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When you and your former spouse sat down to make a co-parenting schedule that worked for both of you, your child's life was quite a bit simpler. Now, though, there are after-school activities and social events that make your current parenting plan obsolete.

The good news is that modification does not have to be a big deal. Whether you used mediation during your divorce or not, it is an option for you now.

Discuss your teen's needs with your teen

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You may have a good idea of which items you want in the divorce long before you sit down to work on the agreement. However, strong emotional attachments to personal property can get in the way of amicable negotiations, and you could even cheat yourself out of a fair deal if you inflate the value of an object simply because you want it.

A professional appraiser can identify the true fair market value of your antiques, collections, artwork and other personal items so you and your spouse can reach a settlement that is truly fair.

Inventory your household

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Regardless of what happened between you and your spouse, children are often the ones that suffer the most when it is time for a marriage to end. Despite your differences, forcing your children to choose between one parent or the other can create serious conflict that affects their relationships in the future. Divorce does not have to be messy, and you can minimize the damage if both you and your spouse are invested in mitigating the emotional harm to the children and to each other. Your children care about both their parents and do not want to see you suffer.

Choosing between parents

When parents fight and bad-mouth each other, children often feel as if they must choose which one to love the most. They also may feel as if they must bad-mouth one parent when they are with the other. Because they love you both, this can create serious conflict within them. As your children grow older and become more like you and your ex, hearing negative things about their parents becomes particularly damaging. Your children should never have to choose between loving one parent or the other.

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Posted on in Divorce

Since divorce rates began skyrocketing in the 1970s, relationship experts have been fascinated and puzzled by high divorce rates. Many have studied common factors shared by divorcing couples in hopes of identifying predictors. Elite Daily recently dove into the results of these studies and compiled a list of common divorce predictors. Maybe you are struggling in your marriage, or perhaps you've already headed down the path to divorce. If so, knowing the following information may help you work on improving your marriage or assist you in parting amicably:

  1. Having an online relationship: Yes, dating someone online is cheating - even if you don't meet in person. If two people are emotionally involved, that means a relationship exists and a spouse can get hurt, and angry, and jealous. Additionally, spending too much time on social media in general has also been shown to increase divorce rates.
  2. Overspending on your wedding: The average American wedding costs over $25,000. For a young couple just starting out, going into debt over the wedding can put unnecessary financial strain on a marriage.
  3. Living in a red state: Interestingly, if you live in a more conservative, religious state, you have a greater chance of divorcing. Why are divorce rates higher in red states? Some say the pressure to marry sooner, to not live together and teaching abstinence-only birth control could be contributing factors.
  4. Not going to college: While you might think student loan debt can put strain on a marriage, college graduates are generally more financially stable and have lower divorce rates than those with high school educations. This is likely due to higher incomes, which results in overall less financial strain for the college-educated.
  5. Living far from where you work: For some reason, having a commute longer than 45 minutes puts stress on a marriage and increases the risk of divorce.
  6. Unequal household duties: If one person does all or most of the cooking, cleaning and laundry, he or she is bound to become resentful. Sharing household duties is a must for a successful marriage.
  7. Having a daughter: The final and most surprising divorce predictor is having a daughter. Some say it's because moms want to be a good example for their daughters and don't want to show them it's ok to stay in an unhealthy relationship. Others think daughters could provide emotional support to mothers that empowers them to leave. Another possibility is that mothers of boys tend to stay married for fear of a father-less household. More rationale can be found in this ABC News article.

Of course, these predictors certainly won't apply to every marriage. Your marriage is unlike any other, and you and your spouse are the only ones who can decide if you will stay together or part ways. If you do decide to end your marriage, consider mediation for a peaceful, low-stress and affordable divorce.

Even if you want a divorce, ending a marriage is never an enjoyable process. There are several things you are likely worrying about, such as property division and child custody. Trying to figure these details out can cause your emotions to overwhelm you and lead to contention. If you want to experience the benefits of an amicable divorce, here are some guidelines for collaborating with your spouse throughout the mediation process.

1. Stop playing the blame game

Divorce can cause a significant amount of emotional distress, including anger, disappointment and resentment. If you are not careful, you might give in to the urge to dump the blame on your spouse through punishment or revenge. Instead, try to develop a clear understanding of all the causes that led to divorce, including any changes in life stages, mental illnesses or skill deficits that created the challenges.

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The Office of the Attorney General of Texas recommends co-parenting after a divorce to promote healthy relationships between the child and both parents. This strategy is also referred to as shared parenting and defined as "when both parents work together as a team to raise their children, even after the marriage or romantic relationship is over."

Most people do not know how to work together with someone with whom they have had so much conflict, but you can learn new communication skills. The more specific your parenting plan is, the less conflict there will be once it is approved by the court.

When you are creating a parenting plan, you ought to include these elements:

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Posted on in Divorce Mediation

You and your spouse have agreed that your marriage relationship is over, and you are both ready to free each other from your legal and emotional bonds. However, taking the steps to get from there to the beginning of your new start in life may seem overwhelming. Since you do not want to battle it out in court, a mediator may be able to provide you with all the services you need.

A mediator can help you and your spouse with the practical aspects of the divorce, including filing the petition and completing paperwork. He or she may also be able to lessen any emotional trauma by providing you with a neutral, third-party perspective and offering dispute resolution services as you work on the property division agreement.

Preparation

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The process of ending a marriage is never fun. Whether you are amicable or angry throughout the process, most people experience negative effects of divorce on their emotional, mental and physical health. While you and your ex are focused on separating and perhaps making the divorce easier on children, you may not notice the physical effects that divorce can have on you.

1. Increased rates of chronic diseases

Research shows that those who have made it through a divorce intact are also more likely to develop chronic conditions, like diabetes and heart disease, and deal with mobility issues as they get older. Taking care of yourself both emotionally and physically during a divorce may keep your heart healthier, ensuring you live a long, happy life.

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Posted on in Divorce

Even when you and your spouse are reaching an amicable divorce arrangement without the need for outside intervention, the division of assets involves a complex settlement of your joined household that requires legal help to make sure it is shepherded through the system. When you have financial issues with the division that you cannot resolve on your own, it can get even more expensive, because both sides often choose to access lawyers to resolve the issue, and the resulting legal and court fees can mount quickly.

Streamlining divorce costs

There are a variety of ways to make sure you keep your legal costs down during a divorce, but many of them do require the cooperation of both parties to work out. The Huffington Post suggests the following:

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Divorce can take a toll on your physical health, your personal and professional relationships and your finances. The costs, effort and time you put into ending your marriage may seem overwhelming as you deal with the sad, anxious emotions you have about your future. As you manage the anxiety of moving forward without a partner, it is important that you are financially prepared to take on the world on your own. Doing the following will help you build a better foundation to start fresh after the end of a marriage.

Close joint accounts and open your own

This should be your first step when you are financially preparing for divorce. Close all joint accounts and split the money that is left. Open your own accounts in just your name to protect the money you have from a spouse who may be angry or make bad decisions. If you both remain on the account and one decides to clean it out, the other is left with nothing.

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Ending a marriage can have a lasting effect on everyone who loves you. Your parents, children and friends all lose something when you split with your spouse. Your first goal is to protect your children and watch out for your best interests, and divorces can quickly become heated and tense without the right approach. Rather than fight over the little things or deal with bitter, angry feelings during the divorce process, work to limit conflict in the following ways.

Improve communication with your ex

Good communication skills are vital to any transaction or relationship, and clear, concise communication ensures that you get what you need from the divorce. If you can speak to your ex without a confrontation, try to discuss things face to face with a mediator involved rather than rely on text and email. If you feel threatened when you are with your ex, you may need to address your concerns and interests in a direct, well-thought-out email.

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When your marriage ends and you have kids to think about, telling them can be done right or wrong. While you cannot control their reactions, you can make sure that you prepare them as much as possible for what is coming. Most children value stability and consistency, and they want to know that both parents still love them and that they are not at fault for the divorce. How you talk to your kids about divorce depends on their age and where they are developmentally.

0 to 5 years old

Kids who are 0 to 5 years old depend on caregivers for everything but lack the ability to understand their own feelings, anticipate the future or deal with complex events. Preschoolers may start to be a little independent, but cause and effect still eludes them. The world revolves around them, and they often have a hard time distinguishing between fantasy and reality. They are also limited in their ability to talk about their feelings.

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Divorce is hard on the parents, but children often struggle the most when parents decide to call it quits. They deal with confusion, anger, sadness and many other emotions that are hard to reconcile when they are not quite old enough to understand what has happened. If they are used to living with both parents, maintaining a relationship with the non-custodial parent is particularly challenging but is made easier when the parent makes the effort to connect. Regardless of your feelings toward your ex or the tensions that run between the two of you, your children should benefit from interactions with both parents as often as possible.

1. Make your home their home

If you are the parent who moved out and got a new home, your kids may feel uncomfortable in unfamiliar surroundings. When you are choosing furniture and decorating, do as much as you can to make them feel wanted and welcome. Give them their own bedroom if possible and decorate it together.

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It is difficult to pull the plug and make the final decision to end your marriage. Many couples wonder if it is the right thing to do, how it will affect the children and how they will survive without the emotional and financial support of a spouse. The bottom line is that sometimes divorce is a better option than staying together, and you must both know when to admit that it is time to move on. The following are common signs that your marriage may be in trouble.

1. Everything ends in a fight

Do simple things like finding a movie to watch or deciding which restaurant to eat at end in fights and insults hurled at each other? Fights and arguments are common in marriage and are not by themselves a sign that divorce is on the horizon, but if every simple decision evolves into an argument, you may need to think about the future of your marriage.

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Posted on in Divorce

Most divorces don't need to be a long, drawn out and acrimonious process. It can be less stressful if both parties agree to be respectful. This is a challenge for many couples, however.

In order to avoid the bitterness that so often accompanies divorce proceedings, try not to fight over less important things. What really matters in a divorce is the well-being of yourself and your family, so you should do your best to avoid prolonged arguments. Mediation is often helpful for couples who are disputing aspects of their divorce such as:

Separation of assets

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Today, it is easy to share everything you feel and every event you experience with the entire world through social media platforms. Whether you are sipping margaritas on a beach or going through a painful divorce, the audience is the same. Unfortunately, many use social media as a platform to spread bad things about their ex or to vent about their divorce. When you are dealing with a painful divorce and need to share information and gain support from family and friends, what is the appropriate way to use social media to do so?

1. Would you say this in person?

It is easy to sit behind a keyboard and spout anger and information about a frustrating situation. The best thing to do when you are deciding whether or not to hit the post button is to decide if the post represents something you would say to the person's face. Remember that anything you post publicly may be admissible in court, so it is often best to air your grievances in person.

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Divorce is often complicated when there are children involved, and it is not uncommon for parents in Texas to have differing ideas about parenting their kids. When those differences interfere with your ability to co-parent, you and the other parent should find ways to work together to bring about a solution in the most amicable way possible.

Work on communicating with each other

The sooner you start accepting that your relationship with your ex-spouse is different, the better. You and your former partner now must work together for the benefit of your kids, and communication is important. When you and your former spouse talk to each other, try not to involve your emotions.

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Going through a divorce is stressful, even if the split is amicable. Aside from all the legal hoops that need to be jumped through, there are a lot of decisions that need to be made. No matter how much you believe that you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse can handle things on your own, it's going to be very beneficial having a mediator to act as an unbiased third-party. A mediator works on behalf of both spouses, they don't take sides.

Most couples who chose the mediation route in lieu of hiring separate attorneys do so because their split is amicable. Both parties likely share similar thoughts on how the divorce should be handled and the mediator's goal is to make sure that the final agreement leaves both parties feeling satisfied.

Here are a few major benefits to choosing mediation over litigation:

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If you choose to go the divorce mediation route, you and your spouse will hire a neutral, third-party mediator. The role of a mediator is to meet with you to help you come to an agreement on issues and resolve problems that arise in the divorce process. While the mediator will serve as a facilitator, there are certain things mediators are not permitted to do. Here is some vital information about legal advice and the role of a mediator.

What is legal advice?

Only lawyers are permitted to provide legal advice. Therefore, any advice you receive from your friends or family does not qualify as legal advice. True legal advice actually creates an agreement between the client and the attorney based on the legal issue the client is attempting to resolve. Some of the characteristics of legal advice include:

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Child custody battles are almost always emotional. Combine tense situations with legal fees and lengthy courtroom trials, and the whole process can be overwhelming and psychologically draining. However, child custody matters do not need to be addressed in a courtroom. In many states, Texas included, child custody can be negotiated through mediation. If you are considering using a mediator, you probably have many questions. We can answer them and help you understand the process.

What is child custody mediation?

Child custody mediation is a private process in which a mediator (always a neutral party) helps two parents reach a mutually agreeable custody arrangement for their child or children. The mediator is not a judge and cannot enforce the custody arrangements.

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