Helping those in need with your divorce issues today

Archives for divorced parents

The Exes: If You Think Babies Do Not Sense Divorce, Think Again

Positive behavior after a negative divorce is hard to come by, let alone if there are children and babies in the failed marriage.

It takes a mature parent to put animosity and heartbreak aside to allow the ex-partner in the same room with him or her and their children. If there is an infant in the picture, however, this is exactly what that person needs to do, provided that the ex is mentally balanced and not violent.

Consistent physical custody is especially important for an infant, which means one or the other parent but usually the mother will have the baby with her at all times, at least until the baby is two to three years old. If the custody of the baby is shared, for the welfare of the baby, one of the partners has to be able to give up on the baby’s sleeping over in his house, because babies who are made to spend time in two different homes with two different parents will have problems bonding with their parents or with anyone else.

According to a California study, infants and babies who had overnight visits in two different homes with two different parents developed attachment problems in comparison with the infants and babies who saw their fathers during daytime visits. The babies who went back and forth between two parents were distrustful of everyone and could not handle the separations and meeting new people very well, because especially during the first year of life, a baby needs to attach to one primary parent figure and does not need the separation anxiety that comes from being toted from one home to another.

Although no two babies are alike, their needs for affection, consistency, and physical care are the same. To a new-born, mother and father are security; mother and father are the people the baby learns to rely on to be always there for him. For that feeling of security to develop properly, a baby needs constancy. Since in its essence divorce harms that constancy, parents need to put their differences aside and step in to make life as easy as possible for their baby; therefore, it is highly advisable for the divorced parents to allow the baby to stay with only one of them while the other parent pays daytime visits frequently.

A baby’s sensory tools are very sharp, especially when he is too little to learn communication through words. He senses the changes in his surroundings and the negative or positive feelings exchanged inside a room.

The divorced parents, no matter what their differences, need to be able to talk to each other in a civilized manner making their baby’s needs their priority. If one of the parents has an emotion control problem, then the other parent can see the baby in a more neutral environment such as in a friend’s house or a public place like a park or a diner with the baby’s primary parent present, since people are less likely to act out in a public place.

Important tips for divorced parents during visitation in their baby’s first year of life:

1. Stick to the business of parenting, even if you are suffering or you feel angry or you wish to act upon an ulterior motive like encouraging your ex to come back. Do not ever attempt to use the visitation time with the baby for a possible reconciliation.

2. Do not bring up past grievances; if you need to discuss any potentially explosive issues, for example child support, do it in a different time and place when the baby and the other children are not present.

3. Be honest and straightforward with your ex and stick to the issue at hand like teething or formula change. Especially when the baby and other children are there, don’t let any one issue lead you to a negative encounter. Your positive behavior encourages your ex to act the same way.

4. Be ready to compromise. If the visitation time and place needs a change, try to accommodate your ex.

5. Respect each other. By respecting each other, you are also teaching respect to your baby and other children if you have them

6. If you can, try to develop empathy for your ex. Try to imagine his or her difficulties.

7. If you have other children with the ex, stay away from giving them the finer details of your relationship with the ex. If the other children act on negative knowledge, that will affect the baby.

8. Do not feel guilty about the divorce and do not base your actions upon guilt feelings. If it was at all possible, you would make your marriage work; plus, children with happily divorced parents are better off than those children in an unhappy marriage.

9. If your ex has a new partner, try to establish a friendly relationship. The new partner will have an important role in your children’s lives.

10. Do not worry too much for things you cannot control. Babies are sturdy. Even if they are stressed earlier in life, they will develop well when their circumstances are improved.

Divorce and Its Implications: As Shared By A Family Lawyer From Tampa

There has been a surging rate in the number of divorce cases in Tampa and the rest of the country. The rising trend for divorce is not only an isolated case within the circle of celebrities as we often see in the television. Divorce has been increasingly moving closer to home.

According to a well-known family lawyer and divorce lawyer from Tampa, this phenomenon does not only affect the parents who are the main subjects of every divorce proceedings. It also has significant and oftentimes adverse effects on their children.

According to recent studies quoted by the divorce lawyer and family lawyer specializing on family law, dissolution of marriage, modifications, paternity, custody, visitation, and child support, only 60% of adult children whose parents have divorced actually get married. Of this percentage, an astounding 40% ends up getting a divorce, too. The figures are very alarming compared with the 9% divorce rate of children from non-divorced parents.

Of course, she adds, that there are also personal issues that attribute to these statistics. But these personal problems have been seen as constantly occurring to children with divorced parents. Such is the implication of the social phenomenon called divorce.

So why do people seek divorce in the first place? There are many reasons that can be cited, but our divorce lawyer from Tampa cited three most fundamental reasons and how couples can move away from them:

1. Lack of communication

This is perhaps the biggest reason of most couple who go their separate ways. As soon as the lines of communications fail, you are sure to place the marriage on the rocks. A person who cannot discuss their feelings, cannot talk about issues concerning his or herself, will have a hard time maintaining a relationship. As the family lawyer in Tampa has said, you cannot expect your partner to be able to read your mind and guess whatever it is that you are thinking or feeling about.

2. Improper conflict management

There are four cornerstones when it comes to creating conflict and managing it. these four are based on how to look at criticism, defensiveness, contempt, and stonewalling.

Couples who are bound to get irreconcilable differences are those who say these statements respectively: Who do you think you are? Why is it always about me, what about what you did, if you did any? You have no right to say that I am better than you! I can’t believe you are saying this!

Instead of focusing on these negative emotions, the family lawyer in Tampa recommend to focus on these thoughts instead: criticize constructively, take responsibility instead of being defensive and blaming others, cultivate culture of appreciation, and teach oneself to take 20 to 30 minutes time outs before making another round of argumentation.

3. Loss of intimacy

Intimacy is closely linked to open communication lines and it is an important factor for every relationship to work. Intimacy does not necessarily refer to sexual activities. In fact, some couple who may have an active sex life but who are intimate emotionally are more prone to separation.


A Guide For Parenting Divorce

Divorce is a hot issue in today’s family system. It creates issues that affect not only the parents but the children and society as whole. Whatever the circumstances may be, it is the children that are usually most affected by the ravages brought about by separation.

Emotional repercussion and conflicts can be somewhat avoided if parents will work hand-in-hand to rebuild their relationship to as normal a state as possibe. While the marriage may have failed, it is important that the children sense at least a civil relationship between their parents. The children must maintain a relationship with both parents after a divorce, and it does no good for them to hear each parent degrading the other.

This attitude of cooperation can work very well, in theory, if both parents are committed for their children’s sake.

It is very important, after divorce, that the children do not feel left-out and forsaken as a result of the failed marriage. More often than not, parents fail to understand the importance of a good relationship after they call it quits.

Rebuilding “family” after divorce is difficult, but through sheer commitment and understanding, both parents should be able to raise their children with hope and respect.

Rebuilding A Broken Relationship

For most people, a broken relationship will remain “broken” no matter what. But, through the course of time, and perhaps some counceling, parents learn to realize the importance of working out a relationship with their children after the failed marriage, as well as with their ex-spouce. It is important for divorced parents to maintain a cordial attitude with one another, especially when around the children, or when discussing issues that involve the children.

Being Involved

The process of “rebuilding” a broken relationship is difficult when both parents, together with their children, no longer feel comfortable with one another. While difficult, there are a limitless number of activities you can actually do in order to help get your relationship back to an acceptable condition.

a. Cook Out – Meeting the needs of your children cannot be fulfilled by financial settlements and other monetary-related obligations. Inexpensive activities such as a family cookout is a sure way of soothing relationships and maintaining respectful treatment of one another.

b. Outdoor Activities – A day at the park, a day at the beach, or even a shopping trip with your children is a good way for each parent to promote individual bonding with the children. This type of activity provides an opportunity for the non-custodial parent to track school activities and progress, catch up on their childs relationships, as well as the childs overall health.

c. Movies – Going to the movies provides a fun atmosphere for both the divorced parent and the children. This is a great way to spend some one-on-one time togeather and should not be overlooked.

d. Play Time – This activity is applicable for families where the children’s age range is from 3 to 10. This is also a perfect time for both parents to share a bonding activity with their children, and somewhat minimizes the effects of divorce on younger children.

e. Educational Field Trips – Security is everybody’s business, especially in divorced families. More and more families are beginning to accept the culture of togetherness, even when divorced, as an opportunity to help the children to feel as secure as possible under the circumstances.

There really is only one main point here; it is the divorced parents responsibility to put aside their differences in order to minimize the bad effects their divorce will have on their children.

Avoiding the Common Causes of Divorce

Asia - Indonesia / Sulawesi - Torajaland


Funny and ridiculous as it may seem, but some people will tell you that the main reason why couples divorce is their marriage. Some couples who may have lived together prior to getting married will soon discover that they were better off together as a live-in couple, rather than the married couple that they are now. Strange, but not that difficult to understand.

There is also the misconception that children of divorced parents become better at their own marriages and very seldom end up divorced. The truth is most children who witnessed their parents’ divorce may also end up divorced themselves. Although they may vow not to make the same mistakes their parents have done in the past, some people who are children of divorced parents seem to have developed an apathy towards it, that they no longer find it a threat which needs to be avoided at all costs.

There are many other possible reasons why a couple would end up in divorce, but the most common one seems to be the lack of communication between partners. It is not rare to hear a wife blame her husband for focusing too much on his career, that he spends very little time at home with her and the children. In the same manner, you would often hear some husbands blame their wives for neglecting him and pouring all her time to the children and maybe her career. Yet, all these things can be avoided if the couple has taken the time to sit down together and discuss things in a loving way.

Communication is the binding element in a marriage. Some couples never really master the art of communicating their needs and desires to each other.

One of the most severe causes of divorce is if abuse constantly happens in the relationship. The word “abuse” is so general, and may happen in different ways. It may be verbal abuse, emotional, physical or sexual abuse, or even the abuse of toxic substances such as alcohol and drugs. If one partner is abusive, while the other one simply accepts the abuse, there is a need to consult professional advice, otherwise, this kind of relationship is bound to end in divorce.

Sexual incompatibility and financial issues also rank high among the common causes of divorce. The couple may have different views on sexual intimacy which may result to one partner being dissatisfied with the relationship and possibly end up having an affair. The other most common stressful area in a marriage is the way each partner spends money. People will always have different views when it comes to earning and spending cash, and if the couple has not met a common ground when it comes to finances, then most likely a divorce will happen.

There are other causes of divorce such as when the couple got married too soon. They may suddenly feel that the marriage is too restrictive because they are still very young. Sometimes different views on discipline for children may also be a big factor.

The best way to prevent a marriage from ending up in divorce is to address the problem as soon as it erupts, and not to wait for the time when the damage is too huge to be repaired. Keeping the communication open is the key to avoiding all other causes of divorce, and if couples can just be open to each other, then there will be lesser incidences of divorce.

S. Brooks is a specialized researcher focusing on providing valuable information & solutions for every day issues.

For More Information on this and related subjects & your copy of the “Nice Guy’s Guide to Finding the Ideal Woman” go to:

Help for Teens with Divorced Parents

Many teenagers feel they don’t have any contact with their parents, especially if their parents are divorced. When their parents get divorced they usually find another companion, and things start being rough for the kids, who feel they lost their family, the protection they had, the stability of their lives and the importance they had for their parents.

A very tragic situation begins when the divorced parents get married with divorced people that have kids from their first wedding and a real mess of brothers and sisters that don’t feel anything for each other start being part of the teens’ life, besides the mother-in-law and the father-in-law they acquire.

Since divorces as soon as their kids grow up are very common in our days, teenagers with divorced parents are very common everywhere and these numbers tend to increase because in modern times it’s very easy for anyone to get back the freedom they had before marriage (while in the past a divorce was a big adventure against society, which could not accept it) and most people don’t choose the right person when they get married. When they realize they made a big mistake by getting married to this wrong person, they have to wait the kids grow up a little bit at least, so that the children will be able to cope with their divorce.

And as soon as they feel their kids don’t need as much protection and care as they used to before, they don’t think twice-their freedom is the most important thing in the world! They need to have it back, no matter what!

With the divorce, teens have to accept seeing their mother dating another man and their father dating a girlfriend. A horrible competition between the kids and lovers begins. If the teens show their disgust , their parents don’t stop dating their companion; rather, they fight with their children, thinking that they are not trying to understand how they feel. So, instead of being supportive towards their kids, the parents ask for their kid’s support instead, in a matter that they cannot really help them with, because they are the ones that need help in this situation.

A lot of anger, nervousness, and misunderstandings ruin the teens’ life at the time when they are trying to experiment with their own freedom, like birds who finally grew up enough to fly by themselves.

Yet, they have no intention to do anything about the way they feel…

If you are one of them, I can help you with my knowledge. My experience with teenagers is extensive, and I can tell you how you can get rid of your uneasiness.

By interpreting many people’s dreams, I have very clearly seen their world, daily problems, psychic problems, mistakes and fears. So, the first thing I have to tell you is that nobody studies several subjects in order to specifically learn how to be a parent, and most people don’t even qualify for that rule, even though they have many kids and they may seem to be quite “good” parents.

My own parents were always fighting from the first days of my life, and they even made me participate in their discussions, asking me whom I would rather prefer to live with…I always felt that they were immature and I had to be very tolerant with them! I helped them get divorced when I was 14 years old because their lives together were a real disaster. They should never have married in their lives! And my existence was a very big irony that made them insist on living together, while one of them should have lived in the North and the other, in the South. There was no connection! Their personalities were totally different.

So, you’d better accept that many times a marriage can really be a very big mistake. It is a mistake that people make when they are young and foolish, but one they have to continue bearing if they have kids and a sense of responsibility toward them. Many parents simply get divorced as soon as they understand they have made a mistake, even if their kids are only babies at the time. Sometimes, they don’t have another choice…and we cannot blame anyone. Usually however, we see that many parents stay married only because they love their kids who need a family. They make a sacrifice for them, but it cannot continue forever.

We cannot say they are wrong because they decide to wait until their kids grow up, but we cannot say that their position is right either, because this way their kids are like terrible executioners who oblige them to live in their family’s prison. The solution would be a big comprehension of the situation from both sides and a decision to solve the existent problems. If parents and teens were united, they would find good solutions for their problems and nobody would feel so hurt, but what usually happens is that the divorced parents are enemies who only condemn one another…

My advice to you is to simply forget about your parents and try to live your own life without making their mistakes. Don’t provoke fights or try to compete with their girlfriends or boyfriends, don’t condemn them and don’t show them your revolt. In fact, don’t feel any revolt because nobody is responsible for marring the wrong person in their lives when they are too young and too ignorant. I wanted to avoid making this mistake very much, but I got married to the wrong person as well, even though I had my parent’s example to learn from. It’s very difficult to choose the person with whom you plan to live forever when you are only in the beginning of your life!

Accept your parents like you accept your own friends when they make mistakes. They are simply human beings, nothing more than mere human beings…

Try to understand how they feel and don’t demand anything. Focus only on your own behaviour and on what you want to achieve in your life. Take care of your future and learn a lot, without any complaint.

Christina Sponias continued Carl Jung’s research into the human psyche, discovering the cure for all mental illnesses. Learn more at  View profile

Should You Leave? The Research on Divorce and Children You May Not Know About

I see one woman in my practice who is married to a guy who is, for lack of a better term, a total stinker. He’s negative, controlling, unreliable, thinks screaming is a wonderful way of communicating, and is not just un-nurturing to her, but also to the children. And, to add insult to injury, he doesn’t even make a decent living, so the couple is always hand-to-mouth, which yields, of course, more screaming. I’m truly hard-pressed to come up with too many good reasons for my client to stay in the marriage, but she is determined to stay until her last child leaves the house, because, as she insists, “divorce is just terrible for the children.”

And I’m not here to stand on a soapbox and tell you how wonderful divorce is, and how it’s always the answer. There is enough proof in the form of life experience and clinical research to show that divorce can yield major and persistent damage to its children.

But I am a believer that sometimes divorce is the answer–and I have reason to believe–again from my experience and from research–that your children will survive your divorce. There is considerable and valid research by big people in the field that support the hypothesis that children of divorce just might turn out alright.

A July 13, 2003 article in USA Today by Karen Peterson entitled “Kids of Divorced Parents Straddle a Divided World” presents both sides of the argument surrounding how children may be impacted by divorce. It begins by asserting the damage done to children of divorce, which I read, but found overly familiar. Go ahead and read that first part, if you’d like, even if it reinforces all your dreaded beliefs about what divorce can do to children. The article quotes important researchers in the field, and there’s a point for each of their sides.

What catches my eye more and more, however, is the research indicating that children of divorced parents may not, in fact, do more poorly than their counterparts with married parents, despite society’s long-held beliefs to the contrary. So it’s the article’s second part that I found more intriguing. Sociologist Constance Ahrons, PhD, author of The Good Divorce,notes that there is “an accumulating body of knowledge based on many studies that show only minor differences between children of divorce and those from intact families, and that the great majority of children with divorced parents reach adulthood to lead reasonably fulfilling lives….” And, published after the USA Today article’s publication, is a second book by Dr. Ahrons, We’re Still Family, where Dr. Ahrons forcefully asserts that the majority of children from divorced homes believed their parents’ divorce had positive outcomes–not only for their parents, but for themselves, too.

And Joseph Nowinski, well-known clinical psychologist and author, while noting that a significant minority of children of divorce will exhibit problem behaviors, also remarks on the research that finds that three years after divorce, “the divorced children were, as a group, more similar to children of intact families than different. In other words, divorce does not invariably lead to psychological, social, legal or academic problems. At the three-year mark, the majority of children of divorce appear to have weathered the storm, psychologically speaking, and are no different from their non-divorced peers.”(See his June 20, 2011 web article, “Does Divorce Inevitably Damage Children?”)

And what seems to be a given in research is that subjecting children to ongoing high-conflict marriages does not in any way assure them of a better outcome than if their parents divorced. In fact, pre-divorce conflict is a major indicator in how well children will do post-divorce. Alan Booth and Paul Amato, Penn State researchers on marriage, divorce, and their effects on children, write in their February 2001 article in the Journal of Marriage and Family that recent studies that “…divorce among high-conflict couples appears to have a relatively benign or even beneficial effect.”

That’s a pretty strong word, that ‘beneficial,’ but if you and your spouse are emotionally and/or verbally abusive [real physical abuse, it goes without saying, requires divorce and protection], Booth and Amato are telling you that your kids might very likely do better if you divorce. It’s something pretty serious to think about.

And, finally, any discussion on the results of marriage–not just among children of divorce, but among the partners, too–needs to contend with E. Maivis Hetherington’s For Better or For Worse: Divorce Reconsidered. Hetherington is professor emeritus at the department of psychology at University of Virginia. She’s authored a number of books on child development, but is best known for her work on the effects of divorce and remarriage on children’s development.

After nearly 30 years of research that studied almost 1,400 families and more than 2,500 children, Hetherington found that about from 75-80% of children from divorced homes are “coping reasonably well and functioning in the normal range” and are successfully able to adapt to their new lives. I don’t find the idea of looking at potential for difficulty in 20-25% of these children particularly appealing, but Hetherington reminds us that it’s compared to 10% of children in non-divorced families who experience who experience major behavioral or academic problems. It’s true that that’s double, but if you’re putting your children through trauma with your and your spouse’s fighting every day, it seems more than likely that the statistics must come at least very close to evening out.

I never want to sound like an advertisement for leaving a life-partner, and it’s clear that divorce’s damage to children can be long-term and profound. But I truly question my patient’s decision to stay with her ‘stinker’ of a husband, and I believe her support for her staying and suffering–that it saves the children–may not bolster her remaining as much as she would think.

If you’ve asked should you stay or should you go, and come to the conclusion that you must go, I just wanted to make it clear that you should not perceive your move as necessarily ruining your children’s life. In fact, depending on whom you ask, it just might be ‘beneficial.’ Fancy that.

Candida Abrahamson is a Chicago-based mediator and counselor with a nation-wide practice via phone session. Besides mediating, she does family and couples therapy, grief and cancer counseling, and works on coaching clients in life management skills. Find out more about Candida at []. To read more of Candida’s thoughts on a variety of topics, check out her blog at

Parenting 101: Stroke Risk Higher for Kids of Divorce

Researchers in Canada who analyzed data from the 2005 Canadian Community Health Survey of over 13,000 Saskatchewan and Manitoba residents discovered an association between parental divorce and strokes in adults. University of Toronto gerontologist Esme Fuller-Thompson, PhD found the connection while studying a link between childhood abuse and health rates later in life. Research seems to indicate that kids of divorced parents are twice as likely to suffer from a stroke later in life. The findings in this research study are preliminary and have yet to undergo the usual “peer review” process.

When a couple decides to take the route of divorce and break up a family, the emotional toll on children is immense. With divorce rates around 50 percent of all marriages, it’s likely that as many as half of all children will be affected negatively by divorce. Whether that negative effect will change the future health of those same kids in their later adult years remains to be proven. But it does bring up some interesting topics for discussion.

The Profound Effects of Divorce on Children

The break-up of their single core relationship is obviously a stressful time for children. For younger children, the trauma can be especially difficult. Think about how much young children depend on and anchor the security of their own identity in the two most important people in their young lives. When those two people break apart or divorce, the traumatic effect on children can be devastating. Extreme emotional and psychological turmoil has been proven to have a physiological effect on kids. Some experts believe that exposure to extreme stress during childhood may actually change the physiology of how people react to stress in adulthood.

Stroke Risk Factors: Obesity, Smoking, and Divorced Parents

The link between divorce and stroke risk in kids whose parents divorced was apparent even when researchers took out the other known associated stroke risk factors – obesity, smoking, and diabetes. According to the researchers, this is the first time a link has been shown. They do not yet know why the divorce/stroke risk exists.

Perhaps children who experience divorced parents are more likely to grow up in poverty than those kids whose parents remain together. Growing up in poverty creates major risk factors that lead to many adult health conditions later in life. One thing is for certain; this research does not show that children of divorced parents are going to suffer strokes in their later adult years.

Adult Stroke Rates Likely to Lower Divorce Rate

While that’s not a likely outcome, it’s interesting to think about the effects such a finding might have on modern-day parents who are contemplating divorce. Would a couple actually reconsider divorcing if they knew the split might adversely affect the future health of their own children? Could children retroactively sue their own parents in court for medical expenses incurred by a divorce which happened years before?

What about a child of divorce who “loses it” and ends up going berserk with a gun on some school campus and killing others? Could the parents of those victims sue the divorced parents for damages? Most would probably agree that even if these findings do prove a link, most people would likely continue on in pursuit of divorce in spite of any future consequences.

Most certainly, parents who divorce cause high levels of stress and trauma in the lives of their children. Not to mention that divorce sometimes leaves kids with the benefit of only a single parent. That makes the parenting responsibilities of that single parent exponentially harder.

It’s tough enough to try and successfully raise kids when both parents are in a loving relationship and in agreement as to the methods by which their own kids will be raised. Why make it tougher by divorcing when there is even the slightest hope of reconciliation. I’m not saying that every divorce can be averted, but for the sake of our kids, it surely would be better if some parents in some circumstances did not divorce.


Kids of divorce have double the risk of stroke

Children of Divorce Face Higher Stroke Risk

50 years life experience (wisdom comes with age, right?). 25 years experience writing copy for ads, articles, marketing materials, publications, catalogs, and various radio/TV commercials, Ezine Articles Pla…  View profile

The impact of divorce on young children

A divorce can have various effects on children.  In some cases the children are much happier than when the parents were together as they are not living with the continual bickering & fighting amongst the 2 parents, but then in some cases it can be a very trying situation for a child.  However, it also depends on the age of the children.  If children are or were very young during the time of the divorce it generally has very little affect on them as they aren’t old enough to really see, know or understand and by the time they are old enough, they will have questions for one or both parties and hopefully at that stage both parties will be able to talk politely of the other party.

In the case of older children, well, they tend to be able to see, know and understand what is going on or has happened and in some, not all cases a child may tend to side with one parent over the other.  Sometimes as older children of divorced parents it can create a great deal more stress on the children, especially if their parents are not getting along.  There are instances when the children start to feel that the problem between both parents has something to do with them and that is definitely not the case, but to be able to convince any child of that is a task all its own.

The best thing for children who have to deal with divorced parents or parents in the process of a divorce is for the parents to try to be civil with one another, especially in the presence of the child or children.  Also, it is, as a rule of thumb, a good idea to sit down with your child or children and try as best you can to talk with them and just let them know that in no way is their divorce your fault.  Explain to them that they are loved by both of you and that the 2 of you will always be there for them regardless of whether or not you are married or divorced.  Children have divided loyalties regardless of any situation with their parents and if they feel that you are being open and honest with them and that the 2 of you are and will continue to work together in everyones best interest, then whether you are married or divorced the child or children will feel a bit better about the situation all the way around.

How Divorce Affects the Financial Aid Process

How to complete the FAFSA for a child of divorced parents

Unfortunate but true! When a marriage ends, children are affected the most. One of the issues concerning children of divorced parents is the payment of education costs, and financial aid. A court of law may award custody to one parent, which seems to imply responsibility for education expenses and the completion of the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). However, this implication causes confusion as the US Higher Education Act interprets the term custodial parent in a different manner.

Who shall fill the forms for FAFSA?

As implied above, the parent with the custody of child should complete the FAFSA. However, custody in this case does not mean legal custody awarded by the court; rather, the custodial parent is the one with whom the child lived for a longer time period in the previous 12 months.

Let’s take an example of Child C whose parents A and B have been divorced. In the case where C spends 180 days with parent A and the remaining 185 days with parent B in the previous year, FAFSA shall be filled out by parent B even if Child C’s legal custody was awarded to parent A by a court of law.

In a case where the child does not live with either of the parents but A fulfills most of C’s financial need, parent A should complete the FAFSA. This fact of provision of financial assistance should be represented on the concerned parent’s Income Tax Return as well.

If there is a tie between both of the criteria discussed above, then the College financial aid administrator shall determine who shall fill out the form based on the income of both the parents. Normally, the parent with the higher income is responsible for completion of the form.

How to calculate the time period of the last 12 months:

The period of the last 12 months does not imply last calendar year. Instead, it is the twelve months immediately preceding the date of application for financial aid. Elaborating on the above example of Child C, if the application is made on 12th January, 2010 then the period of 12 months shall start on 11th January 2009 to 12th January, 2010.

Criterion for Private College Financial Aid

The income and assets of the non-custodial parent is not taken into consideration for the FAFSA. Certain private colleges, however, do take into account the particulars of the non-custodial parent as well and require an additional form to be completed.

Specific Agreements

To avoid any confusion and disputes, it is always better to inform the college authorities about the possibility of divorce. In fact, an agreement should be made with the college clearly specifying which parent is liable for college fees and costs. This may provide some peace of mind to the child and the college as well.


Though there is the possibility of confusion as to who will bear the education expenses, children of divorced parents are at an advantage as well. Even though the income of only one parent is required to be oncluded on the FAFSA, the child may provide the particulars of the parent with the lower income also. This figure is used to calculate the EFC (Expected Family Contribution). The lower the EFC, the higher the amount of financial aid granted. However, it’s not prudent to mention the particulars of a parent with whom the child has little or no contact since form will need to be signed by the parent.