BC Bonus Mom Advice and Support

Good morning/afternoon beautiful Bonus Moms!

I’d like to know how many of you are now, will be, or have been for some time…Stepmoms in beautiful British Columbia, Canada? Or do you know some friends, family or acquaintances/colleagues that are going through a rough time adjusting to a blended family unit or becoming a step-parent?

Have you felt a total lack of support going through the every day battles, roller coaster of emotions and strain on your relationship? Do you wish that there was some sort of help in a world where the main focus tends to sway toward the bio-parents and their children? Do you feel there is a lack of professional or social support groups? Counselling/Coaching? Legal help? Even retreats to de-stress, learn and re-group your physical and mental well-being?

Please feel free to comment and/or contact me as in the upcoming months I will be training under the amazing and nationally renowned Jenna Korf (Certified Stepfamily Foundation Coach & Author of ‘Skirts at War: Beyond Divorced Mom/Stepmom Conflict’.

Once completed I will have some great news for all of you BC Bonus Moms!

If you are looking for a FB page for information on all of the above, the below link is going to be it.

Bare with me as I get started out and proceed through training for certification but please use the tools and support that we can all provide to  one another on this journey!

https://www.facebook.com/groups/848785481891933/

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What’s The Best Alternative To Co-Parenting When Ex’s Don’t Get Along?

Shared from HUFFPOST:

What’s The Best Alternative To Co-Parenting When Ex’s Don’t Get Along

 

Terry Gaspard, MSW, LICSW Licensed Clinical Social Worker and College Instructor

Studies show that conflict is what creates the most pain and anguish for children after parents’ split, and that keeping parental disagreements to a minimum is a key aspect of helping kids become resilient. Over the last few decades, research by child development experts has demonstrated numerous benefits to children when their living arrangements enable support from both parents. One reason is that parents who co-parent tend to experience lower conflict than those who have sole custody arrangements.

However, very few experts discuss the drawbacks of co-parenting when parents don’t get along or have high conflict relationships. According to parenting expert, Edward Kruk, Ph.D., children of divorce benefit from strong and healthy relationships with both parents and they need to be shielded from their parents’ conflicts. He writes: “Some parents, however, in an effort to bolster their parental identity, create an expectation that children choose sides. In more extreme situations, they foster the child’s rejection of the other parent. In the most extreme cases, children are manipulated by one parent to hate the other, despite children’s innate desire to love and be loved by both parents.”

It takes two special parents to navigate a successful co-parenting arrangement over time. Interacting with each other at drop-offs, making shared decisions, or even speaking to an ex who you’d rather forget can be a challenge. Often divorced parents have a lot of unresolved anger after their breakup which can make moving forward smoothly problematic for their children.

 

What is the solution for divorced parents’ who want to do what’s in the best interest of their children when they have high conflict? According to Dr. Kruk, “Parallel parenting is an arrangement in which divorced parents are able to co-parent by means of disengaging from each other, and having limited direct contact, in situations where they have demonstrated that they are unable to communicate with each other in a respectful manner.”

 

In other words, parallel parenting allows parents to remain disengaged from one another while they remain close to their children. For instance, they remain committed to making responsible decisions (medical, education, etc) but decide on the logistics of day-today parenting separately. Dr. Kruk posits that the higher the conflict between the parents, the more structured the parenting plan should be.

 

The key to successful parallel parenting after divorce is to keep the focus on your children – and to maintain a cordial relationship with your ex-spouse. Most importantly, you want your children see that their parents are working together for their well-being. Never use them as messengers because when you ask them to tell their other parent something for you, it can make them feel stuck in the middle. It’s best to communicate directly with your ex and lessen the chances your children will experience loyalty conflicts.

 

The following are suggestions based on my own experience and advice from experts. First of all, it’s paramount that you gear your parenting plan to the age of your children and that it is consistent. Try to develop routines for them leaving and coming home when they are young. As they reach adolescence, strive to be more flexible and adapt to their changing needs.

 

Tips to help kids live happily in two homes with parallel parenting:

 

1. Utilize a third party mediator – This person can be a counselor, social worker, or even a member of your church. They can help mediate any face to face meetings between you and your ex-spouse.

2. Develop a parallel parenting plan – This should describe specific times and public places for exchanges, plans for cancellations, etc.

3. Limit communications to only those that are necessary for the care and well-being of your children. Communicate through email as much as possible and avoid text messages which can come across as hostile or blunt. A notebook can be passed back and forth between homes to communicate any important information.

4. Reassure your children that they have two parents who love them. If they balk at going to their other parent’s home, you can say something like “Even though mom and dad aren’t married anymore we both still love you and are good parents.”

5. Maintain a cordial, business-like relationship with your ex so that your children won’t feel intense divided loyalties. It’s important not to express anger at your ex in front of your children so they don’t feel stuck in the middle.

6. Help your kids anticipate changes in their schedule. Planning ahead and helping them pack important possessions can benefit them. However, keep items to a bare minimum. Most parents prefer to have duplicate items for their kids on hand.

7. Encourage your younger child to adhere to their parenting time schedule – being consistent with their routine will help your kids feel secure. Younger children often benefit from avoiding frequent shifts between homes. Whereas teens usually benefit from flexibility in their schedule because they may have difficulty juggling their busy life with school, extracurricular activities, friends, and jobs if they start working.

8. Remember to keep the spotlight on your children’s best interests. You and your ex may detest one another, but you both love your children. Keep in mind that your ex is your child’s other parent and deserves respect simply because of this fact. Encourage your child to spend time with your ex-spouse’s extended family since this will help them to feel more secure in the long-run.

 

Keep in mind that communicating with your former spouse is going to be necessary for the length of your children’s childhood into young adulthood. This may include special events, graduations – and perhaps even weddings. It’s important to keep clear boundaries so that your children wouldn’t harbor fantasies that you will reconcile. For the most part, this means less personal sharing and focusing on exchanging information, cooperation, and making good decisions about your children.

 

It’s also possible that even though you and your ex-spouse may not be capable of a cooperative co-parenting arrangement now, it may be an option in the future. It may take years, but eventually the anger you and your ex harbor for one another may dissipate sufficiently for you to consider co-parenting. Keep the door open for the future since it will benefit your children if you are cooperative colleagues.

 

In sum, modeling cooperation and polite behavior set a positive tone for parallel parenting. When children are confident of the love of both of their parents, they will adjust more easily to divorce. Keeping your differences with your ex away from your children will open up opportunities to move beyond divorce in the years to come. Ask yourself this question: how do you want your children to remember you and their childhood when they are adults?

 

Follow Terry at movingpastdivorce.com, Facebook, and Twitter. She is delighted to announce the recent publication of Daughters of Divorce: Overcoming the Legacy of Your Parents’ Breakup and Enjoy a Happy, Long-Lasting Relationship.

 

Family Law In British Columbia: Some Info For Those That “Need to Know”…..

Family Law In British Columbia

Separation

There is no such thing as a “legal separation.” If you’re married or in a common-law relationship, you become separated as soon as you and your spouse start living apart with at least one of you wanting to separate. You don’t need your spouse’s permission to start living separately. You can tell others that you wish to separate, but you don’t have to see a lawyer, sign a document, or go to court to be separated.

You might even still live in the same house to save money, but you’re usually still considered separated if you don’t share things like meals, a bedroom, and social activities.

If you’re married, you’ll be legally married until you get a court order for divorce. You don’t need your spouse’s permission to apply for a divorce. If you weren’t married to each other, a divorce isn’t necessary.

Note that there are important time limits if you want to apply for spousal support and/or divide property, debt, or a pension. See our fact sheets Spousal support and How to divide property and debts.

What to take with you if you leave

Here are some of the important documents and items you should take with you:

  • Your financial information, such as your tax returns for at least three years; plus bank account, credit card, investment, and debt statements; and copies of recent pay stubs
  • Your BC Services Card/CareCard (medicare card)
  • Your marriage certificate (if you were married)
  • Your passport, your children’s passports, and any other immigration papers you may have
  • Your status card and identification
  • Your children’s birth certificates and BC Services Cards/CareCards (medicare cards)
  • Your clothing and personal belongings and those of your children
  • If possible, photocopies of information about income and assets in your spouse’s name alone, such as pay stubs, tax returns, company records and ledgers, bank accounts, investments, and RRSPs. Also write down your spouse’s Social Insurance Number, BC Services Card/CareCard number, and date of birth. (These can be useful later if you have a dispute about money and property, or if you need to find your spouse.)
  • Medications and prescriptions for you and your children

Separation agreements

Many separating couples can agree about how they’re going to deal with parenting, property, and child and spousal support without ever going to court. If you and your spouse or partner can come to an agreement, you’ll save yourselves time, money, and emotional turmoil, as well as keep control of important decisions that affect your family. This is often called a separation agreement, and agreements about parenting are sometimes called parenting plans. (The provincial Family Law Act, however, only uses the term “agreements.”)

For more information about agreements, see our fact sheets Making an agreement after you separate and Who can help you reach an agreement? For information on drafting a legally binding separation agreement, see our self-help guide How to write your own separation agreement.

Spousal Support

Spousal support (also called maintenance) is financial support to help with living expenses paid to a former spouse under an agreement or court order. You can apply for spousal support if:

  • you were married,
  • you lived together in a marriage-like relationship for at least two years, or
  • you lived in a marriage-like relationship for less than two years and have a child together.

When should spousal support be paid?

Under provincial and federal laws, spousal support is intended to:

  • recognize any financial advantages or disadvantages a spouse may face because of the relationship or the separation;
  • make sure neither spouse faces economic hardship as a result of the breakup;
  • make both spouses share the financial burden if there were consequences to caring for the children during the relationship; and
  • if possible, help each spouse become financially independent within a reasonable amount of time.

Consider these reasons when you apply or have to pay for spousal support.

How do I figure out the amount of support?

How much spousal support you should get and how long it will last depends on the following:

  • If you worked outside the home during the marriage or relationship
  • How long you lived with your spouse
  • If you’re able to support yourself
  • If you are or were at home with the children
  • Whether you earn a lot less than your spouse
  • If the spouse being asked to pay is able to pay

The Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines can help you figure out the amount of spousal support that should be paid. These guidelines aren’t the law (neither you or the judge has to follow them), but if your case went to court, the judge or master would probably look at the guidelines to help make his or her decision about the amount of spousal support. The guidelines take into account the income of both spouses, how long you were married, and whether you have children.

For more information, see the Department of Justice website on spousal support.

Tip: MySupportCalculator.ca is a website with a support calculator that can provide you with a “ballpark” number that you can adjust based on your circumstances. Because the calculations are complicated, you may want to get a lawyer with the right software to help with a more accurate calculation. (The Legal Services Society doesn’t claim these figures are precise or accurate nor does it endorse the lawyers listed on this site.)

Can I reach an agreement without going to court?

Many couples come to an agreement about spousal support without going to court. Agreements that are filed with the court can be enforced — they have the same force as a court order. They can also be set aside (cancelled) if the situation changes.

If you’re trying to negotiate an agreement, consider the factors listed under When should spousal support be paid? (above) and the amount of support listed in the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines. Get advice from a lawyer about what is fair.

Tip: For information on drafting a legally binding separation agreement, see our self-help guide How to write your own separation agreement. If you want help negotiating an agreement, see our fact sheets Making an agreement after you separate and Who can help you reach an agreement?.

Applying for spousal support

If you and your spouse can’t come to an agreement, one of you can apply to the court for an order for spousal support. Court applications can be expensive and time-consuming, so see a lawyer for advice about whether what you’re expecting is reasonable. To find out more about orders, see our fact sheet All about court orders. (This fact sheet contains links to our step-by-step guides on How to get a final family order and How to get an interim family order.)

Providing financial information (disclosure)

When one spouse applies for spousal support, both spouses will have to provide financial information to each other and to the court. You will have to share detailed documents showing your income, assets, and debt. Both Supreme and Provincial Court have rules setting out exactly what needs to be shared and when.

Be aware that the law requires you to provide “full and true” information to the other party, whether you’re negotiating an agreement or making or responding to a court application. There can be serious consequences if you don’t. There may be financial penalties, and the court could make changes to your agreement or order.

In the Supreme Court, both parties must fill out a Financial Statement (Form F8) and file it with the court for orders related to support. For help, see our guide How to deal with a Supreme Court Financial Statement.

In the Provincial Court, both parties must fill out and file a Financial Statement (Form 4). For help, see our guide How to deal with a Provincial Court Financial Statement. However, if you agree about the amount of your incomes and how much support should be paid, you can instead fill out a Consent form (Form 19) and file it along with copies of your most recent income tax returns and notices of assessment.

How long will spousal support last?

Spousal support agreements or orders are often for a limited period of time, possibly just a few years. Longer relationships can lead to longer periods of support. But the law still expects people to support themselves as soon as reasonably possible after a divorce or separation.

A spousal support agreement or order can say that spousal support will automatically be reviewed after a certain amount of time has passed. It’s a good idea to have this process built in because circumstances often change over the years.

If you need to extend spousal support and don’t have this automatic review process as part of your order or agreement, apply before the end of the time limit stated in the court order or agreement. It’s a good idea to get a lawyer’s help. (See Who can help? to find a lawyer.)

Time limits for applying for support

There are two laws that deal with spousal support: the Family Law Act (a provincial law) and the Divorce Act (a federal law). If you weren’t married to the other party, your spousal support order will be based on the Family Law Act. If you were married and are now separated or divorced, the order can be based on either of the two laws. For more information, see our fact sheet Which laws apply to your case?

If you are applying under the Family Law Act, you must apply for spousal support no later than two years after getting an order for a divorce or annulment. If you were living in a marriage-like relationship for at least two years (sometimes referred to as a common-law relationship) or living together for less than two years but had a child together, you must apply within two years of the date on which you separated.

There is no time limit under the Divorce Act.

Can I enforce the agreement or order?

Once you have an agreement or order for spousal support, you can enroll in the BC Family Maintenance Enforcement Program (FMEP). This government program will monitor the spousal support payments you should be receiving. Staff in the program will take action to help you get the payments if you’re not receiving them.

Can I change the agreement or order?

If you have a spousal support agreement, you can apply to set aside (cancel) part of the agreement or replace the agreement with a court order if:

  • one of you didn’t share accurate information about your finances,
  • one of you took advantage of the other’s vulnerability, or
  • one of you doesn’t understand the agreement.

You can also apply to change the agreement if the agreement itself is “significantly unfair.” The court will consider:

  • if your or your spouse’s circumstances have changed,
  • how long it’s been since the agreement was made,
  • whether (and to what extent) you both intended this agreement to be final,
  • how much you both rely on the agreement, and
  • how much the agreement meets the goals of spousal support in the Family Law Act.

If you have a spousal support order, there are cases where you can apply to have it changed. Sometimes there is a change in the “condition, means, need or other circumstances of either spouse”; for example:

  • one of you gets a raise or cut in pay (if you weren’t told about the other spouse’s increased income, a court can order an increase/decrease of spousal support back to the date of the raise),
  • the paying spouse becomes unemployed or disabled and can’t pay,
  • one of you gets remarried and has increased household income from the new spouse, and
    one of you gets a financial windfall.

You can also apply to change the order if either spouse didn’t provide important financial information. In fact, you can apply to change either a spousal support agreement or order if you now have important information that wasn’t available when the agreement or order was made.

How do income tax rules affect spousal support payments?

Certain income tax rules apply when you separate or divorce. See the Tax Matters Toolkit, a two-part online resource from the Canadian Bar Association that explains the tax rules for a number of topics, including spousal support.

Cancelling or reducing arrears

Arrears are past support payments that haven’t been paid. While the law does allow a judge or master to reduce or cancel arrears, it’s difficult to do unless there’s a very good reason for the change.

A Day In The Life Of A BC Bonus Mom……..”A New Beginning”.

Hello everyone!

I am back after a few months away, due to personal reasons, and upon attempting to log into my blog “A Day In The Life Of A BC Bonus Mom”….I quickly realized that it was GONE. No longer available. My hard work, sweat, laughter, tears…had all been obliterated into the internet ether somewhere.

So, I find myself back and having to start all over from scratch, regaining my old contacts, finding all who I used to follow and support, so bare with me as I find my blogging feet again!

Nowadays, I am being found under “bcbonusmomblog” and I will be re-entering the world of Step-Families and not only looking for support but giving it on whatever levels I can. There will be posts on everything family related…kids….education….recipes….legal stuff….opinions….relationships as well as the constant struggle between bio parents and step parents. There simply does NOT appear to be much, if ANY support for step-moms…step-parents….in British Columbia at all. Now, I am not sure if I can or will change that but I am sure that I can endeavor to try.

I attempt to attend as many early childhood development workshops (psycho-educational) as well as step-parenting/step-family courses that I can annually, as well as having the day to day issues and drama that comes with being a stepmom coupled with first hand experience with an uncooperative co-parent with an evil streak. 🙂

For those of you that don’t know me, or don’t remember me, I am Nell and I am a Smommy to two wonderful young boys that entered my life 3 years ago now when I met the man who I would eventually marry. We did indeed marry a year after meeting and I officially got the name of “stepmom”….or evil stepmom as I have been so lovingly called…lol I have lived, worked and traveled overseas most of my life and have gained a plethora of life experience along the way. Although I now have a permanent base set up back home in BC Canada, my journey has not ended, it has simply taken a different road….and it is certainly a roller coaster ride!

So, join me! Follow me as I start the next chapter….share and care with flare!!

Nell xo