Thursday, August 16, 2012

CPR: Co-Parenting with Respect: A program designed for parents who want to co-parent more effectively.

Guest Post Introduction: Jill Reiter LICSW and 2 other highly trained and experienced mental health professionals combined their education, years of experience and knowledge to create a well thought out educational program that addresses the complications involved in co-parenting through and after divorce. This program has been implemented in the Denver area with great success! The Co-Parenting with Respect or CPR program is now available in Concord, MA.

Jill provided us with the following guest post describing the CPR Program:

CPR: Co-Parenting with Respect:
A program designed for parents who want to co-parent more effectively.

Co-Parenting with Respect through and after divorce is a concept that has been plaguing parents, attorneys, therapists, judges and children for years. How do we assist families in high conflict to continue to interact respectfully in an effort to offer their children what they need in spite of their current personal struggles?

How does the CPR Program work?

The CPR Program involves the whole family:

Any parents who were never married, separating, divorcing or post divorce, which are experiencing conflict in the area of parenting their children. Parents must attend together. If remarried or co-habitating step parents must attend too. Parents with restraining orders may get this modified and attend as well. (Safety concerns will be considered and precautions instituted)

The CPR program gives everyone a voice:

The CPR program in total is 10 hours over 6 weeks and is delivered in 3 phases.

1. Child Voice session: the children use the first hour only! for purposes of gleaning information on how the children are experiencing their parents conflict and what they would like to see change. We do this by giving the children developmentally appropriate activities that allow the children to express their thoughts and feelings in a safe and constructive manner. We tell children that this will be used for the purposes of helping their parents to better meet their needs and work out their differences (or some variation thereof).

2. Parent’s sessions: Total of 4 two-hour sessions that delve into the heart of respectful communication, how this relates to the needs of their children and exercises on how to implement the techniques and skills taught in the class. CPR goes beyond just the "how to" and "why" by assisting client’s co-parenting skills through practice sessions and building on what they already know. This individualized program implements curriculum on healing and moving beyond the conflict of the past to focus on the children now.

3. Family Commitment session: This is the final 1 hour session where the entire family convenes in the office and parents deliver (a very well thought out and practiced response) to their children focusing on, not only the content of the children's concerns and experiences, but what they have learned in the class and the commitment they will make to their children.

The CPR Program is affordable:

The program is designed to be affordable! The CPR staff realizes the enormous costs associated with divorce including attorney's fees or GAL fees, lost work due to court time and court fees, let us not forget parking and the emotional cost of all of the above!) In its entirety is $600 per parent. That is only $120 per hour for a program that could drastically change the course of their lives. The fees are collected at the time of registration and non-refundable if parents choose not to finish the program.

We also strive to be flexible in the area of scheduling. Daytime and Evening hours are available and occasionally even weekends.

Through the experience of the CPR staff, we realized that ongoing support and accountability are necessary for the sustainability of the skills learned and practiced throughout the program. We there for developed what we term “Booster sessions”. These sessions are in addition to the structured program; therefore clients will pay for these separately at the time of the session.

We recommend that clients end their family commitment session by scheduling their follow up in 3 months. This will further solidify the need to implement and carry out the plans that were outlined in the final session. The entire family would come to the follow up meeting.

The CPR Program has proven success:

CPR is a very well thought out program that is delivered in a safe and comfortable environment. Clients have literally changed the course of the lives of their families by working through their old patterns and developing healthy styles of interaction and communication patterns that focus on the health and well being of their children.

You can read more on the CPR program by visiting www.coparentingwithrespect.com or call Jill Reiter LICSW directly to register today! 978-424-1170.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Best Advice for Surviving Divorce: Remember the Serenity Prayer!

When divorcing clients get upset, I find it is most often due to things they cannot control, such as the behavior or choices of their ex-spouse.  The best counsel I have found in those situations is to encourage clients to work on the items they have control over, and to find ways to make peace with the things they cannot control.  This advice is essentially stolen from the serenity prayer:

The things you cannot change:

In a divorce case, you do not have control over what your spouse does.  You can ask the court to make orders that limit or direct certain behavior, but those orders are still only pieces of paper.  Violations of those orders will have consequences, but that process can still be time consuming and often frustrating for clients.  When that frustration takes hold, it is important to remember that you do not control what other people do, but you do control your reaction to what they do.

Courage to change the things you can:

When you want to react to the problems your ex is creating with their behavior, have the courage to respond appropriately and take the high road.  Too often frustration over bad behavior leads to more bad behavior between spouses.  Especially in cases with children this feedback cycle can be destructive.  Having the courage to be the better person, even when it is hurtful to your pride or frustrating, will ultimately help you find more peace with a bad situation because you are taking control over the things you can change: your own behavior.

And may you be granted the Wisdom to know the difference:

When you are unsure of how you should act or react in your divorce case, take advantage of the wisdom of others and the resources available to you.  Attorneys, counselors, and family support are all people that can help provide you with perspective on your actions and reactions.  It is understandable given the grief involved in ending a marriage that spouses will often react emotionally at first.  But taking the time to understand those emotions, and seeking objective assistance when needed, will provide you with the wisdom to separate out frustration over things you cannot control from decisions about how you should proceed with the things you can change.

You may not expect an attorney to advise you to pray when you're frustrated with your divorce case, but I have found that the Serenity Prayer extends beyond religion and if you prefer a secular version there are some similar words provided by Mother Goose:

For every ailment under the sun
There is a remedy, or there is none;
If there be one, try to find it;
If there be none, never mind it.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Probate & Family Court Amends Procedures for Post-Hearing Motions

Standing Order 2-99 of the Massachusetts Probate and Family Court governs the proper procedures for submitting post-hearing Motions to the Probate and Family Court.  Per the Court's recent Press Release, amendments to this Standing Order, which took effect on July 2, 2012, clarify what types of motions may be submitted in these situations.

It had become common under the old version of the order for parties to file a Motion for Reconsideration or a Motion for Clarification after receiving an unfavorable Judgment or Order after a hearing in the Probate and Family Court.  The old rule made specific reference to these types of Motions.    However, there is no specific Massachusetts Domestic Relations Procedure Rule that allows for Motions for Reconsideration or Motions for Clarification specifically.  Under Massachusetts Domestics Relations Procedure Rule 60 a Motion for Relief from Judgment and Order may be brought, but only for very specific reasons.

The amendments to the Standing Order delete references to Motions for Reconsideration or Clarification and clarify that no new rights for relief are created by the Standing Order.  The Standing Order is only intended to set out the procedures by which relief pursuant to the Domestic Relations Procedure Rules may be sought.

View the changes to the Standing Order 2-99 highlighted here.

What would you change about the Child Support Guidelines?

The current Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines became effective on January 1, 2009 and another update may be on the way.  The Massachusetts Trial Court is currently seeking public comment and suggestions concerning potential changes to  the Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines. The Child Support Guidelines Task Force which will consider potential changes will accept written comments and brief oral statements (limited to three minutes) at five public forums to be held in September, 2012.  The dates and times of the public forums are available here.

Written comments can be submitted to the Child Support Guidelines Task Force at: The Administrative Office of the Trial Court; Suite 540, Two Center Plaza; Boston, MA 02108 or via email at: childsupport@jud.state.ma.us.

The deadline for submission of all comments is September 30, 2012.

To calculate child support under the current guidelines visit our Massachusetts Child Support Calculator here.
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