Is it better to give a fish or teach how to fish

Teaching someone how to fish is obviously better than just providing someone a fish.  In mediation the professionals sit down and the mediator helps us brain storm on how we can problem solve the parents problems.  The collaborative process is different, more involved.  It is a process that actually provides skills to help parents minimize conflict.

Can we all agree that mediation, in and of itself, does not educate parents on how to minimize future conflict?

My favorite story involving a mediation was one in which the attorneys and mediators were engaged in how to solve the parents problems.  Three hours into the mediation and the professionals in the room had come up with an intricate plan that would resolve the issues that were causing the parents conflict.

Ah, but not so fast.  The parents signed off on the mediated settlement agreement and immediately began finding NEW WAYS to fight with one another.  The parents in fact needed to be separated from one another and the session was concluded.  The professionals did everything right,  a mediated settlement agreement was reached, BUT we had failed the parents who did not find a way out of their conflict.

A team based approach, a collaborative approach between attorneys and mental health professionals must be used to help parents learn how to resolve their own conflict.  Even parents with poor communication skills would know to go back to the mental health professional to look for solutions to their problem and not look for ways to look to conflict as a way to resolve their problem.

Collaborative techniques need to be used to help parents learn how to engage each other post divorce.  The collaborative attorneys and their team members get this concept.  It’s time for the mediators and civil litigators to start seeing the benefits as well.

 

Welcoming Remarks – Sen. Carlos Uresti

 

Welcome to San Antonio’s Magazine for Separating and Divorcing Families 

Introductions by

State Senator Carlos I. Uresti

As a state senator and attorney with 24 years of experience practicing family law, I look for ways to improve the family law system to maximize the best interests of the child being affected. This guiding principal has led me to push for greater judicial discretion when signing off on mediated settlement agreements and to require a court to look at the full household dynamic before deciding custody.
Separating from a partner and arranging shared custody can be challenging, and the legal expertise needed to navigate complex laws can be expensive.   Fortunately, the State of Texas has several resources available to help clarify what to expect and how to find help.

Individuals who are searching for the legal representation to suit their particular needs should contact the State Bar of Texas Lawyer Referral Information Service by calling 1-800-252-9690 or visit http://www.texasbar.com.

The Family Law Section of the State Bar of Texas created an organization called Family Law Cares to help families who are not able to use the standardized divorce forms. Individuals who believe they may qualify for pro bono legal services should go to www.texaslawhelp.org/find-legal-help.

As a general rule of thumb, mediation is less costly both in time and money than litigation.  While all disputes cannot and should not be mediated, maintaining civil discourse with your partner even as you begin the process of dissolving your legal relationship is paramount.

Sincerely,

CARLOS URESTI

“That’s the way it is”… and other stories of bad parenting

 

 Blindly following your court orders does not make you a good parent!

In court today I observed a hearing between two parents involved in a hearing which involved their seventeen year old child.   The parents were at odds over how the child child should share the summer, attend SAT workshops and go to Student Counsel activities.

From the dad:

“Well I never could get along with mom, I followed my orders and well she had her life and I had mine……there was truly no point in communicating with her.  I made sure I followed my orders and that’s about that.  Our child’s resilient so she can handle the court schedule. Its my time and I can do what I want with my child.”

From mom:

“Dad hasn’t budged, dad won’t work with me.  Dad won’t trade off time.  Dad won’t listen to what our child needs or wants.  Dad is not going to get time he wants if I don’t get the time I want.”

From the court:

If the child was younger I’d spend more time with you.  I can’t believe that you actually call yourself parents.  I hope your child survives and can be happy.”

Both Mom and Dad argued their case based on their wants and needs ARGUING best interest of the child WITHOUT ADDRESSING the child’s actual needs.  Both mom and dad lost their ability to parent because they failed to work together, failed to be flexible and failed to coparent.

 

 

 

 

Connecting through Baseball

The smack of the cracked wooden bat, the roar of the crowd and the smell of popcorn in the stands. For many kids a baseball park is a church, a sanctuary.   For parents, a baseball park can create memories to treasure and can build bonds that last well into adulthood.

For the young kids they look forward to seeing the mascots dance to fun lively music.  For the older kids they look to playing beyond outfield wall playing catch with their moms, dad.  Pre-teens and teens learn how to work the score sheet and learn techniques to help their own game when they come home.

As a kid,  this is where you learned about the balls and strikes and how many outs in an inning.  You learned how runners stole bases, baseball players held their bats and chewed bubble gum.

Baseball was where you found who your first heroes were and cheered them on to do their best.  This is where you saw what it was like to fight for something you wanted.  This is where you saw how your team handled victory and bitter defeat.

The baseball stadium becomes a second home to you, drawing you back in when the next season starts, and the next and the next.  You follow your team online or in the paper.  For San Antonio you root for those players who you think might make it to the big league and you follow them after they make it to the major league.

You find that baseball is a bond that you will have with your kids when times get bad and there is nothing else to talk about.  You find that baseball seems to bridge the gap with your kids when it seems to be moving apart.  You find that baseball has helped you teach your kids how to face challenges and move forward.

Take your kid to the game.  Life isn’t fun for you during the divorce, know that he or she feels the same way.  Give them a sanctuary, give them a second home and help create a bond that they know that you and they have the love of baseball.

We are promoting Kids First Outings at the San Antonio Missions in July, we will have more information as it comes out!  Matt Sossi Executive Director Kids First Parents Second

 

 

 

 

 

Serviceman and women’s guide to divorce: Texas

“Texas attorney Matt Sossi goes over the applications of the UCCJEA and UIFSA that typically affect servicemen and woman when they file for divorce in the State of Texas.”

Servicemen quickly must understand the basics of the UCCJEA and the UIFSA to determine issues relating to custody, possession and access and child support.

#1.  Meeting the Jurisdictional Prerequisites to get a Divorce.

Servicemen and women must meet jurisdictional requirements of that State to file a divorce. Meeting the jurisdictional prerequisites to file for divorce does not guarantee that the court granting the divorce will also hear issues concerning custody, visitation or child support.  For example, if your child did not live in the State you are filing it for the past six months you most likely will only be able to get a divorce and not be able to obtain relief on any custody issues you may have.

#2.  Why are there different jurisdictional prerequisites for custody vs. child support?

A Texas court can only exercise jurisdiction (in the absence of an emergency)  over a child when there is a finding that it is the home state of the child.  Once the child’s home state is found that state has jurisdiction over custody and possession and access issues.

Jurisdiction over custody is granted pursuant to the UCCJEA.  A different statute, the UIFSA is used to determine jurisdiction over child support issues.

Child support requires personal jurisdiction to render orders for income withholding, etc. Personal jurisdiction over a serviceman or woman is obviously different than establishing a child’s home state based upon the number of months a child has lived in a given location.

#3.  Servicemen are presented with a multitude of scenarios that require them to answer the following questions when hiring an attorney:

Can I obtain a divorce in my home of residence?

Should I simply file for divorce in my spouse’s place of residence?

Which state should I pay child support?

#4.  Servicemen and woman must receive guidance on how child support obligation is calculated.  Child support may be calculated very differently between states across the U.S..  Texas, for example, has a statutory percentage that is presumed in all child support that is assessed.  Likewise, Maryland, Missouri or Minnesota calculate child support by reviewing each parents relative income.  Servicemen and women must understand how calculating child support is calculated based on state to state.  A serviceman or woman might be better off consenting to child support in a state that favors the lowest obligation possible.

 

Matt Sossi is a family law attorney practicing in San Antonio, Texas.  For more information visit his website at http://www.sossilaw.com or send him an email at mattsossi@bsossi.com

 

 

How do you factor Social Security Retirement when dividing the marital estate?

UNCLE SAM

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Social Security benefits are not something that is considered community property and can not be subject to division upon divorce.   So why mention Social Security benefits during your divorce?

Many clients receive their a pension from a school or government municipality that does ALSO allow them the right to seek social security.  Upon divorce many family lawyers simply agree to have their clients’ retirements divided WITHOUT reviewing the social security benefits that the other spouse receives.

A Just and Fair division does not always mean a 50-50 division of marital assets.  Make sure to request that the mediator or consider your spouse’s social security retirement award when dividing the marital estate.

At the Law Office of Matt Sossi we calculate your annuity retirements over your projected life time and then compare them with the social security benefits your spouse is projected to receive.  Comparing the two retirement plans gives you the best option of walking out of your divorce with the fairest and most equitable award for your divorce.

Divorce does not have to impact you long term provided that you have the right representation.