The Struggles of Divorcing Parents: Do They Ever End?

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It’s not just an old expression. Some parents really do stay together for the sake of their children. However, that’s not necessarily in anyone’s best interests. No matter how hard conflicted spouses attempt to hide their issues, the children are almost always aware that love is lost. That’s not to say that it’s impossible to avoid some of the struggles of divorcing parents.

No doubt no one needs a lecture on the importance of teamwork in bringing up children. Whether you’ve elected to stay together or move apart – a united front works best. Parental marital conflict creates a problematic and long-lasting effect on all involved. One of the most critical obligations of parents starts with avoiding the impact.

Each and every divorcing parent has its own version of the way marital discord has harmed their children. Some will readily accept the blame and even suffer from guilt trips as a result. Meanwhile, many mothers and fathers assign the fault to their child’s other parent.

It’s not as though the concept of acting in your children’s best interests is a new one. Truth be told, it is one we spoke about in a prior article. However, the idea that it takes “two to tango” can also apply to raising children. Despite your best efforts, you could find yourself frustrated if your former spouse doesn’t co-parent in an acceptable manner. It’s then that you may need to turn to the courts for help.

Recently, the New Jersey Appellate Division considered an issue where the parents could not come to a compromise on their own. Although this unpublished opinion only applies to the named parties, you may find it of interest.

Parents Had Issues with Driving Responsibilities

The appeal from a lower court decision was originally submitted on Devorak v. Devorak in May of this year. The legal opinion from the New Jersey Appellate Division was written on September 5, 2018.  Erika Devorak is now known as Erika Atkinson. Her former spouse, William J. Devorak, Jr. did not submit a brief in conjunction with the appeal process.  There were also procedural problems with the appeal that are not relevant to this particular discussion.

The Devoraks married in 1999 and divorced in 2010. The couple has joint custody of one child, who was born in 2009.   Erika has primary residential custody and receives child support from her ex-husband.

According to the information contained in the court decision, it appears that Erika and William have returned to court on multiple occasions since the date of their divorce.  In this particular instance, one of the issues concerned driving responsibilities during parenting time.

.At the time of their divorce, both parties lived in the same town in Middlesex County.  Distance was not a factor in establishing parenting time or driving responsibilities for the minor child.  Although Erika moved to New York City, she ultimately returned to New Jersey in 2013.  Notably, before Erika’s return to New Jersey, William agreed to temporarily transport the child until the relocation occurred.

Ultimately, Erika moved to Roseland and William changed his residence to Ewing. (In case you’re not familiar with the distance between the two, it is approximately 73.07 miles. At the very least, it would take almost an hour and a half each way to make the trip.)

In 2016, William motioned the lower court for assorted relief.  Apparently, he was still the only one making the trip to facilitate parenting time. He asked the trial judge to compel both parties to equally split the driving responsibilities.

Mother Cites Prior Agreement

When confronted with the motion by her former husband, Erika opposed the request. She claimed that William received “the benefit of his bargain in that he did not have to pay alimony and paid "modest" child support in return for doing all of the driving.”  Meanwhile, she also said that she attends to the rest of their child’s transportation needs during the week.

Upon review, the trial court found that William had proven the necessary change in circumstances required to execute a new order in the divorce matter. The judge determined that “"it is fair and equitable [for them] to share in the transportation responsibility[,]" and granted defendant's motion for the parties to "equally share driving responsibilities for parenting time.”  Mother and father were ordered to figure out a place between Roseland and Ewing that would serve as a pick up and drop off location.

In the end, the bottom line might be as simple as a compromise. Could the parties have resolved this particular issue without judicial intervention?  It’s a question that only they can answer.

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Are you still having issues with a former spouse even after you’re divorced? Contact the Law Offices of Sam Stoia to determine if your situation warrants a change in circumstances. We can advise you on the feasibility of a post-judgment application.