Problem or issue, Parent or Litigant?

Kids First Parents Second Presentation

Online Udemy course Understanding your choices:  A Better Divorce….

split kid

A little education can go a long way in helping parents choose their best options when involved in the divorce process.

Parents have two choices, two doors to pick from so to speak.  Each door with different consequences and perhaps totally different outcomes.

Seeing Issues or Solving Problems

Litigant or Parent?

Before deciding remember you have a choice as to how you want your divorce handled.  First off, do you see problems or issues?  If you see your conflict as “problem based” you look for solutions to help you resolve your family law dispute.   Problem solvers typically look to attorneys and mental health professionals to SOLVE and not CREATE problems.

Other parents will look to their divorce as one filled with issues.  Issues require that you advocate in an adversarial atmosphere against your ex, and act as a litigant in a lawsuit.   Issues to be tried in front of an impartial family law judge who has the experience to address the parents concerns and make appropriate orders that are in the children’s best interest.

Civil Litigation vs. Collaborative Practices

Which path to take?   As a family law attorney of twenty three years I will tell you that most of my clients wanted their issues resolved in front of a judge.  When I was a younger attorney I would go down to the courthouse and present my clients issues before the family law court.  I would help my clients present their case through the “best facts” available. We would elicit the help of mental health professionals and obtain their opinion on what was in the best interest of the parties children.

As years went by I began to see the benefits of allowing parents to talk to one another prior to engaging each other in a courtroom.    Most of the parents truly did not want to be engaging one another at the courthouse.  The parents seemed to simply need a referee, someone who could intervene and provide an objective opinion. The problems the parents faced were not insurmountable, and typically with a few suggestions the parents reached agreements and moved on.

From time to time we needed the help of mental health professionals to help parents resolve the client’s problems.   The mhp brought objectivity to the problems facing the parents.  The mhp could give advice based upon the developmental needs of the child.  The mhp could also diffuse and provide therapeutic aid, as needed to a parent in need.

The parents may not have reached an agreement on all issues, but they went through a process of trying to work together.   Perhaps there was one sticking point that existed because a parent needed to be heard.  The process allowed the parents to understand the need to focus on the needs of the other parent.  The collaborative process we provided planted a seed that allowed parents to better understand and manage conflict in the future.  

A Necessary Evil

Conflict of course can a necessary evil.  There are of course cases that deal with endangerment to children, physical abuse between spouses.  Of course you may simply be dragged into conflict because of the actions of your spouse.  That too is a fact of life.  Many people “choose” a court based approach to resolving family law disputes simply because they do not understand their choices.

Why Should I Care which Path?

Litigants typically never have to interact with their opposing party ever again. Litigants typically share no relationship with one another.  Parents do not meet the characteristics of your typical litigant.  Many parents will most likely need to interact with their ex both during and after the divorce process.

Parents enter the civil litigation arena not understanding that 90% of these cases settle outside of the courtroom.   If civil litigation is high conflict, does it make sense to add more conflict help solve your problems? Is civil litigation the best choice for you in your divorce?

Problem solving requiring joint effort with both parents working towards finding solutions.   Problem solving helps parents to learn how to co parent and focus on the needs of their children.   Problem solving helps parents minimize future conflict.

Divorce does not hurt children in as much as CONFLICT hurts children.  Conflict hurts children both in the short and long term.  Conflict is the factor that affects a child’s ability to be happy, a child’s ability to feel safe and loved.

Time to choose.  Do you have an issue or a problem?  Are you a litigant or a parent?


A Better Divorce: Understanding your choices!

A Better divorce:  Understanding Your Choices is set to launch on Udemy in January 2016.   This course is the first of its kind in a great many ways.  We want parents to know that they have options in how they transition through the divorce process.   So accept our invitation to view our online course for free in January 2016.  Please provide us feedback, questions or helpful comments.   This course will eventually be used to fund the mission of Kids First Parents Second, a 501c3 nonprofit organizaton.

Just say no?



San Antonio police investigating suicide of bullied teen


SAN ANTONIO — The suicide of a San Antonio teen is grabbing national attention, in part because his brother is speaking out about the bullying his brother endured for eight months before his death.

David Molak was the youngest of three brothers; a 16-year-old who loved the Spurs. David was described as a pure soul. His older brother, Cliff, told a story he’s heard from a classmate since his brother’s death.

“One day she’s sitting at her desk putting on makeup. David turns around to her and says, ‘What are you doing? You don’t need that.’ She told me that her self-esteem has never had such a boost,” Cliff said.

San Antonio police are investigating the bullying that started eight months ago. His tormentors were fellow students. Most of the bullying was done online through Instagram.

“Things got so bad, people were starting to say, ‘We’re going to put him six feet under. You’re going to put him in a body bag,'” Cliff recalled.

David’s parents stepped in, reaching out to the school. The police report says that the main bully was suspended. David was eventually transferred to another school. He was also in therapy.

“The therapist all thought he was getting better,” Cliff said. “It was a shock to everyone that he did this.”

Over the weekend, Cliff says David received text messages they believe were the final straw. David’s lifeless body was discovered early Monday morning.

“In David’s circumstance, he’d come home and [the bullying] would never stop. It was relentless. They’d never let up on him.”

Even after his death, Cliff says the main bully is still trying to spite his brother. On Wednesday, students at Alamo Heights High School dressed in black and white, Spurs colors, in support of David. The family says the main bully wore neon colors.



As parents we remember bully’s at school.  We knew when a bully would appear during lunch, after school or during the walk to class. When we got home we had a chance to regroup and lick our wounds.  We may have studied a kung fu movie to feel empowered or lifted weights.  We worried the physical threat caused when “our bully” approached.

The child who died in Texas did not appear to be a victim of physical violence.   What happened to this child seemed much worse.  This child was emotionally attacked by a circle of hyenas who bit and snipped at his heels until he could not stand.   These children delighted in his pain, his angst and his hurt.  While we knew the identity of our tormentors, this child did not.

We need to understand who these bully’s are.  We are dealing with angry kids, kids with rage, kids who can not filter their feelings within the norms of society.   These kids could be their school’s prom queen, team mascot or quarterback.  These kids can be on the honor roll or involved in ROTC.  It doesn’t matter what these kids are on the OUTSIDE, its what they’ve become on the INSIDE.

So our response to this problem is to say no to bullying?  How about “Say No To Drugs?” These short little sayings do not present effective ways to handle the problem.

We need to help the bad actors deal with ANGER and RAGE.  We need to help these kids become RESILIENT so they are not killing themselves.  If we can not create resources to help these kids we have done nothing to solve the problem.  Our inability to act makes us all responsible.

In the United States there is a reluctance to teach kids EQ or emotional intelligence.   Ewe, feelings how dorky, what a waste of resources! Are you kidding me?  How can you not get angry that there is little to NO FUNDING, NO RESOURCES to help change this situation?

The time is ripe to talk about why it is so important to help kids with their emotional intelligence.   The time is ripe to fund programs that help kids with ANGER, SADNESS and HOPELESSNESS.  If we help kids become resilient we give them defenses they NEVER EVER HAD before.

One of the principle missions of Kids First Parents Second is to help children become resilient. Our Seeds for Success Program works with children on developing their emotional intelligence so they can better manage the emotions of ANGER, FEAR and HOPELESSNESS.


The 8% “rule” to solve Texas Custody cases

Understanding the in and outs of your parenting plan provides little solace if you are involved in a disputed custody case. Its time to look at the bigger picture. Please get a pen, a calculator and a calendar.

Remember the extended SPO under the parenting plan? That period of time can be elected by a parent who is otherwise entitled to a SPO. It is that parent’s election given a few statutory exceptions. The extended SPO provides that parent with 42% worth of possession and access OR 153 days during the calendar year.

If the case would go to trial one parent would WIN and receives 58% of time with the child and one parent would LOSE and gets 42%. The inherent risk in taking cases to court usually will lead to parents SETTLING their dispute in mediation. Meeting in the middle means moving the percentages by 8% with each parent having 50% of the time with the children.

Settling these cases typically involves the drafting of an agreed parenting time than a parent would receive, which leaves them with 50% of possession and access to the child. Eight percent of a calendar year equals 29.2 days. Dividing 29.2 days by 12 months equals an additional 2.4 days of possession and access.

What truly matters is removing the child from conflict. The child is not totally concerned with who was right and who was wrong. Is an extra two and a half days of possession and access worth a custody fight?