March 4, 2018

ASD, Lockdowns, and Valentine’s Day 2018 – Part 1

love-heart-hand-romanticOK – this has nothing to do with divorce – or maybe it does.

Valentine’s Day.  Yes, I know, it was two weeks ago.  And for people going through divorce, Valentine’s Day was perhaps just another day.  On the other hand, if you have young children, they exude an energy on Valentine’s Day that helps remind us of the deep and unconditional love we feel for our kids.  This year, I can’t help but think about the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.  Going forward, what will Valentine’s Day mean to THEM?  Will it be a reminder of the terror, shock, and incredibly grief they experienced?  And for the parents of the victims, what will the day represent?

Locally, and just one week after the Florida incident, Orono High School was on lock-down due to a threat from a student who is on the autism spectrum.  Minnesotans are educated and smart and we know that kids with ASD are not dangerous.  The community of Orono responded in a very Minnesotan way: a GoFundMe page was created for the family of the child who made the threat.  Unfortunately, the boy is sitting in Hennepin County Juvenile Detention Center where a kid with ASD absolutely does NOT belong.  Some kids on the spectrum may be impulsive and may not understand how their actions can impact others.  They can’t always articulate how and what they feel, so they may not feel heard or understood and may respond in an extreme manner.  They aren’t trying to be difficult or make inappropriate choices.  But they can’t always discern socially acceptable behavior.  The agony this poor boy and his family must feeling!  This might be the first time where the perspective of  the “actor” in a school down is illustrated, and more empathy and compassion are generated.  I feel for ALL the families involved.

School lock downs are now a reality for any parent with school-aged children.  It makes my heart ache.  And so many hearts were truly shattered this Valentine’s Day.  Yet here we are, a week later, and a family’s heart is breaking in Orono.  It’s overwhelming to see a community embrace this child and his family.  But then again, it DOES take a village.  So let’s take better care of our village.  Let’s take better care of our kids…ALL our kids.  Let’s embrace the big and small.  Athletic and musical.  Quiet and loud.  Different and unique.  All kids with all abilities.  We can do this if we: put down our devices and listen, really LISTEN to our kids.  Listen to our neighbors’ kids.  Play hide and seek.  Yes, I’m serious.  It’s fun!  Play Chutes and Ladders…again (ok, not so fun) Read Captain Underpants for the umpteenth time.  And laugh – genuinely laugh!  Your kids will love you for it!  And…reduce kids’ screen time and get them the heck off social media.  They don’t need it.  They WANT it, but their brains just…can’t…handle it.  And to be perfectly honest, maybe our grown-up brains can’t either.  Instead, dust off your old copies of Charlotte’s Web, Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, and Harry Potter.  Have your older kids read to you.  You’d be surprised what you might learn this time around.

Audra Holbeck
Attorney, Holbeck Law Office

Audra’s office is in Woodbury, Minnesota and she limits her practice to Collaborative Family Law and Mediation. She received her degree in psychology from the University of Minnesota-Duluth and her law degree from William Mitchell College of Law. She has been actively involved in the Collaborative Law Institute since 2004 and is passionate about helping her clients create realistic and workable settlement options. She believes family disputes can (and should) be resolved outside the courtroom, in an environment that allows the family to reorganize, engage in healthy and effective communication, and move forward. Learn more at

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February 22, 2018

Unbundled Divorce: Getting just the right amount of legal help

Categories: Collaborative LawDivorce

There is a “new” way of going through divorce that puts clients in charge.  It’s called “Unbundled Legal Service” and it means that the clients get to have legal advice without having the lawyers take over the full case.  This Continue reading…

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February 3, 2018

Should Your Spousal Support Increase with the Cost of Living?

Spousal support that lasts more than a couple years may be subject to cost of living adjustments (COLAs).  This is negotiated as part of your divorce settlement. As the cost of living goes up, spousal support can increase as well, Continue reading…

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January 13, 2018

Three Stories of Empathy

Empathy is the word for the capacity to understand another person’s perspective or experience without necessarily agreeing with it.  Empathy allows humans to be in synch and resonate with each other in spite of differences.  There is plentiful scientific and Continue reading…

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January 6, 2018

The House Decision

Divorce has a way of completely upsetting one’s expectations for the future.  One day things are moving along just fine, and the next you are making decisions that will impact the rest of your life.  One of the big decisions Continue reading…

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November 26, 2017

Parenting in Divorce

  Children deserve the best, safe parenting they can get from both their parents.  This is a fundamental guiding principle for my work as a neutral child specialist.  It sounds intuitiveand obvious.  But in the context of separation and divorce, Continue reading…

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July 31, 2017

Holiday Traditions and Parenting Time

With the holidays upon us, most of us are getting ready for gatherings with family and friends and figuring out who is hosting which holiday.  Many families have traditions that may go back generations.  As parents, we may choose to Continue reading…

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July 24, 2017

Guiding Your Children Through the Holidays, Post-Divorce

Navigating the holidays post-divorce is a difficult enough task for adults, but it also brings out stress and anxiety in children, whether small or big (adult). We tackled holiday survival post-divorce topics like “finding your new normal” and “creating emotional Continue reading…

July 17, 2017

Teamwork in the Midst of Substance Abuse

About 3 and a-half years ago, a family in the Collaborative Divorce  process was working with the Neutral Child Specialist .   It was stated by my client that dad’s alcohol use was the primary basis for her seeking the divorce. She Continue reading…

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July 10, 2017

How to Avoid the Divortex – Part 3

In parts 1 and 2, we defined vortex as: 1) a whirling mass of water or air that sucks everything near it towards its center; 2) a place or situation regarded as drawing into its center all that it surrounds, Continue reading…

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