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 couldn’t take it anymore. She had been involved in Al-Anon and working on no longer being codependent and practicing stronger boundaries. Dad denied that he had any problems. Mom wanted their teenage daughter to have a relationship with her dad, but wanted it to be a healthy relationship that didn’t put her at risk. What came out in the work with the daughter was that she experienced her dad drinking and driving and she only wanted to spend time with dad when she felt safe. beer-can-79546During the process of creating the parenting plan, the Neutral Child Specialist arranged for a meeting the parents both agreed to attend in which it could be determined, and possibly ruled out, whether dad did have any problems with substance abuse. This happened because of how the team of lawyers and professionals worked together thinking about the greater good of the family system. But at the meeting dad wasn’t ready to hear it, and again said he had things under control.

So, a parenting plan was created that gave daughter the opportunity to have time with her dad in smaller chunks of time, but have a mechanism in place to end the time if she ever felt at risk. Mom could also say no to time if she had a basis to say that dad was under the influence. They created details that both parents, and their child, felt comfortable with because they could focus on what was needed for the child to feel safe as well as the importance of the parent-child relationships.

After the divorce, about a year later, I received a note from her client. She said that dad was finally pursuing treatment with the two professionals the Neutral Child Specialist had arranged the meeting with during the work on the parenting plan. She said that dad finally hit bottom and was ready to begin his recovery.

When I look back on this case, I believe that a seed was planted and a relationship was started with people that dad could finally hold his hand out to for help when he was ready. And, because you can not force someone to make change before they are ready, a parenting plan was created that was responsive to the needs of the child. The dad was not dragged through the mud and vilified, and denied access to his child. Rather, a child responsive plan was put in place and now this family is on a better path.

The mom said in a note to me, “I really appreciate the entire collaborative team. The support through this most difficult time was immeasurably helpful. I found [your] and the team’s understanding, when dealing with a substance abuse spouse, extremely insightful. [The Neutral Child Specialist] was direct, yet kind in dealing with both [dad] and myself. The entire team had our daughter’s interests at the forefront. [Dad’s] attorney also was helpful in this aspect, aware of the pitfalls in dealing with an alcoholic….thank you…in helping me through this, supporting my goals and providing a positive environment.”

Louise LivesayABOUT THE AUTHOR
Louise Livesay
Founder, Livesay Law Office

Louise Livesay, JD is known for her ability to problem-solve on behalf of her clients in a way that maximizes the best outcome for the entire family. Understanding that most families facing divorce or uncoupling want to have effective co-parenting relationships and be treated with respect and feel heard during the process, she has created a practice focused on fostering healthy families as they transition to a new configuration through non-adversarial methods, such as the Collaborative Process and Mediation. Learn more at www.CollaborativeLawMn.com

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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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July 3, 2017

The Delicate Art of Compromise

The Delicate Art of Compromise Compromise. It is the cornerstone of legal settlements. It is the foundation of civility. Yet it is not without its attendant difficulties. The most common meaning ascribed to compromise is an agreement or settlement of Continue reading…

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June 26, 2017

Friending Yourself

Throughout your life, and particularly through your separation or divorce, there may have been times when, even if you have an amazing support system, you realized that there is truly only one person that you can count on 24 hours Continue reading…

June 19, 2017

Considerations on the Cost of Divorce Part I

So, You Are Getting Divorced: Considerations on the Cost of Legal and Professional Services Part I In this two part series, I will address the Challenges in accurately estimating legal and professional fees in Part I, and will offer thoughts Continue reading…

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June 12, 2017

How to Avoid the Divortex – Part 2

In Part 1, vortex was defined 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, and hence, Continue reading…

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June 5, 2017

Gray Divorce: After 50

There was a recent article in the Los Angeles Times addressing the growing rate of divorce in later years of marriage.  The article summarizes statistics showing this is a large segment of the divorcing population.  And it continues to increase. Continue reading…

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May 29, 2017

Teaching Your Kids About Money – Teenagers

Sometimes your teenage children think they know everything. Do they know that if they saved the $6 they spend each day on a super antioxidant smoothie (or caramel macchiato), in 8 years they could buy a 4-door sedan in soul Continue reading…

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May 22, 2017

So, You Are Getting Divorced: Part II

Categories: Divorce

Considerations on the Cost of Legal and Professional Services In this article I address positive things you can do to minimize your costs and expenses, and maximize quality of services. The Good News There are many things that can be Continue reading…

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May 15, 2017

Family Specialist: Co-Parenting after Divorce

Categories: Divorce

I once heard that parenting books are one of the largest segments in non-fiction publishing.  Everyone apparently thinks they have tips and ideas to help others parent.  As a collaborative divorce attorney, clients often seek guidance and support in co-parenting Continue reading…

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