Saturday, August 28, 2010

Divorce Games Part One

There are many aspects to Divorce games. So are just board games to play other are the games people play during divorce and some are party games. First, I found Divorce Board game. The web sites http://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/12413/divorce say, “The object of the game is to begin play at the start position as a married person, traveling around the board in an effort to be the remaining player still married. Beginning at "Start", the players move their token along the Honeymoon Trail and around the board according to the throw of the dice. When a player lands on a space, he follows the instructions printed on that space. "Draw Fate Card" spaces give the person playing a draw from the top of the deck. On each Fate card are instructions to be followed leaving the player to receive whatever Fate has to offer. In traveling around the board, there are four Divorce Steps. They must be landed on in order of their number before they are valid. As a player lands upon each Divorce Step in order, he receives a plastic chip to signify that he now has that Divorce step. Once a player receives all four Divorce steps, he loses the game. Play will continue until only one player remains who does not have all four Divorce steps. Once a player has all four Divorce steps, he is considered divorced and can no longer play.”
Another Divorce Board game states in its web site, http://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/23929/divorce-cope “A unique and fun game to help parent and children cope with divorce. Divorce cope takes you through the ups and downs of divorce. As you go around the Divorce Cope board, you'll deal with real life situations which families of divorce experience. These include child support, custody battles, school problems and step-families. Players deposit anger, depression and loneliness cards and pick up happy times, independence and optimism cards, competing for growth points along the way. 250 specially designed questions will help you and your children understand each other's feelings while having fun. Divorce Cope will open a whole new world of communication between you!”
Let the games begin!
As always, you can post any comment about this blog or Divorce Mediation, or just Mediation by following the directions at the right in the green column or at the bottom of this website. Learn more about mediation at http://www.center-divorce-mediation.com/ WM(187) 8/28/10

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

When Do You Need a Lawyer For Social Security Disability?

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a government program that aims to provide a portion of income and medical coverage to disabled children and disabled adults. It grants financial aid to individuals with inadequate means to attain an income on their own, and consequently have meager financial support, or  even none at all.

This money is given out so that those who qualify for social security disability can have the basic necessities; shelter, clothing, or food.. Both children and adults are  eligible for social security disability assistance ,granted they can determine that they meet the  requirements to do so.

If you have ever attempted to become a beneficiary of SSI, then you are most likely sensitive to the fact that it can be a time consuming and arduous endeavor. Often times the preliminary application process will be a failure. But applying for SSI is not a forlorn venture. With the help of a experienced and knowledgeable social security disability attorney, you can rest assured that someone is fighting in your corner to get you the benefits that you deserve, and if your application has been denied a reliable social security disability lawyer can  be a huge help in your appeals process.

Applying for, or appealing the denial of, social security disability benefits can be an intensely aggravating process, especially when it is for a child. So a lawyer can prove very beneficial in expediting the process. Living with a disability can be hard as it is, you shouldn’t have to go through the tormenting experience of proving to the government that you are disabled. A social security disability attorney can help you in a number of aspects of applying or appealing.
Including:

  • Analyzing your case and cross referencing it with state regulation
  • Offering peace of mind
  • Consulting primary physicians and other doctors for medical information and exam results
  • Gather medical evidence
  • Preparing witnesses to testify
  • Taking care of telephone calls, legwork, and paperwork

There are a whole host of other reasons for consulting with a social security disability lawyer that can prove advantageous for your unique situation. It is important to know that you don’t have to be alone when dealing with such crucial matters concerning your livelihood.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

What Makes a Family? Kimberly A. Kick, LCSW

The meaning of “family” has been changing over the last 50 years. Factors that have contributed to the change in family have been both parents having to work, an increase in the divorce rate, an increase in the number of blended families, and an increase in single parent families.

A significant number of people believe that the changing make-up of the family unit has had a negative impact on families. I would caution against assuming the worst. For many families divorce has literally been a life-saver in domestic violence situations. There are also numerous examples of children who identify a step-parent as “mom” or “dad”, not my “step-mom” or “step-dad” due to the positive influence she or he has had on the child’s life.

The family unit, no matter what size, shape, or form it comes in, isn’t what is relevant. What is relevant is what happens inside the family unit. Families are the main socializing agent for children. Families are where values, morals, and ethics are learned. Families should be where children feel safe, protected, and loved.

Take a minute to think about your family, both your family of origin and your current family. Think about other families you know. What characteristics and qualities make these families good? What characteristics and qualities make them bad? What values and beliefs are embraced in your family? I’d like to hear some of your responses.

10 Tips For Moms To Productively Co-Parent


Parenting after divorce requires serious adjustment, trust, and confidence. Whether you resolve your divorce through a peaceful resolution process or through a divorce battle, the way you and your ex “co-parent” will have an impact, good or bad, on your children.

Many mothers feel that they are better equipped to care for the child than the father for a variety of reasons. “He’s never taken care of a four year old before.” “He doesn’t even know who Susie’s doctors are.” Some of these reasons may, in fact, be true. Why? Because mom always took those responsibilities. So what happens when little Susie is on her weekend visit with Dad? Unless Mom and Dad have a good co-parenting relationship (doesn’t happen over-night), Mom will probably be frantic all weekend, Susie will feel Mom’s anxiety before she leaves to spend time with Dad, Susie will likely be worried all weekend about Mom, Dad will feel that Mom is judging him and trying to interfere with his relationship with Susie, and there will likely be more court hearings to modify visitation because Susie is uncomfortable visiting with Dad, Dad is not taking proper care of Susie, Mom is “brain-washing” Susie against Dad, etc. All of these are understandable “perspectives”. Children pick up on emotion even when nothing is said to them. Regardless of what Dad says or does, you have the ability to create a positive relationship with your child. Here are a few tips for divorced Mothers wanting to improve their relationships with their children:
  1. Never bad mouth your child’s father in the child’s presence or within his/her range of hearing;
  2. Never ask your child about his/her time with Dad - let your child tell you about it without any pressure from you;
  3. When your child shares something negative about Dad (“Dad said you don’t want me to spend time with him”), don’t attack Dad. The best response is to tell your child that you’re sorry s/he had to hear that and that Mom and Dad are working on this very hard and “we both love you very much.”
  4. Don’t try to control Dad - it didn’t work when you were married, it will work even less now. Telling him to do homework with your child or not feed them cake for dinner will not work.
  5. Allow Dad to be the Dad you want him to be. When Dad has the kids and calls you to find out if, for example, he should give Susie a certain medication, give Dad the information to make the decision himself (Susie was allergic when she was first born. If you are going to give it to her, watch her breathing for the next 30 minutes and be ready to get her to the hospital if she starts wheezing, etc). Resist taking control but make sure your child is safe.
  6. Keep Dad informed about your child’s schedule. There are online services such as Our Family Wizard that can help you do this without having to directly communicate with Dad;
  7. Keep a regular routine that your child can take with her when she is with Dad. For example, make it your child’s job to always lock the doors and windows at your house. When she’s at Dad’s, guess what she’ll do every night;
  8. If you happen to be the disciplinarian or the homework enforcer, make sure you also make time for fun - your regular routine should include game nights, bed time stories, evening walks, etc;
  9. Have a support network and a stress outlet - yoga, a book club, etc. This will also help keep your mind off your child when s/he is with Dad.
  10. Try not to be alone on holidays when your child is with Dad. The last thing you need is to be so depressed that your child starts to feel guilty for being away from you at that time of year, every year. Create new traditions that you can look forward to.
Child specialists agree that children who’s parents have divorced tend to have more productive relationships in adulthood when their parents resolve their divorces peacefully. These tips where accumulated from my experience as a divorce peacemaker, from recommendations by child specialists, and from practices that have worked for my clients. There are many more ways to succeed in co-parenting. Please feel free to share what has worked for you.

10 Tips For Dads To Productively Co-Parent


Parenting after divorce requires serious adjustment, trust, and confidence. Whether you resolve your divorce through a peaceful resolution process or through a divorce battle, the way you and your ex-spouse co-parent will have an impact, good or bad, on your children.

For many fathers, this may be the first time you have sole responsibility for your child for a significant period of time. It will be up to you to feed your child, dress him, give medications, take to birthday parties, handle emergencies, etc. This can be a challenge, especially if you feel Mom will be judging you or will use any mistake against you to challenge your visitation time. Mother’s frequently complain “He’s never taken care of a four year old before.” “He doesn’t even know who Johnny’s doctors are.” Some of these reasons may, in fact, be true. Why? Because mom always took those responsibilities. So what happens when little Johnny is on his weekend visit with Dad? Unless Mom and Dad have a good co-parenting relationship (doesn’t happen over-night), Mom will probably be frantic all weekend, Johnny will feel Mom’s anxiety before he leaves to spend time with Dad, Johnny will likely be worried all weekend about Mom, Dad will feel that Mom is judging him and trying to interfere with his relationship with Johnny, and there will likely be more court hearings to modify visitation because Johnny is uncomfortable visiting with Dad, Dad is not taking proper care of Johnny, Mom is “brain-washing” Johnny against Dad, etc. All of these are understandable “perspectives”. Children pick up on emotion even when nothing is said to them. Regardless of what Mom says or does, you have the ability to create a positive relationship with your child. Here are a few tips for Fathers wanting to improve their relationships with their children:
  1. Never bad mouth your child’s mother in the child’s presence or within his/her range of hearing;
  2. Ask your child how his day was and actually listen, attentively, to the answer - ask follow up questions;
  3. Help your child with her homework;
  4. Meet your child’s teachers and the school’s staff - I personally have seen mother’s going through divorce who have rallied the school staff on their side because they talk to them about how terrible Dad is. And since Dad doesn’t talk to the staff, they believe Mom;
  5. Know the names of your child’s friends - this will not only show you are interested and paying attention, but it will make it much easier when you learn that Johnny was invited to Susie’s birthday party. Your child has a life too you know;
  6. Create a routine for when your child is with you - Father child activities are great, such as afternoon walks, bed time stories, grocery shopping (a great opportunity to include your child’s tastes for dinners during his/her visit with you);
  7. Know how your child is doing in school - Don’t use your lack of communication with Mom as an excuse. Talk to your child’s teacher (see item 4 above) and ask if she can create a duplicate of your child’s progress reports for you. Sometimes, they are available online. Get the information. It’s okay to let the teachers know your situation and the level of communication with Mom. This will help the teacher help your child through rough days (such as mid week visitation changes, when it is natural for your child to miss the parent s/he will not be seeing for a while).
  8. Compliment your child on his/her successes;
  9. Communicate directly with all of your child’s caregivers;
  10. Enjoy each day with your child and remind her how much you love her. Stress affects us all. Find an outlet when your child is not with you so that you can be properly focused when s/he is with you.

Child specialists agree that children who’s parents have divorced tend to have more productive relationships in adulthood when their parents resolve their divorces peacefully. These tips where accumulated from my experience as a divorce peacemaker, from recommendations by child specialists, and from practices that have worked for my clients. There are many more ways to succeed in co-parenting. Please feel free to share what has worked for you.

Looking Up From the Mud


I attended a wonderful lecture last week on the topic of religion and divorce. Our speaker, a rabbi, shared with us a wonderful story that I shared with my clients in two mediations following this lecture. It’s a powerful image and extremely helpful for those in the early emotional stages of a divorce. He reminded us of the miracle of the parting of the Red Sea, when the Jews were fleeing the Egyptians in search of the promise land. Upon arriving at the Red Sea, Moses asks God for help. God instructs Moses to use his magic staff. He does, and the sea parts. The Jewish people begin their crossing through the muddy sea floor. All are amazed and hopeful, because they can see the rich, safe land that lies ahead of them. All, except for two, Ruben and Ira. Ruben and Ira are upset and frustrated: their sandals keep getting stuck in the muddy sea floor, it stinks of dead fish, and they feel this is the worst experience they have ever endured. You see, the problem is that Ruben and Ira are experiencing the moment by looking down, at the mud. They cannot bring themselves to look up, towards the promise land and, for that reason, cannot see beyond the mud and the smell of fish. Ruben and Ira have two choices: either look up and walk towards the promise land or stay in the mud and be crushed by the sea.

Couples going through divorce often have difficulty seeing the promise land in the midst of the mud and stench of dead fish. With the right tools and guidance, you can look up and see the promise land: a peaceful resolution and co-parenting relationship.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Language of Marriage

Joan Wickersham wrote a wonderful op ed in the June 25, 2010 Boston Globe about the language of marriage. See entire article at http://tiny.cc/cdm82410 She notes “that most longtime couples have their own lexicon — phrases that have come out of some shared experience and entered the private language of the marriage.” She goes on to say, “There’s a clich├ęd idea that what makes people stay in love is things like candlelight and flowers and sexy glances across crowded rooms. All that is lovely, and it helps. But so does our nerdy private language.” I have found this to be the case in my marriage and I am sure many of you reading this blog have found the same thing in your marriage. Ironically, when mediating a divorce case, this private language also comes up. As always, you can post any comment about this blog or Divorce Mediation, or just Mediation by following the directions at the right in the green column or at the bottom of this website. Learn more about mediation at http://www.center-divorce-mediation.com/ WM(186) 8/21/10

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

3 Mistakes to Avoid When Claiming for Disability Benefits

When filing for claims based on disability, it is easy to get overwhelmed. Here are 3 potential mistakes people usually make and how to avoid them.

a. Not Specifying Mental Illnesses in the Application
Applications for social security disability or SSD are evaluated on both mental as well as physical grounds. Both physical and mental conditions are evaluated in a very similar manner. If a claimant has a mental impairment, this needs to be included in the application. Sometimes, the presence of a severe mental disability coupled with a mild physical disability can be sufficient to help the applicant qualify for such disability benefits, independently or in support of a physical impairment. Cases of mental illness, such as depression, post traumatic stress, bi polar disorder and schizophrenia such be included when filing a claim.

b. Assumption that Disability Lawyers are Expensive
These days, it is easy to hire a social security disability lawyer and they get paid only once the case has been won. Therefore, anyone can afford the services of such lawyers. Most attorneys will only collect a fee if you get approved for your benefits. Disability lawyers can help you sort through the rules, laws and other guidelines to help you get approved for benefits.

c. Not Preparing for SSD Hearing
Not arriving to the hearing location at the right time can mean rescheduling of the case several months later! Not familiarizing oneself with one’s own claim file and providing a thorough record of medical history and supporting documentation can be a huge mistake for those without representation. However, claimants with access to social security disability lawyer services need not worry about this clause because the lawyer reviews and handles all aspects of the claim.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

What does the Social Security Administration look for when Evaluating SSD claims?

When the SSA or Social Security Administration begins a review of a claimant’s case, they are not really looking at the exact diagnosis of the claimant’s condition. Instead, they are looking for the effect of this diagnosis of disability on the ability to earn income and work. This is a single, fundamental aspect many claimants are not aware of. It is important to know this because it helps position the case in a better light. This is where the services of a social security disability lawyer can prove to be invaluable.

To evaluate SSD claims associated with disability, the examiner for DDS will review the past employment of the claimant to assess if he or she can resume to the earlier employment or transfer skills from this employment to other gainful employment. If the DDS reviewer finds that the claimant is not in a position to resume his or her earlier employment the examiner will proceed to the next phase of evaluation. This process involves ascertaining if the claimant can work on other kinds of jobs. These types of jobs are more suited to disabled persons and take into consideration previous experience and current physical condition of the individual.

When reviewing claims based on disability benefits, the evaluation process assumes more complex proportions. Other aspects like the candidate’s ability to perform finger movements or overhead reaching activities, ability raise an arm to shoulder height in cases of severe degenerative diseases, assumes more importance. As you can well imagine, there are subtle nuances in such a review. If you stay near South Carolina, it would be in your best interests to hire the services of a South Carolina disability lawyer to help understand these aspects.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Divorce is Contagious

Divorce cases seems to cluster but I have never been able to figure it out why. I wondered if it was the weather or when children are in school or something else. I was therefore intrigued to see articles recently about a study by Dr. Rose McDermott of Brown University of 12,000 Americans living in the town of Framingham, Massachusetts. The study found that divorce is contagious and can spread like a virus. The bad feelings and heated emotions that surround a marital split spreads like a disease, infecting couples with up to two degrees of separation from the rift, psychologists and sociologists report. The researchers have called it ‘divorce clustering’ and found that a split up between immediate friends increases a person’s own chances of getting divorced by 75 per cent. I assume this applies as well to high profile divorces reported in the media. This might explain why I see clusters of divorce cases. All of a sudden some celebrity is reported to get a divorce and couples start thinking maybe they should get divorced too. This may also affect how people get divorced. Adversary divorces get lots of publicity and divorce mediation gets very little if any publicity. Adversary divorce maybe contagious but mediated divorces are less so.

As always, you can post any comment about this blog or Divorce Mediation, or just Mediation by following the directions at the right in the green column or at the bottom of this website. Learn more about mediation at http://www.center-divorce-mediation.com/ WM(185) 8/14/10

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Divorcing the Wedding Gown

I loved the recent article in Arizona Daily Star by Phil Villarreal about what a former husband does with his former Wife’s wedding gown. See entire article and picture at http://tiny.cc/cdm7710 I have previously blogged about former spouse’s wedding rings and jewelry but this was a new angle. What is even more interesting is the former husband has created a blog and may get a book deal. I wonder if the former Wife will want part of the money he makes? Also, why did she not take her wedding gown? The former Husband’s final line is perfect. “ I don’t see it as a symbol of my failed marriage, he said, “I see it as a symbol of recovery.” He has treated his former Wife and children very well during the project. Too bad more people don’t feel this way. I wonder if he mediated his divorce.

As always, you can post any comment about this blog or Divorce Mediation, or just Mediation by following the directions at the right in the green column or at the bottom of this website. Learn more about mediation at http://www.center-divorce-mediation.com/ WM(184) 8/7/10