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Co-Parenting Tips for a Happy Holiday

Holidays can be a difficult time for divorced or separated families especially when people crave the perfect family event. It can be emotionally gut wrenching having to split holiday time with your ex and knowing that the person passing the gravy to your kids is not you, but your ex’s new love.  Protect your kids from the stress of their changing family situation this holiday season. Kids are easily influenced and often remember holidays for a lifetime.

Remember the holidays should be all about your kids, NOT YOU!

These experiences, combined with the cultural expectation to have a Hallmark holiday, can send divorced parents into emotional overload. So how do you keep your charged feelings from spilling over onto your kids? Especially at exchanges which can seem like an emotional rollercoaster? Here are some tips for managing holiday drop-offs with true co-parenting grace.

 

  • Try to talk with your ex (if you can’t talk, email or text but in as neutral tone as humanly possible!!). If your children will be traveling, you and your ex must discuss beforehand what they will need to bring. Winter coats? Games they love? A backpack of activities? A favorite stuffed animal?  Bring necessary items to the drop-off. Don’t be passive-aggressive by “forgetting” anything. Similarly, don’t yell at your ex if he didn’t bring what was expected. Protect your children from any transitional snafus by handling the situation like the adult you are and arranging, if possible, to deliver the goods as soon as you can.

 

  • Talk with your children.Younger kids especially can be confused by the change in your usual schedule.  Discuss holiday plans with them beforehand. Assure them that they will get to spend time with both parents and other important family members. Explain this well before the holiday so they have time to process the news and ask questions before drop-off.  Does traveling make them anxious? Would they like to take something along? Games they love?  A backpack of activities? A favorite stuffed animal?  Help your children transition easier.

 

  • Be on time.Do not be late! If your child is worried about how he’s spending the holiday, rushing to get her to your ex’s will only increase her anxiety. And don’t purposely dawdle. It doesn’t matter how much you hate your ex; your children deserve to arrive to a holiday gathering – or an airport – on time. Remember: ruining the holiday for your ex will also ruin it for your kids.

 

  • Keep your feelings in check. No matter how sad or angry you may feel, you must pull yourself together before and during your placement exchange. This means no crying, no angry words with your ex, no hostile body language. Your composure will make the exchange easier on your kids. It will also model to them how to resolve conflict and manage tough situations. If you must fall apart, do it as you drive away or when you’re alone, or with your therapist.

 

  • Take care of yourself – Kids are often reflections of our own moods. If you can be calm, they’ll be more likely to be calm – and we all know the reverse is true too! So be kind to yourself. Exercise, eat healthy food, get good sleep, enjoy close friends, meditate, pray, relax.

 

  • Don’t prolong drop-off. If your kids are crying, do not use this as an opportunity either to gloat or to seek reassurance from them that they will miss you. Assure your children that you love them, wish them a happy holiday with your ex, and remind them when they will be with you next. Do NOT have a prolonged farewell! If they’re nervous or upset about their time away from you, engineering a long goodbye will only make them feel more anxious. You do not want to communicate, through words or body language, that this is a scary time, or that they have to tend to your feelings. An appropriate exit is much more tolerable for them than an angst-ridden, ambivalent one.

Try to take the high road. A smooth exchange will signal to your children that it’s okay to have a good time with their other parent. It doesn’t matter how big a jerk you think your ex is. Your children deserve to enjoy their holiday.

Above all, give your kids permission to love their other parent and their family. They are connected to their other family and your kids should not have to hide it from you.

If you need help with your custody issues, contact a family law attorney at Petit & Dommershausen, located in Menasha and Oshkosh.

You can reach our Fox Valley attorneys at 920-739-9900 or our Oshkosh attorneys at 920-231-0699.

Petit & Dommershausen wishes everyone a wonderful holiday season.

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What is the difference between a crime and an ordinance violation in Wisconsin?

Ordinance Violation or Criminal Offense?

In all counties, including Fond du Lac and Winnebago County, Wisconsin state law provides the answer to this question.  In Wisconsin, a statute numbered 939.12 explains in simple language the difference. A “crime” is defined as conduct that is prohibited by state law and that is punishable by a fine or imprisonment or both. A person can be sentenced directly to jail for a criminal conviction. Conduct that is punishable only by a forfeiture (fine) is not a crime. One thing to remember though is that sometimes a failure to pay a forfeiture or fine on an ordinance can still result in “sanctions”, including jail, for failure to pay those fines. However, jail is not a direct consequence of an ordinance violation.

As the definition above states, a crime is prohibited by “state” law. Ordinances are issued for conduct that is prohibited by a municipality, such as a city, town, village, or borough, which are a political subdivisions of the State of Wisconsin. These municipalities are local governments in a defined geographical area.   Often times municipal ordinances mimic or reference state law. The Wisconsin Law Library provides online access to nearly half of Wisconsin’s municipalities and counties that have made some or all of their ordinances available online (http://wilawlibrary.gov/topics/ordinances.php).

A blog post by attorney Catherine Block.  Attorney Block practices in the areas of Criminal, Juvenile, Guardianship, Family Law, and can handle local Ordinances as well. Please reach out to Attorney Block at https://pdlawoffice.com/ or 920-231-0699.

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Petit & Dommershausen Solar Panel

The Petit & Dommershausen law office solar panel installation is underway! Haven’t seen it yet? Drive by our Appleton Area office at 1650 Midway Road in Menasha  to see the solar panel.  Our firm is proud to have the opportunity to utilize solar technology in Northeast Wisconsin.  Renewable energy is the power supply of the future.  Did you know that by 2040, renewable energy is projected to equal coal and natural gas electricity generation. Curious about our project? Give us a call at 920-739-9900.

 

Solar Panel

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No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

The Importance of Understanding How to Take Title

The law of real property is rife with complicated language intended to answers basic questions. “What if I want to add someone as an owner of my property?” seems like a simple enough inquiry, but to a real estate lawyer, answering that question requires a clear understanding of their client’s objective.

Consider a man, Albert Abertson, who owns a home in his name only who wants to add someone else’s name to the title. He has a consultation with a lawyer about how this can be accomplished. To his surprise, instead of being handed a simple form and walking out the door after five minutes with a shiny new title, the lawyer begins to ask questions.

Lola Lawyer, Attorney at Law, asks him “who do you want to add to the title?” Considering this a reasonable enough question, he replies “Bob Bobson.” Ms. Lawyer follows up, “and who is Bob Bobson to you?” Now Albert has always been told to mind his own business and shifts in his chair, uncomfortable with delving too much further into his personal affairs.

This is not being Ms. Lawyer’s first encounter with a reticent client. She senses Alfred’s discomfort and explains, “Albert, the reason I need to know is because it will help me advise you on several important matters. Did you know that adding someone’s name to the title can impact your obligations as a homeowner, have tax consequences, and affect how you plan your estate?” If Alfred is able to let his guard down and answer Ms. Lawyer’s questions, he will be a much more satisfied client long-term.

Alfred will learn about the difference between being a tenant in common, a joint tenant, and taking as marital property. He will learn about the tax implications if Bob doesn’t pay him anything to be added to the title, as well as the impact this could have on Medicaid benefits. He will learn about sharing liability with Bob, as well as the possibility that Bob’s creditors could come after the property.

This is just one example of how seemingly simple questions relating to property can have complicated answers implicating a wide variety of legal topics.

A blog post by Attorney Scott Engstrom.  If you have Property Law questions or require representation, please contact Attorney Engstrom at 920-739-9900.  Mr. Engstrom serves clients throughout Northeast Wisconsin with Offices in the Oshkosh Area and the Appleton Area.   Call now.