Your Guide to an Appeals Case

Posted on Thu, Oct 31, 2013

The appeals process is one way to exercise your legal rights if you feel that you have been unfairly treated by the courts or misrepresented during your divorce proceedings. While the court system is supposed to be impartial, there is always the possibility that as a man, you may be unjustly a victim of bias, where mothers and women are often favored. Keep in mind, just because you do not agree with your divorce judgment that is not enough grounds to file an appeal, and seek a ruling from a higher court.

Being a final judgment is often in effect for several years, you may want to consider the appeals process to dispute its terms and conditions. However, you do need to act quickly because you only have a limited window of time to file for an appeal. The family courts of Florida require that an appeal must be filed within 30 days of the final judgment being issued. The appeals process is not something to do on your own. For this, you need the services of family law attorneys in Jacksonville FL, Daytona, Fleming Island, Boca Raton and Gainesville on your side.

Justification for an Appeal

The following are valid reasons for filing for an appeal of your final divorce judgment in eyes of the court:

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Retirement Plans and Pensions during a Divorce

Posted on Tue, Oct 29, 2013

Going through a divorce is always painful both emotionally and financially, but no more so than during retirement. You've spent years, decades even, preparing for this moment, only to watch your pension and other assets slip through your fingers. In Florida, you have access to some of the best divorce lawyers in Jacksonville, Gainesville, Daytona, Fleming Island and Boca Raton. They are there to help men get through their divorce as quickly, ethically, and fairly as possible. Remember you are not alone in this.

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Dealing With Your In-Laws through a Family Law Dispute

Posted on Mon, Oct 28, 2013

Dealing with in-laws involves more than simply selecting a good family law attorney. The state of Florida has plenty of good lawyers, but you need more than legal advice -- you need to see the process of dealing with in-laws as a negotiation from the same side. Since your in-laws are a critical part of your wife or ex-wife's life, they need to be dealt with carefully in order to keep the peace.

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Establishing Paternity: What You Should Know

Posted on Fri, Oct 25, 2013

Every child deserves to know their father regardless of whether your marriage worked out or not, but in cases that the father isn't fully informed of their rights, the child suffers. Paternity is simply a term that is used to describe fatherhood, which is why establishing paternity is so important. Simply put, establishing paternity provides your child with a father in the legal system. Furthermore, establishing paternity ensures that all parents have the opportunity to maintain a relationship with their child/children.

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Cooking for Single Dads

Posted on Thu, Oct 24, 2013

If you are a single dad, chances are you’ve gone through a rough time adapting to a brand new lifestyle. Hopefully you’ve protected yourself by consulting with lawyers in men only child support, and are now trying to acclimate your children to some of the changes that go along with your new situation in life.

If you’re not known for your culinary expertise, or if you find yourself searching for easy meal options for you and the little ones at home, don’t fret. We have some great meal ideas for you that are easy, fast, and nutritious and won’t take a lot of time out of your busy day. Best of all, we have a spin on these recipes so that you can get the kids to enjoy them—little will they know that they are nutritious as well!

Easy Recipes for Lunch or Dinner:

There are many appliances on the market that can make a Dad’s life easier, especially if he is new to the “cooking” game. One of our favorites is the Crock-Pot or slow cooker, which enables you to add the ingredients in one vessel, while they cook, you can work around the house or enjoy a day with the kids. Because many of these types of dishes can cook all day long, you’ll be pleased knowing you're coming home to a delicious home-made meal with nearly no effort. One of our favorite dishes is:

Crazy for Crock Chicken and Rice

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into cubes.
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
½ cup celery cut into small pieces
1 tablespoon finely diced onion
Dash of salt and pepper
1 cup instant brown rice

1. Add the chicken and mushroom soup in the Crock-pot with rice and mix together.
2. Add the cubed chick on top, and then add the onion and celery.
3. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Allow to cook for at least 4-5 hours on low or 3 hours on high.
5. Serve with a fresh salad for a fast, easy and delicious meal.

One pan dishes are another favorite, because you’re not bombarded with a sink full of dishes after dinner when you may need to spend time doing homework or after dinner game time. The following pork recipe is made in one pan and can feed four people, with the low prices of pork currently.

One Pan Porky-Pig: (The kids will love the name!)

1.5 lbs. pork loin
1 tsp. of crushed garlic cloves
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried rosemary
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. of black pepper
2 Tbsp. olive oil

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
2. Place the pork loin on a baking sheet or roasting pan covered with foil and sprayed with non-stick spray (for easy clean up).
3. Combine the garlic, thyme, rosemary and salt and pepper in a small bowl. Add the olive oil to the mixture.
4. Rub the herb mix over the entire surface of the pork (kids often like to take part in this!)
5. Roast the pork for 35-45 minutes or until the internal temperature is 145 degrees.
6. When done, take the pork loin out of the oven and let it sit for about 10 minutes before slicing.
7. You can serve this with some mashed potatoes, carrots or salad for a healthy, complete meal. 
Being a single dad can be challenging and we hope that these easy lunch and dinner recipes can take some of the stress out of the age-old question, what do I feed the kids today!

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How to Tell Your Family & Friends you’re Getting Divorced

Posted on Wed, Oct 23, 2013

Divorce is not a rare experience - the emotional journey of marriage can often lead to separation and divorce, and it's important to realize that if you're unhappy, it's your right to take action. While it isn't an uncommon subject, the freedom of discussing your divorce may be seen as taboo or uncomfortable to family and friends. However, emotional support is needed through any trial, and the guidance of loved ones should not be turned away. Men's divorce attorney, Kenny Leigh and Associates would like to assist you with some tools to stand you up and keep you moving forward through tough times.

Your spouse must be the first to know that you are seeking a divorce. It is likely that you will find conflict in this matter; however, it is important to recognize that you stay unified and at peace for this conflict. If you have children, you must remain calm and consistent; do not tell your children until there is a definite and finalized agreement. Once you're certain there will be a divorce, talk to your spouse about finding an attorney. From this step, you will begin to discuss a plan of action and a process to take that suits both of you. Regardless of the trials of marriage, divorce should not be a time of unnecessary stress and chaos.

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How to Have a Business Relationship with your Ex

Posted on Mon, Oct 21, 2013

When coming out of a divorce, most people understand that the final decision and legal separation is permanent, and most just want the process to be finished once and for all towards the end. However, for ex-spouses a relationship still has to be maintained many times for the sake of children. If one partner doesn’t outright declare war on the other and go hiring a child custody attorney in Jacksonville, Gainesville, Daytona, Fleming Island and Boca Raton, the two still have to find a way to work together. This can be particularly challenging given how emotional a divorce proceeding can be for everyone in the family.

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What is a Social Investigator

Posted on Fri, Oct 18, 2013

Social Investigators play an integral role during custody disputes. They help to protect and give objective, expert advice on the best interest of your children during the dispute. These investigators are chosen and appointed by the court and a child custody attorney in Jacksonville, Gainesville, Daytona, Fleming Island or Boca Raton based on the nature of the dispute and the people being investigated. The investigator uses information gathered from friends, doctors, employers, and co-workers of the parents, as well as first hand observations of the interaction between parent and child, to testify to the court on the best organization of custody during and after the divorce proceedings.

Social Investigators are usually mental health professionals that can use insights gained

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Tips on Keeping it Together During a Divorce

Posted on Wed, Oct 16, 2013

Regardless of how unexpected or amicable your divorce is, your heart won’t be the only thing left distraught and torn apart. With a willingness to adjust and a positive attitude, you can come out of a divorce healthy, happy and still on your feet. By enlisting the help of divorce attorneys in Jacksonville, Gainesville, Fleming Island, Daytona or Boca Raton, you can be on your way to a fresh start without feeling like you were taken advantage of in the proceedings.

Enlist the Help of Your Extended Network for Support

Reach out to family, friends and other support teams, such as church members, other divorced individuals and even your therapist. You will be surprised at how many people will be there to support you and get you through one of the most trying times in your life.

Avoid Spending a Fortune on Extravagant Purchases

Many people end up running out and buying something extravagant as a means of coping with what you are going through. The last thing you want to do is put yourself in the hole because of a rash decision. If you are going to spend money on something, do it within your means. There is nothing wrong with making yourself feel better, but you want to make an intelligent decision about your situation and how to cope.

Listen to what your Divorce Attorney Has to Say

Do you want to begin a battle over a big screen television, or would you rather save money on the cost of a divorce attorney and move on with your life? Lawyers can help you move past all of the emotions and help you make an informed and economical decision, so that way you don’t have to worry about losing everything during the divorce proceedings.

Reevaluate Your Spending Habits

If you were someone who was always eating out at restaurants, you might want to start cooking meals at home. Beyond being healthier for you, the amount of money you are going to save will add up to quite a bit over the course of time. Instead of going to the movies all the time, try staying home and enjoying something on one of the movie streaming services available. You will be amazed at how much money you can save by changing some of the regular habits you have had for so long.

Re-Determine Where Your Happiness Lies

For many people, they struggle with how they are going to get over the end of their marriage. One of the best things you can do is to picture divorce as a beginning instead of an end. When you have a clean slate in mind, you are able to step out of your comfort zone, make new friends and embrace new challenges. Instead of spending time joining a dating service, join a group doing something that you love. For example, joining a runner’s group allows you to unleash your emotions by pounding the pavement and save on the cost of an extra-curricular activity. The friendships that you form will last you for years to come. Even though you may not have thought the marriage would come to an end, you have the power to take control of the situation with all of the experience you gained. Redefine your situation and who you are today.

Time Will Heal All Wounds

A divorce can take a toll on your finances. What once was a nice nest egg is now the money that you use to get by from one month to the next. Starting over requires patience and time. Don’t expect to leave the divorce feeling financially secure. Remind yourself that you went through a big ordeal and know that recovering will take months to get where you want to be. For some individuals, the length of time for recovery can be years.

Divorces can be quite confusing, time-consuming, stressful and overwhelming, but they don’t have to be that way. Divorce attorneys can help walk you through the steps to make sure the proceedings go through without a hitch. You don’t want to be taken advantage of in the divorce, which is where the divorce attorneys in Jacksonville, Gainesville, Fleming Island, Daytona and Boca Raton can come into play for you. They understand the importance of having someone on your side during this difficult time. Instead of trying to handle it on your own, you can rest assured that a professional is looking out for your best interests.

With five different offices, the team of professionals at Kenny Leigh and Associates is ready to work for you. Overcoming financial worries and stress can be simpler than before when you have someone who is available to provide you with information and work in your best interest to get you the best deal possible for your specific divorce case.

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6 Don’ts of Being a Step Dad – Part 2

Posted on Wed, Oct 16, 2013

Taking on a wife with children is an honorable action and no matter how much you love and adore your new family unit, sometimes being a stepdad can seem like an impossible and thankless job. Not only are you likely confused about your new role within this already existing family, but the children are probably feeling much the same way. To continue on with the flip side of ‘6 Do’s of Being a Step Dad,’ we offer you 6 tips on what not to do as a step dad.

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The Impact of Social Media on a Divorce

Posted on Tue, Oct 15, 2013

Florida is a non-fault state when it comes to divorce, so there is no need to make any allegations against each other in order to have a divorce granted. What is important is the litigation on the resolution to the divorce. Let’s have a look at what is at stake during the divorce, like distribution of assets, child support and alimony. How much, and what exactly are you willing to see her walk off with?

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When Friends Pick Sides

Posted on Mon, Oct 14, 2013

It can feel awful being left out by all of your friends, but it can happen to anyone at some point in time or another. Friends can take off on you and it leaves you feeling down and depressed. On the other hand, you can be with friends who leave you out of the conversation when you are right there next to them. Staying busy is one of the best means for being able to move beyond feeling sad, self-piteous or morose. You want to step back and assess the situation realistically. Regardless of what the situation may be, there are things you can do to respond and cope accordingly. There are steps to take to help you overcome frustration and grief and move to feelings of happiness and joy.

Are you looking at it from a realistic standpoint?

At one point in time or another, everyone will feel abandoned and left out. Unless you have had a huge argument with those you care about, it might be that this is a one-time thing that happened. Instead of feeling sorry for yourself, you can take charge and head out and spend time doing something that you love.

Have you taken an honest look at the situation?

Spend time analyzing what’s going on with your friends. It might take a few times for them to be comfortable with the fact that you are dealing with a divorce. Look around and see if you can find others that have gone through the same thing you are right now. Some people don’t know how to deal with negative situations like divorce. If you are having trouble seeing eye-to-eye, you need to find others who share the same mindset as you do. Being around those who can lift you up is important.

Do you find that you are no longer fitting in with those that you once did?

For those who have gotten used to their friends and fitting in, it can be overwhelming and heart-breaking to no longer fit in and have them by your side. You have the choice to feel awful or berate all of those who abandoned you. There is also the option of seeing this as a blip in a friendship that is normally steady. Maybe it was nothing more than a simple disagreement. Staying mad is only going to make the feelings of hurt that much worse, so you need to move past that.

Are you looking too much into the situation?

At times, people end up getting caught up in a host of reasons to help justify why they don’t have the energy, time or resources to make sure that all of their friends are invited to one of their events. It could be there are legitimate reasons why you weren’t invited to the event. Maybe your friend assumed that you wanted time to adjust after going through your divorce. Your friend could be thinking they are doing you a favor to prevent you from running into your ex. Until you take the time to speak with them about what they are feeling, you won’t know what triggered the event in the first place.

Have you considered finding something else for you to do?

Stop and look at the good side of things for a moment. Instead of having to worry about trying to please your friends, you can head out and do something that you have always wanted to do. This will help you find new loves and something that will entice and intrigue you. Take this time to spoil yourself and engage in something that you have always dreamed about, but never seemed to find the time to do it. Regardless of what it is that you enjoy, you deserve the chance to have a great time without your friends.

Do you listen to what your friends are trying to tell you?

You may be surprised to find out the reasoning behind why it is that your friends have parted ways with you. It might be that they feel trapped and don’t know how to handle the situation. They might feel as if they can’t handle the situation at hand, so they run away from it instead. Until you take the time to talk with them about the gravity of the situation, you won’t know how to handle it and get things moving in the right direction. Listen to what it is they have to say.

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October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Posted on Thu, Oct 10, 2013

Domestic violence is often considered a problem that exclusively affects women, but recent studies are changing that perception. Men can also be the victims of domestic violence at the hands of their partner or spouse. According to the National Centers for Disease Control, as many as 40% of victims are men. In Florida, men are victims in 24.1% of simple assault cases, but the actual number of male victims is probably higher.

Unfortunately, the fact that our culture still sees domestic violence as a women's problem has made it difficult for male victims to come forward and to access legal protections granted to domestic violence victims. Men and women are protected equally under the law, but the police and courts may be less sympathetic to male victims because of a lack of understanding. This is changing slowly, but it is still important for male domestic violence victims to handle the situation very carefully. Consulting with a divorce attorney for men in Jacksonville, Gainesville, Fleming Island, Daytona or Boca Raton can provide insight specific to your unique situation, but there are some precautions to keep in mind.

Always Call the Police

Many men are hesitant to involve the police in domestic violence incidents. Sometimes it is out of love. Many abuse victims of either gender still love their partners and don't want the abuser to go to jail. This is always a mistake. It gives the abuse a chance to escalate further and may put your life in danger. For men, it is particularly bad because it gives the appearance that the abuse didn't really happen. Since men are less likely to be believed even when there is proof, it's very important to document the abuse by getting the police involved.

For men, there can be an additional barrier to getting the police involved. Many men fear ridicule or don't think they will be believed, especially if the abuse only involves threats of violence rather than physical injury. Although this is a valid fear, it's important to remember that the police are trained to assess situations and are aware that men can be the victims of domestic violence as well. At the very least, there will be a police report documenting the accusations. During your court case in Jacksonville, Gainesville, Fleming Island, Daytona or Boca Raton, your divorce attorney for men will be able to use this to help prove your accusations.

Get Psychological Help

Abuse hurts the victim in many ways. It often leaves deep psychological scars that can be healed through therapy and support. If you have been the victim of domestic violence, seek out a good counselor to help you and any children you might have. Domestic violence hotlines usually have resources to help you find therapists who specialize in this kind of situation. Although men are often hesitant to call domestic violence hotlines, most do have resources for male victims as well and can at least point you in the right direction. Your divorce attorney for men may also be able to help.

If possible, it is also best to get a psychological evaluation for your partner as well. However, this may be difficult to do, and your safety is the most important thing. Your divorce attorney can provide advice on whether that is necessary for your case in Jacksonville, Gainesville, Fleming Island, Daytona or Boca Raton.

If you decide to attempt to repair your relationship, don't feel obligated to attend family or marital counseling right away. Family counseling often provides an abuser a chance to manipulate their victim, and the victim may feel responsible for the abuse. The abusive partner must do individual therapy to work through the issues that lead to their abusive behavior before any joint counseling is attempted.

Protect Your Children

If you have children with your abusive partner, it is wise to try to get custody of them even if the abuse has never been directed at them. Even if your partner never hurts them physically, the personality traits that lead to physical violence will probably still hurt them psychologically. In addition, abusers do sometimes begin to abuse their children after their spouse leaves.

Talk to your divorce attorney for men about getting a child custody evaluation and make sure to request an evaluator who has worked with domestic violence cases before and is trained in how to handle them in Jacksonville, Gainesville, Daytona, Fleming Island or Boca Raton. If the evaluator doesn't know about the abuse, he or she may not ask the right questions to find out whether your children are being hurt by it.

Always Speak Up

Domestic violence against men will not be treated seriously unless victims are willing to come forward, so speak up both for your own safety and that of other men who are being abused.

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My Ex is Dealing with Substance Abuse. Help!

Posted on Wed, Oct 09, 2013

When your ex chooses to abuse drugs or alcohol, her behavior affects the entire family. If your child is exposed to this behavior, it could leave a lasting negative impression or even worse, potentially endanger the child. The bottom line is that it's just not safe for an addict to be responsible for the well-being of your child.
Divorce is a complicated issue, and you probably have more than a few questions. Here are some answers to our most commonly asked questions.

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Adultery and Alimony in Florida Divorces

Posted on Tue, Oct 08, 2013

Marriage is a trust that you enter into with your partner, having certain expectations. One of those expectations is that they will be faithful to you, and when that doesn't happen, you shouldn't have to pay for it. Alimony lawyers in Jacksonville, Gainesville, Fleming Island, Daytona and Boca Raton can help you protect your assets and avoid or minimize alimony payments when your partner is unfaithful to you, as well as help you through the complicated web of divorce proceedings.

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Check List for Age Appropriate Halloween Activities

Posted on Mon, Oct 07, 2013

Some of childhood’s best memories are made during Halloween. Family law attorneys understand that divorce can be especially hard on kids, so the ritual of Halloween should be observed to maintain those best-of-times memories. However, while Halloween can be a bag full of treats, it’s also important for parents to watch out for any tricks that can ruin a fun night.

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Sharing Special Events

Posted on Fri, Oct 04, 2013

With your divorce, a parenting plan will be put in to place that will let you get on with the business of living and still ensure you can see your children on a regular basis. One of the biggest sticking points we see in family law in Florida is sharing special events. Yet deciding on visitation schedules and coordinating the transfer of your children from one parent to another doesn't have to be a painful experience or one that leaves you emotionally wrecked - it can be something that reinforces the best parts of your relationship with your children and your strengths as a parent.

Here are several tips to help guide you as you make your plans:

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Divorce and Depression

Posted on Thu, Oct 03, 2013

Let's face it. Whether you are the one who initiated your divorce, or you are at the receiving end, divorce is tough. Even when the previous marriage has been a rough road to travel, it can be extremely difficult to get over the fact that the relationship is truly over. Sadly enough, even as you begin to feel the pressures of starting over, and depression begins to wedge its way into your life, you must remember that you are not the only one this transition is affecting. If children have been involved, they stand a very strong chance of suffering from depression as well. All is not lost, however. There are steps you can take to not only help yourself get through these trying times, but to assist other family members as well.

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10 Easy Ideas for School Lunch

Posted on Wed, Oct 02, 2013

Since kids are still growing, they need nutritious lunches to help them develop and grow strong. However, when you're considering a divorce, divorced or are in the process of searching for a child custody attorney in Florida, you might not have time to spend hours preparing meals. Packing healthy lunches is simpler than you think. Here are 10 easy ideas for school lunch to help you and your kids get out of the door in time.

1. Pasta salad
This lunch is simple to make after having leftover pasta from dinner. Spoon a couple of scoops into your child's lunch container, add cheese and sliced salami for some calcium and protein. You could also add sauces and salad dressings or sprinkle seasonings like oregano to make the pasta salad more flavorful.

2. Turkey and cheese wraps 
Taking just a few minutes to prepare, wraps are both quick to make and versatile enough to please your pickiest eaters. To make a turkey wrap, start with a flour tortilla. Add a couple of turkey slices and layers of lettuce and cheese and then roll up the wrap. Substitute turkey with ham or other proteins and add on other vegetables like tomato or avocado for a healthier lunch. 

3. Macaroni and cheese
Mac and cheese is a classic and it's simple to cook the night before from scratch. Cook the macaroni according to the directions on the package. In a saucepan, melt butter over medium heat and stir in 1/4 cup flour. Gradually add 2 cups of milk while continuing to stir the milk until bubbly. Stir in the cheese until it's melted and combine the cheese mixture and macaroni together.

4. Barbeque chicken sandwiches
BBQ chicken sandwiches don't require a ton of prep time when you buy a rotisserie chicken, which can be used to create lunches and dinners throughout the week. Slice off a couple of large pieces of chicken and shred the chicken meat using two forks. Toss the shredded chicken with barbeque sauce and then place a hamburger bun next to it.

5. Cheese quesadillas
Similar to a grilled cheese sandwich, quesadillas are made by melting cheese between two tortillas. Heat a skillet on medium heat and place in a flour tortilla. Cover the tortilla with shredded cheese (such as pepper jack or cheddar). Wait for a few minutes until the cheese starts to melt and add fillings: cooked chicken, avocado, and more. Sprinkle more cheese and top the quesadilla with another tortilla. Press down using a spatula and then flip it over to melt the cheese on the other side of the quesadilla.

6. Tacos
Start by cooking 1 pound of lean ground beef in a large skillet over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes. Stir the beef occasionally until brown. Drain the juices from skillet. Stir in salsa into the cooked beef and heat until boiling. Stir and reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 5 minutes while stirring. Place the beef inside the lunch container and put some taco cheese mix and lettuce into a separate plastic bag. 

7. Tuna salad sandwich
As another classic staple for lunch, a tuna salad sandwich lets you combine all ingredients into a bowl for an easy clean-up. Start with tuna inside a medium bowl. Add mayonnaise, mustard, chopped celery and red onion into the bowl and stir until combined well. You could remove the red onion and any other ingredients you think your child won't eat. 

8. Apples and dipping sauces
Kids love to dip their food in different sauces, which can allow them to make more nutritious choices. Instead of giving kids a snack cake or brownie for dessert, give them a healthier alternative: apples. Make apples tastier with a small serving of caramel dip or some spoonfuls of peanut butter.

9. Yogurt parfait
Yogurt is great for kids because it contains protein and calcium. Wash and slice some fruits you think your kids will like, such as strawberries, blueberries or raspberries. Begin making the parfait by adding a few spoonfuls of yogurt. Greek-style yogurt has more calcium than regular yogurt and is also creamier for a delicious parfait. Layer the fruits onto the yogurt and add some more spoonfuls of yogurt.

10. Fettucine alfredo
As a cheap lunch, you can make fettucine alfredo. Start by preparing the fettucine according to the package directions. Remove from heat and drain the noodles. Heat the alfredo sauce in a sauce pan until heated through and add the fettucine and mix until the pasta is covered. Add salt and pepper to taste.

For more information regarding a potential child custody attorney in Florida, contact Kenny Leigh and Associates. This professional family law firm serves Northeast Florida and South Florida with five offices: Jacksonville, Gainesville, Fleming Island, Daytona and Boca Raton.

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6 Do's to Being a Stepdad - Part 1

Posted on Tue, Oct 01, 2013

Going through a divorce isn't easy. Once you start back into the dating world, you may meet someone who has children. Later down the line, these children become your stepchildren. This is a very special relationship and takes some patience, understanding and a lot of love. These helpful do’s of being a step day can assist you greatly.

1. Do Spend Time Doing What They Like
They may want their biological father at their sporting events, but that doesn't mean they don't want you there, too. Go to their baseball games and dance recitals. If they like to go bowling, why not plan a Saturday family bowling day? The zoo is fun for everyone. The important thing is making an effort to have fun with them. The more active you are in spending time with them, the more they will warm up to you. Don't hesitate to invite them to spend time doing what you love, whether it be fishing, biking or tennis.

2. Do Open up the Line of Communication
Your new stepchildren might be hesitant to accept you in their lives. That doesn't mean you give up, instead approach them. Let them know you're here to listen and to advise when they need it. Let them know you care about them and how they're feeling.

3. Do Respect their Mother's Wishes
If their mother thinks eating chocolate before dinner and staying up past 9 on a school night are acceptable, you have to respect her wishes, even if she's only trying to keep up with what the other parents are doing. Don't undermine her authority. If you do have concerns, you should express them to her only when the children aren't around. Never tell the children they can do something just to be the "cool" step dad. While you might be scoring brownie points with the kids, your relationship with their mother may suffer because of it.

4. Do Be a Dad
Do act like a father to the children. Treat them like you would/do treat your own children; never insist they call you dad though. They probably already have a father, who they love, so don't step on his toes. There may come a time when they call you dad, but don't expect it to happen right away or force it upon them. To be a dad, you should help them with their homework and teach them new skills. You should inquire about their day and take an interest in their schooling.

5. Do Respect Their Privacy
If you have kids of your own, you may have dealt with the fact that preteens and teenagers need their space. If not, here's the time to learn about boundaries and respect. Don't enter their rooms without knocking and don't listen in on their telephone calls. If you want step children who resent you – or if you really want to hear the dreaded "You're not my real dad," – overstepping boundaries will surely accomplish this.  

6. Do Set a Good Example
You're a vital person in the children's lives now. They look up to you. Make sure you give them something worth looking up to. For instance, don't partake in negative behaviors such as recreational drugs, obsessive gambling or binge drinking. If you smoke, do it outside. Watch your language around younger children who may repeat profanities or foul language.

Being a step parent isn't easy, but keep in mind that being a stepchild isn't always easy either. By being a good role model, someone they can talk to and by taking the time to get to know them, you can become a great step dad.

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