"Change, like a wedding or retirement, is  a singular event; transition, like the marriage or the rest of your life, is an ongoing process of adapting, inner transforming  and learning."

 

"In the middle of the road of my life I awoke in a dark wood where the true way was wholly lost."

- Dante  

 

"Life is much too short to stay stuck in the doldrums for very long."

 

"To your kids, it's a big deal that you are getting divorced, but how you get divorced is even more important.  Parents get divorced, but kids don't -- they need a healthy connection with both mom and dad."

 

"Life is like a 10 speed bike.  Most of us have gears we never use."

-Charles Schultz  

 

"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"

- Mary Oliver

 

"The idea is to die young as late as possible."

- Ashley Montague

 

"Perhaps your life is filled with secret possibilities you never imagined."

- Robert Fritz  

 

"I was going to stop procrastinating but I decided to put it off."

- Anonymous

 

When you feel connected to something, that connection gives you a purpose for living."

- Jon Kabat-Zinn

  

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Divorce Coaching

The chaos and upset of divorce is often profound and extended in duration.  Divorce typically occurs on at least four levels: emotionally, financially, legally--and through the "kid's divorce." Coaching can assist rebuilding and restructuring life during this long-term transition.

For Litigation Divorce: I provide coaching for issues surrounding  litigation divorce and for various concerns which can arise during post-divorce family restructuring and rebuilding.  I might assist adults in planning separation, in talking to their children, in disengaging from difficult ex-partners during litigation, or in developing effective parenting plans.  Sometimes I also assist children or teenagers in managing family changes and transitions. 

For Collaborative Divorce: As a collaborative divorce coach and child specialist I belong to the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (www.collaborativepractice.com) and remain an active member of the Association of Collaborative Family Professionals (Edmonton).  In addition to specialized collaborative training and my experience as a parenting evaluator for the Courts, I draw on 30+ years of diverse psychological practice for this work.   

 

Collaborative Divorce Coaching:

Collaborative lawyers and their clients involve me in one of several ways:

  • Individual coaching to prepare for 4 way meetings (usually when both parties have their own coach)
  • Coaching the couple relationship, also to prepare for 4 way meetings
  • Attending 6 way team meetings to provide support and assist the whole team
  • Consulting to the entire collaborative team as the neutral expert on parenting 

Outside of collaborative family law, I also often consult with parents about their parenting plans or work with one party in a divorce proceeding in order to facilitate "clean disengagement" from an ex-partner.

Coaching in collaborative divorce can assist in several ways:

  1. To manage difficult feelings
  2. To clarify personal goals and interests as you work toward your idea of a "good divorce"
  3. To "take charge" as you rebuild an independent life
  4. To learn effective strategies for communicating with your ex-partner
  5. To assist your lawyers in moving the process of disengagement and negotiation along as efficiently as possible 

Couples typically take the plunge into divorce when their relationship is badly stuck or the marriage is experienced as so personally destructive that one or both parties give up hope of successful resolution within the relationship. Collaborative divorce provides an opportunity to "do the divorce well." A successful collaborative divorce empowers both parties to disengage as cleanly as possible from the familiar old power struggles, while growing toward a new sense of identity, personal empowerment, and emotional peacefulness. 

 

Monday
Oct122009

A BRIEF GUIDE TO PARENTING PLANS

 

While separation and divorce can bring welcome relief to the tension of an unhappy marriage, the actions may also add complexity to the whole business of being a parent.  Parenting becomes even more complicated as we adults struggle to establish independence and emotional distance while also meeting the needs of our children.  Where before there was one home to coordinate and manage, which was probably hard enough, now there are two.  Both homes may be characterized by busy schedules, strained relationships, and stressed parents, at a time when children exhibit high emotional needs.  Our children aren't getting divorced.  They are likely to remain loyal and loving with each of their parents, but sometimes what they need can get a bit lost in the whole process. 

 

 

 

Here is where a good parenting plan

can be helpful, and such a plan is essential

for the well-being of our children

over the long term.

 

 

 

  It can help to:

  • Focus and organize us around our kids' emotional and practical needs.
  • Provide a basic routine for everyday life, with predictable consistency, security and stability. 
  • Reassure our children that they continue to be loved and cared for by each parent. 
  • Enable parents to rebuild trust and security by providing a practical routine and structure, at a time when trust for the other parent may be at an all-time low.

The essential backbone of a parenting plan is built around several basic topic areas, as suggested below:

  1. Guiding principles - include a few of the more essential ideas and values that parents will strive to achieve (e.g., we will treat each other with respect, civility and everyday courtesy; various parental priorities).
  2. Parenting time - a schedule for the children's time with each parent.
  3. Vacations, Holidays and Family Occasions
  4. Exchanges and Transfers - specifying where, when and how the children will move from home to home
  5. Decision-making Responsibilities - for everyday care and routines, as well as for the bigger decisions.
  6. Communication & Information-sharing - the what, when and how of essential communication between mom and dad and third parties.
  7. Health and Mental Health Care
  8. Process for introducing new partners - This area can become a big issue even years after separation, so I like to see it addressed early on.
  9. Normal Course Changes to the Parenting Plan - The needs of our children change over time, and we parents will have to adjust.
  10. Resolution of Conflicts and Disputes

This list isn't exhaustive, but it provides a fairly thorough starting point.  Parenting plans often get off to rocky starts in the first few months of separation, but we grow into them over time with some trial and error to discover what works and what doesn't.  Most families start with the bare essentials in the early stages of re-structuring, and work out the details over an extended period.  Eventually, the predictable structure and continuity of a good parenting plan helps both parents and children to feel more settled and secure.

 

I often refer my client families to other resources such as those below:

  • Google "Alberta Justice Parenting Plans" to access one of the most thorough guides available,  Critical Issues for Consideration When Developing Practical Parenting Plans for Families in Conflict: A Working Guide.  Written by Dr. Terry Pezzot-Pearce et al., a group of Calgary-based Family Law Interdisciplinary Professionals, in 2007, this publication can be downloaded for personal use, free of charge.
  • www.divorcehelpforparents.com  
  • www.emeryondivorce.com
  • Philip Stahl's excellent book, Parenting After Divorce: A Guide to Resolving Conflicts and Meeting Your Children's Needs, Impact Publishers, 2000.

 

Monday
Oct122009

CHILD INCLUSIVE PARENT COACHING

for separated & divorcing parents

  • Minimize the negative impact of divorce for your children by planning for their needs

  • Listen to the voice(s) of your child(ren), as mom and dad re-structure the family

  • Create an effective parenting plan unique to age, stage, and family circumstances

  • Build your ability to work together as parents

  • Disengage from struggles with one another as you rebuild separate lives

This 5-10 hour consultation is based on an Australian program with documented success in helping parents remain sensitive to their children's voices while the parents undergo divorce.  Direct input from children may be obtained through child-focused interviews.  Parents are then coached to develop a parenting plan in view of this feedback, together with psycho-educational input on children and divorce. This personalized process builds on the Parenting After Separation program offered through Alberta Family Justice Services.  While child-inclusive parent coaching is appropriate for many, it is not appropriate in situations of very high conflict and/or violence.

 

Parent coaching can also assist in introducing  new partners sensitively to children and ex-partners, and for managing blended family situations.

 

For this coaching, I draw on my many years experience with children and families, as well as my training in family mediation and child custody evaluation.  I am recognized as an expert witness in Court of Queen's Bench of Alberta.