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Non-Communication Can Cost You

This is a risk of “traditional” divorce that doesn’t come up often. Traditional divorce doesn’t teach you to communicate with your ex spouse, but rather to have an adversarial relationship, where non-communication becomes the norm. If you think that’s fine, think about the following situation, involving two parents, two sets of lawyers, and one wise old judge.

The custodial parent moves and enrolls their child in a new school, but fails to communicate the details with the other parent, who comes to believe that the child would be walking home along dangerous, busy streets and coming home to an empty house. That parent files a temporary restraining order to prohibit the enrollment. The truth is that the custodial parent had in fact taken all concerns into account, and the child was at no risk. The non-custodial parent based their fears on hearsay, and the restraining order had no merit – so, after reviewing the evidence and the custodial agreement, the judge threw it out.

But, and this is a big one, he didn’t grant attorney’s fees to the custodial parent. Why not? The restraining order had no merit, after all. The judge decided that court was a poor substitute for a simple conversation. In effect, he punished the custodial parent, who was acting within their rights, for not pro-actively communicating with the other parent. Mediation or collaborative divorce can help avoid expensive and wasteful litigation not just at the time of the divorce, but years down the road.

On October 18th, The Law Collaborative is offering Tips, Tricks & Strategies for Divorce, a seminar that will provide tools for moving a stuck case forward, how to communicate effectively with a former spouse, tricks for negotiating even when negotiation seems impossible, and more. The workshop is $25 in advance or $35 at the door. Licensed attorneys who attend will earn 1 MCLE credit. Anyone contemplating or going through a divorce is invited to attend.

Register online at www.thelawcollaborative.com or call us toll free at (888) 852-9961.

When The Cat is Away

Can you control what your kids do when they’re spending time with your ex?

Generally speaking each parent gets to make decisions regarding a child’s activities during their period of physical custody. The State of California, represented by the judicial officer, is not the “super parent” entitled to make the usual decisions regarding how to raise children. When parents disagree about some activity (I’ve seen things like riding on motorcycles or scooters, flying in a private plane, sailboat ride, playing certain sports, eating certain foods, etc.) the limitation on the judicial officer is finding some solid evidence of actual danger to the child. To see just how high that burden is take a look at In re Marriage of Mentry, 142 Cal. App. 3d 260 (Cal. App. 1st Dist. 1983). That case was always my touchstone when these issues were brought to me. — Honorable Judge Robert Schnider (Retired)

The Inalienable Rights of Children

I have the right to love whom I choose without guilt, pressure or rejection.

I have the right to love as many people as I want; stepparents, relatives, and extended family, without guilt and without being made to feel disloyal. The more love I give, the more I have to give, and the more I receive.

I have the right to a regular, daily and weekly routine; one that is not filled with alternating patterns and disruption.

I have a right to visit both parents, regardless of grownup wants or wishes regarding convenience, money, or their feelings. I own visitation, it is my right, it is not the right of my parents.

I have a right to be angry, sad, and fearful, and I have a right to express these feelings.

I have a right to be protected from being exposed to the anger of my parents, to not be punished because they are angry at each other, or to see them punishing each other.

I have a right to like both my parents, since they are both a part of me, and I have the right to be reassured that this is OK.

I have the right not to blame or choose sides.

I have the right not to have to make adult decisions.

I have the right to remain a child and to not replace a parent in my duties, or to have to be an adult companion, friend, or comforter to my parents.

I have the right not to ever have to choose with whom I live. This is a decision for wise adults. Having to make such a choice will always hurt someone else, and therefore myself. I have this right even when I’m a teenager and people wish I were able to choose, I can never choose between my parents.

February Newsletter

Dear Friends of the Law Collaborative,

We wish you the best in all of your relationships. In order to facilitate our wish for you, this month we have included a “tool” to help with communication in your relationships, professional and personal.

As February is often referred to as the month of love, we would like to share an article written by Dr. Mark S. Goulston, Author of “Just Listen: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone.”

The single best predictor of how children do post-divorce is the amount of conflict between the parents. This is true whether you’re in an intact (living together) family, a separated family, or a divorced family.

You have a unique opportunity to influence the outcome, because it takes two people to fight. You can’t fight alone. And while choosing not to engage in an argument or bad behavior is difficult, it is possible. It may take both practice and commitment on your part to make it happen.

Parents in frequent contact who are supportive of each other have well adjusted children. That’s pretty compelling, isn’t it?

10 Strategies for Preventing and Dealing With Conflict:

1. It takes two to argue. Simply refuse to participate.

2. A certain amount of tension is to be expected when you’re getting divorced. Expect difficult discussions. They don’t have to result in a fight.

3. Try to understand your spouse’s viewpoint. Once you understand what he or she wants, you can begin to see how you might be able to help resolve the situation.

4. Evaluate your own goals. Are you entrenched in a position that may have another solution? If you want your children on Wednesday night for dinner, will Thursday do? If your goal is financial security, is one particular asset the key, or could another be substituted?

5. Use “I” statements. Begin every sentence with “I”, rather than “you”. Example: “I feel upset when I hear you say that I’m a bad father because I have to work so many hours,” instead of “You are always accusing me of being a bad father.”

6. After you explain how you feel, listen to your spouse’s side of the story. Repeat what you heard, to make sure for yourself (and to convey to your spouse) that you understand how he or she views the situation.

7. Plan a time to have a discussion with your spouse about a specific issue that bothers you. Limit the discussion.

8. Choose your timing. The same comment may evoke a different response if, 1) neither of you is tired, 2) neither of you is already angry, and, 3) the children or others are not in earshot.

9. Be prepared to say “I’m sorry” sometimes. “I was wrong” can go a long way.

10. Above all, let annoyances go and choose your battles wisely. They are too important to squander. Research points to the benefits of shared parenting, defined as shared decision making, as well as shared time between two homes. Children need emotional sustenance and comfort from both parents to get their needs met. Your co-parenting responsibilities get easier over time as your children grow and their day-to-day caretaking needs lessen. One way to ensure your adult children have a good relationship with you and your former spouse is to set you own needs aside from time to time and take the high road whenever possible. Remember forgiveness is the permission you give yourself to get over an offense & move into health, healing & a happy life. It is not approval. It is not acceptance. It is a gift to you from you. Forgive.

Visit Ron and Robert on Divorce on iTunes for additional information. Please call us if you have any questions. We are here to serve you.

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Ron Supancic and Robert Borsky

* A free phone consultation will provide you with general legal information. Legal information is not the same as legal advice – the application of law to an individual’s specific circumstances. Although we go to great lengths to make sure our information is accurate and useful, for specific advice on your situation, I will be pleased to provide legal advice after you accept and sign my retainer agreement.

For more information, please visit our website at: www.ronslaw.com or click here: www.divorcemagazine.com/CA/pro/supancic.shtml

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