Monday, August 31, 2009

How divorce affects your children

The following are some of the results about parenting and children in divorce from the most comprehensive study of divorce in America, FOR BETTER OR FOR WORSE: DIVORCE RECONSIDERED by E. Mavis Hetherington and John Kelly (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2002)

  • Children are resilient; two years after divorce, most boys and girls are beginning to function reasonably well again. Happily, the tendency to “self-righting” is strong in the young.
  • Parenting skills decline in the first year after a divorce but begin to revive in the second and third years.
  • Custodial fathers are often better at control; custodial mothers are better at communication and nurturance.
  • If parenting is loving, firm, and consistent, and conflict between divorced parents is low, children can thrive in a mother, father, or joint custody situation.
  • Divorce does not inevitably produce permanent scars. Parents can buffer a child against many of the stresses associated with both divorce and life in a single-parent home.
  • You don’t have to be a perfect parent to be a good buffer. Naturally self-correcting, children can adjust to divorce with a moderate amount of support.
  • Parental love is not enough; firm but responsive discipline is also important to a child of divorce. It teaches the child self-control and how to control his or her emotions.
  • By the time /the children in our study/ were fifteen, the average distance fathers lived from their children was four hundred miles.
  • To buffer, the school has to make a youngster feel cared for, the teachers have to be open and willing to listen; and the discipline policy has to be loving but firm.
  • Be consistent. It’s hard to overstate the importance of a predictable environment after divorce. With so many things changing in children’s lives, they need to know there are some things that can be relied on.
  • Remember, your child is a child. Don’t confide in her or lean on her for support she is incapable of giving. Solve your own problems; the child has enough problems of her own.
  • It is difficult for a non-residential parent to protect a child from the consequences of a hostile, rejecting, or neglecting residential parent. Non-residential parents just aren’t around enough to buffer the child in the day-to-day hassles of family living.
  • Think about cooperative co-parenting; it is a major protective factor for children, and by working together, parents lighten the burden for each other.
  • Although children from divorced and remarried families are more likely than those in non-divorced families to have problems, the vast majority are adjusting reasonably well six years after divorce.
  • Children …need parental guidance and advice in adolescence, but to be in a position to provide both, a parent has to be respected and to have a long history of engaged parenting. A history of firm discipline, caring, and nurturing imbues parental “no’s” with the moral force that even an increasingly independent-minded, peer-influenced teen will heed.
  • Sensitive, engaged, dependable parents build up a large emotional bank account that they can draw on in adolescence, while parents with a history of disengagement and undependability usually go into overdraft as soon as the child becomes a teenager.
  • The more marital and divorce transitions a child experiences, the more emotionally and psychologically fragile the child becomes.
  • Sexual discretion is advised for all parents, but particularly for single mothers. An adult has a perfect right to an adult sex life, but most parental teaching, including teaching about sex, is done via role modeling. An overtly sexual parent predisposes a child to early sexual initiation. The child heeds what the parent does, not what she says.
  • Adult mentors often play a valuable role in a child’s life, especially for children with a difficult home situation. They can make a child feel worthy and valued, and can serve as confidents, advisers, role models, and surrogate parents.
  • A structured, supportive, authoritative school can help to protect against the adverse effects of non-authoritative parents often found in divorced and remarried families. Choose your child’s school with care and stay involved with teachers and school activities.
  • The big headline in my data is that 80 percent of children from divorced homes eventually are able to adapt to their new life and become reasonably well adjusted.
  • The roots of marital instability, what the American psychologist John Gottman calls marriage’s Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse – hostile criticism, contempt, denial, and withdrawal – seem to run across generations and to undermine marriages for young people from divorced and non-divorced families alike… For our youths in the 1990, as with their parents in the 1970s, we found that male withdrawal and denial, two of Dr. Gottman’s Horsemen, are particularly likely to drive a woman out of a marriage; while criticism, contempt, and reciprocated aggression – counterattacking when attacked – act like marital Mace on a man.
  • Ultimately, coping with marital transitions is an active, not a passive process for adults and children. It is not just the availability of resources but how people seek them out and use them and how stresses are dealt with that determine a win, lose, or draw after divorce and remarriage.
  • Divorce should not be undertaken lightly; it is a high-risk situation. Every effort should be made to sustain marriages with some strengths and satisfactions, or marriages going through perturbations because of temporary stresses such as the birth of a difficult child, a job loss, or a casual affair. But divorce is a reasonable solution to an unhappy, acrimonious, destructive marital relationship. /but/ the current narrow focus in the media and some of the clinical literature on the hazards of divorce and remarriage, and problems in children whose parents have gone through marital transitions, is a disservice to the majority of those individuals who, often with heroic effort, are leading constructive lives. It isn’t a matter of whether the glass is half empty or half full. In the long run, after a divorce, the glass is three-quarters full of reasonably happy and competent adults and children, who have been resilient in coping with the challenges of divorce.

What is Divorce Mediation?

How do I get started?

When you call, we will discuss your concerns. If it seems appropriate, we will set up an orientation session for you where you can learn more about mediation and to decide whether this process is the way you and your partner wish to use to work out your separation or divorce.

What are separation and divorce mediation?

Separation and divorce are crises that threaten the well-being of everyone involved. Mediation is a process available to help couples voluntarily work through disagreements in order to fulfill their responsibilities to each other and their family. They are assisted in working out a mutual agreement on the issues which must be resolved in separation as well as divorce: parenting, support, and the division of property.”

Who is mediation for?

Mediation is for:

  • Married couples who have made a decision to divorce.
  • Married couples who may not have decided about a divorce, but who want a separation.
  • Unmarried couples who have decided to separate, including LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) couples.
  • Couples with post decree issues or disputes.

Mediation is not only for couples who agree; it is a process designed to help any couple regardless of existing differences.

Is there anything better than the rule of law?

Is there a realistic alternative to the legal system?

I believe there is. It is one in which results are obtained voluntarily, and decisions are made by consensus; where parties design the form and content of their negotiations, where there is informality and infinite capacity for creative results….

It is one where emotions are expressed, acknowledged, and respected; where greater concern is shown for the future than the past; where third parties facilitate without deciding, and are empathetic rather than neutral.

It is one in which people are encouraged to act honestly, empathetically, collaboratively, humbly, and creatively; where forgiveness and reconciliation are encouraged; where people are allowed to be human, direct, and open; where anyone can understand what is happening and participate fully without professional jargon.

It is one without coercion, that encourages collaboration and permits both sides to win.

It is mediation. —Ken Cloke

How does it work?

You will meet together in our office to work out the major decisions raised by the decision to divorce. We will help identify the issues you need to resolve, and help guide you through the decision-making process toward agreements that really work for both of you.

We will then draft a memorandum of agreement for your review, after which it is given to your attorneys for legal implementation. The agreement becomes the basis for an uncontested divorce.

What are the benefits of mediated divorce?

  • Enables individuals to emerge from a divorce with self-respect intact.
  • Protects family relationships.
  • Establishes a foundation for continued co-parenting.
  • Benefits children, by reducing conflict.
  • Focuses on the present and future -- not the past.
  • Strengthens commitment to an agreement.
  • Is Time limited and convenient.
  • Offers an Informal context.
  • Avoids public disclosure of personal matters, because it is confidential,
  • Parties retain control over process,
  • Controls costs, financially and emotionally, of the divorce process.
  • Is empowering.
  • Respects self-determination.

What are the steps involved?

First, the process is explained. Then you gather the data needed for the decisions you will make. You identify the matters you need to decide. Then you take the time to consider available options to resolve these issues. If you are able to settle these matters, we draft a memorandum which incorporates the agreements you have reached.

What issues are dealt with?

Clients can choose to talk about a wide range of concerns. But typically, couples in divorce need to resolve:

  • Parenting Arrangements
  • Child Support
  • A Division of Property
  • Spousal maintenance

How long does it take?

Mediation varies in length depending on the complexity of the issues involved and the readiness of the couple. Many people complete the process in only a month or two. Mediation is time-limited and, unlike the court process, does not drag on indefinitely.

But I've already been to an attorney.

That's not a problem. People frequently want to consult an attorney when a separation or divorce seems in the cards. Mediation is not a substitute for the services of an attorney. Your mediator may be an attorney, but will not represent or give legal advice to you or your spouse. You will be encouraged to consult with your attorney - except you will be using that attorney in a different way, as advisor rather than adversary. The difference in that deciding to use mediation is that there you now make the decisions that will affect your life - with counsel!

Do we need an attorney?

Choosing mediation does not mean that you will not have the services of an attorney. We will urge you to seek legal counsel throughout the mediation process. While the decisions in mediation are made by you, they should be informed decisions. If you do not have an attorney, we can help you find one.

Why choose mediation?

Choosing mediation is choosing to take charge of your life at a point where lots of things seem to be spinning out of control. In the face of great uncertainty, it is choosing to set a direction and deciding to close the door of the marriage gently rather than slam it shut!

Mediation avoids much of the damaging consequences of adversarial divorces. Most complex divorces go on for years. Prolonged divorces deplete assets, entail expensive professional services, appraisals and legal fees, interrupt business, and interfere with parties' opportunities for personal growth and their desire to get on with their lives.

Although this process involves the services of both mediators and attorneys, the costs of a mediated divorce are typically less than conventional divorce. That's because you, and not your attorneys, are doing the talking.

When both parties agree to work together toward a common goal , costs - including time, money, and emotional costs - are considerably less than those of a typical contested divorce.

Are there cases that shouldn't be in mediation?

Mediation works in many more situations than you might imagine. However, in situations where parties are unable to assert their needs or do not feel free to speak their mind without fear of consequences, mediation may not be appropriate.

I'm very angry now! (We can't even talk to each other!)

It would be unusual if you weren't angry! Divorce is, unavoidably, a highly disruptive experience. Mediation is not just for people who are already cooperating. Mediation is often most helpful when you and your partner are having trouble talking on your own.

The question is not how you feel now, but where you want to go. Do you want to end up in a no-holds-barred battle, or do you want to get to some end to this? Would you like to find some resolution that would allow you to move on to the rest of your life, without bitterness or regrets? If so, we can help you get there.

How will this affect our children? What can we do to help them?

The latest research on divorce suggests that it is not so much that you are getting divorced that will affect your children as much as how you go about this divorce. Ongoing conflict between you and your spouse is what is most damaging to your children. And the long-term research on divorce suggests that while divorce causes distress in children, it need not cause disorder.

What should we tell our children?

You don't want your children to be surprised by a sudden change. You don't want your children to not feel safe to ask you about their concerns and fears. Keeping trust with them is what is most important. Your children need to know that whatever is happening between you as spouses, you can reassure them that you two will be there as parents for them. Hopefully, what you communicate to your children you can communicate together as parents.

**Excerpts taken from

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Welcome to Trinity Mediation! Contact me today to settle your dispute faster and cheaper than in the court system! or 701.610.5292

My name is Katie Hale, J.D., and I am a Qualified Mediator in Minnesota and North Dakota. A 2003 University of North Dakota Law School graduate, I became passionate about resolving disputes for my clients through mediation after taking my first ADR class while in school. I became licensed and legally qualified as a mediator before I became an attorney and have continued my growth, eduation, and training since 2002.

Trinity Mediation can resolve YOUR dispute at a fraction of the price it would cost to fight it out in court. Significantly cut down on court costs by taking control of your dispute through mediation! I specialize in divorce mediation, employment mediation and all types of civil mediation.

A mediator helps parties evaluate, assess, and decide for themselves. Whereas some lawyers would rather take a case to court, mediators work to find a solution both parties are happy with before the battle. The mediator’s job is to listen, sort through the differences, and find the common ground.
  • Self determination is a fundamental principle of mediation. Participants have the capacity and freedom to reach a voluntary agreement through the mediation process. YOU HAVE THE CONTROL, whereas in a court of law, others will decide your fate!
  • Cut down on costly litigation expenses by mediating your conflict.
  • I specialize in mediating all sorts of legal disputes including: Family disputes, divorce settlements, commercial mediation, workplace disputes, & civil disputes of any kind. ANY LEGAL ISSUE CAN BE MEDIATED! CALL TODAY, 701-610-5292.

ND Supreme Court Family Mediation Project!!!

I am excited to announce that I was recently selected by the North Dakota Supreme Court to be a Family Mediator for the Family Mediation Project of North Dakota. This project aims to allow divorced or divorcing couples to negotiate the terms of their divorce, including custody and support issues.

While people always have had the option of mediating divorces on their own, the pilot project requires mediation in most cases.

"The major goal is just to allow parties to sit down and negotiate their own agreements without having to go through the adversarial court process," Cathy Ferderer, the state's Family Mediation Program administrator, explained.

The project appears to be off to a strong start, according to initial data prepared by Greacen Associates, a private consulting firm. More than 90 percent of participants surveyed reported being satisfied with mediation, even if they did not settle anything through the process.

"It seemed to be a positive experience, even if they were not reaching an agreement,"Ferderer said.

Officials flag cases involving custody disputes within 10 days of filing. While the cases get set for regular court proceedings, people with unresolved custody issues get put into mandatory mediation in an effort to solve the issues without a trial. Mediation can be used to negotiate any issues.

"Essentially, the biggest issues tend to be support and children," Storbakken said.

Cases are excluded from mediation if there are elements of domestic violence or a power imbalance involved in the relationship, or if the couple already has attempted mediation prior to filing for divorce.

**Source, Bismarck Tribune***