Co-Parenting During the Holidays

The holidays have arrived, which means it’s time to put up the decorations, wrap the gifts, spike the eggnog, and get prepared for a possible co-parenting nightmare! The holidays are already stressful enough so adding the idea of sharing your children with your ex, can make it quite a bit difficult. Because of this possible co-parenting fiasco, we have decided to create a go-to list of tips and tricks on how to co-parent during the holidays.

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Balancing Work & E-Learning During COVID-19

Wait, you want me to balance work, facilitate e-learning AND deal with COVID-19?

Kids have been participating in e-learning for a little over a month now and since it’s clear schools are not going to open up their physical locations for the remainder of this school year, it’s up to us to last through May 29th, the last day of school in Hillsborough County, Florida. Now, take a deep breath and take the time to let it out. Feel better? No? Us either BUT, we have learned a few things during the past month that have worked for us, perhaps they will work for you too! Pour a glass of wine and read on!

1. Don’t freak out! – We know, easier said than done… BUT, we are not home schooling and we are not teachers; we are e-learning facilitators and parents. We do not need to come up with a curriculum, simply follow the plan that your teacher has come up with. They are the professionals. Take a relief sip.

2. Know your strengths. – It is always important to utilize your strengths to overcome your weaknesses. We have kids in two different age groups, one in middle school and one in elementary school. Our elementary school kid needs a lot more supervision and guidance than our middle schooler. Our elementary school kid wakes up really early and our middle schooler sleeps in a bit. Knowing these things helps us manage our day. We can start our younger child’s school day earlier, before we start our own work and help him to get organized before our middle schooler wakes up. We break up assignments into smaller bits of work each day so he can focus on one assignment for a set amount of time until it is complete, then we can check it. This also gives us time to complete our own work. Knowing what time of day works best for your kids to learn and where they are most productive is a huge help. If mornings are not great, don’t fight it, let them have some free time and complete schoolwork in the afternoon. If sitting at the kitchen table (like my son) keeps them focused, great… if they work better at a desk in their room (like my daughter), even better! Sip that wine!

3. Make a Plan. Most schools issue some form of school planner each year. Use the planner! It will typically have each day broken down by subject. We write the assignments that need to be completed each day in every subject area within the planner. Our teachers are giving out assignments at the beginning of the week, some specify what needs to be done each day, others don’t. We break the work out over the week into manageable chunks so that it does not become overwhelming and we can go through the planner each day to make sure that everything was completed. We do this with our kids on Monday mornings, but you could also do it daily if your teacher is not providing a week’s worth of assignments at a time. For assignments with no specified due date during the week we let the kid pick what day they want to do them, this gives them control over a situation they have little control over. And who doesn’t like some control? Drink up!

4. Set expectations. I am an attorney and my husband is an executive director therefore we both have demanding jobs which require time where we work without interruptions. Communication is key. But really, it’s key! John and I must communicate when we are not able to handle parenting duties. If you lack communication, your significant other has no way of knowing that you are not able to help. We also have to communicate with our kids, especially when we can and can’t be interrupted. My kids understand that there are certain virtual meetings they can pop by and waive, and others that are totally off limits. If I am about to participate in a virtual hearing or mediation where they are not allowed to pop by, I make sure to talk to each kid and let them know that I am about to start a meeting where I cannot be interrupted. I also ask if they need anything before I begin and ensure they understand that everything else will have to wait until I am done. This method does not work for dogs… When I get there, I’ll let you know! Drink two sips now.

5. You will miss stuff, communicate that with the teachers. We have missed e-learning assignments and tasks due to the above-mentioned uninterruptable work meetings. Sometimes we both have work at the same time that cannot be interrupted. My son missed a quiz last week because neither of us were able to facilitate the sign-on process due to work obligations. We simply e-mailed the teacher and she was able to reopen the quiz so he could take it the next day. The same thing happened to our daughter regarding a zoom math class. Take that in for a moment, a zoom math class… In this situation we were both working unable to be disturbed and she was having technical difficulties. We again e-mailed the teacher and she provided us with the recorded session of the class. Teachers are expecting these types of situations to happen therefore they are being very flexible and understanding. Just ask and they will help you! Do you have any wine left? Just finish it and pour another glass.

None of this situation is ideal but we can and will get through it. It can be frustrating to balance all of this from home, especially if you are a single parent or parents who are both working longer than normal hours. It is ok to be frustrated! Take a time out, count to ten, breathe. Be sure to let your kids know that you are frustrated. They will learn how to deal with frustration by seeing how you resolve your own in a positive way. All that said, there are no right answers here. This is what has worked for me, hopefully it will work for you. Also, reach out to someone. If you need help call a friend. Sometimes talking to someone and venting for a few minutes can help you gain perspective. Well, that and wine. Lots and lots of wine.

Name change for an Adult or Minor

Occasions may arise where an individual is in need of changing his or her name. For example, a divorced woman may have kept her married name and is ready to return to her maiden name, a man never went by his legal name and has conflicting names on his governmental identifiers, or a child was given his birth mother’s last name and the parents now desire to add the father’s last name. An applicant can change his or her first, middle or last name entirely so long as the name is not being changed for an ulterior purpose.

For an adult wanting to change his or her name, the applicant must file a petition for name

change in the county where the applicant resides. If the applicant is not restoring a prior name, the applicant must have to have his or her fingerprints taken for a background check with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Upon competition and receipt of the background check, a final hearing will be set with the circuit court judge. After receiving the Final Judgment of Name Change, the applicant will provide a certified copy of the final judgment to the Social Security Administration and Department of Motor Vehicles to begin changing their governmental identifiers.

To change the name of a minor, the parents or guardians must file a petition for name change in the county where the child resides. Both parents or guardians must sign consents to the name change as well as complete fingerprinting for background checks with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. In the event that both parents do not consent to the name change, the parent wanting the name change will have to commence litigation against the other parent. Upon receiving a Final Judgment of Name Change, the applicant may provide a certified copy of the Final Judgment with an application for Amended Birth Certificate to the Department of Vital Statistics. This will result in the child receiving a new birth certificate with his/her new name.

If you have questions about a name change for an adult or minor, please call McCart & Tesmer (813) 498-2757, to schedule your free consult today.

How is Child Support Calculated?

The amount of child support a parent may pay is one of the first questions typically asked during a family law consult for a divorce or paternity action. Unfortunately, the answer is “it depends”.

The Florida Legislature has provided guidelines from the amount of child support which should be paid for the support of a child based solely on the parent’s combined monthly net income. However, the calculation does not stop there. The child’s health insurance, uncovered medical cost, and day care expenses are all factored into the calculation as well as the parents’ timesharing schedule. The money a parent pays for the foregoing expenses and the more time a parent has with the child the less child support that parent will have to pay.

The Court will look at financial documents such as pay stubs, bank statements and tax returns to determine each parent’s relative income. Each parent will also be required to file a financial affidavit which provides a monthly snapshot of their income and expenses. All these documents and affidavits must reconcile.

Determining an accurate child support calculate is extremely important and should be reviewed by an attorney. The attorneys at McCart & Tesmer, P.A. are ready to assist in your family matter. For a free consultation please call (813) 498-2757 or email the firm at

Name Change After Divorce

Many individuals, mostly women, struggle with the decision whether to change their last name following a divorce. Some parents want to maintain an identifiable last name with their children while the children remain in school; however, waiting to change a name after the divorce can be costly. Either way, it is up to the spouse changing his/her name to decide if and when to change their last name, even over the objection of the other spouse whose surname is being kept.

What happens when a parent keeps his/her last name at the conclusion of the divorce and later decides to change it? If the last name was not formally changed in the Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage (Florida’s version of a Divorce Decree), a Petition for Name Change must be filed with the Court in the county where the Petitioner resides. Additionally, finger prints must be submitted through the Florida Department of Law Enforcement unless the Petitioner is requesting a former name be restored. This process can cost $500.00 or more.

The process for changing a name after divorce can become complicated and the attorneys at McCart & Tesmer, P.A. are ready to help. For a free consultation to discuss your matter please call (813) 498-2757 or email