Tag Archives: divorced parents

Dr. Romance Video: Guidelines for Co-Parenting after Divorce

(To view video, click here.)

No matter how angry or hurt you may be after a divorce, if you have children, you’ll still share a lifetime with their other parent, your ex. Dr. Romance offers guidelines for moving past the anger and hurt, and finding a way to co-parent your children that is good for everyone.

Commonly, everyone feels wounded after a divorce. The divorced parents are going through feelings of failure, rejection, abandonment and loss. The children have similar feelings. All these hurt feelings lead to competitiveness, drama and recriminations. Divorced parents, in sharing custody, can retaliate against each other by making visitation difficult, bad-mouthing the other parent (or the new partner or step-parent) to the children, withholding child support and trying to get the children to deliver inappropriate messages to the other spouse, like “Mommy says you didn’t dress us right.”

Divorced parents can avoid these scenarios by using the following guidelines:

Dr. Romance’s Guidelines for Co-Parenting after Divorce

* Don’t React, Respond: When the other parent does something upsetting, take time to cool down before responding, and respond with a possible solution.

* Talk About It to safe people: Talk to other couples, to a therapist, to friends and to family to create more understanding and brainstorm about options. If you can find other couples who have resolved divorce differences, find out what they decided. Let off steam to safe people, so your children don’t experience your anger and frustration.

* Explain Your Ex’s Point of View: When talking about it to each other, or to someone else who is supportive, explain each other’s point of view, which will help you understand.

* Focus on Your Children: Keep your focus on what would be best for your children; and if they are old enough to understand, bring them into the discussion. Don’t try to persuade them to either side, but present the options as objectively as you can, and find out what your children think about it.

* Experiment: Be willing to try some experiments. Try it the way the other parent wants it, to see if it works. Try letting the children decide how they want it to be, within reason.

* Avoid Right/Wrong Discussions: Arguing about who is right or wrong will not solve anything. Instead, work on understanding what is important to each of you, then finding a way to incorporate that and resolve your differences. Focus on the problem only long enough to understand what it is, then switch the focus of your discussion to what will work, and what will solve the problem that both of you can live with your mutual decision.

* While the kids are small, still do some family activities with all of you together.

* Introduce new partners slowly and very cautiously, hopefully time will pass before you do this. Don’t spring a new partner on your spouse or your children. Don’t say “This is your new Stepmother (Stepfather).” That will set you up for disaster.

While this takes some self-control, and isn’t easy, it is worth learning to handle your situation in a grown-up manner, and keep what’s best for the children in mind. You’ll all be a lot happier, and your kids won’t be left with burdens from your mistakes.

For more information about how not to fight, see Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting about the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage


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.


1. http://www.finaid.org/questions/divorce.phtml

2. http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/help/ffdef07.htm