Co-Parenting in the Wake of Divorce

sailingCouples are always eager to be “done” with their divorce. Getting the court documents signed and the divorce finalized is the end goal, and clients often think it will be smooth sailing for them after that. However, when the divorce is final, there is something called the new normal that clients have to navigate, especially when it comes to their parenting. Co-parenting is more complicated when parents are no longer cohabiting, and this is a big adjustment for everyone following a divorce. Co-parents may no longer be living together or joined in matrimony, but they are in the same boat as far as raising their kids. Because of this, communicating and cooperating are very important. Instead of treating their co-parent like they would like them to abandon ship or walk the plank post-divorce, the attitude needs to be “all hands on deck” between co-parents. Diligently communicating and cooperating will give co-parents much more control over the course their children’s lives will take. Even in the best of circumstances, of course, children can try to get what they want by playing their parents against each other. Little mutineers usually sound something like this: “Dad/Mom says I can…”, and if no fact checking is done on behalf of the co-parent that isn’t around to confirm what she or he did indeed say, the child gets what he or she wants. Critical information can go missing or be seriously altered if children are used as a courier in adult conversations. Avoiding this situation is possible, but requires that co-parents actively cooperate and communicate. Co-parents that work together this way post-divorce can divide and conquer when it comes to life’s challenges, and keep their family buoyant in any stormy waters that come in life.

– Audra A. Holbeck

Designing Divorces

lego builders “Mom, why won’t this piece fit here like it should?” My son is trying to build a dragon Lego kit, and, eager to get to the end, missed a couple steps in the instructions.  He keeps fitting the pieces together, but isn’t getting any closer to completing the dragon.  I tell him he needs to go back a few steps and figure out where the pieces aren’t put together correctly.  Interestingly, the pieces he missed are small and seem inconsequential; however, as he soon discovers, they allow the dragon’s wings to unfold.  Without those tiny pieces, the dramatic dragon simply could not be.

As a collaborative divorce lawyer, working with my clients towards their ideal divorce is similar to building a Lego creation.  The divorce, however, is not a collector’s edition kit that is pre-designed. The clients actively design this project themselves.  At the beginning of the process, we sit down and identify what an ideal divorce would look like for their family. This becomes our own design on the box that we aspire to build. To build it, the client brings the crucial information regarding their life, financially and otherwise, that we have to work with. These are the Lego pieces that we must fit together to replicate the design on the box.  As a lawyer, I come to the table with knowledge of the instructions, which in this case is not just the law, but the psychology of the family, as well as the order in which the process occurs.  Working as a team, the client and I look at the pieces we have to work with and build a divorce agreement that fits the desired outcome of both parties.  Sometimes we run into the same dilemma as my son and we get a little stuck.  Through years of experience, I know the solution is this: go back a few steps, look again at the building blocks, review the directions, determine if steps were skipped (the most likely culprit), and rearrange the pieces, if necessary. Before you know it, we have built what we wanted to build.

– Audra A. Holbeck

Who Will Be My Valentine?

Couples, particularly those in a newer relationship, often feel pressured with romantic expectations for Valentine’s Day.  For those contemplating or in the middle of a divorce, Valentine’s Day can be particularly stressful because expressing romantic love to a sweetheart simply can’t be fulfilled.  And unfortunately, we are bombarded with all that is Valentine’s Day when out and about because in the greeting card aisle of every store, you will find mass-produced cards full of sugary sentiments.  The hearts!  And glitter!  As with so many holidays, commercialism has found its way into expressing love through cards.

While there is nothing wrong with buying/receiving a store-bought card (or any other classic Valentine’s Day gift, like roses or chocolates), I personally think it is more meaningful to spontaneously express your feelings in your own words and gestures throughout the year, not only to your sweetheart, but to all the special people in your life.  If you are going through a divorce and not at all in a Valentine’s Day mood, what would it cost to focus on making your precious kiddos your Valentines?  Honestly, kids take Valentine’s Day to a whole new level, and it’s so fun!  Instead of feeling pressure to be in a romantic relationship and consume everything that is red and sparkly on February 14th, perhaps Valentine’s Day can serve as a reminder that every day is an opportunity for us to tell all the people we care about – not just a sweetheart – how much they mean to us.

-Audra Holbeck

Happy New Year 2016!

Let our New Year’s resolution be this: We will be there for one another as fellow members of humanity, in the finest sense of the word.” – Goran Persson

Around the first of the year, our thoughts turn to new beginnings, and we make plans for our future. Some of us make New Year’s resolutions in hopes of bettering ourselves and our lives. At the heart of every New Year’s resolution is a lifestyle change. Whether our new undertaking involves balancing our diet or restructuring our family life, we must carefully plan and take day-by-day action if we are to experience worthwhile and lasting change.

Lifestyle changes are often daunting, involving patience, extraordinary effort, and difficult choices. Still, it is worthwhile to move forward towards a vision for a better life – change can be exhilarating, even if it isn’t easy. We believe a fresh start should be about this feeling of excitement and possibility, and never about feelings of stress or dread.

At Holbeck Law Office, we know that couples who dissolve their marriage with collaboration instead of litigation have a less stressful, more positive experience with making significant family life changes. We offer both mediation and collaborative divorce services for couples working towards a new beginning, at any time of year.

In the spirit of new beginnings, we have re-vamped our website for you. We hope this site serves you as a resource in working towards a better family life. Check back soon for updates! Happy New Year 2016!

At Holbeck Law we are here for you. Let's connect to move forward.