Friday, March 26, 2010

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Resource for Divorced Parents When couples divorce children are left commuting between 2 homes. Learn how to help your child adjust with simple, direct, guidelines for easing the transition. Included are interviews with adolescents whose parents have divorced and a dad who helped transition his four children post-divorce.

Available at The Blended Family Online Conference when therapist and professor Kimberly A. Kick, LCSW talks about "Helping Your Child Adjust to Living in 2 Homes".

Monday, March 22, 2010

How to ease your child and yourself through the divorce process Kimberly A. Kick, LCSW

Divorce really is just the beginning of the transformation that will occur for you and your children. Learn how to ease this transition by registering for The Blended and Step Family Online Conference.

When couples divorce children are left commuting between 2 homes. Learn how to help your child adjust with simple, direct, guidelines for easing the transition. Included are interviews with adolescents whose parents have divorced and a dad who helped transition his four children.

Available at The Blended Family Online Conference when therapist and professor Kimberly A. Kick talks about "Helping Your Child Adjust to Living in 2 Homes".

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Helping Your Children Adjust... Kimberly A. Kick, LCSW

It is never easy to realize the end of a relationship. Dreams once shared no longer exist, plans for the future change, and one finds oneself suddenly single. As if this isn’t enough, when there are children, a parent has to find the strength and stamina to still parent.

No one has to traverse this terrain alone. It is vitally important to get the support needed to be able to carry on in a semi-normal mode. This may entail entering therapy to help through the transition, calling on a support network, or joining a support group.

Educating oneself is a key step to take in order to minimize the collateral damage that can occur during and after divorce. It is also important to find an appropriate outlet for the every present and ever changing emotions that one experiences. Adjusting to change takes time, patience, and effort.

Just as you are experiencing a host of emotions, so are your children. It is important that you remain available for them. Children should never be used as confidants; that isn’t their role. Parents should continue to enforce rules and provide structure. Minimize changes to schedules and routines as much as possible. This will help the children feel secure and safe.

I will be presenting with United Family and Marriage Associates this month. The topic is ways to successfully blend step-families. I am discussing “Living in 2 Homes”. This is a great resource for parents. For more information and to register, click on the link below.

Rediscovering Cathy Chestler M.Ed

When I divorced I struggled with the notion of whether or not to change my name back to my maiden name. Having 2 young children with a different last name might create problems. I remember my mother changing her last name when I was younger and her always having to explain herself to the school, pediatrician, and the other moms.

I decided to go back to my maiden name. After getting it court ordered I called every company I had dealings with and informed them of the change. Some companies required a fax of the court order and some changed it while I was on the phone with them.

There is a sense of empowerment that came along with changing my name. I felt as if I had regained who I once was. Being in an unhappy marriage for so long really takes a toll on your soul and just the changing of my last name back to my birth name gave me such a new look on life.

It did take my children a while to get used to the new last name and that it was no longer the same as theirs. I explained to them that I am no longer the person who was married to their father. They understood, but didn’t like it at first. As time went on they didn’t really care anymore, I was still was and would always be mom.


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Divorce Mediation and Domestic Violence

Periodically, my daughters send me an article they think I will be interested in. My younger daughter recently sent me an article from Slate by Mary Adkins entitled, "Breaking Up Is Hard Enough To Do Why don't courts offer mediation to victims of domestic violence getting a divorce?" You can see the entire article at Ms. Adkin’s premise is "Domestic violence brings women to court seeking protective orders ... (b)ut when women who say they've been beaten up try to end their marriages, they find themselves at a disadvantage. In family court, they probably won't be offered mediation—the cheaper, less antagonistic alternative to litigation."
Ms. Adkins makes a strong case for divorce mediation when she say, "It costs less than litigation—couples save upward of 40 percent in attorney's fees. It does not require lawyers. And it's faster, saving money for the state as well. More important, research has shown that mediation leads to less bitterness, keeping the period of conflict short, which is better for children. Research also suggests it yields better outcomes for both parties, though better in different ways—women get more property and more financial support, while men are more likely to get shared custody or more visitation time with children."
She goes on to quote Oregon's "plan and protocol" for dealing with victims which states that "when domestic violence is present among parties in a dispute, the abuser's desire to maintain power and control over the victim is inconsistent with the method and objective of mediation. Fear of the abuser may prevent the victim from asserting needs."
In essence she feels that evaluative mediation works better in cases of domestic violence than facilitative mediation. She contrasts facilative mediation where, "The mediator does not offer opinions or recommendations. His limited role, in the face of a gross power disparity, can leave victims vulnerable to bargaining away financial support, assets, even custody, all out of fear." This compares to evaluative mediation where the "mediators are more active. Trained to attend to power imbalances, they offer opinions on fairness and predict how a case will play out at trial. The mediator is charged with preventing exploitative agreements, and the statistics about satisfaction and outcome suggest they do a pretty good job. All agreements coming out of mediation are reviewed by a judge. And in cases with a history of violence, states can mandate shuttling—where the parties sit in separate rooms—rather than face-to-face meetings."
Domestic violence is always a challenging issue for mediators. Some mediators won’t mediate a case with domestic violence. We try to screen for it but I am not sure we always are made aware of it. If we do find it, we always question the party further to make sure the party feels safe and can participate in the mediation without feeling intimidated. If we decide to mediate, we will stop the mediation at anytime we feel domestic violence is effecting the process. When I did domestic violence training, I remember the instructor talking about the "look." It was classical conditioning. The spouse only had to hit the other spouse once. After that the spouse only had to give the other spouse the "look." It is like an invisible fence for dogs. In retrospect, I realize that I have been doing more evaluative mediation in divorce mediation cases where domestic violence is an issue. I believe divorce cases where there has been domestic violence can be mediated but it takes a highly skilled and trained mediator whois using the right style of mediation.
As always, you can post any comment about this blog or Divorce Mediation or Divorce by following the directions at the right in the green column or at the bottom of this website. Learn more about mediation at WM (169) 3/14/10

Thursday, March 04, 2010

New Dates for Better Parenting Better Divorce Classes

  • Do you have serious conflicts with your co-parent? Research has shown that children of divorce don't have to be damaged for life if their parents have cooperative and collaborative relationships. 
  • Respectful co-parenting can provide children their best chance of living normal lives after separation and divorce. 
  • All of our facilitators are experienced mental health professionals with years of total experience working with families. They have extensive training in conflict and resolution and mediation (l-r: Judy Colich, Vi Ballard, Paula Van Doren and David Kuroda). 
  • Dates and times of ClassesSeries 2: Thursdays, March 25, April 1, 8, 15, 22, 29, 2010. Series 3: Mondays, April 12, 19, 26, May 3, 10, 17, 2010.
  • Time and Location: 5:30 - 7:30 pm, 21535 Hawthorne Blvd. Suite 585, Torrance CA 90503. For parking area, enter from Carson or Del Amo Circle and park under building Cost: $360 for the 6-sessions. Credit cards accepted, $370. 
  • For information and registration: Call 310-373-7994 or 310-245-6814 Both parents expected to attend the same group This workshop is recognized by the L.A. Superior Court/Family Court Services as a local alternative to attending "Parents Without Conflict" in Los Angeles.
Labels: Children, Divorce, Parenting, Court

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Cohabiting and Divorce

Over the years I have seen many couples get married for the wrong reasons. They often think that marrying will save the relationship. They often have a child for the same reason. I was reminded of this by the article in the March 3, 2010 New York Times by Sam Roberts entitled, "
Study Finds Cohabiting Doesn’t Make a Union Last" You can read the entire article at Mr. Roberts writes about a study done by
the National Center for Health Statistics using data from the National Survey of Family Growth conducted in 2002. He says, "Couples who live together before they get married are less likely to stay married, a new study has found. But their chances improve if they were already engaged when they began living together. The likelihood that a marriage would last for a decade or more decreased by six percentage points if the couple had cohabited first, the study found." Interestly, he goes on to report that "Half of couples who cohabit marry within three years...If both partners are college graduates, the chances improve that they will marry and that their marriage will last at least 10 years." Mr. Roberts or the study don’t say why this is the case for non college graduates but it I think it may be as I said that they are trying to fix an already broken relationship. I have also noted that marriage may change a relationship. I knew a couple where the woman was in control when they were living together and the man was in control when they got married. I also know that people often behave one way in order to get married and then behave differently when they do get married. This is another reason why I strongly advocate premarital counseling and a more wide spread process for letting divorcing non married couples. What are your experiences? Share them with us and perhaps help a couple from making the wrong decision. One last comment, the article also notes that in general one in five marriages will dissolve within five years. On in three will last less than ten years.
As always, you can post any comment about this blog, Divorce Mediation, or Tucson Arizona by following the directions at the right in the green column or at the bottom of this website. Learn more about mediation at WM(168) 3/3/10

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

My World Of Divorce....I Stopped Covering For My Cathy Chestler M.Ed

It wasn’t easy to stop covering for my ex-husband. It became such a habit calling him to remind him of school events, visitation times, and sometimes his own children’s birthdays. There were times I would even tell the children to call their dad just to say “hi” because I knew he wouldn’t think to call them.

I had to break this bad habit and I knew it was not only going to be hard but I wasn’t sure how it would affect the children. I never said a bad word about my ex-husband to the children as I remember my parents would do that to me and it felt awful. I began to live my own life and not constantly call to remind my ex-husband of anything. I thought maybe he would actually think for himself and begin taking responsibility for himself and his obligations to the children. Wow was I wrong.

I became the target of my ex-husbands anger. He would call me and ask me what time soccer practice was, or if it was his weekend with the kids or mine. I would tell him that he has the schedule and he can look just as easy I could. I was done reminding him of anything. He didn’t like that answer and continuously harassed me to give him times and event days. He would scream and yell much like a toddler who didn’t get what they wanted.

The part that got me was that he would put the kids in the middle and complain to them that I would not give him certain information. My ex-husband tried to convince the children that I was being mean and hiding information from him on purpose. He would tell the children that I didn’t want him at events and that was the reason I refused to give him any details of times and dates. Then the kids would question me as to why I wouldn’t tell their father what time events were and so on. It was hard to explain to the kids that my caretaking role of their father was no longer going to continue, and really, it was an adult issue anyway. I was caught in a no win situation.

This went on for weeks, months, and even years. At first it was horrible and sometimes frightening at how my ex-husband used the children to convey messages to me. He would also tell the children to secretly find out from me what time events were but I wasn’t supposed to know he was asking. He would go through my 10-year-old daughter to cancel and reschedule visitation. He would use the children to pass along information to their teachers and coaches, instead of being an adult and picking up the phone to call himself.

I will never forget what my son, who was 10 years old at the time, said to me. He said, “Mom, you held dad together didn’t you.” That was so powerful and it made me realize that even at a young age, children understand what is really happening even if they can’t put it into exact words.

As a mother and a woman, I am very strong and can handle just about anything that comes my way. The one thing I am unwilling to do is put my children in a situation that was unhealthy or dangerous. I will always protect my children to the best of my ability. Unfortunately I would have to protect my own children from the person they should feel safe with, their father.