In my experience, probably the single most important predictor of how happy a client will be after divorce is how well they get along with their ex. If they can’t communicate well, then every conversation makes both of them miserable. If they communicate well, then these conversations are at worst neutral, and at best strengthen the co-parenting relationship.
So, I advise clients to do whatever they can to communicate effectively after their divorce.
Fortunately, there are many great professionals that can help after the divorce. Dr. Katrina Kuzyszyn-Jones is one of them, and she holds workshops throughout the year. You still have time to catch the November and December sessions! Find out more at http://kkjpsych.com/.
Ever wonder how Collaborative Divorce feels different than going to court? This news story and interview with a South Carolina couple should give you a pretty good idea. Real people going through real divorces have used the process and come out on the other end to have great lives.
Technology is great. Information sharing and syncing across your devices is great. But, more than one problem has arisen when kids, spouses or ex-spouses see texts, emails or photos that were not intended for them due to technology.
Sometimes, this happens when kids have physical access to a parent’s device. That is easy enough to prevent. What is trickier is when the kids have their own device (iPad, iPhone, iTouch) that is synced to the parents iCloud or Apple ID. In that case, texts, messages, photos and other things that are intended for the parent can show up on the kid’s device.
In order to avoid that problem in your life, here’s an article that helps explain how to avoid your private messages ending up in front of other people: http://www.iphonejd.com/iphone_jd/2015/02/ipad-tip-turn-off-messages.html.
When it comes to this problem, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
This Tedx video by David Hoffman explains why I do what I do at least as well or better than I can. It is powerful for me and hopefully for others. And, I think it explains the intellectual, professional and emotional journey for those layers who have chosen to be peace makers. Enjoy.
I’ve got young kids and there are no books I enjoy reading to them more than Dr. Seuss. The lessons, philosophy and morality packed into each of his stories is truly genius.
I recently read the read The Zax again and was reminded how apropos it was for a divorce lawyer and my clients.
Here’s a refresher for you:
Just as the north going Zax and the south going Zax find themselves at odds and refuse to move, many divorce attorneys and their clients do the same in trying to resolve family disputes and divorces. And, just as the Zax waste their lives in intractable conflict while the world goes on around them, many clients are lead to waste time and money in intractable court battles or negotiations.
(A telling part of the story is when the South Going Zax boasts that he was taught to handle conflict this way in South Going (read, law) school!)
It is easy to see that the Zax are silly to act on their principles because their principles seem so inane to us. But, to the Zax, those principles are everything. Those principles mean as much to the Zax as our children, financial security and peace of mind mean to us.
So, the real lesson is that often in the world, even deeply held principle must give way to creative problem solving. Otherwise, we would all still be standing in front of the first Zax that we came across. And we would miss the opportunity to resolve the conflict so that we could again focus on our children, financial security and peace of mind.
If you are facing a divorce, or are in the middle of the divorce, think about whether you (or your attorney) are a Zax and what you are missing (or spending) while you stand there defending your principle. Perhaps refusing to budge is your best strategy, but perhaps altering course slightly will get you to your goal quicker.
Blame is a big dynamic in both marriage and divorce. And yet, it almost never moves clients towards their goals. Brené Brown (yes, I am a special fan of hers simply for the use of the accent in her name) does a great job of breaking blame down into what it is at it’s heart: an expression of pain or frustration:
What does it mean to be tough? In divorce, most people (including many lawyers) believe that it means “sticking to your guns”, never compromising, issuing the bigger threats, puffing more, “big talk”, using intimidation. In the name of toughness, people are frequently encouraged to be uncaring, to deny any empathy for their spouse, and to turn off all humane or positive feelings about their marriage and their spouse.
That’s one way to do it.
At least in North Carolina, alimony (including post-separation support (PSS)) is one of the least predictable outcomes in family law. There are 15 factors listed in the alimony statute that must be considered, plus a catch all factor. Once those factors have been considered, a family court judge must make an award (or not) that she finds to be “equitable”. “Equitable” is legalese for “fair”.
In family law cases, money is an issue. Whether a couple is wealthy or struggling, very few divorcing couples feel that there is plenty to go around when negotiating their divorce solution. There is almost always a sense of scarcity. Sometimes that feeling of scarcity is supported by the numbers, but sometimes it is a reflexive fear reaction.
That sense of scarcity and anxiety leads people to try to get as much money as they can, and therefore, not share any more than necessary. That leads to zero sum thinking and shuts down thinking about solutions that lie outside of money, or have nothing to do with money.
In my experience, many people in divorce cases are looking to meet at least some needs that cannot be met by money.