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Divorced Moms: A Few Father’s Day Do’s and Don’ts

father's day

 

As a single mother on Father’s Day, sometimes it can be a little lonely when the children are not by your side, but it is essential to recognize the importance, in your children’s eyes, of spending time with their father – particularly on Father’s Day.

Just as on Mother’s Day, when, as it should be, the mother is properly recognized for all of her contributions to the family, it is equally as important that the children are able to spend time with and recognize their father on their special day.

A Few Father’s Day Do’s and Don’ts

In order to help prepare for not spending time with your children on Father’s Day, here’s a helpful guide of “Do’s and Don’ts” that I have found to be useful in my consultations with clients on the topic of Father’s Day and visitation when the parents are separated.

It should go without saying these suggestions apply equally to Mother’s Day when the children are spending time with their mother, but since Father’s Day is rapidly approaching, we will start from there. So without further ado, here is my helpful list of do’s and don’ts for a single mother on Father’s Day:

Do’s for a Single Mother on Father’s Day

  1. Do encourage your children to spend time with their father on Father’s Day. Keep any negative feelings to yourself until after the children have left so that they can enjoy a guilt-free day with their dad.
  2. Do step aside for the day and allow the father to shine, even if only for one day.
  3. Do make sure your children – if they do not reside in the same geographical area as their father, or if Dad is deployed or working overseas – contact and speak with their father. If possible, connect them through some video conferencing, Skype, Facetime, or a similar application that allows the children and their father to see each other while they’re talking.
  4. Do have the children create a Father’s Day card and/or encourage your children to make a homemade gift for their father.
  5. Do take time for yourself and enjoy some quality time with your family or friends. Make plans that don’t involve the children, such as brunch, a movie, or a spa day with friends.

Don’ts for a Single Mother on Father’s Day

  1. Don’t make plans or schedule other activities on Father’s Day that would deprive the father of the opportunity to spend time with the children on Father’s Day.
  2. Don’t disparage or otherwise denigrate Father to or around the children. This tip should apply year-round – not just on Father’s Day
  3. Don’t prohibit the children from spending time with or contacting Father on Father’s Day.
  4. Don’t allow the children to dictate the terms of their timesharing with Father over Father’s Day.
  5. Don’t despair: Mother’s Day occurs in May, so make sure these same do’s and don’ts apply for your special day when it comes around each year!

While certainly not an exhaustive list, I hope these do’s and don’ts will help to provide some guidelines on how best to handle – and ensure a smooth timesharing experience for your child – Father’s Day after divorce.

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The Value of Divorced Dads: On Father’s Day And Every Day

divorced dads

Lessons of love always begin in childhood with the parent/child relationship. If children feel authentically loved by a father they will grow up knowing how to love others.

 

Father’s Day is just another day around my house. My father passed away13 years ago and my ex-husband has no relationship with our two sons. I was blessed with a loving father who earned celebrations every day of the year.

My boys, bless their hearts, ended up with the kind of father that perpetuates the old stereotypes about deadbeat dads. I’ve been divorced from their father for 19 years, during that time I’d venture to say that 90% of the time he has been a no-show when it comes to fathering.

When I began this article I was stumped, what can I, a mother whose sons don’t have a father say to divorced dads on Father’s Day? I then realized that the absence of their father has taught me quite a bit about the importance of fathers in a child’s life. Not just on Father’s Day but every day.

Whether you have full custody, 50/50 custody or you are an every other weekend Dad, when your little ones give you a gift and card this Father’s Day it isn’t because you are special to them on one day but, because you add value to their lives every day.

A Divorced Dads Value on Father’s Day and Every Day:

Showing up:

Showing up in spite of a difficult visitation schedule or conflict with your ex teaches your children persistence. If you continue to be involved in your children’s live after divorce, engage in quality time with them regardless of how little quantity, you are teaching your child that when something is important to them, it is worth pursuing with persistence. What a wonderful lesson to teach!

They learn they matter:

You not only teach your children that they matter but, by example, you teach them that what they do matters. You showing them that they matter teaches them to care about others. You teach them that actions, words, and deeds are the true measure of a person when you show up and you show them they can trust your actions, words and deeds.

You give them someone to go to:

If they are hurting or confused over a problem they know you are available. You make a difference when they are down and out. By being there for them, you teach them to be there for others. You have a direct impact on how empathetic and compassionate they become.

You impact their ability to learn:

Children with involved, caring fathers have better educational outcomes. Fathers who are involved and nurturing with their children impact their IQ scores as well as cognitive abilities, verbal skills, and intellectual functioning. So, show up as often as possible because you are raising geniuses!

You impact their mental health:

Children with good relationships with their fathers are less likely to experience depression or exhibit disruptive behavior. Boys with involved fathers had fewer school behavior problems and girls have higher self-esteem. In other words, by showing up you teach your boys the importance of proper behavior and your girls to never settle for that ne’er-do-well boy that every father fears.

You teach your sons how to be good fathers:

Fathering involves commitment, self-sacrifice, integrity, and unconditional love. Responsible fathers are concerned with the well-being of their children, and their desire is to see their children succeed in all areas of life.

Nurturing your relationship with your sons trains them “up right,” as my grandmother used to say, it educates them and fosters healthy development. Do this for your sons and your grandchildren will be rewarded with loving, attentive fathers.

You teach them how to love:

Lessons of love always begin in childhood with the parent/child relationship. If children feel authentically loved by a father they will grow up knowing how to love others. The ability to give love is directly related to the love we receive, especially during childhood. Showing up and filling your children with love will play a huge role in the kind of romantic relationships they involve themselves in as adults.

And that is just the short list! Raising two boys on my own has taught me a lot about the value of a father. Working through the years with clients and hearing from fathers via email, I know that my ex-husband is not representative of the vast majority of divorced dads.

We hear a lot about single and divorced moms but very little about divorced dads. We place value on the mother/child relationship and at times dismiss the father/child relationship. It is my wish on this Father’s Day that divorced dads know that, although others may not be paying attention, their children are.

They are waiting for your phone call, watching out the window, looking for your car, counting the days until your next visitation. They are eager to see you, share their lives with you and love you. And every time you show up your value to them increases tenfold.

If you are a divorced dad who shows up, every day spent with your children feels like Father’s Day to them.

So, Happy “Father’s Day” today and every day.

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What Happens To Men Who Defy Divorce Court Orders? NOTHING!

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What Happens To Men Who Defy Divorce Court Orders? NOTHING!

Over the years, I’ve spoken to many women whose ex-husbands were defying divorce court orders to pay child support. What most of them have learned when they take their ex back to court for contempt is that judges rarely throw a deadbeat in jail. They threaten to do so, but in my opinion, it isn’t often that a judge will follow through on a threat.

Not enforcing a court order undermines a woman’s ability to care for her children. For some reason though, a judge seems more concerned with how being jailed will negatively affect a deadbeat father. It isn’t only child support orders that aren’t enforced — in the Family Court System, it’s any order.

In September of 2014, my former husband and I finally went back to court on the post-majority expense issue and another issue having to do with housing. My ex was ordered to pay 93% of our son’s college expenses. He angered the judge by behaving arrogantly so the judge retaliated by slamming him with 93% of the expenses. However, with grants and scholarships, my former husband would have only had to pay a couple of thousand dollars a year. It wasn’t like the man was going to go broke helping his son with college expenses.

The judge also ordered him to follow through on the agreement he had made with me for housing dating back to September of 2010. The judge did something that I thought was very odd. He read into the court record what he had ordered and then he told both lawyers to get together and come to an agreement on how the order would be worded. Once the lawyers had come to an agreement, the judge would write the order and sign it.

My lawyer immediately contacted my ex-husband’s lawyer trying to come to an agreement on the wording. That wasn’t an easy task. When a man has been ordered to pay and do things he doesn’t want to do, his lawyer will drag his feet because the last thing he wants is an order signed by a judge.

I had a son in college who wasn’t getting any help from his father with his expenses and the housing issue was hanging over my head. I was constantly stressed over not knowing from one day to the next if I was going to lose my home. Nine months later, I was still stressed out.

Finally, after motions by my lawyer and threats from the judge, we had an agreement on the wording. In July 2015, the judge signed an order, nearly ten months to the day after we had gone to court. It was an order that my former husband never had any intention of following in the first place.

Shortly after leaving the marriage, my ex developed a sense of entitlement. Having children to care for emotionally and financially no longer fit into his agenda. He did the least he could do as far as supporting them and obstinately refused to do more even though it had been court-ordered. What he has done to them emotionally would cause the hair on the back of your neck to stand up.

He scoffed at the July 2015 court order just as he had all the other court orders. He was court-ordered to sign mortgage documents on a substitute home for his children. Instead, he went out within days of getting the order and signed mortgage documents for a home he was building for himself. It was a blatant snub and he got away with it.

I took him back to court for contempt of court…once again. The judge yelled at him and threatened to throw him and his lawyer in jail that day. The judge ruled from the bench in February of 2016 telling my ex that he had 60 days to comply with the original decree of divorce, which had been written in September 2010 or he would go to jail.

My ex never saw the inside of a jail and never will because judges don’t enforce court orders. To hell with those annoying written laws, the laws that mandate a judge punish someone for defying court orders. It’s those unwritten laws that determine what really happens when defiance occurs and nine times out of ten, nothing happens.

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Maddie’s Story: How I Fell In Love With a Narcissist

fell in love with a narcissist

I fell in love with a narcissist and lived to regret it.

 

The night we met, the moment I saw him, I wanted to get to know him. He didn’t make a move, though. Every time I smiled at him, he smiled back. I caught him looking at me several times but, that was as far as it got.

Connie and I left and went to another local bar. We sat at a table with friends and were talking. Within a few minutes, I looked up and saw HIM and his friends walk in and sit down. They sat next to an empty table. Connie and I got up, went out the back exit and back in through the main entrance. We sat at that empty table next to where he and his friends were sitting.

I was determined to have at least a conversation with him and, where there is a will, there is a way. I was determined to make it happen. You have no idea how many times I’ve asked myself since that night why I didn’t just let it slide. If wishes were horses, this beggar would be riding a damn fast one!

When we sat down next to his table, he felt the movement and turned to look. He saw me and a HUGE smile swept across his face. With that smile, he sealed the deal and I welcomed him in with no awareness of what that would mean for our children and me.

He was easy to fall in love with. He dropped a love bomb on me that no woman could have resisted. Unless, of course, she didn’t care for dimples and blue eyes.

What do I mean by love bomb, think flattering comments, tokens of affection, or love notes on the mirror, kitchen table, or windshield, or, flowers sent to my workplace. He pulled out all the stops. Within a month I couldn’t imagine life without him. I was full throttle in love.

What were some things he did to reel me in?

He was a jeans and T-shirt guy. I liked my men buttoned down. He went out and purchased 6 Izod buttoned-down shirts.

At least twice a week he would drop by work to take me to lunch.

Every time we got in his car he would reach over and buckle my seatbelt.

If I left his apartment in the middle of the night to go home, he’d give me time enough to get home and call to make sure I was there and safe.

He told me I was beautiful but not often enough that it would sound manipulative or cheesy.

He loved my friends and family. He genuinely appeared to enjoy their company and was always willing to spend time with them.

He shared his life with me. I didn’t have to dig for information about him, he readily volunteered it. He entertained me with stories of growing up with 8 brothers. He shared with me what it was like living in a mining community in Alaska and fishing for Salmon on a big fishing boat. He had led a life of adventure. I was a small town girl whose head was turned by phrases like, “I’ll take you there sometime.”

We planned our first sleepover, and he picked me up and took me to a local department store. He purchased new sheets, pillows, and a comforter and duvet. “Only the best for my girl,” he said. Imagine that? He wasn’t just thinking about getting in my pants. He wanted me to feel comfortable and cozy while he was in my pants. That’s the kind of shit that will make a girl swoon.

Two of my favorite things back then were Dr. Pepper and Snickers candy bars. On Valentine’s Day, he gave me a dozen roses and a gift basket with a dozen Dr. Peppers and a dozen Snicker’s bars. Imagine that, he had been paying enough attention that he knew my favorite soft drink and candy bar.

If I liked Chinese food, so did he. If I like riding Rollercoasters, so did he. He liked EVERYTHING I liked. I like romantic comedies, guess what, so did he. I loved John Grisham books, low and behold, so did he. I bet if I’d told him I like Herpes he’d have done whatever he needed to gift me some Herpes.

His father and brother came to town to visit him. He insisted I be part of all their plans.

He marked his calendar down to my birthday and made sure I knew that he was going to make it special. He told me I deserved to feel special, and “you just wait, your birthday is going to be something else.” And, he was right, he pulled out all the stops.

He was the most caring and giving lover I’d ever had. His focus was on satisfying me and making me feel cared for during sex. It was true lovemaking. Or, it was to me anyway.

He was like a fantasy, a gift of a man.

A man I had never imagined. You can’t fathom that kind of attention, affection, and love. Thoughts of a man like him didn’t lurk in the shadows of my mind because I had no idea such a man was possible. I felt like a 4-year-old who’d been given permission to eat a bowl of sugar.

We dated for a year. A year filled with comfort when he held my hand and feelings of security when he would verbally include me in his future plans. As an adult child of an alcoholic father, he gave me everything I’d ever craved. And then I became pregnant.

That’s when I was devalued, got my first taste of what it’s like to be on the wrong end of a Narcissist

To be continued.

Maddie’s Story Part I

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Why It’s Hard To Leave a Narcissist

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When we fall in love, it’s natural to become attached and form a romantic bond. But once in love with a narcissist, it’s not easy to leave, despite the abuse. Although you’re unhappy, you may be ambivalent about leaving because you still love your partner, have young children, lack resources, and/or enjoy lifestyle benefits.

Outsiders often question why you stay, or urge you to, “Just leave.” Those words can feel humiliating because you also think you should. You may want to leave, but feel stuck, and don’t understand why. This is because there are deeper reasons that keep you bonded unlike in other relationships.

Why it’s Hard to Leave a Narcissist

Narcissists, especially, can be exceedingly charming, interesting, and enlivening to be around. Initially, they and other abusers may treat you with kindness and warmth, or even love bomb you. Of course, you want to be with them forever and easily become dependent on their attention and validation. Once you’re hooked and they feel secure, they aren’t motivated to be nice to you. Their charming traits fade or disappear and are replaced or intermixed with varying degrees of coldness, criticism, demands, and narcissistic abuse. (See “Narcissus and Echo:  The Heartbreak of Relationships with Narcissists.)

You’re hopeful and accommodating and keep trying to win back their loving attention. Meanwhile, your self-esteem and independence are undermined daily. You may be gaslighted and begin doubting your own perceptions due to blame and lies. When you object, you’re attacked, intimidated, or confused by manipulation. Over time, you attempt to avoid conflict and become more deferential.  As denial and cognitive dissonance grow, you do and allow things you wouldn’t have imagined when you first met. Your shame increases as your self-esteem declines. You wonder what happened to the happy, self-respecting, confident person you once were.

Research confirms that it’s common for victims to attach to their abuser, particularly when there’s intermittent positive reinforcement. You may be trauma-bonded, meaning that after being subjected to prolonged belittling and control, you’ve become childlike and addicted to any sign of approval from your abuser. This is referred to as Stockholm Syndrome, named for hostages who developed positive feelings for their captors.

You’re especially susceptible to this if the relationship dynamics are repeating a pattern you experienced with a distant, abusive, absent, or withholding parent. The trauma bond with your partner outweighs the negative aspects of the relationship. Studies show that victims of physical abuse on average don’t leave until after the seventh incident of violence. They not only fear retaliation, but also the loss of the emotional connection with their partner, which can feel worse than the abuse.

Additionally, codependents, who are usually preyed upon by narcissists and abusers, often feel trapped and find it hard to leave any relationship. They can be loyal to a fault due to their codependency.

After You Leave a Narcissist

Narcissists and abusers are basically codependent. (See “Narcissists are Codependent, too.”) If you distance yourself from them, they do what it takes to pull you back in, because they don’t want to be abandoned. Narcissists want to keep you interested to feed their ego and supply their needs (“narcissistic supply”). Being left is a major humiliation and blow to their fragile self. They will attempt to stop you with kindness and charm, blame and guilt-trips, threats and punishment, or neediness, promises, or pleas―whatever it takes to control you so that they “win.”

If you succeed in leaving a narcissist, they usually continue their games to exert power over you that compensates for their hidden insecurities. They may gossip and slander you to family and friends, hoover you to suck you back into the relationship (like a vacuum cleaner). They show up on your social media, try to make you jealous with photos of them having fun with someone else, talk to your friends and relatives, text or call you, promise to reform, express guilt and love, ask for help, or “accidentally” appear in your neighborhood or usual haunts.

They don’t want to be forgotten but keep you waiting and hoping. Just when you think you’ve moved on, you’re reeled back in. This may reflect their intentional spacing of contacts. Even if they don’t want to be with you, they may not want you to let go or be with anyone else. The fact that you respond to them may give them enough satisfaction. When they contact you, remember that they’re incapable of giving you what you need.

You might feel guilty or tell yourself that your ex really still loves you and that you’re special to him or her. Who wouldn’t want to think that? You’re vulnerable to forgetting all the pain you had and why you left. (See “Why and How Narcissists Play Games.”) If you resist their attention, it fuels their ambition. But once you fall into their trap and they feel in control, they’ll return to their old cold and abusive ways. Only consistent, firm boundaries will protect you and disincentivize them.

How to Leave a Narcissist

As long as you’re under their spell an abuser has control over you. In order to become empowered, you need to educate yourself. Come out of denial to see reality for what it is. Information is power. Read up on narcissism and abuse on my website. If you’re unsure whether you want to leave, take the steps in Dealing with a Narcissist to improve your relationship and evaluate whether it’s salvageable. Regardless of your decision, it’s important for your own mental health to redeem your autonomy and self-esteem. Take these steps:

  1. Find a support group, including a therapist, 12-Step group, like Codependents Anonymous (CoDA), and sympathetic friends―not ones who bash your spouse or judge you for staying.
  2. Become more autonomous. Create a life aside from your relationship that includes friends, hobbies, work, and other interests. Whether you stay or leave, you need a fulfilling life to supplement or replace your relationship.
  3. Build your Self-Esteem. Learn to value yourself and honor your needs and feelings. Develop trust in your perceptions and overcome self-doubt and guilt.
  4. Learn How to be Assertive and set boundaries.
  5. Learn how to nurture yourself. This is a life skill and also insulates you from abuse. See “12 Tips to Self-Love and Compassion.” Get the Self-Love Meditation.
  6. Identify the abuser’s defenses and your triggers. Detach from them. On my website, get “14 Tips for Letting Go.”
  7. If you’re physically threatened or harmed, immediately seek shelter. Physical abuse repeats itself. Read about the cycle of violence and actions to take.
  8. Don’t make empty threats. When you decide to leave, be certain you’re ready to end the relationship and not be lured back.
  9. If you decide to leave, find an experienced lawyer who is a family law specialist. Mediation is not a good option when there is a history of abuse. See “Do’s and Don’t’s of Divorce.”
  10. Whether you leave or are left, allow yourself time to grieve, build resilience, and recover from the breakup.
  11. Maintain strict no contact, or only minimally necessary, impersonal contact that’s required for co-parenting in accordance with a formal custody-visitation agreement.

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Being Friends With Your EX: 7 Reasons It Doesn’t Work

being friends with your ex

 

While it’s normal to want to undo the past, being friends with your ex usually doesn’t work out. It’s a noble endeavor to want to be a friend to a former spouse but it can fuel your child’s reconciliation fantasies and prevent both adults from healing and moving on with their lives.

It’s especially problematic for the person who was left – or the dumpee – because having regular contact with the person who rejected them can make a person feel confused or give them a sense of false hope. On the other hand, the dumper would probably admit to feeling guilty upon seeing their ex regularly or worry that they are sending the wrong message.

When my marriage ended, I had the misconception that two good people (myself and my ex) should be able to stay friends after our divorce. In my case, I was looking for closure – but soon realized that letting go of the reasons why our marriage dissolved was a healthier decision. I also came to terms with the fact that I didn’t need to have all of the answers to why my marriage failed in order to move on.

There are many reasons why people strive to be friends with their ex after a breakup or divorce. Certainly one of the main reasons is that they have unfinished business that they hope to resolve. Our they may want to keep the non-intimate part of the relationship going because they have caring feelings toward their former spouse.

Erin, a 40-something teacher confides, “I couldn’t understand why two civilized adults couldn’t visit with our kids and hang out like friends. But Jason told me it hurt him too badly because I broke it off and he was reminded of his pain every time we got together.” This experience is a common one for the dumpee who might feel  –especially hurt if their ex has a new partner and they don’t. It can add salt to an open wound that has not had sufficient time to heal.

Guilt Can Drive You Towards Being Friends with Your Ex

Another reason why people want to stay in close contact with a former partner after a breakup is guilt. Sometimes the person who is the dumper feels guilty about leaving the relationship, especially if they were unfaithful, and they want to remain friendly with the dumpee to help to ease their guilt. In this case, counseling with a qualified therapist is a more effective way to deal with these leftover emotions.

Further, some individuals keep their relationship alive because they hope for reconciliation but they don’t necessarily acknowledge it. According to Susan J. Elliott, author of Getting Past Your Breakup, “Examining your quest for contact and being honest about your real intentions will help you stop making excuses to make contact.”

Conner, 48, reflects, “I did all I could to keep in touch with Karen with the hope that we could fix things and one day get back together – even though I knew she was in love with someone else.”

7 Reasons Being Friends with Your Ex Doesn’t Work:

  1. Most of the time, a post-breakup friendship is a setup for further heartbreak, especially for the person who was left and probably feels rejected.
  2. It does not give you or your ex time to grieve the loss of the relationship or marriage. Like all losses, the breakup of a long-term relationship or marriage causes people to go through various stages of grief. In order to heal and move through anger, denial, it’s essential that individuals have the emotional and physical space to do this. Trying to maintain a friendship may extend the healing process.
  3. You need to forge a new identity: After a breakup, it’s essential to lose your identity as a couple and to return to who you were as an individual, rather than half of a couple.
  4. It can cause confusion for your children. It’s normal for most children to experience reconciliation fantasies and seeing their parents spend time together (social events, holidays, etc.) can cause them to long for their intact family. Children benefit from parents who are collaborative but not necessarily friends post-breakup.
  5. You might not have been true friends and it’s problematic to start now. Sometimes, especially when there are children involved, a person may feel pressured to preserve a friendship that never existed or that disappeared during your marriage. So just say “no” and remain cordial to each other.
  6. You need energy to “take care of yourself” and to form new relationships. Maintaining a close friendship with an ex (especially if it’s emotionally or physically intimate) can delay this process.
  7. Acceptance is the final stage of grieving the loss of a loved one, according to Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, and a post-breakup friendship doesn’t facilitate this process.

At some point, it’s important to accept the breakup of your marriage and come to a place of “it is what it is.” These anecdotes from bloggers help to explain how acceptance and setting boundaries with your ex can facilitate creating a new chapter in your life.

Katie, a 30-something high school counselor reflects, “When I broke it off with husband Kyle, he took it very hard. I thought that if we stayed in touch and hung out sometimes, it would help him adjust but it only made things worse. I let my guilt and his feelings of rejection be the driving force rather than common sense. It took him years to get over our breakup and I was left feeling even more guilty because of the pain I caused him.”

Justin, a 40-year old accountant shares, “It just didn’t work for Heather and me to remain friends. It got complicated without three kids and they felt more confused when we tried to get together. Then when I started dating Susie, they didn’t like her and kept talking about wanting their mom and me to get back together. It wasn’t fair to them and I didn’t want to give them false hope.”

Truth be told, it’s a great idea to be civil and cooperative with your former spouse – especially when you have children. Being allies with your ex can help children adjust and thrive post-divorce. That said, maintaining a friendship with your former spouse probably won’t allow you both to move on with your life after a divorce. Giving yourself time and space to regain independence and a sense of identity will serve you and your children well in the long run.

This article first appeared on DivorceMag.com

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How To Fight Back When Your Spouse Quits His Job During Divorce

spouse voluntarily quits his job during divorce

 

It is a scenario that plays out over and over again in divorce courts everywhere.

You took care of the home during your marriage while your spouse made the money.  When it became clear you were heading for divorce, you discussed your case with a lawyer, who told you that you had a “classic” alimony case.

Then out of the blue, your spouse lost his job.  Now, your spouse’s position is that alimony is not appropriate because the money is not there.

If this has happened to you then take action immediately.  While most State laws will put a burden on you to prove that your spouse is voluntarily unemployed, the divorce courts provide you with all the tools you need to succeed.

Below are the four steps you must take when your spouse quits his job during divorce.

Pull Your Spouse’s Tax Returns to See Total Income Earned When Working

If you and your spouse filed jointly, then you can pull your tax returns yourself in less than 15 minutes.

Simply go online to the IRS here: www.irs.gov/Individuals/Get-Transcript. . or simply google “Pull Tax Transcript”, and click on the IRS website.

You will be prompted to create a username and password on the IRS website, and you will be asked private questions to confirm your identity.

Once complete, you can simply download a PDF of your Record of Account transcript, which will provide all of the information you will need.

If your spouse filed separately, then your attorney will have two options to get the tax returns from your spouse.  Preferably, your spouse will simply comply and turn over a copy of the requested returns.  If your spouse is being difficult however then it will be easier to have the Court force the Husband to execute an IRS Form 4056-T and go directly to the IRS to pull the statement.

Gather Your Spouse’s Previous Employment Records with a Subpoena

Now that you know exactly what your spouses reported income, you want to dig further into the employment file.

You will be looking for additional income and benefits as well as nature and reasons that your spouse is currently unemployed.

Your attorney can get this information by sending a simple subpoena to your spouses’ former employer requesting his file.

Because unemployment compensation is a real issue for businesses big and small, employers usually thoroughly document the details surrounding an employee’s’ exit.

You are looking for records that show your spouse either left his or her job voluntarily or that the poor performance by your spouse that led to termination coincided with the divorce.

Frequently, the employment file provides slam dunk evidence when a spouse leaves a job to tactically help his or her divorce case.

Gather Your Spouse’s Medical Records

Is your spouse claiming an inability to work for health reasons?

While this is a common tactic in alimony and child support cases, you can swiftly and quickly debunk this claim by requesting authorization for release of medical records.

Simply, you will ask your spouse to sign a document allowing your attorney to pull any and all medical records related to his or her ability to work.

And if your spouse refuses to sign this document, your attorney can ask the Judge to force the signing of the release.

A common tactic to increase leverage is for a spouse to feign ill health and the inability to work.  By pulling health records immediately, you can disarm this tactic before you enter settlement negotiations.

Find Job Opportunities and Your Spouses Potential Income

Now that you have gathered your spouse’s’ employment and health records, you need to show the Court the jobs in the community and earning potential available to your spouse.

And while you can certainly gather this evidence yourself, when possible you should hire a vocational expert in your community to prepare an occupation report.

These reports typically do three things:

  • First, the expert takes the employment and health records that you and your attorney have gathered and delivers an opinion on your spouse’s ability to work and whether unemployment is voluntary. The best experts are qualified to discuss medical records when giving their opinion.  Judges tend to lean heavily on expert opinions in family law.
  • Second, the expert finds job openings for your spouse. The expert searches your town and neighboring towns for actual job leads, and then calls the job leads and verifies that your spouse is a fit.
  • Finally, the expert draws a conclusion as to the amount of money your spouse is capable of earning in a given year.

These expert reports can be very difficult for your spouse to defend.

Conclusion

A voluntarily unemployed spouse can seriously damage the value of your case unless you take action. While it will require work, you have the tools needed to cut through the gamesmanship and get a fair resolution in your case.

The post How To Fight Back When Your Spouse Quits His Job During Divorce appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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10 Strategies For Dealing With a Narcissistic, Challenging Or High Conflict Ex

narcissistic, challenging or high conflict ex

 

One of the most crucial things to keep in mind post-divorce when you were married to a narcissist or challenging person is to set good boundaries and abandon any thought of co-parenting successfully.

If one of the reasons why your marriage ended was due to your spouse being a narcissist, you probably hoped that things would get better for you and your children after your divorce. Perhaps one of the biggest disappointments might be that co-parenting with a narcissistic ex-spouse doesn’t work any better than being married to him or she did.

While co-parenting is advised by experts as an optimal situation for a child’s well-being after divorce, attempting to do so with an ex who has a high conflict personality or a personality disorder is usually unsuccessful. In most cases, an amicable relationship can’t be achieved between parents and parallel parenting is the only paradigm that should be attempted.

Parallel Parenting

Many parents don’t realize that there is an alternative to co-parenting when their ex is high conflict or has narcissistic traits. During a recent conversation with Briana, she shared her insights about the hazards of co-parenting with her former spouse who was challenging and self-centered.

Briana put it like this: “Justin made our life miserable after the divorce. He was argumentative, controlling, and late picking up our kids – or worse he’d cancel at the last minute, or not show up.”

During our conversation, I explained a solution for parents who want to co-parent with an ex who is narcissistic or challenging.  According to Dr. Edward Kruk, Ph.D., “Parallel Parenting is an arrangement in which divorced parents are able to co-parent by means of disengaging from each other, and having limited contact, in situations where they have demonstrated that they are unable to communicate with each other in a respectful manner.”

Truth be told, parallel parenting allows parents to remain disengaged with one another (and have a parenting plan) while they remain close to their children. For instance, they remain committed to making responsible decisions (medical, education, etc.) but decide on the logistics of day-to-day parenting separately.

10 strategies for dealing with a narcissistic, challenging, or high conflict ex:

1. Accept that co-parenting is not in the best interest of all children – especially when one of their parents is high conflict, self-centered, or lacks empathy.

2. Don’t tolerate demeaning or abusive behavior from your ex and be sure that you and your children feel safe. This might mean having a close friend or family member on hand when you talk to your former partner. If you plan for the worst (and don’t expect that your ex will have moved on or be caring) you’ll be less likely to be blindsided by his/her attempts to control or get back at you. Be sure to save all abusive emails and text messages. Don’t respond to them since this can perpetuate more abuse.

3. Limit your contact with your ex and try not to take calls from them when your children are nearby. It can be very hurtful to them to hear you and your ex argue – especially about them.

4. Set firm boundaries for your kids. Since their life with their other parent is unpredictable, you will have to provide stability. High-conflict personalities thrive on the possibility of combat. Be prepared and write a script to use when talking to him/her and try to stick with it, using as few words as possible. For instance, if he/she tries to persuade you to change the parenting plan, say something like: “I’m not comfortable with this idea. I’m sure you have good intentions but this won’t work for me.”

5. Be the parental role model your kids need to thrive. Show compassion toward your children and don’t bad-mouth their other parent in their presence. Children are vulnerable to experiencing loyalty conflicts and shouldn’t be in the middle between their parents. Be aware of your tone and facial expressions during interactions with your ex in front of your kids.

6. Keep your eye on the big picture in terms of your children’s future. Although it’s stressful trying to co-parent or even parallel parent with a difficult ex, it’s probably in the best interest of your children. Adopt realistic expectations and pat yourself on the back for working at this challenging relationship for your kids.

7. Focus on the only thing you can control – your behavior! You alone are responsible for your reactions to your ex’s comments and behavior. But don’t be persuaded by your ex to do something that you’re uncomfortable with just to keep the peace. Adopt a business-like “Just the facts, ma’am” style of communicating with him/her.

8. Don’t express genuine emotion to your ex or apologize for wrongdoing in the relationship.  If your ex is a perilous or abusive narcissist, they might interpret your apology as proof of your incompetence and use it against you, according to Virginia Gilbert, MFT.

9. Make sure you have a parenting plan that is structured and highly specific – spelling out schedules, holidays, vacations, etc. to minimize conflict. Using a communication notebook to share important details with your ex can be an essential tool and help you stay detached and business-like.

10. Do accept help from counselors, mediators, or other helping professionals. Make sure you have plenty of support from a lawyer, friends, family, and a therapist. Use a third party mediator when needed. Educate yourself about strategies to deal with a difficult or high-conflict ex. Therapists who utilize cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) are usually the most successful dealing with survivors of a relationship with an ex who has a personality disorder.

Under the best circumstances, co-parenting is a wonderful opportunity for children of divorce to have close to equal access to both parents – to feel close to both of their parents. Experts agree that the outcomes for children of divorce improve when they have positive bonds with both parents. These include better psychological and behavioral adjustment and enhanced academic performance. However, few experts discuss the drawbacks of co-parenting when one parent is hands-off, has a high conflict personality; or a personality disorder such as Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

However, it’s crucial that you take an honest look at the effect your ex’s behaviors and the dynamics in your relationship are having on you and your children. Once you accept that you can only control your own behavior – not a person with a difficult or high conflict personality – your life will greatly improve. After all, you and your children deserve to have a life filled with love and happiness!

Follow Terry Gaspard on TwitterFacebook, and movingpastdivorce.com. Terry is pleased to announce the publication of Daughters of Divorce: Overcome the Legacy of Your Parents’ Breakup and Enjoy a Happy, Long-lasting Relationship (Sourcebooks).

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The 10 Commandments Of The Narcissistic Parent

the narcissistic parent

 

My son walked into the room and handed me the phone. “Dad can’t talk right now; he just poured a bowl of cereal and doesn’t want it to get soggy.” My ex, who hadn’t talked to his son in twelve days, was more concerned about his cereal becoming soggy than a few moments of communication with his child. That is what it is like to co-parent with a narcissist.

In fact, there is very little co-parenting that occurs, most of your time is spent attempting to undo the damage a narcissist can do to his children. The narcissistic parent isn’t capable of “normal” paternal instincts. They view their children as objects meant to fulfill the narcissist’s needs, instead of the other way around.

A couple of years ago I found the list below on a blog that is no longer online. I’ve not read a more appropriate description of how the narcissistic parents. If you are divorced from a narcissist, I suggest you print out The 10 Commandments of the Narcissistic Parent and tape it to your frig. You will be referencing it often!

The Ten Commandments of the Narcissistic Parent:

  • I am who I tell you I am.
  • You will tell me things I want to hear or you will not be heard.
  • You will feel the way I want you to feel or you will be forsaken.
  • Love is conditional upon the aforementioned.
  • Intimacy is vulnerability, and thus, death.
  • There is only one road in and out of here.
  • Children are like toys that become useless when they break, which is why they must be replaced with better toys.
  • Parents are really one person in two bodies. When they individuate, they die.
  • Conversely, siblings are really one person in several bodies. When one individuates, that person shall be hunted down and slaughtered for the greater good.
  • Narcissism is a myth.

Let’s go over each briefly. Allow me to add my own two cents to what Jay wrote based on real-life experience.

I am who I tell you I am:

Our children learned this about their father the hard way. I don’t suppose there is an easy way! Their father would say one thing, do another and when they questioned his behavior, he would become highly offended. He thinks of himself as a loving, involved father even though he goes years without contact with his children.

In his mind, he is loving and involved but doesn’t see or talk to his children because they have the audacity to point out to him that “loving and involved” fathers behave in a loving and involved manner. Since his children are people who know he is not who he tells them he is, he chooses to surround himself with people who will believe he is who he tells them he is.

Confusing huh? Imagine being a child and attempting to intellectualize and rationalize such behavior from a parent.

You will tell me things I want to hear, or you will not be heard:

Refer to the example above. Our children didn’t tell their father he was a loving and involved parent, so he know refuses to hear anything they have to say. He ignores text messages, doesn’t respond to emails. He is completely out of touch because they failed to tell him what he wanted to hear.

You will feel the way I want you to feel or you will be forsaken:

This is the one that does the most damage. The narcissistic parent places no value on his children’s feelings. When we don’t value other people’s feelings our actions can do irreparable damage to those people. Our son was upset over something his father wrote him in an email. He responded and told his father, “Dad, when you say things like that, it hurts my feelings.”

His father responded and told our son, “I am not responsible for your feelings.” And then he went on to explain to the child just how unreasonable it was for his son to expect him to care about his feelings. You can’t tell a child in one voice, “I love you” and then tell them “If your feelings got hurt it is your fault” in the next and expect that child to not be emotionally damaged.

Love is conditional upon the aforementioned:

Yes, if a child refuses to feel the way the narcissistic parent needs them to feel, love, attention, caring, concern, all will be withheld. The bad news for the narcissist, children eventually adjust and move on.

That old saying, “out of sight, out of mind” works against the narcissist. I can, thankfully say that as adults our children rarely think about or mention their father. When you withdraw your love from someone they will eventually “let go” of their love for you.

Intimacy is vulnerability, and thus, death:

The narcissist alludes to intimacy without becoming fully engaged in intimacyTrue intimacy with another person means allowing yourself to become vulnerable, emotionally dependent.

Vulnerability and dependency are the kiss of death to the narcissist. Your child will love the narcissistic parent; the narcissistic parent is only able to love what the child can do for him.

There is only one road in and out of here:

And, it is a bumpy road! The road out is far more difficult to navigate.

Children are like toys that become useless when they break, which is why they must be replaced with better toys:

My ex replaced our children with a step-daughter. She reveres him, she extols his wonderfulness. She is much like his children were before the divorce. She will forever be the recipient of his goodness, until she questions a behavior or, disagrees with a belief. When that happens, she will learn how bumpy that road out can get.

Parents are really one person in two bodies. When they individuate, they die:

When my ex and I divorced in his mind I was dead. I was no longer an object that was of any use to him so any needs, feelings or desires I had become of no consequence to him. Since I was no longer important to him, he felt our children should view me through his eyes…I was someone who didn’t matter.

He could not co-parent with me; doing so would mean acknowledging me as an individual outside himself. To him I am not an autonomous human being, I’m something he tired of and discarded. The fact that our children love me and refused to also abandon their relationship with me plays an important role in his inability to continue to have a relationship with them.

Conversely, siblings are really one person in several bodies. When one individuates, that person shall be hunted down and slaughtered for the greater good:

When we divorced our children were 14 and 7 years old. The older child was quick to call his father out for hurtful behavior. The younger child made excuses and did whatever he could to keep his father happy. All the younger child cared about was spending time with his Dad. Due to that he detached himself from the emotional pain and focused on pleasing his father.

Our older child individuated, became separate from his brother and had to be done away with emotionally. Our older son is now 33 years old. His father has rarely acknowledged him since the divorce. He came to his high school graduation after 4 years of never attending a parent/teacher meeting, extracurricular activity, regular visitation and refusing to enter into counseling. That is the only time since our divorce that he has shown interest in our older child.

His child was “hunted down” and “slaughtered” emotionally.

Narcissism is a myth:

I believe that a narcissist knows they are different. They realize they are unable to form normal emotional attachments with others. Admitting to that difference would mean becoming vulnerable to the opinions of others. It is for that reason that most narcissists will deny their disorder.

The narcissist is awesome, just ask him. Awesome people don’t have personality disorders dontcha know? For the narcissist, any relationship problems are about YOU, certainly not about them and their awesome selves.

I tell clients who are co-parenting with a narcissist to keep their expectations low. Don’t expect the narcissist to tackle parenting with the same parental instincts they have.

And, never believe that you can “get through” to the narcissist and hold them accountable. Focus on your parental duties, be diligent in cleaning up the emotional messes the narcissist leaves behind and get your children into therapy. They are going to need it!

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8 Constructive Ways To Confront Your Passive-Aggressive Abuser

passive-aggressive

 

What do passive aggressive behavior and domestic abuse have in common? Physical and verbal abuse are easy to identify, but psychological and emotional abuse may lurk for awhile before the victim realizes it. These types of covert abuse are subtle or disguised by actions that appear to be normal, even loving and caring. In certain circumstances, passive-aggression could be considered covert abuse; if you are in a relationship with someone you think is an abuser, you can find resources available at the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

According to Dr. Daniel K. Hall-Flavin, “Passive-aggressive behavior is a pattern of indirectly expressing negative feelings instead of openly addressing them.” Their feelings may be so repressed that the person doesn’t realize they are angry or feeling resentment.

When confronted with their behavior, they may appear surprised or disappointed that anyone would think that about them, as if they are misunderstood or held to unreasonable standards. They have a real desire to connect with others emotionally, but their fear of such a connection causes them to engage in self-destructive habits.

Common Passive-Aggressive Behaviors

  • Ambiguity/Lies: Take the proverb: “Actions speak louder than words.” A passive-aggressive person is known for being deceptive in their word. The best way to judge how they feel about an issue is to watch their actions.
  • Blaming/Victimization: They have difficulty taking responsibility for their actions and will find many excuses to avoid doing so. This includes when they shirk deadlines and ignore agreed-upon itineraries and timelines. Victimization is a related symptom of passive aggression; since nothing is their fault, they are always the victim.
  • Lack of Anger: Passive aggression is marked by misplaced anger. The passive aggressive person may have been taught, as a child, that anger is unacceptable. They may appear indecisive or “down for whatever”; however, by not expressing their personal ideas and preferences, a passive-aggressive person may build resentment for others through their own repression.
  • Fear of Dependency/Intimacy: According to Scott Wetlzer, author of Living With The Passive Aggressive Man, “Unsure of his autonomy and afraid of being alone, he fights his dependency needs, usually by trying to control you. He wants you to think he doesn’t depend on you, but he binds himself closer than he cares to admit. Relationships can become battlegrounds, where he can only claim victory if he denies his need for your support.” With that, it would be difficult to create an enduring, intimate connection with them.
  • Obstructionism/Power Grab: Passive-aggressive behavior shifts power in a relationship to make the perpetrator feel bigger and more entitled to affection or other gestures, while the victim will feel undeserving of their partner’s love. Similar to their willful deception mentioned above, a passive-aggressive person is also prone to emotional manipulation.

Below are 8 constructive ways to confront someone with passive-aggressive behavior.

1. Focus on one issue at a time. Don’t bring up everything at once. You may have a laundry list of grievances but it won’t be very helpful to go through everything in one sitting. Remember, they avoid conflict so take it one grievance at a time to help them feel comfortable.

2. Have a time limit. Confrontation should not stretch on indefinitely.

3. Make sure you have privacy. A public display will only exacerbate both sides of the issue. Shaming someone never gets positive results.

4. Don’t attack their character. You may feel angry and want to strike out but, doing so will only cause the passive aggressive to withdraw and refuse to engage in communication.

5. Focus on your feelings. Make your feelings the subject of the conversation and not their bad behaviors. Use “I” statements, not “you” statements. It will lead to more productive communication if you make the conversation about the marriage and how you are feeling.

6. Stay on topic. Someone who avoids conflict may also be inclined to deflect or go on tangents during the conversation. You do not have to defend yourself for wanting to discuss your feelings, and doing so would derail the conversation.

7. Respect their space. If they need to retreat from the conversation allow them to do it with dignity. Tell them you understand their need to leave the conversation but, before they do you’d like to agree on another date and time to continue discussing the topic.

8. Remind them that you care. Be sure they understand that you care about what happens to them, that you love them and that you are not trying to control them. You are only trying to get to the bottom of your disagreements and make the relationship better. Nothing is more important than helping the passive aggressive to feel safe in engaging in what they will view as a conflict.

The Passive-Aggressive Person and You

A passive-aggressive person attracts and is attracted to co-dependents or anyone who is quick to make excuses for other people’s bad behaviors. This may not be intentional, and rather is a natural mesh of personalities—psychological abuse is never the fault of the victim.

The most important factor in saving a relationship is both parties willingness to change. A person who expresses passive-aggression likely has deeper issues that a therapist or counselor would help them to work through. Victims of such behavior may also choose to seek therapy to heal from the wounds of the relationship.

The passive-aggressive will say one thing, do another, and then deny ever saying the first thing. They don’t communicate their needs and wishes in a clear manner, expecting their spouse to read their mind and meet their needs. After all, if their spouse truly loved them he/she would just naturally know what they needed or wanted. The passive aggressive withholds information about how he/she feels, their ego is fragile and can’t take the slightest criticism so why let you know what they are thinking or feeling?

God forbid they disclose that information and you criticize them.

Confronting the Passive-Aggressive

Beware, if you confront the passive aggressive they will most likely sulk, give you the silent treatment or completely walk away leaving you standing there to deal with the problem alone.

There are two reasons for confronting the passive-aggressive. One, if done correctly you may be able to help them gain insight into the negative consequences of their behaviors. Two, even if that doesn’t happen, it will at least give you the opportunity to talk to him/her in a frank way about how his/her behavior affects you. If nothing else you can get a few things “off your chest.”

Below are 8 constructive ways to confront someone with passive-aggressive behavior.

1. Make your feelings the subject of the conversation and not their bad behaviors. Use “I” statements and not “you” statements. More than likely you will get a more productive response from the passive aggressive spouse if you make the communication about the marriage and how you are feeling.

2. Don’t attack their character. You may feel angry and want to strike out but, doing so will only cause the passive aggressive to withdraw and refuse to engage in communication.

3. Make sure you have privacy. This is only common sense. Do not call out your passive aggressive spouse in front of others.

Shaming someone never gets positive results.

4. Confront them about one behavior at a time, don’t bring up everything at once. You may have a laundry list of grievances but that doesn’t mean you have to communicate the entire list in one sitting. Remember, the passive aggressive fears conflict so, take it one grievance at a time to help them feel comfortable.

5. If they need to retreat from the conversation allow them to do it with dignity. Tell them you understand their need to leave the conversation but, before they do you’d like to agree on another date and time to continue discussing the topic.

6. Have a time limit, confrontation should not stretch on indefinitely.

7. If they try to turn the table on you, do not defend your need to have an adult conversation about your feelings. Having dealt with the passive aggressive you know that one of their main tactics is to try and turn the tables. Be on the lookout for that to happen and instead of becoming defensive insist that they stay on topic.

8. Be sure they understand that you care about what happens to them, that you love them and that you are not trying to control them. You are only trying to get to the bottom of your disagreements and make the relationship better.

Nothing is more important than helping the passive aggressive to feel safe in engaging in what they will view as a conflict.

Inside the Passive Aggressive’s Head

The passive aggressive has a real desire to connect with you emotionally but their fear of such a connection causes them to be obstructive and engage in self-destructive habits. They will be covert in their actions and it will only move them further from their desired relationship with you.

The passive aggressive never looks internally and examines their role in a relationship problem. They have to externalize it and blame others for having shortcomings. To accept that they have flaws would be tantamount to emotional self-destruction. They live in denial of their self-destructive behaviors, the consequences of those behaviors and the choices they make that causes others so much pain.

The passive aggressive objectifies the object of their desire. You are to be used as a means to an end. Your only value is to feed the passive aggressive’s emotional needs. You are not seen as a person with feelings and needs but as an extension of them. They care for you the way they care for a favorite chair. You are there for their comfort and pleasure and are of use as long as you fill their needs.

The passive aggressive wants the attention and attachment that comes with loving someone but fear of losing their independence and sense of self to their spouse. They want love and attention but avoid it out of fear of it destroying them. You have to be kept at arm’s length and if there is an emotional attachment it is tenuous at best.

The passive aggressive has a real desire to connect with you emotionally but their fear of such a connection causes them to be obstructive and engage in self-destructive habits. They will be covert in their actions and it will only move them further from their desired relationship with you.

The only hope for change in the way they deal with relationship issues is if they are able to acknowledge their shortcomings and contributions to the marital problems. Facing childhood wounds, looking internally instead of externally to find the cause of problems in their life will help them form deeper emotional attachments with a higher sense of emotional safety.

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