6 Effective Proactive Co-Parenting Tools for Back To School

Proactive Co-Parenting

The summer goes by so fast, and before you know it, it’s time for the kids to head back to school. This means it’s time to think about things like back-to-school shopping, choosing extracurricular activities, figuring out transportation, considering holidays to come, to name a few. For families where divorce is involved, proactive co-parenting is a must. At McCart and Tesmer, we have a great deal of experience in Family Law and have seen some clever tactics to provide a much smoother school year for both parents and the children. 

Here are the things we suggest for the most successful back-to-school proactive co-parenting.

  1. Review Your Parenting Agreement.  Assuming you already have a parenting agreement in place, reviewing it before the school year begins allows parents to look ahead and prepare for things like upcoming travel and school holidays. A fresh set of eyes on your agreement can also reveal any missing contacts for childcare or emergencies. This review is also a great time to make any adjustments to the Agreement if necessary (with the help of your lawyer(s)) to avoid scheduling conflicts in the coming school year. It is also a great time to decide on transportation for extracurricular activities and the pickup and drop-off duties to come. If you don’t yet have a Parenting Plan in place, click here to get a free template.
  2. Let Technology Help! Consider using an app designed to help divorced parents communicate better. OurFamilyWizard is one of our favorites, and it was created by a divorced couple who understood there was a need for a tool to help co-parent as smoothly as possible. The application allows each parent to have their account, and then they can add in other users such as therapists, lawyers, and extended family. Helpful apps for divorced parents usually feature a shared calendar. This comes in handy for both parents to see what is upcoming and communicate directly through the app to avoid confusion.
  3. Create One Email Per Child. This one might sound strange, but it works! Proactively create a specific email for your child to give to the school for all communication. Both parents have access to this email address for full transparency. A single email streamlines communication between parents and the school regarding essential things like announcements, report cards, parent-teacher conferences, events, etc. 
  4. Discuss School Supplies.  In Florida, things directly relating to a child’s education (book, uniforms, pencils, etc.) should be covered by child support. Agreeing about needs, budget, and shopping for and paying for school supplies BEFORE school starts can help avoid unnecessary conflict in an already stressful time. For the sake of record-keeping, it is recommended that the parent paying for the supplies buys the specific supplies rather than sending money to the other parent. 
  5. When Possible, Attend Parent-Teacher Conferences Together. Being a united front as co-parents is especially important for the education of the child or children. Attending meetings like this together makes it easier for the teachers by showing that both parents are committed to supporting the child’s education. Of course, there are cases where having parent-teacher conferences together is not possible. In those cases, it is essential to utilize most if not all of the tips here to ensure communication is evident between the teacher and parents.
  6. When Conflicts Arise, And They Will, Put The Child’s Interest First. Every divorce has its share of conflict, or both parties wouldn’t be divorced. That said, it is crucial for both parents to always come back to the common goal: your child’s health and happiness. The decisions you make should have the child’s interest at the forefront, and any conflict between the parents should be secondary. Be aware of how you speak to the other parent in front of the child; disagreements can wait until they aren’t around. Remember, you are shaping our future through your children, so be sure to give them the best chance by working WITH your co-parent.

Hopefully, this list of tips and tricks will help you as you enter another school year. Even though the marriage didn’t work out, it is possible to provide an incredible school experience for your kiddo. The lawyers at McCart and Tesmer can help you sort out many of the complexities of your divorce, from custody to parenting plans and everything in between. They can help you find ways to ease the discomfort of the divorce by providing the knowledge and tools necessary for the co-parenting journey. Proactive co-parenting not only works, but it can make all the difference in the world by avoiding the unnecessary and planning for the future together. 

Age Difference and Second Marriages: Tips for Round 2!

Sometimes the first marriage just doesn’t work out. That said, so many folks are finding love and companionship for the second time around! The number of second marriages in the US is higher than ever before. Most of these happy second-timers have a significant age difference between them which comes with many unseen obstacles that can be planned for and possibly avoided altogether. For those of you who have had the big wedding day #2 and are older or younger than your spouse, we’ve put together a few considerations and tips to make your second marriage the most successful. 

After the honeymoon, it’s a great idea to have a few important items front-of-mind for the future of your second marriage. These considerations aren’t given to rain on your love parade and say that it won’t work out. Quite the opposite, in fact. The family law professionals at McCart & Tesmer want you and your new partner to have all of the facts in place and the pro’s and con’s weighed so that you can be proactive and successful the second time around. 

  • Estate Planning should be a high priority in your considerations with your new partner. Did you know there is a Legal Right to Inherit? Absent a prenuptial agreement or postnuptial agreement, if you never update your estate plan, the new spouse is entitled to  the“pretermitted share” equal to a value ranging from 50% of the probate estate to the entire probate estate depending on the circumstances.  Your new spouse may also be entitled to  the “elective share” equal to 30% of the aggregate estate. If you plan ahead with your estate, you can be sure that everything lands where it should if things do play out well for the marriage or one spouse dies.
  • Because of an age difference in the coupling there is a high likelihood of one spouse outliving the other spouse. 
    • It is vital that the both spouses decide how to handle providing care for each other when necessary (day-to-day, long term care, hospice).
    • It’s a good idea to set up a Trust – 
      • A trust allows for intentional distributions to be set for a surviving spouse.
      • If there is a child from a different relationship, a trust can be set up to reserve money for that child as well.
      • A trust can also act as a safeguard to prevent the surviving spouse from depleting all assets.
      • If a surviving spouse remarries, it could prevent any family wealth from passing to the surviving spouse’s new spouse.
  • When one spouse passes away, the surviving spouse can be left with a mess to clean up. That said, if properly planned for, this unfortunate event doesn’t have to be messy. 
    • Decide on beneficiary designations ahead of time.
      • Depending on the terms of a prenuptial agreement or postnuptial agreement, there could be money left to the surviving spouse.
      • As part of an estate plan, the deceased spouse could leave specific amounts of money to children outside of the will or trust (this would likely still be subject to the “elective share”).
      • Planning ahead can allow money left to be used for the younger spouse’s continued needs

What if the second marriage doesn’t work out? It’s important to think ahead in order to avoid a lengthy dissolution of the marriage. First, both parties should have their own counsel before moving forward with any legal matters. Once that is done, both parties should consider and agree upon whether a Prenuptial or Postnuptial agreement would work best for the couple if things go south. Both options will help avoid a lengthy dissolution of the marriage but there are pros and cons to each.

  •  A Prenuptial Agreement is an agreement between a couple signed before they get married which sets forth the division of their assets in the event of divorce or death.”
    • This option is one that allows all parties to make an agreement before they are legally bound. 
    • Both parties must disclose all assets 
    • Gives the couple an opportunity to address alimony and whether or not it will be waived before the relationship fails.
    • A Prenuptial Agreement, in effect, allows the couple to get ahead of emotions that will surely arrive if the relationship fails.
    • This option can feel transactional but it is necessary to protect your assets especially when a second marriage is involved..
  • A Postnuptial Agreement is an agreement between couples after they are married so they can each protect themselves in the event of a divorce. This agreement is a legal contract that outlines how assets will be divided and what each individual in the marriage is entitled to should they divorce. It may also include other provisions that the couple agrees on.”
    • A Postnuptial Agreement is like a Prenuptial Agreement, but instead of before, it’s made after marriage has taken place. 
    • A Postnuptial Agreement requires additional “consideration” which is the exchange of something of value, such as property, money, services or a promise.
    • Alimony can still be considered with this option but this might be tougher to decide on once legally married.
    • As a part of the agreement it is possible to waive entitlement to each other’s estates and inheritance.
    • Oftentimes a Postnuptial Agreement will include the agreement to provide life insurance if the greater earning spouse dies.

Having all of the facts out in the open makes it much easier for your and your new spouse to make the right decisions for your relationship from the get go. It can be tough to think about what happens if things don’t go as planned. But if you have done the work of planning ahead, those things that seemed like roadblocks before, become things that have already been dealt with and decided. Still have questions regarding your second marriage? With nearly 20 years of experience, McCart & Tesmer specialize in both Family Law and Estate Planning. Click here to drop us a line and/or schedule your Free Consultation 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 info@McCartTesmer.com.