Conflict: moving from reacting to responding
Communication is a cornerstone of positive relationships. For men recently divorced or in the process of divorcing, effective communication is essential for recovering from your divorce. If you are coping with the end of your marriage, you are likely no stranger to conflict. But for many men, dealing with conflict in a constructive and positive way can be a challenge—especially if you have a particularly difficult ex.
Effective communication isn’t an inherent trait–it is something that takes practice and work to develop. But once those skills are established they will enable you to stop reacting and start responding.
The difference between reacting and responding can be distilled down to perspective—or how you view the conflict. Reacting to conflict is driven by emotion and creates an oppositional force that can escalate a situation into a heated and unproductive state. On the other hand, responding to conflict is a method that allows a man to navigate circumstances with logic, control and efficiency.
A recent article posted on The Good Men Project, by Steve Horsmon, provided some tactics for proactively addressing conflict and shifting communication from reacting to responding. The following are paraphrased from Horsmon’s article “Building More Intimacy: Handling Conflict Like a Man”:
Calmly face conflict head-on. Respond like an adult and don’t react like a teenager. Make eye contact and actively listen. Be comfortable and confident.
Treat the conflict as important and valid. And verbalize this, but don’t minimize the other person’s feelings or point of view.
Be clear on where you stand. Don’t pretend to agree if you don’t concur. Without defensiveness or judgment, state your case clearly and without apology. Be authentic and speaks from a place respect.
Discuss options to address the issue and accept responsibility for your part in the solution. Don’t accept undeserved blame or personal attacks. Be able to show anger and emotion without throwing a tantrum or making personal attacks. Don’t initiate disrespectful behavior or language and don’t accept it from anyone.
Becoming a better communicator is a noble goal that will often pay dividends for the rest of your life. Whether in business, personal, or romantic relationship, being able effectively managing conflict and efficiently communicate can provide a valuable advantage.
A news story out of England highlights one man’s custody nightmare. After 14 years of marriage Richard Rodwell and his wife Helen divorced. She was awarded full custody and Mr. Rodwell was ordered to pay £300 (around $440 U.S. dollars) a month.
Rodwell was an involved father—he was present for both of the children’s birth, attended milestone events, and fostered a relationship with the kids until the divorce in 2004. After 4 years of paying support (totaling more than 23,000 U.S. dollars), Rodwell received devastating news.
Following the divorce Rodwell began to hear whispers and rumors about his ex-wife’s infidelity during their marriage and the lack of resemblance between Rodwell and his daughter. With reports of an alleged affair, Rodwell requested a DNA test to determine paternity of his two children. Rodwell was in fact not the biological father of either child, and to add insult to injury, the children did not share the same father.
After learning that the children he raised as his own were actually the biological offspring of other men Rodwell was shattered, but the ordeal wasn’t over. The two children that he had raised and loved ceased contact and voiced anger toward Rodwell. His daughter went so far as to post a message on Facebook stating “‘I hate you so much, I reali [sic] loved you so when you called me your little angel I take it you was just saying it and you start all that after 16 years you have ruined mine and Adams life I hope your happy for what you have put us through!!’
Rodwell sued his former wife for deceit and was awarded nearly $40,000. The award covered the child support he had paid and also compensation for bereavement. Rodwell was quoted as saying “It’s like a bereavement because I have lost the children that I believed were mine. I treated them both as if they were my own. I was there at their births, went to their nativity plays and helped them with school homework.”
The judge presiding over the case factored the high level of the deceit into his decision as well as the lack of ability to have future children. Rodwell has remarried, but his current wife is passed childbearing age. In addition to the monetary compensation, he was granted a court order forcing his ex-wife to move out of the marital home.
According to an article from BBC news, it is estimated that as many as 1 in 25 fathers are unknowingly raising children that are biologically another mans according to a study by the Liverpool John Moores University. Given these numbers it is not surprising that DNA testing is on the rise, Entrepreneur Magazine has even dubbed DNA testing a growth market that has exploded.
DNA testing can be a doubled edged sword, as Rodwell found out. The test confirmed his suspicion of his ex-wife’s infidelity, but the outcome of that discovery has been devastating.
If you have reason to believe that you might not be the biological father of your children seek professional assistance. Dealing with the emotion and legal challenges associated with paternity and custody can be overwhelming and having knowledgeable and experienced guidance will be invaluable.
If you need answers to your paternity and child custody questions, please call us. Our managing attorney, Zephyr Hill, will answer your questions over the phone at not charge and no obligation. (619) 243-0888
Can I represent myself in my California divorce?
Many men entertain the idea of representing themselves in their California divorce. While representing yourself is allowed, in most scenarios it isn’t advisable. If you are considering representing yourself, ask yourself these questions before heading down the DIY divorce road.
Why should I hire a family law attorney if I can do it myself?
There are a variety of reasons men are hesitant to hire a divorce attorney. The reasons range from perceived cost to being unsure how to hire an attorney. Divorce is difficult and hiring a third party to represent you can feel like you are adding another layer of complexity. While it might seem counterintuitive, hiring an experienced and dedicated family law attorney can save you money and provide you peace of mind through the entire divorce process.
As your advocate, your divorce lawyer will help you create a divorce agreement that meets your needs and accommodates your unique circumstances. An experienced attorney will work with you to address both your immediate goals and your long-term goals. Some of the biggest benefits of being represented by a family law attorney are reaped over the course of time. Parenting plans, spousal support, and the division of assets, if not done correctly the first time will carry consequences that can be felt for decades.
San Diego’s best family law attorneys are familiar with the nuances of the law and will create a strategy for your case based on your unique facts. Hiring the right divorce lawyer will make sure you get the most favorable outcome possible, will protect your rights and assets, and potentially save you money on child support and spousal support.
What do I have to lose?
Evaluating what you could lose in a divorce is essential when deciding to represent yourself. Realistically assessing your situation is paramount—men often underestimate what is at stake particularly if they have children or they don’t have a lot of assets.
Men with limited assets can feel like they have nothing to lose. They think to themselves: “she can’t take the house or the retirement, because we don’t have either” and this can put them in a challenging situation. Assets aren’t the only things distributed in divorce. Debt can also be divided. The division of debt can be costly and will affect your bottom line for as long as the debt exists. For that reason, even if you don’t have assets, you should be cautious in assuming it is a low-stakes situation.
Do I have children?
Representing yourself is not recommended if children are involved. Creating a fair parenting plan and calculating child support are complicated issues. Not doing it right the first time can cost you financially and emotionally. A well crafted parenting plan will protect your ability to spend time with your kids and will provide you the ability to enforce the parenting plan through the courts if your spouse doesn’t adhere to the plan.
In addition to spending time with your kids, paying support is also an important consideration during divorce. Child support can vary greatly depending on the unique circumstance of a case. Working with a San Diego family law attorney will ensure that all the facts of the case are considered when support is calculated and will make sure your payments are fair.
Whether you decide to hire an attorney or explore a Do-It-Yourself divorce, always educate yourself on all your options. Our managing attorney, Zephyr Hill, is happy to answer your questions over the phone at no charge and no obligation (or you can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org).
Episode 4 — Voluntarily giving up parental rights
Rick and Zephyr unpacked some of the issues presented by Jared Miller’s custody case in this episode of Divorce for Men Radio. Jared Miller is the brother of well-known NBA player Mike Miller and has been embattled in a custody case with his ex-wife, Jessica Ibanez.
While the Ibanez-Miller case takes place in South Dakota, Zephyr provided insight as to how these types of cases usually play out in California courts.
In California, once parental rights have been terminated there is no turning back. Typically a parent will lose their parental rights if they present a threat to the wellbeing of the child. From a litigation perspective, retracting the rights of a parent is a difficult proposition and a lengthy process that can take years.
In Ibanez and Miller’s situation, Ibanez gave up parental rights voluntarily. Zephyr commented that this situation is an example of why voluntarily giving up parental rights is rarely advisable—once they are forfeited they are almost impossible to get back. Rick elaborated further by highlighting that terminating parental rights will sever access to the child, but will not exempt the parent from child support.
Zephyr explained some of the alternatives and suggested that parents create a custody order that accommodates the unique circumstances of a given situation. Zephyr pointed out that sometimes a parent is unable to handle parental responsibilities for a while and in that scenario having a custody order with minimal or no visitation might be the best course of action. This scenario will let a parent retain their rights for future custody modifications if (or when) circumstances change.
Listen to the clip below to hear Rick and Zephyr’s advice on custody, child support, modifications and the other family law issues that are involved in this situation. If you need answers to your family law questions, please call (619) 243-0888. Zephyr will answer you legal questions over the phone at no charge and with no obligation. If you prefer email, you can reach Zephyr at email@example.com
Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries' divorce proceedings have finally come to an end. The divorce lasted far longer than the couples relationship as Kardashian filed for divorce Oct. 31, 2011—only 75 days after tying the knot.
The Kardashian—Humphries divorce has illustrated a number of interesting situations that can arise during the dissolution of a marriage. From paternity to prenups this divorce had it all.
Prenuptial agreements are designed to prevent contested and lengthy divorces. Humphries decision to challenge the prenup contributed to the slow resolution of their case. According to online sources, Humphries wanted the agreement to be declared null and void based on the strict confidentiality clause. The clause prohibited both Kardashian and Humphries from discussing intimate details of their relationship with the media.
In the state of California a premarital agreement is defined as “an agreement between prospective spouses made in contemplation of marriage and to be effective upon marriage.”
Prenups must meet certain requirements to be enforced by the courts. These include full disclosure of assets, each party should have independent counsel, the agreement should be signed well in advance of the wedding, and neither party should be left destitute if the marriage ends in divorce.
Additionally, a prenup agreement must be entered into voluntarily. One party cannot coerce or threaten the other party into signing the agreement. The agreement must be in writing and signed by both parties. If one party forgoes representation by an attorney, that individual must acknowledge in writing that they have been advised to retain independent counsel and they are knowingly choosing not to hire an attorney.
Parties not represented by an attorney must be fully informed what the terms of the agreement are and the effect of those terms. This information requires the inclusion of any rights or obligations that are forfeited by signing the agreement and must be documented in writing prior to signing the premarital agreement.
There are some misconceptions about what is permissible in a prenuptial agreement. In the state of California a prenup cannot dictate the religious upbringing of a child, punish a spouse for infidelity or regulate a child support order.
While Humphries initially sought to challenge the prenup, he later decided to abandon that course of action. There have been reports that Humphries’ change of heart and willingness to reach an agreement stems from not wanting to add additional stress on Kim Kardashian who is 6 months pregnant.
Kardashian’s pregnancy has created an interesting situation in the divorce proceedings as well. Kardashian has been dating hip hop musician Kanye West for more than a year and the couple announced in December, 2012 they are expecting a child. Kardashian, still mired in the divorce process, had cause for concern as it raised questions of the child’s legal paternity.
There is little question that Kanye West is the biological father, but under California law Kris Humphries could have been awarded legal paternity. Because Kardashian conceived while still married to Humphries it is assumed that Humphries is the father.
California family code stipulates that a child born during a marriage is conclusively presumed to be a child of the marriage. Had Kardashian given birth before the divorce from Humphries was finalized, West would have had to petition for paternity.
The Kardashian—Humphries divorce has provided a plethora of tabloid fodder, but it has also illustrated some of the complexities of divorce. What has been played out in the media has demonstrated the importance of having knowledgeable legal guidance through what can be a tumultuous time.If you are facing paternity, divorce, custody, or any other family law issue make sure you get accurate answers to your legal questions and educate yourself on all your options.
For answers to your family law questions over the phone at no charge,
call (619) 243-0888
Louisville may have taken the NCAA Division I title, but Lincoln William emerged victorious in this year’s Goldberg Jones Bracket Challenge. William’s bracket picks bested the other 260 participants and earned him the reward of a $250 Amazon Gift Card.
William picked 43 of the 63 games correctly and his bracket earned 145 out of a possible 192 points. William beat last year’s winner by 29 points earning him the 2012 Goldberg Jones Bracket Challenge title.
Thanks to everyone who participated in this year’s March Madness festivities. The NCAA Division I tournament is a fun event that we look forward to every year. It offers us an opportunity to engage with our communities around a shared passion—basketball. The interjection of friendly competition is always a welcome addition to our offices come March and we hope you enjoyed the tournament as much as we did.
With the NCAA tournament complete our blog will return to our regular programing. We will continue to bring you informative articles that focus on educating husbands and fathers on their rights and options for navigating the difficult situations of divorce, custody, and other family law related issues.
If you are involved in legal proceeding that affects that your child you have probably heard the term Guardian ad Litem. While you may have heard the term, you might be unsure what a Guardian ad Litem is and what they do. In California a Guardian ad Litem representing a child under the age of 18 is referred to as the Minor’s Counsel.
A Guardian ad Litem is an adult appointed by the court to represent the best interest of an individual (usually children) for a specific period of time. A judge appoints the GAL either by request of one or both of the parents, or by the judge’s discretion.The Guardian ad Litem serves to represent the well-being and interests of an individual that needs help protecting their rights. Referred to as “wards” these individuals are usually infants, minors, or mentally incompetent adults that are unable to advocate for themselves.
Often shortened to the acronym GAL, the Guardian ad Litem performs an investigation and creates a report from the findings of their inquiry. The GAL’s conclusions and recommendations will often carry strong influence in the court’s decisions. It is important to note the GAL’s suggestions can influence the court’s decision, but the court is not bound by the GAL’s recommendations. This means that the court can make a ruling that is different from the GAL’s recommendation.
A GAL investigation usually includes interviews with both parents and the collection of information from teachers, counselors, and other adults with whom the child has regular contact. In addition, the GAL may interview family and friends that have been identified by the parents.
During the investigation, the GAL will take into consideration numerous factors including the child and the parents’ wishes, the amount of time the child regularly spends with each parent, the child’s age and developmental/educational needs, and other significant factors that will impact the child’s well being.
If your case is assigned a GAL, you can expect them to be involved in the process until a written agreement has been reached and approved by a judge— or a hearing takes place and the judge decides the case. Contentious divorce and custody cases requiring a GAL will add additional expenses to the proceedings. The cost of the GAL is paid by the parties involved and can easily exceed $1,000 if there are multiple contended parenting issues.
If you are facing custody, divorce, or any other family law issues talk to an experienced family law attorney and educate yourself on your rights.
Our managing attorney, Zephyr Hill, is happy to answer your Guardian ad Litem, custody and divorce questions over the phone for free. And if your situation requires an in-depth evaluation, initial consultations are a flat fee of $95. Whether you call or come in for an initial consultation there is no obligation—our goal is to provide you guidance and information to help you through what can be a difficult time.
Call Zephyr (619) 243-0888
The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament has been distilled down to the Final Four. The four teams will meet in Atlanta this weekend where one team will remain standing as the National Champion.
The excitement and buzz that surrounds the tournament every year is fueled by the unpredictable nature of the game. This year has been no exception. ESPN has reported “that 47 perfect out of 8.15 million brackets in its Tournament Challenge game made the right picks.” That means that 1 out of every 173,000 brackets filled out on their website correctly picked the Final Four.
Goldberg Jones managing partner, Rick Jones, and managing attorney, Zephyr Hill, chatted about the tournament during last week's taping of Divorce For Men Radio. See if their speculation on the Final Four was correct and hear whom they pick to take the tournament.
Denial Can Sabotage Your Divorce
Most people facing divorce never imagined that their marriage would end. But for many couples in the United States, the dissolution of their marriage is a harsh reality. The end of a relationship is a maelstrom of emotions, frequently harboring grief, anger, and sadness. For many men the dominant emotion is denial, especially if their wife initiated the divorce.
Denial is a natural reaction in the grief process, but remaining in denial can sabotage your ability to protect your rights and your assets. For men facing divorce, denial can sabotage the ability to make good decisions and leave you vulnerable to forfeiting your rights.
An article published on AskMen.com recounts the situation of how one man’s denial was detrimental to his divorce case:
“Jack refused to believe his wife Ellen was going to divorce him. They had been married for seven years, and though he knew their marriage had problems, he was certain they could work them out. Some of the problems were related to Ellen’s bipolar disorder, for which she was being treated.
Unfortunately, Ellen sometimes refused to take the prescribed medications that helped keep the condition under control. In her manic phase, she drove recklessly, and though she had never done so with their two young children in the car, Jack always worried about this possibility.
In her “down” phase, Ellen talked about “running away and starting over.” But Jack was certain that no matter how many arguments he and Ellen had, she would never file for divorce.
He was wrong. Not only had she hired a lawyer and started the process, but she also had followed the lawyer’s instructions regarding her medical condition. Her lawyer, anticipating that Jack might use this condition to try to gain sole custody, had instructed Ellen to persuade Jack to sign a document attesting to her mental fitness; he helped Ellen create a cover story that she needed this document for health insurance purposes.
It took Jack weeks to find a lawyer, and even then he remained unconvinced that she was serious about sole custody; he insisted to his lawyer that this was just a negotiating ploy.”
Jack’s denial provided his wife the advantage of time to create a strategy that gave her the upper hand to secure custody of the children. Had Jack not been in denial and immediately sought the advice of a divorce attorney, he might have avoided signing the documents regarding her mental fitness.
Amidst the multitude of emotions that come with a relationship in turmoil it can be difficult to identify denial. It is natural to try and salvage a marriage and couples counseling can be affective. But for some relationships there is no coming back—divorce is inevitable. So what is a man to do? How can you decipher what is optimism and what is denial?
We have compiled a few questions that could indicate you are in denial, if the answer to any of the questions below is yes, you should consult with a divorce attorney. Meeting with a divorce lawyer will arm you with information that will help you make smart decisions during your divorce.
Has your wife asked for a divorce, but you don’t believe she will file?
Has your wife moved out and hired an attorney, but you insist that the separation is temporary?
Have you told friends that the divorce is your wife’s way of getting what she wants and that she won’t follow through?
Has your wife started moving money out of joint accounts into an individual account, your relationship has been in trouble for a while, and you refuse to acknowledge there is a problem?
These are just a few of the situations we have encountered in our years of practicing law. If your wife has threatened divorce or you are contemplating ending your marriage, now is the time to educate yourself. Discussing your circumstances and your options with a divorce lawyer will prepare you to navigate the challenges inherent in a divorce and protect your rights.
If you have questions about divorce or family law issues, call our managing attorney Zephyr Hill. Zephyr is happy to answer questions over the phone at no charge (619) 243-0888.
It is that time of year again. Time to scour the internet for stats, brush up on our bracketology, and pick the winners. It is March, and that means one thing—NCAA College Basketball Tournament.
This year Goldberg Jones is excited to host a bracket challenge with a $250 Amazon gift card as the reward. In a winner takes all elimination, we will whittle down the playing field to one champion. That champion will have used their knowledge, intuition, and possibly psychic ability to outwit all others by creating the ultimate bracket.
You can join the Goldberg Jones bracket challenge by heading over to Yahoo Sports and joining the Goldberg Jones group. The group ID number is 21981. You will be able to fill out your bracket beginning on March 17. But don’t lollygag—brackets must be completed by March 21.
Once you have made your picks, you can follow the madness by liking the Goldberg Jones facebook page and following us on Twitter. We will be posting the results of each round and tweeting during games. Be sure to share the Goldberg Jones Bracket Challenge with your friends and leave comments on our Facebook page. We will be giving out free high fives to everyone who participates.
While we are in the giving mood, we are also happy to announce we will be giving discounted consultations to our Facebook friends. Between March 17 and April 9 you can schedule an in-office divorce or custody consultation for only $50. During your initial consultation, you will meet with our managing attorney to discuss your unique circumstances and your rights as a man. That is almost 50% off the usual initial consultation fee. For more info about our March Madness consult deal, head over to our Facebook page.