Divorcing a High-Conflict PersonalityI just ran across an enlightening article on HuffPost Divorce by Virginia Gilbert, MFT. I have been counseling individuals and couples in connection with their divorces for almost 30 years and I find it tragic that people who were once fond enough of each other to marry, and often create children, can become so bitter and embattled. Ms. Gilbert's tips are:
1. Minimize contact. She points out that high-conflict personalities thrive on battle. I've heard them referred to as "anger addicts." She advises to keep contact to a minimum and to have any communication in a written form.
2. Keep your feelings to yourself. She states that high-conflict personalities are "bullies." They beat you down by making you angry and attacking you. Whatever response you make will invite further attacks. Don't react!
3. Plan for the worst. While well-adjusted people "move on" with time, high-conflict personalities do not. Prepare for a long siege and protect yourself as well as you can with documentation to rebut what will be coming your way.
4. Never admit a mistake. In normal circumstances, accountability is the best policy. With a high-conflict personality, it will not create a more amicable relationship, but be more fuel for the fire. 5. Stop trying to co-parent. Attempts to co-parent with a borderline or a narcissist will keep you engaged in battle, with your children being the victims. Ms. Gilbert points out that while you may feel you are sending the wrong message to your children, you are actually protecting them by minimizing the conflict in their lives.
Thanks to Ms. Gilbert for succinctly setting forth these guidelines. Click here to read the article.
Divorce Mediation Guidelines
The Mediator should be neutral.
The Mediation participants should be cooperative.
Each party should respect the interests and needs of the other party.
Neither party to a mediation should be pressured by the other party or the Mediator.
Each party should fully disclose all assets, debts and important information concerning the community property.
The mediation process should be efficient and consume less time than a contested divorce.
The mediation should be significantly less expensive than a contested divorce.
Any decisions by the mediation participants should be informed.
The results of the mediation should be fair to both parties.
The agreement resulting from the mediation should be understandable to the participants.Contact Us For More Information.
Child Custody is often the most difficult issue in divorce and separation. Parents who are in pain and/or denial often are unable to put the best interests of their children first -- before their own hurt, anger, and need for retaliation. The Mediation setting promotes greater understanding between the parents and increases their ability to see beyond their own issues to what is best for their children. Mediation provides a forum for the parents to air their problems and issues without the involving the children directly.
Prior to your Mediation session you should become familiar with child custody terminology and guidelines.
Some reference material is attached for your information. There is also information on Cal Divorce 123.
Child Custody Terminology. Joint Custody, Physical Custody, Timeshare. Child Custody Guidelines.
Debra Crawford Annis Law & Mediation Offices
Historic Osio Rodriguez Adobe
380 Alvarado Street
Monterey, CA 93940
800-248-2218 toll free
May those whose hell it is
To hate and hurt
Be turned into lovers
Shantideva, Eighth-century Indian Buddhist teacher.
In his book The Five Things We Cannot Change ... and the Happiness We Find by Embracing Them, David Richo discusses the concepts of Retribution and Restoration. He points out that restoration (vs. retaliation) leads to closeness between the wounded and wounding people. He suggests using dialog instead of running from the conflict. He states that as adults we should know that losses happen sometimes and that we can survive them. A spiritually evolved adult, says Richo, "is not satisfied with the glee of retaliation but wants the joy of loving-kindness. ... The healthy psyche is inherently geared to release compassion when it sees pain and defeat, just as it releases forgiveness when it sees repentance." He defines repentance as contrition, amends, and a commitment to not repeat the offense.
Richo lists the following attributes of Retribution and Restoration (pages 37-38):
Retribution aims at:
Punishing the evil doer as evil
Satisfying society's need for revenge
Making someone pay
Getting rid of a distrubing and
Guaranteeing the safety of society
at the cost of causing the
aggressor to suffer, with no
chance at rehabilitation
Preserving the historical style of
dealing with injustice (an eye for
Maintaining the either ... or belief
in a hell (eternal) or heaven
Making sure the cycle of retalilation
continues so that war can be
End of story
Restoration moves toward:
Seeking to heal the ignorance of the
Having someone make amends
Caring that a fallen brother or sister
Correcting and then reincluding
Guaranteeing the safety of society
while being compassionate to the
agressor's pain and helping the
person recover his or her humanity
Finding an exciting and more
humanitarian solution to injustice
Generating a belief only in purgatory
or rebirth (temporary) and heaven
Ending the cycle of retaliation so that
war will no longer be an
Beginning of a dialogue
The world would be a much better place if we could practice restoration instead of retribution. This is what mediators attempt to do.
MARITAL SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT CHECKLIST
Identity of parties and minor children
Statistical facts of marriage
Dissolution proceeding contemplated or filed
Each party's employment (or, in the case of an unemployed party, employment background, skills, etc.)
Each party's current earnings
Each party's age
Health of parties
Finality of agreement, or issues left unresolved
Identity, value and disposition of community and quasi-community property
Identity, value and disposition of noncommunity property joint tenancy and tenancy in common interests
Confirmation of each spouse's separate property interests
REA waivers (waiver of survivorship benefit rights in other spouse's ERISA pension)
Waiver of rights in deceased spouse's estate
Sale of property (and/or deferred sale re, e.g., "family home award")
Warranty: disclosure of property
Warranty: value of property
Disposition of furnishings and personal effects
Allocation of debt responsibility; "hold harmless" clauses
SP contributions to the "acquisition" of CP
Payments on debts
Property improvement payments
Contributions to education and training
CUSTODY AND VISITATION
Sole custody (legal and/or physical)
Joint custody (legal and/or physical)
Other custody arrangement: shared custody; split custody
Reasonable visitation; or defined visitation
Removal of child from jurisdiction– State, County of Monterey
Guideline minimum child support requirements
Spouses' recognition of guideline limitations where agreement is for less than the mandatory minimum
"Family home award" as component of child support
Payment schedule": weekly, monthly, or other; when payments under agreement shall commence
Duration of child support (effect of emancipation or adulthood)
Special support considerations: health insurance, medical and dental payments; special educational needs, etc.
Right to claim dependency exemption; waiver of exemption by custodial parent
Agreement to support adult children
Amount of support
Payment schedule: weekly, monthly, or other; when payments under agreement to commence
Combined spousal and child support option ("family support")
Payment of debts as payment of support
Satisfaction of state and federal tax requirements for deductibility to payor
Modifiability of spousal support
Duration of support; reservation of jurisdiction
Waiver of spousal support
Pendente lite support
FEES AND COSTS
Attorneys'/mediator’s fees and costs of litigation
Tax returns (separate or joint returns during the separation period?)
Tax refunds and deficiencies; indemnification provisions
Allocation of dependency exemption
Designation of spousal support as nonincludible, nondeductible for federal tax purposes
Effect of reconciliation
Effect of invalidity
Modification, revocation or termination of agreement
Costs of enforcement; waiver of costs of enforcement
Execution of instruments
Execution formalities (notary, recordation, etc.)
Effective date of agreement
Independent legal representation (or acknowledgment of voluntary and knowing refusal to obtain independent legal advice
General Instructions for Dissolution Cases.
Joint Tenancy Assets
. If you hold property in joint tenancy with your spouse, your spouse will automatically succeed to your interest in that property if you die first. You may wish to convert such joint tenancy assets into tenancy in common ownership (upon proper notice and procedures). This will destroy the automatic right to succeed to your interest in that property on your death, and will ensure that the property passes under your will or to those entitled by law if you died without a will. You should also be aware that there may be state and federal tax consequences involved in determining whether or not to change an asset from joint tenancy to tenancy in common.Estate Planning
. If you have a will or trust, it may not be affected by any action in the dissolution of your marriage. Further, any such will or trust will not necessarily be affected by any judgment entered by the court in this matter. You may wish to consider making a new will, or at least revoking the current will. Creditors
. You should be aware that you will continue to be liable to third persons from whom you and your spouse have obtained credit for all sums now outstanding. This holds true even if the court later orders your spouse to make all payments due to that creditor, for the court cannot in this proceeding cut off or materially affect the rights of existing creditors nor force the creditor to look exclusively to your spouse for payment.
This applies to those creditors you have lines of credit with, for example, (1) Charge card companies, (2) banks at which you have lines of credit or to whom you have given continuing guarantees, and (3) others whom you or your spouse have dealt within the past in such manner as to give them the impression that either spouse can commit the other to a transaction. An example of this group would be landlords and suppliers of goods and services. All such persons or firms will usually have the right to assume until they are informed to the contrary that each of you continues to be responsible for all debts incurred by the other. For example, your spouse may continue to charge on accounts, even if restrained from doing so by the court, and you will still be bound and required to pay the creditor. Therefore, you should take action immediately to notify all creditors by both telephone and then in writing that you will not be responsible for future charges or debts incurred by your spouse. Keep a record of the communications with your creditors, including the date and to whom you have directed your communications. Please note all applicable account numbers on your correspondence to creditors and use certified mail, return receipt requested when possible. If you need assistance, please notify an attorney immediately.Beneficiaries
. It is advisable to change the beneficiaries on your life insurance before you are restrained by the court (when you file your divorce or are served with divorce papers). You may wish to consider checking the beneficiaries on your life insurance policies at this time to determine the present status. This also applies to retirement plans or other "fringe benefits" at your place of employment.Closing Accounts
. To avoid possible embarrassment to your spouse and increased friction in your relations with your spouse, you should let him or her know what accounts and credit lines you are closing. Also, prior to separation, if you have not yet separated, secure your account records, notes, stocks and bonds and all other important documents which relate to your case. If you close accounts or have a large sum of cash, be safe and put such money in personal traveler's cheques.Separate Monies
. It is important that separate property monies you receive in the future be kept separate and identifiable. If you receive monies from earnings after separation, or from another separate property source (e.g., from the sale of an asset you owned before marriage, or from a gift or inheritance), keep them in a new account in your name only
. The reason for this is that when separate property is mixed with community property the entire fund may be deemed community property. Certain monies or property received after separation may also be community property. Separate Property
. To the greatest extent possible, pay all debts on separate property from separate property sources. For example, if you own a separate property piece of real estate with a mortgage thereon, make the payments from post separation earnings. This will assist in maintaining the position that the asset is, and remains separate property.
Debra Crawford Annis
Law & Mediation Officeswww.DebraCrawfordAnnis.comClick here for printable form.
Divorce Flow Chart
Some of the most common questions I receive are about the divorce process and how it works. Here is a Divorce Flow Chart that illustrates the paperwork needed and the divorce process. This chart shows what documents are needed at each stage of your divorce proceedings. Debra Crawford Annis
Divorce Flow Chart
Emotional Bullshit - Dr. Alasko.
After all these years of practicing family law on the Monterey Peninsula, I just ran across local psychotherapist, Dr. Alasko’s, book Emotional Bullshit, thanks to a client who had great success with Dr. Alasko. In Emotional Bullshit, Dr. Alasko states that Emotional Bullshit in a relationship consists of the toxic trio: Denial, Delusion, and Blame. He postulates that Emotional Bullshit "always involves a manipulation of truth and a distortion of reality." The purposes of Emotional Bullshit set forth by Dr.Alasko are to:
1) gain advantage or power and increase status;
2) look better or smarter and outwit the competition;
3) avoid conflict and the discomfort of a confrontation;
4) find the fastest, easiest way toward security and gratification;
5) keep from being held accountable when things fall apart; and
6) avoid the negative emotions of anxiety, anger, pain, and fear.
Dr. Alasko points out that people are deceived into believing that it actually works to use deception and distortion to escape the four negative feelings – anxiety, anger, pain, and fear. The solution to Emotional BS is for you to take care of your own core needs so that you can serve the long-term best interest of yourself and those around you. To do so, we must overcome the immediate gratification of "easy fixes and emotional manipulative behaviors" and find what we really need. You must "understand and fulfill your core needs."
The toxic trio – delusion, denial, and blame – work together and fill a relationship with toxic, negative energy. This results in an increase of the harmful emotions, anxiety, anger, fear, and pain.
Dr.Alasko states the toxic trio express themselves in the following ways:
Denial: ignores or minimizes an essential fact – or a responsibity.
Delusion: creates an alternative, more favorable, reality. And then when things fall apart,
Blame: shifts the responsibility onto someone or something else.
The toxic trio works in unison as follows:
1. First an essential fact is denied, then
2. Delusion creates an alternate reality, then
3. Blame shifts the responsibility for the problem.
Dr. Alasko elucidates that the circularity of the process makes Emotional BS so difficult to spot and even more difficult to stop. "The toxic trio are like an armored sphere that offers no corners or angles. If you challenge the missing fact, the sphere shifts position and a delusional version of reality will be presented. More confrontation brings on a barrage of blame, followed by more denial, etc."
Emotional Bullshit is a "must read" for anyone who recognizes the existence of the toxic trio in their relationships. Dr. Alasko uses life stories to show how the process works and presents a solution to the never ending loop.
If you recognize these patterns in your relationship, order Dr. Alasko’s book now!
I’m writing an article inspired by a client about how step parents often feel invisible. If you have any experiences you’d like to share for my article please let me know either by posting or emailing me at Debra@DebraCrawfordAnnis.com.
Also, please let me know if you’d like to be anonymous. I’ve felt this way myself and am very interested in other people’s experiences. I’m also interested in what happened to resolve these feelings if they have been resolved. Thank you!!!!
DEBRA CRAWFORD ANNIS
LAW & MEDIATION OFFICES
CRAWFORD ANNIS & CRAWFORD
EGO DEFENSE MECHANISMS
Denying an event is happening. The client acts as though nothing is occurring.TRANSFERENCE:
Transferring feelings from an earlier powerful relationship with a figure from the past, such as a parent, to someone, such as an attorney, in the present.ACTING OUT:
Translating the feeling into behavior.COMPENSATION:
Making up for feelings of inferiority in one area by becoming excessively competent in another area.RATIONALIZATION:
Giving a rational reason to behavior which is performed for another unconsciously unacceptable reason.PROJECTION:
Attributing an emotion to another which is really felt by the client.REPRESSIO
N: Keeping a thought, feeling or impulse at an unconscious level.ATONEMENT:
Making up for an unacceptable act by performing a good act.SUBLIMATION:
Expressing "taboo" or forbidden impulses through creative channels.DISPLACEMENT:
Expressing a forbidden feeling one has about a powerful figure towards a less powerful, safer object. FANTASY:
Engaging in fantasy to overcome an assault to self esteem.REACTION FORMATION:
Acting in a way directly opposite to the unconscious impulse, or feeling.REGRESSION:
Reverting to behavior characteristic of an earlier, less mature stage of development.COUNTERTRANSFERENCE:
Transferring feelings by the attorney/therapist to patient/client. The professional may be responding to transference on the part of the client/patient, or may be responding to an earlier figure from the professional's past, e.g., the professional's ex-spouse.Click here for printable page.
Debra Crawford Annis
Family Law/Divorce Attorney & Mediator