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new step-parent

Navigating a Blended Family: 8 Tips For The New Step-Parent

new step-parent

 

Blended families generally consist of a couple and their children from all relationships, and they’re becoming more common every year. According to the 2009 census, upwards of 16% of children live in a blended family, and upwards of 1,300 new blended families form every single day.

Going from being a single parent to being a part of a blended family can be challenging. Here are a few tips and tricks to help make that transition easier to navigate.

8 Tips For The New Step-Parent

1. Remember That It’s a Big Change

Becoming a blended family is a major change for everyone involved. It also ends up being more challenging for children than it is for adults, especially young ones who don’t have any context to help them understand what’s going on. Be patient with everyone and prepare for conflicts. Know how to defuse stressful situations before they get out of hand.

2. Talk About Parenting Styles Before You Move In

Discuss your parenting styles with your significant other before you cross that final bridge and bring everyone together. Figure out where you agree, where you differ and where you need to compromise, as well as who is responsible for things like doling out corrective action. Have that conversation as early as possible so you have plenty of time to iron out all the details.

3. Adapt As Necessary to Manage Age Differences

Different-age children will respond to becoming a blended family in various ways. Teenagers might rebel dramatically, while younger children might have tantrums or act out because they don’t understand what’s happening. All they know is that things are changing. You’ll need to be adaptable in response to this. Deal with issues related to age differences as they come up, and remember to be patient and communicate with both the children and your partner.

4. Be Open About Mental Health

People often consider mental health a taboo topic, but if you’re making your way toward becoming a blended family, you need to keep everyone’s mental wellness in mind. Start the conversation, especially with those who are old enough to use social media.

These sites, and the internet as a whole, are an integral part of our lives, but they can also be detrimental to our mental health. This factor is especially true if other things are happening in your life that could have adverse effects.

5. Don’t Make Your Children Choose

Ultimatums are your worst enemy when it comes to creating a successful blended family. Don’t make your kids choose, whether that means deciding between parents or where they want to live. If you do reach a point where decisions are necessary, have a conversation with your partner first to ensure you’re on the same page with parenting your collective children.

6. Be Ready to Co-Parent

When it comes to blended families, co-parenting doesn’t just mean the relationship between you and your partner. It means being ready to deal respectfully with any living ex-partner that may have had a parenting role in your children’s lives. Co-parenting is a part of any parent/step-parent relationship, regardless of the situation. Don’t make it a battle. Doing this will make your life harder, and it isn’t fair to any kids involved either.

7. Make It About Respect

When you’re bringing together multiple families, not everyone is going to like one another. Some people will butt heads, that’s part of life. While you can’t make everyone like each other, it should always be about respect. You can respect someone you don’t like and building a blended family on this principle is the best choice for everyone. Lead by example and practice this principle with others in every situation you encounter.

8. Take Care of Yourself Too

Caring for your kids and your partner’s kids are challenging. It’s easy to forget one of the most important rules, that you need to take care of yourself too. Don’t let putting everyone else first prevent you from practicing self-care.

Work with your partner so you can take a break, even if it’s something as simple as an uninterrupted bath or a solo trip to the grocery store. Caring for your mind and body allows you to be a better parent and partner, which is why it’s essential to avoid leaving your wellbeing on the back burner.

Be Patient With Each Other and Yourself

Coming together as a blended family is probably one of the most challenging yet rewarding things you will ever do. It’s a significant change that may be difficult for members of your growing family to adapt to, but it is becoming more common with each passing year.

If you find yourself in a situation where you’re going to become part of a blended family, be patient with yourself and your new relatives.

The post Navigating a Blended Family: 8 Tips For The New Step-Parent appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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how to fit in after divorce

Friendships, Family, Work: How To Fit In After Divorce

how to fit in after divorce

 

I wish Elizabeth Barrett Browning had been around long enough to advise us all after the depth and breadth and height our souls had once reached in love and tell us in her grand poetic prose how to fit in after a divorce had forced it all to plummet to the hard-rocky ground!

There are many times I have felt that I should go reside on the island of Misfit Toys since my divorce, in order to feel like I belonged. I am a Baby Boomer and like all Boomers, we come from an idealistic model of relationships.

Our parents had us after World War II and we were a product of those referred to as the Greatest Generation. We straddle between the world of party lines and actual dial telephones to modern techie cell phones and social media communications.

We live with one foot in the world of real people greeting each other directly and shaking hands to the world of visiting your friends and relatives through the lens of social media and sending them a hand waving emoji.

So, why did I feel that I didn’t quite fit in since my divorce?

How has my “fit” changed from married person to divorced person?

Well, let me count the ways. And maybe some of you have experienced this too.

“As your life changes, so will your circle.”

Yunus Chhapra 

How To Fit In After Divorce

Friendships

I found that soon after my divorce, my friends changed. My friendships changed. When you are a couple you usually have those “couple friends” … you know, those people that you always go to dinner with, go to concerts with and the movies with.

Those who help you out with your kids because they too have kids the same age.

Those that loan you a tool if you need it.

Those that help you move furniture up a flight of stairs. Or, help to install a new window.

Those “go to” people who were always in your couples’ orbit.

I found out shortly after my divorce that I was soon looked at as the awkward friend. My ex-husband left the orbit altogether. So, I was left to explain why my husband left. In the beginning, they all wanted to know the juicy details.

I didn’t give out the gory particulars, but what I did share was consumed and it served to feed not only their morbid curiosity, it also fed their need for drama at no risk to themselves. I was left to try to tell the story and I was looked at differently from that point forward.

We were the couple that everyone thought had it all. We were the couple that many wanted to be. Once a split happens with “that couple”, you know…the one people look up to, well it makes them question their very own relationships.

Especially if the model husband in their eyes, left you for another woman. I had one person tell me that if it could happen to us it could happen to anyone. It could happen to them.

I also started getting some side eyes from my female friends. I guess now that I was a single woman, I might be a threat. I have had many other women in the time since my divorce tell me that they too experienced this with their friends.

The result is that you migrate away. You don’t get invited anymore. You have children to care for anyway, but you soon realize that you are alone. It felt like I was a rowboat tied to pier and someone came and just quietly untied the rope from the pier, and I drifted away ever so quietly.

When this happened, I came to the knowing that I needed to find my own orbit. My own people. If you are new to being officially defined as “divorced” on your current identifications, do not despair.

What you will find is that the people who are about to enter your new solar system, are deeper and more compassionate. Because that is who you are now, and you will be drawn to those who may have experienced something similar.

Their care and wisdom are much needed as you embrace new friendships that are 100% yours. Those that you have left behind in the wreckage of your marriage hold little value to you.

And those that stayed the course with you and loved you through the whole horrible experience, are golden. Find your own people and celebrate!

“Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.”

British Novelist Jane Howard

Family

If you have gotten a divorce and you are now a single parent, that of course changes a family. It changes the very foundation that you built your family on. If you are lucky, the family that built you, is what gets you through it.

And you find that you rely and lean on your family like never before. But what I also found out through my journey after divorce, is that I had changed. I was no longer that same family member that they once knew.

How could I be?

I had been through such a brutal life experience and as a result, the person I once was no longer existed. I was now a myriad of people.

I was fragile as well as tough.

I was compassionate as well as short tempered.

I was now responsible for an entire family. And they had no idea what that felt like.

Even in imagination, they dare not go there.

So how do you slide back into that role inside your family when you don’t know what that role is?

And even still, how can your family recognize you now and find a common denominator beyond shared parents?

Well, I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t happen overnight and its not easy. But it can happen and, on your terms, too.

I had once written that I felt the most alone when I am with my family at the holidays, get-togethers, weddings, etc. All the family congregations that resembled the model household.

Married couples with their kids who even have kids of their own now. And so, it goes. It is where I come from. It is all that I knew, until the day I was forced to unlearn it.

I think many people feel as I do when they come together. Everyone was completely well meaning and really had no idea how I was feeling. I am good at masking it to “fit in” and make others feel more comfortable than me.

But the truth be told, as I mentioned in the article before, it’s hard to feel whole when you are reminded by all the real wholeness that surrounds you.

It takes courage to speak up and introduce this new you. To represent the person, you are now and expect nothing less than their full support and respect. It’s not your job to keep up a persona that you no longer own.

You are a whole person in your own right, and you have earned the respect of everyone.

So, introduce your new whole self to the family that you know. To the woman, you are both just getting to know. Give them a chance and enjoy the relationship.

And if you determine that you have changed too much, and they can’t accept your new improved version of yourself, then choose your friendships as family.

Because at the end of the day, everyone needs a family, a clan or a tribe they can call their own.

“Being a working mother and a working single parent instills in you a sense of determination.”

Felicity Jones

Work

There is no better reason to work then because you need the money. In some cases, it’s the only reason. After I was divorced, I told a friend that I just wanted to meet a man who would say three things to me.

She said, “Oh, I love you?”

I responded with, “No! You can quit!”

The juggling act of working a full-time job and raising a family alone is unnerving to say the least. There are days that you literally feel like a performer who is spinning plates.

As the plates keep getting added, you are sweating to keep them all going at once and terrified that one will fall, and the rest come tumbling down.

That’s what it can feel like when you are a single mom who is the breadwinner of the family. You handle things completely differently than you’re married counterparts at work.

To begin, you don’t have a significant other whom you can fall back on. I remember I called my ex-husband to help me when my daughter was ill. I had already taken a day off and was nervous to ask for another day.

He responded and said he couldn’t; he had to work. Like I wasn’t working and supporting an entire family?

Like I didn’t need to work more than Good Ole Diamond Jim himself?

This was in the day that most workplaces didn’t have laptops they could bring home. So, what do you do? You take the day off and pray that it won’t come back to haunt you.

You pray that you won’t be revisiting this when you have your performance review.

You pray that your boss leaves and you get a new one who has no idea that you ever took a day off in your life.

And you pray that if none of that occurs, your work ethic as a woman who carries a globe on her shoulders every day of the week and twice on Sunday will receive the respect she deserves. And she does.

Over time, you communicate very little to anyone at work regarding your family and the responsibilities you carry. It takes one person who wants your job, who lets it slip that you left early to pick up your child, or you left early to go to the drugstore to get a prescription for your child, or you came back late from your lunch because you had to go home and pick up a book that your child left at home and they needed for class.

It takes one person to characterize you as less then committed to your job. And it usually comes from someone who has never been married, let alone had children.

If you are wise, you trust only a few. And again, those that you do trust are golden and you need them to lean on every once in a while.

Because the last thing you will be able to cope with, is a job loss.

And guess what?

I eventually did lose my job. So, no matter how old your kids are. As long as you are a single working mom, be cautious with you job. We live in a much better workspace now and employers are much more forgiving and flexible. But, there are no guarantees and you need to always be smart.

You may not feel a complete fit because of the lengths you feel that you have to go to protect yourself, but at the end of the day you do fit because you are doing an amazing job and most people in your work environment would never know what a true Rock Star you really are. But you do!

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths,”

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

So, who are you now?

You have created a new you through the eyes of your friends, your family, your work colleagues.

Who is this new you?

Well, only you know the answer to that. And it may be a work in progress for a while. But, what I am certain of is that this, “NEW YOU” that you have become and embraced and introduced to the world is someone who will be amazing at all you endeavor.

And you are someone who is full of compassion, humility, and excitement as you venture into this new chapter of YOU. And always remember:

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”

Dr. Seuss

The post Friendships, Family, Work: How To Fit In After Divorce appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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Let’s Talk Divorce: 4 Ways The Family Court Fails To Protect Women During High Conflict Divorce

Let’s Talk Divorce: 4 Ways The Family Court Fails To Protect Women During High Conflict Divorce



 

We hear a lot about how women are favored during divorce but, in my opinion, the opposite is true. No one can hold onto resentment and anger like a man and nothing proves that more than the outrageous behavior by some during a high conflict divorce.

A woman’s only recourse is the protections afforded her by the Family Court and, bless our hearts, there aren’t many protections there.

I know a woman who has been divorced for over 12 years and still has legal issues with her ex. He constantly files a petition or motion with the court. It can be for something as simple as extracurricular activities her children are involved with to not liking the therapist her children are seeing. He makes NO attempt to negotiate and settle issues with the mother of his children. There is no emailing back and forth over a certain situation. He goes straight to the courts.

A woman has no defense against such a man. She is vulnerable to such a man’s whims because the Family Court allows the nonsense to continue year after year.

She has NO protection!

4 Ways The Family Court Fails to Protect Women During High Conflict Divorce

1. Failure to Protect Against Defiant Exes

If a woman is divorced from a man who defies court orders, she has no recourse via the Family Court. She can file a contempt of court motion but that’s like pissing into the wind. She will spend money on an attorney only to get a new order and listen to a judge tell her ex to “get it done or else,” and the or else never happens. The problem with contempt of court is this, a new court order means nothing to a man with a history of defying court orders.

2. No Protection from Crushing Financial Expense of Divorce

Most women going through the divorce process are stay-at-home Moms or the lower income earner in the marriage. They start the divorce process in a one-down position because they don’t have access to the best attorneys and experts to advocate for them. The Family Court takes none of this into consideration during the process and there is an old saying that is true, “the one with the money wins in Family Court.”

3. No Protection for Victims of Domestic Abuse

Victims of domestic violence are especially vulnerable in the Family Court system. Their main concern is naturally protecting their children from a violent man and with the courts’ main focus on not separating a child from a parent, the domestic abuse victim has to have substantial evidence of abuse to protect their children via the court.

What professionals fail to realize is that women in abusive situations don’t call attention to their abuse. Doing so can only lead to more abuse. So, instead of going to the emergency room so they’ve have a record of injuries or filing police reports, they stay quiet out of fear of inviting more abuse upon themselves and their children.

If a woman doesn’t have substantial evidence of abuse and brings up accusations of abuse in court she can be viewed as making false allegations of abuse and attempting to alienate a father from his child. Women all over the country are losing custody rights to violent men due to the lack of protection abuse women received in the Family Court.

4. Failure to Protect Children from Harm

If you’re divorced from a bully hell-bent on using your child as a pawn to punish you, the “best interest” doctrine, flies right out the window. A Family Court judge will NOT hold a man harming his children emotionally, accountable. I think they believe that a bad father is worse than no father so, purposely put children in harm’s way so they can tell themselves “at least the child still has 2 parents.” And, as someone who raised her children alone, with no contact from their father, I can say that, that belief is straight up BS!

The post Let’s Talk Divorce: 4 Ways The Family Court Fails To Protect Women During High Conflict Divorce appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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Want to resolve your Texas family law case outside of court? Remember these rules of engagement

Community Property issues in Texas family law cases

Originally published by The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC Blog.

Premarital and Marital Property Agreements are contracts between you and your spouse or spouse-to-be that can have a great deal of importance. A signed, written agreement between the two of you that allocates debts and property into either the community or separate property column will determine how each piece of property is treated in the event that your marriage ends in a divorce. We hear about premarital agreements or “prenuptial” agreements all the time in the media when rich, famous people get married. However, these sort of agreements are not just for the uber-wealthy.

A premarital agreement will go into effect the day that your marriage begins. Most people that enter into these agreements do so to limit the amount of property or debt the community estate will accumulate over the course of their marriage. On the other hand, if you and your spouse were to enter into a similar agreement during the course of your marriage it would be known as a marital property agreement. Essentially both documents are the same, it is just a matter of when the agreement comes into being- before or after the marriage has started.

How a premarital or marital property agreement works in the context of a divorce is that whichever spouse files for the divorce will reference the property agreement within the Original Petition for Divorce. When it comes time for the final orders of your divorce to be filed at the conclusion of your case, a copy of the agreement will typically be attached to those orders as an exhibit for reference purposes.

How is community property divided in a divorce?

If you and your spouse have not entered into a premarital or marital property agreement, then it is the responsibility of the judge to divide your community property and debts. That is, the judge must divide the property in the event that you and your spouse cannot agree to do so in mediation or in an informal negotiation settlement conversation. Keep in mind that although Texas is a community property state, debt and property does not have to be divided 50/50 between you and your spouse. Factors like the size of each of your separate estates, fault in the breakup of the marriage as well as your income will weigh on a judge if he or she must divide your community estate.

In many cases, the community property that you and your spouse own cannot be divided straight down the middle. Let’s consider the most commonly divided large item of property that you and your spouse could have: the marital house. The easiest route that you and your spouse could go would be to sell the house and split up the equity that you would get after the mortgage and other costs of the sale are taken care of. There is relatively little hassle in doing this and allows both you and your spouse to wipe your hands clean of this asset and move on.

However, that is all true when you take the sale of the house in a vacuum. Consider what could change if you and your spouse have a child together. In many cases, a judge will award the family house to whichever parent is named the primary caretaker of your child. Obviously, it would have to be shown that this parent can afford the mortgage payments on their own. The reason a judge would order this would be to allow your child to have some degree of stability and consistency by remaining in the family home after the divorce concludes.

If you are the parent who is not awarded the right to be the primary caretaker of your child then you may be wondering where this leaves you. Would a judge really order you to leave the house, not award you primary responsibility for your child and then not allow you to gain any monetary benefit from the house? The answer to that question is, no.

Many times what a judge will order is that the house should be sold as soon as your child turns 18 and the sale proceeds will be split between you and your ex-spouse at that time. Or, you may be able to exchange any equity in the house for another piece of property in the community estate that could equal the value. For example, if there is a classic car that was purchased during the marriage that roughly equals your equity position in the home, that vehicle could be awarded to you.

The thing to keep in mind is that while a judge will do their best to divide the community estate in an equitable fashion, no judge is perfect. It is an impossible task to ask a judge to learn your family dynamics well enough over the course of a one or two day trial to do a perfect job of dividing the community estate. This is why we encourage people like yourself to do everything that you can to attempt to settle your case in mediation rather than to leave the decision up to a judge.

Will you have to pay spousal maintenance in your divorce?

Simply put, spousal maintenance is a payment that is ordered by a judge to be made from your future income to support your ex-spouse after your divorce has concluded. Although it is not a term that is officially used in Texas, many people know of this relationship as “alimony.” You and your spouse can agree to some degree of spousal maintenance in mediation, so don’t think that you have to go see a judge if you want to push for spousal maintenance payments.

Spousal maintenance is typically ordered towards the benefit of spouses that lack sufficient property to provide for their minimum basic needs. The key is that you and your spouse need to have been married for at least ten years in most cases for a judge to be able to order that you receive spousal maintenance. Other circumstances that could lead a judge to order that you should receive spousal maintenance is if your spouse has engaged in acts of family violence against you in the two year period prior to your divorce or you or your child have a disability that negates your ability to work outside of your home.

How much spousal maintenance can be awarded in your divorce?

A judge has limits to how much in spousal maintenance can be awarded in your case. Additionally, a judge can only order that spousal maintenance payments be paid for certain periods of time depending upon the length of your marriage. Your judge will need to determine how much money you would need to meet those minimum, basic needs that we just finished discussing. Either way, a judge cannot order that you receive more than $5,000 per month or 20% of your spouse’s gross monthly income in spousal maintenance. Your spousal maintenance award will be limited to certain periods of time unless you can present evidence that shows due to an incapacitating injury or physical impairment that you would be unable to earn an income to support yourself.

How issues related to your child can impact your divorce

Your Final Decree of Divorce will be the final orders issued in your divorce case. These are the marching orders that you and your ex-spouse will need to follow until you come back and have those orders changed/modified, if you do that at all. Part of those final orders will be a section that covers a Parenting plan for you, your ex-spouse and your children. The conservatorship designation of both you and your ex-spouse, a visitation schedule, child support, medical support and any other issues relevant to your family will be detailed in this section.

The reason why so much detail is put into a parenting plan is to, in theory, minimize the risk that you and your ex-spouse have as far as disagreements and animosity that surrounds co-parenting in your post-divorce life. Of course, this may not be the case for you and your ex-spouse but the intention is to lay out a clear cut path for your parenting to take in hopes to creating some sense of post-divorce harmony. If issues arise in the midst of that post-divorce life there are steps you can take to correct those issues- more on that in a later blog post.

How long does the parenting plan/child support plan go into effect for?

A family court in Texas has the ability to enforce orders regarding your child until that child graduates from high school or turns 18- whichever occurs later in time. In the event that your child has a physical or mental disability that requires that he or she remain in the home for a longer period of time, the court will likely continue in its authority to enforce child support, custody and visitation orders until a later date.

When we talk about custody of a child in Texas, we are really talking about who is able to get physical possession of your child and on what basis. The word “custody” actually does not come up in the Texas Family Code, but it is a term that is used so much in our society everyone involved uses it with regularity. For the most part, you and your spouse will share in custody rights and duties associated with your child.

If it comes down a trial, the judge will need to make decisions in relation to custody of your child that are in that child’s best interests. A joint managing conservatorship is one where you and your spouse share in the rights and duties of raising your child on an even basis. The only rights that will differ significantly are the rights to determine the primary residence of your child as well as the right to receive child support. Only one of your can do those things associated with raising your child.

In rare instances, either your or your ex-spouse may be named as a sole managing conservator of your child. If there is a history within your family of family violence, child abuse/neglect or a protective order has been issued against either of you, then the sole managing conservator designation would be appropriate. Basically, the sole managing conservator is able to be in physical possession of your child much more and also holds more of the rights and duties associated with parenting your child on a daily basis.

A court would also look to whether or not you or your spouse have been absent for long stretches of time from your child’s life or if there has been a great deal of conflict in your relationship with your child and/or your spouse. The parent who is not designated the sole managing conservator of your child does not lose all of their rights, but their rights are curtailed because it is believed that doing so is in the best interests of your child. The sole managing conservator specifically has superior rights when it comes to making decisions for your child in regard to educational and medical issues.

Questions about divorce in Texas? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

We were able to cover a lot of information about divorce in Texas today. If you would like to ask us any questions or need us to clarify any of the points that we made please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan today. We offer free of charge consultations six days a week with our licensed family law attorneys. These consultations are a great opportunity to ask questions and receive feedback about subjects that are important to you and your family.

Our attorneys and staff take a great deal of pride in being able to work with clients from across our area in the courtrooms of southeast Texas. We aim to always provide excellent represesntation of our clients while maintaining a strong sense of integrity and customer service. Contact us today in order to find out more about how we can assist you in your family law case.

Curated by Texas Bar Today. Follow us on Twitter @texasbartoday.



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Want to resolve your Texas family law case outside of court? Remember these rules of engagement

Filing an Answer and proceeding with a family lawsuit in Texas

Originally published by The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC Blog.

If you have been served with a petition for divorce or a Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship, then you may have questions about how to proceed. It’s probably pretty clear to you that your spouse or the other parent to your child has filed a lawsuit against you, but after that, you are unclear on exactly what you should be doing. Do you need to file something yourself? Should you hire a lawyer?  If you were served with the papers at a park or in a parking lot is that legitimate?

My first piece of advice on this subject is to at all times remain calm. A process server or constable has been hired by your opposing party’s attorney to go to the courthouse, pick up the documents from the court and give them to you. This has the effect of providing you with legal notice of the lawsuit having been filed. If you are approached by a person with paperwork that looks important you should receive the papers. There is no benefit to running away, throwing them on the ground or refusing to comply. Your opposing party will get “credit” for serving you notice of the lawsuit no matter what you do at that point.

Another point that I would like to make is that your spouse will get credit for having served you no matter where you are served. Many people are served at their home. Some are served at work. Others are served at doctor’s appointments, family member’s homes or other places that they regularly visit. Your opposing party will coordinate this with their attorney and the process server. Do not be surprised to be served if your spouse has spoken to you about filing for divorce or for a child custody case.

Do not make assumptions about what the paperwork you are served with says

One thing that I have noticed that people tend to do after they are served with a Petition for Divorce is that they will immediately read and become frustrated with what they are reading. The legal terms that are used in a Petition are often utilized in different ways than we would use those same words in everyday conversation. So, while you may think a phrase or request means one thing- it likely means something completely different.

With that said, you can read through what has been handed to you- it is your case after all. But, until you speak to an attorney do not make any hard and fast assumptions or determinations about what has been written in those documents. Requests for attorney’s fees to be paid by you is a common request in a Petition. When you file your Answer to that petition your attorney will likely make the same request of your spouse. It is not something to get immediately upset about.

What happens with the timeline of your case once you are served with a Petition?

The timeline or “clock” begins to tick as soon as you are served. The process server will report back to the courthouse with a document certifying that you were served with the Petition on that day at the specific time you were provided notice of the lawsuit. From there, a couple of different things happen.

First, you now have twenty days to file an Answer. Technically you have until the first Tuesday at 10:00 after the expiration of twenty days to file your Answer. An Answer is your legal response to the allegations and requests made by your opposing party in their Petition. It is not a complex legal document, but rather alerts the court that you are intending to participate in the lawsuit and have responses ready to the allegations made in the Petition. Most importantly, by filing an Answer you keep the opposing party in your case from getting a default judgment.

As simply as I can put it, a default judgment is a legal judgment that your spouse can get from a judge if it is shown that you were provided notice of the lawsuit, were served properly and then never filed an Answer. In order to keep your having not filed an Answer from delaying the end of the case, your spouse can then proceed to court after 60 days to have the judge sign into effect final orders that were created by her. You are bound by those orders even though you never laid eyes on them. Therefore, filing an Answer is a very important step in your legal case.

What should your reaction be after getting served?

We have already talked about how you should react at the moment that you are served. Well, you should continue to act calmly and rationally after the fact, as well. Speaking to an attorney as soon as you can is a good idea. I always advise potential clients of the Law Office of Bryan Fagan to speak to a handful of attorneys in order to get a good idea of what the issues are, to learn as much about the process as possible and to get a feel for the attorney herself. Once you have interviewed enough attorneys to feel comfortable you can make arrangements to hire one.

The lawyer will take care of filing an Answer for you. However, he or she will certainly ask you for information about your family in order to not only file an Answer but to prepare for the next stages of your case. The attorney should inform you that your case is a marathon and not a sprint. You may want to take action immediately to address inconsistencies or “lies” in the Petition. You will get that opportunity, but it likely will not come in front of a judge- more on that later.

For now, you should enter the mindset that you are not going to contact your spouse unless you absolutely have to. Communication regarding your child is fine as long as you can be civil. You do not need to speak to your spouse if he or she is being uncivil or nasty to you. By the same token, you should not act that way towards him or her.

Consider not logging onto Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or any other social media until your case is over with. Family law attorneys are good at getting dirt on the opposing party and social media is a great place to look. For example, if you log into a social media account and say nasty things about your spouse and make this out to be World War III then that is information that certainly would be interesting to your spouse and their attorney. Do not give your spouse any ammunition to be used against you later. Work with your attorney, work to see your kids and play nice in the sandbox.

An alternative to filing an Answer: signing a Waiver of Service 

There is one other way to respond to your spouse’s Petition for Divorce that we have not yet discussed in today’s blog post. That would be signing and filing a Waiver of Service. If you and your spouse are on speaking terms, agree on whatever issues exist in your case, and want to work together from the start to finish your divorce as quickly as possible then you can sign a Waiver of Service.

A few items to consider before signing a Wavier of Service. First, you need to read the Waiver carefully. Usually, if you have already hired an attorney, he or she will advise against you signing the document no matter what it says. However, if you do not believe that hiring an attorney is necessary then a Waiver can be signed. This happens with some frequency in situations where you and your spouse have talked through the divorce in a detailed fashion and have agreements in place on all issues related to your case.

Most waivers tell a court that you have received the Petition for Divorce (thereby proving that you have notice of the filing of a lawsuit) but waiver your right to be personally served with the lawsuit. From there, you will provide your contact information to the court so that they can have it on record if official mailing from the judge has to be sent out for any reason.

Temporary Orders: What they are and what they mean to your family law case

Filing for divorce, being served and then having an Answer filed can be looked at as the first step in the divorce process. Step number two involves something called Temporary Orders. This is a step where the marching orders for you and your opposing party will be established during the duration of your case. It is important that you be able to either negotiate for or have a judge award a fair array of temporary orders because the final orders in your case tend to mirror the temporary orders to a great extent.

If your case involves children then the temporary orders will deal primarily with them. Visitation, child support, conservatorship, etc. will all be dealt with. These orders will be signed by you, your opposing party and the judge. In a divorce, issues related to bills, property, temporary spousal support and other circumstances specific to your case will be hammered out. Issues regarding the sale of your home or other property, as well as the allocation of debts,  will be determined later in your case.

Most of the time, family law cases in the temporary orders phase will be settled in mediation. Mediation is a process where you and your attorney, your spouse and their attorney and an independent attorney will come together to attempt to settle and negotiate your case. You will typically go to the mediator’s office and that attorney will put you in one room and your spouse in another (with your lawyers). The mediator will then bounce back and forth in between your rooms in hopes of reaching a settlement.

If a settlement is reached, the mediator will draft a document known as a Mediated Settlement Agreement (MSA). That MSA will be the basis from which the temporary orders in your case will be drafted. One of your attorneys will be charged with the responsibility to draft the temporary orders based on the language contained in the MSA. Both attorneys will typically look over the final draft and decide whether or not it fairly reflects the MSA. Once both sides are satisfied it will be signed and sent to the judge for their signature.

If no settlement, then a temporary orders hearing occurs

Tomorrow’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan will center around Temporary Orders. This is a full-fledged hearing that allows you and your opposing party to submit evidence to a judge if a settlement cannot be reached in mediation. It is called a hearing but in reality, it is a mini-trial. A person who walks into the courtroom could not distinguish your hearing from a trial, anyway. If you are interested in what your temporary orders hearing could look like, then please head back here tomorrow.

Questions about family law cases in Texas? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan are honored to be able to serve the community that we work and live in. For us, learning about you and your needs is the basis for developing a strong attorney-client relationship. We hope that you have learned something from our blog post today and always encourage questions and suggestions about the topics we discuss here.

If you have any questions or need clarification on anything you read today please do not hesitate to contact our office. We offer free of charge consultations here in our office six days a week. These consultations are a great opportunity for you to learn more about your case and to have your questions answered in a comfortable environment. We look forward to meeting with you and serving your needs along with those of your family.

Curated by Texas Bar Today. Follow us on Twitter @texasbartoday.



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Want to resolve your Texas family law case outside of court? Remember these rules of engagement

Safety, Substance Abuse and Mental Health: Helping yourself through a Texas family law case

Originally published by The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC Blog.

Family law cases are among the most difficult of all areas of the law because of how intimate the subject nature is. True, you may not be worth millions of dollars like a multinational corporation but your family case deals with subjects that are more important than money. Your marriage, your children, your personal behaviors and that of your spouse are all relevant in a family case. While an investment banker’s work habits may require some embarrassing information to be disclosed in a trial, nothing compares to having to discuss your marriage to a room of strangers in a divorce trial.

Sometimes the material that is relevant in a family law case is more than just intimate or embarrassing. On occasion there is subject matter that relates to family violence, the safety of your children and even mental health disorders that become a huge part of family law cases. In these situations, you need to be able to know what to expect to encounter when dealing with problems associated with matters that are best kept private but are nonetheless relevant to your current family law case. Whether you are concerned for the well-being of your kids, yourself or even your soon-to-be ex-spouse I want to share some tips on how to handle these sorts of circumstances in your own family case.

What to do when you are worried about the safety of your children

If you find yourself worried about the safety of your children there is no time to waste in attempting to do something to remove those concerns from your life and theirs. Imagine being in a position where you had suspicions or thoughts about a hazard in your child’s life but did nothing to remedy that hazard. The next thing you know, something bad happens to your child and you end up blaming yourself for having identified a problem but having done thing to stop that problem from impacting your child.

This happens all too regularly with family law cases, I am afraid to say. For some reason our instincts as parents are inhibited by all of the hoopla associated with a family law case. This is ironic because at the core of what you are doing, no matter if it is a divorce or child custody case, is a desire to improve the lives of your children. The best advice that I can give to you is that you can improve your child’s life by addressing any concerns regarding safety immediately after you learn about them.

First and foremost, concerns about your child’s safety should be addressed by police and Child Protective Services (CPS). It is probable that the police will contact CPS anyways, but you should see to it that the police are aware of any concerns that you have for your child’s well being. If your child comes home from their mother’s house and tells you that her friend is acting inappropriately, your first step should be to talk to your child about any incidents that have occurred. Next, contact the police if that voice in your head tells you to. Better to be safe than sorry.

You need to know that if your spouse has a history with CPS, that will be an especially relevant bit of information that will need to be discussed with the judge. Family violence is a serious subject as judges want to, above all else, keep your children safe. Any words that you or your spouse use towards one another that could be construed as violent or threatening can and will likely be brought up again.

What does this mean to you on a practical level? Well, for starters, you need to get into the mindset that anything and everything that you say can be recorded and documented. This means those words can be taken out of context, potentially, and used against you and to the advantage of your spouse. Meaning: choose your words carefully. Especially choose how you text and email your spouse. Take a moment before responding to a particularly mean or nasty email to consider how your response can be utilized against you by your spouse.

Next, certainly never put your hands on your spouse for any reason. Even if you are justified in touching your spouse do not do it. Remove yourself from any situation that may rise to violence, animosity or anger. It is not worth it to you to be involved in any discussion that is heated. Use your attorney to convey difficult messages if you don’t believe that your spouse can be respectful of you and your opinions. Even if you are merely defending yourself, it can be a disaster to your case if you were to injure your spouse (especially if you are a man).

One thing that I have seen in recent years is people fighting over cell phones. Grabbing for a phone to see if someone has contacted your spouse or for any other reason can be dangerous. Mostly because those sort of actions can quickly escalate and lead to further use of violence or at the very least coarse language. Nothing contained in that phone is worth potentially losing time with your kids over- or even going to jail for. Be aware of your surroundings and do what you can to de-escalate any situation that you believe could lead to heated tempers.

Is protective order relevant to your situation?

A lot of clients ask about protective orders at the beginning of a child custody or divorce case. The thought being that one could potentially serve the purpose of de-escalating potentially dangerous situations. A protective order can serve a purpose when family violence has occurred in the home recently and that the violence is likely to continue but for the obtaining of a protective order.

If you get a protective order against your spouse that can be severely detrimental to his case in a divorce or child custody matter. You would need to decide whether or not to pursue a protective order that protects you and your kids or just you. While in today’s world we do not ordinarily consider these situations all that often, the fact is that men can be abused, as well as women. Think about all the information we are told about how women are reticent to come forward with details about abuse that they have suffered. The same can be said for men. Men are typically even less willing than women to come forward with details about abuse that they have suffered.

Handling issues regarding mental health in conjunction with a family law case

These are two subjects that come up all the time in family law cases. In some cases they are the primary reasons why there are child custody issues or circumstances that have led to discussions about divorce. Whether your spouse has been diagnosed with having a mental impairment or other mental health difficulty, or you suspect him or her of having a condition like this, mental health problems shine through brightly in many family cases.

Do you suspect your spouse of being bi-polar, having anxiety or being depressed? Some clients of mine in the past have commented that their spouse must be bi-polar considering how hot and cold he/she is. One minute they could be having a conversation together, and the next minute that same spouse could have grabbed a knife to attack our client. Behavior like this that is inconsistent and aggressive can be downright dangerous.

Another problem that clients frequently run into are issues related to a parent’s inability to take their medications as prescribed. The result is comments that relate to how good a parent your spouse might be when he or she is taking their medication, but if that medication is not taken as prescribed your spouse may be the most disagreeable person on earth. It is understandable to not want to take medication when those medicines cause you to feel out of sorts, but that concern needs to be balanced against the desire to keep your safe.

Finally, you need to speak to your attorney about your own history involving drugs and alcohol. The reality for many parents is that if there is a history of drug or alcohol abuse, you probably do not want to share those details with anyone. However, the worst thing that you can do is to keep that history a secret until a mediation or hearing date. Having your lawyer blind-sided by an opposing attorney who disclosed a history of drug and alcohol abuse is not a good plan to have.

Beware of back and forth bickering

Sometimes it is inevitable that you and your spouse will get into an argument. That happens even in the best functioning of marriages. Those arguments usually go nowhere and just leave everyone involved stressed to the max and angry that the discussion was ever started in the first place. Many times, we can see these discussions/arguments happening ahead of time and it takes a little bit of self-control to simply avoid them altogether.

There is nothing more awkward and potentially detrimental to your case to get into an elaborate game of bomb throwing in a courtroom. It typically will happen like this: both you and your spouse have allegations that the other acted inappropriately, was emotionally abusive or generally did something that was harmful to the kids. You then use your time on the witness stand to defend yourself and then hurl a few bombs her way.

What this ends up being is a back and forth game of unsubstantiated allegations. Instead of using your time productively to testify credibly for yourself and against your spouse, you are going to alienate your judge and distance yourself so far from the facts of your case that you may have trouble getting back on track. I have seen this happen many times in other cases and even in my own cases. Emotionally it may be satisfying to fire back at your spouse when he or she makes allegations against you, but in the long run that sort of behavior rarely if ever turns out to work to your advantage.

The people in your life that you trust are there to be your support system

We all have moments in our lives that require the support of others. Whether it is during a difficult family law case, a death in the family or the loss of a job, we cannot always be at our best. It is during those times that we rely on others to prop us up and support us. With that said, keep in mind that there is nothing wrong with doing so. At some point in the future it is likely that you can repay that person by being there for him or her when they need you.

Remember, also, that your mental and physical well-being matters. Staying in a marriage for the sake of your kids is noble, but ultimately self-defeating. Your kids deserve a parent who is at their best. You cannot be at your best when you are involved in a marriage that is emotionally

unfulfilling or worse yet- violent. We will discuss this topic when we pick up where we left off today in tomorrow’s blog post.

Questions about family law cases in Texas? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan would like to express their sincere appreciation for your interest in today’s blog post. We post articles like this every single day in order to share some of the knowledge that we can have gained through serving people in our community just like you.

In order to speak to one of our licensed family law attorneys about your case, please do not hesitate to contact us today. A consultation at our office is absolutely free of charge and can go a long way towards helping you better understand your circumstances and how to help your family and yourself.

Curated by Texas Bar Today. Follow us on Twitter @texasbartoday.



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3 Things You Must Ask a Family Law Attorney Before You Hire Them

3 Things You Must Ask a Family Law Attorney Before You Hire Them

While there are a number of questions that you should ask a family attorney prior to hiring them, below are three things that you must ask before making a decision about your representation.

The post 3 Things You Must Ask a Family Law Attorney Before You Hire Them appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

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How to Handle Divorce in a Family Business

How to Handle Divorce in a Family Business

Here are some tips on how to handle a divorce when your rely on your partner in a family business.

The post How to Handle Divorce in a Family Business appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

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Family Lawyer Answers Most Important Divorce Questions

Family Lawyer Answers Most Important Divorce Questions

Divorce can be a painful and traumatic experience not only for the couples involved but also for their family and friends. If you are planning to file for a divorce, make sure to read these questions first. According to statistics, about half of marriages in the United States end up in divorce. The most common […]

The post Family Lawyer Answers Most Important Divorce Questions appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

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Should You Go No Contact With A Family Member?

Should You Go No Contact With A Family Member?

 

My heart goes out to you if you are faced with this very difficult question.

Maybe you are being abused by a family member and no matter how much you have tried to reason with them, stop the nastiness, or even withdraw for a while … things just aren’t getting better.

And maybe you have the beliefs that ‘family is forever’ and ‘blood is thicker than water’.

How can you protect yourself and stop getting hurt? How can you regain your lifeforce, and NOT feel guilty about saying ‘No More!’ to this person?

I promise you there is a way, where you won’t feel like you are doing the wrong thing, because when you get CLEAR, you will lovingly and powerfully offer that family member a chance to make THEIR choice. And you can do this GUILT FREE.

Find out how in this very important Thriver TV episode, which I know, if you are suffering from family narcissistic abuse, will help you so much.

 

 

 

Video Transcript

Today’s Thriver TV focuses on a very big question.

Many of you are suffering abuse from a narcissistic family member.

You may believe you can’t go No Contact because as we were all brought up to believe – family always sticks together, and we are responsible and have obligations to them.

Or maybe, understandably, you are forever hopeful that you can finally have the relationship with this family member that you have always wanted.

In today’s TTV episode I want to take you through this, how to know when you may need to go No Contact with an abusive family member, and what that looks like, as well as how to do it guilt and pain free.

And, if you don’t have to go No Contact, what that looks like too.

So just before we dive in, I would love to thank all of you who have subscribed to my channel and for supporting the Thriver Mission, and I’d love to remind you to like this video if you enjoy it!

Okay, let’s begin…

Why Are Family Relationships Deemed Harder To Disconnect From?

So many people say, ‘This is my mother, father, brother, sister or even child, HOW can I turn my back on them?’.

I can assure you that there are countless people in this Community who have laid the ultimate No Contact boundary with abusive family members, even with their own children.

It doesn’t mean that they are bad people for abandoning key family members. It means they finally realised that this person was destroying them, as well as the people and missions that were important to them.

They also understood that in no way was their involvement with this person helping them to wake up, take responsibility or get better.

Let me put it to you this way – imagine someone drowning in a toxic vat of poison, and you jumped in to try to get them out of it, and they had no inclination to leave the vat and instead just wanted to pull you deeper into it with them.

Is your sense of loyalty and love for them, or your desire for their loyalty and love worth destroying yourself for?

The fact that you are watching this episode probably means that you have already tried everything over the years to pull them out of this stinking toxic vat, but nothing has worked. And, the more you have tried, the more you are getting repeatedly slimed and infected as well.

I know you may not think you have a choice.

The ONLY choice you need to make is to live a wholesome truly healthy life. There is no other choice than that.

I promise you there will be a way that your empowered choice will grant the abusive family member their own choice, and that is – either get on board with being respectful – or don’t.

And the result will mean that you can be free to take your precious soul energy back for yourself and the people and missions in your life that are healthy. Those being the ones that will respond and come with you on this incredible journey of life.

 

The Thriver Quantum Truth

If you love a toxic person then you truly have a responsibility to be a living example of health to them – which is ‘I will not experience your abuse anymore. This is where I draw my line’.

That is the only way you will help them heal (if that is possible), because NOW if they want to remain connected, they will need to be a respectful decent person around you to do so.

If you honour yourself in honourable ways then you honour all of the Field, including all others.

You are not honouring anyone, and certainly not yourself, by allowing another’s abuse into your life.

I promise you that with key people in my life, including my own son, I had to lay the ultimate boundary, ‘This is what I will accept and what I won’t and there can’t be any more contact unless we meet at a healthier place’.

The most effective way to teach people how to treat you is to be lovingly and totally honest – tell difficult people that you want a more loving, closer relationship with them, and if it’s not possible then you will disconnect. And mean it. Words aren’t enough. Boundaries mean following through with action.

Unless you are TRUE to your own soul and are the steadfast guardian of it, you are never whole enough to truly love, honour or contribute to anyone else’s life anyway.

How can you be, when you are diminished, victimised, unloved, unrecognised, unappreciated and resentful?

 

My Journey With Family Members

I knew after previously suffering narcissistic abuse and continually staying attached trying to change people and being re-traumatised, almost fatally, that I was NEVER going to experience that again … even from my own flesh and blood.

Was I just ‘able’ to logically get to this level of being prepared to ‘lose it all to get it all’ and follow through?

Hell NO!

Once upon a time I was riddled with guilt, the fear of smearing and what people would say, and the terror of being alone and losing key family members that I had wanted a loving relationship with all my life.

I had a lot of shifting on painful, stuck beliefs to do. And I diligently did that work with NARP and later my Transforming Family of Origin Wounds Program (which follows on from NARP as a powerful clean-up of family trauma).

After doing this work and honouring my soul by speaking up about what I needed and being prepared never to compromise myself again, if respect and decency were not forthcoming, key relationships in my life transformed beyond description.

Some others have left my life without pain or regret. We just are not a match and that is okay.

I’ve let go of any ‘what ifs and regret’ with Quanta Freedom Healing. I’m free to be me, and they are free to be whatever their version of life is as well.

 

Downscaling Unhealthy Expectations

Okay, the most important thing you need to start understanding is not even about the family member – it truly starts with you.

There is an ACCEPTANCE you need to reach and get clear about.

If people don’t have the resources, they don’t have the resources.

You may want your mother to truly love, connect with you and share and listen to you from the heart as you have seen how other people have that with their mothers. BUT … maybe your mother is not capable of that.

Maybe she had a difficult childhood. Maybe she has never been connected to vulnerability in her heart or the ability to be deep, caring and compassionate with anyone. Maybe she only ever knew about survival and practicalities, because her generation didn’t embrace empathy and emotional connection.

When we feel like we have missed out, we need to accept they may NEVER be able to grant what we want in the way that we feel we need it from them. This means we need to come home to be the loving parent and inner supportive, caring force that we never received, to ourselves.

This is one of the reasons why NARP has been so successful for not just healing people in this community from abusive love intimate partners, it also reaches back into the trauma from our families, and clears this – from our parents and ancestors that caused us the disconnection from not loving and being whole within ourselves.

Life is bountiful and plentiful, there is love and wholeness everywhere. We suffer when we believe our source of these things has to come from specific sources. It is an incredibly liberating human graduation when we realise that this is a lie that has kept us victimised and traumatised.

You can set yourself free from this.

Understanding this was huge for me.

It truly changes everything.

 

Laying Your Boundaries With Family Members

If you have been healing your traumas from childhood and know that you can downscale your expectations healthily and be at peace with family member relationships then this is great.

However, if you know there are still behaviours that cross your boundaries and hurt you, then there is more work to do.

This starts by being very clear about what you will and won’t accept in your life and having the inner deservedness to know you can generate these things regardless of what other people do or don’t choose to do.

People don’t have to agree with your boundaries and truths for you to live them.

And no matter how much people may try to guilt you, manipulate you or abuse you to get you to drop your boundaries, your true power comes from living them anyway.

Here is where we champion ourselves or remain victims to others.

Are you able to walk your truth regardless?

Are you able to anchor into the Creation of your True Life, rather than keep handing your power away to others, even if you lose these people?

These are very important questions – because when you lay boundaries (truthfully and lovingly is best – more about how to soon!) you cannot be attached to outcomes.

Boundaries are NOT to make anyone do something. They are only about giving them options.

Rather, boundaries are about YOU DOING something – taking back your life and control – making your decisions about how your life goes.

It goes like this: ‘You can join me if you like, and not if you don’t. Either way, I am walking this truth regardless’.

It is normal to be terrified about having honest, difficult, self-honouring conversations. Confrontations are hard yet an incredibly rewarding thing to do.

When you get to this level, you will no longer ever be abused. If you don’t want to work on yourself to get to this level of development, you will always continue to be susceptible to abuse.

At this level of self, your life will shape into disappointing family members stepping up to meet you at this higher level of respectful communion and love, or they will leave your experience, causing your life to open up, generate and accept REAL loving and genuine connections in all areas, even if that has never been previously possible in your life.

Do you believe your soul evolution is going to get handed to you on a silver plate? Think again … it isn’t, the relationships you need to transform, or leave, were always meant to be the most painful ones that you could imagine. How else were you going to become a full source to self, generating your life with life and others powerfully and healthily?

 

Laying Your Boundaries With Family Members

If you can’t downscale expectations and be at peace with the way a family member behaves or treats you, then it’s time to show up honestly.

If you have terror about doing that or are not prepared to honour yourself in the decision they make – then there is inner work to do.

Ultimately, to grant them the opportunity to be respectful, you do need to be willing to lose it all to get it all.

And possibly more than once to see if it is real. They may decide to meet you ‘this’ time at your needs, yet the actions don’t meet the words in the future. Then you go back to No Contact unless they choose to take responsibility and show up respectfully.

And … you need to mean it.

Can you see how this is THEIR choice and not yours?

You are simply living your life truthfully and lovingly (love always starts with healthy self-love and devotion). You are healing, growing and evolving yourself out of painful family toxicity and leading the way for your future generations.

You are breaking the cycles of abuse.

You are being the change that you want to live in your life, and see in this world and in all families, from the inside out.

That is not just your Soul Right it is your Soul Contribution to ALL others.

Can you understand that if we all took that level of radical personal responsibility that there would be no more abuse or abused people in the world?

Let’s go back to the vital understanding – If you honour yourself, you honour all of Life in honourable ways.

Now do you understand why? Especially with KEY people in your life?

If so – write ‘I get it’ below.

Are you ready to join myself and other countless Thrivers who live this life of empowered personal responsibility and receive wonderful genuine interpersonal relationships?

If you have had enough of abuse at any level, including from family members, find out HOW we do this by clicking this link.

And if you enjoyed this video make sure you give it a thumbs up and share with the people you love and your communities so that they and their families can also break free from abuse.

I’m so looking forward to answering your comments and questions about this very important topic below.

 

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