Ben Seisler wanted to go to law school at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. Ben had no money, but he did have sperm that brought him $150 a … donation, let’s say. Ben’s …generosityproduced at least 75 children. He does not have to financially support any of them, and is happily practicing law in Boston now. But what if you are divorcing, and you have a child with your spouse?

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Issues Involving Children During Divorce

Noah, James, Liam, William, Henry, Theodore, Oliver, Elijah, Levi, and Benjamin. Those are the ten most popular baby boy names of 2022, according to the Virginia Department of Health. We’re glad to see good ol’ Ben made the cut! The average Virginia family had 1.77 children in 2000, says the U.S. Census Bureau. Let’s say you and your spouse have a Noah and a Ben and want to separate and divorce. Consider just some of the issues this raises:

  • Practical problems — Who gets physical custody of the children? Who gets legal custody? Will you share custody? How will you work out parenting time, holidays, and special occasions?
  • Psychological problems — Divorce can have negative and positive effects on a child, depending on the marital atmosphere; be prepared for everything from bedwetting to risky behaviors
  • Financial problems — Who pays child support? Who keeps the marital home? How do you divide everything up? How do taxes work?
  • Emotional problems — How do you explain a divorce to minor children? What if the children become depressed, angry, or irrational?
  • Educational problems — Will the two boys stay in the same school? Will their academic performance crater because of their emotional roller coaster?
  • Family problems — What role do members of each extended family play? How will you explain things to them? Can you rely on them to help with the kids?

The first place to go for answers is a competent, experienced, family law attorney. Even if you are just entertaining the idea of separating, hire a good lawyer. An attorney can bring clarity and compassion to all of your challenges.

The ten most popular 2022 Virginia baby girl names remind us that those 1.77 kids in a Virginia family, on average, could be two girls, or a boy and a girl. An instinct among Virginia’s Dads may be to become Uncle Dad when divorcing with daughters. That is only one of the pitfalls of post-divorce fatherhood.

Charlotte, Olivia, Ava, Amelia, Emma, Harper, Evelyn, Eleanor, Sophia, and Elizabeth. The same problems you may face with sons crop up with daughters, of course. Yet in many ways, some men and Dads are ill-equipped to handle their daughters. Parents magazine says children react differently at different ages, but they also react differently based on the bonds developed with their Dads. The more reading you can do during the relatively quiet period between separation and divorce, the better you are able to handle your kids.

Virginia & The Best Interests of the Child

Infants and young children look to their parents to solve all their problems. Young teens actively (and rightly) rebel against their parents. Teens near adulthood are staking out their separate lives. Separation and divorce pulls the foundation out from under these kids at any age. Your job as a Dad is to scaffold and protect the kids throughout the process. Remember:

  • Virginia’s legal system holds the best interests of the child above everything else; in the eyes of Virginia courts, your spouse’s and your emotions, finances, possessions, personal life, career, and future are all remote seconds to protecting Virginia’s children
  • Your attorney has walked this path many times; turn to your lawyer for help with all aspects of divorcing with a child
  • One at a time — Some Dads find list-making helpful; take your challenges one at a time, always thinking first of your kids, then of yourself
  • Understand the process — While your attorney is a critical source of information, knowing the general flow of separation and divorce can make the whole year-plus easier for everyone; your job as a Dad is to interpret and mediate events so your kids understand at their level

Resolving Divorce Issues

Always keeping the best interests of the child is your paramount responsibility, closely followed by removing as much doubt as possible, say experts at Psychology Today. Out of earshot of your kids, sit down privately with your divorcing spouse and work out:

  • Who will have primary physical custody?
  • Who will have legal custody to make decisions regarding medical, educational, and religious issues?
  • How will custody be split or shared?
  • What parenting time schedule will best serve the children?
  • How will property be equitably divided?
  • How will both parents ensure adequate shelter for the children in both homes?

Only after every issue is resolved and agreed upon should the two parents present a united front of planned answers to the kids. Leave no doubt in your children that they are loved, looked after, and valued.

Sometimes, in frustration, you may feel like Ben Seisler — just a donor, not a father — but remember, you are a Virginia Dad. You will be part of your children’s lives long after the final divorce decree. Work with your attorney to craft a plan that leads to a brighter future for everyone.

The Firm For Men is ready to answer all your questions about family law, from child custody to parenting time schedules. Contact us today or telephone our Virginia Beach office at (757) 383-9184.