Posts Tagged ‘divorce’

It’s Their Way or the Highway: Co-Parenting with a Narcissist

Parents fightingYou have heard it one too many times. You have dealt with their selfish comments, their inability to apologize and their abusive, harsh words. It makes parenting so much harder than it needs to be. When narcissism takes over, simple conversations can become unbearable and non-productive. Co-parenting with a narcissistic ex-spouse may be one of the most difficult things you have to go through, but you must rise above it. The first step to understanding how to co-parent with a narcissistic ex-spouse is to recognize the symptoms.

“Narcissism is the personality trait of egotism, vanity, conceit, or simple selfishness.” [1] A child with narcissistic parent, “…realizes early on that he exists to provide a reflection for the parent and to serve the parent, not the other way around.” [2] Everything they do must fit perfectly into the mold the parent originally intended for them. A narcissistic parent often times competes with the child and belittles them when their superiority feels threatened. The relationship becomes damaged and, often times, leaves the child feeling unloved. It is important that the child has at least one stable parent who continues to show love and selflessness to the child regardless of how the other parent behaves.

Symptoms of a Narcissistic Parent

These characteristics help to identify a person with a narcissistic personality:

  • Lacks empathy or care for others
  • Is often arrogant and portrays haughty behaviors
  • Demands constant admiration
  • Has an inflated sense of self-importance, often exaggerating their achievements
  • Provokes and baits you
  • Belittles others in an attempt to reassure their own self worth
  • Denial about painful circumstances or of their own narcissism
  • Intimidation of others with similar or more advanced talents or achievements
  • Sense of entitlement
  • Often times lies or over exaggerates to prove a point

How to Co-Parent with a Narcissistic Ex-Spouse

There is no winning with a narcissist, only coping. The most important thing to remember is that your child needs a stable role model to set a proper example.  Regardless of how your ex-spouse acts, you can control how you respond and deal with the conflict. Below are a few very important tips for co-parenting with a narcissist.

  • Limit contact and decrease emotional connection.
  • Get everything in writing. Promises not kept about paying child support and so on can be used in court to prove irresponsibility.
  • Avoid conflict and keep your conversation only about the children.
  • Keep firm boundaries. “Your boundaries will provide the consistency that you and your children need to be healthy.” [3]
  • Do what is best for your children regardless of the effects it has on your ex-spouse.
  • Make up for the narcissist’s neglect and give your child the reassurance and love they need.
  • Be a good role model for your child and also encourage their interests.
  • Try parallel parenting: “Parallel parenting allows both parents to make decisions regarding the children when the children are under their care.” [3]

Although challenges may never seem to stop, your child needs you to be the strong, stable parent.  They need encouragement, reassurance and support from at least one of their parents.  In doing so, they will not only succeed in life, but thrive. Remember that, when dealing with a narcissistic ex-spouse, it is important to refrain from retaliating as this can be used against you in court.  Adhering to these guidelines as much as possible, and putting agreements in writing, will make it easier for your attorney or lawyer to present your case to the judge.

 

Sources:

[1] Divorced Moms, “Is Your Child Being Emotionally Abused By Your Ex.” http://divorcedmoms.com/articles/coparenting-with-a-narcissist-what-to-do-when-your-children-are-being-emotionally-abused- (May 10, 2016).

[2] Psychology Today, “Narcissistic Parents’ Psychological Effect on Their Children.” https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/insight-is-2020/201405/narcissistic-parents-psychological-effect-their-children (May 1, 2014).

[3] Love to Know, “Co-Parenting with a Narcissist.” https://family.lovetoknow.com/co-parenting-narcissist


Disclaimer:
We are pleased to communicate with you concerning your family matters. However, if you communicate with us through the web regarding a matter for which our firm does not already represent you, your communication may not be treated as privileged or confidential, and shall not be deemed to create an attorney/client relationship. Furthermore, you should not provide confidential information to anyone at our law firm in an e-mail inquiry or otherwise unless we have first entered into a representation agreement. By continuing to our website you are deemed to have agreed to these terms and conditions.

The Emotional Ride of Infidelity

infidelityIn today’s society, couples get married for a number of different reasons. Some of these motivators include finances, companionship, to have children and of course, for love. Although any of these might provide the initial incentive to walk down the aisle, it doesn’t always guarantee a happy ending. A study done by the Associated Press, “Journal of Marital and Family Therapy,” indicates that 41% of all men and women will cheat on their spouse. [2]

If you are dealing with infidelity then your most pressing question is, “How can I understand my feelings and move towards a solution?” In order to heal from the pain you are feeling, you must first understand this pain is much like grieving from the loss of a loved one and you will encounter many emotional stages in the process.

The Stages of Dealing with Infidelity

Let’s take a look at the different stages you may go through and how to move forward:

Stop. This is probably the most important step. At this point you probably just found out about the deception. You may be in denial and it’s hard to believe this has even happened. You may have moved on to anger and are feeling resentful towards your spouse. Let yourself be angry, cry and scream even. It’s okay to feel this. However, it’s important not to make any irrational decisions and give yourself enough time to process it. [1]

Reflect. Now that you have probably calmed down, you are most likely feeling confused and desperate for an answer. You may start asking yourself what has brought your spouse to this point.  You may start looking to yourself to see if you have neglected a fundamental need of your spouse. It is very easy to get depressed and blame yourself. However, do not blame yourself or stay in a prolonged depression. Everyone is responsible for their own actions and you should believe that it is not your fault and that you will get through this. Do what you need to do to get over feeling depressed. That can involve talking to family and friends, seeing a therapist/psychologist, getting back in touch with your church or temple, and its members, and/or medication based on the recommendations of your psychologist.

Accept. This has happened and there’s no way to pretend it hasn’t. Understand that this will be a journey, a process, and there is no easy fix. Analyze your feelings and prepare to take action towards a solution.

Ask. By this point you will have tons of unanswered legal questions. Our Law Offices at Sandra Guzman-Salvado can provide answers and options in order to move forward. Understand that your spouse may not agree that he/she has done something wrong or even understand how you may be feeling. However, if you and your spouse are willing to talk, you can talk about how you will move forward separately.

You should discuss what will happen with the children, home, cars, accounts, support for the child or children, support for yourself, property, and anything of value. If you are able to reach agreements about these things, we can draft a Separation and Property Settlement Agreement. This will save a lot of time and money for both of you, and it will make it easier to move on.

If you hire our firm to draft the separation agreement, your spouse will receive a copy of the agreement and he or she can take that to any other attorney to review before signing. Your spouse can simply sign it before a notary with you, after you, or before you. This document, fully executed, will be filed with the court once the divorce is commenced. You should expect the legal process to be much less time consuming and expensive if you go this route.

If the communication between you and your spouse is not possible, you may consider simply filing for divorce, custody, and support. In Maryland, you do not have to be living separate and apart to file for divorce if you have sufficient evidence that adultery occurred. Although the case may start out contested, it is possible that the case will settle once your spouse has the chance to discuss the issues with an attorney, been advised, or when opportunities to settle the case present themselves. Generally, once a litigant realizes how much time and money is involved to litigate a highly contested case, he or she realizes that it is not worth prolonging a resolution.

If you decide you would like to pursue a divorce, based on adultery, proof of adultery may include but is not limited to:

  • Pictures and videos of your spouse with the other person being affectionate with each other, or coming out of a hotel together
  • Emails where they reference their last or upcoming encounter
  • Witnesses that have seen them together
  • Admissions from your spouse via text or voicemail message
  • Receipts for purchases to another person
  • Proof of travel to a destination where the lover resides

Move On. Even though your world may have turned upside down by this point, it doesn’t mean your future can’t be great. Going through trials can be painful, but you can always learn from pain. If you have decided to proceed with litigation, you should know that there is still a future ahead of you and adventures await you even if it does not feel like you will ever recover.

 

Sources:

[1] About Relationships, “How to Cope When You’ve Learned Your Spouse Is Unfaithful.” http://marriage.about.com/cs/infidelity/ht/unfaithful.htm (March 10, 2016).

[2] Statistic Brain, “Infidelity Statistics.” http://www.statisticbrain.com/infidelity-statistics/

[3] Psych Central, “The 5 Stages of Loss and Grief.” http://psychcentral.com/lib/the-5-stages-of-loss-and-grief/  (October 6, 2015).

Disclaimer:
We are pleased to communicate with you concerning your family matters. However, if you communicate with us through the web regarding a matter for which our firm does not already represent you, your communication may not be treated as privileged or confidential, and shall not be deemed to create an attorney/client relationship. Furthermore, you should not provide confidential information to anyone at our law firm in an e-mail inquiry or otherwise unless we have first entered into a representation agreement.  By continuing to our website you are deemed to have agreed to these terms and conditions.

Custody Disputes Involving a Child with Autism

Custody Cases when child has autismWhen custody disputes involve an autistic child, additional factors and individual needs should be considered. It is important for all those involved to understand what autism is and what concerns may be important when litigating a case in court, discussing settlement, or representing a child with autism.

What is Autism?

Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a serious developmental disability impairing one’s ability to communicate and interact. According to The Centers for Disease Control, “ASD is a developmental disability that causes substantial impairments in social interaction and communication and the presence of unusual behaviors and interests. The thinking and learning abilities of people with ASDs can vary—from gifted to severely challenged.” [1]

Not all autistic children have the same symptoms or individualities. Autistic children often have personality traits such as little to no speech, speak in monotone, are introverted, avoid social interaction, are unable to verbally express themselves and sometimes have behavior disorders such as obsessive-compulsiveness or explosive temper tantrums.

With this array of behaviors, the family must consider what is best for the child. There is one component of Autism that seems to be a common thread in all the studies and research. Autistic children require structure and routine in their lives. Divorce and custody disputes disrupt an autistic child’s normalcy. What was once our house become two separate places: Mom’s house and Dad’s house. So the question is “Who will be the best caregiver to support an autistic child’s special emotional needs and which type of custody is best for this child?”

Here Are A Few Questions to Consider:

  • What was each parent’s role during the diagnosis phase of autism and how did each parent accept it?
  • Was each parent proactive with early intervention and therapy?
  • Which parent actively participated in the daily recommended interventions and what was their level of interaction?

Giving consideration to these questions helps determine the type of custody arrangement that will be best for the child.

Helpful Information to Gather at the Commencement of the Action:

It is important to know a lot of detail concerning the autistic child. Sometimes it is helpful to hire a medical professional to explain the terminology and concepts.
Information that is important to gather includes:

  • Names, addresses, phone numbers and credentials of all professionals with whom the child receives treatment
  • Medications given to the child, including the frequency and dosage
  • Therapies in which the child participates. This includes information about where the therapy is received and the name of the provider
  • The cost of each therapy or service

It is important to fully understand the information that has been gathered. It may be necessary to consult an expert in the field in order to feel comfortable arguing the merits of the case, settle the case, and/or properly represent the minor child. If all the information is not fully understood, representation of the minor child ultimately suffers as a result.

The Court’s Role in Autistic Custody Determination

For the courts to make the determination in a custody case, they consider a host of factors such as character and reputation, the primary caregiver, child’s preference and prior abandonment (or surrender) of custody. In special needs cases, the type of disability, its severity and how the disability affects the best interest of the child is a key factor that adds another dimension to the case. [2]

Sources:

[1] Autism Science Foundation, “What is Autism?” http://autismsciencefoundation.org/what-is-autism/ (2016)
[2] General Assembly of Maryland, “General Assembly.” GAM-Article. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Feb. 2016. http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/webmga/frmStatutesText.aspx?article=gfl§ion=9-107&ext=html&session=2015RS&tab=subject5
[3] Lawrence R. Jones and David L. Holmes, NJ Lawyer Magazine, “Autism and Divorce, Guidelines for Family Court Practice” http://poac.net/download/resources/Divorce.pdf, (February, 2009).
[4] Chantal Sicile-Kira, Psychology Today, “Divorce Cases Involving Children with Autism” https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-autism-advocate/201505/divorce-cases-involving-children-autism, (May 31, 2015).
[5] C.A. Curie, Autism Key, Autism, “Divorce and Putting Children First” http://www.autismkey.com/autism-divorce-and-putting-children-first/ (March 13, 2011).
[6] The People’s Law Library of Maryland, “Child Custody in Maryland” http://www.peoples-law.org/child-custody-maryland (February 8, 2016).

Disclaimer:
We are pleased to communicate with you concerning your family matters. However, if you communicate with us through the web regarding a matter for which our firm does not already represent you, your communication may not be treated as privileged or confidential, and shall not be deemed to create an attorney/client relationship. Furthermore, you should not provide confidential information to anyone at our law firm in an e-mail inquiry or otherwise unless we have first entered into a representation agreement.  By continuing to our website you are deemed to have agreed to these terms and conditions.

New Mutual Consent Divorce in Maryland as of October 2015

Mutual Consent Divorce in MarylandOn October 1, 2015, Maryland enacted the “mutual consent” grounds for divorce. The new statute was signed by Governor Hogan on May 12, 2015 and stipulates several criteria for Maryland to grant an absolute divorce decree without the standard one year separation requirement that the parties to live separate and apart from each other. [1]

Criteria for “Mutual Consent” Divorce in Maryland

In order for the divorce to be granted on grounds of “mutual consent”, the following criteria must be met (as outlined in the statute):

  • The parties do not have any minor children in common.
  • The parties execute and submit to the court a written statement agreement signed by both parties that resolves all issues relating to alimony, and the distribution of property.
  • Neither party files a pleading to set aside the settlement agreement prior to the divorce hearing required under the laws of Maryland.
  • Both parties appear before the court at the absolute divorce hearing.

If the divorce falls within these criteria, the couple filing for the “mutual consent” divorce can continue living in the same household during the divorce settlement negotiations without delaying the actual date of divorce. This allows time for the couple to settle financial issues, property division and prepare for separate living arrangements.

“Mutual Consent” divorce should be helpful in assisting an amicable divorce.

What Prevents “Mutual Consent” Divorce in Maryland

“Mutual Consent” divorce is extremely helpful because it allows couples, seeking an amicable divorce, to obtain a divorce even if they are still living together. In our community there are many individuals that cannot afford to move out, and live separately for one year, in order to obtain an absolute divorce. For those couples who do not qualify for mutual consent divorce, you must meet the requirements of one other divorce grounds listed below:

  • One year separation without cohabitation
  • Adultery
  • Desertion
  • Conviction of a misdemeanor or felony charge (must comply with sentence duration limits)
  • Cruelty
  • Excessively vicious conduct
  • Insanity

Which Divorce is Right for Me

When considering a divorce, you should always consult a qualified attorney in your jurisdiction. The Law Offices of Sandra Guzman-Salvado, LLC practices primarily in the area of family law. We have offices in Frederick County, Montgomery County, Anne Arundel County and Prince George’s County. Contact us today at 301-340-1911 or schedule an appointment with a Maryland divorce attorney online to discuss your options.


Source:
[1] General Assembly of Maryland, Legislation by Session: Family Law-Grounds for Divorce-Mutual Consent, Chapter 353 (2015 Regular Session), http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/webmga/frmMain.aspx?pid=billpage&stab=01&id=sb0472&tab=subject3&ys=2015rs, (May 2015).

Disclaimer:
We are pleased to communicate with you concerning your family matters. However, if you communicate with us through the web regarding a matter for which our firm does not already represent you, your communication may not be treated as privileged or confidential, and shall not be deemed to create an attorney/client relationship. Furthermore, you should not provide confidential information to anyone at our law firm in an e-mail inquiry or otherwise unless we have first entered into a representation agreement.
By continuing to our website you are deemed to have agreed to these terms and conditions.

7 Challenges and Considerations to Keep in Mind when Representing Non-English Speaking Clients

Representing Non-English Speaking ClientsAlthough traditionally America is a very monolingual society, the percentage of our non-English speaking population, or those with limited knowledge of the English language, is growing rapidly.  In fact, the number of people in the U.S. who speak a language other than English at home has nearly tripled over the past three decades![1] As attorneys, we are often faced with the challenge of representing such individuals with different linguistic background from the court and potentially ourselves. As a bilingual (Spanish/English) attorney, I have experienced these challenges on numerous occasions and can offer my insight when you are faced with such a scenario: 

  1. Listen, Listen, Listen– The first step in providing fair and accurate representation to anyone, is a clear understanding of your client’s situation. When introducing a language barrier or even a slight difference, this becomes a challenge on its own. Ask numerous questions and listen to the whole story repeated. This becomes especially important if you yourself do not speak their language. Taking the extra time to repeat your questions another way and listen for inconsistencies assists in ensuring that nothing gets lost in translation.
  2. Use the Right Translator– Most often, in situations involving a non-english speaking client, a translator will be required for some or all of the court proceedings. Even the best translator adds an additional factor for consideration in your case. As such, here are a few considerations when selecting your translator:
    • Dialect – make sure your translator not only speaks the langue, but also the dialect of your client. These subtle differences can make a dramatic impact on the meaning in many cases.
    • Gender – I find it is best to use a male translator when representing male client vie versa. In certain instances, which come up frequently in family law, the gender and physical factors present in the case are critical elements and an accurate portrayal through your translator can influence the perception of the jury and help them understand the relationship between the parties.
    • Legal Status – Make sure you understand the difference between and “official” translator and an “unofficial translator” and their implications in court. An article published by David Zachary Kaufman on AmericanBar.org puts it this way: “An ‘official’ interpreter is an adult who has been tested for competency and knowledge; an ‘unofficial’ interpreter is anyone else—like a relative or child of your client. In criminal cases unofficial interpreters cannot be compelled to testify about what they hear when interpreting if their presence is ‘reasonably necessary’ for the legal representation… This test does not apply to official interpreters: They cannot be compelled to testify, period.” [2] I would urge you to delve into this in your own state before making your final decision.
  3. Be Aware of Cultural Differences – The vast majority of the time you are representing a non-English speaking client, in addition to pure language differences, there will be culture differences to overcome. An Oregon Supreme Court Task Force reported that “The dominant culture of this … nation is reflected in its courts. Largely non-minority judges and court staff do not understand the cultures of minorities who appear in the courts. “[3] Consider this throughout each step of the process and take steps to clarify and point out cultural difference where necessary.
  4. Anticipate Additional Costs – Representing a non-English speaking client can be more expensive, even for non-complex cases. Attorney L. Richard Brinkman Jr. recommends obtaining a family member or friends to help cut down on the cost where possible. He says “Be aware that using an interpreter slows down communications, requiring all matters to take a longer time. Billing for this extra time may be difficult, and you must decide how to confront this problem in each case. Of course, more complex matters will require more highly skilled interpreters. Certain matters of litigation or more complex transactions may require actual translations of documents. This will be a great expense to the client if the client does not have someone to perform the services.”[4] Even if you speak the same language as your client, a translator will still be required for parts of the process within the court, so keep this in mind as you assess probable costs.
  5. Use the Full, Correct Name – This may seem elementary, but small mistakes can be surprisingly common and troublesome when representing a non-English speaking client simply due to cultural differences. Often the attorney, court clerk, or other individual miss-spells the name of the represented individual due to unfamiliarity, which ends up wasting time and causing hassle.[5] To complicate matters, in some other cultures, individuals will offer their family name first so it is important to identify and spell out their full legal name, including their middle name, and, if possible, verify it with multiple official documents for the outset.
  6. Practice With Your Interpreter – Pre-trial interviews with your interpreter and non-English speaking client or witnesses can be extremely helpful to the outcome of your case. It helps the client or witness become familiar and comfortable with the process. It also helps the interpreter become familiar with the facts, names, locations and specialized vocabulary. All of this will protect your client or witnesses credibility in court and eliminate distractions from the actual case.[6] 
  7. Beware Culture Bound Terms – Just because words have been translated, either by yourself or an interpreter, it does not always mean that meaning has been clearly communicated. A perfect example of this is your client being read their Miranda rights. They may have heard the technical words, but not fully understand that it meant they were not obligated to talk to the police or that the information they shared could be used to prosecute them.[7] Keep this in mind as you prepare your case, during the proceedings, and during your communication with your clients. Along these lines, I typically try to avoid using acronyms or legal terminology without first explaining exactly what they mean to my client. These can go over the head of an English-speaking layperson, let alone someone who needs it translated!

These are just a few of the considerations to keep in mind when representing a non-English speaking client, but you will find that as you begin to think along these lines, other details will come to mind. As with anything, the more experience you have, the more smooth and natural the process will go. If you have any specific questions please leave a comment below and I will do my best to reply in a timely manner. 


[1] Camille Ryan, “Language Use in the United States: 2011” http://www.census.gov/prod/2013pubs/acs-22.pdf,  (August 2013).

[2] David Zachary Kaufman, “What Did You Say? The Perils of Clients Who Don’t Speak English” http://www.americanbar.org/newsletter/publications/gp_solo_magazine_home/gp_solo_magazine_index/whatdidyousay.html, (2007).

[3] Oregon Judicial Department, Report of the Oregon Supreme Court Task Force on Racial / Ethnic Issues in the Judicial System: Office of the State Court Administrator, 73 Oregon Law Review 823-947 (Spring 1994).

[4] L. Richard Brinkman Jr., “Representing Non-English Speaking Clients” http://www.americanbar.org/newsletter/publications/gp_solo_magazine_home/gp_solo_magazine_index/nonenglishclients.html (February 2007).  First published in 2006 Missouri Bar Solo and Small Firm Conference, Missouri Bar Association, 2006.

[5] L. Richard Brinkman Jr., “Representing Non-English Speaking Clients” http://www.americanbar.org/newsletter/publications/gp_solo_magazine_home/gp_solo_magazine_index/nonenglishclients.html (February 2007).  First published in 2006 Missouri Bar Solo and Small Firm Conference, Missouri Bar Association, 2006.

[6] Mary Lou Aranguren, “Representing non-English Speaking Clients: 10 Points Attorneys Should Know” http://www.courts.alaska.gov/language/ten-points.pdf (April 1998)

[7] María Cristina Castro, “Effective Communication with Non-English Speaking Clients” http://apps.dpa.ky.gov/library/manuals/inter/effective.html