CO-PARENTING vs. PARALLEL PARENTING – WHICH IS BEST FOR YOU?

In every divorce involving legal decision-making and parenting time issues, parents must strive to keep the needs of the children as their #1 priority.  Children benefit most when they have relationships with both parents and tend to adjust better to divorce when:
·       They have healthy and happy relationships with both of their parents;
·       Parents don’t argue in the presence of their children;
·       Parents don’t place their children in the middle of disputes; and
·       Both parents are responsive to the needs of their children.
CO-PARENTING
“Co-parenting” describes a situation where the parents are not married, cohabitating or in a romantic relationship with one another.  Co-parenting often involves a parenting situation in which two separated or divorced parents communicate and work together to take care of their children.  Co-parenting can also describe a situation where, after a divorce, the child’s parents desire to maintain equal or equivalent responsibility for their children’s upbringing.  When successful, Co-parenting is a wonderful opportunity for children of divorce to still have access to both parents and retain a sense of family dynamic.  To come to a workable co-parenting arrangement, the parents must consider various factors, including:
·  What decisions need to be made? These commonly consist of decisions regarding education, extracurricular activities, medical treatment, sporting and social activities, religion, etc.
·      How will you make the decisions?  Will you meet in person to discuss decisions?  Will you communicate over the phone?  Email?  Text?
·     How will you share schedules?  How flexible do you want to be in scheduling?  When will the children see each of their parents?  What if one parent is late —  how will you deal with this?  Will the schedule remain the same as the children get older?
·     How will you handle discipline? How can you try to be on the same page when it comes to discipline? How will you communicate when a problem arises? Will each parent handle discipline on his and her own? If a child misbehaves at mom’s house, should he be disciplined by both parents or just mom?  If a child misbehaves in class, should she receive discipline from both parents or just the one she is returning home to?
·   What will happen in an emergency?  Have you provided your ex-spouse with all emergency contact information?  Will the parents notify one another before emergency medical treatment?
·      How will you handle disputes? If the parents cannot agree on a disciplinary issue, how will you deal with it? Is there a mutually-trusted family member or a friend who can help you discuss the matter? If the disagreement involves a medical decision, can you ask the doctor for guidance and advice? Or, if the dispute is an especially difficult one, will you seek the help of a professional mediator?
Because parenting involves a substantial number of decisions in all aspects of the child’s life, it is helpful to draw up a chart listing certain decisions and who should make them.  Here’s a brief example:
Who makes decisions regarding:
Mom
Dad
Together
HOUSEHOLD RULES & CHILDCARE
Allowances
Bedtime
Clothing
Grooming
Computer, software, and video game use
Television shows (which shows, what time)
Cell Phone, Computer, & Internet use
Meals
Toys
Handling behavior problems
RESIDENTIAL
Living situation
Transportation
SOCIAL LIFE
Dating
Driving
Friends
Sports & Social Activities
Sharing Cost of Activities
EDUCATION & MORAL TRAINING
Morals, values
Religion
Choice of Schools
Helping with homework
After school care
Extracurricular Activies &
Expense Sharing
HEALTH
Dentist
Doctor
Medication
Major medical issues
Psychological counseling, if applicable
Unfortunately, harmony cannot be achieved in every case despite both parents’ best efforts to cooperate.  When parents are unable to co-parent in a healthy, effective way that is in the best interests of their children — or when one of the parents refuses to cooperate — it can be a source of great conflict and stress for everyone involved. Many studies have found that most children of divorce grow up to be healthy, well-adjusted adults; however, children who are raised in corrosive, high-conflict parental situations are at risk to develop emotional problems that can last a lifetime. Sometimes, divorced or separated parents simply cannot work together, despite all their efforts. When that is the case, they should consider using a technique known as “Parallel Parenting.”
PARALLEL PARENTING
Parallel Parenting is a type of parenting arrangement that is best in situations of high conflict where parents have different parenting styles and can’t see eye-to-eye on even the most basic issues.  It is a form of co-parenting where a mother and father reduce the level of conflict through disengagement.  Specifically, they have limited direct contact with each other. And when they do communicate, it takes place in a more structured manner, such as through email.  Each parent sets rules for his/her own household (bedtimes, homework, TV or computer times, discipline, etc.), without concern that they may be different than the rules that are in place in the other parent’s household.  Some principles to keep in mind include:
·       Parents must never use their children as messengers to communicate back and forth;
·       All communication must be business-like in nature and relate to information relevant only to the children’s well-being;
·       Schedules should be shared via a calendar or in writing;
·       No changes to the parenting-time schedule should be made without written agreement.
Parallel parenting, if done the right way, can provide children of divorce or separation with the same sense of fulfillment and happiness as a healthy co-parenting relationship.  Because parallel parenting is normally employed when parents disagree with one another to the point that they cannot communicate effectively, those in parallel parenting arrangements should remember that their exes are their children’s parents and, for that reason alone, they deserve respect.  Keeping differences with one’s ex away from the children will open opportunities to move beyond divorce in the future.

 

Whether one decides to co-parent or try out parallel parenting, the main concern should always be what is in the children’sbest interests.

Gary Frank & Jacinda Chen

 

At the Law Firm of Gary J. Frank P.C., both Gary Frank and attorney Hanna Juncaj are strong litigators and compassionate counselors. Gary Frank is a Family Law Attorney with over 30 years of experience as a litigator and mediator, which includes having acted in the capacity of a Judge Pro Tempore in the Maricopa County Superior Court; and serving on the Governor’s Child Abuse Prevention Task Force. Hanna Juncaj is a highly-skilled attorney with a passion for Family Law and children’s issues. We handle Family Law cases in the areas of divorce, custody (now called “Legal Decision-Making and Parenting Time), relocation (move-away), division of property, spousal and child support, modification and enforcement actions, grandparent and non-parent rights, and all other matters pertaining to families and children. If you are in need of a consultation, please do not hesitate to call our office at 602-383-3610; or you can contact us by email at gary.frank@azbar.org, or through our website at www.garyfranklaw.com.   We look forward to hearing from you.

 

Gray Divorce – How to Explain the Boom in Boomer-Divorce?

You’re 50-something, maybe even 60.  You’re contemplating divorce and plagued by numerous dilemmas.  You’re stuck in a marriage with no discernible future but you’re too frightened to venture out into the scary world of dating.  Maybe you share too much history with your spouse and it’s almost impossible to think of yourself as being single.  Perhaps you’re unsure whether or not you want to go from living off the income of two to relying on just your own income.
These feelings are not unique to older couples.  In fact, people of all ages struggle with the same dilemmas.  You may be of the opinion that the already negative stigma surrounding divorce is made even worse by your older age.  But the reasons for divorce, whether or not it’s “gray divorce” (late-life divorce), vary from couple to couple.  And divorce at the age of 50 or more is no longer looked upon any differently than divorce at a younger age. 
But why does gray divorce happen, and why has it become more common in recent years?  Here are some of the reasons given by experts for the boom in Boomer-divorce:
Longer life expectancy.  In the past, people died at a much younger age.  Reaching age 50 or 60 was less common.  Today, many people are healthy and vibrant beyond their 70’s and 80’s.  Since our life expectancy has increased so significantly, older couples are more frequently considering divorce because, now, age 50 or 60 is no longer too late to start a “new life.”
Change in women’s status.  The increase in women’s rights brought with it a general shift to women feeling more liberated and empowered.  Women today are less afraid to seek out what they want, rather than considering only what is best for their husbands and families.
Wear and tear.  The process that leads to divorce often happens slowly over time.  In other words, issues that started out as small may have slowly but surely eaten away at your relationship. 
Age Difference.  Perhaps a larger age difference did not matter at the beginning of your relationship, but has now emerged as an unavoidable issue.  You or your spouse may also go through a “mid-life crisis,” which can break apart a previously stable relationship.  One partner may desire more adventure, while the other may be happy as a home-body.
Boredom.  Older couples are not the only ones who cite boredom as a factor in their divorces.  Even younger couples who are around each other 24/7 can suffer from boredom.  It, therefore, makes sense that older couples would be even more prone to this issue, having spent decades together performing the same routines and putting up with each other’s eccentricities.
Money habits.  Arguing over how to distribute income may eventually lead to divorce.  One spouse may prefer to save for the kids’ activities and college funds, while the other spouse may prefer to travel and spend on the couple itself.  Couples with kids – even adult kids — are undoubtedly more prone to having financially centered arguments than those without.
Sex.  With age comes hormonal changes, especially those related to sex drive.  One partner may desire the same amount of sexual activity as when the couple was younger, while the other partner’s drive may have fallen.  Another possibility is sexual incompatibility that existed at the beginning of the relationship may become more pronounced with age.

These are only a few of the many reasons why gray divorce happens.  Our bodies may grow older, but in our minds we remain the same person we’ve always been – and we know that we deserve happiness.  Older couples may be more reluctant to follow through with divorce because so many years of their lives have been invested in the relationship; or out of fear of an uncertain future.  But the fact is that divorce, regardless of age, will be a tough process.  The life-experience and enhanced financial stability that typically comes with older age may actually be an advantage for older couples and, ultimately, a tool to more smoothly navigate through a difficult process.

Gary Frank & Jacinda Chen


Gary Frank is a Family Law Attorney with over 30 years of experience in the areas of domestic relations, divorce, custody, division of property, support, modification and enforcement actions, Grandparents and non-parents rights, and all other matters pertaining to families and children.  Mr. Frank’s experience includes acting in the capacity of a Judge Pro Tempore in the Maricopa County Superior Court; and serving on the Governor’s Child Abuse Prevention Task Force.  If you are in need of a consultation, please do not hesitate to call our office at 602-383-3610; or you can contact us by email at gary.frank@azbar.org, or through our website at www.garyfranklaw.com.   We look forward to hearing from you.

“SHE’S MOVED ON WHILE I’M STILL GRIEVING . . .”

Studies show that two people who are going through a divorce are rarely “on the same page” — even when it comes to the process of grieving.

To those of us who are divorce experts, it is no surprise that a couple who has split up would find themselves at different stages of the grieving process at different times.  After all, the person who initiates the breakup has typically thought about it well in advance.  By the time the decision has been made and the divorce papers are filed, she or he had plenty of time to grieve and has already come to the point of acceptance.  However, this is not the case for the other spouse, who very often is taken completely by surprise.  That person is at the beginning of the grief process, and it will take him/her longer to work through the emotions that are a normal part of any divorce. 


But please keep in mind that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  For now, take it one day at a time.  If you need help, find a good counselor.  Life can, and will, be good again.

This song, “Breakeven” by The Script, perfectly describes the feelings of the partner who has been “left behind” . . . 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MzCLLHscMOw



Gary J. Frank is a Family Law Attorney, a litigator, and a mediator with over thirty years of experience in dealing with divorcepaternity, custody, and parenting issues. For many years he acted as a Judge Pro Tempore in the Maricopa County Superior Court, which gave him an insight into the inner workings of the courts that many attorneys lack.  In addition to representing Family Law clients in litigation, we are also willing to help people by working with them on a Limited-Scope or Consultation-Only basis.  Our office is located in the Biltmore area of central Phoenix, with satellite offices in Scottsdale and Paradise Valley, Arizona.  We can be reached by telephone (602-383-3610); or by email at gary.frank@azbar.org.  You can also reach us through our website at www.garyfranklaw.com.  If you are in need of a consultation regarding any area of Family Law, contact us today.  We’d be happy to help.

TEN TIPS FOR SURVIVING YOUR DIVORCE — AND THRIVING

This year is coming to a close.   If you are in the middle of a divorce – or if you are getting ready to go through one – the next twelve months could be tough.  So, here are some simple guidelines to make the journey less difficult.

1.   Keep your children out of the middle of your dispute

Research shows that children of divorce can grow up to be happy, well-adjusted adults.  However, the research also shows that children of high-conflict divorces can develop emotional problems that last a lifetime.  It can be devastating for a child to be caught in the middle of a dispute between parents.  You love your children.  That’s a given.  But loving your children is not enough.  You need to protect them from the emotional turmoil that you, as parents, may be going through.  This is an enormous challenge.  The key is to keep the children out of the middle of your dispute.  Don’t use them as messengers.  Don’t make them witness angry arguments between the parents.  Let them know the divorce is not their fault, and that both parents will continue to love them and take care of them, even after the divorce.

2.            Allow your child to love the other parent

When a marriage comes apart and emotions are at a boiling point, it is easy for a parent to make the mistake of voicing his or her displeasure with the other parent to the children.  Sometimes this leads to a war of words, with each parent feeling the need to “defend” himself / herself by badmouthing the other.  But here’s a warning:  Clinical research shows that this type of behavior can cause serious emotional problems for children.  They need to be able to love both of their parents.  So give them your permission.  You would probably place your life on the line to protect your children from a stranger who tried to hurt them.  Then why wouldn’t you make every effort to protect your children from your own anger and toxic feelings toward their other parent?    

3.            Don’t give your child too much information 


Of course, it is important to be honest with your children – but giving them information that is not age-appropriate, or talking to them about details of your divorce that they are incapable of emotionally processing, can be harmful and destructive.   Don’t talk to your children about the legal issues of your divorce.  Don’t show them your court paperwork.  Don’t share adult information with young children.  If you need to vent or get your feelings off your chest, turn to a trusted friend, a family member, or a therapist.  Keep your children out of the loop.  Let them be children.    

4.            Try to be flexible 

Parenting-time disputes can be the cause of much stress, especially during the holidays.  You can save yourself a lot of grief by trying to be flexible.  Being flexible is not a sign of weakness.  It sends a message that you are willing to compromise.  Extending an olive branch often leads to the other parenting being willing to compromise, too.  Parents who refuse to be flexible can find themselves locked in a never-ending battle; and instead of being able to solve their own problems they tend to return to court over-and-over again, putting their fate in the hands of lawyers and judges. 

 

5.            Don’t rely on “legal advice” from your friends 

Don’t believe everything your hear, especially when it comes from a friend or family member who is trying to give you advice about legal matters.  Everyone knows a friend whose own divorce was a nightmare and promises that your outcome will be terrible, too; or one who insists that your judge will give you everything you want because your custody case is a “slam-dunk.”  Receiving legal advice from a friend or family member can be a huge mistake, since tends to give you false expectations.  If you want good, solid legal advice about your divorce or custody case, talk to a lawyer who specializes in Family Law.

 
6.            Choose a lawyer wisely 


One of the most important decisions you will ever make is finding the right attorney.   Many people who are embroiled in a family law dispute say, “I’m going to hire the meanest, most aggressive, attorney I can find.”   That usually works – for the lawyer.  If the lawyer is only mean, or only aggressive, then the result will probably be a long, contentious, and expensive litigation.  That means more money for the lawyer.  Your money!  What you really want is a highly qualified attorney, one who is looking out for your interests.  The best attorney is someone who is skilled and experienced; someone who will fight for your rights — but who is also looking for ways to resolve the matter peacefully, if at all possible.  Most importantly, you should select an attorney who is a good match for you, and who makes you feel comfortable and confident.

 

7.            Be willing to compromise


Court litigation is, by nature, an adversarial process.  It can take a long time and cost a lot of money – and in the end, the final decision will be made by a judge who is a stranger to both parties.   Therefore, in any divorce or custody litigation, your goal should be to negotiate a solution that meets your needs and the needs of the children.  You can save yourself a great deal of time and money, and avoid much stress, by being willing to make reasonable compromises.  People who are able to negotiate a fair resolution of their dispute tend to be much happier with the arrangement in the long run.


8.            Talk to someone you can trust


A person going through the turmoil of divorce or custody case can benefit from a strong support system.  If you are struggling with a divorce, or if you are caught in a highly contested custody case, find someone to talk to. Whether it is with a family member, a friend, someone from your church, or a therapist, talking about your feelings is a healthy outlet.   There are also many divorce and single-parent support groups in your community that will welcome you and help you understand that you are not alone.  

9.            Take care of yourself

You can’t take proper care of your family if you don’t take care of yourself.  So take time to exercise.  Join a yoga class.  Meet a friend for dinner.  Or just spend some “down-time” relaxing at home. — Good nutrition, vigorous exercise, plenty of sleep and relaxation, lots of love and laughter — these are the keys to surviving a divorce and thriving.  Taking care of yourself will help you get through this tough time in your life.  It’s a wise investment.

 

10.         Know that there is life after divorce


It may not seem like it now, but rest assured that there is, indeed, life after divorce – and it can be great.  It will certainly be an adjustment, and it will take a commitment on your part, but getting out of an unhappy marriage, making new friends, and taking control of your physical and mental health, can give you a new perspective and lead to a happier life.

Best wishes for a healthy and happy New Year!

 

The law firm of Gary J. Frank P.C. offers strong advocacy for clients involved in all areas of Family Law, including disputes involving divorce, custody (legal decision-making), parenting time, interstate custody or visitation, grandparent and non-parent custody and visitation, division of property and businesses, spousal and child support, modification of existing orders, enforcement of orders, relocation / move-away cases, paternity, guardianships, and other matters involving children and families.  Gary Frank is also an experienced Family Law Mediator who can help you resolve your dispute without the need for fighting in court.  With more than thirty years of experience as a courtroom litigator, as well as a mediator and a former Judge Pro Tem, Mr. Frank brings skill, compassion, and a depth of understanding to each matter he handles, and each client that he represents.  Our office is located in the Biltmore area of Phoenix, Arizona, and we have satellite office in Scottsdale and Paradise Valley to more conveniently serve our clients.  You can reach us by telephone at 602-383-3610 or by email at gary.frank@azbar.org.  You can also check us out on our web site at www.garyfranklaw.com.

DON’T LET FEAR AND ANGER DERAIL YOU

My job as a family law attorney is to try to help people get through the worst time in their lives.  Their most personal relationship is crumbling – the one they thought would last forever.  They are afraid  for their children.  They are forced to divide assets that they may have slaved their lives away to accumulate. They fear what the future might look like and wonder how they will survive.  Their whole world is being torn apart.  They feel powerless. 


In difficult times it is easy for us to get caught up in fear, anger, and all the negatives, and lose sight of the fact that family, friends, good health, and a connection to our community are our truest source of riches.

We need to remember that while we cannot control outside circumstances, or how other people may act, we do have the power to control our own attitude.  This power is something that can never be taken from us.  Despite our current difficulties, we can focus on the positive aspects of our lives.  We can try to be more forgiving of ourselves and others.  We can take small steps to live a healthier lifestyle.  We can be grateful for what we do have.  This certainly isn’t an easy task, but it’s the key to being able to weather the storms of life.


Finally, “being of service” is the ultimate cure for fear, anger, resentment and self-pity.  Helping others enables us put our own life in perspective.  It reminds us that we are not alone in our suffering.  There are many others whose lives are even tougher than ours.  By stepping up and showing kindness and compassion, we can ease the pain of others  — and heal ourselves in the process.  Being of service empowers us and allows us to move forward.

If you are caught in the downward spiral of a crumbling relationship and negative thinking, I’m here to tell you that there is a beacon of light at the end of the tunnel.  Your problems are only temporary, and there are things you can do to get you through this difficult time.  Focusing on what is good in your life; maintaining a positive attitude; exercising; getting enough sleep; eating well; turning to family, friends, and faith; becoming active in your community; getting counseling; trying to be more forgiving of yourself and others; being of service; and being grateful for what you have, instead of being resentful for what you lack — these are the things that will get you through.  And one day, you may just wake up and discover that you have become a stronger and happier person than ever before. 

The Law Office of Gary J. Frank has been a fixture in the Biltmore area of Phoenix, Arizona for over thirty years.  Gary Frank is a Family Law litigator, a mediator, and a former Judge Pro Tem.  Our firm handles a wide array of cases, such as divorce, custody, relocation, paternity, child and spousal support, division of property and businesses, modification and enforcement actions, grandparent and non-parent rights, and all matters relating to families and children.  If you are in need of a consultation, please do not hesitate.  Contact us today.  You can reach us by telephone at 602-383-3610, or by email at gary.frank@azbar.org, or through our website at www.garyfranklaw.com.  We’d be honored to help you.


HOW TO BOUNCE BACK FROM DIVORCE

Divorce is a life-changing experience.  Anyone who has been through the experience will agree.  But although it is certainly difficult, it doesn’t have to be devastating.  With a positive attitude and good coping strategies, you can survive the transition and build a happier life than you ever thought possible.
1.    Accept that your life has changed:  Don’t live in a state of denial.  Accept the fact that you are now single and life will be different.  Look for ways to build new friendships and support systems.  Force yourself to get up off the couch.  Take small steps.
2.    Be open to counseling:  Pain, fear, and anger come with the territory when we go through a divorce.  After all, we are human.  But there are excellent psychologists and counselors in every city who can help you work through your feelings and find healthy ways to cope.  You would go to a mechanic if your car broke down.  They are experts at fixing the problem.  So, why wouldn’t you look for a good counselor to help you with trouble in your life?  Counselors have worked with hundreds, or thousands, of people whose problems are similar to your own.  They have developed techniques that work.  A professional counselor can assist you in overcoming the obstacles you are facing, and help you find your way to a better life.
3.    Join a support group:  If you are newly divorced, or in the process of ending your marriage, it may feel like you are the only person to ever have experienced such wrenching distress and loneliness.  But you are not alone.  Don’t try to navigate those difficult emotions all by yourself.  Look for a divorce support group in your area.  It’s not as uncomfortable as you think.  There are others who have experienced what you are feeling, or who are going through the same thing as you are now.  They can be a great source of friendship, inspiration, and support.  You may even meet new lifelong friends.
4.    Become involved in positive activities:  A person going through divorce can feel that he or she is literally drowning in troubles.  It is easy to fall into a pattern of obsessing over your problems and your misery.  You may find yourself “living in your own head.”  The best remedy is to become involved in something bigger than yourself.  Find an interesting job.  Volunteer with a charitable organization.  Join a gym, take yoga, or sign up for a Zumba class.  The choices are unlimited.  Once you become immersed in a positive activity, your own problems seem much smaller.
5.    Take time to exercise:  That old saying, “Strong Body, Strong Mind” . . . Modern science has proven it to be true.  The beneficial effect of exercise on the mind is now universally accepted by doctors, scientists, and behavioral health experts.  Exercise releases endorphins – the body’s own natural “feel-good” drug.  Exercise makes the heart and muscles stronger, lowers our blood-pressure, and provides a sense of well-being.  So, why wait?  Start an exercise program today.   
6.    Choose healthier foods:  Food is what fuels our body and our brain.  You can feel better, happier, and stronger simply by reducing or eliminating sugary sodas and fatty fast-foods, and replacing them with fresh vegetables of every color, along with fish, poultry, and lean meat.  This is an easy and delicious way to change your life.
7.    Get a good night’s sleep:  There is no more important factor on our mental functioning than sleep.  The problem is that, as a society, we are all sleep-deprived.  Your first step in bouncing back from divorce should be to make sure you get between 6 to 8 hours of sleep each and every night.
8.    Find a hobby:  Yes, we need to be able to support ourselves, but there is more to life than work and chasing children around the house.  Find an outlet, something you like to do – and pursue it.  It might be a sport, such as softball, running, or golf.  It could be music, or art, or reading.  Whatever gives you pleasure.  Having a hobby breaks up your day, and can make your life more enjoyable and exciting.   
9.    Plan for the future:  For someone going through divorce, it is often hard to see beyond today.  But planning for the future is crucial, and doing so can alleviate stress and anxiety and give you a sense of empowerment.  Find a CPA or divorce financial planner to help you prepare a budget and map out a game plan for saving and investing your money.  It may take some discipline today, but you will thank yourself tomorrow.
10. Create a New Mental Picture:  You are more powerful than you think.  None of us has the power to control all the circumstances of our life, but we can absolutely control our response to those circumstances.  Take action, despite the fear.  You will soon begin to see yourself as someone who is capable of controlling your own destiny.  Divorce may be the end of your old life, but it is the beginning of your new life.  You have the power to make that life great.  

Gary J. Frank is an Arizona Attorney and former Judge Pro Tem with over thirty years of experience in dealing with divorce, custody, and parenting issues in Family Court.  If you are in need of a consultation regarding any matter involving Family Law, contact us today.  You can reach us by telephone (602-383-3610), or by email at gary.frank@azbar.org, or through our websiteat www.garyfranklaw.com.  We look forward to hearing from you.