Some events in life are routinely described as “new and exciting,” like fall’s new car models, a college graduation, or an around-the-world cruise. Other events are just “new,” like the first time you write out a check for child support, or work with your attorney to file for visitation. A recently divorced father is in uncharted waters, and needs the skill and advice of an experienced father’s rights attorney to navigate the unfamiliar new experiences.
Moving Forward After Divorce
Like sailing on an island-hopping cruise, set yourself a series of small goals to move on with your life, build stronger ties to your children, and keep your mind and body healthy.
You may have to face the reality that your marriage ended because your work surpassed your family in importance. Restore balance by putting your children above all else.
Some worthwhile achievements to consider during the first year of your divorce:
- Attend a specific number of events meaningful to your child or children
- Establish a routine with your children when they are in your care, so they look at you not as a babysitter or banker, but as their dad
- Spend at least 30 minutes a week listening (not talking much) to your children
- Take up a new hobby to share with your children
- Save a slice of your take-home pay for a vacation with your children to a Virginia place you all agree upon (visitation decrees more easily accommodate in-state vacations)
Being the Father They Need
You may want to look inward before looking forward to custody arrangements with your children. Look inside yourself to help come to grips with the divorce. What did you do right and what did you do wrong? Consider getting some professional help to work through mental blocks. Something—or someone—made the marriage boat capsize, leaving children in the wake.
You owe it to your children to get a checkup from the neck up if you sense you are harboring anger, frustration, or hurt from the divorce. Until you know which way your own rudder is taking you, do not subject your children to your rough waters.
Once you feel confident you can be the dad you want to be, work with your attorney to secure visitation (or fight for custody). A good attorney will know how to move through your county’s Juvenile and Domestic Relations court to secure the best arrangement—brace yourself—for your children, not for you.
Visitation & Support: Mind the Calendar
You should keep a watchful eye turned to the calendar once you are enjoying your newfound freedom as an unattached dad. Perhaps you and your ex-wife worked out visitation schedules amicably, during the divorce. Those weekends, school nights or whichever days you get your kids must now rise to the top of your priorities.
Show your full devotion to those children by never skipping visitation, never forgetting to telephone, text, email or Skype when they expect to hear from you. Record dates and times on a handy calendar (electronically or physically), and also use it to plan on child support payments.
Understand How Child Support Works
Code of Virginia Title 20. Domestic Relations, Chapter 6. Divorce, Affirmation and Annulment, § 20-108.1, Determination of Child or Spousal Support spells out how the court will determine who pays what amount. At all times the court—including both attorneys for your ex-wife and your own—will presume to work in the best interests of your children, not your ex-wife and you. This is because, like little whale boats depending on their mother ship, your kids are wholly dependent on you and your ex-wife for all their needs.
As to exact amounts of child support, your attorney and the courts are largely bound by the guidelines found in Title 20. Domestic Relations, Chapter 6. Divorce, Affirmation and Annulment, § 20-108.2. This section of Virginia’s law includes a handy table, which allows the court (and you) to calculate monthly basic child support obligations for combined monthly gross incomes from $350 up to $35,000. The chart also shows how much support is expected from one child up to six.
Virginia ranks fairly high in average gross income; the state’s website shows Virginians pulling in an average per capita income in 2015 of $52,136 annually, which is $4,344 monthly. This means, for Virginia’s typical 2.54-person household, one child must be supported between the two wage earners. So, you could expect to pay around $687 a month in child support.
Don’t Navigate Alone: Hire an Experienced Attorney
If you feel you are an inexperienced captain sailing into turbulent seas, call The Firm for Men at 757-383-9184, or contact our offices. We can connect you to an attorney who can, like a good harbor pilot, help steer you safely to port. The first-time divorce experiences are not always easy, but when you have one of our attorneys by your side, it’s smooth sailing.