Hello everyone. It has been quite some time since I’ve posted anything. This particular business entity really doesn’t need too much blog activity and I have been putting efforts into educational endeavors which involve more writing than my mediation/PC/PTE leg of services. I am also working on a Master’s degree, which keeps me too busy to blog here right now. That said, Life’s Doors Mediation is open for business during this time. I do offer some services via email, web meeting and phone calls.
For those of you who were trying to establish PC or PTE services, if those orders come through, we can utilize technology to get those services started for you.
It is my preference not to do anything other than Face to Face for mediation sessions. Therefore, during this time, I may elect not to schedule mediations. However, there is usually a 2-3 week wait for Mediation for regular scheduling due to payments and paperwork needs so I do not think this medical emergency interferes with business as usual there. If you need mediation, feel free to call. We will assess the situation at that time.
If you have questions or concerns for any of the services provided, feel free to reach out by phone, email or web contact form.
Mediator, Parenting Consultant, Parenting Time Expeditor, Coach, Parent Educator
Life’s Doors Mediation
1710 Douglas Drive N
Golden Valley, MN 55422
When parents enter the Family Court System it is very confusing. First, they want you to part ways, but at the same time keep forcing you together to “co-parent”. They use confusing lingo and it seems like the parents do all the work, while the professionals take a lot of money for putting the hard work on you. It is true. They do. A common quote from my coaching clients is, ” I had to do all the work for my lawyer.” Well, there is a reason for that. The professionals do not know your children, your schedules, what matters most to you and what doesn’t, and in particular, once you have entered post decree land, there isn’t a whole lotta law that goes on. The law becomes the law you (or the courts if you weren’t able to agree) created for your family. There is no law that dictates what your parenting time schedule has to be. There really isn’t. The time can be distributed evenly between parents or it may not be distributed evenly for any number of reasons. Some states do a default parenting time schedule when parents cannot create one on their own, but it is all very complicated. Parents can choose to deviate from a schedule if they want and they are encouraged to be flexible as life evolves. Why be flexible? Because life can change quite a bit over the span of a childhood, but even when you have deviated from the schedule, if you return to court later, the court will enforce the schedule that is in an order because that is what they signed off on.
Sometimes, this confusion and lack of structure creates fear and anxiety for parents. Some parents do not understand that the law has pretty much completed their case and they keep waiting for “it to be done”. In other words, a parent may want this person who hurt them so terribly to go away and never bother them again. Unfortunately, though, that is not the way it works when you have children together. Like it or not, you do have to talk to each other and coordinate schedules, school or medical needs, etc. The way most parents learn to do this is to work on emotionally processing the divorce and hurt feelings they were left with from the relationship through therapy, coaching, education or self help, so they can move into a new type of relationship, without having all of the bad feelings get in the way. Unfortunately, some people are unable to do this or don’t see the value in doing the hard work of self reflection. They don’t like what has happened. They don’t like the arrangement. They don’t like that they have a co-parent because life would certainly be easier if they didn’t, and they don’t like that their ex never got punished for the hurtful things they said or did throughout the marriage and/or divorce process. Is that what Family Court is there for? Are they there to punish?
Many people who continue to push for some kind of “conviction” of their co-parent do not seem to understand that Family Court is not criminal court. It is not a crime to get a divorce. It can be very hurtful, but it is not a crime. It is not a crime to want some of the stuff that was accumulated during the marriage or to want to continue to be a parent to your child after the divorce. The fact that someone seeks a divorce, even though one parent does not think that will be good for the child, doesn’t make it a crime. These things are the nature of relationship breakdowns and unavoidable in some marriages. If the marriage is going to end, it is going to be end and hopefully, each spouse will learn to come to terms with that and move on to create the life they dream about, either on their own or with someone new. On top of that, when you share a child, you have to process these separate lives, while still coming in contact with the other person. That makes it much harder to go through all of the emotions and accept the loss. That is why your success in court depends greatly on you more than professionals. It depends on how resilient you are. Professionals don’t know what you need to get to the point of acceptance. Some professionals believe that you need time, but courts have deadlines. They cannot just sit and wait for everyone to process their loss. If they did, many people would continue to not process the loss and hope that their spouse will change their mind by forcing the marriage to continue forever, but there are two people in this thing. Often, two people with very different desires for outcome. What do you call that difference of opinion or differing needs? It is called a dispute.
What do you do when working with two people in a dispute? For example, let’s say that two of your friends have a dispute over some words that were said. Suppose that the friends are Janet and Martha. Janet told Martha something in confidence and without realizing it, Martha shared the information with another friend named James. Her breaking confidence was not very nice, but it was not a crime. Now, in this dispute, the words have been spoken and the action cannot be undone. Hopefully, Martha is sorry for saying something she should not have said, but she cannot do anything other than to apologize and ask for forgiveness. Janet can either accept her apology and work to repair the relationship or she can decide that it is time to let the friendship go. For the two of them, that may work, but maybe because your goal is to remain friends with the two of them, even though their friendship has ended, and no one is upset with you about anything, each one will be able to stay friends with you individually. The relationships are all going to change, even though you were not part of the dispute, it does affect you. You may try t it and see how it goes and find out that there needs to be some ground rules set. Especially when the friends don’t think that you should be friends with both of them and fight over you. If your friends are going to put you in the middle or try to win you over to one side or the other, it is going to become very uncomfortable for you and you are going to feel the ramifications of their quarrel. As an adult person, you can walk away and say good-bye to both of them if the situation becomes too uncomfortable for you, but a child of divorce cannot do that when the dispute is between their parents.
Another thing that would not happen between the friends is this, no one would try getting the police involved or ask a court to prevent you from having a relationship with either Janet or Martha. There was no crime committed and you have the right to have a relationship with anyone you wish. There wouldn’t be any authority figure to come yell at Martha or order her to not be allowed to have friends again. Because we are talking about a dispute between people, no matter what anyone else thinks of it, no crime occurred, and so there is nothing that anyone else can do about it, certainly not the police. Martha and Janet will feel the way they feel about it. A relationship ended. There is really no “right” outcome from what has happened. People who care about them may want them to apologize, make up and go back to being friends, but Janet and Martha will be the ones who decide their next steps, but they way they will each treat you afterward will determine how you feel about each one of them going forward. Hopefully, they will understand that you have separate feelings and needs from them and that your desire is to remain friends with both of them separately and they will create conditions where you can do that.
For a child of divorce, they need their parents to sort this out for them. They don’t want anyone to punish mommy or daddy because they hurt each other’s feelings or made each other sad. If mommy and daddy can deal with their hurt feelings and put them aside in order to understand their child’s needs and figure out how to separately manage the child’s activities, health and wellness, that is the best thing that can happen, but when the parents refuse or keep trying to make the child choose sides or stop seeing a parent, in the legal divorce they are going through, that is when a third party neutral is called upon to come in and try to help for the child’s sake. By this time, the hurts of the past are way behind the parents and they are usually already divorced. The situation is what it is and the court orders/agreements are what they are. Court appointed third parties are there to help everyone make it work, but if they do see a child in the middle, they will help to free the child from the conflict and negative feelings between parents. There really isn’t a lot that third parties can do to help you improve the situation. You will have to do this for yourself. They will try to get you focused on the child to make the child’s life more manageable because children do suffer enormous consequences when they have to live through parent hostility.
Many times parents do not understand this. They complain and complain and complain about what it is they do not like about the other parent or what the other parent has done. They expect that if they demonstrate just how bad a person the other parent is, someone will punish that parent in some way. That is not the nature of dispute resolution, which is what Family Court is about. Family Court looks for solutions and moving families forward. They want you to take your family out of court and start making decisions for yourselves. They don’t want to parent your children for you. They want to give you the tools to do it.
If your approach to Family Court is to try to prove fault in a no-fault system, you will lose sight of the needs of your child. If you need help understanding dispute resolution or gaining some coping skills so that you can focus on your children more than the battle, especially if you have an ex spouse who cannot seem to grasp the nature of custody and parenting time, give us a call at 763-566-2282 or at High Conflict Central, 1-800-516-2446. We’ll do our best to help you.
When I started my journey to help parents, the goal was to save them from the confusion I knew they felt and to make their journey shorter and less painful than the one I had walked. I felt called to be a guide, a teacher and provide comfort when I could. I never promised to have all the answers. We are all human, after all. We need that higher power. We need to believe in something greater than ourselves. We need hope that there is much more to the journey than our current situation. We need hope.
I spent the time of my story all alone. I was alone because I could not find anyone else who really understood. I started out scared and alone, just me and my two boys, but I did ask God for help. I did not think he was helping so I quickly dismissed God and searched for someone or something else. When I did that, there was nothing but me and the prison I was building for myself.
When I was finally tired of my lonely misery and found no one else who understood or had real knowledge I turned back to God and found he was always there. He had never left me. I was simply refusing to see him, to hear him and to trust him. When I gave in to what he was doing, my life changed. I was freed from a prison that really only existed in my own mind. The door had always been open for me to walk through.
I was blessed and I wanted to share that blessing, that peace, that freedom with others who were held captive in their imaginary prisons. I wanted them to see what I finally saw. The door to your prison is already open. You simply have to walk through it!
I went on to walk a new journey of helping parents escape the pain of divorce and high conflict custody battles. Those who are open to change receive great rewards. I share with them the secret to conquering Family Court and painful relationships.
While I am a mediator, parenting consultant, and parenting time expeditor in Minnesota, and I enjoy that work to a degree, those roles offer limited success. Results depend on the good faith of the individuals involved. The success or failure comes from the skills and abilities of the parents themselves and their desire to escape their own prison.
What I really enjoy is teaching. It is in the one on one work that I do where I see dramatic results for parents. It even works for high conflict families. How wonderful it is to see fear and anxiety replaced with peace and confidence and to see that spill over for children. Parents living peace and confidence are able to offer so much more to their children than are parents who struggle with pain and trauma. Pain and trauma will not help you find your way out of a paper bag! Pain, trauma and the stress of a journey through the darkness of family court, leaves you stuck. Fumbling and stumbling because you aren’t aware of your true power makes you rely on professionals to light the way. What you do not realize is most of the professionals don’t know the way either. Even if they do, the professionals will not light your path for you. They are trying to show you where the light is. You have to take it. It is not the lawyer’s job to teach you. It is not the mediator’s job to teach you. It isn’t the parenting coordinator’s job to teach you. In some cases, I have made it my job to teach, but I can only do that in the one-on-one services I provide. I’ve decided that will be my main focus in this coming year and beyond.
I will show you the way and offer guidance, but the work is up to you and you alone. It is not easy, but you can free yourself and your children from the pain and trauma of Family Court and High Conflict divorce. Even when your co-parent keeps inflicting more and more control, financial hardship and fear on you, there are ways to expose their attacks for what they are and find peace for your own house.
The goal of our the programs offered at Life’s Doors Mediation is to clue you in to what you do not understand so that you can free yourself from a narcissistic ex, a bipolar co-parent, toxic co-parenting and really understand why it is you feel so trapped. We also share with you the truth about Family Court professionals. Why don’t they seem to know what they are doing? Why don’t lawyers help you? Why don’t parenting consultants seem to care about domestic abuse? We have programs that are specifically created to help victims of domestic violence. Check out our program, Victim in the System.
You have nothing to lose! If you have tried everything else and found no help, why not try something new in this New Year? Pick our brains as to why your situation seems so backwards and upside down.
While Life’s Doors Mediation can only provide mediation, parenting consulting and parenting time expeditor services to parents in Minnesota, our coaching and educational programs are without limits. We can assist anyone in the United States, or even the world, to move beyond the prison of Family Court. You owe it to yourself and your children to try something new! It is always a free consult. What have you got to lose?
As someone who has been working for almost 20 years to help parents navigate the very choppy waters of family court, I get a fair amount of calls and emails from parents who feel overwhelmed with how off track their case has become. High conflict cases snowball into unimagineable craziness and parents desperately want […]
If I were to pass legislation to improve the Family Courts, I would not want to pass a joint custody assumption or a 50-50 shared parenting time assumption or anything of the sort. I’d put forth a “Make No Assumptions” Family Law bill. I would prefer that the courts not be involved in families at all. If you are the two parents whose relationship resulted in bringing a new life into this world, you already share a child. Why look to the court to give you something you already have? The only time a court should be concerned about the relationships in your family is if someone or something is denying with or interfering with your right to participate in that relationship. Other than that, it should be up to you to determine how parenting should be split, based on numerous different factors, and if you have to look to a court for a decision, they should have to look at those numerous different factors, too. A split down the middle might be the right way to go, but it might not be. We should also keep in mind that parenting is not just about time with the children. It is about much more. Raising a child is not an equal proposition. It’s not a perfect science, and it is definitely not fair. 50-50 is something we invented to seem fair, but is it fair? Is it fair to the child? What about the parent who works evenings, whose kids are in school all day? Should we still give evening time, to be fair, even though the parent cannot be there? If that parent has every weekend with the child, is that fair and equal to the parent who gets zero weekends? Kids do not always feel close to both parents equally, at all times. That is just the nature of life, love and the intricacies of a relationship, and it isn’t always fair. If parents come to court to settle parenting time disputes, shouldn’t the court have to look at all of the factors of the case and then decide what makes sense for that family over what is fair?
Let me explain why I believe that courts should not make assumptions about custody, or even parenting time.
In Minnesota, the courts use the Best Interests of the Children Standards when there is a Custody dispute. That standard is often applied in parenting time disputes as well. Many legal experts admit that these standards are out of date. Personally, I feel that the Best Interest standards are a myth, just like much of what Family Court tries to do to “Case Manage” families, is a myth. Families cannot and should not be case managed, and who is qualified to determine anyone’s best interest?
The interesting thing about the best Interest of the Child Standard is that the courts have gone to a shared parenting assumption throughout the nation. It may not be law in every state, but it is the line of thinking behind the scenes. Research shows that children do better in life when they have involvement and on-going contact with both of their parents, whether in the marital home, or after the marriage has ended. Shared parenting, one could say, is in the “Best Interests of the Child”. I am not arguing that fact. Whenever possible, both mom and dad should continue to be involved parents for their children. What I am going to argue here is whether or not the courts are actually concerning themselves with the best interest of the child, or more with the best interest of the parent. Is giving a parent 50% of a child’s time/life about the child, or about the parents perceived “right” of fairness?
There is research out there that shows children of married parents do better than children of unmarried parents. Should a court force a couple to stay married because of that research? How can you force a relationship between two people? Still, Family Courts do try to force their idea of shared parenting on families and it has been a disaster. They instill parental “rights”, and when parents fight over those shared rights, there is no one actually looking at the “rights” or needs of the child. The child becomes lost in the battle. The battles are almost always a dispute about what dad wants or what mom wants, and judges decide which parent “wins”. Children are an unseen entity that everyone loses sight of. They are usually not in the court and rarely given a voice. Of course age has to do with that somewhat, but even older children are excluded from the process.
I do agree that a child has 2 parents with equal rights, and those parents share the rights to that child. I really hesitated writing that last sentence because to say a child belongs to both parents, or anyone has the “rights” to each other seems highly adversarial and enslaving. It creates a misconception that a person could be the property of someone. We do not own our children. We have been blessed with being given a relationship with them and a responsibility to care for them. We have to recognize that both people are the parents of the child, and the child was born to those two individuals who produced the child. I do not want to use words that imply “ownership”. None of us have a “right” to another person. Maybe we need to call it “relationship with”, and rather than protecting “parental rights”, we should protect the “parental relationship”. When you think in terms of a relationship with someone, you can then realize that a relationship cannot be proclaimed. If you want to have a relationship with another human being, you have to cultivate and cherish that relationship. You have to honor and respect the other person if you want to keep them in relationship with you. This applies to a co-parent and it applies to your child. It applies to every person with whom you intend to have an ongoing relationship, and asking a court to proclaim it for you will never create the relationship you hope to have with your child, former spouse that you parent with, or anyone else.
If we want to look at best interest of a child, we need to look at best interest according to whom? I certainly would not want anyone deciding what was in my best interest because they would have to know my history and what things have happened in my life that forged the person I am today. They would have to know my heart, and what makes me tick. They would have to know what my passions are, what I am interested in and what I am not interested in. They would have to know what family means to me, because it means different things to different people. Some people could care less about blood relationships and more about caring relationships in their lives, than they care who shares DNA. They would have to know my life experience from birth, and there is just no way that they could. So who is the best authority on what is in anyone best interests? As you ponder that question, you can see, that is a tough one to answer.
Maybe it should be the best interest of the family. What do little Mary and Johnny need? What do mom and dad need? What does the family need to make this transition easier for all? What has happened in their past? What are their dreams for the future? Can a family find that kind of help in the legal system? No, they cannot. You can ask for court orders, but try to get enforcement when another individual is truly opposed to something. Asking for court orders also creates a bad pattern for your life because the only authority courts have over your family exists now, because of a minor child. If you have to force children to be in relationship with you, what happens when they turn 18? A parent had better hope to cultivate, honor and respect that relationship so that it still exists when a child becomes an adult. Court can only ever be a temporary fix. You will need to figure it out at some point, or you just might lose it all in the end.
The reason that no one should make assumptions about families is because families are complex. Is it fair when one parent wants the relationship with their children, but not the responsibility for them? Families are made up of individuals and relationships. They have different passions. They have different personalities. They have different schedules. There may be good reason why the parents do not interact. There may be good reasons why a parent should not have 50% of their children’s time. Parents have to look at time, not as a reflection of their value as a parent, but rather as the value of their child’s life and activities and interests. Life cannot be scheduled on weekends and mom’s time/dad’s time, and be fair to everyone. Life happens on its own schedule and in its own time frame. Events and milestones happen when they happen. Parents and children have different time frames of healing from trauma, and let me tell you that there are very few things in life as traumatic as divorce, especially divorce with children.
In a perfect world, we would stop talking in terms of “Parental Rights” and the “best interest of the children” and start honoring and respecting the family relationships and dynamics. These things cannot be legislated or court ordered. We can and do have laws to protect parental relationships so that parents are never denied time with their children, or restricted in building a relationship with their children. Denying and restricting time is something that not only warring parents try to do, but courts do as well, and there are laws that are supposed to prevent that, if only those would be enforced. Naysayers will always remind me about safety and abuse, but if the Family Court would get out of relationships, the criminal courts could and should deal with abuse and neglect issues where they exist.
Children are not property and society needs to stop treating them as such. We are destroying beautiful children as we carve up their lives into the ownership of percentages of time, and we are setting them up for failure. They are also being given a horrible example of how to build and cultivate healthy relationships and work through relationship conflict. We have to do better as a society with honoring and respecting each other as the beautiful, wondrous people that we are.