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A Family Is A Family – LGBTQ & Divorce Mediation
Feb 10th, 2017 by Families First Mediation

LGBTQ families and Divorce Mediation – Support for ALL families.

I had an interesting comment conveyed to me the other day and it got me thinking – yes even on a Friday 🙂

I was reviewing a flyer and wanted to make sure that the wording was inclusive. I had a concern that the way something was worded could be perceived as only relating to a male-female, mom-dad family. I wanted to ensure that my LGBTQ clients would not be or feel left out. (I am not excluding grandparents, step parents or anyone else acting in place of a parent. This flyer was intended for parenting after separation or divorce and specific issues related to that.)

The response was not a concern about the change of wording but the comment “I didn’t know that you mediated with LGBTQ clients”. Of course I do. Why wouldn’t I? “I didn’t see it on your website.”

A family is a family. No two families are the same and each has their own special circumstances. It never occurred to me to single out any specific family type and let them know that yes, I did support them. I thought by not excluding anyone, I was including everyone. Perhaps that needed clarity, I’d honestly not thought about it.

Here’s what I can say and am comfortable saying. I love working with families. During separation and divorce, I love helping them move forward. I love hearing how they are all different – their values, beliefs, how they became a family, how to raise children and how those roles can change after separation or divorce.

I don’t care if a couple is common-law or married, same sex or not. I don’t care if there are multiple parents, step-parents, grandparents, sperm donors, surrogates, adoptions or any other combination of features within a family.

Each family I work with, shares their own unique story with me. For that I am always respectful and grateful that they trust me enough to do that.

Hoping to add some clarity – Families First Mediation supports ALL families.

Julie Gill Q.Med, CDFA

Owner and Principal Mediator

Families First Mediation

www.juliegill.ca

 

How Will Your Children Remember Your DIVORCE?
Oct 26th, 2015 by Families First Mediation

Do you know the answer to the question – How will your children remember your divorce? It’s an important question and unless your children are very young they will remember it. If they are very young they will grow up with the tension or friendliness that you created during your divorce process.

couple fighting in front of kid

You have all heard the stories; fathers that have limited access to their children, parents that don’t pay support, couples that are in and out of court each time the children are brought back from a visit late, tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees and several years have passed only to end up with an agreement that doesn’t meet anyone’s needs…especially the children.

What is the common mistake that most of these parents made?

They ended up in a battle to see who would win!

(Do you think perhaps they lost focus on what was really important? The children?)

Many times differences, mistrust, emotions and/or the inability to communicate cause parents to lose focus on the children’s needs. It is essential during a divorce to separate the adult relationship issues from the parenting issues.

Know Your Goals

Do you want to reduce conflict and confusion for your children?

Do you want to keep some of the family money to be used for your new lives instead of costly legal battles?

Do you want to encourage a good relationship between your children and your ex?

Do you want to be able to go to your children’s extra-curricular activities, graduation and wedding without shooting daggers at your ex? Do you really want to make these exciting events stressful for your children?

Know Your Options

First and foremost, get informed. Read what you can on the internet, there is a great deal of information available. Use your local library as a resource. Visit the Family Law Information Centre available at many of the court houses. Schedule a consultation with a lawyer. Part of knowing your options is knowing your rights and those of your children.

Will it be a friendly divorce where you can work through the issues at the kitchen table? Perhaps a do-it-yourself kit available online will do the trick or you’d like to file the papers yourself. The advantage of course is the cost. However, it can be time consuming, confusing and frustrating.

Can you sort some or all of the issues out by yourselves? Maybe mediation is the best fit for your family. The advantages are that you pay only one professional, you have complete control over the decisions, you set the pace and it is less stressful than court. Mediation allows you to have the legal process as a fall back. This is often not a suitable option if there are significant power imbalances or domestic violence.

Maybe you feel that you are not able to negotiate with your ex-partner and require a lawyer to handle everything but you don’t want to go to court. Collaborative lawyers can help you both work through your issues under an agreement that you will not go to court. This can be less stressful and less costly than the traditional lawyer-lawyer negotiation process. If you do not however resolve your issues and you wish to proceed to court you must retain new lawyers.

And of course there is always the combative court process for divorce. Does the story below sound familiar?

Parents who spent tens of thousands of dollars on lawyers that didn’t get along. They ended up in court several times only to get adjourned with no resolution to their issues. They lost any remnants of kindness that they once had for each other. They have a great deal of legal debt and are uncertain about their financial future. They are so stressed that they have lost a great deal of weight without ever having to go to the gym!

Did you listen carefully as they told you about how difficult it was for the kids?  Mom and Dad fighting all of the time, not knowing whose house they were going to sleep at, who they could say what to or who was going to take them to hockey and swimming lessons.

The reality is that there is no one-size fits all divorce because each family and each set of circumstances is different. What works for your family may not work for another.

Creating a parenting plan, by any means, as a first step in your separation is vital to a successful separation. Staying focused on your children allows you to start communicating and making decisions within the boundaries of your new relationship.

Normally lack of trust and emotions factor into how detailed a parenting plan should be. The less trust between the parents, the more detailed the plan should be. Both parents should have a voice and communicate directly regarding what is best for the children.

Once your parenting responsibilities are sorted you can move on more successfully with other aspects of your separation.

Create a divorce transition plan that works for your family. There is no right or wrong way to go about that, plans can be as unique as your family.

How will your children remember your divorce? Well, it’s up to you. Making positive choices during your divorce is the biggest success factor for how well your children handle and remember the transition.

Julie Gill Q.Med, CDFA

Owner and Principal Mediator

Families First Mediation

DIVORCE – You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know!
Jan 19th, 2015 by Families First Mediation

Have you been divorced before?

If not, you probably don’t know where to start or what to do!

That is not uncommon.

Divorce - You Don't Know What You Don't Know

Divorce – You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

I was sitting in the hospital today with my daughter trying to get her care. She was in a car accident a couple of weeks ago and is still struggling. Today the emergency doctor asked what has been happening since the accident and wanted to know why we were there. Although I knew what had led up to our hospital visit, the honest answer I gave him was “I just don’t know what to do”. That’s when it hit me. I sound just like my clients!!!! I just wanted help.

Does this sound familiar?

  • I don’t want to make a bad decision now that will cause harm in the future.
  • I don’t know what my next step should be.
  • I don’t know what professionals I need and how to get in touch with them.
  • I don’t want to miss anything.

Sounds like everyone going through a separation and/or divorce!

As confident as I am as a mediator that I can walk people through the process, their options and connect them with the right professionals – they don’t know me. I am asking them to put a lot of trust in me. Little old me.

Then I think about, how scary it is to be in a position that you never expected, you never planned and you have no idea how to manage.  Add to that the emotional turmoil, frustration and things not moving at the speed you would like and what do you have?  FEAR, plain and simple.

Only you can decide what is right for you. When I started typing “only you” all I could think about was “Only you can stop forest fires” haha, sorry back to the point. Gathering information, making sure that you are comfortable with the information you are being given and that you only act on the information that you feel is right is what will help alleviate that fear.

I think that those of use in the divorce industry need to get much better at helping people manage that fear. With information, with empathy and with empowerment.

We help people through a huge life transition and we have the power to make it a little easier and a little better. I really want to say A LOT better and A LOT easier but sometimes that is just wishful thinking no matter how could I am at my work.

Although you may not know what you DON’T know. You do know what you DO know and what you feel.

  • Question everything.
  • Only make informed decisions.
  • Do what you feel is right in your gut or your heart; whichever one you trust more.

Just make sure you are comfortable with the information that you have gathered, that you make the best decisions based on your situation and that you can move on without feeling that you missed something.

All I can do with my daughter is my best. All you can do through your separation is your best. And YES your best is good enough.

Julie Gill

Mediator and Owner

Families First Mediation

Durham Region, Ontario

Divorce: The Best Interests Of The Children…Or The Parents?
Sep 29th, 2014 by Families First Mediation

We hear it all of the time in the Divorce Industry – decisions should be made in the ‘Best interests of the Children”. Seems rather obvious right?

note-from-amy

 

You and the other parent may have different opinions of what decisions are in your children’s best interest. You don’t agree and that’s ok. You were always going to disagree on some aspects of parenting even if you had stayed together.

You can both be looking out for your children’s best interests but believe that can be obtained in different ways. That doesn’t make either of your right or wrong, it’s just life.

Separation is change and how you manage it will dictate how successfully your children will get through it. Read the rest of this entry »

Can DIVORCE And FAIR Be Used In the Same Sentence?
Aug 22nd, 2014 by Families First Mediation

As a mediator and separation coach I hear this statement all of the time “this isn’t fair”.

As a person who went through a nasty divorce I myself thought many times “this isn’t fair”.

What is fair though? Fair to whom? Fairness is subjective and we each have our own idea of fairness. What I think is fair to me, may not what you think is fair.

Life is not fair

 

 

 

  I read this quote today and I thought it was very appropriate for this blog post,

“Fairness is protecting not only you but all who are involved.”

  Well that is a tall order!

  Protect yourself – Yup, got it.

  Protect your kids – No problem there.

  Protect your ex – Wait, what? No thank you.

 

Read the rest of this entry »

Divorce – Should I Keep The House? Emotion vs. Logic
Jul 31st, 2014 by Families First Mediation

Divorce and keeping the house, an important factor in any divorce settlement.

You are getting separated, it doesn’t matter whether you are married or common-law, 30 or 55, things are about to change.

1 large piece of that change puzzle is the house. It’s the place where you shared your hopes and dreams and spent a great deal of time and money. You intended to raise your children there or did raise your children there. Let’s not forget that other than the pension it is usually one of a family’s greatest assets. What to do with the house is a big decision that you and your ex will need to make.

Divorce and keeping house

 

 Should you keep it? It was your dream house after all and you didn’t kill this  dream!

 Maybe your ex should keep it? That way they will figure out how much  time and money goes into maintaining it!

 Sell the house? I can’t afford to keep it and if I can’t have it, neither can my  ex!

Read the rest of this entry »

DIVORCE – Having Your Day In Court.
May 8th, 2014 by Families First Mediation

I hear people say all the time that they don’t want to deal with their ex to sort through separation issues. Sure, I can relate to that. In some cases, specifically where there is domestic violence, power imbalances or an unwilling party, court is a necessary evil. But for the others that say “when a judge hears my side…”, “I will take you to court so that you never see your kids”, “I will convince a judge that I should get everything”, I just cringe. These are statements made by people that are hurt but not well informed.  Read the rest of this entry »

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