Family and Marriage Law Lerner Law Syracuse, New York

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A Big Word Of Caution

As they say, free advice is worth what you pay for it. Not all advice is applicable to every person or in every situation. That said, the advice given here has proven useful to me and others in the past. Here’s hoping there is something of value here for you as well.

Marriage Is A Partnership

In a partnership each person is invested in the success of the enterprise, as well as with their own personal growth and success. Real partners are not looking to do better for themselves than for their partner.
Each partner brings her or his special skills and abilities, which in a good partnership, complement those of the other partner.
The partnership is more complete and better equipped to deal with the challenges it will face because of the different skills and abilities of the partners.
Partnerships fail because the partners fail to trust one another fully, often with justification.
Being in a partnership should not mean losing your separate identity or your social and financial independence, but rather a broadening of options and opportunities for both partners.
Regular, direct and honest communication is essential to a successful partnership.
Surprise and adventure are valuable to a partnership when they are positive and the opportunities they represent are shared by, and available to, both partners.

Raising Children:

This advice may be simplistic, but it bears repeating.

Raising children requires discipline - not discipline of the children, but self-discipline of the parents. Children need to be regularly fed, cleaned, appropriately clothed, supervised, given counsel, consoled, and lavished with affection, regardless of the other tensions, demands and strains on the parent’s life.

Children need love and protection, but they also need to have an age appropriate degree of freedom and opportunity to risk and experience failure. These are all necessary for proper growth and development.

Children are copy machines - be mindful of what examples you give them to copy.

Children need to feel useful and appreciated for what they accomplish. Give them tasks they can manage with effort - then give positive feedback for the degree to which they accomplished the task.

Children in Divorce

Children want to have two parents who live together and take care of them. Children want this whether it is good for them or good for their parents. They will not understand all the good reasons you have for wanting a divorce, so don’t tell them.

Children should not be used as spies, as message carriers, as substitutes for a spouse or partner, managers of the household, or other children, as targets for anger or frustration at other things, or as confidants about what you are feeling or experiencing.

As much as possible children’s lives should not be changed by the divorce proceeding: school as usual, friends, activities and play, as usual. Stability includes not making efforts to make children allies or to win their loyalty by making the time together with them always special.

If you are unable to manage your children because of other stresses and demands on you, then find family members or friends who are willing and able to offer a good environment of support and supervision for your children, but don’t rely on them anymore than absolutely necessary - you are the parent. They are your children, even when it is not convenient.

The non-custodial parent (the children live with the other parent and have visitation with you) has a very difficult and demanding job. You have to remain involved and up-to-date on your child’s life from a distance. Attendance at your child’s school, health and recreation events, even when your former spouse is there with someone else, is important. Avoid confrontation and overt competition. Make your enthusiastic support and detailed interest evident, but don’t be a phony.

As much as possible make the children and the events that involve them neutral territory, a safe zone for everyone. Remember you are both parents of your children – forever.

As a rule of thumb, it always takes more money and more time than you have, to raise a child.


We typically pay too much attention to things. When dividing things, think about what you need in order to retain your identity as you. If that requires certain possessions, focus on those items and let the rest get divided on the basis of need, convenience and fairness.

Often the less there is to fight about, the more heated the fights become over things of no real importance.

Usually the money spent fighting over things is greater than the value of the things themselves.

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