The Three Wisemen of Divorce: Money, Psych & Law

When There's No Place Like Home for the Holidays (After the Divorce)

December 18, 2020 Shawn Weber, CLS-F, Mark C. Hill, CFP®, CDFA® and Scott Weiner, Ph.D., J.D. Season 1 Episode 26
The Three Wisemen of Divorce: Money, Psych & Law
When There's No Place Like Home for the Holidays (After the Divorce)
Show Notes Transcript

Divorce can wreak havoc on family holiday traditions.  But divorcing parents have the ability to make holidays less painful and a nice memory for their children.  While the experience may not be a Norman Rockwell postcard, it can be positive if co-parents take the right steps.   Mark C. Hill, CFP®, CDFA® Financial Divorce Consultant; Scott Weiner, Psychologist, Attorney and Mediator; and Shawn Weber, CLS-F* Family Law Mediator and Divorce Attorney, discuss how separated parents can arrange their co-parenting and custody arrangements during the holidays in a way that can make the holidays a good experience for the kids.

Shawn Weber:

Welcome to the Three Wise Men of divorce, money, psych and law podcast. Sit down with the California divorce experts, financial divorce consultant Mark Hill, psychologist Scott Weiner and attorney Sean Weber for a frank and casual conversation about divorce, separation, co parenting, and the difficult decisions, real people like you face during these tough times. We know that if you are looking at divorce or separation, it can be scary and overwhelming. With combined experience of over 70 years and divorce and conflict management. We are here for you and look forward to helping by sharing our unique ideas, thoughts and perspectives on divorce, separation and co parenting. So gentlemen, it's that most wonderful time of the year. Oh, my. When when the malls are full. And and there's holiday music that you can't escape.

Mark Hill:

And the pocketbooks are empty.

Shawn Weber:

And the pocketbook start emptying. And the masks are in many colors. Yeah, actually, the stores aren't full. That's right that I that I know, Mark, you're the finance guy, but I understand that the retail shoppings down quite a bit right now. Yeah, it's at least in the brick and mortar right. It's all online. Yeah.

Scott Weiner:

I just drove back from Colorado in the last day and a half and was lot of Amazon trucks on the highway.

Shawn Weber:

Oh, yeah. They let you back in

Mark Hill:

your car. When you're not leaving the home for 14 days. They didn't

Scott Weiner:

even slow me down at the border for being a vegetable after.

Mark Hill:

So you got your you smuggled your fruit in? Hmm, yeah, all of it. All of it. See

Unknown:

all the gourd

Shawn Weber:

here. You know, when we get into the season, Lisa is a family law attorney. It my phone stops ringing for new cases because people don't want to start a divorce. Right? holiday although it does happen. Usually my phone starts ringing because people are upset about something that's going on.

Mark Hill:

Why is every Shawn

Shawn Weber:

you know, you this may come as a surprise to you. But holidays are filled with emotions. I just don't know what you're talking about. People have these traditions. And and it's hard enough when you're when you're still married. But when you're recently divorced, or in the process of divorcing you're watching your family traditions have to get reshaped and it's very uncomfortable. And and people sometimes react badly. And sometimes what's it's legitimately hard. And I'm not saying this to say that people are doing anything wrong. I mean, it's some people are but it's legitimately hard to realign your your holiday traditions.

Mark Hill:

And and if you're in the middle of a divorce, what you're going to do this year is probably not what you're going to do next year in the year after. So there's a certain amount of uncertainty. Yeah, that also is accompanying that. And the in laws can be the problem, what's going to happen, that question can be challenged. And

Shawn Weber:

and there's one moment in every mediation where I know there's going to be tears, just about every single one of them, even the ones where they're really getting along well. And that's when the parties contemplate the reality that one of them is going to be away from the kids for the holiday. Mm hmm. Yep. What you mean, I'm not going to be with my kids on Christmas this year. Or whatever holiday you celebrate. Mm hmm. And that's tears will flow. And there's a really good reason for that, right. I mean, these holidays are important. This is, you know, I'll be home for Christmas. There's all those songs out there. They're all about no place like home for the holidays. Yep, you know, but we've now taken this kind of dream that we've had when we got married. The I was called the Griswold dream. You know how Griswold and Christmas Story always had this kind of idealized view of what Christmas was, even though it was probably not in reality like that for him. But he wanted that Norman Rockwell moment. Yeah. And then couldn't have it. And I think that happens to folks when they're going through divorce. Well,

Scott Weiner:

I think of the times that we tell them and we say to ourselves, even that, you know, it's not like your family won't exist. It's just going to change form. And when you're doing something like this, it really does feel like two families now, right? And to households and to this isn't to that. And often the generations, you know, the the parents the the in laws are at war or joining sides with the war.

Shawn Weber:

So there's there's a couple of questions have to be answered then that have to be addressed when you're planning. And we really do think you should plan for the holidays. Post tours. Oh, yes. One is, how are you handling gift giving? And the spending there for the for the gift giving? How are what is the schedule? When are the kids going to be at which house? And what are we going to do about the inlaws? For me? Those are the big three. Are there other questions we should be thinking about guys?

Scott Weiner:

Well, you know, where we, where we actually began this discussion earlier, as we're talking or contemplating this subject, some of the behavior that these I don't, we can't really call them litigants in our universe, because they're really not litigating. But they are in the midst of coining a new word, we can call them these mediums. Would that work?

Shawn Weber:

Well, they're participating in a negotiation. But I mean, I, I am a big believer that my job is to manage conflict. I don't have cases that are devoid of conflict.

Scott Weiner:

I yeah, we can't do that. You

Shawn Weber:

know, there's, so they're going to have conflict. So they're in conflict.

Scott Weiner:

Okay.

Shawn Weber:

And then what are they going to do that about the holidays? And sometimes people do things deliberately. And sometimes just little things can set people off the mark you have you ever had a story?

Mark Hill:

Yes, he did. I've got a couple. In fact, I'm going to start with one that you wrote, If you haven't heard yet, I don't believe when my wife and I divorced Christmas became an issue. And but then we sat down and we talked about it, and we realized we had no issue because her family always celebrated on Christmas Eve and open presents before they went to bed. And my family did it in the morning. So my son would spend Christmas Eve, with often going down to his grandparents place and celebrating Christmas, they would go home with his mom sleep at his mom's house on Christmas Eve and come to me the following morning and spend Christmas Day with me. So but we could have had a fight about that if we hadn't thought about it and how both celebrate early and that works. So just having a conversation we realized we didn't have an issue.

Scott Weiner:

So Martin was yours is your was your ritual Boxing Day?

Mark Hill:

No, Boxing Day was kind of a time to lay on the couch, eat too much and watch what you would call soccer. Yeah,

Scott Weiner:

I thought Boxing Day is Christmas Day, or is it the day after day after

Mark Hill:

it especially 26 little anecdote. Nobody knows quite where it came from. But it was the one day a year in the 16 and 1700s when apprentices didn't have to work. And then the carpenters apprentices will make little boxes out of wood and go around and ask for arms ask for donations from wow says buy. That's where the concept of basket there's one day a year they didn't have to work.

Shawn Weber:

I thought it was you had so many boxes.

Mark Hill:

Yeah, yeah,

Shawn Weber:

no, are you had to put all your Christmas decorations in a box

Scott Weiner:

in case any of our listeners haven't realized this by now. Mark is a Brit, oma.

Shawn Weber:

And we still like, Well, no. I have a special relationship with I think so. Yeah.

Scott Weiner:

I don't know. I think this this past year, we've proven that our you know, our existence as a colony is perhaps. Yeah,

Mark Hill:

no, you can't come back. I'm sorry. You're too young. We don't want you sagging.

Shawn Weber:

We don't want to go back. Oh, yes, sure.

Mark Hill:

Yeah, I want that queen. I know.

Shawn Weber:

I mean, you guys have the stones and the Beatles. And

Mark Hill:

yeah, you can pledge allegiance then. So but the story you were talking about before that I shared when we were chatting before we came live was the hunting rifle story. Yep. Where the father bought a hunting rifle for I think 12 or 13 year old son. And the wife was incredibly anti weapons, anti guns. And he used it sort of as a I you know, I think he was turning the knife. Frankly, I think he was sticking the knife in and turning it because his response was, well, but you wanted me to spend more time with him and bond with him and we can now go hunting together. Not what the wife had in mind. She was fear. Yes, and felt absolutely manipulated by this. So how do you deal with something like that? where somebody actually, I think he was getting better, I think, okay, you know?

Scott Weiner:

Well, Shawn already suggested a strategy, but it would have had to have been a pre loaded strategy for something like that

Mark Hill:

interesting choice of terms there, sir. Which one? pre loaded, loaded? pre loaded?

Scott Weiner:

Yes. front loading is actually you know, I doubt that this hunting rifle was a

Mark Hill:

front loader. No, yeah.

Scott Weiner:

Those those muskets went

Mark Hill:

really just pump up. Yeah.

Scott Weiner:

Anyway, what what Shawn had said earlier, Shawn, you said something about, you know, to really plan and really negotiate out in advance what you're going to do. I mean, I Mark's story is I'm a I'm a therapist, right? I mean, this reeks of bad faith. You know, I mean, it's really hard. It's really hard for me to imagine a dad doing something like that, and not knowing that he was twisting the bayonet as it were, you know, on the on that rifle.

Shawn Weber:

I mean, in a very way,

Mark Hill:

but he had deniability, but his concept was

Scott Weiner:

he did the spectrum really seriously. They'd have no sense of the emotional impact of what they were doing. Oh, he

Mark Hill:

know this. This guy was aware of what he was doing. He knew darn well, he was he was kind of smug. He was kind of trying not to, to green. Yeah,

Shawn Weber:

look what I did. I did

Mark Hill:

what you told me. And now you're mad at me. I come when can I

Shawn Weber:

but I do think Scott, though, that there are a lot of people that don't realize how boneheaded their purchasing decision was like the case I had years ago where the guy comes home. He won't he they had a plan where that year, the kids would wake up at mom's house for Christmas, and Santa Claus will have left things into the tree. And then, and then he shows up at 10 o'clock to pick them up. And you know, she's giving them very serviceable items, like socks and underwear and books. And because she, you know, they, she was that's how they did when they were married, they tried to kind of not go crazy with Christmas. And then he shows up with an Xbox. You know, and didn't talk to her about it. And if you've had kids with an Xbox, you know that that is a commitment. This last

Mark Hill:

time you see them for about two years, as I recall.

Shawn Weber:

It's a commitment. And I mean, she was very upset because she didn't talk to him about this. And and, and he just kind of on his own did this announced it. And the intention on his side was that it was going to be at her house. Like it wasn't even Well, I'll have the Xbox at my house. And when it's my parenting, he thought, we'll just set it up here because the kids are here more. So in that case, it was just not very thoughtful. But but

Mark Hill:

right. But in that case, if you have a conversation about it first, yeah, you can defuse it. If there's no intent, I think the hunting rifle would have happened under any circumstance. Yeah,

Shawn Weber:

he was just being a jerk. But but but if you're not trying to be a jerk, and then you have a conversation, you say, Oh, I'm going again, Xbox, and wife's like, Oh, hold on, I don't know that I want to have an Xbox. Now we can have a dialogue. Yeah. Right. You know, and that's really where people get into trouble is not talking. And it's about everything in divorce, when you don't talk. As co parents, you're just asking for trouble.

Mark Hill:

And that ties into the money that ties into the different circumstances that people can find themselves in after divorce. You know, we've all had clients who have inheritances that the one side gets to enjoy and the other side doesn't, that changes financial circumstances, and one side may not be able to participate to the same level. So it's just another sort of extension of what we call the Disneyland dad concept. You know, he just shows up on the weekends, has fun with the kids, spend the extra money and then goes back to work and send them back to mom for you know, getting their laundry done and getting off to school.

Shawn Weber:

The other thing I've seen is one of the parents buys the kids an iPhone. And usually when that happens, there's an agenda there. That is because the out parent usually is the person that buys the iPhone feels like they're not able to communicate with their child. When in the other person's care, and so they think if I get an iPhone and I pay for this thing, I'm gonna have, you know, access to my kid whenever I want. And,

Mark Hill:

again, can be problematic,

Shawn Weber:

it can be problematic, and why Could it be problematic?

Mark Hill:

Well, Scott, tell Why that could be an issue. Let me count the ways.

Scott Weiner:

We don't have that long. Well, most plainly, when we talk about a custodial arrangement, the the major influence and the major time being spent is to be with that custodial parent. Now, there's this has a backhanded twist in it, which, you know, Shawn brought it up, as you know that that is a sometimes laden with the agenda of wanting to be able to talk to that child. I've seen this happen when really almost as a response to the fact that there really wasn't adequate support of ongoing communication with the other parent. Again, again, again, each one of these situations as we're bringing them up, in in one, I mean, we can imagine a context in which a dad could buy a son or a daughter, a hunting rifle and actually have that be okay. If it really had been talked through if if the, if that dad had really accentuated with mom, even though divorced, that you know, here's how we're going to, here's how I'd like to do it. Here's the training, I'm going to include, here's this, here's that, here's the safety. And by the way, if you want to come, I want you to come to so you can see it in person yourself. That's very different

Mark Hill:

than the kids showing up of,

Scott Weiner:

you know, rogues going to, you know, shoot up the neighborhood. This is a controlled circumstance and blah, blah, blah.

Mark Hill:

Yeah. So it was a surprise to some degree of the son walking in with his brand new rifle as my sight. Yeah. It's a big weapon. Yeah.

Shawn Weber:

Well, yeah, you know, these are when these problems happen. I feel like they're symptomatic of a bigger problem. It's not that he bought an iPhone or that he bought a right, exactly, there was an underlying problem that got him to the place where they're not communicating about basic things like what's going to happen at Christmas. And the

Mark Hill:

reason they do that is because they can't communicate well together, because everything ends up in a fight. So they tend not to talk about these critical things. So if there is any benefit to what we do is providing facilitation for these difficult conversations, so that these flashpoints can be basically prevented from occurring ahead of time.

Shawn Weber:

I was gonna say, you know, the good stories I've had, I had a couple, for several years, they would mediate with me exactly what's going to go down with Christmas, every year. You know, and they would come in, and I would, I would facilitate this conversation, and we would write it up, this is our agreement. It wasn't like, we were filing court orders and stuff like that. But it was important to them to be able to have a facilitated conversation about this, because they recognized that it was hard for them. Right? You know, I mean, there's a reason why they got divorced. It wasn't because they got along. And, and, and I think being able to be humble about it enough to be able to say, Okay, I need some help here. Why don't we go in here and do this, right, so that we don't ruin Christmas every time? Because I've heard a lot. You know, I've talked to kids that have you know, we always talk about what divorce story do you want your kids to tell? And I've had kids tell me the divorce story of Oh, my gosh, we dreaded the holidays. Yep. Because we knew it was going to be a fight. And we were going to be in the middle of it. And it ruined Christmas every year, or run whatever birthday or holiday they had every year. And so it's also very important, I think, for folks to really, really step back and think about these emotions that you're having. Are they for the benefit of your children? Or are they for your own benefit?

Scott Weiner:

And that second, that second phrase, it isn't a genuine benefit? No, it's no. It's it's, I think, almost always it's a form of paybacks are a form of, you know, vengeful behavior

Shawn Weber:

that, that I hear this a lot. You know, we want to do this for the kids. This is in the best interest of the children. And I always have people step back and really think it really hard. This demand that you're making, is it really for the best interest of the children? Or is this for something that is important to you? and nine times out of 10 it's more important to the parent than it ever was to Oh, sure.

Scott Weiner:

Maybe they'll come up with a rationale. I will ask them, please tell me how this helps your child,

Shawn Weber:

please. Yeah, very good. Yeah,

Scott Weiner:

you know, and trying as hard as I can to be kind To them who are having this challenge simply because they can't. They're getting divorced. It's they're having a rough

Mark Hill:

go, you know, and I encourage people to be inquisitive about outcome. In other words, it's

Shawn Weber:

true finance guy. Yeah. Well,

Mark Hill:

just you know, what do you expect to come from this? What's your hope that by this behavior or this action or what you're planning on doing? What do you hope it will achieve? And that usually gives pause for a little thought and a little silence. Hmm. Because you're not thinking about outcome. You're thinking about action. You're thinking about? Well, I could do this and it may be, yeah. Revenge, it could be it could be just really unaware of what might happen because you haven't thought about outcome.

Shawn Weber:

Okay, so sure.

Scott Weiner:

That is that is that takes it very nicely out of the I'm acting out my feelings into what is this going to actually create? Hmm. And it does it in a very peaceable way to he might have a future as a therapist this this bridge over here? I don't know.

Shawn Weber:

He might, he might. Yeah. So yeah. Okay. So we agree that it's important to talk about the gift giving and what's going to happen at the holidays communication. It's, yeah, it's a key point. Okay. But what about just some basic logistics like for folks that may be new at this? You know, I, I've always kind of telling people like, when you get the Christmas thing, if that's the holiday, you celebrate that what matters most of the parents, in my experience, I know it's different for you, Mark, because you guys had different traditions. But what matters to most people is where's the kid gonna wake up? Yeah. Because of Sani, coming. Yep. Santa Claus. Yeah, and so So usually, what we say is kind of an alternating schedule where, and even years the kids will be with mom on Christmas Eve until 10am on Christmas Day, and then with dad for Christmas day until 10am, the next day, and then the following year, in odd years, it switches

Mark Hill:

and you might offset it with thanksgiving. That's right to the other right for said this imbalance each year.

Shawn Weber:

And so it switches and yeah, one person is going to get the wakeup time. But if you guys can pull it off, and put the kids first you could actually arrange it so that when that 10 o'clock exchange time happens, maybe you come at nine o'clock and you guys do the president things together. Imagine that I'm just maybe stop with the anger long enough for that the kids to have a nice Christmas, you know, you could do that. And the New Year's you would do a similar kind of a thing. You know, kind of an even odd thing. And maybe you would offset the one for the other. You know, another thing that people do is they just look at the Christmas break. And they just say first half with one person and the second half of the other person. That's another way to do it. You know, what? Are these stances? All of

Scott Weiner:

these strategies? I'm, you know, from sitting in my office, and I'm listening to you, yeah, I'm thinking to myself, Oh, my goodness, this Shawn Weber. He sounds so reasonable.

Shawn Weber:

And except

Scott Weiner:

exactly how these people are not feeling you know,

Shawn Weber:

wait a minute, you're telling me that my kids not going to wake up with me every Christmas? What?

Scott Weiner:

Yeah, exactly. And, and, and,

Shawn Weber:

and that's legitimate. I mean, you're, you're feeling okay, now I'm gonna talk like the therapist. You tell me if I got it, right, Scott, but you're feeling the grief of the loss of that holiday tradition, the way you dreamt it would be when you say that's true.

Scott Weiner:

Not only is that true, but the reason that it is being disturbed is because of this horrible excrescence of a human being that you manage to errantly marry. The only good thing having happened is that you had these children in the first place, and

Shawn Weber:

right, but I'll be darned if I'm going to have my Christmas ruined by his mother.

Mark Hill:

Yo, so the way I handled that in the past is I asked a question. So how did you think Christmas was going to work off to the divorce?

Shawn Weber:

They don't think that far.

Mark Hill:

Oh, yeah.

Shawn Weber:

Why right.

Mark Hill:

Yeah, I guess huh?

Shawn Weber:

Yeah, didn't think that far.

Mark Hill:

Just asking that question takes you away from the I must have this Christmas otherwise the world's gonna end

Scott Weiner:

consequential thinking from this financial guy.

Shawn Weber:

Yeah, well, it's it's the if then statement, I always take that people to an if then statement. If you guys can get along on Christmas then your children will be happier. When you behave like adults over this holiday, then your children will not be exposed to your conflict. And that'll be good for them. You know, that kind of thing. Consequences really matter here. There's natural consequences. You know, what else helps is that the beginning of a of a case is really identifying governing values. I call them the big rocks. We've talked about this before. Yeah. And and I've never had people say, Well, we really want to make sure that we ruin our children's holidays every year. Nobody ever says that. They usually say, you know, we agree that both parties are important to the children that the children need both parents usually that's what happens unless you've got a terrorist that you're married to. That's usually what people are saying,

Scott Weiner:

I would like to accentuate for anyone listening to this, that what Shawn just said at the beginning, we try to, you know, label some value, sort of the mission of what we're really trying to do. Yeah. When you litigate. That meeting never happens.

Shawn Weber:

No, it doesn't. No,

Scott Weiner:

no, that's when you hire warriors, to purportedly maximize the achievement of winnings on your side, and essentially share one third of your estate in order to have a war.

Shawn Weber:

Yep. It's a win lose approach. You know,

Scott Weiner:

you know, I know, I don't want to pretend there aren't times and nobody here would pretend that there aren't times when you know, it's this is not a mediation, no chance.

Shawn Weber:

Well, I mean, and even when it's a mediation, you may have very good reasons for why you don't want the kids to spend Christmas night with the other parent. You may have very good rational reasons for why that is. And so then how do you address that when you're in a negotiation? Like, like, maybe, maybe, you know, I really don't want him to have the kids overnight because of the drinking.

Mark Hill:

Yeah.

Shawn Weber:

Yeah, there's so how do you have that? Right? How do you have a rational conversation about very difficult concerns?

Mark Hill:

You have it facilitated number one, just because

Shawn Weber:

a man what people

Mark Hill:

have shown in this process is that they can't have this conversation together. Otherwise, they wouldn't be getting a divorce probably.

Shawn Weber:

Well, and then when I'm in facilitating I always take having take a step back,

Scott Weiner:

take a step back. Yep. And then then another question, which is a question about the possibilities can be posed, which is, well, under what circumstances? Mrs. Johnson?

Mark Hill:

Would that? Would that

Scott Weiner:

not be a problem for you? Well, you know, if you wondering, Well, okay, what would that take? What would that take? And you know, there's enough enough professional skill, like in this particular group, and in many other groups of mediators, where, you know, if it's if it's a sobriety issue, you know, we can help that person get started down that road, if that's really, if they're willing to do something like that. And if they say it's none of your goddamn business

Mark Hill:

well. So another thing we could do is kind of take the whiteboard out and just throw up suggestions. Mm hmm. In other words, and I often would start with a really dumb one, because you want them to be free exploring things. So I will say, Well, my suggestion is you both send Christmas in your separate home, and the kids are going to go with the dog. As that first suggestion. Now, Dominic's stupid, but we're gonna write it up there because there are no stupid. You're brainstorming. We're brainstorming. Exactly. So and then people start to think creatively, and you've given them permission not to be accused of their idea of being stupid, because my idea was the stupidest and I put it up first.

Shawn Weber:

Right,

Scott Weiner:

that that it is good to establish that kind of freedom, if you're going to brainstorm I think that the circumstance we're talking about though, is when there's the, the 600 pound, whatever in the room, which is an insurmountable. I mean, you know, unless, unless Fred is sober. I don't want the kids over there. And really, I mean, it's hard to brainstorm around something, okay. You can ask it you can ask me done, it can be done. It can be done uncle or Fred may engage in a doctor mediated program of anti abuse for instance, Fred may be due, may do this. Fred may get involved in a in a in a group and have his sponsor there, Fred. May. I mean, there's

Shawn Weber:

three You might do, like the sober link where you blow into a device in it.

Scott Weiner:

Yes, yes, yes.

Shawn Weber:

The other parents can do. A lot of times I'll ask that woman in that situation. Well, do you believe I get that you're worried about him being alone with the kids when he's intoxicated? That's not exposing the children to intoxication is important to you? Correct? Yes. Okay. So is there a way that he can have some time on Christmas and see them on Christmas? Where you'll feel safe about it? There's that question, the one you just asked. And the other is like, How important do you think it is for the children to see him on Christmas? Right? Yeah. Or whatever the holiday is, right? How important do you think it is for them? To see him? And again, just kind of bringing it back to them and focusing on what's really important here, which is the kids needs. And maybe it isn't. And I've had a lot of these cases where I mean, they're, they're heartbreaking but but really isn't appropriate for there to be an overnight with a particular parent. Yeah. But what you can do is you can plan for, what is a way that we can make this work so that the kids get to see their dad or their mom, on an important day?

Scott Weiner:

And then sometimes it is the case, not always, but sometimes because we are neutrals. And because I mean, if we can't make it clear to all of these parents, regardless of what their problems are, that we're trying to help them, then we're we're losing too. But oftentimes, we can start people, we can't do the work for them. But we can, we can start them down a path of you know, it's not unreasonable for her to be concerned about that. But that's not all there is to you. You are this human being and that's a problem. Let's solve that problem. So that that can, you know, you don't want that in your life anyway. I mean, the problem that it brings you you I mean, maybe you want the comfort of it. But there's other ways to get comfort, we can get people started in a direction where that mom won't be worried anymore. We can we can help him start,

Mark Hill:

you know that but that race is something that just suddenly occurred to me. I mean, I don't want to talk about it. I don't have a drinking problem. I drink I fall down, I get up next morning, I'm fine. What's the problem? You know, and so one of the challenges in a way in mediation is that it's hard to hide, you can hide in litigation, I'm not talking to her, my attorney is going to handle everything. I'm just going to go off over here on my merry way and do what the hell I want and the divorce will work itself out.

Scott Weiner:

I'm tired, I'm tired of her interfering with my freedom. Exactly.

Shawn Weber:

You always did that. During the marriage, you always that's why I leaving you drove me to another woman is because you were such a difficult person. And now you're still doing and you always accused me of drinking too much. And I only reason I ever drank was because you were so hard to live with. Yep, we hear that right.

Mark Hill:

Yo, boy, do we hear that?

Shawn Weber:

But But I mean, you. One of the things that's nice about having a mediated forum is that you can have these difficult conversations in a safe environment.

Mark Hill:

And and in order to complete a mediation is you have to be accountable. as an individual, you can't abrogate your responsibilities to the process, you have to be engaged in it.

Shawn Weber:

Well, one of the ways I am sorry, go ahead.

Mark Hill:

Well, and that can be scary to people sometimes. You know, because they they feel well, I won't have the resources, he always beats me up in meetings, I can't handle him. So having a strong neutral in place, who will make sure the ground rules are followed, make sure everyone gets feels protected and safe. It's really creating a safe container to have this most difficult thing session. Well, there's

Shawn Weber:

that, you know, a lot of times what I'll do, I'll go to the person that has the problem, or allegedly has the problem, maybe doesn't have a problem? Or she would What do you think you can do to show the other person that it's safe? you have any ideas for how you can build trust? Sounds like she doesn't trust you? Is there where you can build trust with that person? What ideas do you have? And they'll come up with ideas. That's impressive.

Mark Hill:

Yep. But you're changing it from an accuracy accusation to a problem to be solved.

Shawn Weber:

Correct?

Mark Hill:

Yeah, that's the skill in that question.

Shawn Weber:

And, and, and that's hard to do when you're the person, you know, to think that way. But yeah, yeah. You know, when you're trying to get along, and like, I want people to be able to get along after I'm done with them, you know, they're done paying my bill and now they're, I'd like them to not have to ever call me again. Yeah, even though I love repeat business. I'd love for them not to have to call me back again, because they've developed some new muscles. They've built some new muscles and new skills and And they know how to talk to each other. And one way is how to raise concerns without being accusatory and nasty, and how to hear those concerns. You know? Well, all right. So you know, when I was first married, it was hard enough to figure out where we were going to go for Christmas with the in laws. Yeah. And, and one thing I've learned, you know, even when it seems like during the marriage, you get along great with your in laws, when the divorce happens, one concept that holds true forever, and that is that blood is thicker than water. And the family circles the wagons around their own person. And that's just human nature. So how do you handle maybe you and the other person have reached agreements for how you're going to behave for the holidays? But what do you do when the in laws we need the extended family are not behaving, or are making this challenging.

Scott Weiner:

This brings up a, an interesting feature that I frankly had never thought of before. And, boy, we think about a lot of things. But you know, when we talk about our mission, at the beginning, often of a mediation, incorporating extended family into the mission notion is something that I hadn't thought of before as an explicit item to say, Now, you know, you two are actually working to have a different kind of solution from a litigated war. You know, what would, you know, what are you willing to do to extend this kind of a peaceful resolution, or this kind of a resolution to the extended family, for the sake of yourselves and for the children to so they don't have to be part of a of a quiet, ongoing, you know, shifting sands kind of war, you know?

Shawn Weber:

I mean, there's a couple of concepts. One is, number one, establish that you're the parents, not these grandparents, you are the parents, and you to make decisions. That's number that's the first paradigm. The second paradigm is, you know, if there is somebody that is an influencer in the family, you can bring them to the mediation, true, assuming everybody agrees that that person should come and have them participate in the mission statement, maybe this maybe this family system that you're in extends beyond just the two of you. So how can you make sure that decision makers, people that have influence over what happens at the holidays are part of this discussion?

Scott Weiner:

It's interesting, your first premise about the parents being the parents, so to speak, mediates in a way against that. On the other hand, I would want this, I'm glad this came up in this in our little discussion, I won't be thinking about this, going forward that

Shawn Weber:

I mean, it could be a whole show, like how do you deal with extended family,

Scott Weiner:

I want this to be included as an explicit intent on the part of the parents that they will, you know, tell their parents and their that, listen, we're doing this peacefully, we mean, to do this peacefully, for the sake of the children, you know, I don't want you to hate him. That's not your job.

Shawn Weber:

And I've seen that happen.

Mark Hill:

Yeah. And the other thing is that, in a way, what you get from your extended family and divorce, when those wagons get circled is people who want to help you. They want to save you, they want you to be okay, they're worried for you. Yeah. So if you go to these people and say, You know what, this is how you can help me, this is what you could do for me, that will be really helpful. You could be really flexible around the holidays this year. That would have really helped me. And now what you've done is you've created a positive ad of a potential narrative where they would, you know, go in as your as your champion with their sword drawn, you know,

Shawn Weber:

well, and here's my advice to the grandparents. You want to make sure you don't see your grandchild when they're with the other parent. You make an enemy out of the other parent. Yeah. If you want there to be flexibility and you want to have more time with your grandchildren, then you better do everything you can to make sure that the other parent feels supported as well. Yep. Because otherwise, if you set this up as a war between you and the other parent, you've already lost because the other parent will do it. Well when I mean at court, at least in the state of California. There's no there's not really grandparents rights, really not at all. It's it's It's only if your kids, you know, your child who had these children can't and the other parent can't care for the kids do grandparents rights even have it have anything. And so if you want to have grandparents rights, you wouldn't have time with your grandchildren don't alienate the other parent.

Scott Weiner:

So, takeaways from this are, if you're going to buy an AR 15 Be sure that you clear it with your husband. Right? That's number one.

Shawn Weber:

There's no time like home for the holidays. Huh? There are no place like home. So how it goes?

Scott Weiner:

I don't know. I don't know that one.

Shawn Weber:

There's no place like home for the holiday.

Mark Hill:

Yes, a place?

Shawn Weber:

Yeah, no,

Scott Weiner:

I thought it was I have a little rifle. I know.

Mark Hill:

Grandma got run over by a reindeer, we get to go down that road.

Shawn Weber:

I know that I have clients that would wish that would happen. But let's not go there. Let's not go there. But I mean, I think actually, let's end it on a happy note. You know, holidays can be beautiful. And they can be a wonderful family time, even after divorce. Like I think you said at the beginning, Scott, just because you're getting divorced does not mean your family is ending. It just means that the roles of the parents are switching around a little bit. And there is a light at the end of the tunnel. And you can have Christmas and Hanukkah and whatever you celebrate, after divorce.

Mark Hill:

And I'll close with a story from my son when he was about seven years old. And he was two or three when his mother and I separated. Right after Christmas. He comes to me or we're driving in the car, I think and he says Dad, you know, I kind of feel sorry for kids whose parents aren't divorced. I looked at him. I said, What do you mean? He goes well, they only get one Christmas. So that was his perception of it. So we were able to do it right? And had him perceive it as a positive

Shawn Weber:

thing about for the love of a child. And he's like, I always loved both my Christmases and my birthday cakes. Right? That is true. I have never known a kid that was upset that there were two Christmases no notice. Oh, yeah. So guys

Mark Hill:

done another session for the wise men?

Shawn Weber:

I think so.

Scott Weiner:

I think we actually

Shawn Weber:

enjoyed this conversation a lot there. It was

Mark Hill:

interesting. And actually, I think we've got some themes we can explore in future episodes. But also I want to encourage listeners to send in any questions or things they'd like to have us ruminate about. We'd love to have your topics.

Shawn Weber:

We do read that we appreciate it. So Scott, if you needed to get a hold of you, so they could figure out how they're going to get along during the holidays.

Scott Weiner:

If they would like to contact me, they would call me and I actually answer my own phone. My name is Scott Weiner. And I am a psychologist and inactive attorney but a law trained as well. And I am at 619-417-5743 in Solana Beach, California. Martin.

Shawn Weber:

Oh, they got to figure out how to pay for their Christmas. Yeah, so

Mark Hill:

I'm a financial guy I work exclusively in alternative dispute resolution and my company is Pacific divorce management. We're in Sorrento Valley, and you would go to my website to contact me pack divorce.com Pac tip lrc.com

Shawn Weber:

and if you need to resolve your dispute, call our office by going to Weber dispute resolution.com that's Weber dispute resolution Weber with one b.com and we will match you with a mediator who can help you have a difficult conversation and get through your dispute. Thanks for listening to another episode of the three Wiseman of divorce, money, psych and law. If you like what you heard, be sure to subscribe. leave us a review and share with others who may be in a similar place. Until next time, stay safe, healthy and focused on a positive bright future. This podcast is for informational purposes only. Every family law case is unique. So no legal, financial or mental health advice is intended during this podcast. If you need help with your specific situation, feel free to schedule a time to speak with one of us for a personal consult.