Your child doesn’t want to go to the other parent’s house, and you don’t know what to do. Thoughts run through your head about what to do, but before you start to spiral, let me walk you through some reasons why a child might not want to go with their other parent. The majority of the reasons why a child doesn’t want to transition to the other parent are normal, innocuous, and expected. Keep your emotions in check and try not to jump to negative conclusions about the other parent.
Resistance to Change
Kids thrive on familiar routines and going to a new home is a new routine that requires adjustment. It may not be that your child doesn’t want to see and spend time with their other parent, but that the child is struggling with the new routine that is out of his or her norm. Give your child, yourself, and your co-parent grace through this transition and give everyone time to adjust to the new normal.
Kids naturally want to show you that they love you and are bonded with you, and they do this by avoiding separation from you. Have you ever had to drop your child off at daycare or school and they cry and pitch a fit? Later, you hear from their teacher that they recovered within a minute or two of you walking out the door. This may be what is happening during parenting time transitions, as well. You only get to see the hard part of separation and don’t get the benefit of seeing them recover quickly and move on to enjoying parenting time with the other parent.
Is the other parent stricter than you? Does the other parent limit screen time to a greater extent? Maybe your co-parent’s parenting style differs from yours? Every parent must make choices about how to make it through each day with a child, where to use screen time as a tool for your own productivity, which battles you will pick, and which boundaries you will hold. Perhaps you are the primary parent who needs screens to entertain your child while you make dinner, prepare for the next day, or finish up a work call, but your co-parent has limited time with the kids so they don’t allow screens during their parenting time. Your child may just want to stay with you because you give them more freedom!
Are you anxious about your child going to the other parent’s house? Do you constantly worry about your child when they are with your co-parent? Do you ask your child a barrage of questions when they return from their other parent’s house? Children are incredibly intuitive, and your child may sense and absorb your anxiety about the transition. Try to avoid allowing your child to see your anxiety. Keep your questions light after they return from the other parent’s house. Do not grill your child about every moment of their time with your co-parent. Keep your own worries to yourself as much as possible. If you need help managing your own anxiety, connect with a qualified therapist to help you. The transitions will become easier for you as the custody schedule becomes second-nature.
In your custody agreement or order, there are likely rules that each parent must follow regarding treatment of their child’s relationship with the other parent. Most custody agreements require that neither parent speak negatively about the other parent in front of the child, nor let the child remain in the presence of others doing so; that neither parent estrange the child from the other parent or impair the natural love and affection between the other parent and a child; and that the parents must encourage and foster a sincere respect and affection for both parents. “Parental alienation” occurs a when a parent consistently and systematically turns a child away from their other parent and sours the relationship between the child and their other parent. This can happen when a parent speaks negatively about the other parent in front of the child, encourages a child to be angry at the other parent about the situation, or guilt trips a child for wanting to see their other parent. If your child is acting resistant to going to the other parent’s house, you may want to examine your own actions with great care. Are you making snide comments about your co-parent in front of the child? Do you act hurt or sad when your child spends time with the other parent or expresses a desire to do so? All of these actions by a parent can cause a child to resistant spending time with their other parent and may fall within the definition of parental alienation.
Connect your child with a therapist to help them cope with the new norm and empower them during this difficult transition. If you need recommendations for great child therapists, please reach out to your family law attorney for referrals. Our office frequently helps connect families and children with the support they need to weather this tough time. If you need direction on how to handle this challenge, please reach out to our office to schedule a consultation.
What is common law marriage?
Common law marriage is a marriage recognized by the state that does not require the spouses to obtain a marriage license or hold a formal marriage ceremony. A state that recognizes common law marriages usually require the spouses hold themselves out to be married in public life, cohabitate together, and agree that they desire the state to legally recognize their union. The legal bar to establish a recognized common law marriage is typically quite high.
Why does common law marriage exist?
Common law marriage harkens back to days before easy and quick transportation when it was more difficult to locate a minister to conduct a marriage ceremony or the physical distance to obtain a marriage license from a courthouse was too great. Common law marriages provided protection of a couple’s reputations by allowing couples to avoid “living in sin” by cohabiting prior to legal marriage and avoid having their children shunned in society by being born out of wedlock.
Does my state have common law marriage?
In South Carolina, effective July 24, 2019 as a result of the South Carolina Supreme Court Case Stone v. Thompson, South Carolina no longer recognizes new common law marriages. If you were already in a common law marriage established prior to July 24, 2019, South Carolina will continue to recognize your existing common law marriage.
North Carolina does not recognize common law marriage for its residents. North Carolina requires all couples who wish to be legally married to go through the legal process of statutory marriage, which includes obtaining a marriage license, participating in a marriage ceremony, having two witnesses to the marriage, and submitting the license to the county register of deeds to receive a marriage certificate.
Will my common law marriage be recognized in South Carolina/North Carolina if I move from another state?
Generally, the United States Constitution’s Full Faith and Credit Clause requires states to recognize and give full faith and credit to the laws of other states. This constitutional clause applies to common law marriages being recognized from one state to another.
Yes, in South Carolina your common law marriage will be recognized if you moved from another state that recognized your common law marriage and you are now domiciled in South Carolina.
Yes, it is likely that North Carolina will recognize your common law marriage, but there are a few factors that must be met in order for your marriage to be recognized. (1) You have to have been engaged in cohabitation in a state that recognizes common law marriage; (2) the out-of-state common law marriage was recognized by the state you were cohabitating in; and (3) the court in North Carolina can establish a date that your common law marriage began.
What are the requirements of common law marriage?
You might have heard that people who have lived together for seven (7) years or more and hold themselves out as spouses are “common law married,” but that was not the requirement in South Carolina prior to 2019 and is just a widespread myth. In South Carolina, for your relationship to have been considered a common law marriage prior to 2019, you had to be over sixteen (16) years old, not married to someone else, not be related to your partner by blood, cohabitate, and hold yourself out to be married both publicly and privately – which is more difficult to prove than you might imagine. Common law marriage provides the same economic and legal benefits as marriage, like tax breaks and inheritance rights.
Do I have to go through divorce if my marriage was common law?
There is no “common law divorce,” but if your relationship was legally recognized as a common law marriage in South Carolina prior to 2019 or another state that recognizes common law marriage, you will have to obtain a legal divorce to address any property and alimony/spousal support that exist. You also must obtain a divorce in a common law marriage to avoid potential bigamy issues that might arise if you remarried without obtaining a divorce from your common law spouse. Additional proof of the validity and existence of the common law marriage may have to be presented in a divorce from a common law marriage. It can be tricky to prove that you were married by common law and entitled to property division or spousal support, as it is often one spouse’s word against the other.
If you have any questions or concerns about common law marriage in North or South Carolina, please reach out to schedule a consultation.
When you separate from your spouse, you may feel like shouting from the rooftops about some or all of the following: how it was your spouse’s fault that you are getting divorced, your newfound freedom from your spouse’s dead weight, your sadness and loneliness as a result of your spouse leaving, or about the difficulties of co-parenting. As attorneys who primarily represent clients with family and domestic issues, we are here to tell you: do not take to social media to air your grievances with your spouse. Utilize the tips below to monitor and manage your social media use during your separation and divorce.
Talk to your lawyer if you have questions about how to proceed with social media use now that you are in the midst of a divorce. If you haven’t hired a lawyer yet, please reach out to schedule a consultation and we would be happy to guide you through the process.
When someone makes the decision to separate from their spouse, their first step is often to find an attorney. What you might not know is that there are other third-party professionals aside from attorneys that can support you and your family throughout the separation and divorce process. If you are committed to resolving your divorce amicably under a collaborative divorce agreement, you may want to consider improving the collaborative divorce process by engaging one or more of the following third-party professionals.
Upon separation, you might need help figuring out how to separate your marital finances. Perhaps you’ve never been responsible for the bills, never followed a budget, or your spouse has been primarily responsible for investment decisions. A Financial Neutral can step in to evaluate and assist couples in separating the family finances fairly and equitably.
Typically, a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA), Certified Public Accountant (CPA), and/or Certified Financial Planner (CFP), a Financial Neutral objectively analyzes the parties’ marital estate (assets and debts), budgets, spousal support scenarios, valuation of pensions or complex compensation plans, pre-marital/separate assets, and assists couples by addressing and brainstorming about any financial issues that arise. A Financial Neutral is usually hired by and works for both spouses. This can be a cost-effective solution for divorcing couples who are high-income earners, have complex compensation plans or retirement plans, and/or have significant separate or pre-marital assets. A Financial Neutral analyzes the marital estate once, rather than spouses paying both individual attorneys to fully analyze the marital estate, which may be seen as duplicative. A Financial Neutral’s hourly rate is usually much lower than an attorney’s hourly rate. Additionally, having a Financial Neutral provides the benefit of getting the spouses on the same page about the actual value of the marital estate and can reduce opportunities for disagreement in settlement.
Maybe you have minor children and you and your spouse do not agree on the best custody schedule for your children, but you are committed to collaborating to determine what is in your children’s best interests. Perhaps you and your spouse need some assistance in addressing the children’s needs as they go through this major life transition with you.
In these circumstances, you can hire a Child Specialist to assist your family. Usually a licensed child psychologist or experienced therapist trained in child development and divorce, a Child Specialist ensures that the parties’ child or children have a voice in the divorce process and have a smooth transition from living in one home to two. A Child Specialist can help a child express his or her feelings in uncomfortable situations, encourage a child to advocate for themselves, and guide and educate parents regarding how to address the day-to-day needs of the children. A Child Specialist serves to educate the parents on developmentally appropriate parenting plans and parent/child relationship dynamics. A Child Specialist does not serve in an individual therapeutic role for the child when serving as a Child Specialist in a divorce due to ethical obligations. A child might be well served by a separate individual therapist who is not the Child Specialist.
Upon separation, there are so many decisions to make during one of the most emotional times of your life. You may be feeling overwhelmed with all the decisions and unfamiliar with the divorce path. To help you navigate these emotions and understand the divorce process, you may hire a Divorce Coach.
Normally a licensed mental health professional like a psychologist or counselor, a Divorce Coach can be hired by one or both parties to help process their feelings related to the divorce and figure out a plan for how to tackle the big decisions required in divorce. Divorce Coaches are experts in the divorce process itself, which is unfamiliar to a newly separated couple. A Divorce Coach helps the collaborative process proceed smoothly by allowing the spouses to communicate their needs and priorities to the Coach. The Coach ensures that the emotional issues relative to the divorce are addressed and worked through during the collaborative process, thereby preventing the spouses from cycling through past hurts or perceptions during the collaborative team meetings. A Divorce Coach can help the spouses envision their lives post-divorce, develop skills for negotiation and emotional regulation throughout the divorce process, and educate them regarding the divorce process. A Divorce Coach operates independently from an individual therapist for one spouse and some spouses might have their own individual therapists in addition to the collaborative Divorce Coach.
If you have already hired an attorney, ask your attorney for suggestions and referrals to third-party professionals who can support you through the collaborative divorce process and help you, your spouse, and your children come out on the other side for the better.
Lindsey Dasher is the Managing Partner at Dasher Law PLLC