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Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt Divorce No Longer Public
Jan 10th, 2017 by Families First Mediation

In a National Post article today I read that Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt have announced that they will now be handling their divorce privately, which I am so happy to hear. Read the article here: http://bit.ly/2ieTx4C

Celebrity or not, divorce should be private. Well, that’s my feeling anyways. As a family mediator I work with couples every day going through this really tough life transition.

I truly understand the need for support during this time and the need for some details to get shared with the appropriate people. Support is one thing, publicizing your divorce details is quite another.

I know some couples will do it to try to get an advantage, to have friends and family take sides or to shift some of the guilt and anger they feel. These are emotional reactions to hurt. They are not however focused on moving forward, the children or even the individuals best interests.

Angelina and Brad have found a process that works for them and say they are committed to act as a united front going forward. I always say to my clients, “You got into this together, get out of it together” – I think this is more often than not, the most effective way for families to move through a separation.

This is not a time for gossip. There are children involved and their right to be protected, supported and cared for should be paramount. Congratulations to Angelina and Brad for putting the focus back on the children and now handling their divorce privately.

Julie Gill Q.Med, CDFA

Owner and Principal Mediator

Families First Mediation

www.familiesfirstmediation.com

 

 

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

9 Tips To Bonding In A Blended Family
Jun 15th, 2015 by Families First Mediation

Think it’s tough to bond in a blended family? You’re right it can be, but there are ways to make it easier.

Due to the sheer number of divorced families it stands to reason that many couples entering into new relationships both already have children. When these families come together there are many changes that need to be considered and planned for.

Ashley and Jeff have been dating for 6 months and are talking about moving in together. Like many other couples now a days they are both divorced and have children from those marriages.

They are excited to have found each other and want to share their lives together. The children have met on quite a few occasions and seem to get along well. Ashley and Jeff really want this new relationship to work and talk at length about how best to manage it. They refer to the Brady Brunch regularly hoping that their new family will unite just like that one.

Much like their divorces, this is a transition forced on the children due to the parents needs. Ashley and Jeff know that they need to be focused on the best interests of their children during this time. They have decided to create a parenting plan to help them have conversations, make decisions and guide them through what they hope will be a successful transition into a blended family. Ashley and Jeff think that it may be a good idea to share some of their plan with their ex-partners to ensure they have a comfort level around the new people in their children’s lives. Ashley and Jeff feel that their children are old enough to have a voice and be part of the process. They are choosing to create the parenting plan through a series of family meetings. Some sections will be decided solely by Ashley and Jeff as the parents and adults, other sections will be created using feedback from the children.

Here are some tips that Ashley and Jeff are following to ensure that their transition is successful. They can work for you too!

  • Resolve your divorce first – How you manage your divorce can play a significant role in the success of future relationships. Bringing unresolved issues and emotions into a new relationship will certainly create challenges.
  • Create a parenting plan – Discuss and agree to such topics as discipline, rules, behaviour, parenting/step parenting roles. Rules should be consistent in the house and expectations as well as consequences should be clear.
  • Be respectful of the natural parents – There are roles for parents and step parents. Children will feel safe if the transition from home to home is smooth and if the parents and step parents are respectful of the other’s relationship with their children.
  • Continue the strong relationship with your own children – As you work hard to build a relationship with your step children it is often easy to take the relationship with your own children for granted. You will need to pay equal attention to your own children so that they don’t feel displaced during the transition.
  • Talk to the children – Don’t spring it on them; let them know of your intentions early on. Make sure they have a voice and that you are responsive to their concerns. Help your partner do the same.
  • Remember each child is unique – Children will adjust in their own way in their own time. Children need to develop relationships on their own…not be ‘forced’ into them.
  • Line up parenting schedules if and when you can – In order for the kids to bond they need to spend time together developing as a family. Special occasions and holidays will want to be spent together when they have bonded.
  • Quality Time – Ensure each parent spends time with their own children, with their step-children and also equally as important with each other to continue to develop and strengthen their relationship.
  • Get professional support if required – The help of counsellors or mediators may make your transition smoother.

Remember, your children want to see you happy and in a healthy relationship. You in turn want to show your children what a healthy relationship looks like. It will take some time and effort but it will pay off if you plan this transition and see it through.

Enjoy the chaos. It won’t last forever.

Julie Gill Q.Med, CDFA

Owner, 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 »

Why Is Mediation The Best Kept Secret?
Mar 3rd, 2014 by Families First Mediation

As a Mediator my role is to help people communicate through conflict, to find resolutions to problems and to actively participate in decisions.

Mediation is a fair, safe and balanced process that ensures everyone has a voice. It’s less costly than the legal process and much more efficient in most cases.

Yet I still wonder daily why mediation is not as common place as counselling or lawyers? People in conflict tend to call a counsellor (to deal with the emotional side) or a lawyer (to deal with the legal side). A mediator helps deals with the practical side of conflict which is often where the biggest problems occur. Read the rest of this entry »

5 Way Meetings – A Successful Solution
Aug 26th, 2013 by Families First Mediation

It may not be a popular stance but it is one that I whole-heartedly support. Lawyers participating  in Family mediation meetings with their clients.

5 way mediation Read the rest of this entry »

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