Should you have a Marital Settlement Conference?  5 Reasons it’s a bomb.

The language in family law is so deceiving.  A marital settlement conference (MSC) is not a conference and it is not even a pleasant meeting.  The MSC is just as deceiving as the phrase family law itself.  It sounds friendly, but it really is one of the worst industries that developed in the 19th century and a MSC is no different.  It is not family oriented and there is no mediation involved in a MSC.  Family law’s mission statement should be something like this, “Judicial process to rip families apart physically, emotionally, mentally and financially.  Diminish all dignity of parties involved, especially if it’s a contested divorce.  If there are children, ignore them as much as possible and focus all attention on what the parents want versus what is best for the children’s upbringing, best interest of the children doctrine is only used to be politically correct.”  Family law courts truly do not care about anyone, everyone is a number.  Knowing what family law truly is, try to avoid a marital settlement conference bomb and agree to settlement outside of court, see an attorney for legal language and get it notarized.

There are valid reasons why the marital settlement conference is a bomb.  It is costly.  It is inconsequential. It is long.  It is unstructured.  It is surprisingly legal.  However, there are many things that occur in family law that are shockingly legal, so the MSC is no different.

Take note of the 5 reasons the MSC is a bomb:

#1 It is costly: If both the petitioner and respondent have legal representation it is going to be a hefty bill.  Attorney fees can cost anywhere between $150 – $450 per hour.  That’s $3,600 in one day (an MSA can take 2-4 hours) and there’s no guarantee an accurate decision will be reached.  Attorneys ARE NOT mediators, I REPEAT, attorneys ARE NOT mediators.  Very few attorneys will be conscientious with how they are spending your dollars – yes, every time you are with them they are spending your money.  Once a tentative decision has been reached during the discussion period or attorney manipulation fest, the judge will go along with whatever the attorneys say whether it is accurate or not.  Emotions are intense during this period so neither the petitioner or respondent are thinking clearly – the attorneys take advantage of the situation.  Remember that’s why attorneys are in family law to begin with, they are good at manipulation, they like competition and they have a real knack for confusion especially if it benefits them (disguised as a benefit for their client of course).

#2 It is inconsequential: No final decision is reached.  The MSC does not mean an automatic marital settlement agreement or final divorce decree.  Even the hearing itself cannot be used to finalize asset division with any organization or bank.  The MSC does put negotiations on the record; however, without a signature NOTHING is final, especially if the information is inaccurate.

#3 It is long:  The discussion period happens right before the hearing.  At the hearing, everyone goes before the judge and the attorney(s) will read what was agreed to during the discussion period.  Remember the discussion period is a session of back and forth of no real resolution so near the end both parties are pressured to decide on some aspects of the case whether the decision is in both parties’ best interest or not.  Attention fatigue occurs quickly after 18 minutes to an hour of intense discussion, so neither party is in a state of verifying all the information that is being tossed back and forth after 2-3 hours of discussion.

#4 It is unstructured: Every attorney goes about this their own way.  Each party is supposed to submit an MSA brief which outlines what is supposed to be reviewed and decided on; however, this brief is purely procedural rather than followed.  Asset division should have a template division for common assets and there should be zero confusion as to where and what should be divided in a community property state, but that is not the case.  There is in fact, no structure which allows the attorneys more leeway to do their own thing inevitably adding to the stress of the situation instead of making it better.

#5 It is surprisingly legal:  This is the biggest bomb indicator of them all.  It is legal; however it shouldn’t be legal to have a MSC without a final divorce decree attached or at least some neutral party mediating the discussion and verifying all information.  If the MSC is filled with inaccurate information, the MSC becomes useless and those inaccuracies must be addressed later which takes more time and more money.

It is uncertain how family law exists as it does.  There are many unhappy divorcées from the process; however, everyone complains, but nothing seems to be done.  Many complain about the outcome of their divorce and very few take the time to dissect why the outcome came about and even less go to their senators to get laws changed or to put laws in place.  Whatever you do, AVOID the marital settlement conference.  If you can convince your broken half to go through mediation to get EVERYTHING decided, do it.   The MSC is a costly inconsequential long unstructured process that’s unfortunately legal; stay clear of the bomb.

Divorce Agony – The Wild Horse

If your divorce has lasted longer than a year, you will eventually stumble upon divorce agony.  There are so many emotions that are wrapped up in divorce.  I have described them as an emotional jungle and the 5 stages of grief, but once your divorce hits the long-term divorce mark such as over a year you will eventually reach divorce agony.  When you have been in a period of prolonged pain that twists your insides into new shapes, this feeling is agony.  The pain is intensified if the estranged spouse is an abuser (neglectful, emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, etc.).

Divorce agony is like a wild horse confined to a cage and looking out to see a beautiful green pasture beyond its reach; the longing to be free is a desire that goes unsatisfied.  Confinement creates a sense of claustrophobia.  Things are cramped.  Space is closing in.  Turning around and around, but there is nowhere to go, but to stand in the same place looking out from the same viewpoint.  Sweet scents come in on the breeze which provide some minor relief; however, no real resolution to the situation.  There are moments when freedom seems obtainable; maybe someone from the outside looking in gives a glimmer of hope, however the moments are short lived and quenched quickly with reality.

Divorce with children is that reality in a contested divorce.  Divorce with children are those steel bars that do not seem to go away.  Children themselves do not create the steel bars that pin in the wild horse that longs to be free, the courts do.  The divorce industry calls these steel bars coparenting.  These steel bars are the constant reminder of the divorce state of your life.  The issues that caused the divorce in the first place are still active and relived through coparenting and regular interaction with the person that caged you in the first place which creates agony.  Coparenting itself is not the problem; however, the system does not customize coparenting according to relationship challenges.  Happy coparenting cannot and will not exist in a contested divorce, do not be fooled.  Also, it is common for a divorce to morph from an amicable divorce to a contested divorce very quickly when emotions run hot, be very careful there is no way to predict the outcome or plan for this switch.

Everyone will respond to divorce agony in their own way.  If you are susceptible to substance abuse, stay clear of any situation that will expose you or tempt you.  Do not let divorce agony impact your relationship with your child or children.  If you can afford counseling consider it and schedule it.  If you cannot afford counseling find an outlet, so that you are not facing this dreadful emotion alone.  By joining a divorce group, talking with friends, starting a new hobby, writing or journaling you can better cope with divorce agony and tame the wild horse.

Going Pro Se in an Attorney’s World – 5 Things to Remember at Settlement

Going pro se or representing yourself in a divorce is not for everyone.  Family law is a division of the Judicial Branch that is not governed like criminal law.  In fact, there is very little information online that clearly explains how and when family law started in the first place and why it is structured the way it is.  The American Bar Association, only talks about how family law has changed since the 1930’s; however, there is nothing from an average search on a search engine that talks about family law in the 18th or 19th century.  Family law is in fact the Wild West for anyone that has not gone to law school.  This is not a family friendly system as the name implies.  It is ruthless.  It is cunning.  It is one of the greatest money-making schemes of America that somehow slipped through the regulatory cracks.  Certainly there are attorneys that graduated from law school expecting to make a difference in the lives of broken families; however, the reality and ambiguity of the actual job probably hit half of them in the face like a ton of bricks once they started practicing law for a law firm.  Too much ambiguity fosters lying and corruption.  If you are going pro se or decide to represent yourself, you need to know what you are up against when your divorce is happening in an attorney’s world.

#1 The more liberal the state the more grey area and the more liberty the attorney has to stretch the truth. You must over prepare for everything when you divorce in a liberal state (if you divorced in a conservative state, please share your experience); because attorneys are not held accountable to the truth.  Even with preliminary and final declarations of disclosure which list all your assets, the opposing side’s attorney can play dumb when negotiations are on the table.

#2 Know at least some laws that support your proposal in settlement.  Know the laws of your state.  According to, The No-Fault Divorce Toolkit by Daniel Sitarz published in 2009, the following applies to property distribution (please validate all information before making decisions, laws change everyday and below is a summary for each no-fault state).

What really matters is how each state defines the factors for property division.

You will notice identifying distribution as community, equitable or title is not the same across the United States, community distribution in one state is different than community distribution in another state. What really matters is how each state defines the factors for property division.

Alabama  –  “equitable” state – the judge can decide what happens to property and it does not have to be split 50/50.

Alaska  –  “equitable” state – the judge can decide more than just property

Arizona  –  “community” state and separate property is retained by the owner of the property

Arkansas  –  “equitable” state – if the judge sees one spouse has been unfair, the judge can divide things unequally

California  –  “community” state – if one spouse does not declare all property the judge has liberty to divide property unequally; there’s provision for the spouse that sacrificed for the spouse that received education allowing hire earnings; and each spouse is responsible for their own debt. Additionally, separate property must be in writing, if not it is quasi-community property or community property. Code; Sections 2502, 2581, 2601, 2602, 2620, 2621, 2623, 2625 and 2641

Colorado  –  “equitable” state and separate property is retained by the owner of the property

Connecticut  –  “equitable” state and takes everything into account when dividing property

Delaware  –  “equitable” state with separate property defined and there are custodial provisions

District of Columbia (WA DC) – “equitable” state and all separate property retained

Florida – “equitable” state and separate property is called non-marital property, any property acquired before marriage, lots of factors go into equally dividing property and there are guidelines for setoffs and credits

Georgia – “equitable” state and no rules regarding separate property or other considerations

Hawaii – “equitable” state and no rules for separate property and some factors

Idaho – “community” state and defines separate property and marital misconduct is a factor in dividing property

Illinois – “equitable” state and separate property before marriage is retained and other factors are considered

Indiana – “equitable” state and all property is divided justly (no specific rules) and marital misconduct is not considered

Iowa – “equitable” state and all property is divided – even property owned before marriage and lots of factors are considered

Kansas – “equitable” state and all property is divided – even property owned before marriage and other factors considered

Kentucky – “equitable” state and any property acquired before marriage is separate property and some other factors considered

Louisiana – “community” state and separate property before marriage and gifts/inheritance during marriage remain separate and other factors considered.  The spouse filing for divorce gets a material possessions advantage.

Maine – “equitable” state and separate property is defined with some factors also considered

Maryland – “equitable” state and spouse retains separate property before and during marriage and some other factors considered

Massachusetts – “equitable” state and all property is divided and some other factors considered

Michigan – “equitable” state and all property is divided with some factors

Minnesota – “equitable” state and the best provision for separate property includes 4 factors; all other property is divided without fault and some factors are considered

Mississippi – “title” state with no other property division rules; however leans equitable in court

Missouri – “equitable” state and separate property remains separate and there are exceptions to marital property after marriage and other factors

Montana – “equitable” state and all property is divided and other factors considered

Nebraska – “equitable” state and separate property retained and some factors considered

Nevada – “community” state and all separate property retained and no factors listed

New Hampshire – “equitable” state and divides all property with lots of factors

New Jersey – “equitable” state and separate property is retained and there are lots of factors

New Mexico – “community” state and separate property retained if acquired before marriage, all other separate property requires written agreement and no factors

North Carolina – “equitable” state and includes 4 factors for separate property like Minnesota and lots of other factors

North Dakota – “equitable” state all property is divided and no factors

Ohio – “equitable” state and separate property retained, plus any money from lawsuit/personal injury

Oklahoma – “equitable” state and separate property is anything owned before marriage and/or gifts/inheritances and a few other factors considered

Oregon – “equitable” state and all property is divided and some factors considered

Pennsylvania – “equitable” state and separate property retained and lots of factors considered

Rhode Island – “equitable” state and separate property retained except earnings from separate property during marriage and lots of factors considered

South Carolina – “equitable” state and separate property retained and lots of factors considered

South Dakota – “equitable” state and everything is considered equitably (no specific rules for separate property) and some factors considered

Tennessee – “equitable” state and separate property retained (4 factors like MN & NC), marital home is seen as better for parent with physical custody and lots of factors considered

Texas – “community” state and separate property is retained (3 factors) and community property is everything else including property acquired during marriage and few other factors

Utah – “equitable” state and all property is divided equitably and no factors

Vermont – “equitable” state and all property is divided equitably and factors defined

Virgina – “equitable” state and factors listed for separate property and other factors listed

Washington – “community” state and factors listed for separate property

Wisconsin – “community” state and gifts/inheritance considered separate property with factors and marital misconduct counts

Wyoming – “equitable” state and all property divided and some factors considered

#3 Sometimes the court will provide a mediator if the opposing side orders a Marital Settlement Conference (MSC).  This mediator can be a practicing attorney or a retired attorney, either way they are there to convince you what the other side is saying should be done.  They are not there to mediate.  You cannot contact them after the mediation.  They do not take notes.  They are strictly there to speed up the decision and they typically side with the opposing attorney’s view point.

#4 After every hearing, be sure to go to the clerk and request the minutes for the hearing.  The opposing side is not obligated to be courteous in any way.

#5 If you see something on the court minutes that does not represent what happened or you understand it differently. File a motion with the court to correct the issue and do not wait.

It is not easy going pro se.  Judges and attorneys alike engage in mudslinging, belittling and intimidation to put the pressure on and indirectly convince you the only way to proceed is with an attorney by your side.  Let the antics roll off your back and keep your eye on the goal.  Defend your rights.  If you have questions ask the court facilitators or setup consults with attorneys.  Whatever you do, do not attempt to represent yourself without putting forth the effort it requires, you will get run over. Remember these 5 things before settlement: over prepare, know the laws that support your position, do not depend on the court mediator, always retain your own court minutes after a hearing and file a motion with the court to correct any issues from the hearing.

Celebrity Divorce News – What Would You Do?

True love is supposed to last forever.  Marriage is supposed to last until death do us part.  There are some feel good relationship stories that stand the test of life’s circumstances; for example, the model that was severely burned and her devoted husband that remained by her side through all her surgeries.  He still married her after the accident and they are still married today.

A longtime favorite comedian actor, Ben Stiller, and his actress wife, Christine Taylor recently announced their divorce.  A divorce after 17 years of marriage and 2 beautiful children.  Tragedy can make a couple stronger or it can rip the couple apart at the seams.  Judging by his interview with Entertainment Tonight, it seems as if Ben Stiller’s prostate cancer and cancer removal put the nail in the coffin.

There are plenty of discussions among the blogging community about sex in a relationship and after years of marriage it takes effort and intention to keep the passion alive.  Faced with a tragedy such as cancer, would you choose to keep your passion alive or end it, hoping to save your life?  Any spouse would not dare ask the other to put their life in jeopardy to sustain their traditional sex life as a couple, or would they?

3 Ways to Rise Above Abuse in Relationships, Divorce & Childhood

Abuse is probably more accurately described as the human condition.  Relationships and divorce act as catalysts that make the abuse remnants bubble to the surface.  People that go through a divorce face the flawed human condition head on.  These interactions are cyclical.  Past child abuse in whatever the form impacts the developing brain and as adults without mindfulness spills over into all relationships especially those who are close to us.  It’s imperative that we ALL rise above relationship abuse, divorce abuse and child abuse.

Rising above something that is difficult to identify personally or something that usually is an involuntary response to environmental stressors is almost impossible to do without help.  The brain is one of the most complex organs in the human body and brain surgeons are still stumped by most of its functioning.  Do not under estimate the power of awareness; the ability to redirect thought processes, and reprogramming learned (subconscious or conscious) behavior.  Eventually everyone is affected by abuse indirectly or directly; know how to help someone when they need help and know how to help yourself.  The first step in helping everyone with abuse is acknowledging there is a problem and having the willingness to work together to address the problem (if you are facing life threatening abuse call 911 immediately and extract yourself from the situation).  Leave the blame game at the door, shed the negativity jacket and take off your angry shoes.  Listen.  Talk slowly.  Allow others’ input without feeling their input is a put-down or a disrespectful interruption.  Rising above is absolutely critical if you are a parent.

  1. Everyone needs to acknowledge there is a problem. Avoiding a problem makes the problem worse.  Avoiding a problem seems easier on the surface; however realistically avoidance leads to more dysfunction – the relief you get by avoiding is a lie and only temporary.  If avoidance is used as a solution, the problem will manifest itself in a multitude of ways down the road.
  2. Everyone needs to take RESPONSIBILITY. If you have not been abused directly, you will eventually come across and interact with someone who has been abused.  If you have been abused directly you will have triggers that bring up past experiences that impact your present relationships.  DO NOT LET YOUR PAST control your present (easier said than done).  People that have not been abused directly have a responsibility to everyone in their lives to rise above and lead by example.  It is your job to be COMPASSIONATE.  It is your job to LISTEN.  It is your job to CREATE A SAFE PLACE for interaction.  People that have been abused, may not remember their past or why they feel the way they do in certain situations.
  3. Everyone needs to check their emotions. Everyone has moments of weakness.  It is critical to stop the cycle of abuse by being present and recognize when these moments are unfolding.
    • Are you unusually irritable?
    • Are you experiencing level 10 anger?
    • Are you abnormally tired?
    • Do you have a short fuse?
    • Do you flinch when certain things happen?

If you or someone articulates they are struggling in the above areas and you recognize it and/or hear them say it, STOP and LISTEN.  Neutralize the situation by being calm and sympathetic.  Reacting appropriately in these situations creates stronger relationships.

Practicing the 3 ways to rise above abuse in your personal life will break old patterns and restore equilibrium.  If you are a parent have your children practice these as well, so they can react appropriately.  In some cases, abuse may be extreme and these 3 ways to help will not be enough in your circumstances, do not pacify your situation or explain your situation away.  Reach out for help from your local community.  Do not isolate yourself from others.  Do not only reach out to one person.  One person will not have all the answers and it is good to have support in all areas of your life.  End the crazy cycle of abuse, you will be a trailblazer in a world where everyone typically lives for themselves, rise above abuse in ALL relationships by acknowledging the problem, taking responsibility and checking your emotions.

Guard Against the Derailed Divorce

Divorce may seem to be an effortless way to cut ties with your spouse, but be very careful you do not put your children in harm’s way during the process. Your children could be at risk for Emotional/Psychological Abuse, Physical Abuse, Sexual Abuse, Neglectful Abuse and Sexually Exploited Abuse.

Making the decision to divorce is one of the toughest decisions people face in life.  Even when people are in abusive situations the decision to divorce does not come easy.  Divorce requires a lot of planning.  The person who leads the divorce march must accurately project future circumstances like financial security for the duration of the divorce, future living arrangements, assess current living risks, understand the impact the divorce news will have on the other party, the best scenario possible for your children and anticipate the emotional roller coaster that will ensue from divorce kick-off to divorce closure.  To be real, very few people cover all the bases and at times the emotional roller coaster can get derailed.  A derailed emotional roller coaster during a divorce is problematic for the children and puts your children at risk for abuse by you, by your estranged spouse, siblings or even from predators that seek children who are feeling lonely, unwanted, etc.

The first step in preventing this abuse from occurring is knowing and understanding the distinct types of abuse.

1. Emotional/Psychological Abuse

2. Physical Abuse

3. Sexual Abuse

4. Neglectful Abuse

5. Sexually Exploited Abuse

In some relationships, elements of these may already be present on a surface level – abuse is occurring, but not occurring enough to be identified as a problem or occurring only behind closed doors so no one really has any insight about the issues other than the people directly involved.  It’s terrible to think that children are exposed to this behavior at all, but the fact of the matter is child protective agencies receive millions of reports a year in the United States, a report of child abuse is made every 10 seconds.

What is Emotional Abuse?

It is the most difficult abuse to detect, especially by the parties engaged in it. According to the book, Understanding Child Abuse & Neglect by Cynthia Crosson-Tower there is a distinct pattern of psychically destructive behavior which includes: rejecting, isolating, ignoring, terrorizing and corrupting.  As you read this you may have some shocking realizations that this has happened to you in your life, your family or your marriage.  When a parent rejects a child they do so by dismissing the child’s worth or minimizing the child’s needs.  For example, never feeling “good enough” to be loved by the parent would be considered rejecting.  When a parent limits the child’s social engagements, outside communication and makes the child solely dependent on them this would be considered isolating.  When the parent plops their child in front of a television/phone/tablet all day as the babysitter, does not interact with the child, does not teach the child and stunts the intellectual development of a child this would be considered ignoring. Constant berating, verbal assaults, creating a climate of fear and making the child believe the world is out to get them would be terrorizing and finally, an example of corrupting – the adult encourages damaging behavior such as watching violence or witnessing a drug deal.

Children that experience emotional abuse grow up to be adults that have difficulty recognizing or correctly identifying the emotions in others and have trust issues.

Emotional/psychological abuse is probably the most prevalent in families and especially families of divorce.  Children that experience emotional abuse grow up to be adults that have difficulty recognizing or correctly identifying the emotions in others and have trust issues.  The idea of empathic deficiency comes from this article, “Linkages between Childhood Emotional Abuse & marital satisfaction: The mediating role of empathic accuracy for hostile emotions” from the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health.  This can also explain why some people more readily divorce than others.

What is Physical Abuse?

This is any type of physical hurt inflicted on another; however, it does not include the form of discipline like spanking.  If spanking leads to bruising, the spanking goes beyond discipline and can fall into the physical abuse category.  The medical community identifies physical abuse as battered child syndrome (BCS).  Physical abuse can be prevalent in a divorce, because the stress can lead to learned coping strategies like indulging in alcohol which increases the likelihood of abuse.  Some family and friends may not be able to handle the separation and could disassociate themselves with the divorcing parties, making the divorcing parents feel even more isolated during the most stressful time they have ever experienced in life.  If people have less reliable relationships for support, the stress can boil over onto the children.  Additionally, if the couple goes through the court process with attorneys there is an additional financial strain on the relationship which also adds fuel to the already smoldering fire.  The dynamics of each person should be considered as well.  If either spouse has abuse in their background (it could be unknown by both parties – the brain blocks bad memories); this increases the chances of abuse as well.  If you were raised in a military family, especially if one parent was deployed or served during wartime; there could be abuse in your history.  Take note: having children can be a trigger for you if you have abuse in your history.  Anyone can identify the behavior warning signs of abuse.  If you see children that exhibit certain behavior it could indicate they have been exposed to an abusive situation.  Babies could have a shrill cry or do not cry at all.  Young children show no expectation of being consoled.  Children end up having a low self-esteem and very little confidence in their own abilities.  Some children can start regressing by wetting the bed, using baby talk and sucking on fingers.  Other children could have stuttering or speech problems, ADHD/ADD or general acting out.

What is Sexual Abuse?

Any sexual violence, exposing any sexual act to children (this includes inappropriate touching, seducing, precarious situations, testing the child’s boundaries, showing images, etc.).  There are two types of sexual abuse intrafamilial abuse and extrafamilial abuse.  Concerning child abuse, intrafamilial (incest between members in the nuclear family) abuse is much more common than extrafamilial (non-family members) abuse.  Over 90% of the time the abuser is someone the child knows (Crosson-Tower, 2014, p. 115).  When there is incest in a family it does not automatically make the perpetrator a pedophile.  There’s also some theories of covert incest where there is no touching involved.

What perpetrators fail to realize is that there are consequences beyond a court of law for their actions.

When there are marital problems and the spouse is no longer fulfilling the needs of the other spouse or one spouse rejects the other, some people turn to their children for comfort as a coping mechanism.  What perpetrators fail to realize is that there are consequences beyond a court of law for their actions.  Mia Fontaine from the Atlantic put it this way, “Incest is the single biggest commonality between drug and alcohol addiction, mental illness, teenage and adult prostitution, criminal activity, and eating disorders. Abused youths don’t go quietly into the night. They grow up—and 18 isn’t a restart button.”  Divorce triggers feelings of rejection, loneliness and loss; be sure to teach your children what is appropriate and what is inappropriate, because they will not be under your supervision while they spend time in another household and divorce by nature is a stressor that triggers people to act out of character.

What is Neglectful Abuse?

Neglect is an act of omission.  When a child is neglected physically it could be as simple as sleeping instead of giving the child dinner.  Another example, if there is more than one child in the household, parents may often lean on the older children to perform their parental duties such as feeding the children, bathing the children and nurturing the younger children (this is called parentification); because the divorce situation becomes too much for them to handle the responsibility.  Divorce is notorious for causing depression and if there are young children involved depression can occur very easily in both parents; because the mother is recovering from giving birth.  If the mother is not treated for postpartum depression, the depression can last much longer and could be described as continued postpartum distress.  This scenario sets the stage for neglectMedical Neglect can occur as well if the parents fail to get medical help when the child needs it (this does not include missing immunizations or well child care visits). Neglect can happen in mature families as well.  Families with older children may take their older children’s independence for granted and forget they need to be extra attentive during a divorce not the latter which falls under Emotional Neglect.  If anyone decides to keep the children from school for an extended period of time or fails to notice their children’s absence from school – that’s Educational Neglect.  Ask friends and family for help and support if you are in this phase of life.

What is Sexually Exploited Abuse?

People are tricked to believe they are in a mutually loving relationship and the relationship gradually progresses beyond their control and they are coerced to perform sexual acts in exchange for money.  Single parent or divorced households struggle financially and under stress some people resort to doing things out of character to cope with their situation.  Rebekah’s story is a good example.

Divorce may seem to be an effortless way to cut ties with your spouse, but be very careful you do not put your children in harm’s way during the process.  Your children could be at risk for Emotional/Psychological Abuse, Physical Abuse, Sexual Abuse, Neglectful Abuse and Sexually Exploited Abuse.  Divorce changes a person to their very inner core.  Divorce is a refining fire.  For some that means the heat will uncover strengths the person did not know they had, make them a better parent than they were before and allow them to self-reflect on their mistakes so they are not repeated in the future; however for others it will send them on a downward spiral and possibly change them for the worst (there are always those middle ground people too, that continue with life maintaining status quo unchanged).  If attorneys are involved in the divorce, the attorney will reflect the person they represent in most cases.  Unfortunately, just like anything in this world the tools of law can be used to help or hurt a situation be sure to think before you act with any request for order or paperwork filed, because whatever you do you are indirectly affecting your children for the good or for the bad.

If you suspect a child is being abused please call the National Child Abuse Hotline 1-800-4-A-Child, you can report anonymously and you could save a life.

Family Law – The Desert for Raw Emotions

If you’re considering divorce, please reconsider. Make your spouse a priority, work on your marriage and above all avoid the Family Law desert, especially if there is no abuse in your marriage.

The best deterrent to ending your marriage is the Family Law system.  Family Law itself is the greatest punishment inflicted on married couples in their lifetime.  Of course, married couples don’t realize the doom that awaits until they decide to divorce.  The person looking for the divorce wants to immediately end whatever disruption that is in the marriage by severing the relationship with the other person; however, this feeling to separate to end the pain of the relationship does not justify the divorce, but demonstrates that person’s inability to cope, adapt, change and most of all forgive and bounce back.  In cases of abuse it is much different.  Often the one being abused doesn’t divorce, because they are controlled by their abuser or they think it is against their religion.  The brave punching bags (people that are at the mercy of their spouse’s fists or flying objects, verbally abusive words, psychological games and abuse, neglect or isolation or withholding stimulation such as conversation for extended periods of time), these people are extremely tough victims that have the courage to file for divorce.

Abusers rarely file for divorce because they like controlling their victims and divorcing defeats their sick passion for control or domination.  If they divorce there is no one left to control, belittle and put down to make themselves feel better (abusers have low self-esteem).   In some cases, the victim can convince their abuser to divorce them if their abuser is extremely concerned with public perception or the abuser is hiding something they do not want public.  The abuser will sometimes file to have perceived control over the outcome of divorce thus giving them the upper hand or saving their reputation.  Many states have adopted no-fault divorce to keep the situation surrounding the divorce quiet; however, if you’re married to an abuser they will be sure to use their abusing tactics whether or not the state is no-fault, so be forewarned, abuse does not go away in a divorce or during the separation process it just takes on a different form.  Liberal states do not care about abuse in a divorce case unless there are criminal cases attached and the abuser has a criminal record.

The Family Law system is incredibly broken.  Some states like Mississippi still do not have no-fault in their divorce proceedings; however, recently they passed a Domestic Abuse Reform bill according to The Clarion Ledger – Part of the USA Today Network.  However, even this amendment doesn’t account for numerous kinds of abuse that occur in families (neglect, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, etc.).  Additionally, what if there is ongoing abuse of the children within the relationship by one spouse?  In liberal states, the courts do not care unless it is so bad there is a criminal case and conviction.  Best interest of the child doctrine is only used loosely in liberal states and IS NOT LAWBecause best interest of the child is not law, judges are not required to follow it.  Absurd, right?  Child Protective Services or Child Welfare Services or all the other state variations that name the agency that steps in to supposedly prevent child abuse (every state and even county have a different child abuse prevention agency), will only get involved if the situation is bad enough to remove the children from both parents.  The general consensus is, “keep the children in the home, because the foster care system makes things even worse.”

Men, if your wife is deranged and you can see your children have been neglected; however, your wife has no criminal background you will not get sole custody of the children.  Women, if your husband is abusing you and the children and there is no criminal documentation of the incidents you will not get sole custody of the children.  Men and Women who have zero abuse in your relationship, please DO NOT go to court and claim there is abuse.  One of the main reasons men and women in abusive relationships are not protected by the system, because people are notorious for lying and duping the system to one-up their spouses.  DO NOT be these people, you are hurting others indirectly and you are hurting your children if you have children.  Divorce elicits a number of jungle emotions that are unhealthy for a family which is another reason why divorce should be your last resort if there’s no abuse.

If you’re considering divorce, please reconsider.  Make your spouse a priority, work on your marriage and above all avoid the Family Law desert, especially if there is no abuse in your marriage.  If you are in an abusive relationship, get out.  There are many resources online that can help you define whether you are in an abusive relationship; Family Services is one of many.  Some abuse can be mended with counseling; however, unless the abuser truly finds God or there’s an act of God that makes the abuser change, like they get struck by lightning or have a near death experience the likelihood of change on their own will either be a trap (manipulation) or behavior modification that will only last for a season.