Disputes or High Crimes and Misdemeanors?

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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 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 for 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 the court will enforce the schedule that is in an order.

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, they 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 emotionally process the divorce and hurt feelings from the relationship so they can move into a new type of relationship, but some people are unable to do this.  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 you 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 create the life they dream about 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.  We 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 since you want 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 if your friends are going to put you in the middle or try to win you over on 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, 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.  It was a dispute between people and no matter what anyone else thinks of it, no crime occurred, so there is nothing to be done about it.  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 that and the way they 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 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, that is when a third party neutral has to come in and try to help.  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.  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 easier for them 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 U, 1-800-516-2446.  We’ll do our best to help you.

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Life’s Doors Mediation has Moved!

Fragile Box Means Easily Broken And Breakable by Stuart Miles
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at freedigitalphotos.net

As of July 1, 2018, you can find Life’s Doors Mediation in Golden Valley, Minnesota.  Life’s Doors Mediation offers divorce and post decree mediation along with a variety of other services.

Our Family Law Connected services:

  • Mediation
  • Parenting Consultant
  • Parenting Time Expediter
  • Divorce and Conflict Coaching

We encourage people who are experiencing relationship problems or long drawn out high conflict divorce and co-parenting issues to also check out our Trade Mark, “High Conflict U“.

High Conflict U offers:

  • Relationship Coaching and Consulting
  • Parenting Classes and Information
  • Online Webinars
  • Online Learning options
  • Divorce and Co-parenting Support, Education and Information
  • Specialty Programs
    • Discover Your Piece
    • Victim in the System
    • Crossroads to Connections
    • DYP for U

Check out our new location at:

The Golden Valley Professional Building
1710 Douglas Drive N., Golden Valley, MN 55422

If you want to schedule mediation, get support with divorce or are trying to work through a difficult co-parenting, high conflict custody situation, please contact Susan Carpenter at Life’s Doors Mediation, susan@lifesdoorsmediation.com, 763-566-2282.

Renewal

Light Path by dan
Image courtesy of Dan at freedigitalphotos.net

 

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.

 

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Victim in the System logo-a trademark of Life’s Doors Mediation

 

We also help those in High Conflict situations.  Are you tired of it yet?  Do you want out of the control?  Check out what High Conflict U has to offer.  There is even a free e-course about Parenting Consultants and Coordinators!

 

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High Conflict U-a trademark of Life’s Doors Mediation

 

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?

That 3 Letter Word S-E-X

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Image courtesy of imagerymajestic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

*The following is a report from 11-5-2011

How important is sex? Sex should not be the entire basis of a relationship, but it is important for the survival of a relationship. A healthy sex life helps couples feel connected.

Not only is sex a key ingredient to a lasting relationship, according to this article from Web MD, there are many health benefits from a healthy sex life, also.

Web MD lists among the health benefits: stress relief, an immunity boost, burning off calories, improved heart health, greater self-esteem, increased intimacy, less pain, reduced risk of prostate cancer, stronger pelvic floor muscles, and better sleep. Read the article for more details, but you cannot argue with those great benefits to your health.

Why is sex important for men?  Men need a physical release, especially when they are feeling stressed.  Sex is a wonderful physical activity that they can share with their partner.  Men can participate in sports or other physical activity, but sex is a lot more fun.  They don’t often get to share those other activities with their partner so sex is a way for men to spend time with the women they love.   Men use sex to show the woman in their life that they love them.   Sometimes men cannot communicate feelings with words.   Since being  close physically  is one of the ways men signal to a woman they love her, they can feel rejected if their partner loses interest in sex.   Ladies, if you have lost interest in sex, talk to your man about why.   He needs to know if you are not having your needs met or if there is another reason that sex no longer interests you.   If you tell a man what he can do to make sex enjoyable for you, he will want to do it.   Men want to know what makes you feel good.   They don’t always know what that is.   Never criticize, but tell them honestly what drives you wild.   You’ll be surprised at how great sex can be when a man no longer has to guess.

Why do women lose interest in sex?   Women need to have their emotional needs met in order to feel good about having sex.  If a woman doesn’t feel respected, she will lose desire.  If she is really stressed out or just plain too tired from chasing kids around all day, she  won’t have the energy.  Women sometimes feel self-conscious about sex.   As their bodies change from pregnancy and childbirth to menopause, they may feel unattractive.  Men, you can help by reassuring her that you love her body.  Tell her she is sexy and the only woman you want to be with.   Also, if you have young children and she feels run ragged, try to plan a day off for her.   Allow her time to work out, get a massage,  or have a night out with friends.   If you can take care of the kids, by all means, do that.   If that is not the best option, get a babysitter.   Schedule certain days whenever possible that are Mom’s days off.   Even if it can only be once a month, it helps.

Ladies, you don’t have to be a size 6 to be desirable.  Great sex is about confidence.  If you love your body, so will your man!  Relax and enjoy the physical time together.  Immerse yourself completely into the moment. Try not to think about the kids or work or anything else.   A woman who is distracted will not get the most pleasure out of sex that she could.

If you have become stuck in a rut and sex has become non-existent, you can change that.   Ask your partner if they are willing to talk about it.   Tell them that you would like to rekindle your sex life.  If it’s been a while since you’ve shared that physical closeness, spend some time reconnecting as a couple.   Spend time together relaxing and having fun.   Touch each other, not just as foreplay.   Touch each other throughout the day.   A simple kiss or hug, maybe just lightly touching a shoulder or back can restart that physical connection needed to bring back desire.   If necessary, see a therapist or a physician. There could be a medical reason why desire has been lost.   You can always see a relationship coach, too.  If your partner wants to talk about your sex life, take it to heart.   If sex is important to your partner, they are not going to wait around forever.  Don’t help them decide to look for someone else, help them love and desire you.

Where is Your Focus?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

As a Life and Divorce coach, I am sometimes misunderstood and misinterpreted.  Over the years, I brought myself out of a deep dark place and into a life of joy and happiness.  I have successfully shown many others how to turn their backs on the darkness and move into their own piece of happiness, focusing on finding their way to the life they dream of.  I’ve been able to help many people, but not everyone.  Some people want to stay stuck.  If an individual wants to stay stuck in something bad, there is nothing I can do.  There is also nothing a psychologist, lawyer, or judge can do either.  They may try, but ultimately they will have to leave you behind and move onto the people who will work with them to get where they want to be.

I work mostly with people in the Family Court System.  These are parents who find themselves in a high conflict divorce situation, getting beaten to a pulp (legally) by the confounding judge, who is unable to understand what the heck it is that drives you to do the things you do.

I understand domestic violence.  I understand parental alienation (which is not the same as Parental Alienation Syndrome).  I understand Domestic Violence Organizations.  I understand Father’s Rights Groups. I understand the parent who lives under a microscope for years.  I understand the legal community.  I understand the psychologists.  I understand a lot of what happens in Family Court.  I understand how people got into the mess they have gotten themselves into.  Understanding all these things does not mean that I want you to focus on them.

I can lose someone’s attention and respect when I tell them that they and their attorney are putting too much emphasis on domestic violence in their family court case.  I also anger people when I tell them that parental alienation syndrome is not real.  That statement can be confused with not believing that parental alienation happens.  I know it happens.  I have even experienced it for myself.  It happened to my youngest son and I, at the hands of a manipulative father, but my son and I are closer than ever now because I always trusted him to know truth and to figure out what was happening.  I did what I could, left alone what I could not do, and put my energy into waiting for my son to be ready to restore our relationship.  I had faith that I had raised him in a way in which he would see truth, and now, we are closer than ever.

It was a long way from being blind sided by the nastiness of Family Court to getting to where I am today.

More than believing in parental alienation, I believe that co-dependence and Legal Abuse Syndrome are likely driving the on-going family court nightmares.  A good psychologist should tell you that as long as there is one strong parent, your child can overcome the trauma, regardless of what your ex throws at you.  I have seen this to be true.  In my own case, I stopped being the victim of domestic violence and stopped adding to the drama.  I wanted a better life for my children and myself.  That meant that I would have to pull myself up by my bootstraps, get healthy, and work with the professionals in the Family Court System on their level.  They were not going to listen to me if I only spoke to them when I was at the point of hysterics.  I was never heard when I screamed and swore at them, and you won’t get far with that either.  They were not going to allow me to educate them.  These were educated professionals and if I was so smart, how come I couldn’t put an end to this conflict in my family?  Why did they have to make decisions about my children?  They could not understand and I could not make them understand.  I found them to be obstacles to moving on with my life.  They were also, definitely,  hindering my children’s development.  I found that they were not the answer and they should not be my focus.  Instead, my focus should be on myself, and my children.  That is when I began to turn that ship around, and in doing so, I freed myself and my children of those professionals forever.  No more obstacles.  No more hindrances.

This is what I do for my clients as well.  Please don’t think that this can happen overnight.  It is a process.  I help my clients through that process, too.  Not every consult turns into a client though.  Some people think I am nuts and they never come back.  They do not want to give up that crutch of family court.  That is sad because most people come to me due to their frustration with how the Family Court is not helping the situation, but is instead, making it much, much worse and they don’t want to refocus there energy anywhere else.  It is a lot of work, and it is painful and ugly to peel back the layers of you, and so some people cannot stomach it.

Think about this for a minute.  Maybe it will make sense to you and maybe it won’t.  I can only put it out there and hope that you can make some sense out of it.  When you are a victim of domestic violence and look to the family court to help you with it, that is your focus.  If you keep focusing there, and seek professionals who will understand, that focus is taking your time, energy and money away from having the life you want.  You may think that you cannot have the life you want, but I am sorry to tell you, it is not true.  You are the one keeping your life and your children’s lives in the family court.  Your ex may stay there, and he or she may use it against you, but if you really get yourself strong, stay confident in your truths, and put your focus outside of the court, you will see miracles happen.  The people I see who beat this system at its own game, refocus on their life and their children and slowly shift their thoughts and energies away from their nasty ex and the nasty court people, are the ones who succeed in getting their story told.  The people who latch on to their domestic violence experience or try to expose parental alienation will find that  they ramp up the conflict, get more deeply embedded in the Family Court System, and feel more and more stuck over time.  I am not saying that domestic violence or parental alienation should be tolerated or ignored.  I am not saying that at all.  What I am saying is you cannot push those memes the entire time because there are only certain ways to successfully use those arguments in family court.

Not everything involved with the conflict is related to domestic abuse or parental alienation.  Some things are communication issues and related to how you speak to or correspond with you ex.  Some issues are related to those Mars-Venus, male-female issues, too.  Some issues have to do with the stage of development your child is in, as well, and so you need to really consider what is driving the conflict for each particular issue that arises.  You cannot blame everything on domestic violence or parental alienation because the professionals don’t always have any recourse.

This post may anger some people and intrigue others.  It’s hard to really explain it all in one blog post!  If you are interested in finding out how to free yourself of the family court, as much as possible, please contact me.  I’d love to consult with you to tell you more.  There is nothing more rewarding for me than to see a client who grasps these concepts and takes back their life!

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Losing Custody


I have talked to many people after they have lost custody of their children.  They take to the internet, searching for information, searching for hope, searching for answers, and they somehow find me.  As much as I wish people would find me before that point, I will take what I can get. People are not seeking help until their lives have been devastated and so I usually have to help them pick up the pieces, rather than work proactively to avoid the custody battle.

What I will tell you is that losing custody does not mean losing your children.  It seems that way to many parents, but the truth is, Custody and parenting time are two different things.  If you still have parenting time, you still have your children.  It may not be as much time as you want, but the door to more has not been closed to you.  With education and direction to get out of this awful system, you can sometimes turn things around.  If you can’t turn things around with the judge, the place to work on is with your kids.  When all is said and done, your kids are the ultimate judge anyway!

Custody can mean two different things; Physical custody, which is the address listing for the children, and legal custody, which is about the decision making ability for matters related to the children.  When it comes to custody, my thought has always been that the legal custody is the most important issue.  Joint legal is by statute, the rebuttable presumption in Minnesota.  Like it or not it is.  What that means is, the court starts with joint legal and one would have to have a very good argument against it in court to overcome that starting point between the parents.  In other words, all things being equal for parents, before either of you has presented any pleadings, if a judge has to decide custody, they would automatically go with joint legal.  Most lawyers are going to tell you that  you will NEVER be awarded sole legal and they will not even want to consider trying it in your case.  It is a major uphill battle, and in what is usually a “he said, she said” argument, very difficult to prove that it is the best way to go in your case.  The odds of winning are not in your favor.  For this reason, when I first meet with people who have “lost” custody, I ask to review their court order and in most cases, they only “lost” physical custody and the ability to use their address as the children’s home base for school or the doctor and things of that nature.

I put “lost” in quotes because I want you to understand that while it seems like you “lost” everything, you haven’t.  If you still get to spend time with your children, you will be the ultimate winner when the children are grown and the court experience is a distant, but painful, memory.  You may have lost the battle, but you have not lost the war.  Believe me when I tell you, as someone who fought and won sole physical and legal custody, back in 2007,  who then “lost” custody of my youngest child in 2012, I now have won the ultimate win.  My kids know that I am the parent they can count on to be there for them and to support them and help them navigate life, and they see the other parent for whom they have always been.  As a matter of fact, they see both of us for who we are and not what the family court tried to portray us to be.  So let me just emphasize again who it is you should focus on when it comes to trying to prove yourself.  Focus on your children.

I do understand that you now have to battle misconceptions from authorities in your children’s lives.  School administration, healthcare professionals and even court authorities judge you on the fact that you “lost” custody.  They easily buy the lies that have been spoon fed to them by a dishonest and vindictive parent, who by the way, will twist things to make it look like you are dishonest and vindictive one.  You may not be able to overcome those perceptions, but I do help parents look at what options they have for doing so if they decide they want to put forth an effort there.  Just know that none of these people will matter when the deal is finally done.  Kids turn 18 and just that magically, those people are out of the game.  If the game continues after that, well, that is pretty much up to you.  See how you haven’t “lost”?

If you lost custody of your children, odds are that you did not lose the children because you are a bad parent.  While there are some cases where a parent has successfully proven why they should have sole custody, in many cases, the parent who wins is simply the better liar.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net