As my last post talked about the reasons and considerations and process women face when changing their last names post divorce, this latest post is about changing the last names of children post divorce.

When does it make sense to change a child’s name and how do courts in Colorado approach these requests? What might be the long term repercussions of changing a child’s last name?

Instances where a last name change might be appropriate:

This is another instance where a court must be involved. The Court has the ability to change a child’s name pursuant to the divorce or an allocation of parental responsibilities case. Although there is no specific law giving the Court the power to change a child’s name in a divorce or allocation of parental responsibilities case, the Appellate Court has ruled that “The trial court has the power, founded in the common law, to order a change of name of a minor child…” In re Marriage of Nguyen, 684 P.2d 258 (Colo. App. 1983).

Another way to obtain a name change for your child would be to file a Petition for a Name Change pursuant to §13-15-101, C.R.S.

After the Petition is filed, a hearing will be set for the Court to determine if the name change is in the best interests of the minor child.   A court has wide discretion in ordering a change of name and should not deny an application unless special circumstances were found to exist. Hammon v. County of Jefferson, 753 P.2d 743 (Colo. 1988).

The Court can consider a number of factors to determine if a name change is in the best interests of a minor child as follows:

If you are a parent and have gone through a divorce, what are your thoughts about changing your child’s last name? Can you think of additional factors or considerations not listed above?

A common, but less discussed divorce question is how a new relationship may change your parenting plan that you and your ex set up. In this month’s blog we look at legitimate reasons to be concerned about your ex’s new significant other. We’ll also talk about issues you may want to address when developing your parenting plan to head off potential problems later. Finally, we offer advice on when it’s time to talk with a divorce mediator to amend your parenting plan. 

First, what are NOT legitimate reasons to be concerned about your ex’s new love interest? 

Not liking the ex’s new partner isn’t a valid reason to disagree on child custody. There must be a significant reason to believe it would be detrimental to the children to be around to this new boyfriend/girlfriend.

Other reasons that are not valid when looking at changing a parenting plan include your concern that your child(ren) are becoming too close to him or her. Or maybe you don’t appreciate being kept in the dark. Maybe you found out about this person from your kids and not your ex. Unfortunate, yes, but not enough reason to involve outside parties. 

What are legitimate reasons to be concerned about your ex’s new relationship? 

Obviously, some causes for concern that may warrant amending the parenting plan include things like: the significant other has a criminal record, abuses drugs and or alcohol, or displays anger/violence around the children.

If the new partner is preventing you from being able to parent your children by not allowing you to speak with them or pick them up when it’s been agreed upon, that is also an issue. If your child’s physical or mental health is threatened by this person, that also rises to the level of getting a third party involved. 

Q: What if your child(ren) are being watched by this new partner when your ex is not present? 

A: Unless you included language to prevent this in your parenting plan, this is completely within your ex’s parental rights. Each of you has the  right to select a babysitter of his/her choosing for the child during your parenting time.

Issues you may want to address in your parenting plan to head off problems with new partners

Begin with the broad question, What happens when either of us enters a new relationship? 

As part of the development of your parenting plan, it is prudent to discuss issues that could negatively impact your co-parenting relationship with your ex. Issues such as:

A clearly written parenting plan provides parents and children with predictability and consistency; it also can prevent future conflict.  If you have a good relationship with the other parent, you may feel that you do not need a detailed plan. Even so, a parenting plan will be your guide if your relationship becomes less cooperative in the future. 

Advice when conflict arises with your ex's new partner

When to talk to a divorce mediator about your ex's new partner

Obviously, if the child(ren) are in any type of danger, it would be important to involve a lawyer or the authorities, depending on the nature of the issue.  

If you are noticing a deterioration in your co-parenting and/or communication with your ex, or if the children are expressing concerns that you determine may be valid, that is when it would be important to reach out to a mediator to discuss the issues before conflict escalates. You may not necessarily even have to amend the parenting plan. Just having a meeting with your mediator could reveal solutions you may have not thought of yet. 

If you are noticing any of these red flags related to your partner’s new love interest, give us a call to look over your parenting plan. While we can’t foresee every possible scenario, we can ensure that your child’s best interests are front and center and not being pushed on the back burner by your ex’s new partner. Give us a call at 303 468-5626 to discuss your individual situation. 

Recently, a very popular feature of the New York Times, Modern Love, featured an essay written by one half of a formerly married couple who share custody of their 8 year old and live under the same roof, albeit in different living quarters. There are various reasons why divorcing couples might consider co-habitation after divorce, but it does present some legal and emotional hurdles to clear. 

Consider the scenario if the couple has children requiring one spouse to pay child support to the other parent or if the court ordered that an ex-spouse pay alimony to the other ex-spouse. 

If theere's co-habitation after divorce, the support obligation may be altered to reflect the fact that the person paying the support or alimony is living with the recipient and reducing their expenses.

There are many pitfalls to consider when contemplating a post-divorce living arrangement involving sharing the family home once divorced.  That is why it is crucial to engage a CDFA-Certified Divorce Financial Analyst in your case. You will need someone who understands the potential tax and financial issues that can arise.

If you have children that you will be co-parenting, obviously it is not prudent to expose them to conflicts and fights that can occur over finances and/or the parenting plan.

Questions to Consider if You Plan to Live Together Post Divorce













So You Think Co-Habitation After Divorce Will Work For You and Your Ex

Perhaps you and your spouse feel this would be a workable living arrangement, and it may well be for your family--it just requires the proper planning involving the right expert up front.

We provide consultations to divorcing spouses about unique living situations like these. To flesh out your questions about cohabitation, schedule a 20 minute call with one of our experienced divorce professionals.

In this blog post we discuss "how" to tell your kids about divorce, “when” is the best time to tell them, and “what” to say.

Stu Webb, author of “The Collaborative Way to Divorce: The Revolutionary Method that Results in Less Stress, Lower Costs, and Happier Kids, Without Going to Court” wrote that “even under the best circumstances divorce is fraught with emotions but what is most important is how parents conduct themselves during divorce.”    

Rosalind Sedacca, CDC and founder of Child Centered Divorce is an expert divorce and parenting coach. She has dedicated her professional life to helping parents navigate divorce with the best interests of their children front and center. Through her in person or virtual sessions, e-books and other resources, she has been a great resource for our clients and divorcing families beyond the Denver metro area. 

We asked Rosalind the following questions to get a better idea of the how, when and what to say to your children about divorce.  

Question: How do I cope with the tears, anger and pain that my children will feel? 

Help them put what they are feeling into words and validate those words and let them know that you hear what they are saying and that you understand they’re sad/angry/hurt/confused. Ask follow up questions like, if you’re sad, do you need a little alone time? Or do you want to meet up with a friend? Don’t leave it open ended and say something like, “I know you’re sad, so what should we do about that?” Give them choices so they have control over how they will manage their feelings as they will likely feel a loss of control over what is happening between you and your spouse. 

Question: Should each parent try talking to the kids? 

No, it is imperative to have both parents present when you talk to your children about your divorce. 

Question: Why is it so important to project calm when talking to your children? 

Your attitude is everything and if you come off as anxious, stressed and upset, it is likely your children will sense that and even mimic it. David Code, who wrote the book Kids Pick Up On Everything: How Parental Stress Is Toxic To Kids, has made a career of pulling together the evidence from a handful of labs around the world, which have suggested that parents’ levels of chronic stress can seriously impact a child’s development.

Question: What kinds of messages do kids need to hear from divorcing parents? 

1) "This is not your fault." This is usually an issue for children 7 years old and under. During their early learning years most of their unpleasant experiences were their fault. "Don't touch" Don't hit" etc. They were learning acceptable behavior and the focus was on what they had done wrong. So it is natural to for them to blame themselves for the turmoil in the family.

2) You are and will be safe. Children crave reassurance and even if the word divorce is something they’re familiar with, they need to understand that it won’t place them in any kind of unsafe situation. Especially with young children, change must be approached gingerly as they are very used to “the way things are”

3) We will always be your parents even if we’re not married to each other. 

4) We will always love you even though the love between us has changed. It may help to distinguish between the kind of love between partners and the love children have for their parents. 

5) We are still a family beyond divorce. At the Divorce Resource Centre of Colorado, we recognize that while the marriage ends, the family bonds remain. Divorcing couples trust us to create a post divorce reality that respects these wishes. 

6) We’re working together to move through the divorce process and you can talk to both of us. 

You might need to reiterate the themes more than once, especially for younger children. 

Question: What do I tell them when they start asking 100 questions? 

You don't need to know all the details about who will spend which days with which parent, it’s not about digging into the details at this point, it is about making sure they understand the bigger picture. 

Even with older children, you still want to let them know you hear them and that their feelings are valid. 

It’s not just what you say, but how you say it. 

Remember that co-parenting will last for a lifetime. 

Question: Does divorce talk depend on the child’s age? 

Yes. A great resource that is age specific can be found here.  

Question: When is the best time to tell the child(ren) that we’re getting divorced? 

When you are both on the same page about doing what’s best for the children. You can’t tell them if one spouse doesn’t have respect for the other spouse’s role as parent. If one spouse is angry and unreasonable, the two of you should work on these issues before you can have the conversation with your children.  

Peaceful solutions are possible when you and your soon to be ex-spouse agree to put your personal feelings aside. This is tricky territory for parents and we recommend seeking a divorce coach like Rosalind Sedacca or the Divorce Resource Centre’s divorce coach, Suzanne Chambers Yates to help you approach these emotional issues with the clarity and focus they demand. To discuss divorce coaching services, or mediation in general, call 303-468-5626 or schedule a complimentary consultation

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