Letter To MacKenzie Bezos

To: MacKenzie Bezos
c/o The Los Angeles Times

Dear Mackenzie,

As a divorce mediator I would, on behalf of my colleagues, like to thank you for the brilliant encapsulation of the goals that we’d like all our couples to achieve. As a divorced mom I know that these are the things that my kids should never have doubts about for the rest of our lives together. The quote below will be displayed in our office so that every couple walking in the door sees how high the bar is set and what we are committed to accomplishing with them.

Gratefully Yours,

Stephanie M. Maloney
PeaceTalks Mediation

“We want to make people aware of a development in our lives. As our family and close friends know, after a long period of loving exploration and trial separation, we have decided to divorce and continue our shared lives as friends. We feel incredibly lucky to have found each other and deeply grateful for every one of the years we have been married to each other. If we had known we would separate after 25 years, we would do it all again. We’ve had such a great life together as a married couple, and we also see wonderful futures ahead, as parents, friends, partners in ventures and projects, and as individuals in pursuing ventures and adventures. Though the labels might be different, we remain a family, and we remain cherished friends.”

Parkland Mom’s Valentine

In every family situation as soon as couples walk through the PeaceTalks door they want to know how to protect the children.

It’s always about the kids first and last when the word divorce becomes part of the conversation.The threat of becoming estranged fromorlosing a child can start a feeling of panic that has an effect on everybody in the family. So parents immediately take steps to diffuse those feelings and replace them with reassurancesthat through mutual cooperation and unquestioning support they will remain a family.

As I looked at some tributes on this first anniversary of the Parkland shootings I was struck by a letter from a mom who has led a movement that you might want to support when you look at your kids and imagine “Alyssa’s Law” actually helping to prevent even one death.

Here’s link to the letter from Alyssa’s mom on the anniversary of the last time she saw her daughter alive.

https://alyssa.dearworld.org

“Taxi Driver” Divorce Delayed

Robert De Niro and Grace Hightower

It would be difficult to find a celebrity that tries harder to avoid publicity than Robert De Niro but privacy is the true cost of fame and everybody pays eventually.

This is a brilliant example of how cooperation could have saved everyone incredibleembarrassment and pain. What struck me immediately from all the stories was the quote from his friend:

 A source close to De Niro was quoted as saying that “This could be resolved very privately and quietly behind closed doors but“Bobby’s”estranged wife is torturing the publicity shy actor by forcing him to go to court and run a gauntletof reporters and photographers.”

The evident anger that is displayed here gets a little more confusing when you consider that this is their secondtime in divorce court. The couple first filed for a separation in 1999 —at the time they were in a custody fight over their now-20-year-old son, Elliot. They later reconciled and renewed their vows in 2004.

So the publicity the family members are being flooded with represents the exact thing they could have avoided had they been open to engaging a mediator instead of a Judge. All of this could have been less painful if they had a mutually satisfactory “Settlement Agreement” in place as a kind of protectionand bond. This is precisely the goal of every PeaceTalks relationship, to provide couples with an agreeable path to successful cooperation.

Here are a few descriptions of scenes, which could have been avoided, at the courthouse:

Robert De Niro struck his best “Taxi Driver” glare for reporters as he tried to keep his divorce and custody battle quiet by securing an “Anonymous v. Anonymous” caption on the case but word of his presence quickly spread and the gawkers gathered.

They had been waging a secret custody battle over the 7-year-old girl they had through a surrogate. The “Raging Bull” actor kept the divorce filing quiet by securing a coveted “Anonymous v. Anonymous” caption on the case, records show.

He remained adamant about keeping details of the negotiations hush-hush as he and his estranged wife of more than 20 years, Grace Hightower, sat at opposite ends of the courtroom. At one point, he shushed his lawyers as they hashed out custody arrangements for the couple’s 7-year-old daughter in the courtroom gallery.

The two studiously avoided one another — De Niro hid behind his newspaper while Hightower, read a book and glanced at her phone. Sources said the two have a prenuptial agreement but Justice Matthew Cooper said that the former couple had made “some progress on some difficult issues” but will still have to resolve “particulars” of a settlement and exchange statements of net worth.

De Niro and Hightower had just spent hours in Manhattan Supreme Court, where their lawyers holed up behind closed doors to hash out their divorce.

It’s torture indeed being forced to spend the day in court, but with mediation, very possibly avoidable for people that can agree to be agreeable, if only for the kids.

Creative Co-Parenting

One of the great dynamics that we participate in at our Divorce Mediation sessions at PeaceTalks is the age-old mantra “necessity is the mother of invention.” Once we’re able to establish a common goal for our couples in each of the areas involving conflict it’s amazing how quickly they discover resolutions through cooperation and creativity. By treating each situation and its possible solutions differently, according to the needs of the moment, people find a way to do what is best for the family, especially when it means making some unexpected “cooperative adjustments” in the schedule.

Adjustments will always be part of the daily plan but they will vary with the respective ages of the kids, as the issues will be different with each age group. I’ve put in a link to a very informative piece by a local authority on this subject and here are a couple of highlights:

Babies and toddlers tend to be the most challenging group for which to plan a reliable schedule. Babies need consistency, and even little changes in their schedules can put them in a state of distress. It is important for the other parent to see children at this age often—around 2 to 3 times a week for several hours. 

As your child gets older, it is a good idea to slowly transition into overnight visits in order to help your child adjust to an unfamiliar schedule. Alternating one full day every other week is a good way to see if your child is okay being away from their primary caretaker.

Teens and older children have less predictable schedules and are thus harder to accommodate. It is important to consider your child’s social lives and busy schedules when planning how to organize visits between parents.

While flexibility is essential when first trying out a new plan, it is important to eventually agree on a fixed schedule in order to help your child maintain stability in their everyday lives.

Leyla Balakhane is a distinguished and experienced mediator, facilitator, coach, and trainer in the Los Angeles area, specializing in high conflict divorce and family law.

https://www.mediate.com/articles/balakhane-effective-parenting-plans.cfm

Co-Parenting Before and After Divorce

From the time that the emotional separation begins on the path to a divorce there will be transition period while still sharing the house and marking the beginning of the co-parenting puzzle maze.

Professionals reiterate that that with the right effort, on both parts, this transition can be smoother and less disruptive to the kids. Setting up and following the same mutually agreed upon guidelines that will eventually be in place after the divorce is finalized can help. Here are a few suggestions that have common threads from all advisors about making the co-parenting process a supportive one from the real start of the emotional separation through to a new life after the settlement.

The first signs of the end of a marriage unleash anger, anxiety and fear. This is normal, and these feelings will subside. In the meantime be good to yourself. Research suggests that people taking care of their own emotional needs have an easier time managing the day-to-day difficulties of divorce.

It’s not a battle. Divorce mediation is often a better alternative to litigation and spending time in court. Research shows that mediation can be beneficial for emotional satisfaction, spousal relationships and children’s needs.

Talking with your soon-to-be-ex-spouse may be the last thing you want to do, but communication makes divorce healthier and easier for everyone involved. Wait until you’re feeling calm and write down the points you want to discuss. Use the list as your guide. It helps take the emotion out of face-to-face confrontations. . We suggest listening and presenting requests for the future instead of trying to find the blame or what went wrong in the relationship.

Parents can ease the child’s transition by keeping conflict away from the kids. Parental conflict increases the risk of psychological problems for kids. Come up with a mutually agreed upon plan and present it to the children together and keep the lines of communication open. Kids benefit from having conversations about the changes their family is experiencing.Kids also do better when they maintain close contact with both parents.

Tap into your support network, turning to family and friends for assistance and comfort.

Formal support groups can also help you cope with the many emotions of a marriage ending.

You may benefit from speaking to a psychologist to help deal with their emotions and adjust to the changes. Psychologists can also help you think carefully about what went wrong in your marriage so you can heal and avoid repeating any negative patterns in your next relationship.

If you think it’s time to talk to someone please contact my office and we’ll explore your options.

Co-Parenting: Your Own Way Is Best

Fortunately, most of the couples we see at Peace Talks are already focused on the common goal of an amicable agreement, the only choice that is always best for the children. One of the first things we do is help set up a structure for times and places and the necessary exchanges to be performed. There is still always work to be done as far as all the holidays, and vacations, that are in addition to the day-to-day coordination of school or day care handoffs. In order to solve just this part of the “Rubik’s Divorce Cube” it takes cooperation and patience, never mind the inevitable emotional twists that come with raising children in a house divided.

We see what has worked for some couples trying to do the right thing for the kids and hopefully, in our mediations, pass along those learned experiences. There are strong similarities in the suggestions and examples that experts point to in describing various positive co-parenting tools but it all seems to point towards findingyour own style. What works for you and your kids will always be best for the family.

Parents can usually sort out whatever comes up when they work as a team. When Flexibility, Consistency, Courtesy and Consideration are shown by both parents it creates a safer environment for resilient development on the part of the children. It also works to prevent playing one parent against the other, an almost “goes without saying”for nearly all children of divorce.

Divorce Counseling is something that many couples have discovered as a helpful tool that also incorporates a team approach which, in turn, reinforces that sense of consistency.They find this sort of counseling helpful as it gives them a place where it is ok to talk, for the sake of the children, without the influence of the children”

One thing that isn’t often talked about, but it’s more important than parents may realize. When you’ve dropped your kids off with your ex, it means you have something few parents ever do: free time.This is the time to go out with friends or take in a grown-up movie. Taking some personal time can help you be the best parent possible for your kids.

Keeping sometraditions after the divorce takes work but it all seems to help everybody at some level. As we move into the holiday season if you have some questions about what may help your situation please give the office a call.

Kanye West’s Crazy World

Kanye West. Photo courtesy NBC

Hear Ye Hear Ye, but don’t believe “Ye”, as Mr. West now wants to be called by his fans, some of whom might be your kids. The untelevised pro-Trump rant, while wearing a red MAGA hat, will eventually be seen and heard and should be put into some sort of context. Whether single or co-parenting the dirty work of explainingunusual behavior by popular icons has to be done without foisting an opinion on anyone. Kids need to draw their own conclusions, and should, as long as they have factual material as an information source.

This is not about censorship. Even if you don’t agree with someone, it’s ok, as long as the disagreement is based in reality and not in “Reality TV”. Speaking of which, it will be interesting to see if Kim (Mrs. “Ye”) Kardashian, will be morebothered by being “Trumped” than she was while watching the show. Is this first celebrity Trump-related divorce in the making-who knows but is someone is designing aMake America Grope Again” hat?

This could be a rare opportunity for some effort to go towards an actual common goal, as impossible as that can be for some separated families. We stay away from politics for very good reasons but right now our futures seem to dictate that we stay clear on what we really want for our kids, and do whatever is possible.

Click here for a link to an article from the Washington Post by Amy D. Wang

More Sleep, Less Screen for Kids

I don’t know how to get the kids more sleep but this letter certainly presents a solid case for making it a cooperative priority whenever physically possible.

This response to an LA Times editorial about adjusting school start times to favor the biorhythms of students made a strong case but will face enormous resistance from the establishment.

I’ve added a link to getting a library card as most health professionals suggest avoiding electronic screens for thirty minutes or so prior to sleeping.

Get your library card here

To the editor: Your editorial, “It’s too early to move all California middle and high schools to a later start,” ignored the overwhelming body of research showing the definitive benefits of more sleep for students — something researchers have known for more than 25 years, much of which has been reported in the Los Angeles Times dating back at least to 1997.

Furthermore, the editorial contradicts itself, stating, on one hand, that “better sleep for teenagers is associated with improved mood, higher academic achievement and reduced rates of drinking and drug use,” while also claiming the research does not make a convincing case for delaying California’s middle- and high-school start times.

Although we know from hundreds of different school districts that students and communities benefit when classes start at 8:30 a.m., adult interests have prevented most local districts from acting on this knowledge for a generation. That is why California’s SB 328 is a landmark piece of public health legislation. It empowers every district to start at times that align with the biological sleep shift in the adolescent brain, enabling all students across California’s socioeconomic divide to obtain more sleep and, as a result, stay in school, do better academically and live healthier, safer, more successful lives.

Amy R. Wolfson, Ph.D, Baltimore
Judith Owens, MD, Cambridge, Mass.
Rafael Pelayo, MD, Stanford, Calif.
Terra Ziporyn Snider, Ph.D, Severna Park, Md.

Wolfson is a professor of psychology at Loyola University Maryland, Owens is a professor of neurology and director of the Center for Pediatric Sleep Disorders at Harvard, Pelayo is a clinical professor at the Stanford Center for Sleep Science and Medicine, and Terra Ziporyn Snider is executive director of the group Start School Later.

Read full article here

Some Co-Parenting Needs an Assist

One of the most frustrating constants we see in Divorce Mediation is that a surprising percentage of the children involved will have adjustment issues that will need to be addressed by a an outside specialist. It’s a difficult decision point to face as I can bear witness to in my own life.

Now matter how amiable the atmosphere may be, somekids are going to have a tough time with the divorce and its personal consequences.  These conflicts will continue so the tone that is set will be important in the years, and with the adjustments, to come as situations change.

The therapists I work with emphasize the importance of not hesitating to make a call, explore situational options, and talk to someone. It’s only through a dialogue that you will find the right person for your child and for you. Your insurance will dictate your institutional choices but there may be private avenues to explore that are accessible through personal connections.

If you’d like some suggestions for yourself or a friend contact my office about some associate referrals.

Ms. Nightingale Would Approve

The Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project is the only organization in Arizona that provides free legal and social services to detained men, women, and children under threat of deportation.

This got my attention in connection with a story about the horrible backlog of separated families created by inept policies and procedures. It’s difficult to focus on how to help when there are so many unjust situations but I think this one deserves a spotlight. They don’t get a lot of attention and could certainly put to direct use any support from any source.

On any given day 5,000 immigrant men, women, and unaccompanied minors are detained in Arizona.

Detained immigrants facing deportation in the U.S. do not have the right to a public defender. Without representation, many will lose their case and get sent back to the conditions they are fleeing. To some, this is a death sentence.

firrp.org

You can use the link if you’d like to find out more.

FYI: Ms. Nightingale was indeed named for the city of her birth in Italy and felt she “had a calling from God” so she went to nurse soldiers in the Crimean War.

Here is a quote from Florence that pretty nicely sums up what people are facing at the border:

“How very little can be done under the spirit of fear.”

Swing Shift

It’s tough enough to be a parent without having to try to explain to the kids what we’re seeing in the news on a daily basis.

A lot of the families that walk through my door have never experienced a political dark cloud like Watergate so there’s no frame of reference for the stonewalling and blind submission currently on display in Washington.

The people I talk to echo the general mantra of wanting to do something positive but their choices are limited, as is the case with the majority of the population.

There is an organization “Swing Left” that supports many different types of action movements and encourages people to create their own.

There’s a link below to their website where you can explore options to help fight that feeling of powerlessness that we all endure.

https://swingleft.org/take-action

June 30th For Families and MD Shooting

There are thousands of events across the country scheduled for Saturday to give people a chance to make a statement about the administration’s approach to handling requests for asylum.  Here are a couple of familiar names that are encouraging people to add their voices and signs:

America Ferrera
“Seeing thousands of immigrant families torn apart, I am devastated and beyond furious.”

Alyssa Milano
“I believe that what this administration is doing at the border is a “crime against humanity,” and it is on us to stop it.”

Make sure you and everyone you know has signed up to take action this Saturday, June 30th by sharing this image on Facebook:

Join me on June 30 in Washington, D.C., or in a city near you to demand an end to this disgusting family separation policy.

I will pass along any information about special funds for the benefit of the families affected by the MD shootings. Hopefully we will figure out a better way to do things…soon.

Helping Reunite Border Families

by Stephanie Maloney

Helping Reunite Border Families - Reunite Families - Los AngelesWe were at a local demonstration piling our donation of blankets in with the flood of relief materials from supporters as frustration ran deep throughout the crowd. Our pics are on Facebook but I wanted to pass along some other ways for us to actually “do” something about this nightmarish situation.

This is from my friend Jonathan Verk cofounder of coParenter describe the trip:

75 neighbors, friends and community activists are on our way home from San Diego. And what an absolutely powerful trip it was!

We did it! We delivered 200 toys, blankets, necessities and other items to their children currently being held at Casa San Diego detention center!  By the Time we arrived at the detention center, we had basically no confidence that we would be let in. After all we’ve seen on the news- and everything we’d been told, we didn’t even think they’d let us near the gate. Politicians, authorities—  even clergy haven’t been let near the gate!  we were told by everyone not to bother.

But honestly… I’m not that great at listening.

We parked across the street, about 40 yards down the block. We were explicitly told that any sign of protesters would force the facility to put the kids in ‘lock down’, which- as it sounds, probably sucks. So, One of my fellow protesters and I walked two huge boxes and an envelope full of letters of hope, written by kids- to the kids on the inside.

We walked up to a very industrial looking, tarp-covered fence and very calmly rang the buzzer. Nothing. We rang again… nothing. We rang it 7 more times— and then started strategizing how we could lift the boxes over the fence and gently lower it down the other side.

And then they answered.

A soft voice with a Spanish accent asked “Hello? How can I help you”.  We told them that we’re just some kids from LA who came to drop off some toys, would they let us leave them for the kids….

Silence. A staticky click. And then the voice came back… “we’ll be right out”.

The lady (wouldn’t give us her name) looked friendly but exhausted. Clearly, It’s been an emotional, hard week for them (YES- the kids have it worse, but this poor woman didn’t sign up for this insanity either).

We explained what we were doing and why we were there… and after a minute, she allowed us to brings the toys in. We weren’t allowed to cross the property line (they were afraid they’d get ‘caught’ on their surveillance cameras letting us in) and we certainly didn’t meet he kids. But we did share the letters and the toys and the blankets and the absolutely wonderful items that the LA community donated.

It was an amazingly joyous and spectacularly cathartic experience for everyone on the buses.

Thank you to everyone who helped make this ‘Rally to the Border’ so incredible. There’s lots more to share, but right now I wanna get some shuteye.

Because tomorrow is another day…. we’ve got to get some rest… and fight on!

1500 people. 10k toys, books and other items. 75 people down to San Diego on 2 buses.

200 toys delivered to the kids of Casa San Diego!

Below is a link to a great article (Melanie Gleason) about sources of help that you can contribute to that also provide legal help “on the ground” along the border. This, especially as Gleason points out, President Donald Trump’s executive order on Wednesday trades family separation for indefinite detention of children.”

You can call your members of Congress through the U.S. Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121

What You Can Do To Help Families Separated At The Border

Rallies For The Right Thing

Here is some info about the national day of rallies taking place for people that want to be seen and heard about the families being separated at the border.

Let them know that this is no way to run our country.

Thanks to powerful public pressure, the Trump administration has been forced to shift its outrageous treatment of immigrant children. We have momentum—but we’re far from done.

The executive order that Donald Trump signed today is not the solution. It allows the indefinite incarceration of immigrant families in federal prisons, and there is still no plan to reunify the thousands of families that have been forcibly separated. Which is why we must continue to stand together at hundreds of events nationwide on Saturday, June 30, to say that families belong together—and freeClick here to join the June 30 event near you to Keep Families Together and free and reject Trump’s brutal policies.

Add Your Voice for Families

It’s very difficult to watch any family go through separation anxiety, of any kind, just ask anyone that has dealt with Family Law and Divorce Court.

I’m passing along this email in case you’d like to let the policy makers know that you disagree with this policy and they must immediatelychoose a better option.

In no way is this a solicitation for funds for any organization or group; just one way to speak out against something that is wrong.

I you decide to participate just click on the “Not Michael-Click Here” to bring up a fresh request.

Will you click here to add your name and declare that children and their families belong together? The petition says: “Stop tearing children away from their parents. Families belong together.”

Let’s keep raising our voices to stop this tragedy—and show love and support for these children and their families.

—Natalie Portman

Every Judge Is Not A Solomon

by Stephanie Maloney

Every Judge Is Not A Solomon Copyright: <a href="https://www.123rf.com/profile_stockbroker">stockbroker / 123RF Stock Photo</a>There’s a lawsuit filed by the ACLU aimed at preventing families seeking asylum from being separated at the border. It’s a cruel tactic implemented to discourage refugees from coming to America and if you disagree with this decision there is a petition you can sign on their website to stop this practice.

Split Custody, as it is referred to in divorces with children, is very rare in general because of the potential harm but percentage of responsibility comes up in many court-driven divorces. When the judge decides how the financial responsibilities should be divided it is not necessarily done by “cutting them in half”. That court decision can have some seriously negative repercussions for at least one parent and ultimately for the children.

Maintaining control of the settlement process is one of the main reasons for utilizing a mediator and working towards a mutual agreement, rather than leaving it up to the court. You may not be risking custody but you might encounter what you consider to be a slightly “one-sided agreement” and end up in a financial bind. Let’s remember that the judge may also come up with visitation schedules that present logistical nightmares for vacation time and holidays. “Who gets the kids for Christmas?” is a question that you will want to decide when necessary not a third-party adjudicator.

I do encourage you to make your voice heard, if you are so inclined, to stop tearing families apart when they’ve come so far by staying together.

Teach Your Children Well By Treating Teachers Better

by Stephanie Maloney

Teach Your Children Well By Treating Teachers BetterWhen Crosby, Stills, and Nash sang their song they had no idea that the people actually teaching our kids were in danger themselves.

They may have to start a “Fund Me Page” for Arizona where the teachers are on strike to force the lawmakers that voted for tax cuts, to increase funding for the schools not just for salaries. One of the teachers was quoted as saying her district’s schools have worn out central air conditioning and fire alarm systems: “The fire alarm system now at (one) school goes off so often the students are starting to ignore it,” What a headline that story will make followed by the hollow cries of “How could this happen?” when a fire finally does break out. Please contribute if such a fund appears.

This caught my attention because there has been an increasing number of voices being raised at local levels about any elected position that influences decisions about education. Even here in California, we are going to have to pay attention to those local elections at the bottom of the list. It’s a little like eating our “civics” vegetables but I am determined to teach my kids that primaries and mid-term elections are of the utmost importance for a “healthy body” of voters.

Temporary “Phonelessness” Is OK

by Stephanie Maloney

Temporary “Phonelessness” Is OKCo-parenting is tough enough without having to wonder if you’re one text away from that phone call from the Highway Patrol. Nobody wants to be the cop in the family even when it makes sense to everybody else.

We all abuse the privilege of using the phone while driving so it’s tough being tough on the kids without hearing “you both do it and you’re the only one that gives me grief about it”. Just what you don’t need-playing mom & dad off each other.

With 400,000 “distracted driving” related injuries recorded in 2015 the (growing) numbers are too much for parents or teens to ignore and teens are four times more likely to be unlucky.

There are no easy answers but I keep reading about families that set their own guidelines and act on the “honor system” when driving alone-parents included.

The Small Outdoors

by Stephanie Maloney

Small OutdoorsHere it is again that time to start getting out and planning out some “away from the house” time. It seems to get tougher each year so we have to get more creative.

Actual vacations involving travel are kind of a special event category and require detailed coordination never mind extraordinary cooperation.

It’s no small accomplishment to find ways on a daily and weekly basis to get some fresh air with the kids without wasting hours of time in traffic. So we’re seeing stories about people taking turns hosting “yard parties” that are geographically user-friendly and BYO “whatever” toys for the group.

I know of parents that are taking walks and bike rides in the neighborhood instead of driving to a park. In a real switch there are stories about some single parents renting a local Air B&B with a backyard just for a few hours on an afternoon for fun & games.

This is a reach but if you have teenagers-ask them about a baseball game-funny things can happen in the spring.

Unplugging To Connect

by Stephanie Maloney

Unplugging to ConnectEvery family that I interact with has difficulty creating and managing their time together. By definition, Divorce creates two entities from one source. With our technology, it sounds crazy to admit that we have trouble connecting with each other but that is the reality for a lot of people. This is all about spending time together not time spent typing together.

There was a nice piece in the LA Times a few weeks ago by Catherine Price who writes about “Breaking Up With Your Phone” and avoiding screens not people.

It made me think about how easy it is to mistake texting with talking when someone asks about the kids and we say we just spoke and we mean text messages were exchanged.

Actual “Face Time” not the video application is sort of the Holy Grail of raising kids and excruciatingly so when divorced. It’s tough to compete with all the available options for kids out there but some people are getting creative in efforts to bring new spins on things to the table.

One family that caught my attention is using the bowling alley and the miniature golf course with their phones turned off until they are all finished. They all take turns keeping score and making reservations as well as handling the gear. Some people are applying that technique to the dinner hour or other shared activities in order to really connect with each other instead of their equipment.

Whatever it is I’d like to think that there’s something we can do together that doesn’t involve screens-unless it’s the screen on the back door of a cabin on a lake.

March Against Madness-Madness Actually Responds

by Stephanie Maloney

Imagine Frances McDormand outside your house of white with 500,000 walking, breathing, two-legged billboards demanding action about the killing of her child.

Apparently, if all politics are local, then all school shootings are now personal. Isn’t it about time we all find some unifying spirit through these kids for actually doing something and isn’t a pity that what’s holding us back is people with a “philosophy” like that of Rick Santorum:

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum said Sunday that students would be better off “taking CPR classes” than marching for “phony gun laws.

“How about kids, instead of looking to someone else to solve their problem, do something about maybe taking CPR classes…so that when there is a violent shooter that you can actually respond to that,” Santorum said on CNN’s ‘State of the Union.’

The onetime presidential hopeful, said participants in Saturday’s nationwide March for Our Lives events were “passing the buck to their representatives when they should be preparing to respond to the next mass shooting”.

This must be precisely what is enraging these “kids,” when they hear the words “…the next mass shooting…” with the same echo of acceptance as if there is nothing that can be done. They are indeed “passing the buck” but it’s going back to people that are supposed to paying the tab for safety not to the people hiding under the desks.

In cities across the globe people marched in support of common sense and as even The Pope had advised they shouted that we’ve had enough of parents burying children and children burying friends. In Denmark, for example, Finnish exchange student Iida Keskinen told CNN the idea that mass shootings have become the norm “…has really shook me…I wanted to make sure I had even a small impact in supporting this cause,” she said.

Maybe if she were Norwegian Mr. Trump would listen.

Spring Cleaning

by Stephanie Maloney

Spring Cleaning Your FinancesAs we finally are getting some much-needed rain I keep thinking about things, besides the social and political black holes, that are ripe for clean up.

With a clearer picture of your finances under the new tax laws it’s probably not a bad idea to get an overview from your advisors about all your options.

I used to talk with my brokerage clients at the end of the first quarter, especially after a turbulent year, so they could position themselves for any changes their tax advisor might suggest.

We already know the landscape has changed but we’re just learning about the effects on our individual situations.

You might very well need to talk about some adjustments with your ex-spouse about your co-parenting parenting plan in light of what is not working so well and any increased levels of stress on the kids. Worries about money have a habit of affecting all family members.

As I have noted please let me know if you think I might be able to be of help even if only for a referral to someone with a very specific area of expertise.

Also let me know if you or a friend might be interested in our Tuesday Support Group.

The Ides of Marches

­by Stephanie Maloney

Things did not go well for Julius Caesar when he ignored the soothsayer and his advice about being wary of the “Ides” (15Th) of March and was struck down on the steps of the Senate. The kids in Florida never made the steps but the survivors and thousands of their contemporaries across the US are taking what they feel are the necessary steps to put an end to this madness.

When you listen and watch what is happening the obvious questions stick out about why it has taken children speaking out and marching to get the adults motivated to action. The Florida legislation will not be enough for these young men and women; apparently you grow up fast post-gunfire.

I know parents are having difficulty with trying to explain the scenes of “17 Minutes of Silence” and with split families that kind of time is not always available.

On March 24th there will another demonstration “March for Our Lives” and here is a link for information and an opportunity to make a donation: marchforourlives.com

I am going to encourage my family to participate in any way possible as well as anyone in my circle of friends.

Hopefully we’re not the only ones listening.

 

The Kids Are Alright

by Stephanie Maloney

“Divorce is always toughest on the children” has been a very old mantra for very demonstrable reasons. As much as we try to shield them from the negativity that comes with the divorce process the after-effects are felt for years. It’s how we deal with co-parenting issues on a daily basis that sets the tone and the example for the family to help guide them in the direction of good decisions.

How incredible is it that the kids in Florida are now turning around to show us the path to a smarter decision.

How does a child process a parent not being able to explain why students, like them, are being shot and why the grown ups don’t make it stop. Apparently one way these Florida kids discovered was to get on a bus, go to the Capitol(s) and “Call BS”. BRAVO!

This is one that both parents can reinforce with the family and offer support if anyone wants to get involved. It’s one of those times to “reach across the family aisle” towards a common goal because it just makes sense.

Congratulations on the Gold to the USA Women’s Hockey Team-the goaltender, Rooney, is from Minnesota.

Make Some Time-Take Some Time

by Stephanie Maloney

The pictures from the Florida School shooting will be tough to digest and tougher to forget. Without getting maudlin-hug the kids a little tighter, a little longer and get some pizza and ice cream-or just a smoothie and some sushi. Whatever it is do something ordinary that you don’t ordinarily do even if it means taking some time from your workday.

If the kids are not an option go do something that you enjoy.  Valentine’s Day is always a tough one because memories uncontrollably come rolling over us; and it’s tough to block out just the bad ones.

If nothing else go do something physical that will have its own rewards. There are a couple of months left before the warm weather starts and you will feel better if you look better and just walking can help put color in your cheeks.

If you’d like to talk with some other people dealing with Divorce we’re starting a support group on Tuesday nights. Send an email to:

info@peace-talks.com

and we’ll let you know all the details as they are finalized

Abu Dhabi Lets Expats Bypass Sharia Law For Mediation

Recently Abu Dhabi broke from centuries of tradition and decided to allow non-Muslim expatriates to pursue a divorce through faith-based mediation. Though not a mirror image to western secular mediation, as we know it, it’s another testimonial to the need for a short, less costly path to a mutually satisfying agreement.

The protection of the children was one of main reasons given for the major change in official policy along with a long-standing need to bring some international sense of fairness to a very multi-cultural society.

It’s interesting that the children’s welfare and the wasted time and money are universal elements of concern oblivious to country or faith and agreeing to talk about things is the smartest choice available on the planet.

Protect Your Children: Get a Will!

While many of us may believe that estate planning is only for the rich or the elderly, you should know that this process is essential if you have children. At Peace Talks Mediation, not only do we help you with divorce mediation, but we also recommend how you can protect your most precious “possessions” your children. As we advocated in our previous blog, “If You Have Children, You Should Get a Trust!”, we now recommend you to get a will too. These two estate planning vehicles, a trust and a will, work together to protect and provide for your children in the event that you come to an untimely demise. Peace Talks Mediation encourages you to do the responsible thing: Get a Will!

Making a will is essential for people with young children because a will is the best way to transfer guardianship of minors. This means that you decide who you wish to raise your children if you are unable to do so, not a probate judge. Once you draw up a will with your estate-planning advisor, you may amend your will at any time. In fact Peace Talks thinks it’s a good idea to review it periodically. This is especially true if your marital status changes which can be peacefully and sanely accomplished through divorce mediation at Peace Talks.

As previously mentioned, a will is usually done at the same time that you create a trust. A trust is a legal mechanism that lets you put conditions on how your assets are distributed after you die, and it often lets you minimize gift and estate taxes. A will is still necessary because most trusts deal only with specific assets such as life insurance or a piece of property, but not the sum total of your holdings, for example distributing your jewelry or family artifacts. Additionally, the most valuable things that you leave for your children may not have any monetary value. These are the traditions and life lessons that define you as part of your own unique family. Peace Talks suggests the use of Ethical Wills, which are non-binding documents that allow you to pass on these intangible treasures to your loved ones.

Peace Talks wants to share some additional tips with you. You may prefer not to keep your original will in your safe-deposit box because some states will seal your box when you die and not allow it to be opened until the estate has been settled. Clearly, settling your estate is much easier with the original will being available. We suggest that you keep a copy of your will in your safe-deposit box, but give the original to your lawyer or place it in a fireproof box at your home or in your office. With the invention of the cloud, you are even able to scan all your important financial paperwork and keep a virtual copy of this material within a secure web site. It’s also essential to share the location of your trust and will as well as access to these documents with close family members, so that in the event of an emergency they will be able to obtain this vital information. Here at the California Peace Talks Office, we know that there is a potential for a disastrous earthquake. If all your estate documents were destroyed, a virtual copy of everything would be helpful to have.

Keep in mind that no one knows and loves your children like you do. By doing the type of estateplanning that Peace Talks has described, you are in control of making the decisions that are in the best interests of your children, especially appointing a guardian for them. And Peace Talks divorce mediation believes, isn’t that the way it should be? So get a will! Please give us a call to explore our mediation services at (310) 301-2100.

Getting A Trust For The Sake of the Kids

If You Have Children, You Should Get a Trust!

For most of us, our children are our most precious “possessions”. At Peace Talks Mediation, we feel the exact same way and we make their well being the focus of our divorce mediation. However, while we may believe that we place our children’s interests as our highest priority, many of us have not taken the necessary steps to protect and provide for them in the event that we come to an untimely demise. Often we procrastinate believing that estate planning is only for the rich or the elderly. Or perhaps, we wishfully think that our extended family will jump in and take care of our children in case we die. At Peace Talks mediation, we encourage you to do the responsible thing: Get a Trust!

Financial planning is an essential part of protecting your children and creating a family trust is an excellent vehicle to accomplish this.A trust, which is a formal legal document,achieves many important things: It manages your money, and distributes it for you upon your death. It puts conditions on how and when your assets are distributed after you die; it can also reduce your estate and gift taxes. It enables your assets to be distributed efficiently without the cost, delay, and publicity of the probate court. It may also insulate your assets from creditors and lawsuits. Additionally, you are able to name a successor trustee who will manage your trust after you die, and is also empowered to do so if you become disabled. At Peace Talks’ divorce mediation, our financial experts can explain this process in detail to you.

This is the key fact: the truth is that all parents of young children, regardless of their net worth, need comprehensive estate planning. The reason is that if you don’t have an estate plan, you forfeit the opportunity to make many important decisions that you are in the best position to make. In Peace Talks’ opinion, this is the primary reason:You are able to choose a guardian for your minor children. If your children lost both you and your spouse in a tragic accident, would you trust a complete stranger to choose a guardian for them? We at Peace Talks mediation don’t believe you would. But that’s exactly what can happen if you don’t take the time to designate a guardian for your minor children. If you die intestate (without a will or trust), without having designated a guardian, you leave that important decision in the hands of a judge who doesn’t know you or your children. Peace Talks believes that would be a big mistake.

Next, you are able to choose the person who will manage the assets that you will leave for you children.With a trust in place, you can have some say in how your children’s money is spent. Setting up a trust for your children allows you to delay when they get control of assets you leave behind, or even stagger the distribution over a number of years. Otherwise, your children could receive their share of assets at 18 years of age, when they might not have the maturity to manage it.

Without a trust, you leave the decision making to a judge who doesn’t know anything about your financial values and will be required to appoint a guardian of your estate to oversee its management. As we urge at Peace Talks divorce mediation, all this can be avoided by proper advance estate planning. Remember these are important issues for your family. Since trusts are flexible, varied and complex with each type having its advantages and disadvantages, you should discuss your desires and goals thoroughly with your estate-planning attorney before setting one up.

Call us at Peace Talks divorce mediation for further information. (310) 301-2100.

Review: HBO’s “Don’t Divorce Me”

REVIEW: HBO’s DON’T DIVORCE ME

Review by Janae Monroe

Peace Talks Mediation Services

peace-talks.com

Divorce is difficult for everyone involved, especially the children. While parents intend to put their children first, sometimes finances and personal needs get in the way.

Using interviews, drawings, songs, photos and handwritten rules, Don’t Divorce Me goes into the mind of children, ages 5-9 whose parents are going through a divorce. The children set “rules” for their parents, such as “Don’t Put Me in the Middle,” and “Don’t Take Your Anger Out on Me” girlto make their point. This candid documentary, directed by Amy Schwatz, allows children to give their parents the Do’s and Don’ts of divorce. It offers parents perspective, while identifying the wants of their children. Don’t Divorce Me does exactly what parents going through divorce sometimes forget to do