Category: Blog

When a couple hires a real estate broker, their goal is the same: they both want to buy or sell their house. When a couple hires a babysitter, their goal is the same: they both want to ensure the safety and well-being of their child. Likewise, when a couple goes to the courthouse to obtain a marriage license, their goal is the same: they want to get married. However, when the subject is divorce, both spouses are not always on the same page.  What happens in that situation? How does the couple proceed? Is mediation still possible?

One of the biggest challenges I face as a Mediator is not during the actual mediation sessions. That may sound odd since divorce mediation often involves disagreements about important subjects such as alimony, child-support, time-sharing, asset division, etc. The truth is that my role as Mediator begins when I am first contacted by either the husband or the wife. It is during that conversation that I first learn where both parties stand in the divorce process and, ultimately, in the desire to use mediation to resolve their issues.

Sometimes a spouse may call and tell me: “We both want a divorce and we both want to Peacefully Split and mediate our divorce so that we can save time and money.” Other times I am told: “We both want a divorce, but I want to Peacefully Split and mediate our divorce, but my spouse is unsure. How do I get him/her to agree?”

Unlike buying/selling a house, or hiring a baby-sitter, or deciding to get married, a decision about divorce is an emotionally overwhelming and life-changing decision that not only affect the husband and wife, but their children and larger family systems as well. It is a decision that couples invariably do not celebrate or view as a great and happy event.

That is why it is important to recognize the normalcy of both spouses not being on the same page about divorce and mediation. It is also important to recognize that it is okay and acceptable for that situation to exist. When I mediate with couples, often times the biggest cause of their divorce is poor and ineffective communication. Therefore, it is logical that couples deciding upon a divorce and if mediation is the best choice for them is affected by their poor communication skills with one another.

My role is not just to mediate the divorce settlement, but to mediate the party’s decision-making process about the initial decision whether or not mediation is the best option for the couple. I am able to call upon my 22 years of experience as an attorney having represented hundreds of clients over the years to respectfully and in a non-pressuring manner speak with both spouses and explain the mediation process and how, I believe, it is in their best interests to try mediation before heading-off to court.

Mediation is not for every couple seeking divorce. If you want to hurt your spouse, mediation is not for you. If you want to use mediation to cause parental alienation, then mediation is not for you. If you want to seek revenge, mediation is not for you. However, if you and your spouse want to quickly, economically and in good-faith try mediation with the goal of reaching a settlement of your divorce issues (and issues related to raising your child after divorce), then mediation via a Peaceful Split may be right for you

If you and your spouse are ready for a Peaceful Split, or if your or spouse is unsure about the process, I can be of assistance. I am more than happy to have separate conversation with each of you, or, as is my preference, a conference-call during which I can explain to the both of you the benefits of a Peaceful Split mediation. Sometimes both parties are on the same page, and often they are not. I am available to help you under either scenario.

If you are ready to divorce, want to avoid a financially and emotionally draining legal battle, and desire an economical “Peaceful Split,” or just want more information about the divorce mediation process, then Attorney and Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Mediator, Eric B. Epstein, Esq., and Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Mediator, Erica H. Epstein, are ready to assist you.  We can be reached at 954-272-8292.

 

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When someone says “I’m getting a divorce,” what images and thoughts popup in your mind? A bloody war? Anger? Revenge? Pain? Lot’s of money spent on lawyers? I’m sure there are many more that you can think of.

I believe that divorce can be obtained amicably, and that is why I focus and dedicate myself to helping couples obtain a “Peaceful Split.” Let me be clear: peacefully doesn’t mean or equate with painlessly. Divorce is invariably painful. Men get hurt. Women get hurt. Children get hurt. But, the level of pain and hurt is not absolute.

In the traditional model of divorce, a couple – who likely has difficulty communicating and showing respect for one another – files papers in court, or hires lawyers, and the battle begins. How it will end is anyone’s guess, but it often ends with no real winners but plenty of losers.

In a Peaceful Split mediated divorce, I, and, if requested, along with my wife, Erica (also a Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Mediator and expert on child development and educational issues) work hand-in-hand with the couple to resolve the issues required to obtain a divorce. For example, I guide and facilitate the couple’s negotiations over issues such as alimony, division of assets and debts, insurance, sale of the marital home, child support, shared-parental responsibility, time-sharing and educationally-related issues.

So how do two people seeking divorce work peacefully? First, it takes pre-mediation planning and discussions. I don’t believe that you can just throw two people who want to end their marriage in a room together and hope they can negotiate effectively and in good-faith. I speak with the couple numerous times prior to the first mediation session to explain the process and purpose of mediation, establish clear and reasonable expectations, and reiterate the alternative resolution possibilities. It is no different than building a skyscraper; without a solid and well-established foundation, the end result will never be straight, tall and long-lasting.

Second, in my opinion, it takes a skilled and experienced mediator who has been negotiating a variety of deals throughout his or her professional career. As an attorney with over 22 years experience, I have negotiated hundreds of deals and settlements within individuals, business and insurance companies. Learning to allow others to express themselves so they feel adequately heard, but not allowing those expressions to transform into the abyss, takes maturity and self-discipline on the part of the mediator. In addition to being a lawyer and mediator, I am also in the process of obtaining a Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. I focus on combining all of my professional skills and education to benefit both spouses in the mediated negotiations.

Lastly, it takes the ability and skill to help each spouse to understand that in the most successful negotiated agreements, neither party should feel like they truly won. Mediation is not winning and losing. If the husband leaves mediation feeling he is the victor in the process, then mediation wasn’t truly successful. Likewise, if the wife leaves mediation feeling she is the victor in the process, then mediation wasn’t truly successfull. The best negotiated mediated settlements leave both spouses feeling like they can live with the agreement, but don’t love everything about it. That really means that both parties did not get everything they desired, but got an agreement they can accept. Mediation is not about going for the win or with the goal of “all-or-nothing” results. Rather, it is a delicate process whereby two people who choose not to be married any longer (and in the case with children understand that they will forever be parents) nevertheless have a mindset that they want to end the marriage with dignity, self-respect and control over the process.

My role as mediator is to guide both spouses to a point where they can accept what I refer to as the “Both/And.” That is, the understanding that that divorce does not and should not mean that “either” Spouse One got the better of the other spouse “or” Spouse Two walked away the winner. When both feel that their divorce settlement is acceptable and they are ready to move on with their lives, I know that my job was successful.

 

If you are ready for a “Peaceful Split” and your spouse is not sure of the process, or why to even think about it, I can be of assistance. I am more than happy to speak with both of you separately, or, my preference, a joint conference call during which I can explain to the both of you the benefits of a “Peaceful Split” mediation. Sometimes both parties are on the same page, and often they are not. I am available to help you under either scenario.

If you are ready to divorce, want to avoid a financially and emotionally draining legal battle, and desire an economical “Peaceful Split,” or just want more information about the divorce mediation process, then Attorney and Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Mediator, Eric B. Epstein, Esq., and Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Mediator, Erica H. Epstein, are ready to assist you.  We can be reached at 954-272-8292.

 

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“I’m ready for a Peaceful Split.” I hear this desire often from the spouse who initially contacts me about using mediation to settle the issues in their divorce. My usual followup questions is “is your spouse on board?” This is when I hear silence or the response “I think so” or “he/she is thinking about it” or “I’m not sure.” In theory, it would be great if, at the outset, both parties were both well-informed about mediation, its benefits, its economical cost, and how a “Peaceful Split” can be so much more advantageous to their well-being of themselves and their family. However, in reality, it is often one spouse who has done the preliminary research about mediation, or has heard good things from a friend about their own experience, that is the one who makes the initial call to me.

Divorce mediation is unique when compared to mediating disputes in other subjects (e.g., business issues) because of the strong emotions involved. Couples going through divorce will experience a gamut of feelings and emotions, including sadness, anger, desperation, hate, apathy, regret, hapiness, and animous. In divorce mediation, those feelings popup when least expected, and it is my role, as a trained mediator (and graduate student in Marriage and Family Therapy), to assist the couple in balancing their strong feelings with the desire to resolve and negotiate their issues. That is a challenging task, but completely manageable. On the contrary, it is the existence of these strong emotions that can serve as a roadblock to couples even deciding on mediation as the vehicle to resolve their issues.

When spouses think about whether or not divorce mediation is right for them, they often start with the inherent bias that each wants to be the “winner” in their divorce. Of course, when one person is the “winner,” that means the other person must be the “loser.” This false belief is an impediment to mediation. As a Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Mediator, I encourage both parties to speak with me simultaneously to discuss the pros and cons of mediation. This helps to alleviate the initial “win-lose” belief that, almost always, never ends up with a “winner” declared. My belief is that if a divorce ends up in litigation, both parties lose. However, if both commit to a
“Peaceful Split” mediation, I believe that both will walk-away as winners.

During my initial conversation with the couple, my goal is to explain the following mutual benefits:

  • Mediation is basically risk-free. That is, other than the fee, neither party waives any rights they have. If mediation does not work-out, both parties can still pursue the same remedies and options they have before agreeing on mediation.
  • Mediation is confidential. Except for a few limited situations in which the law requires a mediator to breach confidentiality (e.g., allegation of child/elder abuse), whatever a party says or admits to or agrees upon in mediation is strictly confidential, and cannot be used against them in a future court proceeding. This assurance allows each party to be flexible with ideas and proposals, and immeasurably assists the negotiations. Outside of mediation, offers or admissions can often be used against the spouse in court. In mediation, this is not the case.
  • Nothing is agreed upon until an agreement is signed. Both parties have the security in knowing that regardless of what they may agree to during the mediation sessions, they can always change their mind and renegotiate issues anytime until they actually sign the Mediated Marital Settlement Agreement and/or Parenting Plan. While it may delay the mediation process for agreed upon issues consistently need to be renegotiated, it is often reassuring for spouses to know that they have the freedom to change their minds anytime up until they sign the agreements.

It is quite normal for spouses to want to be divorced, but have different ideas, beliefs and desires about how best to achieve that result. I work with couples to help them understand and accept that it does not make a difference who calls me first, or who initially thinks mediation is the best options for them. For me, what’s most important is that both spouses feel secure in choosing the mediation process, and understand that I will be strictly impartial and neutral during the entire mediation experience. My role is not to choose “winners” and “losers” nor to pressure either spouse that mediation is the only option for them. In truth, for some people, their primary goal is to seek revenge, or to cause harm or pain to their spouse, and mediation is definitely not the proper venue for that. It requires a shift in philosophy and belief to appreciate the benefits that mediation offers divorcing couples. It requires a change in their desired outcome from a goal of getting divorced and coping with a judge deciding a “winner” and a “loser” to be comfortable with the concept of becoming divorced via a process that results in a “perfectly imperfect” resolution of all issues. That is, a resolution devised of absolute “winners” and “losers” but replete with amicably negotiated issues where both parties receive benefit.

If you are ready for a “Peaceful Split” and your spouse is not sure of the process, or why to even think about it, I can be of assistance. I am more than happy to speak with both of you separately, or, my preference, a joint conference call during which I can explain to the both of you the benefits of a “Peaceful Split” mediation. Sometimes both parties are on the same page, and often they are not. I am available to help you under either scenario.

If you are ready to divorce, want to avoid a financially and emotionally draining legal battle, and desire an economical “Peaceful Split,” or just want more information about the divorce mediation process, then Attorney and Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Mediator, Eric B. Epstein, Esq., and Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Mediator, Erica H. Epstein, are ready to assist you.  We can be reached at 954-272-8292.

 

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In an ideal setting, mediation is a process in which a divorcing couple sits with a mediator and negotiates in good-faith towards a settlement that is considered by each party to be fair and reasonable. During that scenario, each person will express their goals and concerns, the other person will hear those thoughts and address them, and the process will productively go back-and-forth regarding each issue. The Mediator will explain and inform the couple about the law in Florida, and intervene on those rare occasions when disagreement arises and can’t be resolved directly by the couple.

A step-down from the idea scenario is the more common situation where the couple agree on the desire to divorce, have a general idea what they each want to accomplish and how they envision their future lives and the future lives of their children. While they will not automatically agree on every important issues, after intervention and guidance from the mediator, they will often bend their positions to enable each to give-and-take a little here and there, resulting in agreement on the issues confronting them. This type of couple accepts in principle that each will not get all they desire, and that their goal is not to end the mediation with a clear “winner” and a declared “loser.” Rather, this couple realizes from the outset of the mediation process that their goal was to both walk away as “winners”. In essence, they changed their negotiation posture from a goal of creating an agreement that each found absolutely perfect, to one that each found absolutely acceptable.

You might be thinking that such a shift requires both parties to be extremely cooperative, flexible and easy-going. While those characteristics certainly help the negotiating process, they are not required. Even in a case involving high-conflict couples, mediation can often be successful and productive – though it may take a little longer and travel a bumpier road. Working with a mediator – such as myself who has been a lawyer for over 22 years – and who has the mindset and understanding to listen past the actual words being spoken and focus on their intended meaning, high-conflict couples or individuals can effectively resolve the issues pertaining to equitable distribution and parental responsibility and time-sharing.

My goal as a mediator is to help couples, in general, and high-conflict couples, in particular, set aside – even for a moment – the anger, pain and resentment that often is the true culprit causing them lash out at one another. For these individuals/couples, effective communication is often challenging, especially when high-emotion is flowing throughout their mind and body. Research shows that when humans are faced with fear, danger or very strong, intense emotions, our natural “flight-or-fight” response takes over and suppresses our normal intellectual and executive functioning.

Therefore, I work diligently and respectfully to help couples to refocus their mindset on what is really important to each of them regarding their future and their family’s future.  Invariably, despite acrimony and hostility, for most people, the answer is emotional and financial stability for themselves and any children they might have, and an end to conflict and the negativity it tends to perpetuate. I always remain focused and committed as a mediator on helping a couple to remember that their goals is to obtain a negotiated a settlement and a secure future more than they want to fight with each other or get revenge.

One of the tools I often use to prevent couples from jumping down each other’s throats is to ask them to think, every time they are about to say something cruel, whether the statement is going to move them closer to their stated and desired goals – or is going to move everything in the opposite direction. Regardless of age, sex, nationality, race, ethnicity or religion, married people simply know how to push each other’s buttons. People we have loved and trusted (and sometimes still do) are uniquely qualified to find just the right words that cuts us to the bone, or that dredges-up every fear, insecurity, and humiliation buried inside.

Most people can restrain themselves before uttering such words. Yet, for some people, they simply cannot control themselves and constrain their behavior and words resulting from strong emotions. There is a story of a couple who were unable to bite their tongues. At every opportunity, they made those hurtful, stinging statements, and they couldn’t seem to stop themselves. The accusations cut deep – as they were intended to. She accused him of being a failure as a provider, a father, and a husband. He accused her of being a failure as a mother and a companion. They both accused each other of selfishness, wastefulness, and treachery of all kinds. It just kept spilling out. At every crucial juncture where settlement seemed close at hand, another shot would be fired, another dagger plunged. Many times the mediation was on the verge of collapse.

In those times, I often call a “caucus” – which is basically where the couple is separated and I speak with each party alone. I have noticed that almost always the level of tension, anxiety and hostility subsides quickly. In addition to being a licensed attorney and a Florida Certified Family Law Mediator, I am also a graduate student studying Marriage and Family Therapy. Two of the core principles behind the process of working with couples and families are: (1) “a person cannot not communicate”; and (2) “a person cannot not behave.” For the lay person, this may sound confusing, illogical and utter nonsense. However, when understood from a systemic perspective, it is easy to comprehend what these quotes truly mean. In any relationship of two or more people, and especially in high-conflict couples, one person’s behavior and communication is a direct result of the other person’s behavior and communication. Think of it as the proverbial ‘chicken and the egg’ riddle. With couples, no one truly can dissect a relationship to find the one instance or one moment in time when the initial behavior caused the partner’s reaction. In truth, each feeds off of the other. By separating the couple, I am able to break that cycle of communication and behavior, and allow each person to calmly and clearly think about their goals on a particular issue – and not about how they want to harm or hurt the other person.

Any relationship has conflict – even the “best” relationship or the “ideal” couple. When the realities of divorce are confronting any couple, emotions run at full blast. From sadness to happiness, fear and freedom, and love and hate, each person faces a gamut of feelings. It is unrealistic to expect that a couple, who has decided to end a marriage and live their future as two individuals, will be able to calmly and patiently sit in the same room with their soon-to-be-ex and resolve the most important issues confronting a family. However, with a trained, dedicated and understanding mediator by their side, even the most contentious issues can be worked on in a productive manner.

If you are ready to divorce, want to avoid a financially and emotionally draining legal battle, and desire an economical “Peaceful Split,” then Attorney and Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Mediator, Eric B. Epstein, Esq., and Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Mediator, Erica H. Epstein, are ready to assist you.

 

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WELCOME TO OUR NEWEST PEACEFUL SPLIT MEDIATOR

I am pleased to announce that Erica Epstein has joined PeacefulSplit as a Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Mediator. Erica has extensive experience regarding early childhood and school-age children and related issues, as well as working with families with special-needs children. Most importantly, Erica and Eric are married and combining their skills to provide mediation services to families and couples during the divorce process.

Erica received her Master’s Degree in Early/Elementary School Education from Adelphi University and was a New York City school teacher for over ten years. Subsequently, she was a licensed Pre-welcomeSchool Director at a private preschool in West Palm Beach for over seven years where she worked with over a thousand children and families.

Currently, Erica is expected to graduate in June, 2017 from Nova Southeastern University with a Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. E

Eric and Erica will be offering joint mediation to help couples going through the divorce process. We hope to provide a comforting experience for our clients going through the stress and anxiety inherent in the divorce process.

If you are ready to divorce and want to avoid the legal battle and obtain an economical “Peaceful Split,” then Attorney and Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Mediator, Eric B. Epstein, Esq., and Mediator Erica Epstein are ready to assist you.

Feel free to contact Eric or Erica at 954-272-8292, 844-4PEACEFUL or email us at eric@peacefulsplit.com.

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In heterosexual marriages, women begin the divorce process in greater numbers than men.  Why? It seems counterintuitive since we have been bombarded with messages that women, in general, want long-term, stable relationships and marriages, while men, on the other hand, are more apt to abandon relationships and move-on quickly.

According to a recent study, women initiated 69 percent of divorces compared to just 31 percent of men. Interestingly, in non-marital relationships, both men and women initiated break-up in relatively similar numbers, and mutual break-ups were common. So what is unique about marriage that causes women to more than doubly initiate the end of the relationship? Here are some possible explanations for why women initiate divorce in greater numbers than men.

1. Married Women Expect Greater Satisfaction

According to the same study, in marital relationships, women are significantly less satisfied in the quality of the relationship than men, while in non-marital relationships, both genders are equally satisfied in the level of quality of the relationship. For women, it appears that they place greater important in being satisfied in their marriages and have less tolerance for a relationship that is not meeting their level of desired satisfaction.

2. Men Are Afraid of the Consequences

Historically, men are more likely to pay alimony and child support than women. Does this cause men to fear the consequences of divorce more than women? The data is inconclusive. Sure there is a certain logic to the explanation that because men, over the course of time, have had more to lose financially than women in divorce that it might explain why men are more reluctant to initiate a divorce.  However, in modern history, the finances of men and women in the workplace has, on average, leveled-out. Today, there are many women who earn more than men and, consequently, are the ones who pay more child support and alimony. It doesn’t seems like fear of the financial implications is the likely reason behind the numbers.

3. Women Are Less Afraid of the Consequences

Today, modern women are powerful, independent and major wage earners in the marketplace. Quite frankly, they are not reliant on men for their financial resources as in the past. Consequently, women are realizing more than ever that if they are in an unhappy marriage, they have options. Where in the past an unsatisfying marriage may have been viewed as a life-sentence, today, women have a myriad of options at their disposal in terms of earning potential, employment opportunities and unrestricted access to dating potential mates. In essence, women now have the power to move on from an unhappy marriage with confidence.

Overall, men and women have varying reasons why they seek divorce.

For women, here are the top 5 reasons:

  • Male Dominance –  resulting from cultural, religious or societal reasons.
  • Infidelity – it generally takes upwards of two years of work for a couple to survive infidelity. Often times, the couple gives up trying before they’ve completed the work required.
  • Violation of Marital Duties – Sometimes, a husband may become financial unstable and irresponsible towards his family and/or children. He may also walk-out on his family, both literally and figuratively.
  • Lost Love – At its core, marriage is about a commitment among two adults to share a life together, raise a family and be “in-love.” When a spouse falls out-of-love, the marriage loses its strength and foundation.
  • Unrealized Expectations – Ever since we were children, boys and girls have fantasized about their wedding, the type of house they would live in, and the vision of their spouse. Sometimes, those fantastical expectations still remain with us when we date and choose a partner, and when “real-life” begins, the fantasies come into contact with reality. While many of us adjust our expectations to comport with our reality, others find that transition very difficult and cannot stop comparing their spouse of the “real-world” with their spouse of their “expectations” world.

For men, here are the top 5 reasons:

  • Lack of Appreciation –  when men feel under-appreciated or a lack of appreciation from their spouse of family, they tend to transform their love to resentment.
  • Financial Issues – Financial disagreements over issues such as spending, expenses, income, vacations, etc. can be very stressful to most couples, and to men especially. Given their inherent desire to provide safety and security, a perceived challenge to that instinct from their spouse or other family members can cause anxiety, resentment and disillusionment.
  • Infidelity – The only one of the five reasons listed that also matches a reason on the women’s list. That shows how great fidelity and honor means to both men and women, and how a breach of that security and trust is often an irreversible action that leads to divorce.
  • Lack of Commonality – For men, having activities and goals and pursuits that their spouse shares with them and has in common is vitally important. It is often the case that when the couple first meets, dates and get married, common interests are shared and incorporated into their daily lives. However, as time goes on and complacency takes hold, those shared common interests wane, and each party can drift to their own individual activities and interests, making the other feel abandoned and alone.
  • Sexual Dissatisfaction – For men, sexual performance and their perceived view of satisfying their spouse is key to their confidence and security not only as a husband, but as a man. When they perceive, accurately or inaccurately, that their partner is not satisfied with them as a sexual partner, their core perception of themselves can be shattered. However, rather then addressing the issue with their spouse, men are more likely to shut-down, hunker-down in their own reality, and act upon their insecurity by pulling-away or by running-away.

Regardless of the reasoning, when a man or a woman comes to the sad conclusion that their marriage must end, they have many options, none of which is inherently better or worse. However, a person must decide how they envision the process of divorce happening to them, their spouse and their family.

Do they picture it like “War of the Roses?” Do they picture worse? Hopefully, they picture it much, much better. In that case, a “Peaceful Split” divorce mediation may be the right choice for them,

As a Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Mediator and attorney practicing law for over 20 years, and as a Graduate Student in Marriage and Family Therapy, I have the perceptive, maturity and respect for the entire systemic unit to understand that regardless of your desires, the entire family system will be affected by your divorce. My desire and goal is to guide and assist you through this process is as painless a way as possible Divorce will never be without pain, hurt and anger. That is a natural side-effect of the process. But with the right guidance and perspective, you and your family can emerge from a divorce without permanent damage and with an ability to go on as a family – even as you live separate lives in the future.

If you are ready to divorce and want to avoid the legal battle and obtain an economical “Peaceful Split,” then Attorney and Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Mediator, Eric B. Epstein, Esq., is ready to assist you.

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Divorce is a traumatic event that creates upheaval in the family system and can cause a myriad of altering life changes upon children. Whether the children are young, middle aged or adolescents that feeling of ‘togetherness’ as a unit becomes ripped apart.  While you can’t control what is happening as a result of a failed marriage, you can help your children cope with the undesirable outcomes. Behavior stability may be impacted and can have a detrimental ripple on how the child functions in school, socially and in every day living arrangements.

It is vital to ensure that the children are not suffering silently due to depression or ‘out of the blue’ atypical behavior. Therefore it is recommended to stay on top of these unforeseen changes and ask questions to the adults they are surrounded by at school, coaches, and teachers. Similarly if there are any confused signals the child is receiving when in the home, it is crucial to remember to try to co-parent as best as possible. Each parent may contribute to his or her child’s outlook but a solution of remaining civil and keeping good communication should counteract this rocky relationship.

As a parent who shares custody and has a working parenting plan, it is important to monitor your own behavior around your child.  Your actions and words have a great impact on how your child perceives the world around them and what they are going through. A child may be feeling unsettled during this scary time and may act out as a result. What helps a child to come to terms with this is to be able to approach him or her calmly and ask if there is anything you can do to make your child feel more loved and secure and that both his parents are there for him/her. Being able to have consistent boundaries and rules established in both homes will safeguard the way a child relates to his environment. It may take a child some time to self-regulate emotionally, but over time they come around. Children are resilient and are able to bounce back at times. For other children they are slower at finding themselves through the chaos and may need outside help. Either way it is best to reach out to a counselor, therapists, and other mental health professional that are trained and knowledgeable regarding ways to help a child who is suffering from behavioral issues. Sometimes, a child may feel more comfortable when opening up about their feelings to a trusted individual who is not as closely involved with what is happening. Allowing a mental health professional to step in can only further help with modeling a desirable outcome you as the parent hope to obtain long term.

Parents are faced with challenges when their family has become divided. Children are dragged trough these hardships regardless of the aftermath. As a tool to consider when going through mediation is to make sure children are being monitored for behavioral concerns, being patient when approaching children about their feelings, and continuing to be a part of their life no matter what may happen

If you are contemplating divorce and want to put your children’s interest first, avoid a costly legal battle and obtain an economical “Peaceful Split,” then Attorney and Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Mediator, Eric B. Epstein, Esq., is ready to assist you. Contact him now to discuss your mediation options.

Written by Erica H. Epstein, M.A. (Early Childhood/Elementary Education). Erica was a New York City public school teacher for 12 years and a Florida Pre-School Director for 7 years. She is presently a 2nd-year Master’s Degree Graduate student in the Marriage and Family Therapy program at Nova Southeastern University and is completing her training to become a Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Mediator.

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The process of getting divorced is emotionally draining, life altering and, quite simply, often frustrating and scary.

No divorce is ever as simple as going on a first date, deciding that the other person is not compatible for you and never calling that person for a second date. Almost all divorces, whether resulting from a short-term or longer-term marriage, involve having lived life together with a person that you once loved, respected, cared about, shared life’s experiences and memories, and sometimes raised children together. Ending such a relationship has emotional and financial consequences.

Here are some useful tips on preparing for a “Peaceful Split” so that your divorce can be as stress-free as possible.

Tip #1: think deeply and honestly about why the marriage did not work.

Often times during a mediation session, each side is quick to tell the Mediator: “well, John’s actions is why the marriage didn’t work” or “Susie had an affair – it’s all her fault” or “If only Pedro did or didn’t do  ____, then everything would have been great.” Blame and being defensive are the two most common emotional reactions that cause mediations to fail. Instead of coming into the process ready to attack your spouse for “causing” the divorce, focus instead on the present situation and how best to put yourself in the position to have a “Peaceful Split.

Tip #2: communicate, communicate and communicate

Its common sense that couples divorcing generally have issues with effective and honest communications. However, if there was ever a time to use your best-efforts to communicate more effectively, it is when you both have decided to terminate the marriage. Telling your spouse “you’re a terrible father and I want our daughter with me all the time” is very different then telling your spouse “I disagree with how you handle our daughter when she misbehaves, but I know you love her. Let’s find a way to discipline her in a more cohesive way.” Remember the old saying: “you get more bees with honey than vinegar.”

Tip #3: think, think and then react.

When emotions are running at all time highs, and your life is changing in a permanent way, its easy to react first and then think afterwards. But what generally happens from this pattern is that the result is not what we expected nor desired. When you hear your spouse say something that your disagree with, or that angers or upsets you, stop and ask yourself: (i) why am I getting angry or upset? (ii) will my reaction help or hurt my chances of getting what I want? and (iii) would taking a break help me to “cool off?”

Tip #4: what do I really want?

When we are under stress, especially when dealing with someone who we may still love, but who doesn’t love us, it’s easy to get hung-up with wanting certain things just because we want them. Part of the process towards obtaining a “Peaceful Split” involves truly thinking about what is best for us versus what we just want. Don’t say you want the car or the vacation house “just because.” Having a reason why your want those things that can be articulated in a respectful manner to your spouse will enhance your bargaining position and the chances that you will end the mediation process feeling satisfied.

Tip #5: your divorce can be handled through the mediation or collaborative divorce processes even if  the two of you are not friendly or do not trust each other.

As a Mediator and lawyer who is committed to helping couples divorce without litigation (I do not litigate divorce cases), my goal is to bring down the level of stress, anxiety and apprehension that you and your spouse will undoubtedly feel throughout the process of getting divorced. Practically speaking, Mediators Mediate and Litigators Litigate. If you goal is to obtain a “Peaceful Split,” then it is important to work with a professional whose focus and commitment is to a peaceful process – and not focused on battling with your spouse in court. Who do you think really will win if you decide to fight your spouse in court?

Tip #6: speak respectfully and honestly.

As hard as it may be, try to remember that the person sitting across the table from you during the mediation process was once someone you loved. As painful as it may be to now look at that person who you feel is trying to “take you for everything you own,” Mediation is not the time and place to deal with the emotional pain and anger as it will only exacerbate the negative feelings and minimize the chances of ending your marriage peacefully.

You don’t have to be your spouses best friend anymore, nor worry about their well-being or what’s best for them. However, if you focus on keeping your emotions and speech in check, then you will most likely cause your spouse to feel and act similarly. Just picture your children or parents watching a video of your mediation session. Will they be proud of your speech and actions? Will there be things you said that you will look back on and regret? If you remain true to yourself and to the process, you put yourself in the best possible position to successfully resolve all issues facing you and your spouse.

Tip #7. friends are friends; professionals are professionals.

It’s very tempting to searching Google for advise and suggestions about your divorce. As you undoubtedly found out, there are millions of pages of data on the Internet about divorce. Often times I hear from spouses: “my friend said….” or “when my cousin got divorced, she got …” or “I heard that…”

Listening to friends and family is helpful to cope and process your feelings and emotions. They, along with trained Mental Health Professionals are best suited to help guide you emotionally through this difficult process. However, trained professionals, such as lawyers and mediators, have undergone extensive and official training and certifications in order to provide men and women, like yourselves, with professional and informed advise.

If you begin the mediation process from the perspective that you want something or feel you are entitled to something in the divorce because a friend or family member told you so, then you are doing a disservice to you, your spouse and the process. It’s fine, and I even suggest, that you think about what it is you want from the divorce, but do so from a perspective of accuracy and objectively, not from hearsay or for subjective reasons. Coming into the divorce process with reasonable, thought out expectations will put you in a powerful position for a successful resolution. Conversely, if you come into the process with unreasonable goals, all that will most certainly happen is for you to feel disappointed and reject the process.

 

Tip #8. stay focused on the goal.

The end goal of the divorce process to to terminate a marriage, divide up assets and liabilities, determine if alimony is appropriate (and the amount thereof) and provide for the time-sharing of children and their support. It is not about “getting even”, “settling a score” or “hurting” the other spouse. If these are your desires, then please do not contact me about Mediation or Collaborative Divorce.

Focus on where you see yourself in 1-year, 5-years, and 10-years. Taking a longer-term view of your future life will help keep the present in perspective. Prior to each mediation session, step out to the restroom, look in the mirror, and ask yourself “how do I want to be perceived today? What do I really want and desire today and in my future?”

Tip #9: you will experience uncomfortability and uncertainty.

When you begin the Mediation session, it is natural to think to yourself: “is this it – our whole life together is just numbers on a piece of paper?” Unfortunately, while we all like to think of marriage from the fairytale perspective of Romeo and Juliet, in reality, when divorce happens, the process involves dissolving a partnership. It is ok to question the process and ask “what will be?” You are not expected to feel certainty at this time as you life is truly being split from sharing it with another person. Once you accept that uncertainty and allow yourself to be vulnerable to the process, the process will go smoother and, ironically, you will likely begin to feel more and more certainty and comfortability.

Tip #10: never speak ill or your spouse to your children, or force them to take sides.

Respect, respect and even more respect. That should become your mantra when talking with your child about your spouse/ex-spouse. Never forget that for you, the person is not part of your daily life. But for your child, that person is their mother/father, and someone they will love unconditionally.

If you speak ill about your ex to your child, you are not only showing a lack of respect to your ex-spouse, but you child will often see you as being a disrespectful person. This is the time to teach your child about respecting others – even if we do not like that other person or think good things of them.

Never forget that you can choose to divorce one another, but your kids do not want to divorce their mother or father. In the end, you chose to get married and now to get a divorce; your children had no say in either decision. They just want to love their mom and dad. If you truly can’t be respectful to your spouse, at least be respectful to your children and allow them to simply love their parents without fear or guilt of upsetting either one of you.

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Scientific American reported that nearly 1.5 million children witness their parents’ divorce annually. As parents begin the process of legalizing their divorce, they can become consumed with the details while trying to manage their own feelings. Though children are resilient, it is important to remember that they will need extra attention during the divorce process. Here are five things that kids need from their parents during a divorce.

1. Continued presence of both parents

Studies consistently reveal that children are more adjusted, healthier and more self-confident when they have relationships with both parents. Either before or during the divorce, one parent usually moves out, which makes it more difficult to see his or her children each day. Although both parents no longer live together, a continued presence in the lives of the children is vital to their mental and emotional health. Consider the following ideas to keep in touch with your kids, even if you no longer live at the same address:

  • Drive your child to school
  • Enjoy an afterschool snack or a quick bite to eat
  • Continue to attend your child’s games, performances or other events
  • Call or text regularly

2. Someone to listen and offer reassurance

Kids’ opinions and emotions can be overlooked during tense situations. Children need to be heard. Let your child speak freely about his/her thoughts and feelings. Ask questions and try to understand how they are feeling. It is normal for a child to feel angry or mildly depressed during a divorce. Constantly reassure your child of your love for him or her.

3. Open communication

The previous tip highlights the importance of listening, while this tip showcases the value of you speaking with your children. Honest and open information should be shared with your children; if they ask a direct question about the divorce, you should answer it truthfully and with an age-appropriate response. This type of honest dialogue can go a long way to sooth a child’s anxieties.

4. New routines

During the divorce, some parents start to dramatically change their lives and schedules. As children settle into their new lives, it is important to instill new routines. Routines will help create a stability, which helps reduce anxiety in children.

5. Civility between parents

Divorces are notorious for instigating intense emotions, particularly in divorces that include custody battles. Children, however, need to see their parents model civility. This includes:

  • Positive language especially when talking about the other parent
  • Not using visitation as a pawn in legal disputes
  • Not forcing the child to choose sides
  • When parents are civil to one another, the children feel more secure, less stressed and less angry.

In an effort to keep a peaceful and amicable relationship, opting to use mediation for divorce and child custody may further help children transition to their new life.

If you are ready to divorce and want to avoid the legal battle and obtain an economical “Peaceful Split,” then Attorney and Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Mediator, Eric B. Epstein, Esq., is ready to assist you.

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