Going It Alone: Tips for a Divorced Single Parent Expecting a Disabled Child

Becoming a parent is a time of exhilaration and anxiety. You’re thrilled to bring a new child into the world, but at the same time, you worry about the logistical and financial challenges that come with having a child. However, your job becomes a little harder if you’re a divorced single parent expecting a disabled child. There are questions and concerns about health care, insurance, and living environment that need to be addressed to ensure you’re as prepared as possible for the demands of parenting a disabled child on your own.

Physical Environment

The nature of your child’s disability will determine the modifications that’ll need to be made to your living space. Safety is always an issue where little ones are concerned, so it’s advisable to install safety gates to block stairs and to put in padded flooring that will cushion falls. Remove objects with hard edges, and place padding over the hard corners of your furniture. Safety rails in the bathroom and hallways are generally a good idea for a child with any kind of disability, as is sensor-activated lighting in the bedroom, bathroom, and any dimly lit sections of your home.

If your child has a physical disability that places a premium on mobility and access, widened doorways (a minimum of 36 inches across) and level transitions between rooms will make life much easier for a child who needs a wheelchair or some other mobility assistive device. It may be necessary to hire a local professional to make safety or accessibility modifications, particularly if structural changes are necessary. Always get estimates from at least three contractors if you’ll need a professional’s assistance. The more you can do to address your child’s physical needs in advance, the easier your job as a single parent will be.

Insurance and Expenses

Insurance can be a tricky matter for the parent of a disabled child. It can be difficult to determine the extent of your caregiver relationship (you may be needed until your child is well into adulthood), so it’s important to take out a life insurance policy to provide for your child after your death. If you’re not familiar with Medicaid, be aware that it can help you cover some of the medical expenses (not covered by health insurance) that come with caring for a disabled child.

There may be non-reimbursed medical expenses that can be deducted on your tax return; you’re at liberty to write off those costs once you’ve exceeded 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income. Also, don’t put off estate planning, and consider discussing your insurance and financial needs with a financial adviser or estate-planning expert. As a single parent, you’re the sole source of financial and medical assistance for your child, so don’t overlook long-term planning.

Self-Care

As the single parent of a child with a mental or physical disability, it’s essential that you pay close attention to your mental and physical well-being. It’s difficult to be an effective caregiver if you’re feeling run down and mentally fatigued, so take advantage of offers from family and friends to go out and do something for yourself once in a while — anything that will recharge your mental batteries will help. However, be sure to work in a little exercise every day. Even something as simple as a brief walk can be beneficial.

Yoga and Meditation

Caring for a disabled child around the clock by yourself can be extremely stressful. Consider making time for meditation (especially when you’re feeling out of control) or learning yoga, which is a unique combination of physical exercise and mental discipline.

Parenting a disabled child is a unique challenge when you’re going it alone — you need all the help you can get. Once you’ve determined your child’s safety and accessibility needs, figure out what modifications will be needed to get an idea of cost. And don’t put off seeking the advice of people who know the best options when it comes to health insurance and long-term financial planning for your child’s welfare. The day will come when you’re no longer there for your child, and having a plan in place will give you peace of mind and provide for her.

Author of this article is Ashley Taylor   disabledparents.org         

Getting Through Valentine’s Day When Single Again

Valentine’s Day can be like rubbing salt into a raw wound when going through divorce. People are coupled up and you may be the odd man out on this holiday. Others who are exiting a toxic marriage, may feel relief not spending it with a nasty person. There are different facets to Valentine’s Day besides romance. One is platonic friendships, and many of us exchange cards with our pals. Instead of mourning the void that comes with a loss of a partner, focus on celebrating Valentine’s Day in a new way with different people.

Flip the holiday around. Change the evening celebration to one at the beginning of the day, as there are less people in pairs. Get together with friends for a morning cappuccino with a pastry or for lunch. If your social circle is comprised mainly of married folks, catching up at a bakery is doable since it would not interfere with their dinner plans. When celebrating Valentine’s Day mid-morning, there is less pressure to feel one needs a date for this occasion.

Extroverts may want to be around others, yet not be ready to start dating. This can be accomplished by sitting at the communal table in coffee shops and cafes. One man claims he turns down holiday invitations because he has so much fun at these communal tables which are like “one big party.” MeetUp.com has groups for various interests and some of these gatherings are scheduled on holidays. Singles can participate in activities or dine with interesting companions. My divorced friend enjoys spending Valentine’s evening with the singles group at her church. They have events on some holidays and sponsor Friday Movie Night. Check around to see if you can join others on this night.

Do your celebrating on the job. Organize a pot luck, or bring in a fabulous treat to make the day more festive. I work part-time at an elementary school and it is party time on Valentine’s Day. The children’s excitement is contagious. Volunteering at their Valentine’s dances is a fun evening without a date. Some people request to work on holidays and enjoy spending it with co-workers instead of being alone.

Children can be a great distraction from thoughts of no longer having a spouse on this holiday. After my divorce, my sons and I would go to an Indian restaurant for dinner. One divorced friend gave a Valentine’s Day party for her young son and his classmates. She said it was the best time that she ever had on that holiday. The kids were hilarious, food was great and she was kept extremely busy. Consider planning some distractions on Valentine’s Day.

Escape Valentine’s Day by having an adventure abroad. When my marriage was falling apart, my mother and I took a tour to Ireland in February. We had a wee bit of snow, but I was thankful to avoid that holiday by being away. Maybe lounging by the pool in the tropics is more your style. Talk to your travel agent or go online to find some great travel deals.

A variation on this travel theme is to volunteer in another part of the world. Organizations, such as Earth Watch, can arrange for one to assist researchers etc., in an exotic locale. There are also plenty of opportunities right at home to help others and boost your self-worth. I volunteer weekly for an animal rescue group and this year it falls on Valentine’s Day. I will be feeling great after cuddling homeless kitties and being the recipient of their unconditional love. Consider helping out on that day with a charity that grabs your interest.

Determine if you would rather hide away or go out on the town. Either way is fine. For the first option, some individuals have gotten a boxed set of DVDs or enticing novels and stayed home. If cooking for one is depressing, then plan ahead and buy some delicious take away or a decadent dessert. Pamper yourself, such as having a spa night with a facial or doing a fitness routine. Find an enjoyable activity.

A millennial who is now single, told me of course he is going out on Valentine’s Day. Although he is no longer part of a couple, he states there is no way he would sit home. This fellow does not have any definite plans, but is confident he will find something going on in Boston. Other millennials were vague and said they would wait and see what their friends were up to on Valentine’s evening. The millennials were going to decide what to do at the last minute and the Baby Boomers were planning things way ahead of time, even if it is to stay home.

If you are feeling lonely around this holiday during divorce, consider adopting or fostering an animal. Having four feline housemates, helps make Valentine’s Day more lively, now that I have an Empty Nest. Whether or not you decide to celebrated Valentine’s Day – it is only one day out of the year.

Originally published on Divorce Force which is a resource or information, plus has a forum

 

 

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How to Prepare Your Finances to Leave an Abusive Relationship

If you are in an abusive marriage, you may not know where to turn or what to do. Abuse comes in many forms, and financial abuse is more common than you may think. If you’ve been the target of financial abuse, it can make it exceptionally difficult to gather your assets before you leave.

Financial abuse is likely not the only type of abuse you’ve experienced; it is often found in relationships where physical or emotional abuse also exists. In fact, of those who have suffered violence at the hands of a romantic partner, 98% have also endured financial abuse. However, the fear of unstable or inadequate finances can sometimes supersede fear of your own emotional or physical safety. A feeling of instability generally accompanies financial abuse; it can be such an overwhelming feeling that victims are unsure of where to turn. This guide will help you financially prepare yourself to leave an unhealthy marriage.

As an attorney, my experience is in retaining assets for my clients and helping them navigate the financial and emotional aspects of separation. However, your safety should always come first. If you are uncomfortable or feel unsafe following any of the following advice, consult someone who is knowledgeable about domestic violence before proceeding with these steps.

The Tactics of Financial Abusers  

Financial abusers regularly try to control their victim’s ability to acquire and use financial resources. This may mean you have been encouraged to not work or have been completely prevented from doing so. It can also mean you have limited access to bank accounts and financial resources, even if you earned the money yourself. All these abuse tactics are attempts to control someone and make it difficult to leave. Often times, these gaps in employment, unpaid debts, and low credit scores keep the victim in an abusive relationship simply due to fear of the unknown. Common fears amongst victims of financial abuse include:

  • Where will I live?
  • How will I find employment?
  • Can I afford the high interest rates I’m offered as a result of my poor credit score?
  • How can I financially support my children until I start getting paychecks?
  • Will I need to prioritize my basic necessities and give some up to survive?

If you are in an unhealthy marriage and have found the strength within to leave, you’ve already overcome your biggest hurdle. A brighter future is ahead, and you will find support from friends, family, and community members at every turn.

Preparing to Leave an Abusive Spouse  

Before making any changes to your finances, consult a victim advocate. The role of an advocate is to provide information to anyone who is dealing with domestic violence, including helping victims who are planning to leave an abusive marriage. They can help you find housing, transportation, and financial assistance when you leave your relationship. Someone who is trained as a victim advocate will have had extensive safety training, so he or she can help you make safe decisions regarding your finances. There are many online resources for finding your own advocate.

After you’ve consulted a victim advocate, you should begin to save as much money as possible. Whether it’s through a job, some kind of lump sum (like a tax return), or another source of income, having savings set aside when you leave will help ease the financial burden.

You should keep this money in your own bank account–one to which your spouse doesn’t have access. If you work, see if you can have part of your wages directly deposited into your new bank account. You may be able to adjust your tax exemptions and get more money each paycheck; you can deposit the difference in your personal account.

As you’re preparing your savings, make sure to keep any important financial documents – including any you can find from the past several years. This could include tax returns, paystubs, car titles, and more.

Finally, consult several divorce lawyers prior to leaving your spouse. A consultation is the perfect time to get a feel for whether you feel comfortable with the attorney and learn more about how their legal experience applies to your own case. Find an attorney who will fight to help you retain all the assets you need to start rebuilding your finances.

Rebuilding Your Finances After Leaving Your Spouse

The first financial move you’ll want to make once you’re over the hurdle of leaving your marriage is to review your finances, including your income and expenses. You may need a new job to pay for your new housing situation, for example, or it may be wise to get a second part-time job to build some savings.

You can also take time during the divorce to familiarize yourself with your credit report and resolve any debts that accrued. If you haven’t been privy to financial information for years, it’s possible your spouse has been hiding both income and debt from you. By creating a budget that addresses your monthly income, bills, and unpaid debts, you’ll put yourself on the path to financial security and  freedom.

Once you’ve safely left your marriage, it may be necessary to obtain a harassment restraining order or an order of protection against your spouse. A domestic violence lawyer can help you support yourself and your children by negotiating and litigating these legal protections. Consult an attorney if you feel your situation requires either of these orders.

Finally, a financial planner can be a tremendous help when you’re getting back on your feet. While a professional would be ideal, not everyone can afford it. If you’d like the benefits of financial knowledge without the price tag, you can use online resources, books, and even community education classes to learn more about handling your own finances.

About the Author   

Allison Maxim is a collaborative attorney St. Paul MN whose family law firm is Maxim Law PLLC. Allison believes strongly in the benefits of mindfulness in family law. Her background in psychology has given her a greater awareness of and empathy for the difficult situations faced by her family law and divorce clients.    

Article Summary 

Financial abuse is a powerful force keeping many victims in unhealthy relationships. This guide outlines how a victim can prepare his or her finances for long-term prosperity when faced with leaving an abusive relationship. It offers actionable steps to follow both before and after leaving an abusive spouse.