I hope that young children were not still up and watching the *Academy Awards broadcast when Will Smith got out of his seat, walked up the concourse, and forcefully slapped Chris Rock for making a poor joke at the expense of his wife Jada Pinkett Smith.  But even if children didn’t watch it live, they are likely still being exposed to the ongoing coverage and analysis of this startling event on social media and mainstream media.  Disagreement abounds over which man was most in the wrong.  Some posters and oped writers try to justify each man’s actions.  There have been thoughtful critiques about toxic masculinity in our culture, and how it inevitably leads to violence of one kind or another. Many believe Chris Rock was bullying Jada Pinkett Smith by publicly mocking her bald head, especially given her alopecia.  Some respond that comedians insulting celebrities at “star-studded events” and roasts has become something of the norm and is to be expected.  Some say Will Smith’s retaliation was also bullying behavior, since Smith was trained to box like a professional for the film Ali and is much bigger and stronger than Rock.  But others respond that his response was justified to “protect” his wife. (I confess, I thought Pinkett Smith’s grimace of disgust and exaggerated eye roll at the weak joke was a pretty potent response in and of itself). What does this whole event model for our children, who emulate adult behavior?  Is mocking others, especially for things they can’t control, ever justified?  Does saying “Just kidding!” after a cruel remark make it okay?  Should bystanders go along by joining the mocking laughter, or do they have a responsibility to call out bullying behavior? Is lashing out aggressively after a perceived put-down ever justified?  Does being “in the heat of the moment and not thinking clearly” make an impulsive violent response, okay?  Should bystanders go along by saying nothing, or do they have a responsibility to call out violent behavior? What does this event say about how women and girls should expect to be treated?  In the Me Too era, a time when native women have disappeared in shocking numbers, when human trafficking and domestic violence are still huge social problems, we know that women do need the strong protection of laws and social norms.  Is this kind of protection the same or different than what happened at the Oscars? If you haven’t already, I encourage you to watch the documentary “When We Were Bullies.”  This film was also featured briefly at the Academy Awards as a nominee for best short documentary.  Ellen Bruno, the creator of the masterful film Split about the children of divorce was a creative consultant for this film, which is extremely well done.  It focuses on a 5th grade bullying incident and the lingering effects, 50 years later, on those who participated.  Like this essay, it raises important questions and examines context and perspective, but does not aim for simplistic resolutions. As parents and adults who care about children, we need to have open conversations with them, and ask curious questions about bullying behavior vs. respectful behavior and the difference between control and power.  We need to ask ourselves what it really means to create safety for others, and what responsibility we all share when safety is violated.  And we need to always be aware that the most powerful tool in the adult toolkit is modeling the behavior we want our children to emulate and taking responsibility rather than blaming others for any time we (as humans) fall off the high road. *Since this article was written, Will Smith has apologized publicly for his inexcusable behavior at the Academy Awards ceremony.  He has been banned from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Awards ceremony for 10 years. Author: Deborah Clemmensen, M.Eq., L.P. is a Neutral Child and Family Specialist in Collaborative Practice and Family Law deborah.clemmensen@gmail.com
children-cute-drawing-159823April is Autism Awareness Month, the two month anniversary of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, and the 19th anniversary of Columbine.  Why talk about ASD and school shootings in the same sentence?  And why a divorce blog?  I will get to that.  But as a lawyer-mom, these two issues are at the forefront of my mind, and probably the minds of many parents and educators these days.  We should rest assured that our kids would know what to do during a lock-down because they have spontaneous drills throughout the year, right?  Ugh…what am I saying?  The fact that kids NEED lockdown drills is downright outrageous!  Nonetheless, I wondered what the younger kids are told and what happens during these drills.  Well, lucky me, when I recently volunteered in my son’s elementary school classroom, the school had a lock down drill.  And one word sums up the experience: chilling. Lockdown drills are very different from the fire and tornado drills we had as kids.  I’m sure everyone remembers the fire drills – exit the classroom quickly and get away from the building.  Or the tornado drills – go out to the hallways, away from the doors and windows, and cover your head with your hands.  Up until about 1999, THOSE were the drills Minnesotan kids experienced.  In fact, most the time, much to our teacher’s chagrin, we were laughing and joking around.  A lock down drill, however, has a very different vibe.  The kids must be EXTREMELY quiet.  They huddle into a specific area and are instructed to remain eerily still.  This had been a bustling class (and school) just moments before, but now it was so quiet, you could hear a pin drop.  This was a class of 30 second graders, so I was stunned at the deafening silence.  Just when I thought it was over (it seemed like forever, but was probably two minutes) someone rattled the door handle.  Forcefully.  Not a peep from the kids, but I jumped.  Luckily, they didn’t see me or they might have erupted into giggles.  We had to continue to remain quiet and motionless.  Interestingly, I don’t remember what happened next; that is, I don’t recall if there was a bell or another signal indicating the drill was over (I think I was sort of in shock).  The kids went about their business, working on their projects, like it was no big deal.  Only it was a big deal.  At least it was to me and the other adults in the room.  I just looked at the staff, wide-eyed, and shook my head. School lock downs are now a reality for school-aged children.  It makes my heart ache.  I asked my son that evening why they have lockdowns and he nonchalantly said it was in case anyone wants to break into the school.  That was it.  Simple enough.  But as we grown-ups know, there is nothing simple about this. My son is a “mover and a crasher,” so I was relieved he made it through the drill.  But I thought about the other high-needs/special-needs kids in his school.  For any child who has physical needs or doesn’t cognitively understand the drill, simply can’t be quiet and remain calm, needs to move, or overreacts when accidentally bumped or touched by a classmate, what would that child do in this drill?  Or, God forbid, in a REAL situation? With more and more kids being diagnosed with ASD, what protocols are in place for them?  Is there a special section in their IEP about drills?  There ought to be. This made me think about special-needs kids whose parents are going through a divorce.  The teachers are aware of kids’ needs (or should be).  So, too, should the divorce team.  A child’s symptoms often reemerge or worsen when they are stressed, which could happen during parental conflict and/or separation.  Child specialists can work with the parents and the child’s pediatrician and/or therapist to help create a parenting plan that is in the child’s best interests.  Like it or not, otherwise fit and loving parents need to work together for there children’s sake.  Fortunately, the Collaborative process can help parents really focus on their kids, by putting them in the center, rather than the middle, of the divorce process.  Every family situation is unique.  Every family and every child deserve a creative plan to help move them forward, restructure, and get to a new “normal.”  Drill and lockdown protocols included.

adult-adventure-background-220147Last time I wrote about some of the realities of the divorce process and some of the different ways by which a final divorce decree can be created.  It may have come as a surprise to learn that a couple has enormous legal autonomy to create their own decree, but it’s a fact.

So how does a couple with limited knowledge of tax planning, deferred compensation, and employee stock options figure out what they have and what to do with it?  Is it good for a two-year-old to be parented the same way his eight-year-old brother and 12-year-old sister are?  Where do I find out?  And how do I bring that information into the conversation without increasing the conflict?

In a word, the answer is, “Neutrals.”  Financial neutral, neutral child specialist, neutral coach.  Why neutral?  Because a neutral works for both of you.  If you’re fighting about financial issues, the odds are pretty high each spouse will want to hire their own expert to tell the judge what’s REALLY going on with the parties’ assets and debts.  Would you be shocked to learn that two such financial experts with very similar training and experience can offer opinions that are many thousands of dollars apart?  Would it surprise you to know that husband’s financial expert could care less whether wife can meet her monthly budget?  Or whether wife’s expert cares that husband is going in the hole every month after paying guidelines child support?  Would it make more sense to handle the children’s expenses so that the family’s income covers as many of their needs as possible?  Would you prefer to be able to choose whether your property division emphasizes cash, or retirement?  Are you comfortable with risk, or do you need maximum security, and what combination of assets best achieves either goal?

And always, there’s the same question:  If goal X is crucial to achieve, what are you willing to give up in order to get it?

How about parenting?  Do you “want the kids 50/50?”  What would that look like?  Are their parents driving them between homes every day?  What’s that feel like to those children?  To your 12-year-old?  To her two-year-old sister?  Is it okay for them both to sleep in your home for five nights straight?  Why or why not?  Is there an impact on the youngest if she does?  Is their other parent only a parent 50% of the time?  Are you?  Do you envy their relationship with their other parent?  Does it show?  Or do they know you are genuinely happy that they had a good weekend/week/Christmas vacation with Mom/Dad?  Do any of these questions really matter?

Short answer:  Yes, they’re at the heart of your divorce.

Although you changed the diapers, nursed, fed, bathed, dressed, played, vacationed, listened, lectured, or just . . . beheld, you may not know everything you need–or want–to.  How does the mind develop?  What is a child’s sense of the world?  How do they see others?  Or you?  And when does that start?  When does it change?  When do they conceive of themselves as “other?”  What gives them comfort?  Makes them feel safe?  Are those the same things that reassure their parents?  What makes them anxious?  Should you find these things out?  Can you make up for lost time or hurtful words?  Can they forgive you?  Can you forgive yourself?  Most importantly, can your lawyer give you the best answer to these questions?

Or would you rather learn them from a child psychologist with decades of experience?  A neutral child psychologist.  Someone whose role is to be the voice of your children, a conduit from their heart to yours.  An information source whose information comes directly from your kids, with their permission. A safe person for them to tell.

[Intermission]

Can you talk to the person you married?  You know–that someone that you used to love.  Can they hear you when you do?

That’s why you need a neutral coach.

If you and your spouse decide to divorce in a Collaborative process where you have to make the decisions, where you have to talk to each other, don’t you need to be heard?  Even if you’re not in a Collaborative process, 95 percent of the cases settle without a trial.  In most of those, lawyers discourage clients from direct communication with their spouse.  In fairness to my colleagues, that’s usually because the clients don’t know how to do it constructively.  They’re hurt.  They’re pissed.  They want to be real clear on that point to anyone within earshot.

But if you approach the divorce process as a problem-solving exercise, are you going to let your “mouthpiece” tell your spouse about your priorities?  Will it mean as much, will it be as believable, as if you say it yourself?  If you’re going to acknowledge their good parenting, aren’t you the only one who can say it?

If you have to revise your concept of what would be “fair,” would you like to be able to hold on to as much of it as possible?  Or will you blow up, throw the baby out with the bath water?  A coach can help you find the words, and the room in your heart to say them; can hand you the towel to dry the baby off.

Coaches constantly remind us that a “good divorce” is not a zero sum game.  Yes, he had an affair!  Yes, he failed to acknowledge you at every turn.  Yes, she constantly criticized the way you did things, things she never would have attempted.  Yes, “too much” was never “enough” for her.  And, and, and . . . But, are you going to save for college?  Can you send your daughter to language immersion camp?  How do you talk to him about this shoplifting arrest?  Can you count on her to take the kids if you’re called out of town on business?  If the chemo knocks you out, will he be able to get them to school and their games?  They cut his overtime; can you cover their lunches this month?

Think it won’t happen to you?  Think this was settled in the Decree?  Guess what?  Life happens.  My clients have asked all those questions of their Ex’s, and many others besides.  How will you ask?  How will you answer when you are asked?  Coach.  Coach.  Coach.

Did I mention a Coach?

Four’s a crowd

So why all these people?

Simple:  More bang for the buck!

 What do I mean?  Just this:  When you have a job to do, who do you ask, someone who specializes in it, or someone who dabbles?   If the dabbler costs twice as much, what then?  You ask the best person qualified to do the job!  You shouldn’t ask your lawyer to be your psychologist.  You shouldn’t ask your therapist to be your lawyer (although it sure would be nice to find an experienced lawyer who charges $180 an hour, right?).  For every hour your coach helps you find answers, you saved yourself $100 over having your lawyer do it, give or take.  Put another way, if you expect your lawyer to help you find those answers, you will have overspent and perhaps gotten an inferior product into the bargain.  Yes, this is the lawyer speaking.

Next time:  The Power of Neutrality

In parts 1 and 2, we defined vortex as: 1) a whirling mass of water or air that sucks everything near it towards its center; 2) a place or situation regarded as drawing into its center all that it surrounds, and hence, being inescapable or destructible. As discussed in previous months, the “divortex” can be avoided by choosing the Collaborative Process.  Prior articles describe what Collaboration is – it is a process that avoids court and may use a team of experts to help clients create the best settlement option possible.labyrinth-1738044_1920 The professionals on a team are, generally speaking, the two attorneys, a neutral financial professional, a neutral child specialist, and a neutral divorce coach.  Although the inclusion of financial and mental health professionals in the divorce process is nothing new, the manner in which they are used in the Collaborative process is unique.  The attorneys’ roles are different in Collaboration, as well.  While each spouse retains his or her own attorney, the attorneys work together to help the clients achieve an outcome that works for the entire family.  The attorneys give legal advice to their individual clients, but more importantly, they help their clients realize what their interests and goals are.  The objective of Collaboration is to get to a place where everyone is OK (a win-win) rather than a win-lose.  The attorneys are trained in the Collaborative model and interest-based negotiation. A financial neutral helps the divorcing couple with property division and cash flow. Financial neutrals are financial experts and are CPAs, CDFAs, and CFSs who are trained in the Collaborative process and who understand the legal process. A child specialist is a neutral who helps the couple with creating a comprehensive and viable parenting plan. The child specialist is a therapist who is also trained in the Collaborative process.  The child specialist is the voice of the children and not only helps the children during the divorce process, but helps parents help their children during this transition. A divorce coach is also a therapist and a neutral in this process.  The coach’s role is to the help the couple communicate better.  It is important for each spouse to have a voice in this process and the coach can help with that.  In high conflict cases, a coach helps the process move along more smoothly. Although it seems like there are a lot of professionals involved in Collaboration, every professional has a specific role.  In a non-collaborative case, the attorneys are acting as financial advisor, child specialist, and coach.  And while attorneys can help with those pieces of the case, attorneys are not experts in those areas.  In the Collaborative process, you get the best advice from the various professionals who are trained to help you reach a settlement.  Consequently, a Collaborative team CAN help you avoid the divortex!
I once heard that parenting books are one of the largest segments in non-fiction family-492891_1920publishing.  Everyone apparently thinks they have tips and ideas to help others parent.  As a collaborative divorce attorney, clients often seek guidance and support in co-parenting during and after the divorce.  No book ever fits the bill.  While traditional books may offer some guidance, co-parenting after divorce is a unique situation.  Not only do children sometimes have challenges as the result of the divorce, parents too are transitioning into a new reality. In collaborative divorce, we often work with a family specialist or child specialist to help families transition from one home, into two.  This neutral party can assist in many aspects of parenting, including the following:
  • Coach parents on telling the children about divorce.
  • Bring the children’s voice to the process by hearing their concerns and hopes and communicating them to the parents.
  • Communication coaching.
  • Developing a parenting plan and schedule for parenting in two homes.
  • How to maintain relationships with extended family.
  • Consulting after divorce as new things arise.
  • Periodic check-ins on parenting and child development.
  • Any other parenting challenge that arises during or after the divorce.
The child specialist or family neutral is a uniquely qualified individual who can build the strongest family possible.  They can support the children while still helping parents establish routines and a healthy co-parenting relationship.  This work is some of the hardest during a divorce, but often the most rewarding. To learn more about collaborative divorce, please contact Kimberly Miller.
question markMy husband and I were taking our kids to swimming lessons when we saw a man and woman standing outside the facility arguing.  The anger and negative energy were palpable.  While still in the parking lot, we met up with another family we know, and we exchanged uncomfortable glances as the conversation between this couple became more heated.  “Awkward,” my friend whispered. As we approached, I could hear what they were arguing about, and the expletives were flying (this is a family place, mind you, and my kids were five and two at the time – yikes!)  The woman was saying, “I don’t give a $*&^ what you think.  You can’t have that #$&* sleep over when it’s your weekend with our son.  You are such an ^*&+@!  We aren’t even divorced yet.”  My five year old glanced up at me with an odd look on his face.  Oh boy.  I wondered if they had attorneys and what process they were using. Even though I see this sort of conflict on a regular basis, it was very uncomfortable to witness.  I’m not sure if my discomfort was because I couldn’t do anything about their conflict (I was there as a mom, not a lawyer) or because my children were in earshot.  For a fleeting moment I did, however, consider going up to them.  I felt compelled to inform them there is a better way to deal with this “stuff” and that a child specialist and divorce coach could get them to a better place regarding “adult sleepovers.”  That was the lawyer in me. Since we were running a bit behind, however, the mom in me picked up my two-year-old and hurried my son through the door.  Either way, I felt bad for this couple, and even worse for their child.  I wondered how old their son was and if they had made a scene near the pool when they decided to “take it outside.”  I will never know how their divorce turned out.  I can only hope that things cooled down at some point so they could focus on co-parenting their child.  It’s understandable that emotions are highly charged during a divorce, which is the reason a divorce coach and child specialist are incredibly helpful during the process, as well as a therapist or counselor.  Stop.  Breathe.  Think.  And talk to a mental health professional.
181216069In a recent first meeting with new clients, I was obtaining family history to help ground me in both parents’ perspectives on issues related to their divorce. A comment by the dad struck a chord for me. He said, “I believe the way I can become the best parent to my child is by getting a divorce.” At first glance this comment seems counter-intuitive. Most children would prefer their parents remain married or partnered and under one roof. Divorce is usually a life crisis for children and their parents. Divorce is necessarily about grief and loss. How does it follow that a divorce can result in better parenting? The answer is that many parents whose marriages don’t work are able to enter into a co-parenting relationship that does work. In these families, children remain at the center of their parents’ concern and out of the middle of their parents’ conflicts. Especially if the decision to get unmarried is mutual, and a reservoir of trust and good will about parenting has been preserved, it can relieve a great deal of stress in the home to decide (though often with great sadness) to let go of the marriage while embracing a new lifelong role as co-parents. Children can continue to feel safe and loved in the context of a healthy co-parenting relationship. Effective co-parents are mindful and committed to being present for and attuned to the needs of their children, and this is the foundation of their children’s resilience and hope. Collaborative Team Practice offers specialized mental health resources to support and reinforce healthy and effective co-parenting during and after a divorce. Neutral child specialists and neutral coaches help parents create Parenting Plans and Relationship Plans as detailed and unique guides for positive co-parenting. It is indeed possible to divorce with the goal of becoming the best parent one can be.
172708699A friend of mine who knows I am intricately woven into the divorce-planning and alternative dispute resolution circles in the Minneapolis St. Paul metro recently asked me if I knew a certain divorce attorney.  He knew of a person who was not feeling too well about their choice of a divorce attorney.  I told my friend that I did not recognize the name. Being a little curious, I searched the web for this individual. What I found was that family law was one of about eight other areas of law this person practiced.  I wondered just how much family law this attorney does in relationship to all the other practice areas listed.  Little does my friend know, his question inspired my writing this blog post. Would you go to a painter if you needed a new roof?  Would you go to a heart surgeon for a fractured arm?  Hardly, you say. Why is it then when people have decided to end their marriage they first choose to see someone who is not a subject matter expert in the areas causing conflict between them and their spouse?  They want this person to fix all their problems when that person probably does not have all the skill sets to solve all of the issues that present themselves in a divorce.  I would submit that there is no one person who has all the skill sets necessary to effectively deal with all the intricacies of a divorce. Perhaps the conflict is about co-parenting the couple’s children.  Would it make sense to seek out a neutral child specialist to help the parents sort out the rough spots and more importantly benefit their children for years and really for their lifetime?  Maybe the conflict is over financial matters.  You would think a neutral financial specialist would be able to offer the most value to the couple in those situations.  A couple not able to communicate effectively may benefit the most by seeing a neutral divorce relationship coach who can help both spouses manage their emotions which in turn frees up the flexible thinking they will need as they work through getting unmarried.  If legal questions arise, you would think an attorney who primarily works in family law matters would be the best resource. What I have described above is the client centered team model approach to a collaborative divorce.  A team of professional experts in their own subject matter areas working for you and your family’s behalf.   If you would like to learn more about this respectful and dignified way to divorce without court click on www.collaborativelaw.org to check it out.

158812369Divorce is a family event that impacts children of all ages.There has been an uptick of divorces for middle-aged and older couples whose children may have already launched their adult lives.Just because children are not living under the same roof with a parent or parents does not mean their lives won’t be deeply affected by family changes that will occur following a divorce.

At Daisy Camp, I have heard many sad stories of communication breakdowns between parents and their adult children during and after a divorce.Adult children experience unique emotional distress and practical challenges. Regardless of age, children can feel caught in the middle if parents remain in conflict.In fact, adult children can experience a heightened sense of betrayal and confusion about what has happened to their family of origin

Here are three considerations for divorcing parents of adult children:

1.  It is helpful for adult children if parents are able to inform them about the divorce with a thoughtfully prepared joint We Statement.This allows parents to be more in charge of the message and the tone, and may gently discourage adult children from feeling as though they are expected to take sides or determine who is to blame.A Neutral Child Specialist can assist parents in the creation of a We Statement.

 2.  Adult children will continue to have personal and family-centered milestones to celebrate, including graduations, engagements, marriages and births of grandchildren.   Advance planning and clear communication with adult children about parents’ readiness and willingness to jointly participate can reduce anxiety for adult children.If parents are not ready and willing to jointly participate, being able to constructively problem solve with children so the events can proceed without undue drama is also helpful to them.A worst-case scenario for adult children is feeling helplessly caught in a power struggle between parents for every family event.

 3.  Adult children may ask difficult questions, and parents need to be prepared to answer honestly but without making their children feel the necessity of taking sides.Keeping children at the center and out of the middle can be especially challenging if there has been an infidelity or other breach of trust in the marriage.Under these circumstances, it can be especially valuable for divorcing parents to get the support and guidance of a neutral mental health professional.

 Collaborative Team Practice provides access to skilled mental health expertise from a Neutral Child Specialist or Neutral Coach to guide parents to support their adult children through a difficult transition that will impact the rest of their lives.It is a privilege to help parents create a legacy of healing and respect for their adult children and grandchildren.

78364212 Many years ago when I had recently moved and was looking for a new dentist, I simply looked through the phone book and found a dentist that was located nearby and set up an appointment. Later, when I arrived at the dentist’s office for my appointment, the receptionist asked how I had heard of them and I responded, “I just found you in the phone book”. She said “Oh, that’s too bad. That’s a risky way to find a good dentist.” I often remember that memory when potential clients come to my office in Northfield, Minnesota to have a free initial consultation. I think, “Did they just find me in the phone book?” I ask potential clients how they have heard of me and they often respond that they were referred by their therapist or their attorney (who may not practice Family Law or Mediation). Sometimes they say that they found me in the phone book or through my website or they simply say they found me “online”. I think to myself, “That’s too bad. That’s a risky way to find a good attorney or mediator.” I don’t actually say that to them, but that’s what I’m thinking. If I were in their shoes and was looking for an attorney, I would ask a therapist or other local attorneys for their recommendations. Often these professionals have personal relationships with various attorneys in the community and even if they don’t have a specific recommendation they would know who would be able to point you in the right direction. When looking for an attorney, be aware that legal “ranking” of attorneys is a dark art. When I get emails or letters asking me to “rank” other attorneys, I simply delete the email or recycle the letter. I don’t trust these ranking systems and neither should you. I would look for professionals who focus their practice in Family Law. Like any other profession, people get really good at what they do often. So, I figure it’s more likely that an attorney who does a lot of Family Law will be more likely to be effective and efficient in that area of law. I would look for someone who has training, and who keeps up their continuing education requirements, in mediation. I say this because mediation training helps people see all sides of a disagreement and helps give professionals the tools to effectively diffuse conflict and work towards constructive solutions. You want effective conflict resolution to be a focus of every professional in your case. Beware of attorneys that tell you that you “deserve” a certain outcome or that assures you that a court would view your case a certain way. I’ve been to court many times where the spouses attorney has promised their client that the judge would rule a certain way, only to have the judge decide the case in a totally different way. Then I wonder what those attorneys tell their clients afterward about why their guarantees were wrong in the end. I specifically tell clients that there are no guarantees when it comes to court. I do this because I’m in court for over 200 court hearings a year and, because of that extensive court experience, I know that I can’t fully predict what the judge will do. So, never trust an attorney who tells you that a certain judge always rules a certain way or assures you that a court will view your case a certain way. A good place to start looking for a Collaborative Professional is on the Collaborative Law Institute of Minnesota website. There you can search by geographic area and by profession. If your primary concern is about mental health or how to approach your partner about using the Collaborative process, you may want to search for and speak with a “Coach”. A Coach is a mental health professional who has training in the divorce process and mediation and can help you understand your options. If your primary concern is financial, you may want to search for an speak with a “Financial Professional”. They can help you understand how financial issues can be understood and resolved. If your primary concern is your children, you may want to search for a “Child Specialist”. They are trained mental health professionals who have special experience working with kids and families and they can help you understand how to speak with your children about what is happening and how you and your partner can be there for your children during this difficult time. If you are concerned about any or all of these issues you can always speak with an attorney about the legal issues involved and they can help you understand how these other professionals can help you.