by Mia Poppe | Feb 15, 2023 | Divorce, Mediation |
Divorce mediation is an alternative process to divorce litigation and is an important option to consider when a couple decides to divorce. Mediation is not for everyone. It is important to understand, many divorcing couples are not “good fits” for the mediation process. But, Mediation can save time, and money and alleviate some of the emotional and physical tolls of the divorce for you, your spouse, and your children.
Your divorce mediation will likely proceed through 5 stages. Each stage is designed to move you closer to a successful agreement between you and your spouse, on custody, child support, equitable distribution, spousal support, and counsel/professional fees.
Stage #1: Laying the Foundation
In Stage 1 of mediation, your mediator will discuss what mediation is, what makes it successful, how participants are expected to behave, and the approach that will be taken to reach a fruitful resolution. Properly laying the foundation is all about setting proper expectations.
Your mediator will discuss the importance of a constructive and clear line of communication and identify the roles that each participant (including the mediator) will play in the process.
Stage #2: Discovery
In the discovery stage, your mediator will work to understand the relevant facts and financials of your case. Think of this stage as you and your spouse playing catch-up with the mediator on key aspects of your life. Your mediator will ask detailed questions about your financials, children, assets, taxes, insurance, etc. You may not know the answer to some of these questions, and that’s ok. For example, your mediator may want very specific information such as your life insurance policy number. You will most likely leave these discovery sessions with homework or a to-do list.
The discovery stage is critical to the mediation process because these are the many variables that will be “in play” as you negotiate a resolution. To this end, you must share everything with your mediator. Leave no stone unturned.
Most importantly, the discovery stage is not about “litigating” your or your spouse’s wants. That is for later in the mediation process. The discovery stage is simply about verifiable facts.
Stage #3: Framing
The framing stage lays the groundwork for the negotiations that come in Stage 4. Framing allows you and your spouse to identify and express your vision for what a successful divorce looks like. For example, what is your vision for the custody of your children? How should your debt be divided? In expressing your vision and goals, your mediator will identify areas of friction that will need to be addressed through negotiation. Conversely, you will also find where your and your spouse’s interests overlap.
In this process, the focus is only on the expression of your goals and vision. Not those of your spouse. This is a safe space for you to express yourself. It is preferred to hold framing sessions jointly so that both spouses are on the same page and have proper expectations for negotiations. However, spouses may not always feel comfortable sharing their goals openly with each other. So, as a result, framing sessions can be held separately.
Remember, the art of mediation is “compromise” so as you frame your interests, understand that you will not get everything you want. Make sure you have a clear priority of what interests matter most to you and which ones you can compromise on.
Stage #4: Negotiation
It’s important to approach negotiation with the mindset that you and your spouse are going to work together to solve a problem. You are not two opposing parties working against each other. Otherwise, you’d be litigating your case in divorce court. To that end, understand that you will have to compromise. Everyone will not get everything they want.
Mediation fails at this stage if spouses do not approach it with the correct mentality. If the mentality changes to that of opposition, it’s the role of the mediator to quickly change the tone of the conversation. Expert mediators do this swiftly and with great tact.
At the end of the negotiation, you and your spouse will have reached a verbal agreement on the core interests that were discussed.
Stage #5: Settlement Agreement
Now, it’s time to put it in a binding agreement. This formalization of your mediation takes the form of a settlement agreement. If a mediation has been conducted successfully, most spouses sign the settlement agreement without undue delay.
Be sure to take your time to review your settlement agreement with your trusted advisers and your attorney. Once you’re ready, you can sign, knowing you’ve successfully mediated your divorce and saved your family time, money, and the emotional toll of litigation.
If you or someone you know is considering divorce or going through a divorce, we can help. Reach out to our offices today to schedule a consultation.
Let Me Be Your Brave!
Mia Poppe, Esq.
by Mia Poppe | Nov 16, 2022 | Custody & Parental Access, Divorce, Family Law |
Navigating the complexities of divorce is a challenge even in amicable breakups. The holidays can compound stress and anxiety especially when children are involved. Create a season of joy with the intention to break away from the drama of divorce for the sake of your children and your own mental wellness.
Take Control of Your Actions
The holidays are not a time for fighting. Call your own internal truce and refuse to engage in any negativity with your ex. Abolish tit-for-tat. If your ex is not willing to take these steps, you can still choose to keep the peace. Simply do not go there.
Simply Smile at Aggressive Texts and Emails – You cannot control the behavior of your ex, but you can control how you respond. Stop. Breathe. Smile knowing that you are in control of yourself and that you have set your boundary and will not be enmeshed in nasty communications.
Radically Take Care of Yourself – Take on only what you believe you are able to manage and no more. Be prepared to say ‘no’ to invitations that exceed your bandwidth. Choose wisely for yourself to travel or to host. Implement and stick to self-care habits including a good night’s sleep, eating well, and exercise. Fortify your mind with walks, books, and quiet time. My two favorite books are the Bible and The Power of Your Subconscious Mind by Joseph Murphy.
Give Yourself a Gift – This season don’t forget that really important person in your life – YOU! Head to the salon for a new hairstyle, manicure, or pedicure. Take the day off to have lunch with a friend. On a budget? Snuggle up with a book and a cup of hot chocolate, or meet your friend in the park with a brown bag lunch. Do something special for yourself!
Don’t Do it Alone – The holidays are not a time for self-isolation. Avoid falling into that emotional black hole by surrounding yourself with a strong network be it family, friends, school, or church. Lean into a licensed counselor if you are having trouble coping, and do the same for your child.
Create Lasting Holiday Memories
Divorce is hard on children as they grapple with emotions of ‘why’. Focus on relevant celebrations that bring you and your children together.
Decorate the House – Pull out your favorite decorations and throw a festive party with your child. Create new traditions such as baking cookies, threading popcorn garland, or making gingerbread houses. Play holiday music and dance around the house. Ask your child for ideas and include them as part of the planning.
Be Flexible – Your child may want to spend time with the other parent and flexibility is key. Depending on your divorce agreement, you may trade off holidays or share each holiday. Encourage your child every step of the way and forgo any guilt trips. If you do not spend the actual holiday with them, schedule a ‘special celebration’ before or after.
Manage Your Emotions – Don’t give place to negative thoughts and negative self-talk. On purpose, think about good things. Think about the gratitude you have for your children. Think about the gratitude you have for your family and your friends that have become your family. If you need to cry and if you need to feel sorry for yourself, give yourself a time limit. For example, give yourself two weeks to grieve the loss of what was and then mentally move on. Understand it is okay to give yourself time to be hurt, to be angry, and to be disappointed. The emphasis is on time, setting a time and date.
Consider the Whys – Thoughtfully consider why you would badmouth your ex-spouse to your children, and their other parent. Ask yourself why you would engage in the Spanish Inquisition when your children return from your ex or soon-to-be ex-spouse. There is no good reason for interrogating your children after their visit with the other parent. Thoughtfully consider why you would send menacing emails or texts complaining about why the children were tired in the morning because your ex didn’t put them to bed on time. There is no good reason for launching criticism of your ex via email and text.
Keep it Simple – Guilt is the quickest way to get caught up in the more-is-more frenzy. Spouses may compete to see who can buy more gifts or more expensive gifts. Don’t let the materialism of the holidays cause you to forget what the season is about. Set reasonable expectations for gift-giving and focus on quality time with your child.
Children become adults and what stays with them are memories, not things. Use this holiday season to create new memories that carry you and your children forward. Divorce during the holidays does not have to mean that every holiday thereafter will be a time of sorry. You alone have the power to make the choice for how you will approach the holidays.
This season, we are here to support you through your divorce. If you are someone you know is going through a divorce, contact us today.
Let Me Be Your Brave!
Mia Poppe, Esq.
Law Firm of Poppe & Associates, PLLC.
by Mia Poppe | Oct 25, 2022 | Divorce, Family Law |
You’re married to a narcissist and ready to break free. First, congratulations on empowering yourself to take this next, crucial step toward your new life. Second, it is critical that you take time to find the right attorney to represent you. Divorce is painful but divorcing an abusive spouse can be downright scary. The abuser will come at you and come at you. Make sure you have the proper support in your corner.
The Silence of Narcissistic Abuse
Narcissistic abuse is often silent to the outside world, but for those living in a narcissistic relationship, it is an everyday abuse that destroys self-esteem, confidence, and personal identity. Every week in our office during conference calls with incredibly smart, beautiful, and successful clients just like you, they share their stories:
“No one understands me.” “I’m terrified every day.” “I’m being gaslighted.”
“I’m financially and emotionally drained.” “I feel isolated.” “What about my children?”
These are women (and men) who to the outside world appear to be confident, successful, and strong individuals; active in the community and surrounded by friends. But internally these individuals have been torn down, degraded, and left not knowing what to do. They are highly intelligent and capable individuals who do not know how to untangle themselves from their never-ending entanglement with their narcissistic spouse.
Finding A Divorce Attorney
The bridge over these very troubling waters lies in your selection of the right divorce attorney for you. How do you do that? How do you make sure that you are hiring or retaining a divorce attorney who will best represent you? Here are three must-take steps:
1. Interview Several Attorneys
Do not hire your attorney simply because your neighbor or best friend used them as their attorney. Every relationship is different just as every divorce is different. Their needs with their attorney are not the same as yours. Interview multiple attorneys to gain an understanding of their expertise, knowledge about your type of situation, practice style, and even personality.
2. Ask for Referrals
This is your life! This is your child’s life. When interviewing an attorney don’t be shy and ask for referrals from other former clients. Tell them you’d like the name of one or two clients that would be willing to speak to you about their experiences with the law firm. A well-regarded attorney will not hesitate to provide referrals.
3. Trust Your Gut
No one knows how to take care of you like you. Trust your gut. If it doesn’t feel right during the interview with a potential attorney, trust your gut and walk away.
Narcissists carry an air of superiority, even believing they are above the law. Facing divorce can cause a significant shift in the narcissistic personality as they fight to maintain control of their spouse and their fake reputation.
If you are in a situation where you’re trying to find your way to a divorce with a narcissist, know this – you are not alone. Our team brings significant legal acumen and personal experience in matters of narcissistic abuse and divorce. We are here to help.
Interview us to learn more about our team, culture, and process. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.
Let Me Be Your Brave!
Mia Poppe, Esq.
Law Firm of Poppe & Associates, PLLC.