Parenting, Children & Divorce

Divorcing a Narcissist

Life with a narcissist is often destructive, demeaning, and difficult. In fact, being with that person can make it nearly impossible for you and your children to not lose yourselves entirely. Unfortunately, divorcing a narcissist is a complex and frustrating battle that can frequently feel like reliving the worst moments of your marriage.

In general, divorce requires defensive thinking. Divorcing a narcissist requires more. You have to think through what he may do (I say “he” because male narcissists outnumber females by 2 to 1) and you have to figure out how to let him believe he has won. Not an easy, quick, or inexpensive process.

The majority of divorce cases (approximately 95%) settle. Ones involving a narcissist typically do not. The path to finality is filled with unnecessary battles. In most cases, discovery of a spouse’s finances is relatively straightforward. Not so with a narcissist. There will be multiple trips to court necessitated by his focus on control, making the process costly and painful. There will be fights over children…

In the end, I have come to believe, through post-divorce friendships with my clients, that those fights are worth it – that being able to lead a … Keep reading

Three Tips to Help You Navigate the Holidays

When you are divorced with kids, Christmas and Hanukkah can become minefields that make previous family headaches look simple. But there’s good news: There are a number of steps that you can take ahead of time to make things better for everyone involved.

It pays to go into the holiday season with a plan. This year, I’m offering three helpful tips that will allow you to do just that.

  1. Remember and enshrine the idea that the holiday isn’t about you. It’s about making it calm, fun, and memorable for your kids. First, work out the parenting strategy in advance, and let the kids know what is going to happen and when. Make sure you don’t convey to the kids that you are going to be lonely without them. Figure out what you’ll be doing, tell your kids, and let them know that you will have fun and be fine—and that they should have fun and will be fine with the other parent. Kids pick up on emotions very easily and tend to feel responsible for a parent’s happiness in divorce. There is a pretty general standard plan when dealing with Christmas parenting time, assuming the kids aren’t
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Newly separated and divorcing clients almost always come to us with preconceived ideas of what they hope/expect might happen in their cases. All too often, these preconceived ideas are based on a client’s own sense of equity and justice, but are incorrect as a matter of law. Here are five of the most common misconceptions, and reality checks for each.

1. My spouse almost never spent time with the kids while we were together, so he/she should not have significant parenting time with them now that we are separated.

Reality: Everything is subject to change post-divorce, including a parent’s active involvement in the day-to-day caretaking of the children. Gone are the days when it was presumed that the children would remain primarily with one parent after a divorce, spending every other weekend and perhaps a weekday dinner visit with the other parent. Courts are increasingly defaulting to shared-custody arrangements, even in situations where one parent’s involvement pre-divorce was fairly minimal. Every parent will be given the opportunity to be significantly involved in their children’s lives.

2. My spouse cheated on me, so I’m going to take him/her to the cleaners in this divorce.

Reality: As our fearless leader Nancy … Keep reading

SJC Rules That a Biological Connection Is Not Required for Parentage

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) has ruled that a person may establish herself as a child’s presumptive parent without the need for a biological relationship to the child. The same-sex partner of a woman who gave birth to two children conceived via artificial insemination during their committed, but non-marital, relationship is entitled to the presumption that she is a legal parent of the children.

The Story Behind Partanen v. Gallagher

Karen Partanen and Julie Gallagher were in a committed relationship for 12 years, but never married. In 2005, they decided to start a family with a “shared intention of both being parents of the resulting children.” Partanen tried artificial insemination, but was unable to become pregnant. In 2007, Gallagher conceived a child using assistive reproductive technology and gave birth to a baby girl. In 2012, Gallagher gave birth to a son. Partanen did not adopt the children and never signed an “acknowledgment of parentage” form. This form would have given her legal status as the children’s parent.… Keep reading

back to school coparenting

back to school coparentingHi there,

Despite the oppressive heat, it’s almost back to school time again. By this point in the summer most parents are pretty ready for school to begin. One of the best ways to make the school year smoother for your kids is to plan ahead with your coparent! Firm up a schedule as much as you can before the school year begins. There are a variety of apps available that are useful to help divorced parents mutually handle their schedules.

Make sure to include the following on your mutual planning calendar:… Keep reading

Potential Changes to Interstate Custody Dispute Law in Massachusetts

After a three month maternity leave, and a few months adjusting to being a full-time working mom, I’m excited to be back to contributing my thoughts to this blog! I’m also excited to be writing on a topic that I not only find interesting but also encounter a great deal in my practice – interstate custody disputes.

Pure Home State Jurisdiction

Almost exactly a year ago, I wrote a piece about the differences between child custody laws in Massachusetts and Rhode Island with a specific focus on the differences between the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (UCCJA) and the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA). As detailed in the previous post, Massachusetts was the lone hold-out in adopting the UCCJEA, retaining pure home state jurisdiction when determining where to litigate child custody disputes.… Keep reading

parent education program

parent education program
“Whaddya mean, I have to take a class!?”

As a family law attorney, I’m often met with surprise (even outrage!) when I tell my clients that they’re required to participate in a Parent Education Program in connection with their Massachusetts divorce. People always say that it’s so much easier to get married than it is to get divorced, and that’s not entirely without merit.

While everyone knows that divorce is a costly process, both financially and emotionally, litigants too often become so focused on their own pain that they lose sight of the emotional toll the process can put on their children. Recently there have been some important changes to the Parent Education Program.… Keep reading

Same-Sex Parent Claims Victory Over Alabama in Custody Battle

Mother hugging her daughter.Freshly back to work from maternity leave, it warmed my new-mommy/divorce-lawyer heart to see this week’s U.S. Supreme Court decision affirming a loving mother’s right to share in the ongoing care and custody of children she helped raise during a long-term same-sex relationship. While the opinion itself speaks much more to jurisdictional issues and the Full Faith & Credit Clause of the U.S. Constitution than it does to gay rights, the V.L. v. E.L. case represents a significant victory for gay-rights advocates in Alabama, despite the best efforts of that state’s Chief Justice to ignore or outright defy social and legal developments advancing the rights of homosexual couples.… Keep reading

narcissist goat

narcissist goat
Narcissists always values themselves more highly than others.

Hi there,

I love it when the holidays are over and the days start getting visibly longer. Among other things, there is an influx of new clients with new cases and new problems to solve.

One thing seems to hold consistently true, however. Everybody going through a divorce believes their soon-to-be-ex is a narcissist. To some degree, every human being exhibits narcissistic tendencies sometimes. True narcissists lack empathy for others, can be quick to anger and focus only on their own desires. It naturally follows that folks with destructive narcissistic qualities are often candidates for divorce. So, we see a lot of them.

A true narcissist is a misery during the marriage and beyond difficult when you are divorcing him or her.… Keep reading

holidays

holidays
The holidays can be fun for your whole family with a little preparation.

Hi there,

It’s hard to believe that Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and with it all of the holidays of the season! This time of year is particularly tough for folks who are just getting used to a coparenting situation. It’s also a challenging time for divorce lawyers and family courts, as lots of families are unable to settle holiday scheduling differences without recourse to the courts.

This year:

  • Thanksgiving is on November 26.
  • Hanukkah is December 6-14.
  • Christmas falls on a Friday.
  • Kwanzaa is December 26-January 1.

Work Together to Figure Out Your Schedule for the Holidays

If you haven’t already created a holiday parenting schedule with your ex, you should contact them right away to work out the details. Not everyone has a plan already set either by agreement or judgment, so if you can’t agree on your own you may need to contact your attorney to sort out the situation. With the timeframes for setting motion dates and the court scheduling problems that may arise, this needs to be tackled as soon as possible.

In most cases, scheduling should be possible without … Keep reading