent to dispute. Of course, if there are actual physical signs of the abuse such as physical injuries or the children are old enough to verify the abuse through their direct or indirect testimony, the evidence necessary to meet the burden of proof becomes easier.
On the issue of child abuse and what California law states about how family law judges must deal with the issue, please read our very informative child custody page. It goes into detail about various aspects of Child custody laws in California.
When is the best time to get divorced when you have kids and need to protect them and yourself financially?
It is naïve to think that financial decisions do not impact the timing of a divorce, especially with kids. Of course they do. Issues such as child support, spousal support and even attorneys fees impact the timing of the divorce.
Timing of divorce with kids for the breadwinner of the family
If you are the breadwinner of the family, the timing issues of your divorce become a little bit easier. For example, you will not have the greater concern of whether or not you can provide for the support of your children if you decide to file for divorce. However, you have to consider what your spouse's reaction is going to be to the divorce filing. Here are some important questions to which you will need answers before you file.
- Have you conducted an evaluation of what your child-support exposure is?
- Have you considered the reasonable amount of custody and visitation time you want and can handle with the children that is consistent with the children's best interest?
- Have you considered where you will live? Will you stay at the family residence with your wife and kids after you file or will one of you move out immediately?
If one of you will move out, the timing of that becomes a critical factor when you have kids. For example, if you move out of the house and simply allow your spouse to have the care and custody of the children for a significant period of time, your ability to be able to regain an equal custodial time with the kids may become more difficult. California Family Code 3046 states, in part:
(a) If a party is absent or relocates from the family residence, the court shall not consider the absence or relocation as a factor in determining custody or visitation in either of the following circumstances:
(1) The absence or relocation is of short duration and the court finds that, during the period of absence or relocation, the party has demonstrated an interest in maintaining custody or visitation, the party maintains, or makes reasonable efforts to maintain, regular contact with the child, and the party's behavior demonstrates no intent to abandon the child.
(2) The party is absent or relocates because of an act or acts of actual or threatened domestic or family violence by the other party.
The statute is more comprehensive than just there two parts but, as the breadwinner, it is important for you to know that any relocation and its impact on your time with the kids must be temporary and you must always make reasonable efforts to see the kids.
As the breadwinner, you should get the answers to these questions, ideally in a consultation with an experienced family law lawyer, before you proceed with divorce. The planning and preparation that you do in this regard can not only save you money but can also make the entire process of divorce with the children much easier on you and them. If you are the husband and you believe your wife is going to be very difficult and is a narcissist, read this article we have written for husbands who are divorcing a narcissist wife.
Timing of divorce with kids for the stay at home parent or lower earning spouse
What if you are not the breadwinner and you are contemplating divorce? What answers to questions should you be seeking when deciding the best time to get divorced?
Stay at home parents are still generally stay at home moms and divorce can present some questions and challenges. For example, simply moving out with the kids may not be an option if you do not have an external support system, such as your parents or other family or friends, who can temporarily provide for you while you become situated and file for divorce.
In such a situation you should consider whether or not filing for divorce while you and your spouse continue to live together will be feasible. Of course, feasability is unlikely if there is emotional or physical abuse of you or the children. If your spouse has been abusive toward you or the children before you file for divorce, his or her emotional state may become significantly more aggravated once you file. Therefore, in such situations you should consider the need for fast court orders.
However, if physical or emotional abuse is not an issue, the timing of the divorce may be best if you stayed put at the house and did not move out. Why? Because you can file for divorce in California without moving out so long as you and your children are not in danger of physical harm.
When you file for divorce, you can also proceed immediately with a request for court orders and specifically for child custody, child support, spousal support and even attorney sees in anticipation of you moving out. In other words, you can plan out the divorce in such a way that you can obtain temporary custody, support and fee orders before you move out and in anticipation of moving out so you are not placed in a difficult financial situation when filing for divorce and in the short term.
We understand that is not always as easy as it may sound and/or there are other potential issues and complex emotions that go with whether you can handle living under the same roof as your spouse on a temporary and short-term basis after you file for divorce. Ultimately, your experienced divorce and child custody attorney can provide some guidance with such decisions, depending on your financial needs and your spouse's ability to pay.
For the stay at home mom that is facing the reality of divorcing a narcissist husband, the preceding linked article may be helpful.
When is the best time to get divorced with kids? The "perfect time" is not out there…
If you're looking for perfection, you're going to struggle finding it. When you have children, the decision to proceed with the divorce and the decision as to when you file for divorce are likely not going to be perfect ones. Your factual situation is yours alone and while there are many others who have also divorced with kids, do not expect a cookie-cutter approach to the timing of divorce.
The most important thing that you can do when deciding when to file for divorce with kids is to ensure you're asking the right questions that are specific to your factual situation and seeking intelligent and informed answers to them.
Is it important to have an experienced and knowledgeable divorce and child custody attorney in such a situation? Of course it is. This may be your first divorce with kids but an experienced divorce attorney has gone through many more on a professional basis. Therefore, he or she can draw on that experience and be able to give you the proper legal advice on the timing of your divorce.
However, it still does not begin and end with the lawyer you hire. You are an adult and your children are depending on you to make informed choices for them and you. You have to have the emotional maturity as well as the courage to objectively evaluate your situation, seek the proper legal advice and then proceed forward consistent with your children's best interest.
When you are ready to do that, our knowledge divorce and child custody lawyers are ready to help.