Relating Bad Contractors to Bad Attorneys

Have you been asked to understand what parents are going through when trying to get through family conflict?   What happens when someone you know enters the legal system?

It’s hard to relate if you haven’t been through it, and you may not really want to know…but what is going on where you can’t see has led us into a crisis situation, so please see if this short story gives you some insight:

“Suddenly the weeds along the property line grew thicker and getting taller.  The two neighbors who had once worn a path bare between their back doors had stopped speaking.

Flashing back a few months David stared at the spot where they used to stand and talk about the market and their son’s game stats.

On this cold January day that spot was now shadowed by the cement truck backing up to where the foundation was being poured for the fence about to go up between them.  They decided it was time for some privacy.  The good times shared in open spaces were now lost thanks to an argument he could barely remember.

Pause here for a moment and consider how you handle “Let’s go our separate ways.”

You have options, just like David and his neighbor did.

David’s neighbor suggested an open fence that would create a boundary and give some privacy, but not block them from waving hello or throwing a ball back over the fence.

What happened next is that David considered his options, and went with the advice that matched his emotions.

Option A:

David listened to his neighbor’s advice and talked to the contractor who gave them a reasonable price on a lightly stained wood fence and some shrubs.  There were even a couple of trees mixed in that would bloom within a couple of years.

He could see them a year or so out, one sitting on the porch reading, while the other hummed that annoying song while grilling the same steaks as always.  Not so bad…

Well, that was wishful thinking.

Option B:

David also listened to the contractor who heard about their disagreement and saw that David was still fuming.

He validated David’s feelings of loss, but reassured him that once the concrete wall was in place that his neighbor would regret ever trying to “win” that argument.

David allowed the concrete wall to get poured, taking satisfaction in his neighbor’s shock and dismay.  He smirked.  So his red-faced neighbor brought in another contractor carrying that coiled wire to add to the top of the wall. To heck with the shrubs and allowing a baseball to get returned over the fence.  What ball?  There would be no more playing out here!

Within days their yards shrank in size and the concrete wall expanded.  The sharp wire atop the hideous gray wall sparkled in the sunlight as a reminder that there was no going back.  But David told himself that he was fine with that; he had gotten his point across, and his neighbor appeared filled with regret and confusion.  The bills kept coming but at this point David wasn’t sure what else needed to be done with the wall.  He only saw that more trucks and material kept showing up.  Contractor John repeatedly reassured him, as he patted David on the shoulder in a fatherly way, “Don’t worry, I’ve got your back…it will be the best wall you’ve ever seen.”

Nothing seemed to get better, only worse.  The bills grew while David felt smaller.  There was no end in sight, he still felt hurt and angry, and now there was no chance of talking to his neighbor about where to draw the line. David realized he was confused, even sick to his stomach.

No way, though, was David going to be the first one to call it quits!  He had gone too far to admit this overdone wall was a bad idea.  And besides, that barbed wire his neighbor wanted on top of the wall?  What an insult!

Months later David was jolted out of bed by flashing lights and sirens from the ambulance taking away his neighbor.   Apparently the stress had hit home, but David wasn’t informed about what was happening, and he was afraid to ask.  He did notice an opened envelope that had blown onto his driveway.  He read the note inside with a little guilt and dropped it when he saw that it was his neighbor’s writing, telling the contractor he was fired for putting up that barbed wire without permission.

Another few months went by, and the next thing David knew there were two For Sale signs out front.  The wall was still unfinished, and the contractors were nowhere to be found.  Only the debris was left.”

Please ask the person who showed you this story of two neighbors to learn what it can be like when two people turn to the wrong lawyers to resolve a family dispute.

This story just involved two people growing apart as neighbors, building a fence, hiring contractors, then realizing the damage done from their mistakes.  But did they make these mistakes on their own?  What if there were kids involved?  What did the kids see and how were they impacted? 

What if there had been the right mediator and counselors to help these parties see the best path – – how to make Option A their reality?

 

 

Why Should You Know More about Attorneys?

What should you know before making a decision about your legal counsel and the team coming together around you to help you through a conflict?

Because it is more than just their reputation and promoted success rate that will determine the value you get for your money.

Depending on whether or not they choose to be honest and loyal to you, it will not only impact your finances, your home, your ability to co-parent effectively, but it will also impact your mental health.   Most of all, it will impact your children.

Our case studies illustrate how families and children have been affected – harmed – because parents and others in the community were not aware of how to truly vet counsel to ensure a proper outcome.

We are smashing myths because dozens of parents are reporting that what they believed to be true about their attorneys and the highly regarded custody experts they paid, is simply NOT true.   The simple answer is that the Value just isn’t there.  Value, in our dictionary, has a lot to do with honesty and loyalty.

A big myth being turned upside down is that if you have money or status, that you can buy loyalty and influence.  The myth that “mothers always get custody…or good mothers” flew out the window, but so did the one that says, “If a father has any power, owns a big company, or knows the right people” that he will prevail.  If it were this simple, My Advocate Center would not be fielding so many calls and emails.

Parents are finding out too late that even after they have sought referrals from local, well-known sources like a non-profit organization that promotes a select few experts, that there was actually no assurance that their interests or their children’s interests would be taken seriously.  There currently is no oversight of services and no guarantee of loyalty or honesty even when you accept referrals through most other sources.  My Advocate Center is working to change this.

As we work with press, law enforcement and legislators, more case studies and reports will serve to provide clarity to the public about the due diligence needed when hiring professionals – especially those serving family law.

For now, learn as much as you can, work to understand the process and how you can be your own best advocate – in hiring, in preparing and in making informed decisions.

When you are ready to assess your own strengths and weaknesses, and how to best empower yourself to work with the right team, let us know.  That is your best starting point.

Improving the Divorce and Child Custody Process: What Matters?

A conversation for professionals and for parents interested in contributing to Solutions.

Solutions related to child custody disputes -including policy revisions & upholding fiduciary duty:

We hear that the Court is supposed to help parents arrive at something that is “in the best interests of the children” but that often is miscontrued.

It is most often just a notion that sounds good on paper or rolling off the tongue of a member of the Court.  It causes GOOD parents to assume that there is really nothing to worry about, that surely the Court will see the obvious…and the evidence…and allow them to continue serving their children well.

Sadly that is a myth. Actually it is more of a Trap than a myth.  Myths usually do not cause real, lasting harm.  A trap is something you are not meant to get out of.  Not in one piece anyway.

Disclaimer:  When we at M-A-C say, “Good parents” and “best interests” that can be applied to mean either Mother or Father;  this is not a gender issue.   Remove bias & restore accountability for Fiduciaries, ensure that laws & guidelines have ‘teeth’ and we can make rewarding progress.  For all parents.

Progress means getting rid of what merely sounds good, or lip service, and doing the hard work of helping parents resolve conflict, and getting help with dysfunctional behavior that led to the divorce or custody dispute.  

That statement is a big part of the solution:  proper counseling.

We have, at least in Georgia, some incredibly talented and effective healthcare and law enforcement professionals who are capable of amending and improving relationships between “high-conflict” parties.

These are resources that go largely untapped due to how the legal process is manipulated and controlled by a few who are not focused on “doing the right thing” — simply because it is assumed that it is harder work for less profit.  For certain Fiduciaries managing these cases, that is.

If you know how to identify legal professionals who will uphold Fiduciary Duty and apply their talent and experience to reach the best outcome for the family, then you have the best of all worlds:  the best legal minds doing legal work, the appropriate psychological or healthcare providers, along with law enforcement where called for.

So our mandate is to shift the focus to be: “Your bottom line as a professional improves as you Do the Right Thing, and uplift the Real Needs of Children and good parents.”   The guidelines and protocols are there to follow, which demands proper counseling — and parents are asking for it, children need it desperately, and it just isn’t that hard.

“Good parents” do not destroy children by undermining their needs just to get at, restrict or punish the other parent.  Period.  You don’t “split the baby up the middle” – you straigten out the parent willing to use the child as a pawn or weapon.

What currently exists in Family Law matters is something that is less about reality, or the REAL needs of children and parents, and more about doing favors and manipulating parties and litigation tactics to wear one party down, increase profits for the professionals, and reach an outcome that rewards the other party for being abusive.   That hurts good parents – no matter whether the “caregiver” and nurturing parent is the mother or father – and especially hurts the children.   Everyone who is owed a duty of loyalty and honesty here LOSES.   Unless they know how to prepare and avoid the traps…

Children & parents who have experienced trauma are counting on us. 

 We are determined that “Divided Families do not have to become Destroyed Families” as we are seeing in the current standard being set by certain practitioners of law.

WE CAN SAY THIS FIRMLY BASED ON CASE STUDIES WHICH WE WILL BE PUBLISHING SOON.

If you would like to receive white papers and case studies – or briefs related to cases involving misconduct – then fill out our contact form on www.MyAdvocateCenter.com.

You can also follow us on http://www.linkedin.com/company/my-advocate-center-llc.    If you decide to engage and contribute on this topic, joining the M-A-C Counsel for Change on LinkedIn may be your next natural step.

Simple ways to see our updates and excerpts of cases studies: Facebook.com/MyAdvocateCenter — @MyAdvocateCentr on Twitter

 

Most people agree, parent or not, professional or not, that children deserve the best that BOTH parents have to offer, right?   Sounds better than the “best interests of children…” whatever that might turn out to mean to someone focused more on profit than on helping children.

Children cannot get the best of both parents when both parents are left in a worsened state, often both emotionally and financially, and even physcially if home loss or medical conditions/illness result.

Children – tens of thousands of children each year – are experiencing more violence, addictive behavior, stress and uncertainty, as well as critical time with parents being lost…all due to an intentionally escalated and prolonged process.  More children turn to unhealthy coping skills as they react.

Want to interrupt cycles of violence and addiction?   Address what is happening in throes of legal battles.

Why is there so much trauma?   It can be due to the improper handling of Domestic Violence issues, or the loss of parenting rights, financial resources and homes, and sometimes due merely to the lack of honesty and loyalty from counsel.     All of these things destabilize parents and exacerbate anger, confusion, depression, anxiety…and all of this is absorbed by the children watching their parents and getting caught in the middle.

Who is watching these children to see what the effects on them are?

Teachers, healthcare workers, school directors, neighbors, family members and too often law enforcement as the dysfunction leads to juvenile delinquency.   But these people are not involved in the legal process and have no control over curbing the manipulation that is worsening the situation.  They feel their hands are tied.

Know that our perspective & value come from the collective strengths of many who have experienced loss due to breakdowns in communication, transparency & accountability around this legal process governing the division of children and other “property.”

What can you do?

Join us in contributing to the conversation about raising standards to mean something for children around how these cases are handled and governed, and do what you can to strengthen a parent who may be vulnerable in a “high conflict” legal matter or co-parenting.

Empower someone who needs to know how to better prepare and manage, and confront and hold accountable one willing to do harm.

 

Please spread the word that if someone is exploiting another who is in need of help and protection, and/or is disabled from PTSD or other qualified disability under the ADA, that ability to profit from their weakness is coming to an end.


Wake Up Georgia: Solutions to Preventing Tragedy

According to The Violence Policy Center, Georgia ranks 10th in nation for domestic violence related homicides.

The Kristofak murder in Marietta is a much needed wake-up call.

M-A-C is asking all professionals involved in high-conflict cases to handle each aspect of these cases with the utmost care and to intervene early with the proper counseling on BOTH sides of the equation.

Protocols & the RIGHT kind of help for mental health instability, violence and conflict management do exist here — they just aren’t always being followed or used effectively.   It is past time for all of us to ask questions and follow through, taking it more seriously than before, because the Needs of Children dictate that we do this.

What can be done to dial back the conflict and discourage & prevent more violence?

Can we make better use of the laws, protocols & intervention programs that we have in place?   How strongly are we holding people accountable, and what about inserting more transparency onto high-conflict cases?  (Please note that Men / Fathers are also victims in a number of these cases.  False allegations of abuse DO impede solutions, wasting time and resources, which are needed for better/faster resolutions.  All of this negatively impacts children, parents’ ability to work together, drains family resources and harms our communities.   Just Don’t do it…)

Can we make better use of our healthcare system and law enforcement professionals?  Of course, the answer is a resounding YES on all of the above, but how?  Where do we start?  With whom do we start?

Prior to this disaster unfolding, we created the M-A-C Counsel for Change to address these issues and help interrupt the patterns that lead to this kind of loss and tragedy.   We did this based on actual case studies done on past and present/pending cases.   Yes, there are other pending cases needing intervention, so we are working with several alliances to change these outcomes so that the Needs of Children and good parents are better served.

To join in this thought leadership discussion, if you are a professional engaged in these matters or in a position to contribute to Solutions and Change, please email CFC@MyAdvocateCenter.com.

Parents & anyone needing guidance:  If you are not sure where to turn for intervention with anger, violence, or are caught in a situation involving mental health disorders or addiction (any dysfunction affecting the well-being of your children and peace in your home) send us a message & we will help guide. Resources@MyAdvocateCenter.com

Please engage with us on Facebook, Twitter & LinkedIn to contribute to solutions and follow our development on these case studies and on improvements being made.

Here are a few of the links to the most recent – and preventable – loss experienced by children in the Atlanta, Georgia area:

AJC, by Bill Torpy:  http://www.ajc.com/news/news/crime-law/slain-woman-predicted-her-own-death/nTgj4/

11Alive News, by Rebecca Lindstrom: http://www.11alive.com/News/Crime/269855/445/Domestic-Violence-advocates-call-Marietta-murder-a-wakeup-call

East Cobb Patch, by Wendy Parker: http://eastcobb.patch.com/articles/donna-kristofak-feared-for-her-life

Perryville News, Obituary of Donna Kristofak: http://www.perryvillenews.com/archive/article_ba8feb62-53a8-11e2-991d-001a4bcf6878.html

If you are aware of or producing another piece on this story, please email Press@MyAdvocateCenter.com.

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The Kristofak boys have now lost both of their parents, but thankfully have the care and protection of other family members.   They deserve all the help we can give them, so please send contributions to:

Harrison & Zac Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 70091, Marietta, GA 30007-0091.

The Looking Glass: How Children See Themselves

Why the focus on children for My Advocate Center?

Check out this video, then keep reading and join in on this event to learn more!

This is important for both parents and professionals.

We do what we do because that is what is missing from too many legal disputes related to divorce and child custody matters.

There is an enormous gap in how cases are handled that allows the needs of children to get dropped from the discussion.   Yes, it sounds good enough that the law says we are to decide and act on matters based on the “best interests of the child,” but what does that really mean?

Can you think of many examples where that was carried out in a way that meant something positive to the child involved?

Chances are, what you recall from your own case or that of someone you know is that your children lost out in more than a couple of ways.  That is sad given that the parties and the professionals claim to be working for the “sake of the children.”  Please consider this:

“Children get their earliest, most lasting impressions of who they are from what is reflected back to them by their parents.  These impressions become those ‘records’ in the jukebox of your child’s brain.”  This is the Looking-Glass-Self principle provided by psychotherapists to describe what happens, and you can read about more examples in the Parenting Roles section on the Focus on the Family website.  Please read their articles about both the Real Job of Mothers and the one linked here for Fathers.

Can you imagine what children are seeing in this looking glass – this mirror that IS the faces of their parents during a time of extreme tension, conflict, uncertainty, hostility, fear, duress?

If you care about children, then your focus should be on improving what is being reflected for children.  If a parent, especially the main caregiver is made to feel fear, then the child absorbs and learns fear – and there is no way around it…the child learns to see himself as fearful.  Anxious, Uncertain, Sad, Pained.  Naturally this leads to a greater need for attention, for self-soothing, and affects sleep, focus and relationships.  Not what you are going for?

If you are a Parent currently embroiled in a custody dispute, ask yourself & your spouse what your children are seeing, hearing, feeling.  Is it necessary?   Are you willing to change the dialogue & your actions to be geared FOR your children rather than just ABOUT your children?  If you aren’t certain how to have this discussion or what to do about increasing conflict, let us know.  The professionals we are aligned with get this.

The time to insert common sense and reason – on behalf of children – is before conflict starts to escalate.  Parents on both sides, as well as the professionals, need to consider what they are willing to risk around the child’s well-being before they go down the wrong path.

We have found that this is missing in the process, so everything we provide to parents, professionals & policy makers comes back to this one point.

The truth around Family Court practices – what our case studies show – is that too often the wrong outcome is being intentionally created, causing the children to experience the worst of both parents, rather than what is best.

If the process and attitudes remain as they are in the legal arena involving divorce and child custody matters, then too many thousands of children will continue to be sacrificed for the sake of something much less important.  They are being sacrificed for the profit of a few.

If you are not willing to allow this to continue – if you want to be a part of the Solution and not a part of the Problem, then please connect with us and  help continue this discussion.

A Father’s Rights

Have you heard?

Good fathers are sharing experiences of finding out the hard way that they don’t stand a chance of getting a balanced/fair custody schedule or equal say, unless they play dirty, and spend a fortune if they have it to spend. Even then…it is very hard to prevail through mystery & uncertainty.  Hundreds of examples of cases resolved in an unfair & unbalanced way exist right here in GA, so chances are you’ve heard of a few or experienced this yourself?

Yes, men do believe they are being discriminated against when it comes to the legal process and custody issues.  More & more are reaching out to us, asking for answers, even though we don’t promote “Father’s Rights” specifically.  We vet each case regardless of whether the mother is being targeted or the father, and work toward restoring balance for the person who is being destabilized by foul play and illegal tactics.

Why are fathers calling M-A-C?  Because we are not here to advocate for one type of person over another, but to be the Voice of Reason.   We help to take out the emotion and injury, and replace faulty reactions or strategies with what makes sense.  It is easier for men to avoid loss in business than here in the family court process, because business practices are more transparent, more accountable, and often follow logic.  What is happening with certain family court professionals goes against all logic – – and, yes, even againt the law, the facts and evidence of the case, and against the needs of children.

We look at the reality and truth for the children involved – what type of parent are you and how do you work with the other parent to do what your kids need.

Are you managing to provide the best of both parents to your children?  Do you support the other parent as much as you should?   Do you support as if your children were able to tell you what they need and deserve from you both?  Do you conduct yourself as if your children are watching?

Guess what:  they ARE watching.  Even if they are very young.   They are absorbing what is happening, and this sets them up to fail both in their youth and later in life.  So take it seriously, and work on yourself first.

Appearances DO matter, but not the way we are often taught to think in this process; what matters is what our children are seeing in us, as well as how our cases are managed related to their care and emotional well-being.  Examples to clarify this point are available.  This is simply about child-centered common sense as it relates to achieving your desired outcome.

Mothers vs. Fathers:  Bad behavior and abuse happen on both sides of the aisle.  The wedding aisle, not just the political aisle.

We are here to help all types of parents look in the mirror and consider how to be better – before divorce (avoiding it if possible because it IS bad for children, and for you), during divorce and after – because that is better for children.  It really is very simple.

So, regarding “Fathers’ Rights,” are you ready?  They should be the same as a mother’s rights.  Your children deserve the best of both – if you are capable of cooperating in that effort, then that is what should happen.  Please look for more specifics in later posts or email us for faster answers.

My Advocate Center exists because we’ve seen the impact on children and know that during this process, around divorce and custody conflicts, is where some of the worst damage is done to children.   It has to change, and if you consider yourself a good parent, or project as a professional that you are here to serve children/families and claim you have talent and are successful, then use that to improve outcomes for children, rather than for your own bottom line.   The bottom line SHOULD be how children fare in this – what are they left with when the arguing is done, and how will they manage through the aftermath and into adulthood.

As you learn about My Advocate Center please do not focus on our posts about female victims of family violence and assume that we are here because we only care about supporting women, or that our main focus is on violence although that is a driving force & controlling influence in many cases.  We have heard and seen as many examples of poor case management and outcomes for fathers as we have for mothers.  Poor judgment by professionals or judges is not aimed at one gender or the other.  But it always hurts children, so that is what drives our work and research.  We will address family violence, abuse, foul play and related topics in another post.

For now we ask that you consider that much of the conflict does not have to do with discrimination against male or female parents, and that our mission is focused on how children are impacted when the rights of a good parent and caregiver are taken away or diminished.  Much of our work & research involves balancing results for fathers, especially for fathers who are acting as the primary caregiver in their family unit.  You might not be the “stay at home dad,” but you can still be the one emotionally connected to your children and ensuring their overall well-being.

If you are not in control of your situation around child custody, and believe that the lack of fairness is hurting your kids…if you want to learn the real reason why and then do something about it, let us know.   Ideally you are reading this before it’s too late and can work with us to PREVENT this from happening.  However, most parents do not question until after damage has been done and they realize that improving the situation is next to impossible.   We are here because we believe in “possible” and you are reading because you do as well.

Join us knowing that we exist to help you learn and benefit from our experience, insight & resources.

Your children are asking this of you, even if they are silent.