April 22, 2014

Kane County Divorce Lawyer: Difficulties for Men in Divorce

From Michael Roe: every so often I will post an interesting commentary on divorce issues here at Illinois Divorce Lawyer Blog. I'm not convinced that men have a necessarily worse time adjusting to divorce; I see in my female clients high levels of stress, grieving, and anxiety. I feel the case can be made that the stressors imposed on men can be different in some ways than those imposed on women, generally. Certainly, men start out a child custody case with the unwritten presumptions in place that child residential custody usually goes to the mother, though the law requires that the Court determine best interests...one reason I'm a shared parenting advocate in many cases. As an aside, I see that both the men and women that I represent in my practice do benefit, along with my work on the legal side of the case, from having a competent therapist to help process issues that arise in divorce.

From the article:

It turns out that in the age-old comparison of the sexes, men seem to be having a more difficult time coping with the dissolution of a marriage. According to a recent study from the Journal of Men's Health, divorced men are more susceptible to heart disease, high blood pressure, and strokes than married men are — in addition to being 39 percent more likely to commit suicide and engage in risky behavior. Why does this finding exist?

Men Lose Their Sense Of Identity

"My key breakthrough was realizing that I was defining myself with respect to my marriage," said one man. Even with multiple degrees and a successful career, he found himself lost in the process of his divorce. "I made the marriage the be all and end all, and when I saw that crumbling, I felt like my identity was crumbling."

So what do you do? In order to rebuild confidence post-divorce, experts suggest getting involved in a new activity or organization. "One really powerful thing for me was joining a non-profit group called the Mankind Project," he said. There, he found his way to the New Warriors Men's Organization, where he would meet weekly with groups of men going through hard times, coming together to listen and help each other in "a non-judgmental way."

Their Paternal Instinct Is Challenged

"For me, family has always been important," says one man, now divorced. "I grew up in a happy family, and I never doubted for a minute that I would get married and raise one of my own. I think just as there are maternal instincts in women, there is a paternal instinct in men." He describes part of this paternal instinct as a longing to belong with the status quo, and to be a provider.

"If a man is feeling distraught or shameful [because of the impact his family is feeling from divorce], he might disappear from the picture" "Which is why most post-divorce men need to remain connected to their children, if they have them."

When men maintain relationship with their kids, it eases those feelings of shame, and can re-instill that lost sense of belonging. "The love that can flow back and forth between you and your children is very healing in itself," he said.

They Don't Allow Themselves To Grieve Properly

"Bottling up feelings with no outlet leads men to experience feelings of depression." "As someone with no biological predisposition, I definitely think that the breakup of my marriage brought me to experience physiological problems like high blood pressure and mental ones like my battle with depression at the time."

Rather than following this level of stress into a no-way-out mentality, D suggests that men see marriage counselors, regardless of the current state of their marriage. "I started seeing a marriage counselor on my own, before my divorce. My then-wife joined in for a while, but I continued on my own, even after the divorce was finalized, he said.

"Men have to break though the 'I've got to do it myself and go it alone' attitude," he said. "Women are so much better about relying on one another, and this whole 'big boys don't cry' mentality has had an entirely negative impact on men's well-being."

By Tiffany McHugh for YourTango.com. Post originally published on YourTango.com

March 22, 2014

Kane County Divorce Lawyer: The Impact of Parental Alienation on Children

The Impact of Parental Alienation on Children

Every child has a fundamental need for love and protection.

Published on April 25, 2013 by Edward Kruk, Ph.D. in Co-Parenting After Divorce

I offer the first installment of a three-part series examining (1) the impact of parental alienation on children, (2) the effects of parental alienation on parents, and (3) programs, services and interventions that combat alienation and seek to reunite estranged parents and their children.

What children of divorce most want and need is to maintain healthy and strong relationships with both of their parents, and to be shielded from their parents' conflicts. Some parents, however, in an effort to bolster their parental identity, create an expectation that children choose sides. In more extreme situations, they foster the child’s rejection of the other parent. In the most extreme cases, children are manipulated by one parent to hate the other, despite children’s innate desire to love and be loved by both their parents.

Parental alienation involves the “programming” of a child by one parent to denigrate the other “targeted” parent, in an effort to undermine and interfere with the child's relationship with that parent, and is often a sign of a parent’s inability to separate from the couple conflict and focus on the needs of the child. Such denigration results in the child’s emotional rejection of the targeted parent, and the loss of a capable and loving parent from the life of the child. Psychiatrist Richard Gardner developed the concept of "parental alienation syndrome" 20 years ago, defining it as, "a disorder that arises primarily in the context of child custody disputes. Its primary manifestation is the child's campaign of denigration against a parent, a campaign that has no justification. It results from the combination of a programming (brainwashing) parent's indoctrinations and the child's own contributions to the vilification of the target parent." Children’s views of the targeted parent are almost exclusively negative, to the point that the parent is demonized and seen as evil.

As Amy Baker writes, parental alienation involves a set of strategies, including bad-mouthing the other parent, limiting contact with that parent, erasing the other parent from the life and mind of the child (forbidding discussion and pictures of the other parent), forcing the child to reject the other parent, creating the impression that the other parent is dangerous, forcing the child to choose between the parents by means of threats of withdrawal of affection, and belittling and limiting contact with the extended family of the targeted parent. In my own research on non-custodial parents who have become disengaged from their children’s lives (Kruk, 2011), I found that most lost contact involuntarily, many as a result of parental alienation. Constructive alternatives to adversarial methods of reconnecting with their children were rarely available to these alienated parents.

Parental alienation is more common than is often assumed: Fidler and Bala (2010) report both an increasing incidence and increased judicial findings of parental alienation; they report estimates of parental alienation in 11-15% of divorces involving children; Bernet et al (2010) estimate that about 1% of children and adolescents in North America experience parental alienation.

There is now scholarly consensus that severe alienation is abusive to children (Fidler and Bala, 2010), and it is a largely overlooked form of child abuse (Bernet et al, 2010), as child welfare and divorce practitioners are often unaware of or minimize its extent. As reported by adult children of divorce, the tactics of alienating parents are tantamount to extreme psychological maltreatment of children, including spurning, terrorizing, isolating, corrupting or exploiting, and denying emotional responsiveness (Baker, 2010). For the child, parental alienation is a serious mental condition, based on a false belief that the alienated parent is a dangerous and unworthy parent. The severe effects of parental alienation on children are well-documented; low self esteem and self-hatred, lack of trust, depression, and substance abuse and other forms of addiction are widespread, as children lose the capacity to give and accept love from a parent. Self-hatred is particularly disturbing among affected children, as children internalize the hatred targeted toward the alienated parent, are led to believe that the alienated parent did not love or want them, and experience severe guilt related to betraying the alienated parent. Their depression is rooted is feelings of being unloved by one of their parents, and from separation from that parent, while being denied the opportunity to mourn the loss of the parent, or to even talk about the parent. Alienated children typically have conflicted or distant relationships with the alienating parent also, and are at high risk of becoming alienated from their own children; Baker reports that fully half of the respondents in her study of adult children who had experienced alienation as children were alienated from their own children.

Every child has a fundamental right and need for an unthreatened and loving relationship with both parents, and to be denied that right by one parent, without sufficient justification such as abuse or neglect, is in itself a form of child abuse. Since it is the child who is being violated by a parent's alienating behaviors, it is the child who is being alienated from the other parent. Children who have undergone forced separation from one of their parents in the absence of abuse, including cases of parental alienation, are highly subject to post-traumatic stress, and reunification efforts in these cases should proceed carefully and with sensitivity (research has shown that many alienated children can transform quickly from refusing or staunchly resisting the rejected parent to being able to show and receive love from that parent, followed by an equally swift shift back to the alienated position when back in the orbit of the alienating parent; alienated children seem to have a secret wish for someone to call their bluff, compelling them to reconnect with the parent they claim to hate). While children’s stated wishes regarding parental contact in contested custody should be considered, they should not be determinative, especially in suspected cases of alienation.

Hatred is not an emotion that comes naturally to a child; it has to be taught. A parent who would teach a child to hate or fear the other parent represents a grave and persistent danger to the mental and emotional health of that child. Alienated children are no less damaged than other child victims of extreme conflict, such as child soldiers and other abducted children, who identify with their tormentors to avoid pain and maintain a relationship with them, however abusive that relationship may be.

In the second installment on parental alienation, I will examine the effects of parental alienation on targeted parents, and suggest a range of strategies for preventing and intervening in these cases in the third.

Baker, A. (2010). “Adult recall of parental alienation in a community sample: Prevalence and associations with psychological maltreatment.” Journal of Divorce and Remarriage, 51, 16-35.

February 22, 2014

Kane County Divorce: One Story of Parental Alienation

Actor Jason Patric discusses his custody case with the mother of his child, conceived through in vitro fertilization. Patric had an ongoing relationship with the child's mother, and acted as a Dad to the child after it was born. Due to California's current laws relating to custody and IVF, Patric apparently has all of the standing for custody as the anonymous IVF donor, who supplied his genetic material to a sperm bank for money. Patric has further complications as he alleges the mother is actively alienating him from the child. Some states impose a duty of child support on a father that provides his sperm for an IVF procedure. Efforts are being made to modify the California statute, to allow Dads who intended to be Dads of an IVF child to have legal standing for custody and visitation rights. “This [bill] is conceptually important, because it’s trying in a sense to lay out a framework that will accommodate men who want to be involved in quite variable genetic or social backdrops.”

February 13, 2014

DuPage Divorce Lawyer: Parental Alienation or Sexual Abuse?

Recent published articles in the New York Times from Dylan Farrow, and subsequently in rebuttal Woody Allen, have brought into the light allegations that have arisen from what appears to have been a highly dysfunctional family environment. My reading of the articles, some of the trial evidence, as well as third party accounts, does not lead me or others to any conclusions as to whether the then 7 year old Dylan Farrow was sexually abused by Woody Allen, as she alleges.


What is clear is that the relationship between Mia Farrow and Woody Allen was toxic. There is a suggestion that whether Allen committed any acts of abuse, or not, his former partner was highly vindictive toward him, resulting in what appears to be a very toxic parental alienation campaign. The articles state:

"Former nanny Monica Thompson (whose salary was paid by Allen, since three of the brood were also his) swore in a deposition to Allen’s attorneys that she was pressured by Farrow to support the molestation charges, and the pressure led her to resign her position."

"And then there was this quote from Moses Farrow - Dylan's brother, also adopted, and now a 36-year-old family therapist: "My mother drummed it into me to hate my father for tearing apart the family and sexually molesting my sister," Moses Farrow, 36, told People Magazine. "And I hated him for her for years. I see now that this was a vengeful way to pay him back for falling in love with Soon-Yi." He added, "Pleasing my mother was very powerful motivation [for Dylan] because to be on her wrong side was horrible."

A significant part of my practice involves highly charged custody litigation, some of which involve allegations of sexual abuse and parental alienation. I take all of these issues seriously, and utilizing my training, background and experience with psychological disorders and family system issues, I make a real effort to bring to bear strong clinical inputs as well as strategies to investigate and defuse family abuse, dysfunction, and parental alienation campaigns.

Regardless of whether Mia Farrow is truthful, or Woody Allen, the net result is that their children were harmed, and ended up split against each other, and against their parents. A tragedy no matter the causes and origins.

January 29, 2014

Kane County Divorce Lawyer: Custody and New Right of First Refusal Law

On January 14, a new law went into effect in Illinois that allows judges to order a “right of first refusal” for parents who share joint custody of their children. The right of first refusal (ROFR) means that any time one parent cannot care for the children during his or her scheduled period of possession or custody, that parent must first offer the other parent the right to take the children during that time. “[I]f a party intends to leave the minor child or children with a substitute child-care provider for a significant period of time, that party must first offer the other party an opportunity to personally care for the minor child or children.”


The right to have the possession of one's child or children when the other parent is unable to provide direct care can be important to the noncustodial parent. In many cases, one parent has only alternating weekends and midweek dinners with the children, and the chance to have more parenting time when the custodial parent is away on a trip or at a seminar is invaluable.

Prior to this year's new law, judges had discretion in allowing these rights of first refusal. In my experience, there have been judges that would outright refuse to allow them in parenting agreements, believing that these clauses in agreements only invited more disputes about whether one parent's seminar was long enough, or whether the babysitter hired for a two hour movie was a violation of the ROFR. Some judges just didn't want to open the door to a feature of a Parenting Agreement that would invite more litigation.

The new law is written not to mandate a ROFR, but to give the judge the ability to order it if the particular case ( and the mutually respectful parents) allows for it. Typically, judges will allow for the right once a material period of time, such as four hours of nonpossession of the children, is involved.

In my view, the legislature made a small effort to create an opening for a noncustodial joint parent to have more available parenting time. It would have been better, in my view, for the legislature to have done away with the archaic Illinois custody and visitation statutes that create these situations where parents are literally starved for time with their kids.

This new law is a very small step, but it is hardly a remedy for Illinois' antiquated custody laws that leave so many parents disenfranchised from the weekly lives of their children. I support and advocate for statutory presumptive shared parenting, and do all that I can in my practice to achieve primary custody or shared parenting for the men and women that retain my firm.

January 28, 2014

DuPage Divorce Lawyer: Choosing Your Divorce Lawyer

The cost of a divorce can be a deterrent to the process for many couples who are already struggling with the expense of maintaining two separate households. The amount of property one owns, child custody and support issues, and the extent to which a couple agrees or disagrees will determine attorney and other professional service fees (like custody evaluators) incurred during a divorce. Whether there is a large or small amount of property, issues with the children or not, or little to no agreement, there are things that you can do to reduce the cost of a divorce.

First off, take care when choosing your divorce attorney. The right attorney for your case is not always the most expensive attorney. Experience, unique technical skills, and positive relationships with the courts make for good lawyers. There are several things you should consider when choosing a lawyer and managing your case:

Attorneys’ fees are based on their experience, expertise, and special skills, but some very experienced lawyers charge reasonable fees, while others charge exorbitant fees. The hourly rates of lawyers should be competitive with their locale and market, but not excessive. A high hourly rate is not an indicator of special experience or skill.

If custody and support are issues upon which you and your spouse disagree, an attorney who does not specialize in custody may be initially less expensive, but not worth the savings in the end. Hiring an inexpensive lawyer who mismanages your child custody case will cause you heartache. Experienced attorneys know how to accomplish client goals without wasting time and money. Good custody lawyers bring good results that maintain positive family environments.

Don’t sweat the small stuff. Choosing your battles during a divorce can save you time, frustration, and money. Think about your assets carefully, and listen to your lawyer's advice about equitable division with your assigned judge. For example, don't spend hours litigating the dining set versus the living room furniture.

Be realistic about what you want financially, and what is possible within the facts of your case. No litigant wins each and every issue, and the courts strive to be equitable. Experienced lawyers have a general sense of how certain judges allocate marital estates.

Author's note: The Law Offices of Michael F Roe has established a record of success with complex child custody cases, as well as a high degree of financial acumen with complex property issues. All of this experience is afforded to clients at a reasonable hourly rate. Please contact Michael Roe directly at (630) 232-2400 for to discuss your important case. www.illinois-attorney.net

January 28, 2014

Kane County Divorce: Divorce Mediation

Is Divorce Mediation for You?

Are you wondering:

• What is the most informed way, at the least expense, to get divorced?
• Would I do better in mediation or in court?
• What are the basic standards on parenting plans, child support, spousal support and property division (based on California law, although other states are often similar)?
• How are substance abuse, restraining orders, child alienation and other problems addressed?
• Could I make reasonable decisions with my spouse sitting in the same room?
• How does divorce mediation work?

This 1-hour nutshell video helps answer all of those questions. This dramatization of issues and controversies from real cases shows how a neutral mediator guides a controlled process and provides information. The parties raise issues, ask questions of the mediator and each other, make proposals and the final decisions. Disagreements, anger, surprise events, tears and significant progress are all highlighted.

60 Minute Video
90 day access - $29.00

order now from High Conflict Institute http://www.highconflictinstitute.com/books-a-products/vod

January 15, 2014

Talking to Children About Divorce: Kane County Divorce Lawyer

Family therapist Diane Shearer says we should look beyond the questions about divorce and get at what kids are really asking for. "When kids ask tough questions, they aren't looking for complicated answers. They are looking for affirmation, not information." This means they want to be assured that you love them no matter what. They want to know that you recognize their turbulent feelings. Here are some tips on three of the most common questions.

1. Why? From "why did you stop loving each other" to "why are you doing this," kids want to know the big-picture reason behind your split. Shearer says the fear behind this question is that if mom and dad can stop loving each other, they might stop loving their kids, too. So you'll need to assure your child that love between parents is very different from a parent's love for their child. Your love for them is permanent and will never change. In most cases, it's not appropriate to get into the details of why you're divorcing. Instead, reassure your child that you are still a family, just a different kind of family.

2. Is this my fault? Young children, especially, are self-centered, so they can't help wondering if they are somehow at fault for your split. Again, the most important thing here is to assure your child that your love for them is unconditional. They need to know their parents' complicated relationship has nothing to do with them -- they are NOT the cause of the divorce. They will always be loved. That will never change.

3. Where will I live? Make sure you have agreed on a parenting plan -- even a temporary one -- before you break the news. Tell them where they will be, when, and for how long. Let them know that they can express their feelings about these arrangements to you any time they need to. And always speak respectfully about your ex in your answers -- don't involve your kids in whatever conflicts you're having with your spouse.

December 2, 2013

20 Reasons to be Thankful for Divorce

1. "I am thankful for becoming the person that I am. I've learned so much along the way. Even the pain served a purpose." -Amber L.

2. "I'm thankful for my self-respect." -Tom H.

3. "I'm thankful the two of us were able to rebuild our lives. We got out earlier instead of waking up 50 years later and asking, 'what happened to us?'" -Pilar G.

4. "I am most thankful for my divorce because my ex-husband found love in his current wife (we did not have love between us in our marriage) and she has been so wonderful to our sons." -Lori S.

5. "I'm grateful I don't have to look into my son's eyes when he says 'Are you two gonna argue again tonight?' He was 4-year-old when we divorced and four years later we are a happy peaceful family completed by a wonderful woman that talks things through." -Don J.

6. "I am thankful for a peaceful relationship with the ex, great co-parenting and the fact that we can all be adults. We're all having Thanksgiving dinner together this year, with the children, the ex and the new amazing man in my life." -Beth R.

7. "Divorce allowed me to find myself again, to not deal with mental and verbal abuse, to focus on loving myself, to have peace and dignity and to enjoy and appreciate my struggles. Most importantly, divorce has allowed me to show my son that respect and loving yourself is essential in life and that sometimes the actions you take in life are necessary to live a happy life, even if they hurt." -Ronald P.

8. "I'm thankful that God gave me the strength to take my three kids and leave a tough situation. And from that moment on, I grew stronger and stronger and became the kind of mom I never knew I could be." -Christine N.

9. "Instead of suffering day to day, and walking on eggshells every time that I came home from work, I now come home to a peaceful house where my children and I feel peace and emotional safety." Charles W.

10. "I am thankful I lost 30 pounds after the divorce!" -Mike W.

11. "Why am I grateful for my divorce? I have the opportunity to re-find my old, fun self. It got lost because I was the only adult in the marriage." -Mark B.

12. "I was able to reclaim my old self, which I had given up during my marriage in a completely misguided effort to please my spouse." -Maria D.

13. "I am thankful for my divorce because I was able to move away, finish my degree at a university like I had always wanted, made many new friends, and even have an amazing boyfriend now. My divorce has truly changed my life for the better." -Lisa M.

14. "I'm grateful to have the opportunity to have an authentic marriage with my second husband. Marriage is hell with the wrong person, complete heaven with the right one." -Amy G.

15. "I'm thankful because I learned that I can do whatever I set my mind to." -Lynnette B.

16. "I am no longer put down, screamed at, called names, or treated with hostility on a daily basis and for that I am thankful." -Edward B.

17. "I'm thankful for divorce because it showed me the true colors of friends, and even family -- but most importantly, it gave me the opportunity to be the person I've always wanted to become!" -Lisa H.

18. "I was able to start an organization that helps women go through relationship transitions with a support group. I am thankful for meeting new friends and helping others, all because of my divorce!" -Janette V.

19. "I have become a better mother to my daughters without the stress of a dysfunctional marriage on my plate." -Shelli K.

20. "I'm thankful we can both agree that the most important thing is our son so we can focus on him instead of our differences." -Nate C.

credit: HuffPost

October 14, 2013

Kane County Divorce: Divorcing A High-Conflict Personality

What Therapists Don't Tell You About Divorcing A High-Conflict Personality

Therapists are trained to help clients become self-aware and authentic. For people who grew up in invalidating environments, where they learned to suppress their feelings and needs in order to be accepted, therapy can be life-altering.

Competent therapists who provide a corrective emotional experience can make it possible for people who never had a voice to find one. Once self-actualized, people generally find the quality of their lives improve: they find the right career, attract the right mate and extricate themselves from toxic relationships.

Unfortunately, this type of personal growth can be disastrous when divorcing a high-conflict personality. When working with a client who is married to, or separating from a narcissist, therapists need to invert the goal of traditional therapy. Instead of encouraging people to be authentic, they need to counsel people to be strategic. Expressing one's true feelings, admitting vulnerability, and apologizing for one's missteps can bury a person who is trying to dissolve a marriage with a narcissist -- especially when children are involved.

Why Don't More Therapists Understand How to Treat High-Conflict Divorce?

Graduate psychology programs teach future therapists how to facilitate a client's personal growth. Students learn what personality disorders look like, and how they develop. But there are no courses in graduate school that train psychology students how to help clients navigate high-conflict divorce.

When treating a client in individual therapy, a therapist doesn't have the benefit of observing the narcissistic spouse. Even in couples therapy, a therapist might be duped by the high-conflict personality, who often comes across as charming, while the more reasonable spouse, who has spent years being traumatized by crazy-making behavior, can look like the difficult one.

5 Tips for Divorcing a High-Conflict Personality

1. Minimize Contact
High-conflict personalities thrive off of battle. Their agenda, which is often subconscious, is to maintain your relationship by creating drama: bad-mouthing you to everyone under the sun and especially to your children, cyber-bullying, multiple, intrusive phone calls and any other way they can find to keep you from moving on with your life.

While your gut reaction might be to defend yourself, you cannot reason with a terrorist. Anything you say can and will be used against you. To mitigate the chaos caused by a high-conflict personality, you must keep communication to a minimum. Avoid face-to-face contact. Cultivate a "just the facts, ma'am" style of e-mail and text correspondence. When possible, arrange neutral places such as school for the drop-off and pick-up of children.

2. Keep Your Feelings to Yourself
High-conflict personalities are bullies. They like to "win" by making you angry or beating you down. Do not act on your feelings. If you yell, cry, plead, or otherwise tip your emotional hand, you will invite more attacks. Being stuck in the cross-hairs of a narcissist is traumatic, so by all means seek support through safe means: therapy, and online support groups for people with personality-disordered exes are two examples. But whatever you do, don't let a narcissist know how you really feel -- especially if you have a different point-of-view, which will always be interpreted as a threat.

3. Plan for the Worst
Do not listen to conventional wisdom that your ex will "move on" in time. Well-adjusted people move on; high-conflict personalities never quench their thirst for revenge and their desire to feel like "the good one." Anticipate being dragged into court for minor indiscretions, or worse, total fabrications.

Do not say or write anything that might make you look bad. Respond to even the most frivolous accusations with factual, non-defensive e-mails detailing what actually happened. Document everything; save hostile e-mails, take screen shots of abusive texts, note every violation of your court orders.

4. Never Admit a Mistake
You can, and should be, accountable for your part in the end of the marriage. But be accountable in a safe environment: therapy, 12-step groups, or in the company of trusted family and friends.

Do not admit wrongdoing to your high-conflict ex, especially in writing. Apologizing will not create a more amicable relationship. A high-conflict ex will interpret your apology as proof that you are the mentally ill, incompetent, stupid person she says you are. Even admissions of minor mistakes can be twisted into admissions of heinous acts and spur a high-conflict ex to take you to court, or simply broadcast to everyone with whom they come in contact that you are a terrible person.

5. Stop Trying to Co-Parent
I have written before about the one-size-fits-all co-parenting model. Well-meaning, but misinformed therapists do targets of high-conflict personalities a huge disservice by advising them that they can, and should, co-parent. Certainly, an amicable co-parenting relationship is ideal for children. But attempts to co-parent with a narcissist or a borderline will keep you engaged in battle. You will forever be on the receiving end of intrusive, controlling, chaotic behaviors which will make you and your kids crazy.

Parallel parenting is the only paradigm that should be recommended to people with personality-disordered exes. This means that you give up the fantasy that you can have consistency between homes, or appear as a united front. The more high-conflict your ex is, the more you will need to separate yourself and your parenting. This may mean hosting separate birthday parties, scheduling separate parent-teacher conferences and not sharing what goes on in your house.

While you may feel that you are sending a terrible message to your children by limiting contact with their other parent, you are actually protecting them by minimizing the potential for conflict.

Targets of high-conflict personalities need to accept that it isn't wise to be "authentic" with their ex. Strategic, limited disclosures and iron-clad boundaries are essential tools in managing a high-conflict divorce. While it may seem paradoxical, true authenticity comes from holding on to one's sense of self while gracefully disengaging from a narcissist.

Follow Virginia Gilbert, MFT on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@VGilbertMFT

September 21, 2013

Three Financial Fears About Divorce

Divorce can feel like a full-time job. It can be all-consuming, affecting every aspect of your life. Between the (sometimes) contentious texts with your ex-partner, phone calls to your attorney and figuring out child custody, where you are going to live and how your new life will look, there is almost always a sense of uncertainty or fear just below the surface. And regardless of how affluent the couple is, there is often a great deal of worry about the financial future.

Once separated or divorced, the informed spouse already has the experience and relationships to transition financially, but the other spouse has to start from scratch. In my experiences as a divorce financial planner who has specialized in working with the "out" spouse, three fears have emerged as most common. While some degree of worry and apprehension is to be expected, with a little work and planning, these three common divorce fears can be eliminated and can help the out spouse feel more confident and secure.

1. Fear of not getting a fair share. If your finances are simple, it can be easy to evenly divide the assets, but if your finances are more complex (e.g., multiple homes, employer stock options, closely held business, illiquid investments, separate property), this can become much more difficult. The solution is to answer these two questions: What do we own and what is it worth? If you are concerned that assets are not being disclosed, discuss this with your attorney and consider hiring a forensic accountant -- basically a financial detective -- to help uncover any undisclosed assets. The next issue is to arrive at a fair value for each asset. This is an area that is ripe for abuse. The valuation of family-owned or other privately held companies is inherently prone to subjectivity and, particularly in the divorce context, manipulation.

2. Fear of not knowing what you'll have. This is a pervasive fear ... and it's completely justified! In a divorce, it is easy to get lost in the details and lose sight of the bigger picture. It's critical to stay focused on what your finances will look like post-divorce. This starts by knowing not only how much you have, but WHAT you have and WHERE you will have it. For example, $600,000 equity in your house is very different from $600,000 of cash in the bank or $600,000 worth of stock in your ex-spouse's business. Get rid of the fear by getting clear on your assets. Work with a financial adviser before the divorce is finalized so you can make sure you are not only getting your fair share, but that you don't get stuck with illiquid assets while your ex gets the cash.

3. Fear of not knowing how your lifestyle will change. This fear comes down to cash flow. After alimony, child support, employment income, investment income and basic living expenses, how much will I have left? How much house can I afford? Can I still take trips twice a year? Do I have to fly coach now? These are real concerns that keep many soon-to-be divorcees up at night. To squash this fear, have a financial adviser create a post-divorce income and expense report for you so you can quickly see how your new finances will affect your lifestyle. Just make sure the adviser factors in all of the new post-divorce expenses such as health insurance, rent, car loans, etc.

It's common and natural to experience a wide range of emotions, from worry to excitement to anger to contentment, when going through a divorce. For the spouse that isn't as financially savvy or who wasn't involved in the couple's finances, fear and uncertainty regarding money are all too common, but with some planning and a few good people to help guide you, you can feel more confident and secure about your future and your finances.

Credit: Robert Pagliarini is a CBS MoneyWatch columnist

July 3, 2013

Surviving a BPD Relationship

Falling in love with a person with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is an emotional roller coaster ride. The relationship involves never-ending emotional blackmails, hurtful criticisms, threats, manipulations, verbal attacks and silent treatments. Borderlines are known to call you at work more than 20 times in a day. Borderlines need constant reassurance. Borderlines feel the need to check up on you all the time. Borderlines also wake you up in the middle of the night because of their concerns.

How can you continue to love a person who will give you the responsibility for anything and everything bad that happens to them? You are accused as the source of all their pains, heartbreaks, anger, frustrations and hardships? The Borderline will emotionally wear you out by their insults and accusations.

Borderlines have a problem with regulating their emotions. They feel real pain and fear of abandonment.

No matter how much a trusted friend will tell you to leave the relationship, you just can't do it. At least for the time being, you want to stay and give it another try.

A person with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is mentally ill. This is one of the reasons you hesitate to leave your loved one. You want to separate the disorder from the person. You believe that there is no other person in this world who can help your BPD loved one except you.

Unfortunately, there is no magic wand to cure the disorder instantly. However, there are techniques that can help you survive the relationship.

1. Self-esteem Self-Check

You cannot survive a relationship with a Borderline if your self-esteem is shattered. You need to learn to take care of yourself. Your Borderline loved one is incapable of taking care of you. You have to believe that you can commit to your partner's treatment and recovery.

2. The Four (4) Don'ts

There are four things you should not do or say to your Borderline partner. The first is don't defend yourself. The second is don't explain. The third is don't justify. The fourth is don't counter attack. The Borderline loved one may misconstrue the above-mentioned statements and actions. The Borderline thinks you are disagreeing with their reality. The Borderline feels that you are literally screaming at them that they are wrong, bad and stupid. They become defensive and will start to confront you.

3. Practice SET Communication Method (Support, Empathy, Truth)

Erin Johnston, LCSW in About.com explains why SET is effective to handle the Borderline loved one. In SET strategy, S stands for Support. It is very important to give a support statement to reassure a Borderline that you have a desire to help. The E stands for Empathy . It involves making your Borderline partner feel that you understand their feelings. The T stands for truth. This technique entails re-stating reality after the emotional outbursts are diffused.

4. Understand Validation and How, When to Apply It

You can validate the feelings of a Borderline by accepting their right to their feelings. Though you do not necessarily agree with them, acknowledging their feelings will help you identify their current feelings. These emotions circulate as feelings of being sad, frustrated, unheard, misunderstood, lonely, depressed. By validating, you can help them label their feelings and be there for them. The goal of validation is to calm your Borderline loved one. Otherwise, a trivial issue may instead escalate to anger and rage.

5. Set Healthy Boundaries

Sometimes, your Borderline loved one becomes very emotionally deregulated. They become very agitated and angry. If initial attempts to do the 4 steps above do not work, protect yourself from damaging criticisms and verbal abuse. Let your Borderline loved one know that their message is important but you need to set another time to discuss the issue. Boundaries provide structure to the relationship and prevent abuse.


All the best advices in the world will not stop a person from falling in love with a Borderline. After all, Borderlines are human beings with the right to love and be loved. Their mental health issues are very difficult to understand for people without proper training and tools. In fact, many children and spouses of Borderlines are suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PSTD). Many lives have been devastated by this disorder.

However, for those who made a choice to be with a Borderline, there are 5 important ways to handle your BPD loved one. First is the commitment to continually check your self-esteem and emotional health. Secondly, clarify and remember statements that do not work with Borderlines. Thirdly, learn appropriate communication tools that will express support, empathy and reality. Fourthly, understand the secrets of implementing validation techniques. Fifth, put boundaries critical to both your emotional health and your Borderline loved one's health.

If you have decided to remain in the relationship with a Borderline, you must be prepared to protect yourself first. Otherwise, each minute unarmed will slowly make you lose the battle. Then, you are useless to help them.

Credit: Joy Campbell, Yahoo! Contributor Network


Erin Johnston, " Support, Empathy, Truth SET for Borderline Personality Disorder", About.Com

"What is Validation?", Validation Training Institute, VFvalidation.org