Kids and Divorce Video

A fun and engaging App that helps parents support their children through the challenges of family separation and divorce. Join thousands of families, schools and professionals worldwide who trust and use our tablet apps, to express their feelings about divorce and family breakup.

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Designed for the child (4-11 yrs) and parent to use together, K&D’S Creative story making language has great potential for a child, to grow their emotional intelligence, wellbeing and social health in a safe environment.

 

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Familysteps Introduction

The New Apps technology offers highly visual animations which are ideal for personal life storymaking. MAKE MY FAMILY (trademark)  and KIDS&DIVORCE (trademark) are the first in a planned series of 6 animation apps from Familysteps.

For me the real buzz is to connect through global internet technology,to promote and empower the psychological well being of others.

Have great fun playing with our apps!

Simon Dermody
Founder and Creative Director

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Kids Suffer From Your Bad Marriage Too

Put the kids first, think about them as the major little victims of your situation.

The choices you make affect the kids, no matter what.

Over decades, mental illness has been a commonly discussed topic on almost all communication panels. People have tried to find its origin, but often, they fail to look at it from a personal point of view. Sincerely speaking, such problems are largely attributed to cold relationships that people are holding onto. Apparently, these kinds of affairs affect them intensely, because most still cling to their spouses for the sake of their kids.

Let’s see how this may be the cause of the problem:

1. Emotional and unchecked baggage.

Today, couples have invested all their time, energy, and resources on online platforms where they pour out their feelings. What people have noticed is that in real sense they are not addressing their hurts, pains, and loneliness correctly.

Communication is vital in a relationship and therefore, when compromised, its repercussions are extremely serious. Before embarking on another relationship, first learn to always address past pains, hurts, and negative emotions caused by it. Otherwise, you will attach this to your current partner and have a negative impact on your emotional well being.

2. Living together while expecting them to change.

Many spouses are living hoping that their current partners will change. For some, they realized their partner’s vices earlier but somehow along the way, a kid came by which made them overlook everything.

Over time, the vices are getting more serious which is now weighing heavily on them emotionally. The constant life of fear, resentment and probably shame of their partner’s vice is causing them serious stress which could later result to depression and mental illness. This becomes unfair when no one appreciates the fact that you are living in such conditions for your kids.

3. Unbalance in the marriage.

In shared institutions, power should be exercised equally, and equity should be one of the most considered factors. If you seem to be mistreated or mishandled in the relationship, then in due time, you will always feel lower than the other individual and later stress to the point of depression.

4. Dependent on the bread winner.

You often hear of couples claiming that it’s simpler living with a spouse who is insulting, rather than leave, because of financial security. The sole provider will then transform you to a complete dependent. This will not only lower your self-esteem but will also break your inner motivation. Later, you will see yourself going for antidepressants like A2X to relieve yourself and slowly.

5. Emotional incompatibility affects everyone.

Emotional incompatibility in relationships also contributes to mental illness. Spending time in a troubled relationship for the kid’s sake, makes you have more trouble rather than a remedy. Children are sensitive and will always realize when either parent is unhappy, which even makes life harder for the losing party.

Facing children and spilling it all is almost impossible. Evidently, the kids get disturbed, scared, and become emotionally unstable which leads to low self-esteem.

Investing in a troubled relationship has, and never will it be, a better option than getting out. Sometimes, it is advisable to make a choice if you want to live a better life. Many people have spent most of their times trying to change others or probably attempting to transform their lives to match that of their partner.

Whether you have kids or not, it is advisable to walk away once a relationship shows signs of nuisance. Remember, failing to walk away will only lead to more worries and eventually you will waste a lot of time that you could otherwise spent with people who are willing to love you without questioning your integrity of forcing things out.

 

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Urban Legends and Getting Over Divorce

Divorce, you're going through it, you've been through it...there is a light at the end of the tunnel, but how do you actually get there? Chocolate, exercise, shopping, therapy, all of the above?

Divorce is not a tragedy — it is the close of a tragic chapter of your life.

By Arianna Jeret

Divorce can be an excruciating tunnel-vision journey, but divorce is not a tragedy — it is the close of a tragic chapter of your life.

When the papers come stamped from the court and you are officially “free,” something counter-intuitive happens. You feel soaring release, followed by a crash back to Earth, followed by the hollow echo of “Now what?”

I haven’t met anyone who truly regrets their divorce, so the most common question I hear (and find myself asking as well) is this:

“I am honestly thrilled that my marriage ended, so why do I feel so damn depressed?”

While the answer to “why” varies from person to person, here are 12 simple and effective ways I have found to lift myself, my clients, and my divorced friends in those moments of the post-divorce blues.

1. Speak your truth.

In most unhealthy marriages, at some point one or both of you shut down. You stopped communicating what you really felt — about everything. Now is the time to start stretching those trust muscles. Trust yourself to know what you believe, feel what you feel, and express yourself openly with kindness.

2. Stop acting so surprised.

When your ex sends you a nasty message about your parenting, is it really a surprise?

When you realize that 25 year-old woman was just looking for a few free drinks for herself and friends, is it really surprise? When the guy who said he will never cheat on anyone again cheats on you, is it really a surprise? You’ve been living in the real world for awhile now. Stop feigning surprise and make decisions based on what you can most likely expect.

3. Figure out who you are — for now.

The idea that you should take time for yourself before you get involved with anyone else is a false premise (in my mostly-humble opinion).

Our personalities, interests, careers, needs, and wants stay in constant flux throughout our lifetime. Getting in touch with yourself is not a one shot deal, but rather a lifetime practice that you will need in times when you are single, and times when you are coupled. Look inward, but don’t keep your nose in there too long or you might get stuck.

4. If the idea excites you, try it!

A divorce is one of the single most frightening experiences anyone can endure, and you endured it! (If yours isn’t final, I promise that at some point it will actually be over, impossible as that may seem.)

What could you possibly be afraid of now?

There is a good chance that your marriage didn’t succeed because you entered it seeking to make the “right” choices, rather than the choices that spoke to the core of your soul.

So stop it. Stop looking for the safe, the secure and the correct life path and take on those challenges and opportunities that make you hum with satisfaction and pride.

5. Let it go.

Queen Elsa knows what she’s talking about.

I don’t know about you, but there things about my former marriage that I could still complain about. I can pretty much guarantee that won’t change anything that’s happened — or improve my life in any way at all.

When I think of closure, I imagine my computer’s home screen with a zillion tabs open, making it difficult to find and access the specific tab I need most immediately.

Many of these tabs are open only because I might forget them if I let them drop. When I think about it, I realize that if I never find that closed tab again, I didn’t need it in the first place.

Start closing the tabs in your mind that relate to resentments from your marriage. If you really need them, you can access them later. Most likely, you’ll feel more streamlined and effective.

6. Own your mistakes.

And stop owning the mistakes other’s attempt to cast off on you. I’m sure you’ve heard that women apologize far more often necessary. In working with divorcing individuals, I find the same is true of men.

Most people who have been on the receiving end of abuse or manipulation have apologized not only for their own less than ideal moments, but for those of their partner for the sake of keeping — or regaining — the peace.

Owning responsibility for your errors is a crucial part of being a healthy person. Keep that up! But you don’t need to apologize for something that you did not do, say, cause, think, express, or manifest in any other way.

7. Release the idea of staying friends with those who have grown distant.

Unfortunately, this urban legend of divorce holds true: once their divorce is final, many people find themselves quickly and silently abandoned by friends they thought would stick by them until the end.

I have yet to understand why, but humans are sometimes nasty animals and your time is far better spent seeking out people who get you than trying to understand those who dropped you when you needed them most.

Allow yourself to mourn the loss, which is often much more painful than the loss of the marriage itself, and accept that you have no power to change anyone else’s lack of empathy, humanity or reliability.

8. Find a virtual community.

It would be ideal if we could snap our fingers and find a local group of brand new friends with plenty of free time to hang out, bond, and play  as we set out on the Yellow Brick Road of life as a divorced single. Unfortunately, real life makes it hard to find a new, solid group of local friends once your kids are past elementary school age without an extremely concerted effort.

In the more immediate present, make the most of social media and Internet-based opportunities to reconnect with old friends, meet and chat with others in the same life stage, and share discussions based around your interests.

From there you will not only meet some amazing people you would otherwise never have encountered, you will likely think of new local connections as well.

9. Figure out what makes you laugh and do that.

For me, it is Louis CK, ridiculous YouTube videos, silly memes and — strange as it seems even to me — some of my kids’ favorite TV shows. You know what hits your personal funny bone. Watch, read or do it A LOT.

10. Cut the crap about being SO old.

OMG. If I hear one more person in their 40’s or 50’s tell me “I’m just soooo old now,” I may just flip my junk. We are not old people! Keep telling yourself that, and you will become so. Keep telling others you are, and they will believe so. I would prefer to stay young and be seen that way. Trite as it sounds, this one actually is a state of mind.

11. Date! Have sex! Get out there!

You may not ever want to get married again. You may not feel you can trust yourself, let alone anyone else, but so what? What’s the worst that could happen to you next? Another divorce? OK. We chose to end an unhealthy marriage so that we could lead a more healthy and satisfying life.

We are social beings, and even the introverts among us do best with at least some human contact — both physical and emotional — with others. I wish it were possible to find love and companionship without risking getting hurt, but I haven’t figured out how to make that so.

Men can hurt you. Women can hurt you. Children can hurt you. Lovers, friends, business associates, strangers — we are all walking potential land mines. Bummer, I know, but oh well. Staying alone in your shell is never going to change any of that or make it better, but finding some good friends — and maybe even a life partner — can sure make it all feel a lot more worthwhile.

12. Allow yourself your feelings. Just not 24/7/365.

A client recently told me her therapist reminds her frequently to “Stop being a Debbie Downer and be a Penny Positive instead!” I may appear cynical, but I almost tossed my non-fat latte.

Whether you were the one to file for divorce or the one who didn’t want it, no one gets through even the most amicable divorce unscathed emotionally. If you stuff down your despair all the time and for everyone, including yourself, you will leave your emotions with nowhere to go other than headed toward Complete Melt-Down Road.

Just don’t let yourself feel it all the time or you spiral down farther than you ever could have imagined it possible to go. When you find yourself over-thinking, over-napping, or over-Netflixing, accept your real need to rest your emotional energy, and give yourself reasonable parameters for how long you will let yourself  veg out before you make yourself get up and do at least one productive activity.

This article was originally published at The Good Men Project. Reprinted with permission from the author.

 

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Interest-based Negotiation

A previous post outlined 3 negotiation principles applicable to divorce mediation. One of these, interest-based negotiation, was popularized by Roger Fisher and William Ury in their classic book “Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving in.”

Interest-based Negotiation Steps

Interest-based negotiation is a whole approach to conflict resolution which emphasizes discovering and addressing the real concerns of each party. Applied to divorce mediation, it has several steps:

Defining the issues;
Identifying underlying interests or concerns for each spouse for each issue;
Prioritizing these interests for each spouse;
Developing options to address the interests;
Combining the options into proposals for resolution;
Using objective criteria where possible to evaluate the options.

The first step is to define the issues that will be discussed. Rather than immediately launching into thoughts, feelings and ideas, it’s helpful to clarify what you are trying to resolve. For example, the issue could be to develop a co-parenting plan for the holidays and other special days of the year.

The next step is to find out what things are most important to each parent. For one parent it might include having time with the children on religious holidays. For another it might include being able to arrange get-togethers with extended family such as grandparents. This step allows the rest of the discussion to proceed at the deeper level of seeing how/if what’s important to each spouse can be satisfied.

Each spouse will of course often have several interests and it may be helpful to prioritize them. For example, one parent may really want to have time with the children on every holiday but may place a higher priority on the children having quality holiday time with both parents.

An idea generating session can follow in which possibilities are encouraged and developed to try to meet both spouses’ interests. The most attractive ideas are then combined into proposals that seem to be potential solutions to the issue. In the parenting plan example, this may often include trade-offs, where say on key holidays like Thanksgiving each parent may have the children in alternate years.

When possible and appropriate, it’s good to evaluate the options with objective criteria. The aim is to try to ensure that the options and proposals are well founded. For the holiday parenting plan, the couple may have agreed up front to share total holiday time with the children fairly equally. If so, they can add up the total holiday days with each parent over the course of a year as a way to evaluate different possible holiday time-sharing solutions.

Using objective criteria is more important in the financial negotiations. There are normally ways to determine an objective value for each asset and debt, such as Kelly Blue Book, real estate appraisals, and 401(k) plan statements. Doing so helps each spouse be clear and confident as regards the real financial basis and implications of each proposal.

The steps of interest-based negotiation don’t need to be done strictly in sequence for each issue. The process under the guidance of a good mediator is usually more organic and efficient. But interest-based negotiation is a time-tested approach for coming to well-informed, creative decisions and solutions that address what’s of greatest importance to each spouse.

Is Your Marriage Doomed?

Of course you can't predict the future, but you can be aware of red flags that could mean your marriage is headed for trouble.

Know what to look for.

Before meeting my boo, I read the The 5 Love Languages to prepare myself for a long-lasting relationship. I wanted to know what I needed to be a fully committed and self-aware partner. When we do get married, I want it to last 'til death do us part.

Unfortunately, some marriages begin as fairy dust and end as a hot mess.

Do you fear that you and your significant other could be headed toward a separation? Divorce lawyer Bruce Provda, Esq and Licensed Clinical Marriage and Family Therapist Olga Bloch share signs that you’re headed for divorce.

1. You're dreaming of the single life.

We all look at our partner sometimes, and think, “Damn, I could be at a club right now.” That’s especially the case if he has his hands down his pants — beer gut overflowing.

But there’s a difference between reminiscing about the single life and “daydreaming about how much better life might be if divorce happened,” Provda said. “Longing for life away from the spouse is a sure sign that marriage therapy is needed before it’s too late,” he added.

If this sounds like you, book an appointment STAT!

2. The bad times outweight the good.

When clients ask me for advice on their troubled relationship, I often ask, “Do you recall more bad memories than happy memories?” If the answer is yes, you’re in danger, chica. 

Provda agrees, stating that “every marriage has its problems, but if the negative outweighs the positive, the marriage is in trouble.”

You shouldn’t look back at your relationship and think, “Crap! I can’t remember ever being happy!”

3. Conflicts never get resolved.

If you’re a couple that never argues, consider yourself blessed — or suppressed. It’s actually healthy to fight once in awhile.

Trouble comes in when “fights are repetitive and both people feel hopeless and that nothing ever changes,” Bloch explained. “If there is rarely a reparation process, an apology, or a way to reconnect with the other partner, or hurt feelings are not acknowledged or addressed, you might be headed for divorce,” she added.

4. You don't talk to your partner.

Your significant other should be the person that you confide in and with whom you share your deepest desires. Bloch also suggested talking about more than just “the daily business of what is happening in the home, or kids, or responsibilities.”

Share your feelings so your love doesn’t die!

5. You dismiss your partner's feelings.

The worst thing you can do is treat your partner like his feelings do not matter. Even if you don’t agree with him, acknowledge his feelings and hear him out.

“If you are finding yourself being overly defensive and dismissive of your spouse’s feelings, then you are at high risk for divorce,” Prodva affirmed. “It is the kiss of death for a marriage.”

6. You're working on your relationship - solo.

It takes two to tango, baby, so why are you the only one on the dance floor? When a marriage is in trouble both you and your partner need to roll up your sleeves and work through your issues.

“If one spouse shuts down all together and is no longer interested in solving the marriage issues, watch out. Divorce is around the corner,” Provda said.

7. You can't be yourself.

If you can’t be yourself with your partner, why be with him at all? It’s just exhausting to pretend to be someone you’re not.

Bloch explained that it's worse when “you feel like you can't be yourself out of fear of upsetting your partner or starting another fight.” That’s when you change to make the other person happy. Ultimately, you’ll be miserable — and no fairy dust can fix it.

 

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Fighting the Battle Of Sibling Rivalry

Fighting the Battle Of Sibling Rivalry
by Kidsinthehouse.com

Sibling rivalry is inevitable. In fact, in the 2-4 age group, kids will have some kind of fight every 6.3 minutes. That is almost 10 fights an hour!
What can parents do to help resolve sibling conflict and form deeper bonds between their children?

Here are 4 expert tips on how to help your kids get along:

1. Never compare your kids
The number one issue that causes lasting resentment between siblings is parental comparison. When a parent compares one child to another, what that child understands is that they are not good enough. This creates conflict between siblings and can increase tensions in the household.

2. Do not tolerate sibling bullying
Sibling bullying is the most common type of bullying: 75% of kids report being bullied by a sibling. This type of bullying can be extremely harmful and create lasting trauma for kids. It is up to parents to nip any negative behavior in the bud and emphasize mutual respect before the bullying gets out of hand.

3. Hold weekly family meetings
Family meetings are a great opportunity for everyone in the family to air their grievances. They are a time for families to gather and freely communicate with each other without repercussions. Family meetings can be an opportunity for family members to apologize to each other and eliminate any bad feelings that may have built up during the week.

4. Mediate but do not judge
When parents intervene in sibling arguments, it is important that they do so in a constructive and unbiased way, and allow their children to resolve their own problems. One way to mediate a sibling argument is to frame the issue and restate each child’s position, and then allow them to problem solve together.

Remember parents, the effort you put into helping your kids to get along now will pay off big in the future - a positive relationship with a brother or a sister in childhood, will result in a best friend for life!
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Lessons About Divorce

What My Elderly Mother is Teaching Me About Divorce
By Karen Bigman

Many of us are at a time in lives when our kids are finally independent, yet we are now faced with the responsibility of elderly parents. Those of us who are divorced and single often have the added challenge of facing all the stress alone. Whereas before we were able to turn to our partner and vent about our frustrations or bounce ideas off of them about what they think is best, now we must face these difficulties alone.

A few weeks ago my mother and I spent the weekend trying to organize for her first winter pilgrimage down south in 2 years (we live in a different cities). She couldn’t remember whether she already forwarded the mail, what the receipt for $120 was for and why she kept it or what I told her 20 minutes before. I suppose the good news is that she remembered her medications and doctor’s appointments. I’m sure I’m not alone in watching this struggle, but what has been particularly heart wrenching is watching it from afar when I’m going through my own evolution as a single, divorced woman.

My mother travelled south alone. I worried that she would try to carry her own suitcases or would forget to tell security that she has a pacemaker at the airport among other things. I worried that she would try to drive somewhere and get in an accident, or that she would fall and break her hip and there would be no one there to help her.

She arrived in Florida safely. Her ride never showed but somehow she made it to our reunion. I spent the week organizing her and trying to get her familiar with her new surroundings. It was one of the most stressful experiences of my life. I was incredibly concerned about her being completely disoriented. She seemed helpless and fragile. After a while I realized that I couldn’t control what happens. I think that’s when I finally drew the parallel to my life and that of my clients.

I’ve learned a lot from my mother. I saw how resourceful and resilient she could be when life threw her off balance. She survived wars, was a refugee, lived in 6 countries, was married and widowed twice and has lived on her own for the past 4 years. She is strong and incredibly resilient. She accepted that she was in control of her own life and found a way to make things work. From her I’ve learned that I can take care of myself. I learned to be independent and strong leaving home at 17. I see how she goes on each day despite all the difficulties in her life and it shows me that I can survive just fine by myself.

My mom is happy in her temporary digs in Florida, and I’m back home continuing to pursue my dreams and letting my new life evolve. I know there will be more challenges along the way but I also know that, like my mother, I will overcome them.

Diamonds in the Rough ~ Growing and healing in Central America.

By Carmen Schaffer, Viva La Vida Travel

My curiosity was piqued when I was offered the opportunities to travel to El Salvador and Guatemala to scout out the countries as possible tourist destinations. Albeit, El Salvador and Guatemala are already growing in their tourism industry, most people who consider traveling and taking a vacation would not consider going to a country that has had a history of wars, gang violence and revolutions within their borders. I was intrigued to find out how these countries could benefit future travelers, so I went with an open mind.

Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua as well as Honduras are all Central American countries that have been hit with devastating wars and revolutions over the past several decades that have shattered their social, economic and emotional infrastructure. There is evidence of the political and economical struggles around every corner when you travel to countries such as these. There are dilapidated buildings neighboring dirt floor houses with tin roofs and no electricity scattered about as you travel the beautiful countryside. There are children and their mothers pan handling for a few coins just to get some tortillas to fill their bellies. There is poverty, a lot of it. As much as there is poverty seemingly everywhere, there is also great evidence of a rebirth that exists. Bustling cities, high rises, shopping malls and many other "first world" conveniences are popping up around every corner ~ a sign of growth and prosperity.

What does all of this have to do about travel? Why would anyone want to travel somewhere to see broken down buildings and impoverished people? Don't we want to travel to feel relaxed and rejuvenated? Here's what I have to say about my experiences in these countries and what my "take away" was from being in both El Salvador and Guatemala.

The geography for all Central American countries is simply divine. Volcanoes scatter the sky line coupled with majestic mountain ranges, tropical rain forests and pristine beaches. Just by the geography alone you'd think you found paradise. The contrast between the beauty of countryside and some of the images of poverty you may find are thought provoking at best. Now, add in interactions with local people. From the streets of San Salvador to the sleepy beach town of El Cuco, El Salvador to the Mayan Ruins of Tikal, my interactions with the locals were bar none, some of the most sincere and gracious moments of my life. Smiling faces and outstretched hands greeted me every single step of my travels. There is the assumption that if one is poor or is struggling, that it would be yet another struggle just to be kind to another person, but that simply is not true ~ not in El Salvador nor in Guatemala.

There is good energy in these countries, it contrasts with the seemingly rugged exterior of a difficult history, but the energy and the spirit of the people is resilient, supportive and caring. These people know struggle. They know what it's like to lose everything and then work slowly together, yet persistently to get their lives back to a normal if not an improved state. The history of their struggle remains deeply rooted in who they are as a people and it is that understanding of pain and rebirth that fuels their pride as a nation and propels them forward to creating a better life.

Traveling to countries who have had a checkered past but who are recuperating and rebuilding their foundations are fantastic places to travel to if you yourself are in a place of rebirth. Traveling to El Salvador or Guatemala is a wonderful way to get inspired and refocused. If you have struggled with having your whole life changed in the upheaval of divorce and have had to rebuild and restructure everything you've ever known, you will find solace and comfort in being with a nation who has done just that, but on a much larger scale.

If you travel with an open mind and an open heart, you will discover just what your heart and soul need to find.

Viva la Vida!

January is International Child-Centered Divorce Month

During January for International Child-Centered Divorce Month Parents Coping with Divorce Issues Get Free Gifts!

By Rosalind Sedacca, CCT

In recognition of International Child-Centered Divorce Month divorce experts around the world will be providing free ebooks, coaching services, teleseminars and other gifts to divorced parents throughout January. ICCD Month is dedicated to alerting parents about the effects of divorce on children – and how to prevent emotional and psychological damage to children during and after a divorce.

Divorce attorneys, mediators, therapists, financial planners, coaches and other professionals on four continents will be participating. Their purpose is to promote peaceful divorce, cooperative co-parenting, and educating parents about how to prevent negative consequences for children affected by separation or divorce.

More divorces get initiated in January, following the holiday season, than in any other month. That’s why as a Divorce & Parenting Coach and founder of the Child-Centered Divorce Network, I chose January to commemorate ICCD Month every year. International Child-Centered Divorce Month is dedicated to alerting parents about the harm to their children when divorce isn’t handled effectively. Repeated studies show that it isn’t divorce per se that damages children. It’s the mistakes that unaware parents make before, during and after divorce that does the harm.
For this reason, I am thrilled that divorce professionals around the world will be joining us to bring a heightened awareness to parents about their responsibility to their children’s well-being before, during and after divorce. Our purpose is education and mistake prevention. We want to encourage mediation instead of damaging litigation, respectful co-parenting, effective communication skills, and guide parents away from common mistakes that scar children, even into their teens.

We can never overemphasize how parental decisions about divorce can affect and scar children – for years – and often for a lifetime. Our resounding message to divorcing parents is: Regardless of your own emotional state, it is essential to put your children's needs first when making decisions related to divorce or separation! Often that means letting go of anger and resentment in favor of co-operative co-parenting so your children aren’t robbed of their childhood.

My goal is to catch divorcing parents before they make mistakes they will regret when it comes to their children's emotional well-being. By bringing the world’s legal, therapeutic and educational communities together we can reach out with messages designed to encourage peaceful divorce outcomes. Too many parents divorcing today don’t realize that they have many reasonable choices and viable options for parenting after divorce. They don’t have to walk the path we too often see in the headlines. Cooperative co-parenting and harmonious divorces are not only possible, they’re the direction to choose if you want to minimize the negative effects of divorce on everyone in the family.

The Child-Centered Divorce Network has created a special website where parents can access all the valuable gifts by simply clicking links. The website will be available throughout January at www.divorcedparentsupport.com/ebook.

In addition, parents can find listings of free expert interviews, teleseminars, webinars and other special events being held during January on the Events Calendar at the same website: www.divorcedparentsupport.com/ebook.

For more information about International Child-Centered Divorce Month plus access to all the free gifts and special events taking place in January visit: www.divorcedparentsupport.com/ebook.

To learn more about Child-Centered Divorce, visit www.childcentereddivorce.com as well as www.howdoitellthekids.com.

Sincere best wishes for a happy and harmonious New Year to all!

Sometimes Love Means Letting Him Walk Away

When love isn't enough, it's time to move on.

The hardest decision I ever made was whether to let my drug addict husband leave or to try to keep the family together for my son. I was raised Catholic and no one in my family had been divorced. I didn’t want to be a single mom and I didn’t want my son to grow up without his father. But my life was becoming unmanageable.

When my husband was transferred to the Northwest from Arizona, I thought the move would help him get away from all his druggie friends. Did I think they didn’t have drugs in the Northwest?

My Dad was an alcoholic and growing up I thought if I just loved him enough, he would stop drinking. I was able to let go of that craziness when I moved out at 18. When I married I thought if I loved my husband enough and was the perfect wife, he would give up the drinking and the drugs and become the perfect husband and father.

What Do People Most Ask Their Attorney?

The Two Most Common Questions That People Ask Their Divorce Attorney
By Jacqueline Harounian, ESQ

Clients inevitably ask two questions at the beginning of their case: “How long will it take to get divorced?” and of course ,“How much will this cost?”

Hear ye. Hear ye. Unless your case is uncontested or a mediation case, the honest answer to those two questions is: “It depends.” No lawyer can give you a definite answer to these crucial questions, because there are no definite answers. If there are multiple issues to be analyzed in your case, the time frame and cost of the case will depend on many factors beyond your lawyer’s control. Most significantly, these factors are:

the law applicable to your case;
the facts of your case;
the judge assigned;
the other lawyer’s modus operandi;
and finally, your spouse’s willingness to agree on reasonable terms.
There are very few guaranteed outcomes in divorce cases. Family law, with all of its emotional overtones, fact specific determinations, and legal ‘gray areas’, is far from an exact science. Your lawyer’s opinion about results that can be achieved is generally based upon ranges of probability which, in turn, are based upon the facts which you provide, and the law in your jurisdiction.

My law firm offers a free confidential consultation, so you can ask any questions you have about your family law or divorce matter. Call us at 516 773 8300 to schedule.

Mediation Confidentiality and Attorney Malpractice

The Irony of Mediation Confidentiality and Attorney Malpractice
By Mark Baer ESQ.

The California Law Revision Commission's desire to make an exception to mediation confidentiality for allegations of legal malpractice is fascinating and disconcerting to me for a great many reasons.

The statutes in question were enacted 18 years ago, in 1997.

In 2013, the California Supreme Court held that information covered by mediation confidentiality could not be used against an attorney in a legal malpractice case. It should be noted that there was no proof of legal malpractice in that case, merely an allegation. Since then, there has been a very strong effort to make an exception to mediation confidentiality when someone makes an allegation of legal malpractice. Note that anyone may allege anything at any time and that does not mean there is any validity to the allegation.

It's important to note that this issue had not been addressed by the Supreme Court prior to 2013 because the issue had not previously been before the court. In other words, we are talking about making an exception to mediation confidentiality for something that rarely occurs and merely based upon allegations, which are made all the time.

Interestingly enough, many states in the U.S. deem the failure of attorneys to advise their clients of alternatives to the litigation process to be legal malpractice. A great deal has been written about the cost (financial and otherwise) and harm caused by litigation. Meanwhile, the failure to advise clients in California about their non-litigation options to resolve their disputes is not considered malpractice.

In other words, the California Law Revision Commission wants to interfere with mediation confidentiality by creating an exception based upon the mere allegation of malpractice, but is doing nothing about the great many attorneys who harm their clients, interpersonal relationships, and society at large by failing to advise their clients of their non-litigation options to resolving disputes.
The Commission seems hell bent on creating this exception and is toying with whether or not there should be an in camera review of such information by judges before such information is released.

In camera reviews take a great deal of judicial time and the court budget has been cut immensely over the years because of the status of the economy. In fact, the California Supreme Court recently imposed such a duty on Prosecutors instead of judicial officers in criminal matters pertaining to possible exculpatory evidence.

In family law matters alone, only 1 in every 200 cases nationally go to trial. Thus, 199 out of every 200 family law cases nationally are ultimately resolved outside of court, through mediation or otherwise. Just imagine how many cases may require in camera reviews merely because of an allegation of attorney malpractice. If the judges bear that burden, how will that impact the administration of the already financially crippled court system.

Another option is for the party not alleging attorney malpractice to file motions in limine and motions for protective orders in order to keep their confidential information from being released.

It should be noted that the average cost of a divorce nationally is approximately $40,000.00. However, in California, the average cost of a divorce is more than double that - it is estimated to be between $90,000.00 and $95,000.00. Of course, that is due to the immense cost of litigation.

Also note that while we are referring to mediation confidentiality issues, the mediation may well have occurred in a litigated matter. People would be far better off attempting mediation or collaborative divorce before pursuing litigation because of the cost and destruction it causes. That brings us back around to the unfortunate reality that in California, the failure of attorneys to inform their clients of the non-litigation options to resolving their disputes is not considered legal malpractice.

As a result of the immense cost of divorce and the destruction litigators tend to cause to family dynamics, only between ten to fifteen percent of people involved in family law matters in California retain legal counsel. Nevertheless, if the mediation confidentiality exception is created and if the courts don't bear the cost of in camera reviews, the party not making the allegation of legal malpractice will bear the additional financial burden of filing motions to protect their confidential information from coming out.

Since court files are public records, once that information is out, it will become part of the court file for everyone to see.

On December 10, 2015, I attended the California Law Revision Commission's most recent hearing on the mediation confidentiality issue, as did a great many of my colleagues. Many of us spoke, including a couple of retired judicial officers. Other than the Commission members themselves, most of those in attendance were involved in the family law community. With one exception, everyone who spoke to the Commission explained the importance of mediation confidentiality and the harm that would be caused by making an exception based upon mere allegations of legal malpractice.

By the way, that one exception was Jeff Kichaven, who initiated this movement to make such an exception to mediation confidentiality and has been the force behind that movement. Considering that the focus of his mediation practice is insurance coverage and bad faith cases, I would have to assume that he has a very directive mediation style, also known as "evaluative mediation," something I address later in this article. Regardless, that style of mediation is more suitable for the types of cases he handles, as discussed in my article titled "How To Select The Best Mediator Is a Must Read for Everyone." In any event, it also bears mentioning that Mr. Kichaven acknowledged that the number of situations in which an attorney actually commits malpractice in a mediation is extremely small.

Along with several of my colleagues, I have sent the Commission a good deal of information. Some such information is reflected in Memorandum 2015-45 and Memorandum 2015-54, and its Second Supplement. Written comments made by others and Minutes of the Commission's meetings on this and other issues in 2015 can be found online.

When I spoke at the hearing, I discussed the fact that trust and safety are the most important essentials to collaboration and thus to mediation as well. If trust and safety are lacking, people will lack the comfort necessary to share certain information during mediation and such information is often key to resolving conflicts and disputes. The fear of such information becoming public as a result of an allegation of attorney malpractice by another party to the mediation negatively impacts that trust and safety.

I also mentioned that family law is not uniquely different from other cases involving family dynamics and interpersonal relationships. In fact, I informed the Commission members of my article titled "Litigation Should Come with a Warning" and the fact that the U.S. has already demonstrated its lack of concern for family dynamics and interpersonal relationships because of its focus of resolving disputes through an adversarial model. In fact, I mentioned a recent article titled "New govt likely to favour resolution over adversarial style." After all, handling disputes through an adversarial model actually exacerbates conflict and increases the distrust. This reality actually led me to write an article titled "The Greek Comedy We Call Litigation."

In addition, I mentioned a serious problem with opening up mediation confidentiality by a mere allegation of attorney malpractice by mentioning an experience I had several years ago, while presenting on mediation to a family law litigation study group. During my presentation, I told the attorneys that mentally competent people making informed decisions can agree on anything they want that is not illegal or otherwise in violation of public policy. After making such a statement, every attorney in the audience looked at me as if I were from Mars. They completely disagreed and told me that if they allowed their clients to agree to things that could not occur in a courtroom, they would be exposing themselves to malpractice. This false belief leads to lawyer paternalism, which is a serious problem, particularly in the field of family law. So, if a lawyer in a mediation allows his or her client to agree to something that is outside the realm of possibilities in a court of law, might that lead to an allegation of attorney malpractice and thereby open up the confidentiality of the mediation?

One of my favorite topics to discuss is the the fact that every human being has their own unique biases, beliefs, assumptions and values. Our personal backgrounds have very much to do with our parents and how they raise us. Our life experiences have to do with everything we experience in our lifetime, including people we befriend, schools we attend, courses we take, books we read, our sources of news, etc. Ultimately, our life experiences have very much to do with our personal choices in terms of what we do, if anything, to try and broaden our worldview.

In his book "Mediating Dangerously - The Frontiers of Conflict Resolution", Kenneth Cloke made the following statement regarding bias: "[T]here is no such thing as genuine neutrality when it comes to conflict. Everyone has had conflict experiences that have shifted his or her perceptions, attitudes, and expectations, and it is precisely these experiences that give us the ability to empathize with the experiences of others. Nor are there any genuine neutrals in courts, including judges, CEO's, managers, and human resources representatives, all of whom have biases and points of view, including the bias of wanting to protect the organization from being disrupted by conflict. Judges have the most intractable bias of all: the bias of believing they are without bias." [emphasis added]

The first article I wrote on the topic is titled "Judicial Bias - A Variable That Is Often Overlooked in Family Law Litigation." That particular article was later edited down as my Psychology and Family Law column for the San Gabriel Valley Psychological Association's newsletter and was titled "Judicial Bias in Family Court."

As a result of judicial bias, the type of confidential information that will be allowed out will vary from judge to judge.

I also discussed the distinction between settlement conferences that are referred to as mediation and true mediation. I have also addressed this issue in a great many of my articles and have written an article on just that topic as it pertains to mediation confidentiality, which is titled "Confusion of Terminology Is to Blame for the Mediation Confidentiality Debate in California." It bears mentioning that what lawyers tend to call mediation has been found harmful. However, who cares about that unfortunate reality? Certainly not the California Law Revision Commission because it has shown absolutely no interest in addressing that issue or calling it for what it is or should be - attorney malpractice.

Family law cases are considered the vampires of the legal field because of the win/lose dynamics created through litigation, litigated negotiation and "evaluative mediation." If creating vampires is not legal malpractice, I don't know what is!

Although I didn't have time to mention the distinction between "justice" and "legal justice," I had previously provided the Commission with an article I wrote on that subject.

In all seriousness, if the California Law Revision Commission were truly interested in protecting the public, they would be enacting legislation requiring attorneys to inform their clients of non-litigation options for resolving their disputes. I discussed this reality in great deal in my 7-part series of articles titled "How Family Law Attorneys Tend to Think," which was published in the Huffington Post.

Grey Divorce: The Next Big Thing For Boomers?

Grey Divorce: The Next Big Baby Boomer Trend?

By Brian Perskin Esq.

Baby boomers have been at the forefront of many social, economic, and cultural movements throughout the past few decades. Always a generation to embrace change, those 50+ are now leading the pack when it comes to divorce trends.

THE STATS DON’T LIE
According to a 2013 study conducted by the American Association of Matrimonial Lawyers(AAML), a reported 61% of divorce lawyers have seen an increase in the number of new cases involving baby boomers. The attorneys who participated in the AAML survey estimated that about a quarter of all grey divorce cases were initiated by women, and only about 14% of filings were started by husbands.

Baby boomers are paving the way for complicated divorces later in life. If the growing trend continues on it current path, matrimonial lawyers will continue to see an increase in grey divorce cases well into the next decade or two.

WHY ARE BABY BOOMERS GETTING DIVORCED?
Just as with any divorce, the reasons for filing will vary on a case by case basis. However, there are a handful of common reasons as to why boomers are divorcing at an exponential rate:

1. Divorce is more easily obtainable. Thanks to New York’s no-fault divorce law, obtaining a final judgement of divorce has never been easier or faster.

2. Empty Nesters. Many older couples come to the realization that they only stayed together because they thought it would be in their children’s best interest. Once the kids have flown the coup, empty nesters realize that they no longer have a reason to remain together.

3. Growing Apart. Self-reflection is often associated with growing older, and upon evaluating their lives, baby boomers may realize they have grown apart from their spouse and are no longer in love. Instead of staying married to their partner, boomers decide to divorce and focus on their personal growth and happiness.

4. Infidelity. Unfortunately, infidelity sometimes plays a role in grey divorce. After being married to the same person for 20 or 30 years, interests in their spouse may wain and an extramarital affair may occur. Adultery is often cited in many divorces, regardless of the age of the parties.

ARE GREY DIVORCES EASIER?
The complexity of any legal action will depend on many factors that are specific to each individual case. Grey divorces are no exception, and can either be contested or uncontested. There are pros and cons to proceeding with divorce later in life. Adult children usually cope better with the news of their parent’s impeding divorce, but boomers need to be sensitive of their children’s feelings. While there is less of a chance of child custody and support disputes in grey divorces, older couples have to spend extra time addressing assets, alimony, and retirement funds.

ALIMONY, RETIREMENT, AND GREY DIVORCE
Alimony, also referred to as spousal support or maintenance, is almost always awarded to one party during a divorce action. The amount of support, and the amount of time a judge orders it to be given, varies depending on the length of the marriage, and how much money each spouse made throughout the course of the union. In long-term marriages that last a few decades, baby boomers may be expected to pay their ex a larger amount of support over a longer period of time. In some instances, support can be paid (or received) for the rest of a person’s life.

Retirement and pension benefits will need to be addressed and divided during a New York divorce. Typically, a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) will be completed prior to finalizing any agreements regarding retirement accounts. In most cases, a judge will order each party to list their former spouse as a beneficiary on their individual IRA or 401(k) accounts. Exactly how a retirement account is addressed during divorce depends on the type of account it is. For instance, if a party used income earned during the marriage (which is considered to be marital funds) to contribute to their IRA, then their spouse is entitled to half of the account’s value.

Since the terms and conditions of alimony and pension issues in grey divorce actions are case specific, the only way to get a thorough understanding of what to expect is to speak with an attorney. He or she will be able to advocate on your behalf for a fair agreement.

EQUITABLE DISTRIBUTION COMPLICATIONS
New Yorkers who divorce later in life have a much longer period of time to accumulatemarital property, which can be broken down into tangible and intangible assets. All marital assets are subject to a process called equitable distribution. This means that all major assets, such as homes, cars, financial accounts, jewelry, and art and collectibles, are examined and a value is placed upon them. A common misconception about equitable distribution is that all assets are divided in half evenly, however, this is not the case. Sometimes one party will relinquish their ownership in the marital residence, in exchange for not having to pay their ex as much spousal support.

Baby boomers going through grey divorce will have to endure a prolonged discovery and distribution process since they tend to have an increased number of joint assets. To help expedite the process, it is recommended that litigants have access to property deeds, financial and mortgage statements, and retirement account documents. Using a financial checklist to help keep track of documents is helpful.

NYC’S GREY DIVORCE ADVOCATES
The attorneys at the family law firm of Brian D. Perskin & Associates P.C. understand the complexity of grey divorces. These unique cases often require a detail oriented and aggressive litigator who is capable of reaching a fair and beneficial settlement for their client. With over 50 years of combined experience, Brian and his team of associate attorneys have a thorough knowledge of New York State law, and apply their expertise to each case. For more information, or to schedule a free and confidential consultation, contact NYC’s leading divorce law firm today!

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