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5 Tips to Regulate in a Toxic Family Law Case

Attorney Holly Houston Maintaining Calm during a divorce

People cry in my office regularly. Custody and parenting cases — the fear of losing a child or control of a relationship — can turn even the most emotionally solid people into hot messes with low impulse control. As a Kentucky family lawyer for 21 years, I regularly witness people who lie, cheat and steal. I’ve seen images that can’t be unseen and watched parents and partners use email and text to “bomb” and gut punch each other under the guise of communicating about the kids.

Family law cases can be arduous, no doubt. But with effective coping skills and regular encouragement, clients can thrive when the case is resolved — or at least survive intact. I should have “I’m on your team!” as an auto response in my phone, I text it so often to clients who need a reminder they are not going it alone.

Sometimes, though, clients need more than tea, supportive texts and a hug. They need “outside help” to manage their minds and calm their spirits. A client attuned to attempts at emotional manipulation by the other party, including blaming and gaslighting, for instance, is already a step ahead of the game. Therapy and the tools it provides are state-of-the art protective gear.

In addition to therapy, what steps can clients take to stem the emotional tide during turbulent cases to enable clarity of thought and guard against a knee jerk reaction both in and outside of the courtroom? Enter Sammy-Jo Hand, yogi, teacher, student of the world and a wellness expert before wellness was trendy. I asked her for tips to give clients to help them self-regulate in and out of the courtroom. And, boy, did she deliver. Here are five ways to check in with yourself and out of conflict.

 

Are there techniques a person can utilize while sitting across a table from a spouse or partner they think ruined their life?

When having to face-to-face deal with the person you least want to face-to-face deal with, a natural coping mechanism might be to throw eye daggers and perhaps imagine that those eye daggers are in fact real daggers with just enough tetanus-y rust dabbled on the dull pointed edge to, I don’t know, cause death?

But then again, you might be open to trying something a little more chill (and a little less murder-y), like focusing on your breath.

Bringing awareness to the breath activates our parasympathetic nervous system, our bodies’ built-in de-stress system. (High five to the human body, right?!) Being in the here and now by using the breath as a tool, therefore, reduces the stress and anxiety around what’s happening right in front of us, as well as taking the attention away from the great unknown of the next moment.

When the anger rises, when the tears come, when all of the swear words beckon from inside of your lips desperate to burst free, just come back to your breath. It might seem simple. It might even seem cliché or cheesy, but it works. Breathe slow and deep. Count the breath. Notice the feel of each one as it passes through your lips or nose. Feel it move all the way down into your belly and then follow the breath back out again.

 

Does anything help lessen the feeling of being overwhelmed by fear of change and not being able to cope with it?

Adapting to change is an innate ability that we human beings have been gifted, but the fact that we have this helpful little evolutionary tool doesn’t seem to make it any easier. Change can still be super hard and super painful.

We can give ourselves permission to be a little bit selfish in the game of putting ourselves back together again and getting to know this new version of ourselves.

What are your favorite things to do on a Sunday? Is it helpful to write about your fears and/or your desires for the future? Is walking in nature your thing? What new rituals can you create for you and your kids? Do you like to listen to music and maybe have a dance as you get the kids ready for school and/or yourself ready for work in the morning? Do you have time in your day to take a bath or at the very least a 30-second mindful hot shower? Can you afford an entire guilt-free day/half-day/30-minutes/millisecond in your snuggly bed for the sake of healing? And where is your favorite place to have a guilt-free Claire Danes snot cry? Make your personal mantra during this time, ‘Me me me me me me me me me me!’

 

How can a person move past another’s “wrongs” to get to their “rights”  – to be happy, to forgive, to move on, to let go?

Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh offers this sound advice: “If your house is on fire, the most urgent thing to do is to go back and try to put out the fire, not to run after the person you believe to be the arsonist. So, when you are angry, if you continue to interact with or argue with the other person, if you try to punish her (him/them), you are acting exactly like someone who runs after the arsonist while everything goes up in flames.”

I think of chasing after an apology that we may never receive as chasing after the person who lit the fire. The apology is not important. What is important is putting out the fire; tending to our needs and offering ourselves the love and care that we most definitely need during what might well be the most challenging time of our life.

For you, putting out the fire might look like doing the things that you like to do and finding new things that bring you joy. Telling the people around you that you love them. Noticing the beauty in nature. It could mean baking something delicious or taking yourself out for a meal and savoring every bite. When in the shower, perhaps you wash your body really slowly and tell your body that you’re grateful for it, spending extra time on the areas that may have experienced trauma, i.e. your heart.

 

What’s the best tip to “shrug it off” when you feel yourself buying into the other person’s manipulation, especially if you are in mediation or in Court and in the presence of others?

There is a meditation practice that has us breathe in the suffering of the world and transform it into something positive. Intense, but super powerful. It helps to promote compassion and take the attention away from the immediacy of our own experience. Like using poison as medicine. We are not alone in our struggles. Other people are feeling stuff, too — including the very person who is causing us pain right now.

Now, that compassion business is like advance-level Saving Princess Toadstool stuff, so if it feels like too much then try these simple little treats instead:

  • Get your good selves some dried lavender and put a fair whack of it into a small cotton drawstring baggy. Carry this baggy around with you in your pocket so that when you’re feeling overwhelmed, you can take it out and take a whiff. Lavender is an extremely calming herb and can help to re-center you when you’re feeling overcome with stress and other yucky feelings.
  • Put both feet on the ground. Imagine that you are barefoot and standing with your feet in dirt, or sand, grass or on rock; just imagine something beneath you that makes you feel connected to the earth. Take 3 deep breaths. Imagine that you’re breathing from the ground all the way up to your heart and then repeat. Connecting to the earth in this way can help us feel more grounded and therefore more in control of our present moment experience.
  • “This too shall pass” is a good mantra to repeat for those moments in life we wish to escape. If this moment sucks, don’t worry, because the next moment is going to be different.
  • Close your eyes and imagine that there is a bright shiny light surrounding you. This light is kind of like the bubble that Glinda the Good Witch cruises around OZ in, only this bubble is a bubble of protection. Your protection bubble is going to help you deflect all of the bad vibes that are being thrown at and around you. Boom. Pow. Kazam.

 

Are there any websites or podcasts you recommend to begin the process of letting go (even while everything in you wants to hold on for dear life)?

During my divorce, someone recommended the book, When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chödrön. I was kind of offended because the title seemed dramatic and I was trying to act all, ‘I’m fine and totally normal and not dying on the inside at all.’ But clearly the dying on the inside was actually evident on the outside. This book — which I paid $12 for and could carry around in my handbag — was like a therapist.

I would also recommend reading or listening to anything by Brené Brown. She’s a gem and will help you through a hard time like she’s your BFF. I promise that it’s not weird at all to think of the woman talking at you from the audiobook as your BFF.

Tara Brach’s podcast is also a really helpful tool when on the path of healing. She talks Buddhist philosophy, which is steeped in lessons of letting go, remaining present and opening to the flow of life (the beautiful, the ugly, the joy, the pain and all of the in-between).  She has an extremely calm and soothing voice and offers many free meditations. If nothing else, listen before bed and you’ll be bouncing amongst the sleep clouds with those fluffy sheep in no time.

Impact of a Rent Hike after Divorce

 

Is Your Rent too Damn High?  If so, you might be among renters who witnessed a three percent increase in the cost of monthly rent, according to Marketplace, Kai Ryssdal’s podcast. In a segment titled “Rents are rising higher at the lower end of the market,” Ryssdal reported February 19, 2019 that recent rent hikes likely affect those with lower earnings, eventually forcing some into eviction and homelessness.

If you’re contemplating divorce or you’re cohabiting, how does the rental hike effect you? To begin, look at whose income pays the bulk of the rent or the mortgage. Many spouses or partners seeking to separate or divorce want out of their living arrangement as soon as they decide to split. It could be complicated, though, if the one seeking to leave doesn’t have the finances to support rent and there aren’t assets to divide or the one who wants to keep the real estate as their asset can’t qualifyimpact of a rent hike after a divorce to refinance the mortgage in their sole name.

While the impulse of many seeking to separate is to rent an apartment or condo, purchasing a home may be a better option. Mortgage companies and banks will likely consider your credit history, your earnings and your debt to income ratio when reviewing loan applications. Rental companies and leasing agents will at least do a credit check and require you to present proof of income.

Ashley Parker, whose real estate company, Parker & Klein, is in the top 10% of local realty companies, said “If you have the means to get a house and want the security of it,” purchasing real estate could be a good idea. Knowing what you can afford is crucial, Parker said, because “You also don’t want to get stuck in the foreclosure situation.”

Say, for instance, you are the spouse the other spouse buys out of the equity in your marital real estate during your divorce and you can afford the down payment on a new place. That doesn’t necessarily mean you should buy, though. Parker, who is a broker for real estate purchases only, rather than rentals, posed several questions to ask to determine whether renting or buying is your best option:

  • What are your long-term goals?
  • Where do you want to live?
  • Are you staying in the same city for your kids?
  • Do you have a secure job with longevity?
  • How much spousal support (if any) will you receive to apportion to the house payment?

In many cases, during or after divorce, or moving out after a relationship ends, renting may be the only option due to tight finances on both sides of the equation. In that situation “Knowing the right person to rent from,” can be a life and money saver, Parker said.

In 2016 Louisville’s eviction rate was twice the national average, yet according to the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting in 2018, that rate decreased overall, but for an increase in a few neighborhoods that are the hardest hit in Louisville by poverty across the board.

For those struggling to find a place they can afford or those advising would-be renters, Parker advised investigating local financial aid programs who may be able to assist. “If you have a nut or a nest egg, there are programs to get housing,” Parker said. The main questions to ask yourself whether you rent or buy remains: Do you have a secure job and know you can make monthly payments?

As to one of the housing programs Parker mentioned, she donates a portion of each real estate closing to the Prescription for Homelessness, offered by the Coalition for the Homeless, to aid young adults to obtain housing who have aged out of foster care.  For more information on the organization, visit louhomeless.org.

Is it in the Best Interests of the Child?

what's in the best interests of the child when parents divorceWhen Kentucky lawmakers passed an equal parenting time and joint custody presumption law that went into effect in the summer of 2018, I don’t recall it asking the family law bar our thoughts or seeing much opposition. Maybe it was because many of us anticipated it and several Judges in Jefferson county were clear they were “half time Judges” prior to its passage.

It surprised me then, when I recently saw an Illinois law firm I follow on social media tweet massive opposition to Illinois’ renewed proposal this year to enact essentially the same law Kentucky did in 2018. Kentucky’s law is codified in KRS 403.270(2). The Illinois proposed bill is House Bill 0185. To the presumption of equal parenting time opponents, the presumption proposal usurps the best interests of the child standard and is a one size fits all approach to custody and parenting, which many lawyers and mental health professional alike say is bad for kids.

The problem of the presumption lies in parents’ inability to communicate and flex, key behavior traits to successful co-parenting, opponents say, which ultimately leads to unhappy children who feel like batons being passed between runners during alternating laps. Advocates for the parenting presumption believe parenting time should not only be gender neutral but automatically divided between parents based on their rights to the child and the concomitant rights to parenting time to the child.

From a glance at the Illinois’ presumptive parenting bill proposed, the language is very similar to Kentucky’s new law: equal parenting is presumed unless the court finds the evidence presented by one of the parents is sufficient to rebut or dispel the presumption. Evidence presented might be:

  • Drug or alcohol addiction,
  • Domestic violence,
  • Mental illness,
  • Incarceration,
  • Sex abuse,
  • Even a non-first shift work schedule that would require a parent to be at work while the child would be asleep.

Coincidentally, it’s the same evidence courts looked at here more than a decade ago to determine if custody should be joint or sole and what kind of parenting schedule would work at all.

Shifting Social Trends

In those days, “meaningful contact” between a parent (read a father) and a child didn’t have to be more than every other weekend or even non-overnights, so long as the bond between the parent and child was present and the parenting time fostered the bond. As the years passed, a cultural shift occurred that included the rise of non-traditional families and parents were impelled to change their lives to accommodate their family structures and their children. The shift included bread-winner moms, stay at home dads, same sex parents and, more recently, couples who cohabit and have children.

According to a recent Pew Research Institute article, over the last 50 years single motherhood fell from 88% to 53%, and single dads make up 12% of the parenting population. Of the couples who have children together and live together, they are more likely to have children from another relationship, too.  While critics of looser family structures believe marriage is the solution to more income availability to raise children, marriage rates are down but for older and whiter and more educated families and even for them, they choose to have children at later ages than their parents did.

The times. They are a changin’. What remains to be seen is whether a half time parenting presumption is a trend in response to the changing realities of parents and their relationships, as measured by both longevity and the structure of the relationship, or the way to ensure two people who have a child together will equally share in the life of that child. The ultimate question is to whose benefit is the half time presumption though – the parents who have rights to the child or the child who arguably has the right to parents who don’t hate each other, use the child as a pawn in their never-ending quest to “gig” each other and make the child’s life miserable?

Legislative Limits

Unfortunately, lawmakers can’t legislate healthy parenting and courts can’t go home with litigants to monitor their parenting and give them behavioral cues. Artificial intelligence might be able to, but we aren’t quite there yet and the omnipresence of a robot who guides your parenting and offers instruction might lead to more resentment against the device than the other parent. That might be preferable for a child caught in the middle of parental conflict, to be sure.

If the equal parenting time presumption replaces the factors to determine what’s actually in the best interests of the child for custody and parenting determinations rather than incorporates the factors when a parent attempts to rebut the presumption, I agree with the opponents of the presumption that it usurps the best interest standard in favor of a parental rights standard. What Kentucky family law has always done well is require parents to show how a proposed parenting plan benefits the child. Arguments a child should be with a parent more “because I am the mom,” or “because I deserve the time” have never held water here. Yet.

As We Move Forward

More will be revealed as parents challenge the equal parenting presumption and courts sort through what evidence is sufficient to rebut it and what falls short.  What we know is the culture will shift again and parents and interest groups will lobby for new and different law surrounding how people have children and what role the courts play in governing how they are raised. It’s a good thing kids are resilient. Let’s make sure to prioritize their overall health and well being in determining the true best interests of the child over a legislative or courtroom win.

 

http://www.lrcvaw.org/laws/kyrelocation.pdf

Riding the Storm Out Financially

divorce is a rollercoasterSeparation and divorce aren’t inherently complex processes. Local Rules, statutes and case law govern every step from filing to Decree. Equally strong currents may influence outcomes though, most notably for Americans today, the stock market and the economy. Like divorce, “the market” can be a roller coaster ride: You’re up. You’re down. You’re all around. The close of 2018 sounded alarm bells for investors. The beginning of 2019 brought a sigh of relief as stocks recovered. The “plunge” may seem farther away now, but don’t put your safety harness and helmet away yet.

A Little History

During the Recession in 2008, parties and perhaps, their counsel and courts, weren’t altogether prepared to assign and divide property between spouses whose marital estate took a nosedive when their retirement and savings tanked, the credit card companies reduced arbitrarily their credit lines and their houses wouldn’t sell.

Adding insult to injury were spouses stranded in their marital home together, who didn’t have any desire to be there, but couldn’t afford to buy or rent a separate space and whose house wouldn’t sell. Spouses with enough square feet moved upstairs or downstairs to physically create separate space, but those without it had to navigate already present tension exacerbated by fear of job loss and whether they would bounce back from the economic plunge, not to mention the standard grief over losing your marriage.

December 2018 marked the greatest loss to the stock market of any year since the Great Depression. While the Federal Reserve is raising interest rates to reconcile its balance sheets, Americans will likely see the results in:

  • Higher interest loans available to them to purchase real estate in an already overvalued market,
  • Higher rates to refinance real estate with less money paid to owner,
  • Higher rates on credit cards,
  • Increased rates to consolidate student loans,
  • More expensive credit for businesses which will affect their bottom line, ultimately, all of which may decrease one’s credit score, making it more difficult to borrow money or credit at all.

Thus, whether spouses or couples are invested in the stock market or not or have retirement accounts through employers or those they rolled over prior to marriage, anyone in a divorce process or contemplating same (or contemplating marriage or cohabitation) must gauge their actions not only around the law of assignment and division but within what may be the greatest recession/depression we have yet to see.

Verified Financial Disclosures

Our courts in Kentucky require parties to exchange verified financial disclosures. I have included a list of documents a divorce client will need to gather and have at least a cursory understanding of why the documents are necessary on my website since its inception. While it’s true in my experience that one spouse generally handles the finances in the marriage, having no knowledge of each other’s earnings and investments and expenses and income tax liability and credit card balances is courting disaster.

Many Americans realized a 30% increase in their health insurance premiums going into 2019 for even basic policies with high deductibles and higher co-pays for prescriptions. If you are a spouse with an illness that requires prescription drugs, like Humira for instance, the cost for which is exorbitant for all but the 1% of the population without insurance, being aware of COBRA costs and whether your spouse would agree to a separation versus a divorce so you can maintain coverage within your spouse’s plan may be information on which your life or health depends.

Prepare Yourself

In divorce and separation, knowledge really is power. A foray into financial self-care might resemble a baby’s first steps, but in this economy, like a baby gaining its autonomy, is inevitable for present and future health. Take a few deep breaths, remember not to panic (It’s only money 😊) and take the plunge into your financial well being. You can’t control the market, but you can be conscious about your earnings and spending, monitor interest rates and act in your own best interest.

What is a Domestic Relations Commissioner?

A Kentucky Domestic Relations Commissioner handles family law cases.  We no longer use them in Jefferson County, but other counties still have them.  They function much like a judge in that they hear evidence, listen to the attorneys and clients, have the power to set child support and perform other related duties.

One of the advantages to having this role in the court is to add some relief to already crowded dockets.  During a divorce proceeding, there are numerous motions, briefs, hearings and other activities that dominate the available time of each judge.  There are only so many calendar days available, regardless of the number of active divorce cases either on-going or which need to be added to the schedule.

The Domestic Relations Commissioner serves as a relief valve for both the judges and the litigants.  Once the divorce process has begun, people typically don’t want to drag it out for months and years.  This is especially true when it’s only due to judicial time constraints.

One of the ways Jefferson County Family Court has successfully addressed this situation is by requiring an initial attempt at mediation, before the case is actually presented to the judge.  Often, you can reach agreements on specific areas of the divorce, such as property division, child support, visitation, maintenance and other related areas.  It’s what I include as one of the advantages of mediation.

If the two parties can reach agreement on any or all of the necessary issues, the time required by the judge (and the control you turn over to the judge) is significantly reduced.  One of the benefits of reaching these agreements is that you’ll incur fewer attorney-related charges due to trial preparation, discovery and other activities.  Mediation can be a significant cost-savings.  In counties using a Domestic Relations Commissioner, there may also be an option of mediating prior to involving the Commissioner.

Should We Involve a Counselor?

When a client hires me to represent them in a divorce, they sometimes ask, “Should we involve a counselor?”  My answer is an immediate, “YES!”  In fact, if possible, that counselor should be involved prior to actually beginning the divorce proceedings.  The emotional, financial and other important issues require the proper perspective and clarity so that the individual can focus and emerge in a healthy state of mind.  While we can’t go back, our mindset can help us to move forward.

The divorce process, at its most basic level, is an unwinding of various segments of a relationship.  Think about it.  During your marriage, you’ve created a financial segment (e.g. your bank accounts, life-style, investments, debts, etc.).  You have a property segment which may involve a house, car (and car loans), and other substantial, physical assets.  You may have created children together, which involves educational and extracurricular expense segments.  There are healthcare considerations in terms of insurance coverage and other related issues.  If you’re going to navigate the process, as well as the decisions involved, a counselor can definitely add value.

Professional athletes, business executives, actors/actresses all spend time planning for success.  A big part of that is visualization focused on what the desired outcome will look and feel like, once it’s been achieved.  Many of these high-performers have coaches or therapists working with them to unlock and unleash their potential.

When you are preparing to go through a divorce, you need to focus on the outcome.  This has the potential to be a very intense and difficult experience.  The good news is that it doesn’t have to stay that way.  Should we involve a counselor?  Absolutely, because change is difficult for most people.  As the various segments are being unwound and reestablished, dealing with those transitions are going to require an adjustment phase.  How you approach the process and cope with those adjustments is going to be critical to your ability to survive and eventually thrive.

Infidelity and No-Fault Divorce

Jefferson County, and the rest of Kentucky, has a system of no-fault divorce.  This means that either party can file for a dissolution of marriage, regardless of the issues or factors. The current system allows for divorce to be for any reason, or no reason at all. While this makes the process relatively easy, the emotional impact is still very real and painful.

Hollywood movies such as Kramer vs. Kramer and War of the Roses portrayed characters involved in highly emotional and sometimes devastating divorce litigation.

When infidelity is involved, the “faithful” spouse may look at divorce as a way to get back at the offending spouse.  However, as they quickly learn, without a prenuptial agreement specifically addressing the terms, infidelity and no-fault divorce really are the same as a couple who simply decides to part ways.  Adultery has no specific bearing on the outcome of the child-support, child custody, maintenance, property division or other issues.  Regardless of why the divorce is being pursued, the actual reason doesn’t matter in a no-fault system.

As an experienced Louisville divorce attorney, I’ll often advise clients that the way to heal is to look forward, not backward.

Divorce is a process, not a tool.  It would be more productive (and effective) to consider a therapist, exploring a hobby, finding new surroundings or even a new job as a way to help you to focus on moving forward.  The emotional toll of a divorce is significant.  When the pain of adultery is present, seeking a divorce isn’t the cathartic cure many initially assume it will be for them.

If the marriage is irretrievable, divorce is only the process to dissolve it.  Those raw emotions may still be present.  Finding healthy ways to deal with urges to seek revenge for the betrayal can’t be pursued as part of the family law system.  Infidelity and no-fault divorce have only a cause and effect relationship.  It would be the same if one spouse wakes up and suddenly decides they don’t like the other spouse’s haircut.  Both reasons are valid and equal in the eyes of the law because Kentucky has a no-fault system.  Regardless of your personal or religious views, either spouse only has to file for a divorce for the process to begin.  The court doesn’t consider the reason(s) why.

Divorces Involving High Net Worth Individuals

Dealing with divorces involving high net worth individuals are complicated by the sophisticated financials.  Elaborate investment portfolios, business income and other factors require the attorneys to sometimes involve experts to truly determine the actual income a person generates, which is used in child support and other calculations.

Financial issues aren’t reserved for only the higher-income individuals.  If someone is self-employed and receives cash payments on a regular basis, it’s quite common for some of those earnings to go unreported.  The result is the tax returns may not reflect the actual income earned.

The attorneys and the court have to work carefully to establish the proper baseline for the various payments the individual may be required to make.  This issue is further complicated because the Kentucky Child Support Guidelines top out at incomes of $15,000 per month.  If the income exceeds this threshold, having a strong negotiator as an attorney will be absolutely in your best interest.

In this brief video, I discuss some of these issues and provide a few tips as to how those unreported sources of income may be discovered.

Divorces involving high net worth individuals may also involve the valuation of stock options, company ownership interests, ownership of various properties (both real and personal).

As an attorney and licensed mediator, I strongly recommend pursuing mediation in these types of cases.  One advantage is that you’re more likely to keep these highly sensitive financial issues out of the court record.  Another advantage is that both individuals can agree to establish any type of agreement for whatever reason.  There are advantages to moving efficiently through a divorce process.

I’ll leave you, once again, with this thought, regardless of your income levels, in a mediation, you maintain the maximum level of control over the final outcome.  If your case goes to trial, a judge will make decisions on your behalf.

Communicating with Your Ex-Spouse

Even after a divorce, especially one that is highly contentious, communicating with your ex-spouse can be extremely difficult.  There are deep emotional issues involved.  Poor communication may have been one of the core reasons for the divorce in the first place.  Unfortunately, how you communicate with your ex can have a lasting impact on your child.

There are apps and other methods parents can use to keep up to date on issues related to school, extracurriculars, doctors and many other issues.  Technology can be that bridge to help in effectively communicating with your ex-spouse, when it’s seemingly impossible to do so in person.

In this video, I describe a child’s memory of post-divorce holiday visitation.  It doesn’t paint the brightest of pictures.

The fact remains, even after a divorce, that both of you have to figure out a way to communicate, at least about the important subjects.  When tempers are still hot and emotional wounds still raw, it can be almost impossible.  This can get better with time, but it’ll take practice and a willingness to focus on what’s ultimately best for your child.  Even if your ex tries to make a snarky comment, or shows up with the new partner, don’t let it rattle you.  You have the power to rise above it.  If it’s a situation when your child is present, take a deep breath and realize you can decide whether your child sees the strong and confident you, or another version.

Let me take this opportunity to again stress that mediation is another way to handle the divorce, while minimizing the anger and pain of a protracted divorce trial.  In Kentucky, it is still possible for a couple to get divorced without having to step into the courtroom.  It’s one of the best ways for a person to maintain control of the decisions, because she/he is actively involved in the terms and the final agreements.

Remember, communicating with your ex-spouse can be a difficult task, but it doesn’t have to be that way.  More importantly, your child is still watching both of you.  Set the best possible example you can whether that involves face to face or technology-based communication.  Either way, you’ll be happier you did.