Whether you and your spouse agree to pursue an amicable divorce or you are forced to fight for custody of your children in court, at the end of the divorce process, you should have a clear understanding of your rights and obligations with respect to providing for and raising your children. But, as a recently-divorced parent, you are still likely to have several questions – questions which many parents facing similar circumstances have asked before.
As you prepare to go through a divorce with children in Ohio, it is important to have as much information as possible. Here are answers to three common questions about parenting after divorce:
1. What Are Your Options if Your Children Refuse to Visit Your Former Spouse?
Despite you and your spouses’ best efforts to structure a workable parenting plan, your children may at some point want something different. If your children refuse to attend a regularly-scheduled visitation with your former spouse, it is important to understand that your parenting plan (which has the effect of a court order) takes precedence over your children’s desires.
While this type of scenario can be difficult, parents must not forget that they are the adults in the relationship. Parents should not let their children dictate visitation terms any more than they should let their children stay up all night eating candy.
Here are a few things to think about:
- Help your children understand the situation as much as possible.
- Consider whether something you may have said or done could have influenced your children to not want to spend time with your co-parent.
- Ask your children why they do not want to visit with their mother or father.
- Find a way to respond to your children that facilitates bringing your children and your co-parent together.
However, if your children have a significant reason for not wanting to visit – for example if your co-parent is abusive or habitually drunk – then this is a different story. Custody and visitation arrangements should always serve the best interests of the children. If your children are potentially unsafe during visitation, then you may need to seek a modification of your parenting plan right away.
2. Can I Legally Change My Children’s Last Name After My Divorce?
While parents who are in agreement can generally change their children’s surname with minimal headaches, seeking to change your children’s surname when your former spouse objects can be much more challenging. In order to obtain a name change without your former spouse’s approval, you must be able to demonstrate that the change is in your children’s best interests. Similar to establishing custody, this requires the courts to consider a number of factors, including:
- The length of time your children have used their current surname;
- The effect of the name change on your child’s relationship with your former spouse;
- Your children’s identification as part of a family unit;
- Any embarrassment, discomfort, or convenience your children are likely to experience as a result of the name change; and,
- Your children’s preference, if they are of sufficient age and maturity.
3. After a Divorce, Which Parent(s) Can Claim Their Children as Dependents for Tax Purposes?
The short answer is: It depends. As a general rule, “only one person may claim all the child-related tax benefits for a child, including the dependency exemption, the child tax credit, the dependent care credit, the exclusion for dependent care benefits, head of household filing status, and the [earned income tax credit (EITC)].”
Also according to the IRS, “[o]nly the custodial parent may claim the dependent care credit. . . [and u]sually, only the custodial parent may claim the EITC.”
However, there are some important exceptions; and, generally speaking, divorcing spouses have the ability to negotiate with regard to the tax benefits of being a parent. As you go through the divorce process, it will be important to keep these issues in mind so that you can minimize your post-divorce uncertainty as much as possible.
Schedule a Free Divorce Consultation at Laubacher & Co.
If you live in the Cleveland, OH area and are contemplating a divorce, we encourage you to contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation. To speak with one of our experienced Ohio divorce lawyers in confidence, please call (440) 336-8687 or inquire online today.