Tag Archive for: divorce

The master in divorce is an experienced family law attorney appointed by the court who may help you and your spouse resolve your differences. Masters resolve contested divorce and annulment cases, including post-divorce alimony and equitable division of debts and assets. A divorce master will not provide legal advice or help you file for divorce.  

The master does most of the court’s work in a divorce case. This process aims to lessen the judges’ workload, resolve disagreements and prevent cases from going to trial. A master’s duties include conducting conferences to resolve the following issues: 

  • Equitable division, alimony changes, and child custody disputes 
  • Counsel fees, costs, and expenses 
  • Special relief and discovery (the process by which the parties exchange information, documents, and testimony before a trial)  

The master (the term “hearing officer” is used in the statute) can hear testimony and take evidence. 

How Does This Work? 

After discovery, the parties may agree on the division of your assets and debts, for example. If so, we will draft a settlement agreement outlining the agreement’s terms, file it with the court, and if all goes well, it will be part of the divorce decree. If we cannot reach an agreement, we can request a masters hearing, which may come four to six months later. 

Before the hearing, we will create a document for the court stating the relevant information in your case, including facts about you, your children, spouse, incomes, and assets. With it will be copies of relevant documents the parties exchanged during discovery. Your spouse and their attorney will do the same. The master will review both sides’ submissions before the hearing to understand the issues the two of you have resolved and those still in dispute. At the hearing, both spouses, their lawyers, and the master meet in a courthouse conference room.  

If the master feels the need, testimony would be taken to create a complete record of the relevant facts. If some facts are disputed, the master may use testimony to make credibility judgments about the parties and witnesses. 

The master makes recommendations to help the parties reach an agreement.  If you do so at the hearing, the agreement is read to a court reporter, who records it as a court transcript. The master sends the file to the judge, who signs the final decree. 

If there is no agreement at the hearing, the master writes a report with a statement of facts, conclusions of law, and a recommendation to resolve the issue. It is sent to the attorneys in the case. We would have 20 days to discuss and accept or reject it. We could also ask the master for a new hearing. If one or both sides disagree, the recommendation can be appealed, and a hearing with a judge will be requested. The judge will hear arguments on the exceptions at the hearing and issue a final decree. 

Get the Help You Need From Attorneys You Can Trust 

A divorce has many moving pieces. You can get into trouble if you do not understand how it all works together. A critical component is court procedures. You may have a strong case that should help you reach your goals, but if you do not know how the court system works, what you need to do, and who does what, you may fall far short.  

The attorneys at Karen Ann Ulmer, P.C., can answer your questions and represent you in your divorce so you will have the best chance possible for a positive outcome. Contact us today to see how we can help.   

Divorce will cause many changes in your life, but one thing never changes – no one lives forever. Life insurance is an essential financial tool to help those you leave behind. Whether you are married or not, life insurance is critical if you have minor children. 

Many potential life insurance issues may arise during a divorce. We can help you navigate them so you and your children can avoid legal and financial problems later on. 

Your Policy May Be a Marital Asset Subject to Equitable Division 

Whole and universal life policies have a cash value, so they are part of your net worth. It must be listed as a marital asset to be divided, and it may be cashed out and divided between you and your spouse. A term life policy does not have a present cash value, so it is not a marital asset and is not subject to division. But it can still come into play because, as part of the divorce order, you may need to maintain life insurance coverage to benefit your children. 

Changing the Beneficiary After Your Divorce 

Married couples typically name each other as life insurance beneficiaries to cushion the financial blow when one dies. Pennsylvania estate law automatically nullifies the ex-spouse’s beneficiary pre-divorce designation in a private life insurance policy.  

Your ex could still be the beneficiary if your settlement agreement or divorce order clearly provides they are to continue. If you and your ex are on good enough terms and you feel your ex is capable, part of an agreement can be that they will care for your minor children after your death.  

If that is the case, you could create a trust funded by your policy’s proceeds with your ex as the trustee and your children as the beneficiaries. If your ex is the policy’s beneficiary and you pass away without a trust, they could spend the money on themselves if they wish. 

You May Be Legally Obligated to Carry Life Insurance 

You may need to maintain life insurance if you will pay child and/or spousal support (or alimony) either as part of the agreement with your spouse or due to the divorce order. If you pass away unexpectedly, the benefits will replace the support you would have paid during your lifetime. 

Not everything goes as planned. A spouse required to have life insurance may stop paying premiums without you or the court being aware of the problem. This can be addressed by:  

  • Providing the insurance carrier with a copy of the divorce decree with instructions that the beneficiary is to be notified if the policy changes or if the premiums go unpaid 
  • Having the beneficiary own the policy and make payments 
  • Adding the premium amount to the child and/or spousal support with the beneficiary using this money to pay the premium 

Planning on unforeseen, potential problems like missed premiums and addressing them before they happen can be the ounce of prevention that is worth a pound of cure. 

If You Have Children and Are Getting Divorced, Life Insurance Makes Sense 

Whether your ex is a responsible parent or not, whether life insurance is part of the divorce decree or not, if you have young children, you should consider purchasing life insurance as part of estate planning. You may have created an estate plan with your spouse. If so, it needs to change. If not, you should make one for yourself. 

If your ex will be the single parent to your kids with your unexpected passing, fund a trust for them through insurance proceeds with your ex as the trustee. If the other parent is out of the picture or otherwise incapable, through your will you can nominate someone as your kids’ guardian (although a judge has the final say). That person could also be the trustee, and insurance proceeds would help fund your children’s expenses as they grow up. 

If you are thinking about getting divorced and all the financial issues (like life insurance) that come with it, contact us at Karen Ann Ulmer, P.C., so we can answer your questions and discuss how we can help you.  

Not to sound like a lawyer, but that depends. If you feel unsafe or your spouse drives you crazy, you should move, but you should be aware of and prepare for the negative consequences. If you can still tolerate each other and be civil, you’re probably better off staying in the home, at least until you reach a divorce agreement. 

Moving out makes the most sense when: 

  • You’re earning an income that will pay for both homes’ expenses 
  • You don’t have kids or, if you do, you aren’t interested in having primary custody 
  • You (and your kids) must leave an abusive situation 
  • You’re not interested in owning the house when marital assets are divided 

Should you stay or should you go? You have to consider the issues: 

  1. Would Moving Impact a Custody Dispute? 

If you have kids, do you plan to move out with them, or will they stay with the other parent? Moving out of the home while your kids remain will likely impact your custody claim, so if that’s a priority, stay where you are. 

Unless you’re involved in an abusive relationship, it’s usually in a child’s best interests to stay in the family home during a divorce because it should minimize the potential disruptions to children’s lives.  

  1. How Would Moving Affect Your Finances in the Short and Long Term? 

Moving means two households and possibly twice as many expenses. Leaving your marital home doesn’t mean you no longer need to worry about its bills. If you share the title and a mortgage to a house, you must keep up the payments. You’ll have your new expenses, plus your old ones. Can you swing that? 

Your house may be the most valuable asset the two of you own. Though it’s no guarantee, when it’s time to decide who will get the house, the spouse living in or maintaining it can have a stronger claim than the one who moved out or who isn’t helping to maintain it.  

If you want the house when marital property is divided, remaining in it may help protect your interests. Leaving is not a big deal if you don’t want the house and would rather have your share of it paid to you in cash or some other asset. 

  1. Might Remaining at Home Push the Divorce Process Along? 

Emotionally, moving out can be a mixed bag. In the short term, the two of you are physically away from a source of stress which should improve your peace of mind. This reduced stress takes some pressure off and makes finalizing the divorce less urgent. Therefore negotiations may drag out longer. If you share the same household, the two of you may be more motivated to get the divorce over and done with. 

Don’t Make a Move Without Talking to Us 

Moving out of your marital home may have far more consequences than you realize. You may see living on your own as a major goal that shouldn’t wait for a finalized divorce. Depending on your circumstances, you may be able to achieve that with minimal impact on your interests. It may also be a significant financial stretch that can impact your ability to get custody of your kids and your house as part of the division of assets. 

Should you move during your divorce? Like all other issues, that depends on your goals, situation, and the law’s impact. If you’re thinking about getting divorced and how that’ll impact where you’ll live, contact us here at Karen Ann Ulmer, P.C., so we can answer your questions and discuss how we can help you.  

A properly executed, valid agreement made before or after a couple marries should simplify divorce proceedings. Prenuptial (or in Pennsylvania, premarital) agreements are better known and, generally, easier to enforce. A contract made after a marriage takes place (a postnuptial agreement), though different, can accomplish many of the same goals and be very useful if you divorce. 

What Can a Postnuptial Agreement Cover? 

Postnuptial agreements can cover critical issues, so you should have legal representation when one is negotiated and executed. Without a lawyer’s help, you may agree to a one-sided contract that can severely disadvantage you if you divorce. A red flag would be if your spouse is represented by an attorney, but you’re not. 

Postnuptial agreements can lay out what happens to the couple’s assets and debts if they divorce, ideally shortening the divorce process and simplifying it. A wide range of issues can be covered, including what happens to a business that one or both parties own. They can also set down rules on what will happen to assets if a spouse engages in destructive habits like infidelity, substance abuse, or squandering the couple’s resources. 

What Must a Postnuptial Agreement Have to be Enforced By a Court? 

There are many potential issues concerning the enforceability of Pennsylvania postnuptial agreements: 

  • They must be in writing. 
  • There should be full disclosure by both parties of income, assets, and property, but that can be waived by one or both parties.  
  • A postnuptial agreement, ideally, should be fair, but that’s not a requirement. Courts interpret these agreements by using contract law. Its focus is more on the fairness of the process and less on the outcome, though a court wouldn’t approve of a spouse being left destitute. 
  • Both parties must voluntarily and fully agree to the agreement’s terms. A spouse may claim their agreement was the result of fraud or duress, so it shouldn’t be enforced.   

If you’re going through the time and expense of this process, you should make sure what you want becomes a reality. Legal representation should prevent enforcement problems before they happen.  

When Only One Spouse Wants a Postnuptial Agreement 

Agreements can be very helpful from a legal perspective, but creating one may not excite your spouse as much as your lawyer.  

  • Both of you may have fundamental disagreements about how assets would be handled through a divorce 
  • One may fear the process of creating a postnuptial agreement will needlessly add stress to your relationship  
  • If one of you earns much more than the other, the one making less may fear an agreement will put them at a disadvantage 

If these are issues, the two of you should have open and honest discussions. If creating an agreement is important to you, but your spouse refuses, contact our office so we can talk about this and the best way to move forward. 

If you have any questions about postnuptial agreements or want help negotiating and drafting one, please contact us here at Karen Ann Ulmer, P.C. We can discuss your options and how we can help you.

Like most lawsuits and legal disputes, nearly all divorces resolve outside of a courtroom. Most parties can’t justify the costs of a trial in money, time, energy, and stress. How you approach your divorce and its resolution depends on you and your spouse.  

Divorcing spouses come from all different emotional directions. They may be heartbroken, emotionally exhausted, or enraged. They may be willing to settle at all costs and just get the divorce over with or be eager to fight over every penny. After learning about the law and going through the process, most couples, no matter their starting point, realize that reaching a resolution is the best option. 

Do You Want to Go to Court? 

Going to court usually happens when one or both parties are unreasonable. One side may look at the issues rationally, but the other makes unreasonable, unacceptable settlement demands. Sometimes both parties are willing and able to use litigation to try to legally bludgeon the other spouse to get what they think will be a victory. 

There are many reasons to avoid litigation. The cost in time and expense can be substantial, especially if the issues are complex and there’s a lot of evidence that could be admitted. Even if you get a favorable judgment, the other party may appeal, potentially prolonging the case for years. 

Litigation puts the outcome into the hands of a judge or jury. It’s like handing over your car keys to someone you don’t know and giving them directions, but they ultimately decide where you’ll end up. In this situation, the issue is not which town you’ll be in. It’s what will happen with your future life, your finances, and your children. 

How Do You Want to Approach Your Divorce? 

Nearly all divorces are uncontested, but you could try to fight your spouse’s attempt to get one. Unless you have compelling reasons, contesting a divorce when your spouse no longer wants to be married, for practical and legal reasons, probably doesn’t make sense. 

If the two of you understand the relationship is over and have no (or few) axes to grind, a collaborative divorce is worth considering. It’s a divorce in which both parties agree to do their best to resolve their issues out of court (though resolving them in court is an option if their efforts fail). It works best when you’re both amicable and will talk and act in good faith. It may also work when financial issues are already worked out in a prenuptial agreement.  

Disagreements that you can’t resolve need not end up in court. Another option is using a mediator, a neutral third party (usually an attorney, sometimes a retired judge) who helps both sides reach an agreement. In addition to representing parties, we at Karen Ann Ulmer, P.C. also mediate disputes between divorcing couples. 

Do You Want Legal Representation? 

The answer should be yes. If you’re of low income and have few assets, you may qualify for help from a legal aid organization to help you and your spouse divorce. Otherwise, contact our office. Your situation may be much more complicated than you think, and your spouse’s proposals may not be as reasonable as they appear. You must understand your rights and protect them during a divorce. A mistake made when you do it yourself may haunt you for the rest of your life. 

The attorneys at Karen Ann Ulmer, P.C., can answer your questions and represent you in your divorce, no matter which approach you take or how it’s resolved. Contact us today to see how we can help you.  

A divorce starts a new chapter of your life. But even after it’s final, your life will not turn on a dime, especially if you share children with your ex-spouse. There will be loose ends to tie up and details to address. Where do you start? 

What’s in Your Divorce Agreement? 

The divorce agreement is part of your divorce order. It will require you and your spouse to do certain things by given dates. Some things are time sensitive, like changing property titles and deeds. 

Compile a list of what needs to be done and when, and calendar each task. You must honor your end of the bargain and keep track of your spouse’s obligations, so if they miss a deadline you’ll know about it.   

If you have a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO), it’s a court order that may require one of you to share your retirement savings with the other. It’s often part of the process that divides spouses’ assets, and their requirements are time-sensitive. 

Will You Need Health Insurance? 

Unless you’re old enough for Medicare, have health insurance from your employer, or already purchased it yourself, you’ll need health coverage. If you got it through your spouse’s employer, you could continue it through the COBRA process for up to three years. This is probably pretty expensive, so you might just want it to be a bridge to more affordable coverage. One option may be an Affordable Care Act (ACA) plan or a policy you buy from an insurance agent. 

If you have kids and your ex-spouse gets medical benefits from work, maintaining that coverage is probably the best option. If not, COBRA or the ACA may be good options. 

What’s Your Credit Score? Is it Getting Better or Worse? 

Protecting your credit score will allow you to borrow money and get lines of credit at the lowest interest rate possible. Here are post-divorce steps you can take, according to AARP

  • Close joint accounts: Your ex-spouse may run up debts and be late with payments or not pay at all. Inform creditors of your divorce and that you’re not responsible for further debts. 
  • Get monthly statements: If joint accounts have outstanding balances, these statements will show you’re making timely payments. 
  • If you move, file a change of address notice with the U.S. Postal Service: If you don’t get a bill, you won’t pay it, and that will harm your credit score. If you pay bills online, getting monthly statements or changing your address won’t be issues. 
  • Use credit cards wisely: Don’t engage in binge “retail therapy” shopping if you feel depressed. You’ll only feel worse when you get the bill, and your credit score will suffer if you don’t make payments on time. 
  • Regularly check your credit reports: See if there are any errors or problems caused during your marriage or divorce. Take action if you find them. 
  • Freeze your credit files: Given your spouse knows your Social Security number and other critical information, you may fear they may engage in identity theft. If so, a credit freeze should prevent any new accounts from being opened in your name 

Be proactive because preventing financial problems is easier than unwinding them after they happen. 

Have You Updated Your Estate Planning? 

If you had estate planning done during your marriage, you likely named each other as your primary beneficiaries. You probably don’t want your assets going to your ex now, though you may feel they can handle being a trustee for a trust that benefits your children. Make sure your estate plans accurately reflect your wishes.

Is Your Divorce Over, But You Still Need an Attorney? 

We will fight to protect your interests and work to ensure you’re in the best position possible after your divorce is final. Contact Karen Ann Ulmer, P.C., Attorneys at Law, for a free consultation so we can discuss your situation and how we can help. 

Parenting plans must be handled with good faith and flexibility. Problems arise when a parent acts in bad faith and ignores their obligations. If you feel this is something you’ll just deal with to avoid a confrontation, know that the situation won’t improve by itself. You’ll reach a point where you’ve had enough.

In most cases, divorces involving couples without kids are simpler because their relationships as spouses (with some exceptions) and individuals will end. That’s not true when parents divorce. They’re responsible for the same children, and unless one parent walks away from their child or is deemed unfit, they both have the right to maintain relationships with their child.

What is a Parenting Time Plan?

A parenting time plan aims to meet everyone’s needs as reasonably as possible by setting out a schedule of when a child will be with a parent. During the school year, the child may spend weekdays with one parent and the weekends with the other (or the weekends are split). This could also involve the child living with a parent during the summer and school vacations. Holidays are usually split between the two parents. Your parenting plan should be customized to fit the lives of those involved.

Ideally, the plan works for everyone, or minor changes are made over time. A child or parent may be sick. A parent may have a long, unexpected business trip. Cars break down. Traffic jams can cause delays, especially if a child and parent have a long distance to travel. These issues should be handled reasonably and unemotionally by the parents.

What Problems May Arise With a Parenting Time Plan?

Sometimes the situation is not ideal. One parent may see the plan as optional. It’s something they change at the last minute without consulting the other parent or child. One parent may feel the plan unfairly limits their time with the child, so they invent their own informal plan by returning the child later than they should.

This can be a serious problem for you. When your ex-spouse is chronically late or fails to communicate with you, it shows a lack of respect for you, your time, and the divorce order. Depending on the child’s age, their plans can be disrupted too. You may miss work or family obligations. Planned time with friends can be disrupted.

How Can I End Parenting Time Conflicts?

Here are some things to think about if you’re in this situation:

  • Is the other parent doing this to you because you’re doing the same to your ex? Are your hands clean, or is this an exchange of fire with your children stuck in the middle? If you’re guilty of the same thing, you must stop.
  • Does the other parent know their obligations? Does a lack of understanding or communication cause these issues? Don’t launch into a verbal attack. Clarify who needs to do what, and when. If the other spouse’s life has changed and the plan is no longer practical, try to work out a solution.

How Can an Attorney Help With Parenting Time Plan Problems?

If neither of these approaches gets results and your ex-spouse acts in bad faith, start documenting the problem. Create a journal with notes of your conversations. Confirm the discussions with a text or email. Keep these emails and texts discussing the situation.

When your child is picked up or returned late, take a photo or video with your smartphone. It should have the date and time when it was made. This is critical evidence that may allow you to leverage the court’s power to help you.

You should also call our office and get legal help. If you haven’t been divorced before, this may be the first time you’ve dealt with this problem. We’ve had many clients suffer through parenting plan battles. We’ve seen approaches that work and those that do not. We’ll put together a plan to get this under control.

One of our attorneys may speak with your ex-spouse or their attorney to try to straighten this out. Mediation may be worth a try. If all else fails, we can go to court to enforce the existing parenting plan and consider asking a judge to find your ex-spouse in contempt of a court order.

At Karen A. Ulmer, P.C., we know how to protect our clients and hold lying spouses accountable. Contact us today to see how we can help you.

If you’re awarded or have negotiated spousal support (alimony) as part of the divorce order, whether you work after it’s final may be an issue. Collecting support doesn’t necessarily mean you must work, nor does it necessarily allow you to stop working. It depends on your circumstances. 

Your spouse can’t force you to work after the divorce is final, but they may ask the judge to lower or end your alimony if you don’t have or are not actively seeking employment or a better-paying job. The judge would weigh that against the circumstances you claim would make that unreasonable or impossible. 

What is Spousal Support or Alimony? 

It can be one of several economic changes due to a divorce. One party would pay the other as part of ending the marriage. Arguments for alimony include one spouse sacrificing their earning power by caring for children or otherwise supporting their spouse and their career, so it would be unfair not to compensate the person. 

Pennsylvania statutes don’t require alimony.  Granting it must be “reasonable,” and the alimony must be “necessary.” There are 17 factors a judge must consider, and a judge could come up with more if they’re “relevant” to your case. Some of the factors spelled out in the law include: 

  • The parties’ relative earnings and earning capacities 
  • Their ages and physical, mental, and emotional conditions 
  • The extent the earning power, expenses, or financial obligations of a party will be impacted because they’re a minor child’s custodian  
  • The parties’ living standards during the marriage 
  • Whether the party seeking alimony is incapable of self-support through appropriate employment 

The court order would include how long alimony would be received. The time frame could be limited or indefinite but must be reasonable under the circumstances.  

Why Would Your Spouse Want You to Work? 

It’s in your spouse’s financial interests to limit or prevent you from getting spousal support because the less you receive, the less support they pay. They would claim it’s not reasonable or necessary for you to receive so much support.  

If alimony is part of a divorce order and later your ex-spouse claims a substantial change in circumstances has taken place, they may try to have the order changed, so you receive no or less alimony. 

If the judge sees things your spouse’s way, they may consider your circumstances, education, and work experience and estimate the income you should earn if you sought employment (imputed income). Given that income, the judge may decide if you should receive support and if so, how much. 

Why Shouldn’t You Work? 

You’d have to give reasons why alimony is necessary and receiving enough to support you fully is reasonable. 

  • You’re unable to work. You’re too old or may have a physical, emotional, or psychological disability that makes working impossible. 
  • You’re the full-time caregiver of your minor children, so given the demands of parenthood and daycare costs, working is impractical. You have a stronger argument if you have multiple kids and or they have special needs that take more time and energy. 
  • You’re the full-time caregiver of a parent or other family member. 
  • Your standard of living established during the marriage should continue. You didn’t need to work while you were married. The fact you’re divorced shouldn’t change that.  

You would need evidence to support your claims. Your opinion wouldn’t be enough. 

How Might This Be Resolved? 

The judge may make a compromise between both parties’ positions. You would get enough alimony to fully support you for a limited time, then it would decrease and eventually end. In this period where you need not work: 

  • You should improve your education, skills, or experience so you can get a decent-paying job 
  • Your disabilities would be treated, and job training should help you find work 
  • Your children would mature, requiring less time and effort on your part, allowing you to work  

The judge may also agree with your spouse, and you’ll get no or little alimony. Like all divorce-related disputes, you and your spouse avoid the risk of losing the case at a trial by negotiating an agreement. 

If you’re considering getting divorced, involved in a spousal support dispute, or your ex-spouse is trying to end your alimony payments, please contact us here at Karen A. Ulmer, P.C. We can discuss your options and how we can help you. 

Congratulations! It took some work, but you got the house after your divorce. Hopefully, you’ll spend many happy, healthy years there. But you run the risk of nightmares all homeowners may have (raccoons in the attic?), plus some that divorcees in particular face.

Surprise! You Have an Open Home Equity Loan!

Marital homes and mortgages are usually in both spouses’ names. The house may be in your spouse’s name only, but you’re taking over ownership. As part of transferring the home to you, you would refinance the mortgage or get a new one, so you’re the only one responsible for paying for it.

As part of the approval process, you may discover an unpaid home equity loan (HELOC) on the property. Your spouse may have taken it without your knowledge or forged your signature on the application. They didn’t disclose it during the divorce process, and your attorney may have used a quitclaim deed to change ownership, so no title search was done.

Home equity funds may be accessed by your ex-spouse through checks or a credit card, which may only need one signature. Contact the lender and cancel all credit lines if this is the case. Put the creditor on written notice that you’re not responsible for further debts. If you’re the victim of identity theft, you could file a police report.

Ending the Nightmare and Preventing Future Ones

Your house is the collateral for a loan your ex took out. From the lender’s perspective, your divorce doesn’t change the fact someone needs to pay the debt. Ideally, when confronted with the truth, they’ll have the resources to pay it off and take care of it, but that’s probably unlikely.

Call our office as soon as possible. We can discuss how to make this right. Your ex-spouse may have failed to disclose the loan or lied about it. Unless we can work this out with your ex, we need to go back to court and change the divorce agreement or order to reflect this newly discovered liability.

The amended order should spell out how your ex will resolve the issue. If they don’t have the money on hand to pay the debt, they could be required to sell or liquidate assets or property to clear it up.

This HELOC can be a big problem, but also a sign your ex may have left other financial landmines behind. We may review both parties’ finances again to ensure that’s not the case. If your ex owns their own business, that may be worth looking into because it can be used to hide assets.

If you’ve gotten nasty surprises after you thought your divorce was final, please contact us here at Karen A. Ulmer, P.C. We can discuss your options and how we can help you.

Starting a new life during or after a divorce is difficult enough. If one of your beloved children is your spouse’s spy, it can make things that much tougher. You need privacy, though depending on your child’s maturity, you may have a hard time keeping it.

Like so many other issues, you need a frank, adult discussion with your spouse on what is shared by whom and when. This must be tempered by your child’s age, personality, and maturity. What you should expect from a seven-year-old is different from what you should expect from a 17-year-old.

Sharing Too Much is Bad

You should both agree that your kids shouldn’t be telling the two of you details about each other’s lives. You also shouldn’t use your child to collect intelligence on each other nor should you believe everything you hear.

Generally, we want our kids to share. We want them to talk about their day and share their feelings, toys, and time. But they must learn that sometimes sharing is not a good idea. They must understand that some things, like information, shouldn’t always be shared. It may be difficult for a child to draw lines between things they can talk about and what they can’t.

It may not be your spouse bribing your child for the latest dirt. Your child may see it as a game. They have something they think has value, so they may believe they’ll get a treat if they tell it to you. The more you tell them you don’t want to hear it, the more they may want to spill the beans.

The two of you should also agree to communicate things impacting your child openly. It’s one thing to date someone new and maintain your privacy, but if they come to your home and meet your kids, you should let your spouse know what’s happening.

Sometimes, Not Sharing Enough is Bad, and Lying is Never Good

You must clarify to your child that there are still important things to talk about, like if someone is abusing, bullying, or harming them. If you or your spouse is losing control and lashing out at your child or neglecting them, that’s not a secret they should hold. Your child needs to understand which secrets to keep and which ones to divulge.

Telling your child you want to keep your privacy so they shouldn’t disclose some things is one thing. Telling them they should lie to cover something up for you is another. You’re setting an awful example for your child that will come back to haunt you. If you teach your kid it’s okay to lie, that’s a lesson they’ll use for years.

In the future, when you catch your child in a lie and it angers you, who’s to blame? Don’t you think your child will throw back in your face the lessons in lying you taught them? Parents in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

If you are considering getting divorced or need legal representation in a divorce matter, it is critical to get help and guidance from a trusted expert in family law. Contact us here at Karen Ann Ulmer, P.C. to see how we can help you.