A local radio station, 101.3 KDWB out of Shoreview, Minnesota, has been broadcasting in the Twin Cities for over fifty years. Dave Ryan, one of the radio personalities on KDWB, hosts the “Dave Ryan in the Morning” show on weekdays.
One of the skits he performs on the show is “When was the last time you paid child support?” The following description of the skit comes from Wikipedia on April 16th, 2013:
“When was the last time you paid child support: A prank where Dave calls shady, lazy baby-daddies who spend their child support money on binge drinking. Dave invites them to take a short 3-question quiz to win an iPad mini or some other modest electronic give-away. The first two questions are a breeze, but the final one reveals what tools these wankers truly are. The ensuing rage-spewed insults from the baby mamma make this bit an instant classic.”
As a family law attorney, I would not advocate any of my clients participating in this show and airing their family’s dirty laundry in public. More importantly, creating more hostility between parents is generally detrimental to the best interests of the children.
However, I must say the skit can be enjoyable to listen to when a parent (usually a mother) decides to do it anyway. Some of the clips seem like they were taken straight out of an old Jerry Springer episode.
Downloadable and streamable sound clips from the show can be found on his podcast here: http://daveryanshow.iheart.com/cc-common/podcast.html
Obviously this isn’t a remedy for not paying child support. It does illustrate the tension and animosity a couple can have towards each other when children and financial issues come into play following a breakup.
These difficulties also highlight the benefit of parties who are willing to cooperate and try alternative dispute resolution or negotiation in a family court matter to try to reach a peaceful agreement. It’s obvious that many of these couples on the air chose to make their situation a difficult fight rather than a cooperative, problem-solving endeavor.
It also raises questions regarding privacy issues in family law matters and child support matters in particular, although I’m not sure how those would resolve.
Obviously a divorce is a significant loss to many of the husbands and wives who have to go through with it. But even more so, divorces can affect the wellbeing, psychological health, and emotional development of children of a marriage. The following are some ways in which parents can help minimize the negative effect divorce can have on their children.
Distinguish the Parent/Parent and Parent/Child Relationships
Remind the child that it’s not their fault. Highlight the difference between the relationship between both parents and the relationship each parent has with the child.
On a related note, continue to maintain an active and positive parent/child relationship after the divorce. A child still needs this from both parents, even after a divorce. Emphasize that both parents will continue to love and care for the child.
Keep Divorce and Post-Divorce Conflict to a Minimum
This may be the most important predictor of eventual outcome for the children. Yes in many cases there are bitter, unresolved feelings between the parents. These feelings often make it easy to fall into the trap of lashing out at the other parent or speaking badly of the other parent. This is particularly harmful if it’s done in front of the child. Generally, follow the age-old adage: “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”
Often, a divorce resolved through alternative dispute resolution, like mediation, and coupled with a parenting plan agreement made by both parents can help reduce the sense of anger and “loss” associated with a full-blown divorce trial. This can help the parents avoid much of the anger and resentment and make it easier to be at least civil with the other parent. These alternative methods to trial are highly recommended in most cases.
Stand United, If Possible
Remember, parenting doesn’t end with the divorce. In many children’s eyes their mother and father are a cohesive unit who they refer to as “my parents”, not necessarily “my mom” and “my dad”.
Imagine the difficult choices a child may face if placed in a situation in which the child is keenly aware of the anger between both parents. The child may often be worried about showing preference for one parent by showing affection to one first or more often. Children should never have to make those choices.
Communicate Openly and Directly with the Other Parent
Parents should negotiate with each other regarding how they will resolve any parental disputes in the future. This may involve some form of direct negotiation or alternative dispute resolution. Generally, unless a child is endangered, going back to court should be a last resort of the parties.
In addition, communication should be direct between the parents whenever possible (situations with domestic abuse would be the notable exception). Children should not be used as shuttle messengers between the parents.
You Don’t Divorce Your Children
Remember, you never stop being a parent. A child deserves the best efforts of both parents to help them develop into an emotionally health and happy adult.
What Mediation in Family Law Is
Mediation in family law involves both parties, like a divorcing husband and wife, meeting with a neutral 3rd party. This neutral 3rd party, is a person called a mediator. The mediator will try to help clarify the issues, facilitate communication between the parties, and help the parties reach an agreement on their own terms.
The mediator does not take sides. The mediator does not make the agreement for the parties. Lastly, the mediator does not have any decision-making authority like a judge does.
Along these lines, the parties don’t have to agree to anything if they don’t feel comfortable with it.
Advantages of Mediation
First and foremost, when the parties reach complete agreement in the mediation, they may then proceed to end the case. Any agreement the parties reach will go before a judge and generally will become a court order. This ultimately saves the parties time, money, and more emotional distress that comes with a long, drawn out trial.
In addition, the mediation process manages risk and gives the parties control of the process. If the parties don’t agree, a judge will ultimately decide the issues. This could leave either party in much worse a spot than had they reached a settlement agreement.
Finally, in family law situations which involve children, research has shown that children tend to be better adjusted later on when their parents can work together and reach an agreement themselves.
Mediation is an excellent option for parties in different family law situations, including divorces, child custody cases, and alimony situations. It’s so potentially valuable that in some cases, the parties may be ordered by a judge to participate in mediation to at least try to resolve their disputes with minimal court involvement. Mediation in family law cases should almost always be at least considered.