Sorry For The Delay – We Were Experiencing Life Difficulties

 

Hello!  I missed you!  I apologize for the delay.  Things got weird for a while, ya know….like they do.  I’ll save you the torrid and mind-numbing details.  The important thing is, we are back!

In the last several months, I’ve had a lot of changes.  I’ve experienced things that were new to me.  Some experiences were positive, some negative, some neither, simply thought provoking.  Some I handled well.  Others, not so much.  The good news is, they all provided perspective, insight, and life experience, which can only add to the wealth of knowledge I can now share with you.

One thing this period of time has taught me is that things are better than I sometimes give them credit for.  We have food, clothing, shelter, and family and friends who love us.  Quite possibly the most important?  That I can still trust myself to do what is best for my girls and I, to keep the aforementioned positive things.  I am self-aware (and I do mean that I am aware of both the good and the bad, lest you think I’m in any way superior….I’m not), I know who I am and what I want, and have a solid self-esteem.  From there, I can figure out the rest.  I have yet to find a situation that was entirely hopeless, had absolutely no solution, and/or I did not have at least some control over (even if it’s just my reaction to it).  I am not powerless and neither are you.

Things are better than you may give them credit for.  Things could be better, but they could almost certainly be worse too.  Do I mean you can’t have a shitty day because there are children starving in Africa?  Of course not.  Your problems, stresses, and concerns are valid.  Allow yourself to heal from past hurts and deal with current issues.  That said, keep your perspective.  When you feel like everything is falling apart and you couldn’t possibly stay afloat, remember that you ate today and you are reading this on an electronic device many do not have access to, for a myriad of reasons.  Take a deep breath, journal it out, have a glass of wine, and you’ll hear from me again soon my darlings.

Priorities – What We Say, What Is, And What Should Be

Let’s be honest, if I asked you what your #1 priority was, you would immediately say, “my children of course”.  This will upset many of you, but I call “bullshit”.  Your priorities are not a list you write, or what you tell those who ask you.  Your priorities are what you spend your time doing.  Regularly shooing them away because you’re busy, is never going to make them feel important.  They develop low self-esteem and they learn to accept, subpar relationships (or worse, abusive relationships) and unacceptable behavior from others.  I do not mean to make them the center of the universe and never use red pens because it hurts their little feelings, that is a whole other rant….

You can say what you want, but actions speak louder than words.  If you are always working and regularly hiring a babysitter despite having a free babysitter when the child(ren) are at your ex’s, do you think they feel like the priority?  When children are treated like an inconvenience or something you have to “fit into your schedule”, they will mature believing they are not worthy of being someone’s priority.  They deserve to be a priority; a priority to you, their extended family, their friends, and eventually, the partner of their choosing.

We joke a lot in our house, the girls will tell me, “we’re too cute to chase boys.”  “Damn right, ladies.”  My girls know what is expected and they chase no one, not even friends.  They are confident, and know there is a line of friends and partners lined up behind them who does treat them properly.  They will simply step aside and allow the shitty friend or partner see the people lined up waiting to take their place.

This is where balance comes in.  We are called to do many things as a parent.  We must make our children a priority, while making ourselves a priority as well.  This is all about balance here.  If we have low self-worth, how do we set a positive example?  Some mean well, but simply are a “yes” person.  They agree to every PTA Meeting, bake sale, and school event (BARF).  They say yes to neighbors, friends, or even *GASP* a new significant other – dare they decide to start dating again.  They agree.  They want to be “nice”, they want to “help out”, they want to “respect their wishes”, but never voice their own.

Do you even know what those wishes are anymore?  Do you remember a time when you didn’t have a spouse and were not yet a parent; when you were an individual person?  You were a  person who had goals, and hobbies, likes and dislikes?  Find that person.  You are not only “so and so’s wife/husband (if applicable) and “so and so’s mother/father”.  Yes, you are those things, but you are also a viable person who has needs, wants, desires.  Find them, voice them, and do them.  Make yourself and your kids an actual priority.  Anyone who stands in your way, isn’t looking for you to be the best you.  Fuck em’.

Should You Leave?

Are these boots made for walking?

Should you leave

How the hell should I know?

Before I started  this blog, I often sat in on new client family law consultations and now, conducting countless therapy sessions.  Many would ask how you know when it’s time to end the relationship, because they were unsure how or if they should proceed with a divorce.  Should you leave?

Back in the day, I would often think, “how the hell should I know?”  Having been newly divorced myself, I just “knew.”  When I thought, “can I do this the rest of my life?”, the answer was a resounding “no.”  I have kept this line of thinking in everything I do.  When at work, I ask myself this and give notice if necessary.  I decided overnight I would go get my Master’s degree because “no,” I couldn’t do this job for the rest of my life.  I have discontinued friendships that were draining because I couldn’t imagine being their friend, and allowing them to drain me for the rest of my life.

CAN YOU DO THIS FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE?

If you are struggling with deciding if you should stay or go, ask yourself that question.

  1. Don’t stay together for the kids.  No one likes a martyr, and they are going to grow up and move out (assuming you did it right and they aren’t living in your basement playing video games indefinitely).
  2. Don’t stay together because you are afraid of talking about it. Telling your spouse or explaining yourself to the families involved sucks, but just rip off the bandage quick and get it over with.  It’s hard but many things in life are.
  3. Don’t stay together for financial reasons.  You will figure out the money later.  Right now, your goal is to be at least content if not happy.  If money is that important to you, then there are many things you should be looking at right now above and beyond your relationship.
  4. Don’t stay together because you “like your life”.  The friends, the barbecues, the parties, etc.  Oh my, what will they think and I’d miss out on all that.  Which side will they pick and which friends will I lose?  At the end of the day, they go home and your stuck with a partner you aren’t fond of.

So, should you leave?

Marriages are hard and anyone who tells you they aren’t, is fucking lying.  That said, breaking up is hard too.  However, if you cannot do this for the rest of your life then bail now and live the life you actually want.  You only have a limited amount of time and energy, don’t spend it on someone you are not happy with.  So do I know if you should stay or go?  No, but you do.

Communication In Lieu Of Resentment

Communication Crowd

Communication can be a pain. Imagine you need something or have to make a decision for your child.  Whether you have to choose a doctor, agree on an extracurricular activity, make a medical decision, decide on which school to send them to, whether you should buy them a pony so they like you better, whatever it is….

Now imagine that your child has one to three other parents, and you have to discuss every decision with this overwhelming crowd of people.  The correct, legal, moral, non-dick move is to include them all in decisions and come to an agreement among two to four people. Now imagine that you have done the research, gone to whatever tours, appointments, orientations, etc., which no other parent attends, and yet they all get to weigh in.  Worse, they can suddenly decide they no longer want to switch visitation, allow an activity, or transport during their visitation. Now, you’ve wasted your time doing the research only to be outvoted because one to three others decided they no longer want to do it. This is especially infuriating after being asked to “look into it,” and when every reason given could have ruled it out prior to the research and legwork.

This happens to so many co-parents.  It is incredibly frustrating when one parent has spent time researching an extracurricular activity — that you’ve all agreed upon — and after all the research is done, the parent is told that another parent doesn’t have time to <insert excuse>.  Further, they are told that they are welcome to pay for it and do all the driving if they want to enroll the child.  The child of course, who they’ve already said yes to, because everyone agreed prior, is now super excited — and your head wants to explode.  When I go to doctor’s appointments and then have to give a full report to one to three people who were too busy to come, but still they argue about what tests to agree to and get annoyed about questions I should have asked, I restrain myself from saying, “you could have come!”

Flames, flames on the side of my face….

Flames Communication

I use myself as an example because so many of you say how “zen” I am about our family dynamics.  Usually, that is true, but every now and then…not so much.  I have my freak-outs, and the girls’ dad handles many gracefully and comes up with a solution, which makes me less stabby, head explody, throat punchy.  Well, most of the time….

So, what do we do about this?  No, lighting his car on fire is not a viable option (come on ladies, we all know you do that when he cheats on you, and you, my dear, are already divorced).

Basset Car Fire Communication

Here’s the deal…this is painful for me to write because, while pissed, I still have to admit it’s mostly my fault that this happens.  While it sucks that I don’t have help, I also told them, “I’ve got it” or “I’ll let you know how it goes.”  Why should anyone step up if you will do it all for them?  Is it still shitty? Sure.  Mostly, because you end up doing all the work.  Make no mistake, having two to four parents does not split the workload two to four ways.  It often times just means more people to confer with.

Before resentment builds, ask for help.

Tell them what you are planning and say (which I swear I have done), “I’m going to look this up and do the legwork but I need to be sure we agree, because if I waste my time and it’s a flat ‘no’, I will hurt someone.”  Parents (especially moms) feel the need to “do it all.”  Doing it all means resentment and burnout.  Being overwhelmed isn’t failure, it’s recognizing you need to reevaluate your priorities.  

Alternately, you can split up the workload.  I make my own schedule, so I handle appointments that are scheduled in advance.  Their step-mother has offered to take them on some days off and split up the amount of work missed.  Their dad researched the last extra-curricular, because I was getting overwhelmed.  All three of us rotate when a kid is sick so none of us are missing too much work.  Is this easy to work out?  Hell no.  It also means you have to communicate.  I know communication with your ex and/or their new spouse can be tough, but the tone of your relationship depends on it.  That tone bleeds over to the sidelines at a game, or awkwardness at a school function, which isn’t fair to your children.

Every time you must have one of these discussions, have a glass of wine first, take a deep breath, and discuss calmly.  Be honest because open and honest communication is just as essential to co-parenting as it is to anything else.  I cannot tell you how many times I’ve told my ex, “between the girls, work, and the house, I just don’t have time to figure out ____________”, and he picks it up.  Come on, if people can be “sister wives,” we should be able to figure out football practice.

Whether It’s Sex Or Visitation, Withholding Is A Bad Plan

JUSTICE EDITED

Whether it’s sex or visitation, withholding is a bad plan.  Why? Because, neither should be used as a tool to control another person.  Withholding almost always has a negative connotation, and for good reason.  People who withhold usually do so to gain power.

Let’s talk about contracts…I promise, it’s related.  I have to begin by stating that I’m NOT an attorney and you should always check with your lawyer before doing something stupid.  Contracts are something binding between two people.  Breaking the contract results in legal action.  It’s easier if you think of a contract as a law that is only imposed on the people who signed it.

So, you have a Marital Settlement Agreement, a Final Judgment, a Paternity Agreement, etc. (they are called many things but we will call it an “agreement” for our purposes here), with your ex, relating to your divorce and your children.  This usually includes a schedule for visitation and child support.  Understand that a breach of this contract, on either side, can result in a penalty for the person who failed to do their part, according to the agreement.

If you remember nothing, remember this:  just because one party doesn’t follow through with their contractual obligations does not mean you don’t have to.  If he/she doesn’t pay their child support, that does NOT mean that the other has the authority to withhold visitation of their children.

The beauty of child support is that the state regulates and tracks it (always pay it through the state, and if possible, straight from the paycheck to the state).  If they stop paying, the state (at least the state of Florida) will put out a warrant for their arrest.  You don’t have to do anything or file anything with the court.

Remember that contracts are basically laws that only pertain to those who sign it — always make sure to do your part.  If they don’t, they can be held in contempt by the court.  However, if you don’t do yours, then you are both in contempt for each of your individual breaches. Think of it this way, if the guy in front of you is speeding and you are following suit, does the police officer say that only the first person gets the ticket?  Hell no, they pull all your asses over and laugh as they go down the line and ticket you all.  You don’t get to break laws just because someone else does.

Withholding visitation is the fastest way to lose custody/visitation (custody is an outdated term unless DCF is involved).  The courts look at who is the most likely to foster a relationship with the child(ren)’s other parent.  If you are going to cut off your ex, expect the court to intervene.

Does that make your ex less of an asshole?  Of course not.  But I would be remiss if I said to do something that is spiteful, damaging to your children, and can cause you legal strife.  I know it’s a pain, and it takes too long because the courts are bogged down with plenty of asshole exes.  That being said, do it anyway.  Do it right the first time, and you can avoid the bullshit that goes along with the, “he said, she said,” and who should be punished, how much, and for how long.

Keep your nose clean and your head up, and remember that withholding visitation is a bad idea.

Revenge – A Dish Best Served While Pointing and Laughing

PUNISHER

I receive so many emails from readers asking how to get back at their ex.  So many people tell me that while my approach helps, it’s just not enough.  Sometimes you just feel like you need revenge.  I completely agree.  So many quit therapy because their therapist constantly says to, “not let it in.”  Well, why didn’t I think of that?  I didn’t realize it was so easy!  With that in mind, I no longer need you.

I get it, you don’t want to respect their new spouse.  You don’t want to hear from the kids about how great your ex is doing, and how fabulous the new husband or wife is.  How all they do is take them places and buy them things.  Meanwhile, you are left doling out punishments, running to Michael’s praying it doesn’t close because your idiot kid didn’t tell you they had a project due in 30 seconds, and that you can’t afford to buy them all those things because you don’t make as much as their household.  It sucks.

All you do actually want to do is drunk dial them, and tell them where they can stick their social media photos of their last “family vacation,” which depict a family that you are no longer a part of.  You want to slash tires and put Nair into that bitch’s shampoo bottle.  You simultaneously hope he gets fired so he will be less smug, but also realize you cannot survive without the child support. Basically, every time you see her, you hope she trips and does real damage to her stupid face.

I really do get it.  All that said, I love you guys and really don’t want you to get arrested, or worse, lose your kids for doing something you cannot take back.  If you are reading this, then your kids are important to you, and you are trying. Don’t let the assholes get the best of you.  More importantly, don’t give them the satisfaction.

The best way to get back at them, is excel and exude confidence.  

I do not mean to go post endless pictures on Facebook of how “blessed” you are.  In case you don’t know, no one believes that shit.  Simply live your life.  While things are different, and you may miss some things, I would bet money that there are many things you DON’T miss and are glad to be rid of.  You are a viable person, and as the mother or father, you are irreplaceable.

You want to mindfuck your ex and their new significant other?  Walk into a room like you don’t care that they are there.  Wave to acknowledge him/her/them, or even go say, “hello,” if you think you can do it without “accidentally” stomping her foot with your stilettos.  [Sidenote:  Unless you can wear those without falling on your ass (I can’t), do not wear them while trying to look confident.  Many women look like a baby giraffe learning to walk.  This is a bad plan.]  Talk to people you know.  Interact with your kids.  If you don’t know anyone, invite a friend along. That way, you don’t end up feeling like an ass while you’re pretending to look at something on your phone because you have nothing else to occupy you.

Basically, fake it until you make it.

Eventually, and I know it doesn’t feel like it now, you really won’t care. Revenge won’t be a high priority anymore. You will go say, “hi,” because why not?  They are just some other people you know at this event.  You will chat with friends without constantly checking to see if he/she/they are looking at you.  You won’t care because this is another chapter of your life, and it’s OK that it doesn’t include them.  You will be confident, and it won’t be an act anymore.  You will laugh when they are petty or overly concerned with what you are doing.  You will be amused when they do something stupid, and the kids report back a less than perfect outlook (which you will never let your kids know you think is amusing).  Am I saying to revel in someone else’s pain?  Of course not!

OK, maybe a little….

Without Love, It Takes More Effort – Do It Anyway

2015-07-12 19.34.28

Marriage is hard.  Raising children is hard.  Without love, it’s even harder.

This may seem like an obvious statement.  However, many forget this and wonder why everything has to be such a big deal, why everything requires so much damn communication, and why it’s just so damn hard.  It’s because you aren’t in love anymore.  Concessions you used to give each other are no longer present, and flaws that used to be overlooked now bug the shit out of you.

What we need to be doing as parents, instead of lamenting how fucking hard it is, is to ask your child, “How can I improve your life?”  “How can I make your world better?”  I guarantee that the first thing out of their mouth will be to stop shit-talking one of the most important people in their lives.  How awesome of an example would it be if you demonstrate to your children how to deal with and be kind to someone who may or may not deserve it?  Moreover, someone that you simply don’t freaking like?

Additionally, even when it sucks, be better than you think you should have to be.

I know it’s hard, and I know you think they are the asshole.  I’m sure when you tell your side, your friends and family agree.  But guess what?  They think you’re the asshole and when they tell their side, their family and friends agree with them.  Sometimes, I get overwhelmed and say, “dammit, I’m tired of being the bigger person” (in many situations, not just with co-parenting).  However, that’s just the exhaustion talking.  No matter how tired I am (even when I want to throw the kind of temper tantrum that I would never allow my children to throw),  it’s worth it to be better than think I should have to be, if for no other reason than to provide zero ammunition, and to be able to sleep at night.

Further…love your kids’ parent, even though you are not in love.

I know this is a stretch, but you don’t have to be romantically in love, to love another person.  I’m not saying be best friends, because boundaries are important. Besides, when you start dating again, that could get weird.  However, find something you do love about that person, no matter how small.  If the only thing you can think of is that you love that they aren’t a war criminal, then run with it.  I love that my ex plays with my kids.  He runs around like a crazy person and is goofy.  I love that he’s funny and can make me laugh when I’m ranting about some idiot teacher that has messed with my kid (that teacher should be scared).  I love that he can roll with things when I screw up and I speak before I think, or I make a big deal out of something before I have all the information.  I can love him as a fellow human being, and you can do the same for your ex.  It’s important, because your children love this person.

You only have a limited amount of time and energy.  Spend that energy on joy, not hate.  Being angry takes so much out of you.  Before you know it, the kids will be grown.  Are you going to look back and see years of hatred and fighting, now useless because it simply didn’t matter that they let them stay up later than you’d like?  Or, are you going to look back and see that you enjoyed your kids, and you made the best of a situation that you hoped never to be in?  The choice is yours, but I sincerely hope, for your ankle biters, that you choose joy over hate.

Oh and wine…definitely choose wine. Like I said, life is short.

Teaching Tolerance If Not Love

Dalai Lama Edited

We need to be teaching tolerance to our kids, even if we cannot teach them to love others (which we should be doing…but hey, if we aim lower, maybe it’ll take).

Webster’s Dictionary defines tolerance as:

“The ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with.”

It doesn’t mean you have to agree, and it doesn’t mean you are compromising your beliefs.  It means you are respecting others because they are human beings, and they deserve it.  I’m not simply talking about religious tolerance, or being nice to “the gays.”   [Sidenote: if you actually say “the gays” go punch yourself in the face.]  I am talking about showing tolerance to all people, because, regardless of your beliefs, they are people too. Honestly, what they do in most cases doesn’t really affect you; so go worry about yourself.

No, that doesn’t mean you need a COEXIST sticker for your car.  It means that you should learn and teach your children to accept others as they are.  Every religion, orientation, belief, occupation, culture, and demographic, has something to offer and something we could learn from. 

Tolerance is sometimes letting people do things their own way even when it affects your child.  The world doesn’t care that you don’t want your kid hearing _________ or knowing _________ exists.  They will hear it and it does exist.  It is better to prepare them to deal with these differences than to have them be at a loss, or worse, think that every way but their way is “bad.” That would make them little assholes, and I can only assume that you want your kid to at least have friends, if not flourish.

I used to work as a criminal defense paralegal (among other things).  It never ceased to surprise me (nor to make me sad) that our Defendants assumed I would be put off, or worse, afraid of them.  Sure, I’m super fantastic at preparing documents and organization, but what I’ve always done best is show individuals respect as fellow human beings.  I show them that a young, blonde, and often most notably to them, white female isn’t nervous and in fact, is genuinely concerned about their well-being.  [Sidenote: Being white is only notable because the majority of our clients are of minority backgrounds.]  It is so sad to me that anyone would be taught that this shouldn’t be so.  Now, I often have the same experience with therapy clients.  I often have to prove that I do not judge their choices and/or circumstances.  They are people, not a list of charges.  They are more than the sum of their circumstances or, in some cases, their poor decisions.  I don’t get to put a bumper sticker on my car and simply say, “I’m not racist.”  I have to prove it, every single day, and uncover the years of discrimination they have faced.  It sucks, and I wish I could do more, but sometimes the only thing I can do is be kind to one person at a time.

If my readers could help me out here and create more, little tolerant people, maybe this task won’t be so huge when our children grow up.

From a co-parenting standpoint, this includes your ex and their family.  My ex and I do not see eye to eye on everything, and neither does his family and I.  I also don’t pretend to agree with everything he does or says, because that teaches the girls nothing.  Instead, the dialogue usually goes something like this:

“I understand that that is how Daddy does things, and I’m glad that works well for him.  However, because our home is different — we have different family members, we work different hours, we have different responsibilities, different priorities (just pick one) — that doesn’t work out for us here.  It is awesome, though, that you get to see how different households handle different things.  Now, you’ll have more to pick from when you are setting up your own household.  God knows, I don’t have all the answers. So, I’m sure he has some strategies that I don’t know, and that you could learn from.

OR

“I can appreciate Daddy’s thoughts on that subject, and they definitely give you another perspective.  It is great for you to learn all kinds of viewpoints, so you can choose one for yourself.  However, I don’t share that belief, and so I will not be doing it that way.

I know sometimes you want to say, “well, if I wanted to do things his way, we’d still be married!” or “that’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard and we are smarter over here than that,” but please don’t.  What your ex does in their house is their business, and you don’t get a say anymore.  You will not be effective in teaching tolerance or how to love others despite your differences if you cannot even show respect to the father/mother of your children.

Now keep in mind, I think every person deserves to have their own beliefs, but I still think people who write checks in the express line should die in a fire.  See?  We all have limits to our tolerance.  I’m just asking you to do your best.  If you are reading this, and working to be the best you can for your kids, I know you are already trying.

Just remember:

“It is no measure of health to be well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”
~Jiddu Krishnamurti

How to Choose and Have a Good Relationship with Your Divorce Attorney

Divorce

     You’re getting divorced, or you are divorced and you have the ex from hell that thinks the attorneys need to be involved in every situation you encounter in your co-parenting career (yes, it’s a career because it is a lot of freaking work). Both of these are a shit position to be in for a million reasons you already know so I won’t list them here. Since we live in the litigious United States, this means we have to lawyer up and hire a divorce attorney to look out for our best interests. This is expensive and upsetting because only you know your family, but what you don’t know is how to navigate the court system.

What to expect from the process and hiring a family law attorney:

  1. Expect a retainer fee of $5,000. A retainer fee is the “deposit” you give an attorney. They work, use these funds as they go, and let you know when that amount is used up.
  2. Expect to continue paying after the retainer fee is utilized. This money will go faster than you think and the attorney will do one of two things:
    1. Make you pay another retainer fee so they know they are getting paid for their time.
    2. Start sending you monthly bills as work is completed.
  3. If you take this all the way to Trial, expect a separate Trial retainer fee. Trials are expensive to prepare for and expensive to attend.  It is not unusual for an attorney in most areas of law to request a Trial retainer fee.
  4. Expect this to take a year or more. Divorces and modifications take forever, especially when one of the parties is bitter and argumentative. Further, everyone complains about the government and the lines at the DMV. You do realize the Court is the government too, right? The attorney cannot make the Courts move faster.

What to look for when choosing a family law attorney:

  1. Do your research. Look them up on the Bar website in your state.
    1. It will show if they have had any disciplinary actions. People bitching is one thing, but a verified complaint, where the Bar sides with the client, means there was true fault. You need to know this.
    2. Additionally, it tells you when they graduated from law school. There is nothing wrong at all with baby attorneys and in fact, you may get one with fewer cases who will do more work for less money. However, only you know your case and how complicated it is, which decides how much experience you need.
  2. If they don’t make you sign a Retainer Agreement, don’t use them. This agreement protects the attorney as well as the client. It sets forth what you both can expect from each other, how and when the attorney expects payment, and most importantly, what their representation covers. People think that’s “my attorney” they handle all my divorce issues. Nope. Read your agreement. It may say they are only negotiating a settlement for you, or that their representation goes up through Trial, but they don’t “do Trials”. Make sure you know what services you are paying for.
  3. Get someone who is family law only or does family law. You wouldn’t go to a General Practitioner if you have heart problems, you would go to the Cardiologist. Do not go to an attorney that “practices everything” or has a “general practice”. I was told not too long ago that you shouldn’t buy a copier/scanner/printer/fax machine combination. That basically means it does each job to a mediocre standard. That you should buy the thing that has been toiled over and produced to do one thing really well.  Attorneys are no different.

How to have a good relationship with your attorney:

  1. Stop calling them. There will be weeks (or in some cases months) of no movement on a case for whatever reason. Calling daily simply pisses off the attorney and staff. Also, they are charging you for these “status update” calls to tell you, “no, still nothing, and as I told you Steve, I’ll call you as soon as I have an update”.
  2. Only call for legal reasons. This probably seems like a no-brainer but I wouldn’t write it if I didn’t see it. If you want to know what is legal in a certain situation then by all means call. However, if you’re calling daily just to vent about your ex, call your therapist. They may not be cheaper, but they may take your insurance. I once actually said to a client (back when I was a paralegal), “You are calling me again because your ex-wife didn’t send back a shirt that you purchased. You are paying the firm $150.00 per hour to speak to me about a $10.00 shirt from Target. This is not a good financial decision for you.”  Honestly, this is not a legal question unless you actually want to sue them civilly outside of family court for the clothing you’re missing.
  3. Pay on time. You’ll quickly go to that mystical place called the backburner if your bill is late. You have to do your part if you want the attorney to do theirs.
  4. Produce what is requested quickly and accurately. Family law is famous for the amount of paperwork involved. When you are divorced, there is what is called, Mandatory Disclosure or Discovery (at least in Florida). These are questions you will be asked as testimony (but it is written unlike a Deposition, which is oral testimony) and documents you will have to produce (mostly financial, such as tax returns, bank statements, pay advices, etc.). Support staff members are happy to sort through your production but remember they are billing you to do so. If you show up with one tax return when two are requested, no pay advices because HR is annoying, and a grocery bag full of receipts, they are going to bill you to go through it, then bill you to email you a list of what is still left since you didn’t give what was requested, and then bill you for the next set you bring in, to correct the issue. Read requests very carefully and send them everything they have asked for in an organized fashion. This will be you biggest money saver.
  5. Remember that this attorney is handling your divorce but not additional legal matters. Thanks to television, people have the wrong idea about hiring an attorney. Hopefully if you read above, you didn’t hire the “family attorney” that is handling your divorce, as well as your traffic ticket. They aren’t your friend, they aren’t going to golf with you (even though of course they golf…..because attorney), and don’t call them when you have a dead hooker in your trunk at 3:00AM. They are simply handling your divorce and that’s what they are paid for especially if you’ve have found an attorney who charged you a flat rate (which you won’t).

All in all, these are manageable and we’ve all done at least one of these.  Do your homework and do what is asked and it will save you a ton of money and heartache. That money should be going to your children, not divorce attorneys. Their children already go to expensive private schools.

The Anti-Resolution Year

Calvin Edited

Ten days into the New Year and it’s smooth sailing.  Why?  I refused to make resolutions this year.  It’s easy to live up to nothing.  I’m freaking amazing when doing what I always do.  Of course, there are things that could and should be improved.  Like maybe I should learn to walk in heels, exercise more, drink less, go on a starvation diet so I can fit into skinny jeans (Why? No one looks good in those!), not cuss so much, but really, who are we kidding?  I’m just trying to keep my head above water.

Since there are things that need to be improved, instead of resolutions, I made two lists.  One list is things I like and one is things I don’t like.  My decision was to do more of the first list and less of the second.  No, I’m not having an Office Space moment:

Office Space

Disclaimer:  Yes, “Office Space” jokes are outdated, but I like the movie and the main character is cute so I do it anyway.  😛

Seriously though, isn’t that what everyone wants?  To do more of what they like, and less of what they don’t?  I’ll give you the short versions so you can see what I discovered when writing them:

Things I like:

  1. One-on-one time with the girls
  2. Time with my sister and family
  3. Friends
  4. Karate
  5. Traveling
  6. Spin class
  7. Hot yoga
  8. The beach
  9. Writing
  10. Reading
  11. Good food and good wine

Things I don’t like:

  1. Being overwhelmed
  2. Ruining the following day with a hangover
  3. Feeling rushed
  4. Wasting too much time in front of the TV
  5. Money stress
  6. People encroaching on my time and space without asking

Seems straight forward right?  Here’s what I saw though;  I like my family, exercise (certain kinds), and relaxing (certain forms).  What I don’t like can all be solved by planning and saying no.  I quickly realized that, I have control over everything I don’t like.  I also don’t like bell peppers, but I can control my intake of those (and while I haven’t tried your recipe and while you may be a great cook, NO I won’t like them that way either).

resolutions

~Cyanide and Happiness comic (so fucking funny you’ll pee you)

What does this have to do with co-parenting?  Maybe nothing, maybe everything.  But it does go along with my philosophy of being kinder to yourself and others.  Are you really going to start getting up at 4:00AM to go running only to realize halfway around the block, “oh wait, I hate this shit!”?  Maybe for a few weeks, but then you’ll feel like a failure when you stop, because you gave yourself a goal that you didn’t really want to do anyway.  Do things for yourself, not to yourself.  May this year be awesome, and if it isn’t awesome, may it not suck!  I’ll toast to that!