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KIDS FIRST PARENTS SECOND SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS

INAUGURAL ISSUE

A RESOURCE FOR FAMILIES AFFECTED BY SEPARATION OR DIVORCE


"This magazine was created to provide a resource to families affected by divorce in San Antonio and surrounding areas." Matt Sossi, Executive Director of Kids First Parents Second

SPONSORS:

DR. RICK THEIS

LAW OFFICE OF OLGA BROWN

LAW OFFICE OF STEVEN C. BENKE

MIKE JACKSON MEDIATION SERVICES

www.kidsfirstparentssecond.org: SPECIAL THANKS: THE LAW OFFICE OF JAMES MONNIG

DAVID WILLIS, MEDIATOR


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EARNING YOUR TRUST Many lawyers will tell you to trust them, but we know that trust has to be earned. In divorce and family law cases, which often begin because trust has been broken, this is even more important. At the San Antonio law firm of Jamie Graham & Associates, PLLC, we earn your trust through honest, skilled and diligent representation. We earn it by learning about your specific situation and objectives, and then putting in the hours of work necessary to achieve your goals.

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Table of Contents

Teenage Bill of Rights.... Page 47

What we expect..... Page 6

Index

4

Sen. Carlos Uresti- "Welcome to Kids First Parents Second"

5

Hon. Solomon Casseb III - "What we Expect"

6

Hon. Cathleen Stryker - "Is it worth it?"

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Additional Resources for Parents: Attorney Perspective Jason Bashara and Julian Schwartz - Civil Litigation vs. Collaborative Approach of Law.

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Michael Jackson: The benefits of mediation.

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Additional Articles for Parents:

Mental Health Professionals

Shelley R. Probber, Psy.D.: Conflict Hurts Kids! Richard R. Theis, PhD Dr. Becky Davenport Jack Bannin -

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"DO ONE THING RIGHT"....

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"A Road Map when you Get Lost"

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"What is Parenting Facilitation?"

Resources for the Divorcing Family

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38. 39 - 49


Welcome to San Antonio’s Magazine for Separating and Divorcing Families Introductions by State Senator Carlos I. Uresti As a state senator and attorney with 24 years of experience practicing family law, I look for ways to improve the family law system to maximize the best interests of the child being affected. This guiding principal has led me to push for greater judicial discretion when signing off on mediated settlement agreements and to require a court to look at the full household dynamic before deciding custody. Separating from a partner and arranging shared custody can be challenging, and the legal expertise needed to navigate complex laws can be expensive. Fortunately, the State of Texas has several resources available to help clarify what to expect and how to find help. Individuals who are searching for the legal representation to suit their particular needs should contact the State Bar of Texas Lawyer Referral Information Service by calling 1-800-252-9690 or visit www.texasbar.com.

“ While all your

disputes can not be mediated,

maintaining civil

discourse with your partner even as you begin the process of dissolving your legal relationship is

The Family Law Section of the State Bar of Texas created an paramount…” organization called Family Law Cares to help families who are not able to use the standardized divorce forms. Individuals who believe they may qualify for pro bono legal services should go to www.texaslawhelp.org/find-legal-help.

As a general rule of thumb, mediation is less costly both in time and money than litigation. While all disputes cannot and should not be mediated, maintaining civil discourse with your partner even as you begin the process of dissolving your legal relationship is paramount. Sincerely,

CARLOS URESTI 5.


“Why the Courthouse Should Be the Last Resort” By: Judge Sol Casseb  I’ve been in this game we call the legal business for 43 years, dealing primarily in family law. I have seen it from all sides - as a practitioner, mediator, Judge, and from being involved as family members and friends have gone through the process. Believe me when I tell you - as I have told hundreds of people over the years - “Even a bad settlement is better than a good lawsuit.” Almost all litigants are better off resolving their differences outside of the courtroom. Certainly, there are those few cases (eg. severe domestic violence cases) that can only be resolved in litigation. But, for the most part, most family law disputes can be settled in conferences or through the mediation process. While mediation is a topic for another day, the idea of a settlement conference is one that, with rare exceptions, should always be pursued. If possible, attorneys and clients should meet prior to the day a case is set for hearing; although, if necessary, the attorneys can announce “Conferring” when a case is called for trial or a hearing, and can secure a conference room and negotiate all day, if that is what it takes . Prior to a settlement conference, the attorney and client should adequately prepare themselves as to all potential issues in controversy. I recommend having an outline of a Decree or Order with you so that you cover all issues, and the attorney and client will know the range of settlement on each issue. Parties should come to a settlement conference with basic discovery complete - or at least some means to quickly check on the location and valuation of basic assets (eg. land, bank accounts,

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THE HONORABLE  SOLOMON J.  CASSEB III  

288TH CIVIL  DISTRICT  COURT 

BEXAR COUNTY  TEXAS 


stock accounts, etc.). The attorney and client should also have a first offer prepared beforehand, as well as a second and third offer available, so that a range of exposure has been predetermined (from best to worst-case scenario). Most importantly, parties (and lawyers, for that matter) must be prepared to compromise. After all, in all likelihood, if you get to court, a judge is going to compromise for you. People involved in litigation, all too often, allow themselves to get caught up in the idea of winning and losing, no matter what the cost, such that, often, they “leave their souls at the courthouse.” We, as professionals, must realize, and help clients realize, that the emotional well-being that comes from a settlement is often worth considerably more than the additional money or property that might come after a contested trial.

It has been my pleasure to write this article to help divorcing families in San Antonio,  “This article has been provided to help divorcing families here in San Antonio. This Texas.  The article provided is not an endorsement of any other articles included in this  article should not be viewed as my endorsement of other writings contained in this magazine.  This article also should not be construed as an endorsement of any  magazine, any program, nonprofit organization or any individual.” individual, program or association.   

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The Honorable Cathy Stryker 224th Judicial District Court Interviewing Children in Chambers – Is it Worth It?

Bexar County Texas

Typical scenario: A young man walks into my office escorted by a bailiff. He is there because one of his parents filed a motion for the Judge to confer with the child in chambers. He is wiping his sweaty palms on his jeans and he is shifting from one foot to another. My bailiff introduces him to me and I sit down behind my desk and the young man sits across from me. I am not wearing my robe because it tends to scare kids. This young man is supposed to be 1 4 but he looks 12. I offer him chocolate from the jar on the desk and he refuses, even though he clearly wants the candy. I hand him several pieces. He looks terrified. I try to make small talk to calm him down. After a few minutes I ask him if he knows why he is in my office talking to me and he says “yes because my mom and dad are getting a divorce and I am supposed to decide where I want to live.� This is how many of the interviews in chambers begin. Most young people have been misinformed by one parent or the other, or as a result of internet research, that they get to choose who they want to live with when they are 12. When the young person believes they are making the choice, it puts an enormous amount of pressure on them which is visible in their body language, expression and

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tears. When I inform them that I make the choice based upon the information I gather during the hearing and from what they tell me, they are either 1) relieved beyond measure or 2) angry because someone told them that they got to pick the parent they wanted to live with. If I ask them what they would wish for if they had a magic wand, it is almost always that 1) mom and dad could get along; 2) they would stop putting me in the middle; 3) that we could all live together, or at the opposite end of the spectrum; 4) that I never have to see mom/dad again. The entire process is one that is emotionally draining for the child and one I suspect they will never forget. Almost without fail, the child will begin crying when describing their feelings about the divorce or their parents’ behavior. The older teens try very hard to hide their tears, but typically will end up with tissues crumpled up in their fists. No one really wants to talk to a complete stranger about intimate details of their family life while they are in distress and afraid. Children who really want to talk to the judge are many times the same children who have been coached by a parent or who have an axe to grind with a parent. Those children tend to arrive in my office with a script in their heads and a mission, but leave, nonetheless, in tears because of the stress they are under. Sometimes it is imperative that the Judge hear directly from the child about what the circumstances are in their home. Sometimes children report very important information to the Judge in chambers, such as drug use, physical abuse, alienation or other information that they feel they could not tell any other person. This is the exception rather than the norm. Sometimes the Judge cannot determine who is telling the truth without talking to the child. But in the absence of such circumstances, the decision to have the child speak with the Judge in chambers should not be taken lightly. It is an experience that the child will be unlikely to forget for the remainder of their life. When a child looks back at their life growing up, you want them to have memories of hitting a home run, their first kiss, graduating from high school and things that evoke smiles in the remembering -- not talking to a stranger about their family, crying in front of that person and having to tell them your family secrets. Carefully consider the occasions when you ask the Judge to speak to the child in chambers, and make sure that memory is worth it. Judge Cathleen Stryker, 224th District Court, Bexar County, Texas (submissi0on of this article is for informational purposes and is not intended to be as endorsement of any program, organization or individual. 9.


CIVIL LITIGATION vs. COLLABORATIVE PRACTICE BY: JASON BASHARA AND JULIAN SCHWARTZ

When going through a divorce, there are several decisions that you will make that will have a direct effect on the outcome of your case. Each divorce has a unique set of facts and personalities that will determine how the divorce process will proceed.

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If divorce is necessary, there are several avenues that can be taken in order to bring resolution to the case. Initially, you must decide to either proceed under a traditional format, i.e. litigation or under the collaborative law statutes. Collaborative cases are based on the theory that the litigation process does not yield itself well to a divorce proceeding and if the individuals would sit down and rationally talk through their differences, a solution could be reached that will better accommodate the needs of the parties and their children. Ironically, most cases that are placed in the traditional model of litigation settle outside of Court by the divorcing parties and their attorneys negotiating a solution in mediation or direct communication. So which way should you go if you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of going through a divorce? The rules of engagement under the collaborative law process and the litigation process must be applied to the facts of the case and personalities involved. Only then can an educated decision be made. The Litigation Route The Initiation of a Lawsuit Regardless of which route is taken, a “Petition for Divorce” must be filed. This filing outlines what a party is seeking to obtain from a lawsuit. In a divorce, the petition is general, broad and oftentimes formulaic. Some of the relief sought in a petition may not even pertain to your case. For example, a petition may seek reimbursement, even though the facts of the case may not support the claim. The logic behind broad pleadings is to make sure there was nothing forgotten.

Initially, you must decide to either proceed under a traditional format, i.e. litigation or under the collaborative law statutes.

Once the petition has been filed, the other party needs to be notified. The traditional way to notify a person of a lawsuit is by a process server. In fact, the rules require a party to be properly served. However, an affidavit that waives proper notification can be signed. In addition, if the party who needs to be served has an attorney, that attorney can accept service. Temporary Orders Hearing In litigation, the first interaction the parties may have with the Court is at the Temporary Orders Hearing. The purpose of this hearing is to set the ground rules for the time period between the hearing and the conclusion of the case. Generally, these orders will determine issues regarding the children (conservatorship, possession, child support) and property (who lives where, how the bills get paid). If a hearing is necessary, you will testify and present your evidence to a Judge and he/she will make rulings. It is very important to have evidence corroborating your position for the Judge, otherwise, the Court will have to make a decision based on “he said/she said” testimony. 11.


Once the Orders have been determined, they must be reduced to a clear and concise writing. If this has not been done, the enforcement of the orders is virtually impossible. Discovery Parties will engage in various forms of discovery to gather information needed in order to understand the nature of the estate, the claims made by the parties and the evidence that will be used by each party to prove their case. Parties can agree to an informal process which is less expensive when compared to formal discovery. In the event the parties cannot reach an agreement, each side will be able to send written discovery requests and take depositions. Formal discovery can be lengthy and expensive. The complexity of the case and the trust between the parties to be forthcoming will determine the extent of discovery necessary. Mediation Mediation is a process wherein the parties hire a third party to assist in settling the case. Everything that is said during the mediation is confidential and cannot be used in Court. There is no “right way” for a mediation to be conducted, but most times the parties, their lawyers and the mediator will meet briefly before going to individual conference rooms with the mediator going back and forth. At first the mediator will be trying to ascertain each party’s position and emotional state. Thereafter, the mediator will go back and forth with settlement proposals. The benefit of this process lies in its confidential nature and the skill of the mediator to impart his/her knowledge and experience to the party’s case. The mediator does not have the ability to make someone settle. The process and the settlement is voluntary. Trial Trial occurs only in the event the parties cannot reach a settlement. Depending on the complexity of the issues in the case, trial can take an hour or it can take weeks. A trial can be before a jury (“jury trial”) or the parties can agree to submit their issues to a Judge (“bench trial”). The jury is limited in the decisions it can make in a divorce case and the remaining issues are reserved for a Judge to decide. For example, a jury cannot determine periods of possession a parent will have with the children, but can decide whether the primary parent has to live in a specific geographic area. The procedure of trial is formal, the rules of evidence and civil procedure apply. In other words, your attorney must make sure that the documents, videos and recordings that comprise your material evidence are in admissible form. If your evidence fails to get admitted, it cannot be considered by the Judge or the Jury. In addition to the material evidence, all witnesses relevant to the divorce will need to be called during the trial. In the end, this is the only time you will have to present your case to the Court, so you need to be prepared.

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The Structure All collaborative cases begin with the couple signing a detailed written “collaborative law participation agreement” that contains the following commitments and agreements: 1. A commitment not to go to court for so long as the couple agrees to use the collaborative process to resolve their disputes. 2. Agreements requiring the couple, the attorneys and other professionals to treat each other with civility, dignity and respect so a safe atmosphere is created to express and resolve conflict. 3. Commitments requiring full and honest disclosure and sharing of financial and other information by both of the parties and the attorneys. 4. Commitments to privacy and confidentiality. Because there are no court hearings, depositions or document requests to third parties in the collaborative process, there is a better chance the parties’ dispute will stay private and confidential. 5. An agreement that the couple each is hiring their collaborative lawyer for settlement purposes only. If the couple reaches impasse or opt out of the collaborative process, the collaborative lawyers cannot represent either party in litigation between the parties. 6. Agreements to use only mutually selected neutral experts. These experts are for settlement efforts only and cannot testify in future litigation between the couple unless all agree.

The collaborative process is a TEAM BASED APPROACH to resolving family law disputes.

A Team Approach The collaborative law process often stresses and encourages the use of a “team” approach to resolving family disputes. The team approach attempts to make the best use of each team member’s area of expertise. 1.

Attorneys.

The collaborative “team” will always include an attorney for each of the parties. One attorney cannot represent both parties. The collaborative attorneys serve as legal advisors and advocates for their clients but try to participate in the process more as negotiators, educators and facilitators than as gladiators or litigators. 2.

Neutral Professionals.

The couple has the option of including a neutral mental health professional and a neutral financial professional to serve on their collaborative team. The neutral mental health professional helps to manage the emotional issues of the case, including keeping the parties and lawyers communicating constructively and helping the parties with working through issues involving 13.


USING THE  COLLABORATIVE  OPTION 

Over the course of the last twenty years, lawyers, mental health professionals and financial professionals have been working to develop the collaborative process as an alternative to the litigation process to resolve emotional family law matters with as little damage to relationships and family finances as possible. While there will always be cases where people will need the power and force of the court system to protect and defend rights, there are many family disputes that can be resolved more peaceably and less destructively using the collaborative process. What is the Collaborative Process? In short, the collaborative process is a settlement process that focuses on helping families resolve their disputes without going to court. The collaborative process focuses on creating a safe environment for the couple to gather all necessary information and to explore options for resolving conflict. How does the Collaborative Process Work? The collaborative process works by employing three elements to resolving family disputes. First the collaborative process has a well-defined set of “ground rules” and structure in the form of a written “collaborative law participation agreement” that the couple signs at the beginning of the case. Second, the collaborative process follows a “road map” that guides the couple through logical and orderly steps to help them define, discuss and resolve their conflict. Third, the collaborative law process often involves neutral mental health and financial experts as part of a collaborative team to provide expert advice and guidance to help the couple more efficiently resolve their dispute. The problem solving orientation of the collaborative law process is often especially helpful where children are concerned. In the collaborative law process, the focus is not on establishing blame but is instead on solving problems.

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their children or other emotionally charged situations. The neutral financial expert gathers, analyzes and explains financial information, prepares inventories, prepares spreadsheets, assists the parties in evaluating the short and long term financial effects of settlement options and helps in generating financial solutions. Using these neutral professionals provides the process with a neutral voice and perspective throughout the process. The presence of a neutral voice in the process often helps avoid or resolve impasses and helps redirect and diffuse conflict away from the parties involved and at the problem that is in dispute. A Serious Commitment to Settlement Finally, perhaps one of the greatest benefits of the formal collaborative law process is that when the collaborative law participation agreement is signed there is no doubt that the parties and their lawyers are serious about settling the dispute. Signing a collaborative law participation agreement commits the parties to obligations of full disclosure and commits the lawyers to withdrawing in the event the process is terminated. This is a serious commitment to attempt to settle from both the parties and their lawyers.

JASON BASHARA is a Board Certified Family Attorney in San Antonio, Texas. JASON BASHARA was named a Texas Super Lawyer by Thomson Reuters for 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2012.

JULIAN SCHWARTZ is a Divorce and Collaborative Family Lawyer. A partner with BASHARA & SCHWARTZ, P.C., JULIAN SCHWARTZ was the 2012 President of the Collaborative Law Institute for the Entire State of Texas.

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THE CHO C OICE AT THE T END D OF E ROA AD THE MEDIA M ATION OR LIT TIGAT TION? BY Y: MIK KE JAC CKSON N 16.


In a family law matter there are essentially only two options available to achieve resolution of issues in dispute when a parent chooses to handle their family law dispute through the civil litigation process.

One choice is litigating your dispute at the

Courthouse, the other choice is to attend mediation. When parents go to the Courthouse, they essentially step into what amounts to a machine. Day in and day out that machine processes human conflict in one form or another, the vast majority of which are family law matters. Where the lives and the future of children are at stake, it is so much better for the parents to be their own decision makers in the most important decisions of their lives. That is the opportunity mediation affords. At the Courthouse it is like the door is opened and there is a conveyor belt and parents step on the conveyor belt and are then in the machine. Three bad things happen, and one horrible thing happens. The first bad thing that happens when they step on the conveyor belt is that they stop being people and they become a case. That is what Judges deal with. They don't deal with folks. They deal with cases and every day there may be several hundred of them that show up at the Courthouse. Parents become two faces in the crowd.

CHOOSE MEDIATION! 17.


The next bad thing that happens, is that parents give up all of their power. All of a parent's decision making regarding

prerogatives their

children

evaporate like a mist on a hot day. They are gone and all the power is turned over to a complete stranger, the Judge. Judges are men, women, Democrats, Republicans, there are Judges who have been on the bench for decades, and there are Judges who have been on the bench for much less time. There are Judges who are friendly, affable, and in whose Courtrooms a parent would feel as comfortable as one can feel in a Courtroom setting, which isn't very, and there are Judges who are the opposite. They are all individuals with their own likes and dislikes and their own notions about child custody.

You never know what a Judge is going to do.

You don't know how they are going to filter the information that will be given them. What can be known is that they are going to filter it through their filters, and not those of the parents. They are not going to see the case from the parents' point of view. They are going to see this from their point of view. A custody case is a very big deal for the

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parents, it is the brightest blip on their radar. To those Judges, it is not the same. They do it all day, every day, five days a week, fifty-two weeks a year. It can't be as big a deal to them as it is to the parents. If they were to get emotionally engaged in every case that came before them, in about six months, those Judges would burn out. So they are much more clinical than emotional. If Dad is mad at Mom the Judge is not going to be mad at her because Dad is. If Mom is mad at Dad, the Judge is not going to be mad at him because Mom is. The Judge may get mad, but if they do, it will be over something they see or hear in their Courtroom. The third bad thing that happens when parents ride the conveyor belt is: They had better get their checkbook out because that trip down at the Courthouse is going to cost a ton of money. That money would be better spent on the children's education.

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Three bad things, one horrible thing, and here is what the horrible thing looks like. The parents are going to ride that conveyor belt to the Judge's Courtroom and it is going to stop and the door is going to open and there sits the decision maker with all the power. They don't know the parents, they don't love the parents, they have absolutely no emotional investment in the parents and they have no stake in the outcome. They are not going to do what Dad wants to do and they are not going to do what Mom wants to do.

Because the parents

power, they have enabled

have surrendered their

Trial is a perfect

THEY want to do and it

venue to resolve

with what the parents were

personal injury cases

the Judge to do what might not coincide at all thinking.

or business

to that Courtroom, those

completely

disputes‌those

immersed in the system.

Tragically, the only system

people go their

the Courthouse has to

By the time they get parents

are

offer the parents is the what it is called, that is it does. By its very nature, it

separate ways and never see each other again.

adversary system. That's what it is and that is what pits people against one

another. That system is fine for a personal injury case or business dispute, when those cases are over, those people go their separate ways and never see each other again. Not so for parents. Here is how it works in a family law case. On one side or the other of that Judge is an empty chair. One at a time, Mom and Dad are going to take turns sitting in that chair. The two most important people in a child's world are their parents. That Mom and Dad are the only ones they are ever going to have. Now, children don't pick their parents. Parents bring their children into the world and as a consequence, 20.


parents owe their children whatever sacrifices they need to make, whatever apologies need to be given, and whatever forgiveness needs to be tendered for the child's sake and mediation is the place to start that process. But, here is what happens next. One at a time, each of the two people that are the most important people in the world to a child, are going take turns sitting in that empty chair and then the child's mother is going to say the meanest, most hurtful, ugly things she can think of about the child's father. She will say every hurtful thing she can think of to say and it will have an emotional impact on him. It will hurt his feelings and he will get mad. Then she will go back and sit down next to her lawyer and then the father is going to go up and sit in that empty chair and he will say the meanest, most hurtful, ugly things that he can think of to say about the child's mother and it will hurt her feelings and she will get mad. When all of that is over, that Judge, who has probably heard the story a hundred times before, takes over and imposes his or her will on those parents. Those parents are going to rip each other up and the only two people in the world that the Judge is going to know that knows them, is them, and all he or she is going to hear from them is about what rotten people they both are, and the Judge's decision will be based on that information. What those parents have just done is cause profound damage to any chance that they to effectively co-parent. After that experience, however bad their relationship was, it will be much worse. You know who will pay the price for that? The children, because the children know their parents are in conflict and they have already been changed by it.

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Parents change who their children are by virtue of being in conflict. What happens in that Courtroom will change who they are going to be. Each parent has their own perspective about how they got there. Each parent knows how they feel and why they feel that way. Neither parent knows how their children feel. They cannot, because they are filtering it all through their adult filters and children filter it through a child's filter. They can't put themselves where their parents are. The only thing they know for sure, is that this is hurting. They are suffering because their parents are in conflict. When parents are in conflict here is what children do: They blame themselves. Children blame themselves because of their parents' conflict and if it doesn't stop, then here is the risk. They will act out, they will somehow respond to that conflict and very often in self-destructive ways. Some become cutters, some turn to drugs or alcohol or bad companions or crime, or worse. The parents' relationship has the single

When children are concerned the first and absolute best way to get those things resolved is in a mediation setting.

most profound impact on who the children turn out to be. It is really less about the children at their current age than it is about the children as adults. The goal is not to raise kids to stay kids, the goal is to turn children into well adjusted, emotionally secure adults. They will be adults much longer than they will be children. They will become adults and those parents will be able to look back down the road and get a retrospective and see what they have done. Parents will reap what they sow. Parents will have raised their children in one of two worlds. In one world, every time they see their parents interact with each other and every time they are in their

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sphere of awareness, there is conflict and anger and hostility, and they will grow up to be the kind of adults who grew up in that world. But parents can make an intellectual decision, get their egos out of the way, get the emotions out of the way and make a decision for the children's sake, that, going forward, they are going to raise them in a different world. A world in which they commit themselves to a way of interacting so that when the children see them engage with each other or the parents are within their sphere of awareness, what those children get to see is the two most important people in the world to them treating each other with kindness and courtesy and respect and dignity and compassion and understanding. If parents were to make that decision and to reboot their relationship to manifest those qualities, the first thing it will do is make the parents' lives better. If they were to turn that corner and begin treating one another with those characteristics, the quality of their own lives improves and the quality of their children's lives dramatically improves. The parents' relationship is going to have one of two impacts on their children and only one of two. It will either be a positive impact or it is going to be a negative impact. There is no middle ground, it is either positive or negative. No one can make that choice but the parents. And each parent has exactly the same job, and that is to turn those children into adults that they can be proud of and that will have a successful life.

Kids become and live what they learn.

relationships will be in large part

Their

determined and based upon their parents'

relationship. If they are taught anger, hostility and conflict, what will their relationships look like? They are going to live what they learned. If they are taught the opposite and are allowed to grow up in a world that is free of conflict and anxiety and hostility, they will be different kinds of adults. Which result 23.


is the goal? Do parents want to raise children to be dysfunctional, emotionally crippled adults or do they want to raise emotionally secure, well adjusted adults? It would be a tragedy to get down the road, look back and assess what has been achieved and go, “Oh, my God. I wish we had..., if only...� It will be too late. There are no do-over in parenting. Parents don't have to be friends. It would be nice if they could be, but they don't have to be. But they don't have to be enemies. They signed on to be parents and they have to be the best parents they can be. That means they have to work together. They must cooperate with each other, to help each other be the best parents they can be. They have to lift each other up as parents, and encourage each other as parents.

They

have to put their children first and commit themselves to making the best life for their children that they can have. There is nothing more important than that.

Don't

go

down to that Courthouse and turn the decision making over to a stranger. Here is the thing about Courthouses, people are in charge, not computers. Judges have really hard, stressful jobs. That job requires that they impose their will in ways that could very well be inconsistent with what those parents thought was going to happen. And those parents will be stuck with what happens. Parents frequently leave the Courthouse devastated because they did not see what was coming.

Their

expectations were unmet. They got handed a result that they didn't know how they were going to make work. But they got their day in Court and they spent their children's college education to have their day in Court and then they left wondering how they were going to live with the result, which is just another invitation back to the Courthouse. Then they end up back in the Courthouse and that keeps the hostility merry-go-round going on and on.

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What's the alternative? What's the other option? The answer is Mediation. Mediation is less confrontational, less anxiety producing and less expressive than a trial. At Mediation, the parents are in control. There is no need to bash one another and tear each other down. Parents can work together to structure a solution that will work for their children and themselves. Something of their own creation. Mediation can set a new tone and help establish a new and better co-parenting relationship; open the door to that new relationship and a new and brighter future for the children.

If you find yourself in a Family Law matter involving children, try

Mediation first. There is nothing to lose and the peace of mind of the children to gain.

Mike Jackson is a valued mediator in San Antonio Area helping families affected by divorce and a proud supporter of Kids First Parents Second.

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Conflict Hurts Kids! Shelley R. Probber, Psy.D. No one who has children and subsequently divorces thinks this is a good idea for children. However, there are times when parents make the difficult decision to divorce. Of course, these parents do not want their children to suffer unnecessarily. While children can learn to adapt and adjust to the changes inherent in a family that now resides in two separate homes, they rarely escape unharmed from the impact of continuing conflict between parents. In fact, research has shown that it is ongoing conflict—and not divorce per se—that causes the most emotional, psychological and behavioral damage for children. Unmoored from the security of a family that might have been predictable and relatively peaceful, children have a lot to cope with in the aftermath of their parents’ divorce. Often, children become anxious and angry, fearful and suspicious of others.

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At the same time as children are reacting to the changes in their family’s life due to their parents’ divorce, their parents are coping with the stress and discomfort of going through a divorce themselves. At this time, just when it can seem most difficult, parents must muster their own resources to assist their children in coping with their confusing feelings. How does it happen, therefore, that even the most well-meaning parents continue to engage in conflict with one another? One possible reason is that the issues between the parents that led to the divorce in the first place continue to be re-kindled and played out in the interactions of the parents. For example, if parents were unable to communicate effectively prior to the divorce, it is likely that they will be unable to communicate very effectively after the divorce. For this reason, it is advisable that these parents seek out some assistance in helping them to communicate on behalf of their children. I often suggest to parents that they consider their ongoing task of raising children together as similar to being asked to work together at a job. They have to complete a most important project, but they are forced I often suggest to to work on a team with someone whom they find they often have misunderstandings and parents that they with whom they have difficulty consider their ongoing communicating. Unable to quit this job, each parent must figure out a way to work together task of raising children to do the best job possible on this most together as similar to important project of their lives.

being asked to work

Why does ongoing conflict hurt children together at a job. so much? Children have different relationships with their parents than parents have with one another. Children look up to their parents as role models, authority figures, and confidants and the influence of each parent on his/her children should not be underestimated. Further, children need both parents to participate actively in their lives, helping them to navigate their childhood, through adolescence and into adulthood with the skills and self-esteem necessary to be balanced emotionally and psychologically. In order to do so, children rely on their parents to remain as their role models, authority figures and confidants, even after a divorce. Regardless of how you may feel about your ex-spouse or partner, your child has a different relationship with him/her than you did. Additionally, no one—including your children—gets the opportunity to select one’s parents. Your children also do not get to decide to divorce their parents. Therefore, after a divorce, your children are forced to navigate the challenge of going back and forth between their parents, while still hoping to get the best of both of you.

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Children are also a composite of both parents. If one or the other parent devalues the other, essentially that parent is devaluing one half of their child. As a parent models an inability to maintain a position of civility and decency with the other parent, that parent demonstrates a way of relating to others that is significantly problematic. Any parent that believes his/her child is not absorbing this as a model of how to get along with others is naïve. A parent often feels as if s/he has “won” if a child mimics this parent’s disdain for the other parent. However, this ‘victory’ is short-sighted, since now the child feels as if half of him/herself is devalued and inadequate. These children have demonstrated increased anxiety and emotional distress, as well as increased difficulties experienced satisfaction in adult relationships. If a parent feels unable to overcome hostility toward the other parent, it is highly recommended that this parent seek counseling and psychotherapy to facilitate the ability to move through these feelings into a more balanced state of well-being that will allow this parent to be a more effective parent. Even young children are acutely aware of their parents’ behaviors and attitudes toward one another. Parents who might believe there are shielding their children from their hostility toward the other parent might be surprised to discover that even their four-year old children are aware that one parent has disdain for another. A child’s awareness of his/her parent’s view of the other parent as inadequate and incompetent can create fear in the child. Unable to rely on those parents you previously trusted to care for all your needs, children often feel pressured to take “a side.” This sets the stage for even more ongoing conflict, since it might re-inflame earlier marital issues that have been unresolved. The aftermath of divorce is painful and confusing for all involved. However, parents can move past this confusion and make choices for themselves that allow them to use this as an opportunity for growth. As challenging as it might be to move past the anger of a marriage that did not succeed, parents must ask themselves if their love for their children supersedes the animosity they might have for their ex-spouses. Parents can move on—into future relationships, new careers, even a change of lifestyle. However, children will continue to struggle with the aftermath of a divorce if ongoing conflict continues to haunt them.

Dr. Probber is a well respected psychologist in San Antonio, Texas and contributor to Kids First Parents Second projects and events. Dr. Probber provides pragmatic advice to both divorcing parents AND the legal community here in San Antonio, Texas. If you are in need of Dr.Probber’s please contact her at (210) 829-4876. 28.


DO ONE RIGHT THING – and then another!  By

Rick Theis, Ph.D. “If you want to improve children’s opportunities for success, one of the most powerful potential levers for change is not the children themselves, but rather the attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors of the adults who surround them.” (New York Times, May 21, 2016) ________________________________________________________

Empathy – the capacity to place oneself in another’s position Grieving – a response to loss, particularly to the loss of someone, to which a bond or affection was formed. 29.


Now and then I find it helpful to step-back and survey my surroundings; to use these purposeful moments to look at things from a slightly different perspective, and remind myself to focus on what we know, and not the minutia of everyday life. Over my nearly 20 years of practice as a psychologist and 19 years as a parent, I’ve learned a lot about how to help kids manage difficult times. With each new insight and psychological discovery, I am consistently reminded of my mentor’s (Dr. Roman Paur) simple yet brilliant advice:

Divorced parents most often know the difference between good and bad parenting. It’s typically not about a lack of knowledge. There is, however, a psychological barrier held in place by three very powerful forces:

“How can you justify putting your kid in the middle?”

(1) Inability to grieve a failed marriage (2) fear so disabling that the ability to empathize with others is shut off, and replaced by rigid, mistrustful, and paranoid thinking (3) a trauma response that lays the foundation for projection of blame, as well as justification and rationalization of maladaptive behavior.

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Various forms of parenting education can be and often are helpful. Life as a parent after divorce, however,is rarely about knowing the latest parenting techniques, or simply following a list of what to do and what not to do. It has been my experience that most parents know bad parenting when they see it (especially when analyzing their exspouses’ behavior!), but sadly remain blind to their own parenting shortcomings. I believe that most parents, in general, know intuitively what they should and should not do as a parent, but as decades of psychological research has shown, insight alone does not necessarily lead to behavior change. Unfortunately, when parents fail to grieve the dissolution of the marriage, they become stuck in a fearful, vengeful, and hostile position. The decision to end a marriage cuts into the personal identities of the marital couple as well as into the children’s emerging identities. Divorce slices into the safety of this most basic unit of human existence: the family. Sometimes, when divorced parents fail to grieve, and act with fear and anger, those in positions of authority are required to step into the fray and do what many divorced parents seem incapable of doing –the right thing.

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If you’ve worked with divorced parents, then you likely have found yourself having this conversation: “Why did you say that? This makes no sense. How can you justify putting your kid in the middle? How is it okay to be so mean?”

When asked these questions, divorced parents give numerous reasons (i.e., excuses), which they believe justify their actions. Here are several of my favorites:

“I didn’t start it. I wouldn’t yell if he didn’t. I have to protect myself! She’s getting what she deserves for screwing around. My son makes up his own mind – if he hates his dad he hates his dad.”

How can we help divorced parents if it’s not simply about a lack of knowledge? Why do parents keep behaving in inappropriate ways when they know, at some level, that it’s not in their kids’ best interest? Why do so many divorced parents continue to behave like low functioning adolescents? Perhaps the answer to these puzzling questions can be found in the struggles of my brave patients - the soldiers overrun with PTSD, the survivors of childhood abuse, and the parents overwhelmed by the lingering pain and shame of a hostile divorce. If these patients want to find peace, each must find a way to cope with their histories and their pain. Unfortunately, the biggest roadblock to recovery is often empathy, or a lack thereof. I remember hearing far too many patients say things like 32.


“Doc, you just don’t get it! Empathy is not always a good thing.” Or,“I’m glad my dad taught us not to have empathy.” I remember thinking,“I hope they realize empathy is about understanding, and not necessarily agreeing or disagreeing with the person’s position!” I tried to put myself in their shoes, but I failed. I kept thinking: “What the hell are they talking about? What kind of parent would teach their child that empathy is bad?” Their responses and clear disappointment in me, paradoxically, highlighted my lack of empathy for

their plight.

At the core, empathy is how we feel what it’s like to be in our kids’ shoes. Empathy,

for

the

hostile divorce, for the

parent

in

a

soldier at war, for

those in abusive relationships can be, and often is, dangerous. Empathy in a volatile relationship can leave one hesitant and cautious and confused about boundaries, and therefore vulnerable to manipulation, being taken advantage of, or being abused. It seems that the human brain, when exposed to trauma, automatically shuts down one’s capacity to feel empathy –it’s as if a threshold has been reached, with no capacity remaining for others’ distress.

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Sadly, despite our best efforts, some patients have difficulty adjusting, and continue to relate to and see their world as if they are still at war. Due to being associated in their minds with danger, empathy remains split off from today’s relationships. The common thread of trauma is the inability to see one’s world without the dark cloud of fear, stress, and terror.

Empathy, and its power to heal, remains

hidden, until one is willing to face their own pain and suffering, as well as that of others. ‐

how we feel what it’s like to be in our ex-spouses’ shoes

And on and on and on………

Surviving a hostile divorce is terrifying, painful, and often traumatic, for all involved. It pulls adults toward seeing their world as a frightening place that makes empathy for others, including your ex and your child, dangerous – yet, empathy is precisely what children of divorce need from their parents. Too often lawyers, judges, and especially those of us in the helping professions lose focus, and instead provide only instruction and advice but fail to provide psychological space for divorced parents and children to grieve and come to terms with their many losses and fears. If divorced parents fail to grieve, they invite further fear, pain, paranoia, and rage into their lives, which comes at the expense of compassion and empathy. It is my hope that, as a divorced parent, you make the right choice for your child; that you create space to grieve, and embrace the power of empathy for yourself and others; and, finally, “do one right thing – and then another.”

Dr. Rick Theis is a psychologist who handles child custody evaluations in San Antonio, Texas. An expert in his field Dr. Theis has sat on the Board of Directors for Kids First Parents Second since December of 2015.


A Map When n You u Feell Lostt Bec cky Daven nport, Ph h.D., LMFT T

“The mo ost importa ant thing to o me now is i that my kids k are prrotected in this processs.”"I know th his is my onlly chance to o do right by b my kids.”” “I am so numb n right now becau use of the divo orce. I feel so much guilt when I look at my m kids.” “I’ve never gotten g a divvorce before- I feel like I’m lost with hout a map..” I've hearrd this senttiment spok ken many tiimes by clieents who arre beginnin ng the proceess of divorce. Parents who w are veery aware that, t as th hey approacch or navig gate through a divorce, the last thiing they wa ant is negattive effects on o their chiildren. Theese parents have many qu uestions- “How do wee tell our children c about a separration or divorce?” d “W What can we do d proactively to help our childreen adjust an nd understa and the divorce?” “How w do I respon nd when my m children are upset about a divvorce I don n’t want?”. “What do I do when th he other parrent is doing g or saying things I do on’t think arre appropriiate?” At any trransition point p in life,, we all feell much morre grounded d when we know theree is a map for the new teerritory we are walkin ng. Someonee has been there beforre and can help us find our way. Someone S ca an tell us what w to ex xpect. In many m life evvents, that map comes frrom friends and familly memberrs who havee gone therre before yo ou. In a divvorce process,, a helpful map m can alsso come fro om a menta al health pro ofessional with w experiience

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in guiding parents and children through divorce processes. A professional guide may or may not have been down this road personally, but we have seen enough people walk down the path that we know which turns are coming up and which roads are dead ends. We have studied family and child development research and understand how divorce can impact typical development and secure attachments with parents. Unlike friends and family, a neutral professional also has no biases or loyalties with either party in the divorce. Well-intentioned loved ones recognize your pain and often want to provide comfort and validation more than hard advice. A professional guide who knows the territory of divorce, as well as child development and family systems, can be especially helpful for parents who plan to co-parent and share custody of children. There is a completely different map for true co-parenting that allows children to feel at home with a sense of belonging in both households. Coparenting that fosters a grounded sense of identity for children after divorce includes not only solid cooperation and respectful communication over a long period of time, but also a higher level of consensus in parenting styles and decisions that children experience as a generally consistent in values and expectations. This only happens when parents are able to intentionally establish new patterns of communication and interaction after divorce. When couples are at the point of divorce, they are often locked in negative patterns and each feels powerless to significantly influence positive change. A new, constructive pattern of communication can be established that allows both partners to bring their best selves into their co-parenting relationship. A mental health professional can be a valuable asset in building a successful, post-divorce parenting relationship that not only protects children from continued parental conflict and ineffective communication, but fosters health and forward movement for parents. Intentional planning and intervention for post-divorce relationships also can prevent years of spending time, money, and energy in ongoing conflict and legal proceedings that result when parents continue the same negative patterns from the marriage into their divorce and co-parenting relationship. In short, a good mental health professional can be a wise investment in your future.

Â

Dr. Davenport is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) in the State of Texas, Clinical Fellow and Approved Supervisor in the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT), Registered Play Therapist Supervisor with the Association for Play Therapy (APT), Certified Discernment Counselor, and trained Collaborative Divorce Mental Health Neutral. She is the Owner and Director of the Institute for Couple and Family Enhancement, a private therapy practice in San Antonio (www.icfetx.com) specializing in relational therapies.

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What is Parenting Facilitation?  Jack Bannin, MS, LPC, LMFT  Parents  involved  in  litigation  against  each  other  often  experience  conflict  about  parenting  practices  and  other  child‐related  matters,  but  have  difficulty  communicatingeffectively  about  their concerns. In some cases, the parental conflict is such a problem, that parents may benefit  from having a neutral third party to guide conversations in a more solution‐oriented direction,  provide useful information about how harmful parental conflict can be totheir children, and to  help parents shift from “litigation mode” to “cooperation mode.”  Parenting  facilitators  are  specially‐trained  professionals  who  work  with  parents  to  help  them  identify  child‐related  problem  areas,  understand  and  implement  the  possession  and  access  provisions  of  parenting  plans,  clarify  priorities  for  the  children,  reduce  misunderstandings  between  the  parents,  improve  communication  and  conflict  resolutions  skills,  and  develop  strategies  to  improve  collaboration.  They  also  monitor  parents’  compliance  with  court  orders  and  help  in  other  ways  permitted  by  law.  Much  of  a  parenting  facilitator’s  job  is  to  provide  parents  with  direct  feedback  on  how  to  change  their  behaviors  in  order  to  accomplish  these  goals. Interacting with a coparent can feel like walking into a mine field. A parenting facilitator  guides you through that field, pointing out to you where not to go.  Even  though  parenting  facilitators  may  be  a  mental  health  professional,  they  do  not  provide  mental health services. Instead, this is a legal process, and parenting facilitatorscan speak with  attorneys and judges about what is said and what happens in parenting facilitation meetings.  They  also  may  write  reports  about  the  parenting  facilitation  and  file  those  reports  with  the  court.  Parenting  facilitators  often  are  subpoenaed  to  testify  in  court  hearings  to  help  the  judge/jury make decisions. 

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The cost  of  parenting  facilitation  can  be  high.  However,  when  compared  to  the  cost  of  an  attorney, parenting facilitation tends to be much less expensive. Since parenting facilitators can  help  parents  resolve  some  of  their  conflict  that  otherwise  would  have  been  directed  to  the  attorneys,  you  may  find  you  spend  less  money  on  attorney’s  fees—money  that  you  can  then  spend to meet your children’s needs. Conflict is certainly expensive. The sooner parents realize  that  cooperation  is  the  cheaper,  less  stressful  route,  the  sooner  they  can  move  forward  with  their separate lives and out of the courthouse.  Parenting facilitators must be appointed by court order. Sometimes that happens when a judge,  on his or her own, decides the services are needed. At other times, one of the parents may  request that the judge appoint a parenting facilitator. Additionally, the parents can agree that a  parenting facilitator would be beneficial, and will have their attorneys draft an order appointing  a parenting facilitator for the judge to sign.   There are some things that a parenting facilitator cannot do. Even though they may use some  mediation‐like methods, it is not mediation. The outcome is not a legally‐binding order crafted  by the parenting facilitator. In fact, parenting facilitators may not modify any order, judgement,  or  decree.  However,  agreements  made  in  parenting  facilitation  can  be  translated  into  something enforceable if the attorneys take the necessary steps (for example, a court order).  Parenting facilitators are permitted to make other recommendations to the court to help clarify  an  existing  order,  when  something  in  the  order  is  unclear  or  not  working  well.Parenting  facilitators cannot decide things like conservatorship, child support, possession of and access to  the  children.  In  fact,  they  can  make  no  recommendations  to  the  court  regarding  conservatorship,  possession  of  or  access  to  the  children  (sometimes  called  “visitation”).  Parenting facilitation is not an evaluation or investigation, and cannot be used in place of a child  custody evaluation.  If you believe a parenting facilitator is right for your case (or one has been ordered), then speak  with your attorney about what to expect. You may have some input into the selection of the  parenting facilitator, and your attorney will likely have an opinion about who might best fit that  role for your circumstances.   Jack Bannin is a LMS, LPC, and LMFT and is the owner of Bexar Family Solutions. Jack Bannin is a member of Kids First Parents Second and is renown in the San Antonio area for his work with helping parents overcome their differences to put their children’s needs first during and after the divorce process.  Visit    http://www.bexarfamilysolutions.com and set up an  appointment with Jack today!  

38.


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Michael W. Jackson Mediation Home

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During the first 25 years of my legal career, I attended hundreds of mediations as an advocate for my clients. For the last six years, I have devoted my time to becoming an effective mediator, utilizing the skills, knowledge and experience gained from my time in and around the Courtroom. Over that period of time, I have conducted hundreds of mediations as a mediator, almost all of which were resolved by the agreement of the parties. Let me be your family law mediator.

(210)-348-7600 "HELPING THEM FIND A BETTER TOMORROW" LAW OFFICE OF OLGA BROWN

FAMILY LAW

FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY

210-226-1550

Not certified in family law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization

210-446-4606 Not certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization


To my dear colleagues in Texas, a hearty hello and thank you for all that you do to strengthen families during one of their more vulnerable times. I always say, “For a child’s sense of family, what divorce breaks apart, strong co-parenting rebuilds.” That starts from the moment they enter our offices. Guiding parents into a process that best supports their needs for an outcome that considers their children’s family. What’s best for kids? Two “good enough” parents engaged in their lives and actively caring for them with safety and love. With all the emotional stress of divorce, parents need specific support to remain strong parents and not fall prey to a long list of behaviors that have negative impact on children. Healthy children will be happy children – and not necessarily the other way around. Learning to parent across to homes, keeping life integrated and children central (without getting caught in the middle or falling through the cracks) is a skill set. Here’s to our efforts to ensure that family is the focus of family law; parents get the support and guidance they need to become strong co-parents, and kids thrive as each family changes, restructures, and finds the way into a confident optimistic two-home future. Warm regards – and know it will always be my pleasure to hear from you. Karen Coach Karen Karen Bonnell, author of “The Co-Parents’ Handbook” and “The Parenting Plan Handbook.”

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ISBN: 978-1495345869

For a child, what divorce breaks apart, strong co-parenting rebuilds. "this book contains the absolute essence of practical, healthy co-parenting for two homes. sound guidance, clear protocols, and compassionate insights—a much needed resource! a “must read” not only for co-parents, but also for anyone, especially counselors, interested in how to support changing families." —Anne Lucas, MA, LMHC, Psychotherapist, Mediator, Divorce Coach, and Adjunct Faculty at Saybrook University; Past President of King County Collaborative Law

With a tested "here's how" approach, the Co-Parents' Handbook helps parents confidently take on the challenges of raising children in two homes. Addressing parents' questions about the emotional impact of separation, conflict, grief and recovery, the authors skillfully provide a roadmap for all members of the family to safely navigate through separation/ divorce and beyond. Parents discover through practical guidance how to move from angry/hurt partners to constructive,successful co-parents. The pages are chock-full of helpful strategies to resolve day-to-day issues in an easy-to-use format. This book is here to answer questions, help parents co-parent and ensure kids thrive!

Kristin Little, MA, MS, LMHC with over 17 years of experience serving children and families. Kris safely guides parents and children through the emotional landscape of divorce. She serves on the board ofthe Collaborative Professionals of Washington. (More about Kristin)

www.thecoparentshandbook.com


skillFul, child-centered parenting plan coaching at Your Finger tips!

W

e know kids do best when parents understand their children’s deep desire to stay connected to and be cared for

ISBN 978–1516917419

25 contributors from around the world bring a “chorus of voices” to the workbook to support parents with insights and inspirations in their parenting planning process

by both of them. A skillful parenting plan describes the structure, predictability and rhythm that ensure both parents can emerge from the uncertainty of

Felicia Malsby soleil, JD

separation/divorce into stable two-home family life. The agreements and guidelines set-out in

Felicia is the principle of Family Law Resolutions, PS, in

your parenting plan establish clarity about your

Gig Harbor, Washington. Her focus is collaborative divorce

responsibilities to one another, specify essential co-parenting tasks, and minimize unnecessary

and legal separation, nonadversarial matters, mediation,

conflict. Children thrive when confidence and security are present and parents think through

and consulting on all matters

parenting plan decisions, come to agreements, and implement changes to their family in a mature,

associated with transitioning couples and families. She was named the 2010 Family Law Attorney of

non-adversarial manner. Come learn with us.

the Year by the Family Law Section of the TacomaPierce County Bar Association, recognizing her leadership in establishing Collaborative Law locally, as well as throughout Washington State. (More about Felicia)

www.theparentingplanhandbook.com Streaming with downloadable workbook at www.covestream.com Workbook in paperback available at


Journal Writing Tips Teenagers involved in Divorce #1. Find a safe spot to hide your journal. #2. Write regularly. #3. Make sure to date your entries. 4. Make sure to write about your feelings, anger, sadness, or any other emotion that you might be feeling.

RESOURCES FOR KIDS


Read your journal. You will be able to answer HOW you were feeling. You will also be able to answer WHY you were feeling the way you did. 5. Connecting the dots goes a long way towards giving you self-awareness of your situation. 6. Being aware means that you can problem solve. Being aware means that you can ask for help with your problem if you don't know what to do. Brought to you by Kids First Parents Second


I am your teenage son or daughter. I have rights in your divorce. I did not plan for your divorce. I planned on having a normal teenage life full of emotional ups and downs. I planned on worrying about acne, geometry and going on my first date. I need to inform you that I have some basic rights, and I want those rights respected by both of you. Theserights include:

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.

I have the right to be left alone. I have the right to askquestions, when I feel the need to‌ I have the right to be angry and speak my mind. I have the right to notbe placed in the middle of your conflict. I have the right to be with my friends. I have the right to do the things that make me happy. I have the right to ask how this divorce is going to affect me. I have the right to both parents, and not feel that I have to choose between you. I have the right to know that you will act in my best interest. I have the right to be happy and find happiness.

Signed on this the

of 20

From your child index Having read your request, your parents plan to honor and respect your rights as a teenager in this divorce. We will give you the room that you need to heal during this painful time while providing you guidance just like we always have. We sign this bill of rights understanding that you will look to your parents for continued love and support.

Mom

Dad

48


Grandparents, aunts, uncles and teachers! Visit our Kids First Parents Second website and click on Our Path To Courage Acivity Page. Our page provides free downloads to help kids of divorce. These kids will have questions. Help them look for an answer. Our Path to Courage is designed to help kids start engaging, participating and vocalizing their feelings.

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LICENSED PSYCHOLOGIST STATE OF TEXAS SINCE 1997 Richard R. Theis, Ph.D.

Psychotherapy Custody Evaluations Psychological Evaluations Private Practice

1854 Lockhill Selma Rd Ste 102 San Antonio, TX 78213

Expert Testimony

Office:210-414-1123


"Services to protect you and your children" San Antonio Divorce Lawyer Divorce has significant personal, financial, and emotional impacts, whether the issues involved are contested or uncontested. We provide honest, straightforward legal advice and representation to clients seeking a divorce. For a free consultation on how we can help with your divorce, give our lawyers a call at (210) 308-0004 or Schedule an Appointment Online below. We have both male and female divorce attorneys. When you're looking for an experienced Family Law Attorney in San Antonio, The Law Office of Steven C Benke has that experience and knowledge which provides our clients

THE LAW OFFICE OF

Steven C Benke 4018 Vance Jackson Rd. San Antonio, TX 78213 210-308-0004

with personalized, legal services of the highest quality. Our success depends on our ability to provide excellent service to every client. If you've made the decision to seek a divorce, you've already done the hardest part. At the Law Office of Steven C Benke, we can take care of the rest!

Our attorneys handle all aspects of Divorce and Family Law in San Antonio, Bexar County and South Texas

(210) 308-0004 We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. However, contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorneyclient relationship has been established.

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