Divorce With Minimal Stress – Choose Mediation

When people decide that they are going to get divorced, some just want to get it over with as fast as possible, and others are more motivated to save as much money as possible. Some couples can barely stand to be in the same room as each other, and others are able to remain friendly.  Some couples have children,  and others don’t.  Every situation is different.

It is often perceived that divorce has to be a battleground, with one of the two people coming out as the “winner”.  Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be always be seen as a competition.  If people want to resolve things peacefully and amicably, they can do so via mediation.

Mediation is becoming much more commonplace among divorcing couples.  Here’s why:

  • More opportunity to speak and be heard
  • Resolve issues via communication vs. fighting
  • Stay out of court and keep your divorce matters private
  • Children are protected from excessive conflict
  • Greater flexibility as to when and how you will meet – you could even conveniently have conference calls or Skype
  • Avoid costs of litigation
  • Save time
  • More flexibility to decide on the terms of the divorce settlement – you control the outcome
  • Connections to other important contacts such as divorce coaches, financial specialists, and child psychologists
  • More effective co-parenting after the divorce
  • Ability to consult with mediator in the event that you need them in the future, who knows your history

If this sounds like the perfect solution for your situation, and something you want to explore further, contact Rahul at Clean Divorce in New Westminster (serving the Lower Mainland) for a FREE 20-minute initial consultation.

 

5 Key Reasons to Choose Collaborative Divorce

When people get married, they don’t do so with the thought that they may get divorced one day.  When people think of divorce, they usually think of the nasty divorces that they see play out on television and in the movies…where exes are fighting over assets and child custody.  Fortunately, that isn’t the only option.  Unfortunately, many people aren’t aware of the other option, which is Collaborative Divorce.

These are the top 5 key reasons why people choose Collaborative Divorce:

(1.) Stay Out of Court

Divorcing Collaboratively means staying out of Court and keeping your records private.  You meet privately with your spouse and lawyers to negotiate, make decisions that are best for all involved, and settle amicably. Read more here about keeping divorce records private.

(2.) Save Time

Taking a divorce to Court could potentially take years, and who has time for that?  Collaborative Divorce could take less than six months. The actual amount of time depends on each individual case.

(3.) Be in Control

Wouldn’t it be better for you and your ex to make the decisions instead of relying on a Judge to step in?  When a Judge decides what is going to happen, you can’t just go and change the outcome if you don’t agree with it.  It’s iron-clad.  That is the whole point of going to Court after all.

(4.) Make Things Easier on the Kids

If you have kids, it’s a good idea to put your ego aside and think of what would be in their best interest in terms of your divorce.  This is because divorce can be traumatizing enough without escalating the conflict even more.  It is much healthier for kids to be able to see their mom and dad working through things in a mature fashion.  This will also help them become more resilient through the changes that come along with divorce. Read more about talking to kids about separation and divorce.

(5.) Less Stress

Working together is much easier on both parties than working against each other in the adversarial Court process.  Also, with the shorter duration that it takes to come to a resolution (as compared to divorcing in Court) it also enables spouses to move on faster.  Who wants to carry all of that extra stress on their shoulders for longer than it has to be?

If you are located in New Westminster or the Vancouver area, call Rahul at Clean Divorce for a FREE 20-minute initial consultation for Collaborative Divorce.

 

How to Handle Anger that Arises from Separation and Divorce

If you are having a difficult time dealing with your spouse with regard to your separation, it may help to contact a mediator.  You may also find that choosing Collaborative Divorce over a court-based divorce can minimize the amount of hard feelings and anger towards each other. Contact Clean Divorce for a FREE 20-minute initial consultation on both of these.

There are so many different emotions that people go through during and after a separation or divorce.  It is such a huge life change, so it’s to be expected. In addition to feeling disappointment, hurt, and loss, there is also a lot of anger, which many people have a very difficult time dealing with.

Here are 5 strategies that can help you face your anger from separation and divorce in a healthier way:

1. Don’t deny your anger.

Addressing the fact that you are angry is a very positive step. Many people shut down when it comes to these hostile feelings, in hopes that they will just go away, but this usually just evolves into depression.  This anger can end up building up like a volcano – one that will eventually erupt – and that is not healthy for anyone.

It is a good exercise to ask yourself “What am I really angry about?” Make a list of all of the reasons and be very specific. Once you have done this, you can become clearer about how you can begin to let go of this anger and how much better that would feel.  The key is to try to understand your anger instead of feeding into it.  It can be really helpful to seek the help of a professional counsellor or attend anger management classes.

2. Realize that your anger can be the driving force to implement change.

Once you let go of all of the anger that you are carrying around, you can use all of that energy in more positive ways.  You can come up with a plan as to how you can better deal with future situations that stir these same feelings within you, instead of lashing out and letting them control you. We always learn best from experience, after all.  It really is your choice to hold onto the anger or let go of it.  You will be much happier if you choose the latter.

3. Don’t fear that you will lose control of your anger.

You may worry that if you face your anger and choose to let it go, that you will lose control of it.  The reality is that there probably is no basis to this concern.  Just be sure to find a safe and private place to express and vent your anger.  Ensure that you don’t take it out on anyone – especially if you have children.

4. Don’t be concerned about what other people will think.

No one knows what you are going through except you.  You have a right to express your feelings in any way, as long as you don’t harm anyone. People tend to be more embarrassed when it comes to showing their anger because it can be more frowned upon than showing sadness, for example.

5. Get regular exercise to release the stress.

The importance of exercise cannot be emphasized enough when it comes to dealing with stressful situations.  Go for a walk, a run, take a fitness class, or go to the gym.  Just do whatever you can get your heart pumping to help sweat the stress out of your system. Not only is exercise good for you physically…it is amazing for your mental health too.

Are you or someone you know contemplating separation or divorce? Call Rahul at Clean Divorce in New Westminster today.

 

Handling Child Custody Issues During Summer Holidays

Does the thought of handling child custody or parenting issues during the summer holidays make you nervous?  Well, you aren’t alone.

Summer vacation is usually the most anticipated time of year for kids, but it can be quite a stressful time for parents – especially parents who are separated or divorced.  This is because the regular routine is no longer being followed, childcare needs to be arranged, kids participate in summer activities, and families go travelling. This is another reason why it is helpful to have everything regarding summer schedules outlined in a parenting plan.  However, things may come up that don’t fit perfectly within the plan, so they still need to be worked out between the parents.

Here are 3 key things to keep top of mind when it comes to custody issues during summer vacation:

  1. Always ask yourself “What is the best situation for the children?”

Going back and forth between homes and travelling long distances can really take a toll on kids during a regular week.  Then, when you add in the extra free time and inconvenience that comes along with summer holidays, the stress and anxiety can really intensify.  For example, taking your kids on a one month vacation may sound like a great idea, but how will that affect your children?  They would be away from one parent for a great length of time, not be in familiar surroundings, miss out on summer activities, and be away from their friends.  Is that truly a “vacation”?  Kids need to enjoy their break away from a long school year too.

  1. Consider the relationship with your ex when planning.

Some parents get along fine after a separation or divorce.  This tends to make planning and organizing much easier and less strenuous on everyone involved. Unfortunately, not everyone has this luxury.

If you have a relationship that involves a lot of conflict during the regular school year, planning for the summer can be just as challenging…if not more.  These are the types of situations where a parenting plan is extremely beneficial.

If you don’t have a formal parenting plan worked out, you should still get together with each other, and ideally, with the help of a family mediator.  You will want to determine what will happen over the summer with regard to custody, vacations away, activities (camp, sports), etc.  Most importantly, you need to decide how everything will be communicated to each other – especially any changes that may arise that veer off from your negotiations.

  1. Plan well in advance.

Planning for the summer holidays cannot be done last minute.  This needs to be done as soon as possible, especially since the majority of separated and divorced parents have full-time jobs. Also, requests for vacation need to be made well in advance so parents can coordinate to take time off when the other person will be in town.

You may also need to make childcare arrangements, depending on the ages of the children. Relatives may be planning to visit that you need to schedule around too.  You will also need to pick activities that are feasible in terms of being able to get them there and also pick them up…and ensure they don’t collide too much with any travel plans.  Older children may make summer plans with friends, and they would also need to sit down with a parent to fit those plans into a schedule that works for the whole family.

Planning always makes things go much more smoothly!  It’s always better (and less stressful) to be proactive vs. reactive.  Sure, things will always come up that you can’t plan for, but planning as much as possible will make life much easier.

Consult a family mediator for help in setting up a formal parenting plan, or to negotiate how you will plan out the summer schedules, and everything that comes along with that.  You will have a much more relaxing July and August if you go this route.

For family mediation in New Westminster, Vancouver & area, call Rahul for a FREE 20-minute initial consultation.

 

 

 

 

5 Essential Pieces for Successful Co-Parenting After Separation & Divorce

Co-parenting has become a much more common term in recent years, compared to the “sole custody” in which the mother has traditionally maintained full responsibility for the children.  Co-parenting has a positive effect on children because it encourages fathers to have an equal (or as equal as possible) role in their children’s lives.  It also makes it easier for working mothers to maintain full-time employment, which is often necessary to pay the bills and support the family.

To succeed in co-parenting, there has to be full co-operation from the onset of the separation or divorce. A parenting agreement should be created to ensure that all parties know what is expected of them, and how decisions will be made ongoing.

The 5 essential pieces to make co-parenting successful are:

1. Live Within Close Proximity
If there is too much distance between the mother’s and father’s residence, it will be very challenging to properly co-parent.  Both parties should be close enough to the children’s school, activities, and friends, so that it doesn’t cause disruption or added stress.

2. Efficient Scheduling
The best schedule will minimize the number of times children have to go back and forth between homes, yet still provide adequate time with each parent.  Due to job demands, one parent may have to take on more than the other parent, but the goal should be to be as equal as possible keeping the best interest of the children in mind. This also allows for each parent to maintain their own social life.  Special occasions and holidays also need to be taken into consideration.

3. Respect for Each Other’s Parenting Styles
It’s rare for people to have the exact same parenting styles, so parents have to respect each other’s decisions, whether they completely agree with them or not.  This could include discipline, food choices, bedtimes, what they can watch on television, etc.  Unless there is a serious risk to the child, parents must resist the urge to criticize the other.  If something is not appropriate, this should be discussed among the parents when the children are not around. Appear as a team.

4. Acceptance of Each Other’s New Love Interests
After a separation or divorce, even if it ended on very bad terms, it can still be hard for one to accept that their former spouse has moved on and started dating or even plan to get remarried.  Parents need to refrain from putting down the new partner in front of the kids to ensure that they don’t feel like they have to pick sides.  It can create unnecessary awkwardness and anxiety, and no one needs to be placed under more stress in an already stressful situation.

5. Solid Conflict Resolution Skills
Parents need to be able to solve issues effectively and calmly.  It is a very good idea to have a mediation clause in the separation agreement, so when a problem arises, they can have someone to help them resolve it and move on.  Being able to constructively manage disputes is often a “make it or break it” in terms of a successful co-parenting arrangement.

Do you need to talk to a mediator to assist with your co-parenting plan ? Call Rahul.  He helps clients in Vancouver, New Westminster, Burnaby, Coquitlam, Richmond, Surrey, and area.

 

5 Common Thoughts After Marriage Separation & Divorce

Everyone has their own way of coping with divorce. This includes telling ourselves certain things that can inhibit our healing and prevent us from moving on.

Here are 5 common thoughts that newly separated or divorced people have, and why they shouldn’t:

1. “I hate not having my kids around all of the time. I feel guilty.”

In reality, everyone can benefit from free time, whether it be to get errands done, or just to have a break to relieve stress. You shouldn’t feel guilty about having time away from your kids – it can actually make you a better parent. Use this time to spend alone, with friends, working out, enjoying hobbies, and the like.  Most parents can only wish they had more time to themselves!

2.  “I’m never going to meet anyone else. I hate dating.”

Way too often (married or not), people stay with their partner out of fear that they will not meet anyone else.  This is one of the worst reasons to stay with someone.  There is always a chance to meet someone else that you can be happy with, but that will never happen if you stay in your bad relationship.  When it comes to dating, you have to be positive and patient. Not everyone you meet will be a great match for you, but the most important thing is that you are putting yourself out there and trying!  The more dates you go on, the sooner you will find someone you click with.

3. “My ex ruined my life.”

They did not ruin your life because you still have your whole life ahead of you – one that will be full of new experiences, people, and fun times.  This was one chapter of your life, and you still have the whole book to explore. Be grateful of all of the good times that you had with your ex and for everything you learned from the relationship.  It’s important to take responsibility for your part in the relationship and do what you need to do to become a happier person NOW.  That could include counselling, dating new people, travelling, meeting new people, and so on. Dwelling on the past will not help you heal.

4. “My kids will know how badly they treated me!”

Be the bigger person and refrain from talking poorly about your ex to your children.  Divorce is extremely hard for kids to experience and the last thing they need is to feel like they are caught in the middle or have to dislike your ex to make you happy.  In the long run, you will feel better that you took this approach.

5. “Everyone knows the divorce was not my fault.”

There are always two sides to every story, and it’s simply best not to care what other people think or to try to sway their opinion.  It will actually reflect worse on you if you are constantly putting your ex down.  Sure, it is one thing to vent to friends, but keep it to a minimum. Remember, the less negativity you put out there, the more people will want to be around you…and you need your friends for support!

Do you know of someone considering separation or divorce? Do you need to talk to a divorce lawyer? Call Rahul.  He helps clients in Vancouver, New Westminster, Burnaby, Coquitlam, Richmond, Surrey, and area.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tips for Stepparenting in Blended Families After Divorce

If you are divorced with kids, chances are good that you will find yourself in a blended family situation one day.  When at least one person in the relationship brings biological children into a new relationship, it can become stressful for all parties.  Not to mention the troubles that may arise when a stepparent tries to discipline their step child. It is important not to blend your families with unrealistic expectations.  It definitely takes time for everyone to adjust, and understandably so.

In a first marriage, the focus is all on you and your partner. In a second marriage, it is more about the kids.  If you try to force a “new family”, chances are, it will not work out well.  Kids of divorce can definitely take more time warming up to you than you may have hoped.  There is also the possibility of them acting out more because they are still hurt from the divorce and it can be very difficult for children to see one of their parents with someone new.  They may perceive it as someone trying to take their mother or father’s place and may also feel that if they show that they like the stepparent, that they may hurt the feelings of their mother or father.

Here are some tips for effective stepparenting:

(1) Support the biological parent

Step-relationships need time to develop.  This is not something that can happen overnight. Let the biological parent make the decisions when it comes to their child.  Leave the disciplinary role to them and just be their support system.  This will alleviate stress on both the child and your partner.  Instead, look for ways you can bond with the child such as being interested in their hobbies.  Treat this new relationship as you would a new friendship.  Find things to do together that you both enjoy.  These are the types of things that will help grow and strengthen your relationship. As the saying goes, you get more bees with honey than vinegar!

(2) Refrain from trying to be “better than” their biological mother or father

People often think they just need to find ways to one-up the child’s biological parent to get them to like them – such as buying them nice gifts or siding with the child when they are upset.  It is extremely important to never speak badly about the child’s mom or dad.  This can be difficult if your partner is at war with their ex, but children are very impressionable and will remember what you said.  Their loyalty remains with their biological parents after all.  You have to respect that connection.  You may be in a relationship with their mother or father, but that doesn’t give the right to act like their mother or father.  Just focus on being present in the child’s life vs. being overbearing or trying to be “the hero” and fix things from the hurt of the divorce.

(3) Let your partner spend quality time alone with their child

If you are always around, the child may feel like they can’t be themselves, or talk about things they really want to talk about because they may not feel comfortable enough if you are present.  They want to feel like they still have their parent … and not only when their new stepmother or stepfather is around.  This can also lead to resentment. You don’t want the child to feel like they have been displaced by someone else.  Ideally, you would encourage your spouse to do activities with their child alone on the weekends etc. They will appreciate you for being understanding and supportive vs. feel like they are being pulled in two different directions.

(4) Be loving regardless of how you truly feel about your stepkids

Every situation is different, depending on what happened to cause the divorce, how old the kids are, what type of relationship their have with their biological mother and father, etc.  Understand how hard it can be to allow a stepparent into their life…and how hard it can be to adjust to this situation.  They may come across as being disrespectful towards you and you may think that they don’t like you, but in many cases, they just don’t like the situation and that is their way of acting out.  If you react to them in a negative way, it will only create a larger barrier between you.  If you show them that you are loving no matter what, chances are much better that they will eventually come around and like you.  Remember, these are kids…as adults, it is key to set a good example and take the high road when it comes to disagreements or uncomfortable situations.  Put yourself in their shoes and be sympathetic to what they are going through.

You can develop wonderful relationships with your stepkids – it is possible and something you should strive for. You are married to their mother / father after all.  Wouldn’t life be so much better if you put the effort towards fostering healthy relationships with each other? The key is to be patient, mature, understanding, positive, and committed to making it work.

Need to talk to a divorce lawyer? Call Rahul at Clean Divorce.  He helps clients in Vancouver, New Westminster, Burnaby, Coquitlam, Richmond, Surrey, and area.

 

 

What to Do When a Friend is Divorcing

If you have experienced separation or divorce, you know firsthand how painful and overwhelming it can be.  Even if it was a terrible situation, it doesn’t necessarily make it easier to move forward – you still have to go through the healing process and adjust to life without your spouse.

Do you know how you would handle it if your friend told you that they are getting a divorce?

This is not a time for you to give your two cents, put the other person down, or pick sides.  Nor should it be a time when you put the focus on you and share your story. No two separations or divorces are the same. Also,  remember that a breakup that you may have recently experienced is not equivalent to a divorce where lawyers have to get involved and issues like child custody may need to be addressed.

You should simply support your friend by being a good listener. Understand that they will likely be unable to have full control of their emotions at this time as well – possibly getting angry or very upset at the drop of a hat.  This is a time when you have to be extra sensitive to their feelings.  Don’t take  their reactions personally.

Of course you can give advice if asked – but be sure that it is positive, constructive, and empathetic advice, delivered in a gentle and non-judgmental way. Ensure that they know you will be there for them when they need you, but if they do call on you, make sure that you are truly there for them.  Real friends are there to support each other through these types of difficult life transitions.

It is important to respect one’s privacy. Don’t drill them for answers just to fulfill your curiosity.  If they share something with you, keep it to yourself.  Having their trust betrayed at such a vulnerable time could amplify things immensely.

Staying busy is a great way to help people cope and getting out with friends is a good way to start moving on with life – so be sure to invite them out and include them in your plans.  Even if they say they are not interested in hanging out, keep inviting them – just having an invite from someone can make a person feel better and supported.  It will also make them feel good to know that they have people to spend time with when they are ready to do so.

The bottom line – you should check on your friend often and make sure that they are okay.  Offer help when needed.  When someone is going through a hard time, the smallest gesture of kindness can make a world of difference.

 

How to Help Kids Cope with the Holidays After Separation or Divorce

Getting through the holidays as a separated or divorced couple is difficult.  What makes this even more difficult is when children are involved. Divorce can be particularly hard on kids because they have to deal with two houses, two schedules, two sides of the family, or perhaps even blended families or new relationships.  People often say that kids are resilient and will be able to bounce back from situations like this quickly.  This is often said so that the parties involved feel better, but in many cases, this cannot be further from the truth. If you and your ex are having a difficult time, it is that much harder for a child.

It is crucial that you and your ex come together to develop a plan to ease the anxiety of the holiday season on your children. Ask yourself “What is truly best for the kids?” Put aside your differences and put forth 100% effort into co-parenting. Your kids will pick up on the attitude that you have towards your ex.  Showing them that you can be amicable will give them the hope that mom and dad can still be friends.

Decisions that You and Your Ex Will Be Faced with Include:

  • How much time will be spent with each parent?
  • Who will spend Christmas Eve / Christmas Day / Boxing Day / New Year’s etc. with the children?
  • Who will be buying which gifts? When will the gifts be given? Will you take your child shopping to buy a gift for your ex, and vice versa?
  • If one parent wants to leave town for the holidays, will the children accompany them?
  • How much time will the child be able to spend with friends over the holidays? (This can be especially important for older children, as time with friends can act as a great stress reliever.)

These are not the types of decisions that should be “played by ear”.  It is also a good idea to not over-do it during the holidays with visiting too many friend and family homes.  Less busy = less stress.  Instead, focus more on strengthening the relationships that you have with your children and make them feel secure.

It’s important to sit down together with your children to discuss the holiday schedule.  Emphasize that it will still be a joyous time – it will just be different.  This way, children don’t have to feel guilty for being happy when they are with one parent and not the other.  Ask them how they feel about what you have decided.  Be welcoming to their feelings, concerns, and suggestions.

Anticipate that they will have a variety of emotions.  It will help a lot if you and your ex maintain a unified front and reassure them of your love for them.  It is okay to express to them that you are sad as well because you understand that divorce is very painful.

In some cases, you and your ex may get along well enough to spend the holidays together. This can really help the kids when there is only one family gathering to attend.  However, should there be the slightest risk of conflict, this should be avoided.  You would also want to be clear that just because mom and dad are spending the holidays together, this does not mean that they are staying together. You want to avoid giving children any sense of false hope.

Find ways to replace the happy times of past holidays with new memories.  Most importantly, kids need to feel that life will go on and everything will be okay. Plus, if this is the first year after a separation or divorce, it will make subsequent years that much easier to cope with if handled well this time around.

Questions about how professionals can help separated or divorced clients get through the holidays in peace? Contact Rahul at Clean Divorce – serving clients in Vancouver, New Westminster, and surrounding areas.

8 Ways to Get Through the Holidays After Separation and Divorce

To many, the holidays are a very stressful time of year.  Add divorce into the equation and it can become a time that some people dread and want to avoid altogether.  After a separation or divorce, the holidays can serve as a constant reminder of happier times and amplify the loneliness and sadness that one may be feeling.

Here are some ways in which you may be able to relieve some of this holiday anxiety:

(1) Plan a Vacation – This may be the perfect time to get away without having painful reminders close by.  It is usually much easier to take time off from work during the holiday season. A vacation can recharge you, enable you to have new experiences, and meet new people.  It may just help you gain a better perspective of your situation once you remove yourself from your everyday surroundings.

(2) Set Goals – Make a list of things you want to accomplish over the holidays while you have more free time.  Keeping busy is a great way to keep your mind off of your troubles, and can also give you a sense of accomplishment when you complete the tasks on your to-do list.  You may have been putting some things off, and this can be the ideal time to take things off your plate and feel less stressed.

(3) Schedule “Me Time” – The importance of self-care cannot be emphasized enough. What are your favorite activities to do for relaxation?  Things like going to the spa, seeing a movie, taking up a new creative hobby, and reading a good book (all without your cell phone on) can help you relax and rejuvenate.

(4) Exercise – Even if you don’t feel like you have the energy to even think about going to the gym or taking a fitness class, it can do wonders for your mental and physical health. It is a great way to boost your confidence too!

(5) Eat Healthy & Avoid Alcohol – Eating healthy is not only great for your body, but it will enable you to get results much quicker from your time at the gym.  During the holidays, it is so easy to over-indulge, which can lead to weight gain and make you feel sluggish. And unless you can limit your drinking to a glass of wine, it’s probably best to avoid it altogether, as this can accentuate depression and create more problems.

(6) Put Things in Perspective – You are not the only person going through a separation or divorce, even though it may feel like that.  Approximately 40% of Canadian marriages end in divorce, so you are definitely not alone.  You still have so much life ahead of you and this pain is temporary. Making a list of everything you have to be grateful for will help get you in a positive mindset. Even though relationships end – remember that new ones begin!

(7) Get Support from Friends and Family – Your friends and family love you and will be understanding if you are not quite yourself during this time. They will also want to support you, but they may not know how best to do so.  Communicate with them as to what you need from them and how they may be able to help you.  You can also seek out support groups of other divorcees who are in the same boat as you and can relate to what you are going through.

(8) Create New Holiday Traditions – This is a great way to create new memories and make a fresh start.  Change is good!

Most importantly, know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  Your relationship has ended because it was not working for you anymore or serving your life in a positive way, so it can only get better from here.

It is also a great idea to seek professional help if you feel depressed and overwhelmed.  Therapy can provide you with unbiased support and skills to help you cope during the pain of separation and divorce and help you heal.

Considering divorce or already decided to proceed?  Call Rahul at Clean Divorce today! Serving clients in Vancouver, New Westminster, and area.