File for an Online Divorce Are eDivorces Really a Thing and Three Ways to Get One

File for an Online Divorce Are eDivorces Really a Thing and Three Ways to Get One

File for an Online Divorce

Are eDivorces Really a Thing and Three Ways to Get One

The 21st Century is all about saving time and convenience. We can get married in Las Vegas through a drive-through. We shop online for grocery deliveries, pay our bills and bank online, and do many other things online. It isn’t surprising that you can now file for divorce on the Internet.

What Is an Online Divorce?

An online divorce is when paperwork is legally prepared with the help of online forms to end a marriage. Typically, a service will act as an intermediary between you and your local court system and will file all appropriate documents on your behalf. An online divorce is legal and only allowed for uncontested divorces. An uncontested divorce is when both people want to get divorced and have a speedy, unhindered process.

How Does It Work?

Go to an online service such as LegalZoom or WeVorce and go through a step by step process. The paperwork will address all aspects of the divorce.

You will verify that you and your spouse actually want the divorce. Then you will go through a marital settlement agreement that includes a division of property, debt division, child custody, alimony, child support, a child agreement, etc.

Everything is taken into consideration and documented so both spouses have access to the online divorce documents. Easy to follow instructions are given on how to file these papers with the court.

The websites that prepare the paperwork often can’t file the divorce for you. If you do need help filing, then they’ll refer you to a professional. Depending on the laws in your state, you may have to appear in court for a hearing.

Usually, an uncontested divorce doesn’t require a court appearance, but there are exceptions. Once a judge signs your divorce decree, you may wait a few weeks to receive a copy, and when you do then you can consider yourself officially divorced after your state’s applicable waiting period (if any).

How Much Does It Cost?

It varies on the service you’re using but an uncontested divorce is a fraction of the cost of most contested divorces. Lawyers often aren’t necessary in uncontested divorces, and an eDivorce may actually save you thousands of dollars.

According to LegalZoom.com the average contested divorce ranges from $15,000 to $30,000. If you have a simple uncontested divorce then it can be as little as $250 to $500.

Who Actually Qualifies for an Online Divorce?

Surprisingly a lot of everyday people are getting them. Nora Gibson and Mark Kormylo of Boise, Idaho used WeVorce to file for divorce. They had a 12-year-old child at the time and didn’t want to go through a nasty divorce as others that have gone through.

“We had both heard horror stories of screaming across attorney’s tables and this seemed like a much more cordial way to end our marriage,” said Kormylo.

More than 250 couples that have gone through WeVorce and the company claims that they’ll make $16 million in revenue.

This isn’t a new phenomenon, back in 2003 CompleteCase.com and LegalZoom.com each said they have served 20,000 customers throughout the U.S. in less than three years of operation (at that time).

How do I get an Online Divorce?

We recommend online legal services that will guide you step by step, and create court documents for you. Let’s look at the online services in more detail.

LegalZoom.com

  • Both spouses will get all the completed documents.
  • Easy filing instructions.
  • A marital settlement agreement.
  • A parenting plan that includes your child agreement.
  • A financial child support document.
  • Name change for your wife if she desires to go back to her maiden name.
  • Free revisions for 30 days and free delivery of your entire order.
  • Customer service throughout the entire process.

A peace of mind review. LegalZoom will contact you via email and the telephone and fact check with you, that everything is accurate. All the given information will be verified to be correct or corrected, and that it complies with your state’s laws. The peace of mind review isn’t available in Missouri.

A standard package starts at $299, but it excludes court filing fees.

WeVorce.com

  • Both spouses will get all the completed documents.
  • 1 hour free consultation ($149 value) if you choose to file
  • Before filing the divorce, you can schedule a free 20-30 minute consultation
  • Easy filing instructions.
  • A marital settlement agreement.
  • A parenting plan that includes your child agreement.
  • A financial child support document.
  • Additional consulting services.
  • Mediation services.
  • Customer service throughout the entire process.

A standard package starts at $749, but it excludes court filing fees.

WeVorce does things a little differently from LegalZoom. You fill out a free profile and Wevorce will ask you basic questions about your current situation. What makes WeVorce unique is that they use an algorithm for each couple. It’s similar to how Netflix will make recommendations based on your preferences.

Once you fill out your profile WeVorce gives you a likely scenario of the possible outcome of your divorce. Your profile will also include advice on your divorce readiness, the financial impact, and behavioral indicators based on your archetype.

There are similar alternatives such as CompleteCase.com and UsLegalForms.com but they pretty much offer similar services to LegalZoom and WeVorce.

The D0-It-Yourself Version of an Online Divorce

Maybe you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse have already had the talk and are in agreement with what you both want to do in regards to your divorce, property, children, pets, etc.

You both want an uncontested divorce and want to bypass lawyers and even third party websites such as the ones we mentioned because they might be too expensive for you.

eDivorcePapers.com will actually provide you free divorce and papers for you state. They provide all the basic forms to end your marriage and come to a marital settlement agreement. There are also instructions on how to complete the forms and file them with the court.

Also, you may even get your divorce court fees waived if you can show financial difficulties to the court.

Although eDivorcePapers.com doesn’t offer a sophisticated algorithm, mediation or consultations, and it’s best for those that know they are going to have a simple, fast, uncontested divorce. They do offer basic divorce advice and refer you to divorce lawyers should you need them.

They don’t really offer customer service as the other websites do, the only way to reach them is through an email.

In Closing

Divorce is messy, costly, and traumatic for both parents and children. Actress Lena Headey claimed to have less than $5 dollars in her bank account a couple of years ago, even though she acts on Game of Thrones and makes six figures.

She explained that she was going through a rough divorce and was fighting for custody of her son. She eventually got back on her feet but not everyone has a six figure salary to fall back on.

Here at Guyvorce we recommend that you avoid an expensive divorce as much as possible and that you settle your divorce amicably. We would prefer that you focus your energy on rebuilding your new life. 

Remember that these services are actually helping you represent yourself in court. They’re not acting as your legal lawyers. If you feel it’s best to consult a lawyer at any point even if it’s only for one session during your uncontested divorce then go with that.

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Overcoming Perfectionism in Relationships Three Ways It's Ruining Your Love Life

Overcoming Perfectionism in Relationships Three Ways It's Ruining Your Love Life

Overcoming Perfectionism in Relationships

Three Ways It’s Ruining Your Love Life

Are you a difficult person to live with?

I recently heard an interview with a man who was discussing newlyweds. He said that when an engaged person answers “No” alarm bells start ringing and he wonders how prepared they are for marriage.

We are all – to some degree – difficult to live with. Some of us however can be excruciatingly difficult to live with. We are the perfectionists of this world.

Now, if you live with a perfectionist you’re probably nodding in agreement. If you are a perfectionist yourself, you are likely outraged. I bet you’re thinking, Living with a perfectionist is difficult? Really? Try being a perfectionist! Our lives are never easy.

Yes, ok…maybe we do nag all the time but in fairness to us, if you would just put the milk back on the right shelf in the fridge and load the dishwasher the right way then we wouldn’t have to nag you – ever!

If you are cheering right now then read on – this article is for you. Just prepare for some hard truths before you do.

Are you ready to hear all about how overcoming perfectionism can change your life?

Ok my perfectionist friends, I’m going to let you in on a little secret…you are a total pain to live with.

There’s good news though! If you live with your partner then she must really, really love you. If you don’t have a partner right now, consider that your perfectionism may be part of the reason why. 

There are three ways in which your perfectionism might be ruining your relationships.

1. The (not-so-constructive) Criticism

Have you ever seen The Ugly Truth? There is a scene toward the end where Katherine Heigl’s boyfriend surprises her with champagne and she promptly explains that she is actually a control freak. In her speech she starts to criticize the way he ordered for her in a restaurant and champagne not being chilled. I think you can immediately see that she is off to a bad start.

Now I know this is a fiction but we are all guilty of it in real life.

Perfectionism can make us so self-involved that we forget completely about our partners. Take the time my boyfriend cooked me dinner and instead of starting with a thank you the first thing I did was take some food of my plate and say, “I don’t like that.”

Yep – I’m a terrible person! Have you ever done something similar?

Constructive criticism is perfectly fine but often times we skip the constructive and just pile on lots of criticism. Overcoming perfectionism doesn’t mean you have to let go completely. More or less, you learn to choose your battles (more on how to do that here) and ditch the all-or-nothing mindset.

2. The Hovering

I’ve heard a story about a woman whose husband helped change the baby’s diaper from day one. All her friends were shocked and wanted to know how she got him to do it. They all said, “My husband tried once and never did it again.”

“Well how did it go the first time?” asked the woman.

“Terrible” responded her friend, “I had to take over and do it myself.”

“That’s why” replied the woman.

It turns out that this woman had left her husband alone the first time he tried to change a diaper. It took him a while but he eventually got the hang of it and proceeded to share diaper duty with his wife.

It’s not surprising that the guy whose wife hovered over him and took over never wanted to try again.

Now let me ask, how often do you complain about your partner not helping out? Whether it’s with the kids, the chores, the bills, whatever it is.

And how often, when they do try to help with those things, do you just complain that they’re not doing it right or take over from them?

So can you really blame them for not trying? They know it will never be good enough for you so why would they waste their time? It’s easier and less painful just to listen to the nagging.

You may think I’m a traitor to perfectionists everywhere for saying this but, there is no right way to load the dishwasher or fold the laundry. You have your way and everybody else has theirs. No method is any more right than another.

If you want help, then you have to be willing to receive it. If you don’t want help, then just bite your tongue and learn to accept it anyway.

 

Your partner loves you and wants to help, to make a contribution. Isn’t it time you let them? You wouldn’t give back a gift so why push back when they try to help you?

The Double Standard

A key element of perfectionism is holding yourself to a higher standard than those around you. I know this seems like a good thing but it really isn’t.

How would you feel if you offered to help a friend and you knew that the reason they turned you down was because they thought they could do it better?

Well that’s exactly how your partner feels because you’re effectively telling them that they are less than you – less organized, less committed, less able.

Have faith in your partner and set realistic expectations for yourself, it will make everybody happier in the long run.

Don’t let your relationship become the collateral damage of your perfectionism. Let go of the idea that your way is the right way. Stop hovering and criticising – it will make your partner more likely to participate. Accept help from your partner. Say thank you (even when you think they did it wrong). First and foremost, love your partner and appreciate them for living with your perfectionism – it’s not easy for them either!

Overcoming perfectionism, while not easy, will help you get more out of your personal relationships. You’ll see you’re fulfilled when you realize your partner (or potential partner) is just as capable of of mastering your world as you are.

Are you a perfectionist? Have you worked to overcome perfectionism in your relationships? What tips worked for you?

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The Truth about Foreign Divorce Uncovering What's Legal, What's Not

The Truth about Foreign Divorce Uncovering What's Legal, What's Not

The Truth about Foreign Divorce

Uncovering What’s Legal, What’s Not

A friend of mine from Russia visited me the other day. She is recently divorced, like me, and we started exchanging our divorce “war stories.” One thing I found fascinating from our conversation is that Russia only has a one month waiting period to finalize a divorce.

Here in Illinois, couples without kids have a six month waiting period, while couples with kids have a two-year period. The difference between those two astonished me.

The conversation also had me thinking about how divorce laws differ in other countries. While most have similarities, here are a few places where foreign divorce laws differ from ours.

Foreign Divorce Rules in 10 Countries

1. Australia

Let’s start with a country similar in respects to the United States. In Australia, the Sixth Part of the Family Law Act of 1975 dictates the dissolution of marriage.

The biggest requirement for getting divorced in the land down under is one or both parties need to qualify for one of the following four items:

  • Australian Citizens by birth or descent
  • Intend to live in Australia indefinitely
  • Currently have Australian citizenship
  • Live in Australia for at least the previous 12 months prior to the divorce. This excludes holidays and business trips.

Once you meet these requirements, The Federal Circuit Court of Australia requires that you live “separately and apart” for the previous 12 months with no intention of resuming married life.

2. Philippines

One of the last countries on Earth that still bans divorce. There are a few exceptions, such as a divorce to a foreign national in another country. The Filipino citizen can remarry in this case.

However, Filipinos citizens who divorce in other countries are still considered legally married in the Philippines.

Most Filipinos must opt for either legal separation or annulment. The process is a difficult and costly.

To be legally separated you need to prove your spouse has partaken in one of the following activities:

  • physical abuse
  • drug or alcohol addiction
  • homosexuality
  • infidelity

To get an annulment you must prove your spouse committed fraud or is mentally incapable of marriage.

3. Malta

Another one of the last holdouts to legalizing divorce. The tiny country is 98% catholic.

They even voted on a referendum to keep divorce illegal in 2011. The decision made them the last Catholic hold out for no divorces in Europe.

The country has a lot of the same laws as the Philippines, except Malta respects their citizens divorces that happen in other countries.

4. Egypt

Egypt has made some progress in the last few years, although it is still dicey. The good news is that divorces became legal in 2000. That bad news is women have trouble getting equal access to the law in this Muslim country.

Additionally, women must give up all property, and financial rights along with repaying their family’s dowry.

However, it is a big step forward from when women were not allowed to divorce unless in extreme cases. Men on the other hand used to be able to follow Islamic Law. All they needed to say was “I divorce you” three times to the end the marriage along with a notice to the government.

5. Japan

Japan has efficiency down to a science even when it comes to divorce. Couples simply fill out and sign a one-page form. No court needed. Can you imagine how much anguish this would cause attorneys in the United States?

A major hiccup in this process is they do not establish parental custody in the divorce.

One interesting rule that guys like is that divorced women must wait six months before they remarry. Men on the other hand can remarry the next day.

6. United Kingdom

Across the pond, divorce is fairly similar. However, they do have a few differences.

One of them is that to obtain a divorce you need to be married at least one year and your relationship must be completely broken.

The process is simpler in the UK. It takes three steps:

  • File divorce petition – Ask the court to divorce and state your reasons.
  • Apply for a decree nisi – Decrees nisi is a fancy way to say both parties agree to the divorce terms.
  • Apply for a decree absolute – The dissolution of marriage. You must wait 6 weeks after the nisi to get this decree.

7. Italy

The home of Catholicism has a bumpy history with the big D.

Fortunately, over the past few years lawmakers loosened the rules on divorce. This for a country that banned divorce until 1970. Back then they appeased the church with a 5-year separation period.

Yet, last year lawmakers reduced the waiting period from 3 years (1987 update) to 6 months with uncontested marriages. It turns out Italian politicians were attempting to reduce bureaucracy versus the waning influence of the church.

Finally, EU law requires Italy to respect divorces performed in other European countries. Many have been skirting the law in favor of quickie divorces in other parts of the EU for years.

8. China

Here’s one interesting component of Chinese divorce law. If you owned any property before being married, or you received it from a parent, the property is not considered communal property. Also, if only one spouse is on the deed, they are the only ones with rights to the property afterwards.

Plenty of American men (and women) wish they had this law, since previous property can still be considered communal in some cases.

On the flip side, this rule is a huge disadvantage to women who usually do not have a say in the home. Usually the man or the man’s parents provide the home to live in when they marry.

9. Brazil

Divorce became legal in this Roman Catholic Country in 1977. By 2010, they had a modern set of rules governing divorce. This included abolishing the 1-year separation requirement. Currently couples without underage or incapable children just need a notary to perform the divorce.

10. India

The country divorce laws vary based on your religion. Therefore, whether you are Hindu, Muslim, or Christian you might have different laws governing your decisions.

For example, the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 governs the reasons for divorce. Here are a few reasons to ask for divorce:

  • Cruelty
  • Adultery
  • Renunciation of Hinduism
  • Venereal disease
  • Leprosy
  • Joining a religious order
  • My personal favorite is disappearing off the map of the world for 7 years or more, and they do not know if you are alive or dead.

Final Thoughts

After reviewing different marriage laws around the world, it is clear the world is coming to see divorce in a more uniformed manner. That said, differences still exist from country to country.

These variations make it impossible to get divorced in Catholic Malta; however, a relatively simple administrative task in Italy today.

The coming years will probably make these laws even more universal as countries take cues from each other on how to proceed with divorce cases.

In the meantime, let us know your thoughts on which foreign divorce laws are the best and/or worst in the comments below.

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The Father’s Day Manifesto to Raising a Teenage Daughter How to Love Your Unlovable Child Through the Most Difficult Time of Her Life

The Father’s Day Manifesto to Raising a Teenage Daughter How to Love Your Unlovable Child Through the Most Difficult Time of Her Life

Nothing compares to raising a teenage daughter. There’s just nothing at all like it. Trapped between the whimsy of childhood and yearning for freedom and adulthood, they’re hardly people!

It’s Father’s Day, and I’m writing this at the tail end of sitting on the sidelines of an argument between my 13-year-old daughter, Ana, and her dad. Outwardly, these two have little in common. She looks more like her paternal grandfather (her dad’s dad) and me. Inwardly, however, she’s the spitting image of her father. They think in the same ways, act alike, and share a love of art.

None of that matters when our hearts are broken, does it? She loves her dad, and he, her. They’re just too much alike, and when you-know-what hits the fan, neither is willing to give in. He’s right. She’s right. And both are unwilling to yield. It’s been this way forever with those two, but she’s growing up. She needs to feel that her dad is on her team.

Are you raising a teenage daughter? Here’s what you need to know to do it right.

Respect Their Boundaries

Guys are territorial. It’s not just guys. Women are, too. We spend our lives nesting and renesting to shape our world the way we think it should be. It starts in our teens and follows us into adulthood. If the boundaries of our established “sandbox” are violated, or we anticipate, they could be, hell hath no fury like a woman who fails to defend her space.

Our world starts and ends with our space. Where we belong. It’s part of who we are. Without having a firm grip on that, on our foundation, we can’t move forward. It’s like we’re stymied by being unsure of ourselves. Our space (be it our room, bed, or sleeping spot on the carpet), is where we’ll go to find comfort and escape.

Don’t trust your kid because she’s always doing the wrong thing, or she mistakes that inch you give her for a mile? That’s likely the reason she backtalks, fights about nothing, and goes from zero to crazy in two seconds. She’s looking for her refuge. And she won’t stop looking until she finds it. Be it with you, her mother, or with that stupid-looking boy you’ve caught wind of, she’ll find it anywhere she can.

The Solution

My kids all share rooms because I live in a 3-bedroom apartment. Privacy is hard to come by. But I let my children live their lives as independently as possible. Most of them journal religiously. And I’ve never read their entries. None of what’s written on those pages is for me. Each of my kids is trying to figure out who they are. Their identities are their own. My job is to love them regardless of who they are. And I do.

Secondly, I don’t go through their belongings. If I need something from them, I ask. Growing up, I hated when I’d take off for school in the morning and return to a mysteriously clean room. Like a porcupine, my quills would all rise up on alert. Inevitably, I’d end up in trouble for something I wrote. It felt like I was wrong no matter what I did. And it stuck with me.

The only way to trust your kid is to trust them. Either you do, or you don’t. It’s that simple. There’s no try.

When Raising a Teenage Daughter, Remember That She’s Just a Child

Despite the bras, sanitary napkins, and fascination with the moment’s latest teen heartthrob, she really is a little girl. She lacks the capacity to make intelligent decisions.

Ever wonder why you got that auto insurance discount when you turned 25? You can thank the arrival of your prefrontal cortex for that! Say it with me, “Thank you, brain…”

I won’t give you a biology lesson here, but just know that until she reaches her mid-twenties, she’ll struggle with her:

Attention span – Feel like your kid doesn’t listen to anything you told her to do? Do you find yourself repeating the same thing over and over only to explode when she does something completely different from what you asked? Mm- hmm.

Complex planning – Ever wonder why your teen asked you to drop her off at her friend’s house who lives, “just down the road.” Then, when you’re in the car, ready to drive and you type in her buddy’s address you find out it’s actually across town? It’s happened to me.

Decision making – Is she smart as a whip, but doesn’t understand common sense stuff like making sure she has her backpack with her before leaving for school? Our prefrontal cortex helps us think logically and make periodic assessments of the world around us.

Personality development – She literally isn’t who she used to be just a few short years ago. Technically, she isn’t anyone for a bit. Teenage brains are missing the components of self-identity.

The Solution

Until your teen gets to that golden age of thinking beyond the world of her protective fishbowl, she needs you and her mom to guide her and help her make decisions. Guide her through the rough spots with actionable advice. Hear her out even if all she has to offer are excuses and whines.

Choose Your Battles Wisely

Write this down: Do not nitpick at your kid! Not everything requires a discussion. If she forgot to do the dishes, tell her. Don’t yell at her and throw her 3 AM sandwich in her face. Just tell her about her mistake like you’re telling her about the weather.

If she does it over and over again, don’t flip out. Dishes won’t burn down the house. Handle it the same way you’d want her to handle you. Talk to your kid. Set reminders on your smartphone to remind her about the dishes, so it doesn’t get out of hand.

Save the hash-slinging for the great and terrible 10s. Dishes aren’t more than a four, at best. Sneaking out with her boyfriend, yeah, that’s a 10. Forgetting to do the laundry, that’s a four.

The more you handle the small stuff the right way, the easier it’ll get. It’s not an overnight thing, and depriving her of friends, family, and her phone works, but not for long. Teens are headstrong. There’s only so much you can take away. And if you make it a you-versus-her thing, you’ll never come back from it. Instead, play on her team. After all, you want her to find someone to share her life with who loves her like you do. Teach her that.

And Above All, Love Her Through It

You might not think it’ll happen, but one day, you’ll need her. And these years are her formative years. She doesn’t know your point of view. She’s physically incapable of seeing any other view or opinion or side of an argument other than her own. You’re the adult. You have a prefrontal cortex, so you can understand what I’m saying.

If you do nothing else in your life, be there to love her through her antics. Anger solves nothing. She could cut you with words you never even thought of. Don’t egg her on with jabs and insults.

No matter how stupid you think her social life is, ask her about it. Who are her friends? What do they like? What nonsensical crap have they gotten themselves into? All of it matters because each of these has shaped her.

Raising kids, especially raising a teenage daughter is supposed to be difficult. If you’re not exhausted, pissed off, or disappointed at least once per day, you’re doing it wrong. You get mad because you care. I know that, but at 32 some would say I have a mostly-developed brain. 🙂

And after doing the parenting thing for over half my life, I appreciate dads. I know what it takes to do the job right. You stuck around. That says a lot! You’re still in and still fighting to raise a productive, independent woman with her own life. She’ll have a teenaged mind for awhile but not forever. So dig in. And like Winston Churchill said, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” You’ll be fine.

Are you a dad struggling to understand your teen? How do you handle the good and bad that comes at you when you’re raising a teenage daughter? Let us know in the gray comments section below!

 

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Child Abuse Warning Signs for Dads How to Get Closer to Your Kids' and Spot Early Warning Signs

Child Abuse Warning Signs for Dads How to Get Closer to Your Kids' and Spot Early Warning Signs

Child Abuse Warning Signs for Dads

How to Get Closer to Your Kids’ and Spot Early Warning Signs

Kids are under so much pressure when they are growing up, and that has never been more true today in a world that seems to be moving faster and faster and getting more harsh by the day.

They face pressures at school, pressures at home, and every child handles their emotions differently. Some lash out, some retreat or a combination of both, and it can be hard to know what you’re dealing with underneath surface behaviors when the going gets rough.

Family changes in a divorce are hard to navigate, as everyone is outside of their comfort zone and reacting in their own natural ways. It’s easy to put everything on autopilot as you get a feel for a new normal in survival mode and lose touch with your kids.

But there has never been a more important time to stay close with them. Dads are such a vital part of a child’s the sense of security and guidance. Kids need to know that they are safe and loved. A dad’s presence and a dad’s concern for a child’s well-being is everything to a child.

Would you know if something was seriously affecting your child? Would you be able to sense that something isn’t right and be able to ask the right questions to get to the heart of what’s wrong? Would your children come straight to you if something was hurting them? Would you know the difference between a child that’s just having a bad day versus a child that’s facing something serious?

Get to Know Your Kids’ Behaviors

It isn’t always the case that a child would want to talk about everything with their parents. So it’s our job to make sure we create the best possible foundation for that to happen. And we do that simply by keeping a close relationship with them, and making sure they know we care.

Learn to read your child’s behaviors. Stay in tune with them so you’ll know when something isn’t right. When a child is having a bad day, the behaviors are temporary and will pass. It’s the recurring behaviors you need to watch out for.

I personally had several recurring behaviors in adolescence that I wasn’t even truly aware of, that were mistaken for regular teen angst, and understandably so. But there was something much deeper going on. I was a victim of sexual abuse, and my mother truly didn’t know.

Different children react to things differently. Being emotional and acting out is a typical trait that certainly goes along with regular teen angst, but if you suspect that something bigger might be going on with a child of any age, by all means listen to your gut. Your child needs you regardless of what they’re facing. Whether it’s abuse or something else entirely, they need you.

Child Abuse Warning Signs to Watch For

Speaking as an abuse survivor, here are signs to watch out for in cases of sexual abuse:

  • Avoidance of eye contact and casual touch around a certain person
  • Intense anxiety or fear of going to a particular place or being left alone with someone
  • Sudden self-consciousness of the body, poor body image
  • Withdrawing from hobbies and things they enjoy
  • Being overly withdrawn or clingy
  • Unexplained, sudden anger or emotion
  • Regular agression towards friends or younger siblings for no obvious reason
  • Regularly touching themselves in front of others without thinking it’s inappropriate
  • Preoccupation with private areas outside of age-appropriate curiosity
  • Resistant to casual touch, outbursts with physical contact
  • Avoiding eye contact with you and not wanting to talk about it, strong reaction to being asked about it

How to Approach Your Kids

These are very common signs and signals to sexual abuse, but don’t assume it is. But something is definitely going on. Gently ask them about what they are feeling.

  • Ask open-ended questions to try and get them to open up about what they’re feeling. Come from a gentle and understanding, compassionate place (calm and gentle is the key.) If you are agitated, it adds another layer to the tension and they will feel like they did something wrong.
  • Ask questions like “Is there anything that is making you uncomfortable?” “Is there something that you’re afraid of?” or “Can you talk about why you feel sad/angry?”
  • Expect that they won’t tell you right away, and be aware that if there is a strong reaction to your questions and they don’t want to talk about it, you have hit on something.
  • Specifically, tell them that you love and care about them very much and want to help them with whatever is causing them pain. Hearing those specific words from a father is the whole world.
  • Don’t give up. It may take more than one loving conversation to get them to talk to you.

I also want you to be aware of something. Sexual abuse from strangers happens, but it is far more common for abuse to happen with people they already know that are close to them. It is more commonly family and friends. You don’t need to be suspicious of everyone, but definitely, be aware and pay attention, especially if your child shies away from a particular person.

The most important thing is staying attentive and in tune enough to be able to gauge how your kids are doing. In this arena, it’s never too late, even if you have some catching up to do.

There are a lot of easy, cost-effective ways to connect with your child. You can take them to theme parks and buy them things and give them all the fun in the world. But all they really need is you.

Kids love all the attention they can get from dad, especially in today’s world that is full of technology and distractions. Even if you only have a good 15-minute window of time, you can make that to be excellent quality time with your kids. And it’s never too late to start if you aren’t doing it already.

The key is providing your undivided attention. Eliminate all distractions for given periods of time to really connect. Your attention to your children carries a lot of weight, and I think you’ll find if you provide it, it goes a long way in ensuring good behavior as well.

Here are a few simple suggestions to get you started if you need fresh ideas (and all afford great opportunities to talk with them):

  • Donut dates
  • Going out for breakfast
  • Walks after dinner in the neighborhood or at the park
  • Playing board games, card games at home
  • Movie dates at home or theatre (nearly every movie offers good talking points with kids)
  • In the car, going to and from various locations
  • Popsicles on the porch

When talking to your kids:

  • Look them in the eyes when they answer and let them talk, really listen to them
  • Say you care about how they are doing and invite them to talk to you
  • Ask them who their favorite friend is
  • Ask them if they’re happy
  • Ask them if there is anything you can help them with

Another consideration: Work is often a big part of a man’s life and who he is, and it often occupies a large portion of dad’s time. Kids love to be included in that, and I invite you to share it with them. Show them where you work and give them a tour if appropriate, tell them what you do, why you like doing it or what it means to you. Even if it’s over their heads, or a job you might not love in the moment, they would always remember that time they “went to dad’s work.”

Final Thoughts

We live in a busy world, and it’s hard to be on watch for everything. I flew under the radar with my mother all those years ago, and I wish I had the courage to come to her sooner with what I was facing. Kids are just not forthcoming with things like that.

I had a hard life for a great many years because of what I went through, but I had my mother’s support and I was rescued from a bad situation, even though it completely disrupted her life. Her support was the whole world when my world collapsed. She fought for me, and I was able to get the help I needed and grow into a functioning adult with a beautiful family of my own.

It has made me keenly aware of my own children’s well-being today, and I stay in fine tune with them so I know if something is wrong. There are a lot of pressures in the world today for kids. It’s important to be able to decipher what’s minor and what’s major, and just be there.

Though adults deal with their own stresses, it’s vital that we are a safe place for our children no matter what. Especially if you are a dad.

For additional information on signs of abuse and prevention, please visit the American Academy of Pediatrics‘ website, or call the National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD to speak with a counselor or connect with resources in your area.

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