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”.

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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.

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? 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.

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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.

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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”.

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