COVID-19 Possession Schedule when School Closes

By | Co-Parenting, Custody and Conservatorship, Divorce, Uncategorized, Unsolicited Opinions

Parents – Here’s what to do about possession schedules that are contingent on the “school calendar”. Above all, show your children that you are prepared for anything, including COVID-19 and that you and their other parent have it under control. Hoard all the toilet paper you want, but do NOT lose it when it comes to sharing your child.

1. Be advised that there is not a Judge on the bench who would not want you and your co-parent to work out the exchanges so that each parent has the same amount of time with the child they would have had had school not been cancelled.

2. Do not make any unilateral decision without FIRST calling, texting and or reaching out to your co-parent via Our Family Wizard. Actually make a genuine effort to figure out the solution on your own. Be creative, share babysitters, adjust.

3. For schedules that begin and end when school starts and ends – pick up and drop off at the locations specified in the section of your order that says “General Terms and Conditions”.

4. If you had spring break possession for even years, return the kids Sunday night or Monday morning when school was supposed to resume but didn’t due to a national emergency.

5. For the parents that typically have the children during the school week, surrender your child to your co-parent at the next exchange period had there not been a school closure. This exchange is most likely Thursday, March 19, 2020, in the afternoon and a return the next day or that evening depending upon whether or not there is an expanded standard or non-expanded standard schedule.

6. When it comes to exchange times and locations, be bendy. Do not insist that it be at 3:00 pm (the time school ordinarily releases) or at 7:30 am (when school begins). Work around each other’s schedules. This means offer to exchange at the babysitter’s house or share family members that are willing to provide child care. Heck – offer the kids to the parent who is working from home during the outbreak.

7. What you do now will not waive any rights to your status as a litigant. What you do now will define the extent you will go to protect your child from the instability that this crisis presents us. Judges will notice one way or the other.

8. Give your co-parent the benefit of the doubt. People are going to have terrible tone, and they may lash out. These are coping mechanisms and its not about you. Just allow everyone to panic a bit so they can recover and move on.

Mistakes people-pleasers make when divorcing a narcissist, from a divorce lawyer

By | Co-Parenting, Community Property, Custody and Conservatorship, Divorce, Domestic Violence, Just and Right, Marital Property Division, Separate Property, Trial Issues, Unsolicited Opinions, Wellness

So common is it that a potential new client tells me that they are married to a narcissist, that I actually have a specific knowing smile in response and I swear to myself I should create a YouTube channel about divorce and narcissists. I’d make a fortune even if I only charged $5 a viewing.

Note: I am not a psychologist, psychiatrist and I have zero training to be preaching about personality disorders. Everything I know, I’ve learned on the job. Take it with a grain of salt.

Did Tom Cruise really love Katy Holmes? Or, did he love how she looked when he was looking down on her from his stool in their wedding photos? He certainly made a fool of himself in the name of love but wasn’t it really more about the attention he got? Despite reports that Katy “won” their divorce (or at least did better than Nicole Kidman), I’d put money on Tom bragging that he was the one who outsmarted her and that the reason he has Suri most of the time is because “he let her.”

Divorcing one of these gems? Here are some common mistakes people-pleasers make divorcing narcissists. Drum roll please. . .

  1. Not filing first. Assuming you have made the moral decision to get divorced, be the first one to file for divorce. The person who files first gets to go first. That means that party gets their story out first at the hearing on temporary orders and at trial. It means that person’s lawyer will give the first impression of the case. The person who goes second or last has the hard job of disproving what has already been said or suggested and retelling the story in his or her own light. It’s a compromising position. Most likely the narcissist will have a “poor baby” approach, as in, “I really had no choice but to file, since he doesn’t bring me coffee anymore” and with this story line going first, it forces the people-pleaser to get defensive which drowns out the real story, that being that there was no room for another person (you) in the marriage to a narcissist.
  2. Be ready to fight the obvious. A people-pleaser would never sell a car to a friend for a premium price, but a narcissist would. A narcissist would never concede you broke up with her, but a people-pleaser would let you have the final word. Do not assume that just because you have always taken care of the kids or operated the business that your spouse will concede that you are primarily responsible for those items. This is especially important because you need establish the status quo to your judge. Be ready to defend the last two years of painful homework projects or to demonstrate you have prepared all the company’s tax returns and landed the biggest client.
  3. Trying to prove a point. Don’t. Even. Try. What does it matter if you have won every battle or even the war? It will make no difference to the narcissist, who is still clothed as an emperor. Narcissists will walk out of a courtroom having been ridiculed by a judge and want to celebrate with the local sommelier’s choice in wine with red meat. Therefore, don’t think if you could just “show her” or you could just get the “judge to tell him”, that it will be downhill from there. Nope. You married a narcissist, so don’t for a second think that all the granted motions in the world will humble him.
  4. Not carbo-loading. Here it is, here is your permission to go to a buffet in jeggings. A narcissist plans on his spouse complying with his plan for division of assets and custody arrangement. In the narcissist’s mind, the narcissist will simply prepare the decree and the spouse will sign it. Divorcing a narcissist will not be over and done in a couple of months unless you give him everything he wants including the things he demands at the last minute. Oh yes, to a narcissist, “what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine”. Awarding all of the assets to the narcissist is just papering what is already true to a narcissist. Since you can’t make the narcissist understand that your inherited money is actually yours, you will have to set the case for trial and plan on going. It’s like a marathon: it takes a year to prepare for and complete and you are delirious at the finish line (if you make it). The only difference is you have a lot less money now, hate your lawyer (at least a little) and you may have kid issues to deal with. Like the jungle, the tired animals get eaten. So, carbo-load because this is going to take a while, you might as well enjoy it.
  5. Expecting mediation to work. Where a people-pleaser might get worn down by the long hours stuck in a room with a lawyer (gag), a narcissist is just getting started and is appreciating how all the professionals have their day tied up in what she will not agree to. Picture the scone-eating narcissist being asked if she would like creamer or milk in her tea while she contemplates whether or not she can live without his grandmother’s diamond watch. Go to mediation but have a plan and listen to your lawyer.
  6. Self-infliction. A narcissist is the blade a people-pleasure cuts himself with. The people-pleaser mistakes the narcissist’s joy as love. The joy was getting attention, not being with their “person.” The people-pleaser really loves the blade, and misses the blade even when the claws come out in court. Loving your spouse is not a bad thing. Love is an exhibit of our humanness, as beautiful as the body’s ability to heal itself or birth a baby. Deal with the love, loss, rejection and sadness without cutting yourself on the blade. Cut the nerve instead and cooperate with your spouse but don’t inflict new wounds on yourself. You will end up with the wounds and the narcissist will only feel better about herself because you “did it to yourself”.
  7. Be ready for Karpman’s triangle. According to Karpman, the cycle of dysfunctional relationships involves three roles: victim, persecutor and rescuer. Pay very close attention to the role you are playing in the drama cycle so you can learn what it is when the narcissist plays victim or rescuer. If your spouse said you would never see your kids again, get ready for him to play victim of the year when you are awarded primary of the kids. Offer him a compromise and get ready to be the victim when he takes advantage of your kindness.

Anonymous Post From a Client About Being a Stepmom

By | Client Posts, Co-Parenting, Unsolicited Opinions

Background: This anonymous post comes from a client’s wife who unconditionally loves her step son despite being sidelined by the system and the dynamic in which the child came into the world. Here are her unfiltered thoughts:

“What qualities make a stepmom worthy of praise and satisfaction? We have done an extreme injustice to stepmoms in this country. The boundaries of what we should and shouldn’t do are so lost. No one has an answer that feels good. Thanks to Cinderella we stepmoms have a stigma attached that may never go away. People dismiss us all the time! You’re the only one willing to sacrifice and call into work to take your sick stepson to the doctor because God forbid a man calls into work in our corporate world for a “sick kid”, and God forbid his “real” mom takes time away from her needs to do it. And no one says thanks or acknowledges a damn bit of what you do. He needs an allergist, you’re the only one who spends enough time with him to even know he needs an allergist. He needs to work on a project for school and you’re the only one who reminds him or is invested in his grades. He needs new clothes because he hit a growth spurt and you’re the only one who will spend the money or the time to take him. Better yet you’re the only one who noticed he grew out of his clothes. The “real” mom wants the dad to “supply” all his needs. Meanwhile she’s doing happy hours, pedicures, shopping, dating, etc. The dad wants his child support to “supply” his needs. Unless he spent his life savings winning custody. In that case the “real” mom has the whole world feeling sorry for her and giving her monetary handouts. Please. If you lost custody especially in the state of Texas then bet your booty you are not a good mother. Yet as a stepmom you are supposed to go above and beyond to be the most consistent, loving, patient mom of all time. This sounds like a job no one wants hu? I have a secret. I love the job! Guess what sweet child will remember who was always there for them? And for doctors visits? And traditions? And cookies at school for the winter party? And money for the book fair? And prescription refills? It’s me. While everyone else is tallying and hateful I’m making beautiful memories with a handsome young man who will always respect me and love me and trust me no matter what. You simply can’t beat that with your corporate job or your stupid meaningless words. Kids see action and they will always remember who was really there. I’m changing the life of a child and that is something no one can take away or even compete with.”

I Am Not Doing Christmas Cards

By | Unsolicited Opinions

The first step in having it all is to cross half the things you need to do off your list. Here are the things I have crossed off my list: vegetables at every dinner, birthday parties, hand towels with holiday themes, a clean car, thank you notes, gym workouts, coupon clipping, pleasure reading, facials, making things from scratch, cleaning my own house, deleting old emails, organizing my own closet, responding to all texts, and Christmas cards.

Moms do way too many things that don’t matter. Having a Christmas card doesn’t make you a better person. I promise. I read that in the Bible. No one actually cares if they got your Christmas card. Sure they enjoy seeing your “having-it-all-ness” and for a moment your card is at the top of the stack. But since when does spending a couple Saturdays picking out a card and arguing with your children about what they will wear and how many times they need to smile for the camera sound like a good use of time? Don’t even get me started with the eye-rolling husbands. The cost is pretty steep too, at least a dollar for the card and 49 cents for the stamp. I truly wonder why practically everyone sends one out. Step away from the herd people.

When your household runs like mine and rush hour starts the second you get home – its dinner, bath and brush your teeth before you have any quality time with your child. Its hard enough to have the peace of mind to throw in some time outs and green beans, check the school’s list of disorganized reminders for pajama drives, and make sure they don’t choke on their food. A pajama drive – really? I check my mail every couple of days. Usually its just BCBS denying a claim for something or a $70 ticket for getting caught on a red light camera. If I wanted to do Christmas cards, I’d have to keep track of addresses right? Bahahahaa. . . Ugh. There is just no way. Speaking of tradition, the Elf on the Shelf sounds like a horrible person.

OMG – I just got a text from my housekeeper. She fired me.

Back to my point, for those of you out there looking for an excuse to “forget to do cards”, consider yourself validated. I’m trying to start a trend here. Lower the standard people! The things we toil over are not important!