Category: The Real Help Posts


1.    A Good Lawyer

Well, well, well…big surprise here.  A lawyer recommending you hire a lawyer.  Seriously, lawyers who focus on family law are a little jaded to the day to day drama of family division.  While highly sensitive to the needs of my clients, I know when something is just a big deal to you at this moment or whether it is really a game changer that has to be dealt with or your rights will suffer.  I can explain why you should or should not be concerned about things that happen and in this way keep you calmer and more rational when making important decisions that will affect you down the road.

 

2.     A Sense of Humor

While grieving the loss of a relationship it may seem inappropriate to laugh, but really the best humor gets at our deepest feelings so if something strikes you as a little off or funny it probably means you have stumbled on a kernel of truth about your situation.  Cherish it and laugh.  The act of releasing tension that laughter allows will help break the cycle of anger and concern you may feel at other times in the process.

 

3.      Put It in Writing

Writing is cathartic.  The physical act of typing on keys or writing with pencil or pan and paper helps us let go of our feelings and release them.  It also helps organize our thoughts.  Often the mind becomes cluttered with thoughts seemingly flying around in a tornado of emotion.  Writing down the thoughts let’s us see them clearly or gets them out of our minds to make room for new ideas.  If you are working on money or child custody issues, writing down financial information or custody schedule information can assist your lawyer or the court in helping you come to a settlement where if the ideas were just vague in your mind they might not be as helpful.  So put it in writing.  You will feel better.

4.     Reach Out

Seek support wherever and whenever you can.  The world is full of people who can help you but they can’t do it if you don’t make your needs known.  Talk to people and share a little bit about the challenges you face and you will soon have ideas on next steps to take.  Churches, hospitals, and other organizations have support groups that often meet free of charge.  Seek professional help from a mental health provider if you are feeling especially stressed or unable to manage your emotional issues.

5.  Don’t Neglect the Things You Enjoyed Before You Started The Divorce Process

If you have hobbies or interests, stay with them.  There is this tendency with people if they are in upheaval to abandon ordinary things in their lives that give them pleasure and happiness.  They let the big event take over everything.  Take time out for yourself.  Read, paint, draw, make or listen to music, write, take photographs, scrapbook, cook…whatever it is.  Gardening and being out in nature are especially good for the spirit if you have access to these activities.  Remember there was life before the divorce and there will be life after, therefore there must also be some living during the process.

Don’t Forget To Show Up

This past Sunday I took a little over an hour of my time and helped a bunch of people load boxes with food for needy families so that they’d be able to celebrate Thanksgiving in their homes instead of on a soup line. The event had been organized, the food provided, and the distribution decisions had been made. All I had to do was roll up with my husband and kids to help load the boxes. It was not a big deal and it was not hard to do. All that was required was to make the commitment to show up.

Basically I capitalized on an easy opportunity. How many of those do you see each day? How many times could you simply choose to show up and make some kind of difference? Showing up doesn’t require going to an event. Sometimes it is just letting go of all the stress that you feel caught up in for some time and really listening to a child recount their day. Sometimes it means letting go of anger and power needs to be a team player in parenting a child or making a business decision. Sometimes it means keeping the date with yourself so that you can recharge and not be worthless to your loved ones. Sometimes it’s asking for time away from your family to fully devote yourself to career needs. No matter what it means you have to be there, fully present, and not somewhere else.

Today I’m taking a break from my usual topical posts to remind you that you matter in ways you don’t always know and showing up with your whole being makes a difference. No matter what…don’t forget to show up. Whether it’s an hour, a day, a week or a month at a time…or even just a moment…be there.

Why Facebook????

It took me a long time to fire up the Facebook page. When it comes to lawyering I’m a fairly serious person and Facebook seemed a frivolous place for serious lawyering. I resolved my dilemma by deciding that it was alright to be a little lighter with the social media, and surprise, surprise, I’m actually enjoying having a new way to communicate.

My updates are everything from links to articles and blog posts, important updates on changes in the law, some reflections on family law cases that make the headlines, and some nice pictures and cheerful encouragement to brighten your day. Sometimes I may provide insights into how I practice or my experience and background. There’s more on this site if you are curious.

I promise not to overrun your news feed on a daily basis. I would appreciate it if you can let me know that you find my page useful by “liking” it. If you enjoy a particular post you may do the same for that posting. Please do not leave any personal information in the form of any comments and do not indicate if you are a client of mine as the page is completely public and I cannot protect your information.

I hope you find looking at my Facebook page entertaining and informative.

You can find me on Facebook here. Hope to see you soon!

Texting and Divorcing Don’t Mix – Texters…BEWARE!!!

PEOPLE, please, if you never learn anything at all from me or my website except this one thing, do learn this one thing.  Everything you do or say that is traceable in any way can and will be used against you in court in your family law case.  Live your life assuming that to be true.

Maybe you have thought twice about posting your party pictures on Facebook already.  Maybe you are careful about status updates because you see them as being seen by lots of people.

A recent item on NPR however also sheds light on the use of text messages in family law cases.  The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers is reporting a big increase in the use of texts in litigation.  I know people want to be casual and themselves in their electronic communications, but the written word can be eternal and can pack a way bigger punch than the same words spoken aloud.  Also consider that remarks made in writing are frequently taken out of context.

My advice on all electronic communications with parties to your family law litigation (that’s the people on the other side of that pesky “vs” thingy):  use only language you would want a judge to read, say only things you would be proud to say in front of your mother or second grade teacher, speak as you would like to be known by your children, and if you have something you don’t want anyone to know about, don’t write about it…anywhere.

Of course, my hope for you all is that you will be nothing but model citizens, parents and partners.  If passions prevent your living this way at all times, do consider living this way at least in writing.  You’ll make your lawyer’s job a lot easier.

 

Let’s Talk About You

It’s been said that people who are going through divorce are nothing like their usual selves; they are showing the worst part of their nature.  It’s worth asking the question: why is that?  And further: how can we fix it?

My personal belief is that people show the worst side of their nature because they feel out of control.  The loss of control can come from a lot of places.  Mostly it is the fact that each of the people feels misunderstood and hurt by the other’s actions and now the formality of the divorce brings all that into focus.  Most legal systems favor a no fault approach to divorce which means that a lot of the stuff about the emotions of the marriage become irrelevant in the legal context.  This makes people even more angry because they cannot use the court system to get justice for their emotions so they feel powerless.

How I think this can be fixed is by taking control of everything.  The steps start small and then grow from there.  First, you must allow yourself to feel how you do but then look at whether those feelings are leading to anything positive.  Anger, for instance, can spur us to action.  Sometimes that action is good, other times it is very bad.  Ask yourself: is this thing I am doing going to lead to any positive outcome or will it make things worse for me?

Many people feel anxious about dealing with the legal system.  One way to deal with that anxiety is to partner with your lawyer in preparing all the information that will be needed for your court papers or hearings.  The more you do the less your attorney will have to do, especially when it comes to the facts of your situation.  When it comes to the law itself, it is best to leave that work to the lawyer because there are things about the way the law works that may not make sense to a person who doesn’t work with it all the time.  Also different people within the court system do things differently and your lawyer may know how your court personnel will handle various things.

Many people feel sad and worry about the future.  One way to handle that sadness and worry is to start imagining your future now.  Ask yourself:  where am I today and where am I going?  The mistake people make often is they keep replaying the past so they never move on.  You can see the future in increments.  Where am I going might be for this afternoon, it might be for next week, it might be in five or ten years but it has to be forward.  If you start thinking ahead you will start moving forward, and once you get going you will develop momentum.

Finally, be kind to yourself.  Find some time for something enjoyable and be sure to really pay attention to your enjoyment of it.  Realize that although things are changing for you there is good in every day and you can find it.  Also, if you are impatient or difficult with others because of all the stress you are under, ask for their understanding and don’t be afraid to ask for their help.  It may be that you just need a shoulder to cry on or another point of view, or it may be for something more tangible but get the help you need.  If you feel you might need further professional help with your emotions, seek it out.  There are many possible ways to get it, not all are expensive.

Act Now

This is not a TV commercial, but it is a once in a lifetime opportunity. You only have this minute or two once in your life. Divorce, like many of life’s other crises, makes people panic. Panic makes people freeze. One of the goals of this site is to get people out of panic mode and into action.

Right now, you are reading this, you are acting. You are not stuck inside your head. That’s good. You are seeking information. Knowledge will make you understand and feel better about your situation.

The best place to start any journey is where you are, so the best thing to do right now is to figure out where you are.  For now, try taking out a piece of paper and writing down what you think are the five most important issues you are facing.  Examples might be:  “I am overwhelmed with responsibility for my children” or “I do not have enough money to pay my bills” or “I feel threatened and unsafe around my spouse” or “I am angry and feel betrayed.”

Just the act of writing these things down will allow you to see them more objectively.  Next you might want to think of something you could do to address these issues.  If your issue is being overwhelmed with responsibility for your children, you could ask someone to watch them for a little while to give you a break.  If the responsibility is on an ongoing basis you could explore child care or organized activities for your children.  If there are larger issues, such as medical care, involved you could ask for help and support from friends and family as you work through your decisions, or you could ask for more help from the children’s other parent, if you feel that he or she is not contributing a fair share of energy to the process.

In future posts I will provide other plans of action, but the important thing is to act now.

There is another way…

Divorce, custody, support, and other family law issues start and end in our homes, living rooms and bedrooms, not in paperwork and in courtrooms.  Family lawyers work exclusively with individuals, we have people as clients, not just “cases.”  Divorces and relationship breakdowns look like endings but in fact they are new beginnings.

This site and my practice are dedicated to these ideals.  In the coming days I will be posting articles, tools and ideas to assist all those touched by family law issues to find a clearer more productive way forward.

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