By: Maureen Goldblatt, LPC, CSAC, Child Specialist & Therapist
As parents navigating a separation or divorce, you want to do what is best for your children. However, it is not easy to work together or know what to do or say. Divorce can bring upset and uncertainty at a time when your children need to depend on your stability.
If you want to lessen the risks to your children and keep them at the forefront of your thoughts and actions during your divorce, then I challenge you to make these 5 promises to your children:
1. I promise to stop the fighting
Parental conflict is the major contributor to harmful effects of divorce on children. Never have a disagreement when your children are present; instead go for a walk or schedule a time to discuss. Your children are listening – I promise. They are what I call “super-spies”. They want to know what is going on but do not have the emotional capacity to handle the tension or content. This applies to text messages as well. Children will search or accidentally see your messages. Be mindful of your phone and where you leave it. Better yet, use email or a phone call to avoid inadvertently putting your children in the middle of your argument.
Be aware of your expressions and body tension too – remember 90% of what we communicate is in body language, not words. Keep sarcasm, digs, and eye-rolling out of the relationship. You are modeling for your children how to have healthy family relationships.
2. I promise to treat my co-parent with respect
Speak kindly about each other and eliminate the negativity towards each other. Your children won’t love you more if they are mad at the other parent, instead, they just have more negative emotions to handle.
How we address a person is also a form of respect. Did you switch from calling your co-parent “mom” to now “your mom” or “dad” to “your dad”? Yes, it is semantics, but it is more than that, it is decreasing your respect for the family as well as dividing up the family structure into an “us vs them”.
Children need to see you model positive, respectful behaviors. For example, greet each other at transitions, in the stands at the game or other events. Do not be the parents who cannot even sit near one another at child events. Ask the same of your extended family. Keep the children out of conflict and out of the middle.
3. I promise to encourage my children to have a strong relationship with both parents and all extended family members
It takes a village to raise healthy children and having a quality relationship with both parents and extended family is part of that equation. Your job as a parent is to nurture each of these relationships. This can be done by protecting your children from feeling guilty for enjoying time with each parent. Human nature wants to focus on the negative but I challenge each of you to look at your co-parents' strengths as a parent and as an individual. Push yourselves. Share in your children’s excitement at both homes. Both parents have an important role, and it adds up to more than divvying up time. Your children are not a math equation nor an object that can be divided. Stop fighting over 50/50, instead focus on quality vs quantity. Children cherish moments and memories, not a specific % of time.
Meanwhile, strengthen your skills as a parent. Work on being engaged when your children are with you, stay in the moment vs in the past or future. Balance your work and family time.
4. I promise to continue to learn and grow as a parent and co-parent
Co-parenting is about making child-centered decisions together. Do you have similar expectations, routines, bedtimes, use of electronics or phone time, effort in school, and behavioral expectations? The younger your children, the more similar your parenting needs to be however all children benefit greatly from routines and expectations no matter what their age. Parenting is all about consistency and follow-through. Don’t change the rules just to look better as a parent. You are not doing your children any long-term favors.
5. I promise to plan for the future now and not kick the can down the road
Over these past 20 years, I have seen first-hand the consequences to children when parents fail to discuss the future and create a joint family plan at the time of their divorce. Parents often want to avoid details and say we can make that decision later. However, kicking the can down the road does not avert conflict, instead, it usually creates more conflict. Decisions only get more complicated as children get older, not simpler.
Working with a Child Specialist can help you develop a child-focused plan based on your children’s development and your family dynamics and avoid potential future conflicts.
Families looking for more specific support and input individually tailored to your family and your children's needs should consult with a Child Specialist.
Contact Family Mediation Center
Contact us today to schedule a free initial phone call with one of our experienced lawyers who can help you weigh options for next steps. For more information to help you make a decision that is right for you and your family call (414) 273-2422.
By: Attorney Susan Hansen, Co-founder of Family Mediation Center
Cost is an important question for couples considering divorce or other family law issues. Family Mediation Center was created to provide affordable mediation services to help couples reach agreements and navigate the legal process with a minimum of conflict and cost. Here are answers to your cost questions:
How Much Does Mediation Cost?
This way you control costs by setting up your own pay-as-you-go payment plan or paying the flat fee.
Is Mediation the Lowest Cost Option?
As a one neutral lawyer process, mediation is much less expensive than if each of you hires your own lawyer. If compared to a do-it-yourself divorce, the answer may be no. Self-help, however, can end up being costly. Some couples start out on their own and then hire lawyers part way through or even complete their divorce themselves but end up returning to court later with post-judgment issues based on misunderstandings or mistakes. This can cost more than using a mediation process from the outset to help you avoid costly mistakes or issues later.
Contact the Family Mediation Center Today
To schedule a consultation or to receive more information about mediation with the Family Mediation Center, please call us at 414-939-6707 or contact us online.
All inquiries are confidential.
You have decided to divorce, now what? The first question to ask yourself is “What process is the best fit for you and your family?”
The process you choose will impact cost, conflict, and timing as well as your family and financial future. To make the best decision, you need professional education to be certain you understand all of your options before you begin.
The family transition in separation or divorce can challenge you emotionally and financially. The first question to ask yourself is “What process is the best fit for you and your family?”
You make decisions, draft and file all legal and financial documents, and navigate the court process on your own without professional support. Uninformed decisions can result in legal mistakes and issues with the court.
Each of you is separately represented by a lawyer in an out-of-court settlement meeting process. You work with your lawyer and other professionals as needed to assist you in reaching an final agreement.
Each of you hires a lawyer to negotiate for you, often using positional bargaining with the potential of high conflict and a costly court battle. Arbitration is similar to litigation except decisions are made by a hired arbitrator rather than a judge.
Mediation is a voluntary private process in which one neutral lawyer provides legal education, guidance, and drafting and filing of documents for both of you to help you jointly reach agreements and navigate the court process. You receive professional support to restructure your family as well as your finances.
Divorce is more than a legal problem; it affects every aspect of your life. Too many families spend time and money in courtrooms fighting. At Family Mediation Center, we will help you choose a healthy path to address your financial, emotional and legal concerns as you create the necessary legal documents and move forward.
Contact the Family Mediation Center Today
Family Mediation Center process is designed to minimize cost and conflict. To schedule a no-charge phone consultation with a lawyer mediator or to receive more information about our mediation process, please call us at 414-939-6707 or contact us online. All inquiries are confidential.
By Grant Zielinski, Divorce Financial Solutions
Divorce requires complete restructuring of your family and your finances. As you consider divorce, here are some financial mistakes you can avoid by getting professional input and making well-informed financial decisions.
When you’re in the midst of a divorce, it is easy to get caught up in emotions and the desire to be done. Poorly informed financial decisions may cause problems long into the future—don’t just get it done, get it done right! Consult with a neutral professional at the Family Mediation Center to understand your options.
Grant G. Zielinski is a certified divorce financial analyst (CDFA) at Divorce Financial Solutions, LLC in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Grant works as a neutral financial specialist in mediation and collaborative cases to educate clients on financial matters such as tax issues, maintenance, child support, and property division incident to divorce.
As parents navigating separation or divorce, you want to do what is best for your children. However, it is not always easy to work together or know what to do or say. Resources are available to help you both consider the impact of restructuring your family and provide ideas on how to reduce risk for your children.
While there are no single answers that fit all families, tools like the online help page can provide useful information about co-parenting or other relevant divorce/separation related topics. Many parents find that while books and webpages are helpful for basic education, they lack consideration of their unique children and family situation.
Families looking for more specific support and input individually tailored to their family and their children’s needs will find educational/consultation support from a child specialist valuable.
A child specialist helps you as a parent:· Understand the impact of separation on your child
· Talk openly about your thoughts and feelings about and with your child.
· Create a child-centered parenting plan that addresses your child-related issues and concerns.
· Have an ongoing resource as an alternative to court.
A child specialist helps your child by:
· Giving the child a chance to express feelings, thoughts and concerns about what is happening.
· Encouraging the child to feel safe and supported throughout the separation.
· Providing healthy ways to manage stress and emotions during the separation period.
· Giving an avenue to feel heard by you as parents through the child specialist—“voice not a choice”.
If you have questions about child specialist services or would like to discuss your options regarding separation or divorce related processes, please contact Casey Holtz, Ph.D. (414) 810-7647 or the Family Mediation Center (414) 939-6707.
With the United States Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, every state must grant and recognize same-sex marriage. In the years since, couples and courts are realizing that with gay marriage also comes gay divorce.
Courts have the legal obligation to grant divorces to same-sex couples. The application of Wisconsin’s Family Code to a same-sex divorce can become a complicated task for attorneys let alone for the couple on their own. For a court to grant a divorce, couples must disclose all assets, debts, and income and allocate all marital property. Wisconsin’s Family Code (Chapter 767) sets forth various presumptions and factors in determining and allocating divisible property, such as length of marriage, gifts and inheritances, and contributions to the marriage. Legal factors are also listed that impact the determination of maintenance, aka spousal support and any child-related issues.
One question with a same-sex marriage in Wisconsin is determining at what point the couple is ‘married’ for purposes of divorce determinations of property division and maintenance. Is it the day the Wisconsin Supreme Court held it unconstitutional to deny same-sex marriage? Is it the day the U.S. Supreme Court held same? Is it the day the couple legally married in another state even though the marriage was not recognized in Wisconsin yet? Is it a period of living in a marriage-like relationship since the couple could not legally marry? If children are involved, there are additional issues about parental rights. Without prior case law, legal issues in a gay divorce can become contentious and can lead to costly attorney fees, frustrating time in court, and high levels of stress.
The Family Mediation Center is a positive approach to resolving all issues required by the court in a private setting with a minimum of conflict and cost. The lawyer mediator will guide the couple through the issues and steps in obtaining court approval. Team members, including financial specialists and family/child specialists, can further assist if needed to help the couple develop a parenting plan and allocate complex assets including business interests. The Family Mediation Center is an option for LGBT couples looking for a cooperative approach to create and implement their own divorce agreement. Though located in Milwaukee, with online mediation this FMC option is available for couples throughout the state of Wisconsin.
Mediation with a neutral lawyer-mediator is a low conflict/low cost way to get legal education, guidance, and drafting assistance. This will help you be certain you both make well-informed decisions and reach agreements that will last and be best for your family.
Here is a list of mediation steps:
Mediation is a positive way to resolve your divorce or any other family law or post-judgment issue. The two of you can openly share information, obtain education, and discuss issues and options with expert assistance while retaining control of the outcome for your family.
By: Attorney Greg Hildebrand, co-founder of FMC
Divorce is difficult, but you can choose whether or not it is destructive. In Wisconsin, more and more couples are choosing to resolve their family issues via mediation—including the convenient and cost-effective option of online mediation--with the Family Mediation Center (FMC). In mediation, the couple jointly retains a neutral lawyer mediator who functions as an educator and guide to help them make informed decisions and efficiently navigate the legal process. Check out these top 5 reasons a couple considering separation or divorce should choose FMC mediation:
Rather than addressing relationship issues through a legal conflict in a public courthouse, couples using mediation resolve all issues through confidential discussions in a private conference room. This is important for anyone who is concerned about the public release of personal details and especially for parents, business owners and professionals.
By its very nature, cases that go through the court system are adversarial. It pits husband versus wife, mother versus father, as each side tries to prove to a judge that he or she is a better parent or deserves more (or less) money. In contrast, mediation is a method of conflict resolution in which the mediator helps the parties attack the problem rather than each other. The mediator helps foster an atmosphere of respect and dignity within the negotiation process.
Over 95% of all divorce cases end with an agreement, whether soon after filing a petition for divorce or after the parties have spent many thousands of dollars and more than a year in and out of court. The key question is the process you choose to reach an agreement. The efficiency and cost savings of a joint process is an enormous advantage for divorcing couples who have the ability to work together.
Divorce is not just a legal process; it is also an emotional and financial process. At FMC, couples work with a lawyer mediator and may involve a child and/or financial specialist as needed. The child specialist helps clients focus on what is most important to them (i.e., their children) and gives the children a voice in the process. The financial specialist can expand value (e.g., determining the most tax advantageous options and maintaining business profitability) and helps ensure financial transparency and informed decision-making.
When a judge makes a ruling, he or she is bound to rule within certain parameters of the law. In FMC mediation, the parties may create their own agreements that are much broader, so long as they are mutually acceptable and livable for them and do not violate public policy. Any couples who want a family-tailored result rather than a court-imposed decision are best served by the creativity available within the mediation process.
If you have questions about how mediation can benefit your family, contact the Family Mediation Center to schedule a consultation with a lawyer mediator at (414) 939-6707 or visit our website at www.familymediationcenter.com and fill out the contact form.
Greg Hildebrand represents individuals in all divorce matters affecting the family including complex financial issues and child custody and placement matters. He is also a trained and experienced mediator who assists represented parties and their lawyers in resolving divorce issues privately and without court involvement.
By: Sue Schramka, Psy.D.
Divorce can be a difficult and painful process, but you and your spouse will determine how it impacts your children. One of the greatest challenges you face is to both separate and co-parent. The most important aspect of your relationship with your ex-spouse, your co-parenting relationship, needs to remain intact and, in fact, be strengthened to work effectively across two homes.
Research has shown that the single most important factor in healthy post-divorce adjustment in children is low conflict between the parents. Therefore, when transitioning from spouses to co-parents, ensuring the well-being and future happiness of your children is crucial.
As a child specialist, I help many couples make the transition and restructure their post-divorce family for the sake of their children. I urge all couples to consider working with a child specialist to help them be the best co-parents possible for the sake of their children. Here are some insights from my work with families that I want to share.
Moving from a marital relationship to a co-parenting relationship is a process that takes time and encompasses several steps. The first is to grieve the loss of the marriage and the “nuclear” family. This is a process that often moves in a stop and start manner as various events occur and you experience living without your ex-spouse and begin to redefine your new family life with your children.
Another step is to accept that the issues that led to the decision to divorce may not be fully resolved in your divorce process. All the patterns, behaviors and resentments that led to the end of the marriage do not simply end with divorce, and the legal process will not allocate fault. To begin building a healthy co-parenting relationship, you must recognize familiar impulses to engage in past patterns of conflict and then resist these inevitable impulses. You must both work on creating new child-centered patterns of communication and decision-making to be successful parenting partners.
Finally, you must understand that your emotional needs should not be met by your children. Your children, even if they are adults, should not become your emotional caretakers or conduits between parents. You have to find ways to get your emotional needs met in other activities and people, including individual counseling if needed to help you with the transition, so you can manage the business of co-parenting and be the best parent possible for your children. If you can focus on positives and clear away residual negative patterns from your marriage, you can begin to build a very healthy and effective co-parenting relationship with your ex-spouse. In the end, no one loves your children more than you and your ex-spouse, the other parent. Who better to partner with to guide their development and usher them to adulthood?
Sue Schramka is a psychologist Cornerstone Counseling Services. She provides treatment for children, adolescents and adults. Her special interests include assisting separating and divorcing families as a Child Specialist and treating anxiety and mood disorders, interpersonal difficulties and stress management.
To schedule a consultation or to receive more information about our mediation through The Family Mediation Center, please call us at 414-939-6707 or contact us online and a member of our staff will contact you. All inquiries are confidential.
Divorce can be a complex and emotionally challenging process. Decision-making is stressful and emotions run high. It is important to remember that your actions throughout this process can not only affect your final settlement agreement, but also affect your family relationships. Rather than having regrets, below are some helpful tips during this time:
• Do be reasonable and cooperative in decision-making. Respectful communication will lead to creative and positive options.
• Do follow all temporary court orders or agreements. It will help to ease conflict.
• Do confer with your spouse before selling or giving away property.
• Do fully disclose all assets and debts.
• Do support your children. Changing family dynamics is difficult for adult children as well as minor children.
• Do consider consulting with a child specialist to help keep a positive focus on their needs and interests.
• Do be upfront about your needs and interests. It will help to create options that are in the best interests of the entire family.
• Do take care of your physical, emotional and mental health. See a therapist if you need assistance.
• Do understand all of your process options. A court litigated approach is not the only way. Call us to learn more about mediation with the Milwaukee Mediation Center
• Don’t lash out at your spouse or react negatively to their actions, especially around your children. Give yourself time before making major decisions.
• Don’t violate any temporary court orders or agreements.
• Don’t sell or give away property without your spouse’s mutual agreement.
• Don’t hide assets or withhold income from your spouse.
• Don’t involve significant others in your children’s lives too quickly. It can confuse your children and make them insecure. Introduce new relationships only when you and your children are ready.
• Don’t use your children as a pawn in order to get what you want and don’t make them pick sides.
• Don’t involve adult children in the drama. They are still your children and deserve to be insulated from parental conflict.
• Don’t defer to the past, it cannot be changed. Instead, look forward in deciding how to reshape your family.
• Don’t go it alone. Contact us today or call us at 414-939-6707 to learn how the we can guide you and your spouse through the complexities of a divorce process.