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Save the Date!

We are very excited to be hosting our third Second Saturday Divorce Workshop for Women on Saturday, July 10.  Attorney Ron Supancic will be presenting alongside CDFA Irene Smith and court mediator Christine Campisi, who will be discussing issues that face children during divorce.  The workshop is from 8:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and a beautiful breakfast is included!  Pre-register by emailing

Breathing into Consciousness

In last week’s episode, Lin talked about how you can find help if you’re the victim of domestic violence. She also talked about the many, many levels of consciousness.  Physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, the subconsious, the unconscious. When we are a part of an unhealthy relationship, we must learn how to untangle where we’re looking at our relationship through an eyeglass that no longer serves us.

This week Lin talks about using our breath as a tool to find inner strength, and how to use meditation to make positive changes in our lives.  Click the play button below to listen to the fourth installment of Dr. Lin Morel on Ron and Robert on Divorce.

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‘The Washington Post’ Talks Collaborative Divorce

Regina DeMeo is a family law attorney in Rockville, PA who became trained in and started practicing collaborative divorce after she went through her own litigated divorce.

DeMeo, who is president of the Collaborative Divorce Association, a group that promotes the practice, says the process is less painful than a divorce that involves litigation. “There are no surprises,” she says. “And they feel like they own it because they’re the final decision makers, as opposed to some person they’ve never met before who’s going to hear their case for six hours and make a decision for the rest of their lives.”

And maybe more important than that, she says, the collaborative divorce process forces two people whose lines of communication are broken to learn to work together and talk respectfully to each other. “Because if you have kids, you’re going to have to continue to communicate for the next 20 years,” she says.

Click here to read the full article.

Think Outside the Box

Photo by Thupancic on Flickr

If you could invent the perfect way for American’s to end their marriage, what would it look like? How long would it take? How much would it cost? How would it start? Who would be involved? What would be required? Would there be any conditions? What would those be? What would you like to see?

The Effects of Anger on Children in Divorce

Photo by Hawk 1966 on Flickr

The most significant disruptions children have to face during a divorce stem from pervasive changes in their parents’ moods, attitudes, and behavior.  As the family crisis grows up the the point of separation, most children witness a removal of all the old restraints that once held their families together.  Bitter and explosive confrontations beteen Mom and Dad are common.

In divorce, anger is expressed over many issues; almost invariably one of these is money.  For example, when a child needs medical attention, money quickly becomes an avenue for venting anger.  Donna had a kidney infection.  Donna’s mother told the doctor to send the bill to Donna’s father because, as she read their temporary agreement, he had agreed to pay for such things.  But he refused to pay the bill.  News of this didn’t reach Donna’s mother until a few months later when she had to take Donna back to the doctor because the infection had recurred.  In order to get treatment for her daughter, she had to start paying off the previous bill in regular installments.  After that, she was not at liberty to take Donna to the doctor as often as she would have liked.  This is the sort of scenario I see replayed again and again in the divorces I handle.

The bell seems to clang for the fighters to enter the ring almost as often when it comes to visiting arrangments.  One mother hastily took her children to the movies one summer afternoon when Daddy didn’t arrive on time to pick them up.  He got there twenty minutes late to find the house empty.  He protested, but Mother replied icily that she was not going to permit him to disappoint the children by arriving late.  Traffic jams and the like were his tough luck.  She was so intent on punishing the father that she overlooked the children’s anxiety about their father not finding them at home.  It astonishes me, when I get the phone call Monday morning after the regular weekend confrontation, that no one seems concerned about how the children are feeling.

The most common expression of anger comes in the form of badmouthing the absent parent to the children.  When asked, children complain about this more than anything else.  Children find it particularly distressing to hear their parents labeled with the most alarming obscenities imaginable.  Often children are invited to join in this name-calling.  Some will do so eagerly, others will feel anxious, and some will be disgusted.  It’s not uncommon for a judge in a custody suit to place restraining orders on both parties, which forbid them from making any derogatory remarks about the other parent in the presence or hearing of the children.  Often, when parents are helped to recognize that verbally assaulting the children’s other parent is also an assault on the child’s own self-esteem, they stop doing it.

However, some parents are so implacable that nothing can dampen their rage.  When this is the case, the children really feel it.  Custody battles are commonplace, and childnapping is even attempted from time to time.  Battles around visitation are almost incessant.  Often, children are exposed to the unspoken threat that they will seriously jeopardize their relationship with one parent if they exhibit any loyalty toward the other.

I represented Lucy against Frank in a recent custody dispute involving their eleven- and thirteen-year-old daughters.  Each parent testified that the girls had expressed a preference for them over the other parent.  The judge ordered the courtroom cleared of all witnesses, including Frank and Lucy.  He ordered the record sealed and admonished counsel not to disclose the testimony of the girls to their parents.  I was astonished to hear both girls testify that they liked spending equal amounts of time with their mother and father.  They simply couldn’t bring themselve to tell the truth to either parent. They told them what they wanted to hear, and only added fuel to the fire that was consuming the resources that could have meant college for them later on.

When anger seems pointless to a person, it degenerates into depression  A depressed parent is usually tired.  The daily tasks of parenting — meal preparation, bathing, diaper changing, tying shoelaces, and the like — are unusaually depleting.  Consequently, they don’t get done as often or as well as was once the case.  This will leave a young child feeling abandoned and lonely.  Older children will feel that nobody cares for their needs.  If the parent’s depression gets to the point that the child hears threats of suicide, then we can add terror the list of emotions he or she is feeling.

What can you do to help your children through divorce?  For starters, tell your children what is going to happen: where everyone will live, where they will go to school, how they will be cared for.  Assure them that they will have access to and time with each parent.  Tell them that the purpose of the divorce is to try to make things better.  Tell them, in general but clear terms, why the divorce is happening, without hurling accusations at anyone.  Assure your children that it is not their fault.  You can let your child know that you are sad and that you regret the breakup of the family, and be sure to tell them that it is all right to love their other parent.  The best thing you can do for your children is to stop fighting.  If you can do nothing else for your children in the midst of your divorce, at least do this.  A fight requires at least two people; you can stop a fight all by yourself.

Just as you may need to seek help for yourself, seeking help for your children is also appropriate.  It is usually important to let their teachers know they are going through a stressful time; teachers can be of great help to your children and to you.  If you would like a list of referrals for therapists who work with children, email


Photo by Grendl on Flickr

There are steps you can take to transform a potential zero-sum competition of wills into an interaction that is aligned toward problem solving—even with the hardest bargainer.

First, beware the common tendency to equate being collaborative with being nice. There’s nothing inherently wrong with being nice, but niceness is not the point of mutual-gains negotiation. Rather, a collaborative approach is more of a bargaining stance than a personality style. Some negotiators view their counterparts as competitors with whom they must spar. Others jointly identify the issues up for discussion and work together to address them. It’s possible to be nice or less than nice when you’re taking either approach. Call them on their behavior, demeanor, and tone. Point out to them what they are doing to obfuscate or derail the process. Do it politely.

Second, examine your assumptions about the hard bargaining you expect to face. Consider that the other party may have a policy of acting difficult, or he/she may be unaware of the damage he/she’s doing. Regardless, when you try to collaborate, you may feel you’re stuck between either conceding or reverting to an old-school game of haggling. In most cases, this perceived either/or choice is a false one. Look for options, suggest alternatives, identify solutions not yet discussed. Think creatively.

Third, an effective antidote to troublesome behavior is active listening. Active listening doesn’t mean waiting patiently for the other side to end a rant or nodding and saying, “I understand, but… ”. Instead, active listening entails proactively interrupting the other party to paraphrase what they said, asking follow-up questions to better understand confusing assertions, and acknowledging the highly charged emotions that may lurk below the surface. When done well, active listening can tame the hardest bargainer—which is why it’s a central component of hostage- and crisis-negotiation training.

As you Master the Tactics & Strategies of Communication Skills you will find yourself bringing people together in Win-Win Solutions more frequently. It is simple. It is not easy. It is aspirational. It takes time.

And we all may bloom

Photo by Thupancic on Flickr

This is A Serious Girl here, blogging on behalf of Ron & Robert.  I’ve been listening to the podcasts with Dr. Lin Morel and I’ve got to say, she really is amazing. She holds a Masters in Applied Psychology, she’s a Certified Holistic Health Care Practitioner, a Doctor of Spiritual Science, author of Get clear, Get Connected, Get a Job: How to Make Your Job Search Easy, and a fifth degree black belt.  She was also a victim of domestic violence.  She married her childhood love, not knowing that he was mentally ill. As the years passed and his disease progressed, he became increasingly controlling, verbally abusive, and violent.  Then one day in a fit of rage, he strangled her in front of their daughter. In her first interview with Ron and Robert on Divorce, Lin talks about her experience as a victim of domestic violence.

In the second interview, Lin talks about why she stayed with an abusive husband for as long as she did, and how she found the courage to leave. She talks about what she’d do differently if she had it to do again.  She talks about grieving the loss of the man she fell in love with, and how she used art and journaling to express her pain and begin the healing process.

Lin experienced one of the most terrifying marital crises imaginable and yet she found the strength to take control of her life and save herself and her daughter.  She is a cornucopia of insight and wisdom.  In her third interview with Ron and Robert, Lin talks about the need for spiritual divorce, how to find help if you’re the victim of domestic violence, and how you can find your inner power and save yourself from a destructive relationship.

Click the play button below to listen to the third installment of the interview with Dr. Lin Morel on Ron and Robert on Divorce.

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Divorce After 50

Here is a fantastic article by Janice L. Green, a family law attorney in Austin, Texas.  She has excellent insights about the role adult children play in their parent’s later-in-life divorce, as well as recommendations for parents of adult children who find themselves in the middle of a later-in-life divorce.

For you, the adult child, parental divorce can be unsettling. Divorce costs and expenses of two parental households can threaten financial resources relied upon for school, a down payment for a first home, or other assistance. Your whole concept of “home” is being dismantled. And if you are surprised by the divorce, you may wonder if your entire childhood was a facade.

Click here to read the rest of the article.

Who’s fault? No fault.

The New York Times just put out a piece on “no fault divorce,” which was pioneered by the Bolsheviks after the Russian Revolution and first showed up in the United States in 1970, in the state of California. Today, New York is the only state in the U.S. in which the party who wants the divorce must prove that the other is legally at fault.  The article offers the pros and cons of the no-fault divorce, and then goes on to encourage mediation, especially if children are involved.

In a 12-year study of divorcing couples randomly assigned to either mediation or litigation, the psychologist Robert Emery of the University of Virginia and his colleagues found that as little as five to six hours of mediation had powerful and long-term effects in reducing the kinds of parental conflict that produce the worst outcomes for children. Parents who took part in mediation settled their disputes in half the time of parents who used litigation; they were also much more likely to consult with each other after the divorce about children’s discipline, moral training, school performance and vacation plans.

It’s a wonderful, insightful article.  Click here to read the rest of it.

What Divorce Means to Children

Divorce is not an isolated event.  Dissolving a marriage is a lengthy process, not so much in terms of the law, but in terms of the emotional realities.  Time is longer for children than for adults.  If you’re only six, two years represents a third of your life.  If you’re thirty, it represents a much smaller fraction of your life.  If you think divorce is a big event in your life, consider your children.  The trauma they experience is magnified a hundred times.

You shouldn’t be surprised then, when your children oppose the divorce.  With rare exceptions, they will.  It doesn’t matter whether or not your marriage is a bleak affair.  Children do not want to lose  a parent.

The first great conflict in every infant’s life is the one between trust and mistrust.  If a child is cared for and held and talked to, and if his cries receive a response, he will begin to achieve a sense of security that will undergird everything else that happens in his life thereafter. To be impaired at this level is to be virtually cut off from life.

Divorce and its attendant trauma shake a child’s sense of trust and security as almost nothing else can. Parents need to be particularly sensitive to this critical element, and to do everything within their power to reassure their children and to assist them through the trauma of divorce.

In addition, children are readily bewildered because of their limited ability to conceptualize things.  They think in concrete terms.  It does little good, for example, to say that his or her grandparents live on a farm.  A child has to be taken to a farm and shown, firsthand, what it is like.

It is essential that you take your children to inspect your newly departed spouse’s new quarters. If you are the scorned wife of a man who has left you for another woman (or vice versa) this will be extraordinarily difficult. You are simultaneously furious at the betrayal and powerless to do anything about it. The children may be, in your tormented mind, the only vehicle at your disposal with which to punish him (or her). So, you are inclined to adduce more or less reasonable-sounding arguments to show why the children ought not to have anything to do with their other parent. And they certainly should never set foot in that den of iniquity he is living now — right?  Wrong. Children don’t know what a divorce means. They have to be shown everything. They have to be taken to see the absent parent’s new quarters. Only what they are already familiar with may be talked about. Everything else has to be shown.