January 21, 2010

Kane County and DuPage Collaborative Divorce

Now that 2010 has arrived people who have been considering filing for divorce are starting to take action. Once the decision is made to file for divorce, an important decision must also be made as to how the divorce will be conducted.

Are you looking for a high cost, high conflict divorce? Well, these kinds of divorces are easy to engineer. They require anger, retribution, and a desire to burn through money without regard to future consequences.

Are you looking for a better, less costly, lower stress collaborative experience? Then consider an initial consultation with my office to discuss my approach to cooperative divorce and collaborative practice.

In cooperative and collaborative divorce practice, the traditional approach of bargaining from a specific position, backed by threats of litigation and court hearings, is replaced by an approach that settles cases mindfully, practically, and respectfully. The approach meets the needs of both parties and the children, and still involves legal counsel, but eliminates the threat or fear of high conflict court hearings at any stage.

This cooperative process is based on a process in which both parties and their attorneys agree that the attorneys will not go to court, except for the final prove up of the case. The key ingredient of cooperative divorce is that the negotiation between the parties takes place in four-way meetings where both parties and their attorneys are present.

The cooperative approach to divorce is based on three principles:

• An agreement not to go to court, except to obtain guidance from the judge (pretrial conferences) and to "prove up" the agreements at the end of the case.
• An open exchange of financial information by both spouses.
• A solution that takes into account the highest needs and priorities of each divorcing parent and the children.

The key element of this process is a commitment by the parties to work toward a negotiated settlement in a structured, non-adversarial setting that puts a premium on cooperation and cost savings, rather than resorting to high cost, high stress litigation.

Some cases need the court system. Cases involving domestic violence, dissipation of marital assets, and other emergency matters will require immediate court action and the intervention of the judge. My firm is very aggressive when court litigation is required. However, for many divorcing parents, the cooperative process is a cutting edge and cost saving approach to achieving personal parenting and financial goals, while at the same time preserving the emotional health of the parties and the children.

January 19, 2010

DuPage and Kane County Divorce: Court Orders

Taking Daughter To Church May Violate Court Order
Dad Says Half-Jewish Child Should Be Exposed To Christianity, Too
by Chicago Tribune Reporter Mike Puccinell at http://bit.ly/8CLYdi

A compelling story about a Father and his child has appeared in Illinois media this week. The story concerns a Christian Dad who is in a high conflict divorce and custody case with his Jewish wife.

"I have been ordered by a judge not to expose my daughter to anything non-Judaism," Joseph Reyes said. "But I am taking her to hear the teachings of perhaps the most prominent Jewish Rabbi in the history of this great planet of ours. I can't think of anything more Jewish than that."

Last month, Judge Edward Jordan issued a temporary restraining order specifically barring Reyes from exposing his daughter to any religion other than Judaism.It happened after Reyes had his daughter baptized without first consulting his estranged wife.

There is a lesson here to be learned, but the lesson has little to do with comparative religious traditions, or the best interest of a child with respect to her religious training. The lesson has to do with the nature of court orders, and why managing adverse court orders is a very important consideration in divorce and custody cases.

Many litigants do not like certain court orders. Some Dads are ordered to pay child support that is excessive, especially after a father has an adverse job change. Some parenting orders may no longer meet the best interests of children. If you have in place a court order that is inappropriate, is the answer to willfully violate it, in order to prove a point? If a parent is paying too much statutory child support based on their income, is it permissible to simply start paying less? The answer, of course, is no.

Your attorney can meet with you and plan a strategy to modify any court order that is legally inappropriate to your current circumstances. Why use "self help," and risk the sanctions of the court, and why put yourself in a position, as I believe Mr. Reyes is about to do, to test the limits of the judge's patience and resolve? Mr. Reyes appears willing to place himself in contempt of the court, which may place him in the Cook County lockup for civil contempt.

Mr. Reyes should respectfully request that the last court order be modified to allow him to attend his place of worship of choice with his daughter. If you have a court order that is adversely affecting you, contact an attorney today, and go about seeking change and justice the right way.

Jail is no place for a good and loving Dad to sit.

January 13, 2010

Who Could Possibly want to Adopt a Child with HIV?

Some of my clients are aware that the funds provided for initial consultations with my firm go into a nonprofit foundation account (www.karunainstitute.org) for the benefit of a children's orphanage in Ukraine, among other causes. I am presently coordinating with Life2Orphans.org on an Odessa, Ukraine orphanage project to assist children in the orphanage with HIV.

I saw today, via Twitter, an article that was both inspirational and educational. Aside from helping kids affected by MTCT HIV, it is helpful to understand that with modern care, these kids can be as healthy and "adoptable" as any child, and they deserve a better life than that afforded by the detski dom. Here is the article:

Who Could Possibly Want HIV+ Children?
Feature, HIV + Children — By Lisa on January 12, 2010 at 7:00 am

I wrote an interesting letter yesterday. An orphanage caring for HIV+ children recently partnered with an adoption agency that was happy to work with them and eager to find families for these little ones. But then something changed. The orphanage director began to doubt the interest of the American families. Why would anybody want an HIV+ child? What motive could they possibly have? In the end, the orphanage director concluded that these children were going to be used for “experimental purposes” and would not allow them to be adopted.

I was given the opportunity to write a letter explaining why we had adopted HIV+ children and how they are treated in our family. I also included a photo of my girls with two of their sisters.

As you can imagine, I was glad for the opportunity to help, but I was also very sobered. As challenging as it is to live with the stigma of HIV in American, it pales in comparison with the stigma in much of the world. Children infected with HIV are abandoned to die because their families have no hope for them. Adults refuse to seek medical help for fear of people finding out. They would rather die than be shamed and rejected.

This concern also reflects upon the lack of hope children and adults all over the world experience when they are infected with HIV. The orphanage director could not imagine an abundant, healthy life for the orphans in her care.

So who could possibly want these children? Who would take the time to complete the paperwork, pay the fees, fly halfway around the world, and then spend the rest of their lives committed to this child? I would, and so would an increasing number of adoptive parents. In America there is nothing that can hold these children back from living life to the fullest. There is excellent medical care and nutrition to meet their physical needs. There are families to nurture them, educational options to develop their minds, and limitless opportunities for them.


January 3, 2010

Divorce and Borderline Personality Disorder Issues

I was reading a social networking site that had a thread on Borderline Personality Disorder. It can be very helpful to read the DSM for the diagnostic criteria for BPD, but it can be also quite insightful to read the stories of people affected by a relationship or marriage with someone with BPD. Here are a few examples, below:

"Get out as fast as you can, don't look back.The only reason to stay with a BPDer is if you are a parent who has a child with the disorder. I was married to someone with BPD. The horrors.

The non-BP has been sucker punched. When you are in a relationship with a BPD you both share a private, intense world of ups and downs. 3 AM screaming matches, stomping, acting out, and in some cases, self harm and violence. This brings you both together in a co dependency. Each time there is a blow up, the couple is drawn closer together in the resolution phase, when the BPDers devaluation episode subsides. This codependency is insidious. I call it being sucker punched."

"I dated a borderline for 2 years, the 1st few months were great and it was mostly downhill from there. BPD is an illness that prevents the person from truly loving anyone, not even their parents, their spouse or their children. They are often self abusive and are a physical and mental threat to themselves and to those who love them the most. BPD is often passed from parent to child. My advice to you if you want the loving husband, children and family thing is to cut your losses and move on. I know it is easier said than done but for your own mental health you need to do it. I hear and fully understand your reasoning and thinking as to not wanting to leave someone because they are ill, I felt the same way. The one thing a borderline fears the most is abandonment yet the truth is they almost always end up abandoning the relationship themselves within 2 years. Often the people that are willing to stick with a person with BPD are usually suffering with their own co-dependency issues. I wish I could say be patient with them and love them unconditionally and they will get better but it is just not the case. About the time you think things are getting better their illness will cause them to destroy any progress that has been made and sabotage that progress. I can not imagine the personal hell a borderline lives in but have witnessed it and had a taste of it by loving someone with this illness. Now knowing and understanding what BPD is I will always feel strongly for anyone with this illness but will never let myself fall in love with someone that suffers it. Suffering with BPD makes for a long hard lonely life for the one who suffers with it and equally as hard for those that love them."

If you feel you are in a marriage with someone with the traits of BPD, please see my friend Randi Kreger's site, www.BPDCentral.com. If you are in a failing marriage with BPD issues, please feel free to contact my firm to set up an initial consultation.