Archive for February, 2017

Protection for Children from The Process of Divorce

Looking at the financial side of divorce, children can become the inadvertent or intentional focus of financial negotiations. They may also become the victims of negative arguments between adults in divorce. A child seeing a parent degrading the other parent can be devastating to that child. In the video “Split,” we see some children that withdraw from conflict and make up their own worlds to live in. Some become confused and do not have a solid emotional base from which to operate. Others build their defenses and appear to “handle” the change only to act out later in life as they deal with depression and other emotional issues that were buried along the way.

Child support is a fact of the law under all jurisdictions in the United States. It is based on the concept that children are the responsibility of the parents and should not become welfare recipients. Due to this mandate of law, the elements of support are often a point of contention, and include income allocable to support and the time a child spends with each parent. The more time a child spends with a parent, the more money is assumed to be spent by that parent for that child. Likewise, the more income one person has, the more capable they are of providing support for that child.

Father and daughters bonding by the lake

Father and daughters bonding by the lake


This scale of income versus time is used by some to manipulate the calculation to reduce their support obligations. Others use the time and income sides of the calculation to push for higher levels of support as a way of increasing their income, while never intending to use the funds for the child. These are the realities that ultimately come down to the injured person—the child—being the focus of a perverse argument over money.

In 2016, one case we worked on included the couple insisting that the income and time be balanced so that there was no child support obligations. Their incomes were almost identical; they purchased homes near each other so that their child could attend the same school and be around friends that are familiar and consistent. Also, the child had grandparents in the same neighborhood. While this is idealistic, it is an illustration of a couple that was looking out for the child in all aspects, and used their resources to foster that child’s wellbeing. They even set up a 529 plan that they equally fund for future education costs.

This ideal is not realistic for many based on economic needs. But the heart of the intention behind their choices is exemplary for couples to adopt. Keep the children’s interest first. They did not choose the divorce, and they should not suffer the consequences of adults fighting over financial considerations.

 

Armand and Robbin D’Alo

Family Does Not End with Divorce

In our last divorce mediation article, we described a pattern that we’ve discovered which helps couples get through the divorce process successfully. The pattern, F-A-C-C-T®, is comprised of 5 parts. This month we are concentrating on the first element, Family Re-Formation.

Getting divorced is tough. Couples who once shared dreams and hopes are hurt, angry, and disillusioned. Some are looking for justice and support. They want to be treated fairly, but the court system is not set up to be fair.

As couples separate, they become aware of all the connections they have from combined family members and shared acquaintances from social activities to social media and places of worship. That is why FACCT’s first foundation stone is gaining an understanding that the family is not breaking apart, it is taking on a new forming.

The prevailing view is that divorce is divisive. There is a fight going on, and the couple needs to break apart. People who associate with the divorcing couple often believe they must take a side. There should be a “right” and a “wrong” side to the separation.

But what if there was another way for the couple to move on? What if these other members of the family circle didn’t feel pressure to take sides? What if all parties could go on being close to each spouse and the children?

Before entering mediation, people may look at their positions and make calculations about the other person and their position. Then they look at the law with the help of an attorney. They may seek to use a neutral third party to bring their perspective to the negotiation table. Each person is attempting to be “right” or to convince the mediator.

From our experience, such an approach only undermines what a couple may be working towards – a peaceful separation. If pressure tactics are used, the result can be devastating to the family even though it may be unintended. When one person or the other wants emotional support, they force people to take sides, which can tear the entire family and social structure apart.

Most importantly, if children are involved, they certainly will feel this hostility. They even feel like they may be the cause of the family breaking. Even if there are no loud overtones, there may still be feelings of anguish and deep hurt all around the community to which the family belongs.

All those that are part of the process, including the full complement of family and acquaintances, need to step back and allow divorce mediation to work. It creates a forum for safe discussion and disclosure. Within the divorce mediation process, there is no “advantage” since the “power” between the parties is monitored and balanced. It is an environment in which seeking to win and take advantage over the other person is disallowed.

When a couple separates all their relationships are impacted, especially those with their children. Everything is changing. Instead of fighting that change, it may be time to embrace it in a way that makes change more fluid for children, family, friends, and acquaintances. It can be a time for a new family to form; one that has two homes and supportive community there to help everyone move forward.

In our next article, we will take a closer look at the 2nd element of the F-A-C-C-T® pattern, Awareness.

Want to know more about Family Re-Formation and F-A-C-C-T®? Go to our website OakTreeMediation.com and sign up to get your free copy of the F-A-C-C-T® EBook.

 

Armand and Robbin D’Alo