In case you have not checked in on our blog the past few days I wanted to share with you what we have been writing about. Due to the volume of questions, I have received from parents in our free-of-charge consultations regarding how judges will view their particular circumstances. If you anticipate that yours is a case that could end up going before a judge then this series of blog posts are designed with you in mind.
Specifically, we have been sharing information that we believe is relevant for parents of children of all ages. Infants, toddlers, elementary aged children, middle school children, and teenagers are all different in terms of their abilities to cope with change associated with family law cases as well as what their particular developmental needs are. Your judge is tasked with the responsibility of deciding what is in the best interests of your child- no matter their age.
From our experience here at the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, there are many factors that your judge will view your case by that change as your child’s age does. You can take your particular family dynamic and circumstances and apply them to your eight-year-old child and your 13-year-old child and the judge will not necessarily apply the same analysis to each.
Our objective is to continue to share the information that we believe is relevant as far as figuring out what a judge is most likely going to look to as far as what is in the best interests of your child. This standard will inform how he makes decisions regarding where your child lives primarily, what visitation schedule is appropriate and any other condition that will affect your child in their post-divorce life.
Developmental needs of a child who is between the ages of 8 and 10
As your child has aged and progressed through school it is likely that the assignments and homework that he has been receiving has become more difficult. In addition, the relationships that your child has with their schoolmates and friends have become more important. Much of a child's self-worth is based on their performance in school and on their friendships. This reality truly begins to exist for children of this age group.
Your role as the parent of a child who is this age is to become a model of productive behavior as well as someone who will be able to help integrate your child into the community that you live in. This done in large part through how well you help your child adjust to the increased demands being made of them in school. It is not uncommon for children of this age to need extra time and attention to ensure that their school-work is completed. Your oversight is critical to your child’s academic success as organization and time management skills can be developed during this stage of development.
At the same time, children in their later grades in elementary school will be able to develop empathy and sympathy for you and your spouse as a result of the difficulties that they see you all going through. As a result, it is important that you be able to affirm the stability of your home environment and to also do your best to ensure that both you and your spouse will be there for your child from a guidance and love standpoint.
What issues will be most important to the judge in your family law case?
Your judge will understand that the organization of your child’s life is very important. Transitions from your home to that of your spouse can cause problems when coordinating school and other activities. It is easy for your child of this age to misplace their schoolwork or do not complete assignments if their days are spent being shuttled long distances between homes.
Your judge will be interested in seeing how you will help your child adjust to their changing circumstances while keeping their school work at the top of your priorities list. If you can display a plan and a history of ensuring your child’s success in this area then you will have a leg up in the eyes of the judge. Work with your attorney to develop a specific plan of attack in this regard rather than just a haphazard idea of what you would like to see happen.
Integrate the activities of your child into a parenting plan
Where does your child draw their confidence and sense of self-worth from? It is not premature to realize that your elementary school aged child believes that their well-being and accomplishments in life stem from particular activities at which they excel. This could be a sport, a club, or an academic pursuit. A judge will do the best they can to help you and your spouse integrate these activities into whatever custody arrangement he sets forth for your family.
Parenting considerations to make in regard to 8-10-year-old children
This is a very vulnerable age for children. On one hand, your child is likely developing new interests and taking part independent activities for the first time in their lives. On the other hand, he or she requires supervision, attention, care, and love to the same extent (if not more) than younger, elementary aged children. Throw in the added element of your child now having to spend more time than ever away from you and this can be a combustible and emotional mess for you to sort through.
If your child is experiencing issues regarding loyalty towards his parents you need to make sure your spouse is aware of that and then have a conversation with your child, preferably with your spouse. Reinforcing that your child is not to blame for the divorce and also affirming their sense of self-worth is key. Parents who succeed in these areas are typically viewed favorably by judges.
There is a fine line, however, between reassuring your child that he is loved and cared for and allowing him too much access into your case. The last thing you want is for your child to get bogged down in your case and to experience issues regarding being able to focus on schoolwork or extra-curricular activities that should be providing a much-needed respite from the rigors of daily life during a contentious family law case. If there is anything you can do to create an atmosphere where your child is encouraged to build on relationships with their friends during this time period that would be for the best. If you are comfortable, you can speak to your children’s friend’s parents and inform them of your situation in order to ensure he is included in activities.
Take an interest in your child’s schoolwork. I know most parents have an organic interest in this subject but it is a good time to make sure your child is aware of your interest. If you can show that you are interested in your child’s success that will cause him to feel like he isn’t the only person in the world with the same concerns. A shared cause is great for bonding. Most people figure that the divorce will harm their relationship with their child but that does not have to be the case.
Middle school-aged children: how to parent and present a strong case during your divorce
Even in the best of circumstances, being a middle school-aged child can be extremely difficult. For one, your child is caught in an in-between time where he is no longer a child but is not a teenager or young adult quite yet. Your child may be working tirelessly to fit in with their classmates but your divorce or child custody case has caused upheaval in their social and academic lives.
There are a lot of changes that occur for girls and boys of this age. The rapid development of their intellect, physical persons, as well as their emotional characters, are occurring at the same time. If you add into that equation the uncertainty of a divorce and it is easy to see how a child of this age could lose their bearings if you are not as attentive as you might ordinarily be.
Friends are especially important to a middle school-aged child
You may find yourself in a position where your child seeks to confide more in their friends than in their family about the events of their life. This can be a good or bad thing, depending upon how your child learns to deal with their emotions and how to show consideration towards other people. Children of this age can often time display uncaring attitudes towards others in an effort to fit in. Imagine your child attempting to confide to their friends about your child custody case only to find that their friends are dismissive of the situation.
As a result, it is important that you remain a force for good in your child’s life. Do not allow yourself to be put in the backseat because your child has shown an unwillingness to speak to you about their problems. This can be a recipe for disaster where your child seeks out friends for guidance on these issues rather than their parents. You are the person far better equipped to help your child through these difficult times. Your child will likely say as much to you but he needs you more than ever as an example of how to conduct oneself. Remember this the next time he attempts to ignore your words of encouragement or avoid family gatherings.
Don’t assume that your adolescent child understands more than they truly do about your divorce
Children in middle school have a general understanding of relationships. They know in some sense how to treat another person and how to respond to positive and negative treatment from other people. They know what is "nice" and what is "mean." They may have even experienced relationships with classmates.
What your child does not understand are the differences between their middle school relationships and the problems associated with your marriage. Think about the history that you and your spouse have together and how it impacted your marriage and now your divorce. Would your 12-year-old daughter be able to understand all those issues? It is much more likely that your child sees your marriage through the prism of a middle school child assessing a relationship on their level.
See to it that your child has an appropriate level of understanding about your divorce so that she knows what to expect from the process. Completely leaving her in the dark is not a good idea, but neither is sharing every detail about your case with her. If you can help your child to understand that they will not need to play an active role in your case they may be able to handle the emotional components of things much better.
Finally, do not assume that your child is doing ok emotionally just because she tells you that she is. Children of this age are able to hide feels of fear or uncertainty better than we might imagine. If you can, avoid leaving your child unattended for long stretches of time. Doing so may allow your child to engage in bad behavior due to a lack of parental oversight.
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Other Articles you may be interested on regarding Houston Court Local Rules:
- 247TH Judicial District Local Rules
- 246TH Judicial District Local Rules
- Harris County, Texas Family Law Court - 257TH Judicial District Local Rules
- Why is Separate Property Important and How to Keep it Separate in a Texas Divorce?
- What Wikipedia Can’t Tell you About Texas Divorce and Marital Property Division
- Texas Divorce Property Division Enforcement
- Separate Property in a Texas Divorce?
- Does it Matter Whose Name is on Title or Deed of Property in a Divorce in Texas?
- Is Social Security Considered Separate Property in a Texas Divorce
Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Houston, Texas Divorce Lawyers
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it's important to speak with one of our Houston, TX Divorce Lawyers right away to protect your rights.
Our divorce lawyers in Houston TX are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC handles Divorce cases in Houston, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County and Waller County.