In Whose Best Interests?

What are the best interest of the children in divorceWhen couples come to me for mediation, one of the most difficult subjects for discussion is working out a parenting plan, which used to be called “visitation”. Parents don’t usually like to think that they are “visiting” their kids so the word “visitation” is discouraged. They are spending parental time with their children and, hopefully, that parental time is also “quality” time.

For many parents, who do not live with their children on a day to day basis, the proverbial “every other weekend and dinner at McDonalds on Wednesdays” is not enough. For most parents, “quality time” means, living life that includes regular life activities like helping kids with their homework, getting them up and ready for school, taking them to their extracurricular activities, and just “being a parent”.

Continue reading In Whose Best Interests?

Cost of Divorce

Litigated Divorces cost much more than Mediated DivorcesIn 2004, Parade Magazine reported that a typical American divorce costs $20,000-$50,000 in attorney fees! You can be sure that the cost is much higher today! Another, more recent article, reported that the average cost of a litigated divorce in California averages $45,000 for each party. Most of these costs are attorney fees, and in litigated divorces, attorney costs rise rapidly, and continue for a long time.

Continue reading Cost of Divorce

It’s Never Too Late to Mediate

Time out from litigation to try mediationMary and William have been divorced for 2 years. They have one child, Donna, who is 8 years old. Their divorce was a hotly contested one that took almost 2 years to finalize. During that time they had been to court on various motions all related to their daughter Donna, who lived with Mary. The disputes ranged from how much time William would have with Donna, to what school she would go to, what summer camp she would go to, what extracurricular activities she would be enrolled in, and how all of those things would be paid for. Both parents lived in Bergen County, New Jersey, close to the George Washington Bridge.

Continue reading It’s Never Too Late to Mediate

Back To School (part 1)

Children Going Back To School When Parents Are DivorcedFear and trembling? or Slightly nervous excitement?

I clearly remember the Back to School stress that I had almost every year from Kindergarten through college, and even in law school. Although it has been many years, I remember my big sister who was 12 years older than I was, taking me to my first day at kindergarten. Everyone assembled in the auditorium, and I felt miserable when the adults had to leave. For several years thereafter, my first day of school was preceded by a day of anxiety and fear.

It is normal for children to feel anxious as they prepare for a new school year. Hey, most adults feel nervous when they are starting a new job, or going for an interview. For children each New Year is a new beginning – New it is scary. Being afraid of the unknown is human nature. However, children who see conflict between their divorcing or separating parents may feel these fears more intensely. Their fear of what will happen at home, can increase their fear of the “unknown” school year ahead of them.

Continue reading Back To School (part 1)

They started to fight when the money got tight…

Started to Fight When the Money Got TightBen and Clare were married for 18 years. Their daughter, a high school student, was 17 years old. Ben was a contractor who had made  quite a good living until two years ago when the economy tanked. Before that Clare  had occasional part time jobs and she volunteered for several charities. The glue that held this marriage together was  Ben’s ability to support the family. When that started unraveling, so did the marriage.

Continue reading They started to fight when the money got tight…

? Independence Day?

Celebrating-Divorce-IndependenceI know a woman who, on the day that her divorce was finalized, put a large Statue of Liberty on her lawn!

On July 4th we celebrate our independence from England. And, although there were stormy years after Independence, the two countries had common interests: There were times that the USA had to help England and that England had to help the USA.

Many people think that divorce results in complete independence. In some ways, it does. But if there are children, there will always be issues that the Parents must resolve.  For example: Divorced couples will need to adjust parenting plans as the kids get older. Problems like job loss or serious illness may make it necessary for them to change their plan or agreement.

Continue reading ? Independence Day?

Parent Alienation

Parent AlienationParent Alienation is defined as a deliberate attempt by one parent to distance his or her children from the other parent. The motivation is to break the bond between the child and the other parent. It is very difficult for the alienated parent to overcome parent alienation. Rebuilding a relationship with an alienated child may seem remote or hopeless, but if no effort is made the chance of success is almost non-existent.

Continue reading Parent Alienation

Lawyers Do Not Necessarily Know

Lawyers do not necessarily knowResearch has shown that lawyers routinely overestimate their chances of success in their cases, and the amount of experience they have had does not make much difference. A professor at the University Of California, Elizabeth Loftus, is co-author of a study which examined the accuracy of lawyers’ predictions. The researchers surveyed 481 lawyers in 44 states who handled cases expected to go to trial. They were asked to rate their confidence in achieving a stated minimal goal. The study found that the lawyers were less successful than their predictions in 44% of their cases.

Continue reading Lawyers Do Not Necessarily Know

The Invisible Children

Teens & DivorceLast week I attended a workshop, which I organized for a professional mediators association, dealing with adult children ( 16 or 17 years old, and up) of divorce. It is a topic that most mediators (and parents) spend little or no time discussing, (“How are the kids taking the divorce?” “Great. They are OK with it”). Not surprisingly, the workshop was titled : The Invisible Children”.

Continue reading The Invisible Children

Parent Alienation Awareness Day

Parental AlienationApril 25, 2010 was Parental Alienation Awareness Day.

Parent Alienation is defined as a deliberate attempt by one parent to distance his or her children from the other parent. The motivation is to break the bond between the child and the other parent. It is very difficult for the alienated parent to overcome parent alienation. Rebuliding a relationship with an alienated child may seem remote or hopeless, but if no effort is made the chance of success is almost non-existent.

Continue reading Parent Alienation Awareness Day