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The Effects of Parental Conflict on Children

During a divorce, parents can become increasingly angry and far more stressed than they were before reaching the decision to separate. Asset distribution, custody issues, parenting time plans, and many other difficult decisions can create tension in the home or any place that divorcing parents are brought together. Any fighting that may occur can leave a lasting impression on the children involved.

Children of divorced parents are affected by fighting both at the time of the argument and years into the future. According to WebMD, children’s emotional development is likely to be affected by heated conflict between their parents. A child’s emotional security is especially affected, often creating depression and anxiety when parental conflicts are unresolved.

Modern studies have shown that divorce can be a relief for children caught between fighting parents because they no longer live in the middle of the constant conflict. According to adolescent psychologist Nancy Cahir, “conflict between parents can be just as damaging as physical abuse.” Parental conflict can also lead to trust issues and difficulties with attachment.

Fighting parents can cause an unexpected issue for their children. A child’s sleep pattern can be negatively affected by parental conflict, causing the loss of 30 minutes or more of sleep per night. If this loss occurs in the middle of regular sleep patterns it can be even more disruptive, leading to irritability and other behavioral issues. Parental conflict can even lead to physical illness in extreme cases.

Studies by psychology professor Patrick Davies have shown that children exposed to fighting between parents do not get used to the conflict over time. Instead, they become more sensitive to it. Parents who stay together for their children’s sake are more likely to have a negative effect on them. Children exposed to conflict very often expressed the wish that their parents had divorced sooner.

Children’s emotional and behavioral stability and growth is negatively affected by their parent’s hostility, however, unresolved conflict is much worse. Although parents should do their best to avoid exposing their children to conflict, they can reduce potential impact by allowing their children to see the issue end with compromise or resolution.

Please contact leading Grand Rapids divorce attorneys Johnsen Wikander to discuss available solutions before your children are affected.

Emotional Affairs: More Destructive Than Physical?

People today have more communication options than ever before. Text messaging, video calling, and the social media have all made it easier for two people to form a bond, whether in person or online. Friendships that develop at work, through a club or organization, or within social media circles may deepen over time due to shared interests, or, because of common problems.

Friendly relationships that grow deeper can lead to physical attraction, even when there was none in the beginning. Unhappy spouses may look outside of the home for comfort, or just to find a sympathetic ear. Innocently returned attention can lead to feelings of desire, and a spouse who may have never considered cheating could find it all too easy to stray once a friendly relationship shows any romantic prospects.

However, physical infidelity is not the only danger. Strictly platonic friendships that form strong bonds can still create difficult situations for married partners. A deepening friendship can create a safe environment where an unhappy spouse will find comfort and support. This can lead to an emotional relationship that may be viewed as an affair.

Can talking on the phone, exchanging text messages, or nurturing an online relationship be considered cheating? Most people today think so. In fact, the majority of women who were interviewed regarding the subject even believe an emotional affair is more destructive to marriage than a sexual one.

Emotional affairs have even become common reasons for divorce. According to the Today Show, a large percentage of the population believes that infidelity is no longer defined by sexual activity. The secrecy and betrayal created by emotional relationships are very often more devastating to couples than a one-night stand.

While a physical relationship is often short-lived, an emotional affair may create a more lasting connection that is harder to sever. An emotional affair can also create feelings of love between participants, while a purely physical encounter may not. Common interests, meaningful discussions, and shared difficulties form stronger bonds than sex alone.

Emotional relationships will drive a wedge between partners who are already experiencing marital difficulties. Instead of seeking ways to resolve problems at home, spouses may share their problems with an emotional friend instead. The resulting distance between married partners can grow wider when an unhappy spouse turns to someone else for support.

An emotional affair can destroy a marriage, even when there is no physical interaction. There may be signs that your partner is involved in an emotional affair, even when there is no evidence of physical interaction.

Please contact the experienced divorce attorneys at Johnsen Wikander for help or advice.

Choosing Sides: The Impact of Divorce on Friendships

West Michigan residents tend to be very social, developing strong relationships with people in and out of work, organizational, or religious environments. As social beings, almost all people want to feel like they are part of a group, and friendships provide the natural support system that goes with being an accepted part of a larger whole.

Divorce proceedings can create stress for the people on the outside of the relationship as well as the divorcing spouses. The process often pulls friends and acquaintances into the middle, forcing people who had allegiances with both partners into the uncomfortable position of choosing who they will continue to socialize with when divorce proceedings are complete.

People who choose to remain friends with adversarial divorcing spouses may find it difficult to maintain an allegiance with both. These people may find themselves caught in one partner’s struggle for information about the other, or victims of one’s jealousy regarding the other’s relationship.

Psychology Today reports that married couples rarely stay friends with either divorced partner, and divorced singles rarely remained friends with a strong couple. The married relationship often reminds the divorced individual of what they had lost and creates feelings of remorse or depression.

For couples, remaining friends with a divorced partner is often identified as the source of their own marital strife. New lives, new situations, and new opportunities can be attractive to one or both spouses who are having doubts about their own situation, and they may decide to abandon their friendship as a defensive measure.

Divorcing couples need to remember that people are not an asset to be divided, like furniture or capital. Friends of both partners may naturally choose to remain as part of one spouse’s life or another, but putting them in the middle or demanding they pick a side will almost certainly drive them away.

Friends are natural support systems and few situations create more stress or challenges than divorce. In times of need, we all want a shoulder to cry on or strong back to help us move forward. However, it is important to let other people find their own way through your divorce and come out wherever they feel safest.

That may mean they follow the other partner, keep their distance, or decide to simply disappear. In any case it’s best to let them stand where they are the most comfortable, even if it means the loss of a best friend.

Divorce is difficult, but an experienced divorce attorney can help. Please contact us at Johnsen Wikander in Grand Rapids with your questions and allow us to be your support system during your time of need.

Cohabitation After Divorce: A Growing Trend

In most modern marriages both spouses work to support their family and to move toward common goals such as children’s college expenses, a larger house or retirement. During marriage, most costs associated with housing, cars, and other resources are shared between husband and wife.

Aside from the emotional impact, divorce, whether it takes place in West Michigan or anywhere else, can create another layer of hardship when both partners suddenly find themselves house or apartment hunting, or in need of another car. The resulting financial challenges can add to the stress of an already difficult situation.

These days, many couples are choosing to live together after divorcing for several reasons. Children have the largest effect on strategic and financial decisions during, and after, a divorce. Staying close together, or even under the same roof, to provide parental continuity has led many couples to simply sleep in separate bedrooms in their existing home once divorce proceedings are finalized.

Real estate also plays a major role in the decisions made after separation. When a house or property has been purchased as an investment, or real estate has dramatically decreased in value, it may make more sense to live under the same roof until the market bounces back or a project home is completed.

Another reason couples will live together is to prevent upheaval. A single parent may not be able carry the costs associated with the current family home. However, if both parents continue to shoulder the mortgage, utilities, and taxes together they can ensure their children stay in the same home and the same school with their established friends and teachers.

In many cases, custody or visitation arrangements mean the children are packed up and shipped between their parent’s separate houses. This can result in two sets of belongings, and even friends. When spouses choose to stay under the same roof, the effects of the divorce on the children may again be reduced by eliminating the need for children to shuffle back and forth.

This situation can also impact fighting over custody and over who gets to see the children on which night or weekend. When the children of divorced couples stay put and both parents come to them, the situation’s impact is less severe.

Cohabitation after divorce is by no means an easy solution. Aside from the agreements put in place by the spouses and their respective divorce lawyers, rules and boundaries must be set. This is not a simple roommate situation, especially when old emotions resurface or one former partner begins dating.

Like any other situation, cohabitation after divorce has pros and cons. It may not be possible for everyone, but it could provide an easier solution to financially challenged partners and may allow parents to spend more time with their children.

Cohabitation may not be for everyone, but there are plenty of success stories about parents who have amicably divorced and made cohabitation work. The children of divorced parents appear to reap the most benefits, but it could provide a better financial and structural solution for the parents as well.

Options aside from litigation include mediation and Collaborative divorce. An experienced divorce attorney can help you find the best path forward, so please contact Johnsen Wikander for a free consultation today.

Social Media: A Leading Factor in Divorce

In the digital age, Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms have become a significant factor in divorce cases. It has often been cited as the direct cause of marriage problems by one or both marital partners. Any relationship can be impacted by suspicion, disconnected behavior and jealousy, but when the source of trouble is the computer in the next room, removing that source is difficult.

Grand Rapids marriages are just as likely to be affected by social media as any others. Some of the reasons behind social media driven divorces are obvious, such as interaction with old love interests. Although most connections with old girl or boyfriends may be innocent enough, there is always the chance that a spark may appear.

Old Friends, New Links

Even when a renewed friendship is completely innocent, it may not appear that way to a marital partner. Divorce lawyers may also review social media content for evidence in a divorce case. Inside jokes and old sayings can be seen as flirtatious, or can be taken out of context. Social media activity with an old flame can often lead to either physical or emotional connections and could be viewed as emotional infidelity or cheating.

Twitter, Instagram, and especially Facebook also contribute to marital instability in other ways. Social media has been shown to trigger some of the same effects in the brain as narcotics, which may lead to addictive behaviors.

Too Much Time on My Hands

The snowy West Michigan winters can drive people to look for entertainment indoors, and the Internet provides endless distraction. However, too much time spent on social media, especially Facebook, may leave a marital partner feeling less important or ignored.

Shared pictures have also been a source of trouble for many married couples. Inappropriate photos that appear in a partner’s timeline can lead to suspicion and distrust, especially when they come from an old love interest. Even if the pictures don’t appear in a husband or wife’s Facebook timeline, rumors and misconceptions can arise from the content when it appears in a mutual friend’s account.

Believe Half of What You See

Marital issues can also arise over mistrust when one spouse uses social media to monitor the other’s behavior. Fights over social media have become commonplace for many couples, often caused by use or misuse by either spouse and how that activity is interpreted by their partner.

It is easy to take what you see or read out of context and jump to conclusions that are not actually true. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have taken over as communication mediums, and even news platforms, but you must consider the source, or the situation, before buying into the story they tell.

Let us help with any questions or concerns. For more information or advice please contact Johnsen Wikander today.

 

Stress Management and Divorce

The decision to divorce is usually reached after the most difficult period in a marriage. During this time, it is important to pay attention to your own well-being to help maintain clarity and manage the stress that accompanies the end of a relationship.

Even a mutually accepted decision to separate is accompanied with stressful tasks, such as financial and property distribution, and child visitation decisions. Changing bank account and credit card information can disrupt work and create additional layers of complexity, all of which may lead to more stress.

Children Know

Children are far more aware of divorce-related stress in their parents than they are often given credit for. Heated arguments, unexplained absences, and stormy relationships do not go unnoticed, often leading to feelings of guilt for children caught in the middle of their parent’s divorce proceedings.

It is important to maintain a clear head through difficult times, which can prevent snap decisions or heated arguments over less important details. Life must go on for parents and children alike, making stress management an important part of the divorce process.

Balance the difficulties of divorce with uplifting activities to help reduce stress. Here are some ideas to try. Go alone to recharge, or take your kids and use the time to help them through their own divorce related challenges.

Find Distractions

Go to the beach. It’s hard to beat the sound of crashing waves and the feeling of sand between your toes. Michigan has some of the best beaches in the world so why not try a walk along the water’s edge. The beach is even beautiful in the winter when the ice chunks pile up along the shore.

See a movie or read a book. There is nothing like an exciting storyline and strong characters to provide a distraction. A good book can transport the reader to beautiful, distant, and even imaginary places where the burdens are carried by someone else.

Get Away

Take a day or weekend trip. Michigan has so many incredible destinations within easy reach. The renaissance taking place in Detroit has made it an attractive destination for food and entertainment. Chicago is only a few hours away too, with Michigan Avenue shopping or the city’s world-class museums all within walking distance from most hotels.

Experience local culture. It’s often easy to overlook the closest attractions. Think like a tourist and visit some of the local tourist draws such as Art Prize in Grand Rapids or the Air Zoo in Kalamazoo. Or, visit one of the many wonderful exhibits at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum.

Let Us Help

The end of any relationship weighs heavily on everyone involved. Please call or email us today and let Johnsen Wikander help reduce the stress of your divorce.

Oddities in Divorce- a 2017 Recap

Divorce attorneys know that cases are as unique and varied as the individuals and families we serve. The opportunity to help people resolve their divorce, no matter the circumstance, makes every day a new challenge for our team.

Even with the knowledge that we should expect the unexpected, we still come across stories about divorce that grab our attention. Often times they are stories with a positive twist, and others feature headlines that seems too strange to be true. Here is a quick recap of some of those offbeat stories we have seen so far this year!

Unanswered Texts

A Taiwanese woman was granted a divorce over unanswered text messages. Over the course of six months, her husband rarely responded to her messages even though the phone showed he had read them. It took the woman being hospitalized after a car accident for him to send a message. The judge, however, found that the message “was about matters related to their dog and notified her there was mail for her, but he didn’t show any concern for her.” The court sided with the woman, citing the marriage was beyond repair.

Nearly One Million in Damages

This story started in 2014, when a Japanese woman admitted to breaking and entering her ex-husband’s home following their separation. It was not until this year, however, that the extent of her damage was discovered. Her ex-husband, a violin maker, had an extensive and expensive violin collection. She is suspected of destroying 54 violins and 70 bows while he was away on a business trip. The total damage according to police was $950,700.

Divorce Hotel Opens

The process is never easy, but a new Divorce Hotel in the UK hopes that a weekend away can help. Couples looking to divorce in a positive way can book a weekend at the hotel. They will stay in separate rooms but spend the weekend working with mediators and lawyers to finalize the terms of their divorce. Paperwork is typically filed before they leave, with the courts finalizing the process in the following weeks.

Though we do not have a hotel, we do know how beneficial mediation and Collaborative Divorce can be, and we have been helping Grand Rapids families through the process for years. If you want to learn more about how it can help you, contact our team of attorneys today!

Uncontested Divorce: What You Need to Know

Our team follows a simple commitment with every person we meet: we are determined to find the best legal solution for your family. Each case is unique, so our first step will always be to get to know you and your story. If there are no unresolved or disputed issues between you and your spouse, an uncontested divorce may be an option. Here are the fast facts: Read more

Health Care Debate Putting Divorces on Hold

The news cycle has been dominated for weeks by the debate on health care in our country. Recently, financial planners and divorce attorneys have taken notice of a new trend: some separating couples are delaying their divorces due to the uncertain future of health care.

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Filing for Divorce? Do These Things First.

Marriages dissolve for an infinite number of reasons, and our team of divorce attorneys hears something new every day. While divorce rates are on a downward trend, it remains a reality for many couples. If your marriage is headed towards divorce, there are several things you should do before filing papers.

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