Resources

SEPARATION & DIVORCE ARTICLES

Cooperative Parenting and Divorce Part VII: The Role of Thoughts in Managing Anger In the last article we explored that emotions come from thoughts, so if we want to change how we’re feeling we need to be very aware of what we’re thinking… and then be willing to challenge it.

Cooperative Parenting Part VI: Expressing Your Anger In the last article we explored why and how to increase our awareness of our anger, calm down when we notice it, and choose to be assertive. In this article we’ll explore how to assertively express anger and how and why to dig deeper and express what’s behind it.

Tiger & Elin Woods Modeled Amicable Divorce Fox News ran a story when Tiger Woods divorced describing the collaborative divorce process used by Tiger and Elin Woods. The interviewer wondered skeptically how spouses experiencing the level of anger and emotional pain that often comes with divorce can have a ‘collaborative’ divorce, especially with difficult issues such as infidelity.

Cooperative Parenting and Divorce Part V: Managing Your Anger This fifth article on Cooperative Parenting explores anger as one of the biggest obstacles to developing a business partnership with a parenting partner and the four red flags that tell us when we are creeping up the anger scale.

Cooperative Parenting and Divorce Part IV: Creating a Business Relationship This fourth article on Cooperative Parenting explores having a functioning relationship with the other parent, ideally a friendly functioning relationship. However, divorce doesn’t always happen that way so the next best thing is to have a healthy and effective business relationship.

Cooperative Parenting and Divorce Part III: Embracing a New Life This third article on Cooperative Parenting explores why it’s important to let go of the past and how doing so will help you embrace your new life, especially your new parenting role.

Cooperative Parenting and Divorce Part II: Avoiding a Loyalty Bind This second article on Cooperative Parenting explores how to avoid putting your child in a loyalty bind. Learn the definition of a loyalty bind, how to prevent their creation and the effects on children of parents who are divorced.

Benefits and Concerns of Using a Parent Coordinator (PC) in High-Conflict Divorce
In high-conflict divorce it can be difficult for parents to make joint decisions regarding their children. When parents seem more invested in winning the conflict than in finding resolution for the sake of the child, it’s time to consider a Parenting Coordinator (PC). This article discusses the role of the PC and the significant benefits gained when one is utilized.

Cooperative Parenting and Divorce Part I: Why and How to Keep the Child in Focus Cooperative parenting during and after divorce can be challenging. If you’ve decided that divorce is the best route for you, knowing some basic concepts about children and divorce can help you navigate this time in your life during which you might feel like you have to figure out how to do everything differently.

The Role of the Mental Health Professional in Collaborative Divorce: New and Innovative or Just New Packaging? Written by Dr. Tina Lepage as a guest author for the North Carolina Bar Association Dispute Resolution Section’s newsletter, The Peacemaker.

Common Questions Children Ask About Divorce
Lepage Associates doctors discuss common questions children ask when parents are getting divorced, or when they are dealing with changes related to the divorce, and ways parents can respond.

Marital Counseling Makes Cents…
Written by Tre’ Morgan, family law attorney. Many individuals who struggle in their marriages and consider separation or divorce often don’t look to marital counseling as an option because they view it as being too expensive. Attorney Tre’ Morgan outlines both the cost of marital counseling and the cost divorce, and discusses the benefits of marital counseling as an investment that should be considered before incurring the costs of a divorce.

The Role of Our Psychologists in Separation & Divorce: Ways We Can Help
Written by Tina Lepage, Psy.D. The issues in separation and divorce are complex, and men and women separating and divorcing have been seeking the help of psychologists for some time. Dr. Lepage outlines the variety of ways in which psychologists that specialize in relationships, families and children can help to make this process less stressful for everyone involved.

The Unique Benefits of the Child Specialist in Separation & Divorce
Written by Tina Lepage, Psy.D. The issues in divorce can be many for people with children. The role of the child specialist is to help the parents with the vast array of child-centered issues, and to help the children to be heard in a healthy way. Dr. Lepage outlines the variety of ways in which child psychologists that specialize in divorce and children can help to make this process less stressful for everyone involved.

The Collaborative Divorce Model: Lessening Conflict & Changing the Adversarial Face of Divorce
Written by Tina Lepage, Psy.D. This article describes the collaborative divorce model as an alternative to the more adversarial traditional approach to divorce. You can also find additional information on our website on our Collaborative Divorce page.

Tiered Approach to Parenting Plan Consults and Custody Evaluations
Written by Tina Lepage, Psy.D. Dr. Lepage completed both her clinical master’s thesis and doctoral dissertation in the area of developing parenting plans, determining the highest quality protocol for assessing child and family needs and then addressing those needs in potential parenting arrangements. At Lepage Associates she went on to develop a unique, tiered approach to parenting plan consults and to custody evaluations which meets the information and cost needs of every family. This brief, one-page article outlines what is included in each tier, and also includes the costs.

The ABCs and 1,2,3s of Helping Children Through the Divorce Process
Written by Tina Lepage, Psy.D. Dr. Lepage has extensive experience working with individuals, couples, parents, and children going through divorce. In this article she addresses the practical concerns of telling the children of the decision to divorce, transitioning a family into two households, and co-parenting effectively through developing a positive shared parenting relationship.

Dealing with Divorce: 10 Tips To Protect Your Kids
Written by Lepage Associates’ staff psychologist, based on doctoral dissertation on the effects of marital conflict and divorce on children and adolescents. Specifically, researcher determined the protective factors within the family and within the parent-child relationship that serve to reduce the stressfulness of marital conflict and divorce.

Legislative Resources

Senate Bill No. 1141

CHAPTER 248

An act to amend Section 6320 of the Family Code, relating to coercive control.

[ Approved by Governor September 29, 2020. Filed with Secretary of State September 29, 2020. ]

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL’S DIGEST

 

SB 1141, Rubio. Domestic violence: coercive control.

Existing law establishes the Domestic Violence Prevention Act for the purpose of preventing acts of domestic violence, abuse, and sexual abuse and providing for a separation of the persons involved in the domestic violence for a period sufficient to enable those persons to seek a resolution of the causes of the violence.

Existing law authorizes a court to issue an ex parte order enjoining a party from engaging in specified acts against another party, including threatening or harassing that party or disturbing their peace, and, in the discretion of the court, against other named family or household members. A violation of this court order constitutes contempt of court, which is punishable as a misdemeanor.

This bill would define “disturbing the peace of the other party” as conduct that destroys the mental or emotional calm of the other party, as specified. The bill would provide that disturbing the peace of the other party includes coercive control, which is a pattern of behavior that unreasonably interferes with a person’s free will and personal liberty and includes, among other things, unreasonably isolating a victim from friends, relatives, or other sources of support.

Existing law requires a family court to determine the best interests of a child in deciding child custody in specified proceedings and establishes a rebuttable presumption that an award of child custody to a person who has perpetrated domestic violence is detrimental to the best interests of the child. Existing law defines “perpetrated domestic violence” to mean, among other things, that the person engaged in behavior for which the court may issue an ex parte order to protect the child or the person seeking custody of the child.

By adding coercive control to the bases for the ex parte orders described above, the bill would, for purposes of a family court determining child custody in those proceedings, create a rebuttable presumption that an award of child custody to a party who has engaged in coercive control is detrimental to the best interests of the child.

Because a violation of a court order constitutes contempt of court and is therefore a crime, by expanding the bases for the issuance of these ex parte orders, this bill would impose a state-mandated local program.

The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.

This bill would provide that no reimbursement is required by this act for a specified reason.

DIGEST KEY

Vote: majority Appropriation: no Fiscal Committee: yes Local Program: yes

BILL TEXT

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

SECTION 1. The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:

(a) In times of natural disasters and crises, rates of interpersonal violence historically rise, especially among households experiencing significant financial strain.

(b) The COVID-19 pandemic has proven this historical trend to be the reality for survivors of domestic violence as police chiefs nationwide reported increases of 10 percent to 30 percent in domestic violence assaults in the first two weeks after a national emergency was declared in March, also revealing more severe violence as compared with past years.

(c) During the COVID-19 crisis, reports show this is a worst-case scenario for victims experiencing domestic violence, with the data showing the virus is being used as a scare tactic to keep victims isolated from their support systems, or even their children.

(d) Shelter-in-place orders and other restrictions related to COVID-19 have also resulted in victims being isolated from family, friends, and their community.

(e) While some jurisdictions have reported a drop in domestic violence calls, this does not necessarily equate to a reduction in domestic violence. Increased isolation of victims has created an environment where abuse, including coercive control, is more likely to go undetected and therefore unreported.

SEC. 2. Section 6320 of the Family Code is amended to read:

6320. (a) The court may issue an ex parte order enjoining a party from molesting, attacking, striking, stalking, threatening, sexually assaulting, battering, credibly impersonating as described in Section 528.5 of the Penal Code, falsely personating as described in Section 529 of the Penal Code, harassing, telephoning, including, but not limited to, making annoying telephone calls as described in Section 653m of the Penal Code, destroying personal property, contacting, either directly or indirectly, by mail or otherwise, coming within a specified distance of, or disturbing the peace of the other party, and, in the discretion of the court, on a showing of good cause, of other named family or household members.

(b) On a showing of good cause, the court may include in a protective order a grant to the petitioner of the exclusive care, possession, or control of any animal owned, possessed, leased, kept, or held by either the petitioner or the respondent or a minor child residing in the residence or household of either the petitioner or the respondent. The court may order the respondent to stay away from the animal and forbid the respondent from taking, transferring, encumbering, concealing, molesting, attacking, striking, threatening, harming, or otherwise disposing of the animal.

(c) As used in this subdivision (a), “disturbing the peace of the other party” refers to conduct that, based on the totality of the circumstances, destroys the mental or emotional calm of the other party. This conduct may be committed directly or indirectly, including through the use of a third party, and by any method or through any means including, but not limited to, telephone, online accounts, text messages, internet-connected devices, or other electronic technologies. This conduct includes, but is not limited to, coercive control, which is a pattern of behavior that in purpose or effect unreasonably interferes with a person’s free will and personal liberty. Examples of coercive control include, but are not limited to, unreasonably engaging in any of the following:

(1) Isolating the other party from friends, relatives, or other sources of support.

(2) Depriving the other party of basic necessities.

(3) Controlling, regulating, or monitoring the other party’s movements, communications, daily behavior, finances, economic resources, or access to services.

(4) Compelling the other party by force, threat of force, or intimidation, including threats based on actual or suspected immigration status, to engage in conduct from which the other party has a right to abstain or to abstain from conduct in which the other party has a right to engage.

(d) This section does not limit any remedies available under this act or any other provision of law.

SEC. 3. No reimbursement is required by this act pursuant to Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution because the only costs that may be incurred by a local agency or school district will be incurred because this act creates a new crime or infraction, eliminates a crime or infraction, or changes the penalty for a crime or infraction, within the meaning of Section 17556 of the Government Code, or changes the definition of a crime within the meaning of Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution.

452.375.  Custody — definitions — factors determining custody — prohibited, when — public policy of state — custody options — findings required, when — parent plan required — access to records — joint custody not to preclude child support — support, how determined — domestic violence or abuse, specific findings. — 1.  As used in this chapter, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

  (1)  “Custody” means joint legal custody, sole legal custody, joint physical custody or sole physical custody or any combination thereof;

  (2)  “Joint legal custody” means that the parents share the decision-making rights, responsibilities, and authority relating to the health, education and welfare of the child, and, unless allocated, apportioned, or decreed, the parents shall confer with one another in the exercise of decision-making rights, responsibilities, and authority;

  (3)  “Joint physical custody” means an order awarding each of the parents significant, but not necessarily equal, periods of time during which a child resides with or is under the care and supervision of each of the parents.  Joint physical custody shall be shared by the parents in such a way as to assure the child of frequent, continuing and meaningful contact with both parents;

  (4)  “Third-party custody” means a third party designated as a legal and physical custodian pursuant to subdivision (5) of subsection 5 of this section.

  2.  The court shall determine custody in accordance with the best interests of the child. When the parties have not reached an agreement on all issues related to custody, the court shall consider all relevant factors and enter written findings of fact and conclusions of law, including, but not limited to, the following:

  (1)  The wishes of the child’s parents as to custody and the proposed parenting plan submitted by both parties;

  (2)  The needs of the child for a frequent, continuing and meaningful relationship with both parents and the ability and willingness of parents to actively perform their functions as mother and father for the needs of the child;

  (3)  The interaction and interrelationship of the child with parents, siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the child’s best interests;

  (4)  Which parent is more likely to allow the child frequent, continuing and meaningful contact with the other parent;

  (5)  The child’s adjustment to the child’s home, school, and community;

  (6)  The mental and physical health of all individuals involved, including any history of abuse of any individuals involved.  If the court finds that a pattern of domestic violence as defined in section 455.010 has occurred, and, if the court also finds that awarding custody to the abusive parent is in the best interest of the child, then the court shall enter written findings of fact and conclusions of law.  Custody and visitation rights shall be ordered in a manner that best protects the child and any other child or children for whom the parent has custodial or visitation rights, and the parent or other family or household member who is the victim of domestic violence from any further harm;

  (7)  The intention of either parent to relocate the principal residence of the child; and

  (8)  The wishes of a child as to the child’s custodian.  The fact that a parent sends his or her child or children to a home school, as defined in section 167.031, shall not be the sole factor that a court considers in determining custody of such child or children.

  3.  (1)  In any court proceedings relating to custody of a child, the court shall not award custody or unsupervised visitation of a child to a parent if such parent or any person residing with such parent has been found guilty of, or pled guilty to, any of the following offenses when a child was the victim:

  (a)  A felony violation of section 566.030, 566.031, 566.032, 566.060, 566.061, 566.062, 566.064, 566.067, 566.068, 566.083, 566.100, 566.101, 566.111, 566.151, 566.203, 566.206, 566.209, 566.211, or 566.215;

  (b)  A violation of section 568.020;

  (c)  A violation of subdivision (2) of subsection 1 of section 568.060;

  (d)  A violation of section 568.065;

  (e)  A violation of section 573.200;

  (f)  A violation of section 573.205; or

  (g)  A violation of section 568.175.

  (2)  For all other violations of offenses in chapters 566 and 568 not specifically listed in subdivision (1) of this subsection or for a violation of an offense committed in another state when a child is the victim that would be a violation of chapter 566 or 568 if committed in Missouri, the court may exercise its discretion in awarding custody or visitation of a child to a parent if such parent or any person residing with such parent has been found guilty of, or pled guilty to, any such offense.

  4.  The general assembly finds and declares that it is the public policy of this state that frequent, continuing and meaningful contact with both parents after the parents have separated or dissolved their marriage is in the best interest of the child, except for cases where the court specifically finds that such contact is not in the best interest of the child, and that it is the public policy of this state to encourage parents to participate in decisions affecting the health, education and welfare of their children, and to resolve disputes involving their children amicably through alternative dispute resolution.  In order to effectuate these policies, the court shall determine the custody arrangement which will best assure both parents participate in such decisions and have frequent, continuing and meaningful contact with their children so long as it is in the best interests of the child.

  5.  Prior to awarding the appropriate custody arrangement in the best interest of the child, the court shall consider each of the following as follows:

  (1)  Joint physical and joint legal custody to both parents, which shall not be denied solely for the reason that one parent opposes a joint physical and joint legal custody award.  The residence of one of the parents shall be designated as the address of the child for mailing and educational purposes;

  (2)  Joint physical custody with one party granted sole legal custody.  The residence of one of the parents shall be designated as the address of the child for mailing and educational purposes;

  (3)  Joint legal custody with one party granted sole physical custody;

  (4)  Sole custody to either parent; or

  (5)  Third-party custody or visitation:

  (a)  When the court finds that each parent is unfit, unsuitable, or unable to be a custodian, or the welfare of the child requires, and it is in the best interests of the child, then custody, temporary custody or visitation may be awarded to any other person or persons deemed by the court to be suitable and able to provide an adequate and stable environment for the child.  Before the court awards custody, temporary custody or visitation to a third person under this subdivision, the court shall make that person a party to the action;

  (b)  Under the provisions of this subsection, any person may petition the court to intervene as a party in interest at any time as provided by supreme court rule.

  6.  If the parties have not agreed to a custodial arrangement, or the court determines such arrangement is not in the best interest of the child, the court shall include a written finding in the judgment or order based on the public policy in subsection 4 of this section and each of the factors listed in subdivisions (1) to (8) of subsection 2 of this section detailing the specific relevant factors that made a particular arrangement in the best interest of the child.  If a proposed custodial arrangement is rejected by the court, the court shall include a written finding in the judgment or order detailing the specific relevant factors resulting in the rejection of such arrangement.

  7.  Upon a finding by the court that either parent has refused to exchange information with the other parent, which shall include but not be limited to information concerning the health, education and welfare of the child, the court shall order the parent to comply immediately and to pay the prevailing party a sum equal to the prevailing party’s cost associated with obtaining the requested information, which shall include but not be limited to reasonable attorney’s fees and court costs.

  8.  As between the parents of a child, no preference may be given to either parent in the awarding of custody because of that parent’s age, sex, or financial status, nor because of the age or sex of the child.  The court shall not presume that a parent, solely because of his or her sex, is more qualified than the other parent to act as a joint or sole legal or physical custodian for the child.

  9.  Any judgment providing for custody shall include a specific written parenting plan setting forth the terms of such parenting plan arrangements specified in subsection 8 of section 452.310.  Such plan may be a parenting plan submitted by the parties pursuant to section 452.310 or, in the absence thereof, a plan determined by the court, but in all cases, the custody plan approved and ordered by the court shall be in the court’s discretion and shall be in the best interest of the child.

  10.  After August 28, 2016, every court order establishing or modifying custody or visitation shall include the following language:  “In the event of noncompliance with this order, the aggrieved party may file a verified motion for contempt.  If custody, visitation, or third-party custody is denied or interfered with by a parent or third party without good cause, the aggrieved person may file a family access motion with the court stating the specific facts that constitute a violation of the custody provisions of the judgment of dissolution, legal separation, or judgment of paternity.  The circuit clerk will provide the aggrieved party with an explanation of the procedures for filing a family access motion and a simple form for use in filing the family access motion.  A family access motion does not require the assistance of legal counsel to prepare and file.”.

  11.  No court shall adopt any local rule, form, or practice requiring a standardized or default parenting plan for interim, temporary, or permanent orders or judgments.  Notwithstanding any other provision to the contrary, a court may enter an interim order in a proceeding under this chapter, provided that the interim order shall not contain any provisions about child custody or a parenting schedule or plan without first providing the parties with notice and a hearing, unless the parties otherwise agree.

  12.  Unless a parent has been denied custody rights pursuant to this section or visitation rights under section 452.400, both parents shall have access to records and information pertaining to a minor child including, but not limited to, medical, dental, and school records.  If the parent without custody has been granted restricted or supervised visitation because the court has found that the parent with custody or any child has been the victim of domestic violence, as defined in section 455.010, by the parent without custody, the court may order that the reports and records made available pursuant to this subsection not include the address of the parent with custody or the child.  A court shall order that the reports and records made available under this subsection not include the address of the parent with custody if the parent with custody is a participant in the address confidentiality program under section 589.663.  Unless a parent has been denied custody rights pursuant to this section or visitation rights under section 452.400, any judgment of dissolution or other applicable court order shall specifically allow both parents access to such records and reports.

  13.  Except as otherwise precluded by state or federal law, if any individual, professional, public or private institution or organization denies access or fails to provide or disclose any and all records and information, including, but not limited to, past and present dental, medical and school records pertaining to a minor child, to either parent upon the written request of such parent, the court shall, upon its finding that the individual, professional, public or private institution or organization denied such request without good cause, order that party to comply immediately with such request and to pay to the prevailing party all costs incurred, including, but not limited to, attorney’s fees and court costs associated with obtaining the requested information.

  14.  An award of joint custody does not preclude an award of child support pursuant to section 452.340 and applicable supreme court rules.  The court shall consider the factors contained in section 452.340 and applicable supreme court rules in determining an amount reasonable or necessary for the support of the child.

  15.  If the court finds that domestic violence or abuse as defined in section 455.010 has occurred, the court shall make specific findings of fact to show that the custody or visitation arrangement ordered by the court best protects the child and the parent or other family or household member who is the victim of domestic violence, as defined in section 455.010, and any other children for whom such parent has custodial or visitation rights from any further harm.

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(L. 1973 H.B. 315 § 16, A.L. 1982 S.B. 468, A.L. 1983 S.B. 94, A.L. 1984 H.B. 1513 subsecs. 1 to 5, 7, A.L. 1986 H.B. 1479, A.L. 1988 H.B. 1272, et al., A.L. 1989 H.B. 422, A.L. 1990 H.B. 1370, et al., A.L. 1993 S.B. 180, A.L. 1995 S.B. 174, A.L. 1998 S.B. 910, A.L. 2004 H.B. 1453, A.L. 2005 H.B. 568, A.L. 2011 S.B. 320, A.L. 2016 H.B. 1550, A.L. 2018 H.B. 1461)

(1976) Child support portion of decree ordering husband to “maintain and provide for the necessities for the two children born of this marriage” held to be indefinite and void.  Since it is a judgment for money, decree must specify with certainty the amount for which it is rendered. Cradic v. Cradic (A.), 544 S.W.2d 605.

(1985) Held that this section does not require agreement between the parties as a prerequisite of joint custody.  The court may order joint custody over the objection of a parent.  Goldberg v. Goldberg (A.), 691 S.W.2d 312.

(1987) Husband was properly awarded the house and custody of the children and wife’s visitation rights were properly limited in view of wife’s decision to openly practice homosexuality and court was not in error for amending judgment of decree ten days after it had been entered into the record taking the home, custody of the children, maintenance and support away from wife after husband discovered his wife’s homosexual relations. S.E.G. v. R.A.G., 735 S.W.2d 164 (Mo.App.E.D.).

(2003) Provision prohibiting sole consideration of home schooling in custody determination applies to issue of whether such a factor constitutes a change in circumstances warranting modification. Heslop v. Sanderson, 123 S.W.3d 214 (Mo.App.W.D.).