The Conflict Dynamic In Family Law, Part 2

Conflict Dynamic

Show Topic: The Conflict Dynamic In Family Law

This show aired on August 20, 2017. It was hosted by attorney David Enevoldsen, a partner with the law firm Family Law Guys. David discussed the conflicts in values, the fact that having values that are different from person to person does not mean that you should not act as though there is a right and a wrong, and the underlying assessment of why you are taking a particular action in the midst of conflict with another party and to examine whether your actions are simply a function of being hurt and lashing out or are a function of a broader effort to further your goals in line with your values. Note that this is part 2 of a 2 part series exploring this topic. Part 1 aired on July 30, 2017.

Headlines

Headlines on this show looked at the fact that August has been recognized nationwide as Child Support Awareness Month and the proclamation by Governor Ducey regarding it, a bill in Michigan which would alter the standard by which parenting time is allocated based on a standard that would start with a presumption that equal time is in the best interests of children, the murder of a student in Jigawa, Nigeria based on suspicion that he was homosexual, and Jordan’s repeal of its marry your rapist law eliminating a rapist’s ability to simply marry a rape victim and escape the criminal charge of rape.

Did You Know

This show’s Did You Know looked at the movie, “Who Gets the Dog.” The movie follows a divorcing couple that end up in a custody fight over their dog. It parallels custody fights over children with the same trials and tribulations that occur in those fights. David also explored what happens to a dog in divorces and the fact that the law treats them as property even though most people view their dogs as children.

Transcript

Announcer:        Welcome to the Family Law Report, the show that explores issues related to marriage, divorce, and children. Hosted by David Enevoldsen, a practicing family law attorney in Arizona. Now, here’s your host.

David E.:           Hello, everybody and welcome to Family Law Report. I’m your host David Enevoldsen. I’m here with you every Sunday at noon on Independent Talk 1100 KFNX. Here on Family Law Report, we talk about all the current topics of family law, and that can range everything from what’s going on in the political arena to just basics like how do you work through some of the nuts and bolts of a divorce.

                        I am a practicing attorney, and I, of course, work in the area of family law. When I say family law, I  mean anything that’s related to marriage, divorce, fights over custody of children, prenuptial agreements, child support issues, grand parents’ rights, anything in that realm. I’m a partner at a law firm here in Arizona called Family Law Guys. We focus primarily on helping divorcing parents avoid getting screwed out of time with their children. We have offices in the Phoenix area and if you have a family court issue, there are quite a wide range of traps that can occur in your case. So I always encourage people to just be very aware of their basic rights and how important it is to talk to an attorney.

                         Specifically, I’ve seen situations where people have just completely lost their children, or access to their children. I have seen situations where people have massive alimony payments in monthly amounts that have gone on for lengthy periods of time. I have seen people get slapped with tens of thousands of dollars in judgements for either back child support or spousal support, or sometimes equalization payments in divorces, or sometimes attorney’s fees. I’ve even actually seen people that have actually been physically dragged out of courtrooms in handcuffs and thrown into jail related to child support issues.

                         So, whether you’re looking at something that seems like it’s simple, just like a minor child support issue, or it seems like a custody matter, you’re going through a divorce, there are some very very real dangers out there. I just want to stress how important it is to go out, and if you’ve got a looming family court matter, go talk to an attorney, even if you’re not hiring the attorney, just pay for an hour of time so you know what your basic rights and obligations are. You know a good way to approach whatever you have in front of you. It’s incredibly important. It doesn’t have to be us, of course, you can certainly call us. If you want to reach out to my firm, which is Family Law Guys, just remember we don’t practice outside of Arizona, but you can call and schedule an appointment, you can call 480-565-8680 or you can check us out on our website at www.familylawguys.com.

                        Now on today’s show, we are going to do … This is gonna be a part two of a show that I did a couple weeks ago, and it was rebroadcast last week on the Conflict Dynamic, which is all about kind of taking a step back and looking at conflict that goes on, particularly in family law cases, but also in just daily life. This Is something that I think a lot of us have seen very recently in particular, given a lot of the national events that we’ve been seeing recently. But I’m looking specifically in the realm of family law, and I just want to elaborate on some things, add some things, to what we talked about before.

                        Before we get into that though, I’m gonna hit our headlines. On headlines, we typically do a bunch of look at what’s going on in the press that is specifically related to family law. First off, did you know that August is Child Support Awareness Month? I actually didn’t know this until very recently, and it’s something that we look at, apparently all 50 states recognize August to be Child Support Awareness Month. Governor Ducey recently proclaimed, as he did last year, there’s a proclamation that he issued and signed, and it says that August is recognized as Child Support Awareness Month. Well, everybody’s doing this, all across the country, specifically Governor Ducey has signed a document in his proclamation, and there’s a number of things it says in there. One of the most relevant, I think, says, “A child who receives emotional and financial support is more likely to feel safe and secure, and is better equipped to be their very best in life.”

                        My understanding of the purpose of Child Support Awareness Month is basically to promote this idea that people should know that it’s important to support their children, and it’s important to provide for them. It’s something that it seems like every state, some legislative official or political official of some sort is coming out and saying, “Be aware of child support.” So the first headline in the press.  I want to add an editorial to this, but I think it intertwines with the next article, which is very interesting. I’ll wait for my editorial until after I do this next one.

                        In Michigan there is a bill that has just been pitched. It’s raised quite a bit of controversy, it’s House Bill 446-91. It would be, if accepted, called the Michigan Shared Parenting Act. Now, just as a little background, if you’ve heard the show previously, you probably already know this, but when we’re looking at a parenting plan, pretty much everywhere in the country, you’re looking at this standard called the Best Interest of the Child. The basic idea is that you craft a parenting plan in any given situation based just on what is in the best interest of the child. So every case you’re looking at anew, you’re crafting something different. One parent could have something completely different from another set of parents.

                        Now, we’ve articulated in the past some of the problems with that particular system, and for example, one of them is that it makes it this very subjective question that a judge is looking at and you can have some old ideas that get stuck in there. For example, there’s the ideas that moms should have more parenting time and that’s what better for a child, simply because mom is mom. Now we had a show recently with Dr. William Fabricius where he was talking about some of the research that seemed to conflict with that particular idea. So there seems to be some changing trends here. One of the shifts that we are finding is that people are more and more accepting this idea that there should be a flat equal parenting plan arrangement by default. Still, the law says you look at what’s in the best interest of the child, which makes it a very subjective question that changes things and kind of forces some litigation.

                        With this new bill in Michigan prompted by State Representative Jim Runestad. He’s proposed a bill that will basically create a whole new standard. The focal point of the bill is in creating a default presumption of just equal time. The theory underlying what they’re doing is they say look, everybody’s fighting over this best interest standard and everybody … a lot of fathers are getting denied parenting time because of things like that. So they want to start with the idea that you should be simply at an equal parenting plan arrangement and that that is in the best interest of the children by default. If you’re gonna shift from that standard, then you have to show that there’s something that is inherently contrary to the best interest of the children, like domestic violence or drug use, or something that’s just clearly bad for the kids. Now, if you can show those things under this Michigan proposed bill, then you would shift into an 11 part task, which is basically the same thing as the Best Interest Standards.

                        Major opponents of the bill have been attacking it on … because you have this burden of proof shifts to the person trying to say equal time is not in the best interest of the kids. Some of them are saying having that having that burden of proof is going to make it more difficult to prove things like domestic violence or situations where there really should be a disparity in time. So, the problem I’m having there is that it does seem, and House Representative Runestad has come out and expressly said, that the bill adopts a situation in which you can deal with domestic violence. When that’s happening, that presumption just vanishes. Then you’re right back to the best interest standard. So, the bill should be going to the Michigan House for vote at some time during this fall.

                        My commentary component of this is, as you’ve probably gleaned from some of the past shows, I think that there are some problems in terms of the presumptions that we walk into and how subjective a set of questions we’re dealing with in terms of what we’re looking at when we’re looking at the Best Interest Standard. So, there’s a lot about this I like. I really like this idea that you’re just coming in with a presumption of saying, “We’re at 50/50, show me why it should be otherwise.” Then putting the onus on the person saying it’s not just this random subjective thing when you’re walking into the courtroom.

                        I think that would potentially reduce some litigation, because now you’re not just fighting over whether or not one parent is going to be able have more time just because. You’re starting with the idea that you’re just going to be split. That, to me, has been a major problem that we’ve seen historically. One of the major things that I’ve always been concerned about within the family law realm is that it seems like a lot of our system is wrapped around this idea that it’s … or let me rephrase that … Our system is set up such that it promotes conflict, in many ways, I think. There’s a lot of things built into the system that make it more likely that you’re going to have conflict. I also kind of look at the …

                        We did a show previously on the issue of child support. I’m rolling back to the previous article. I’m starting to question what the point of having a Child Support Awareness Month is. I think everybody knows what child support is. I find it really difficult to believe that there are very many people out there that you are gonna say, “Hey, are you aware that child support exists?” And then secondarily, I think it’s hard to find someone that’s going to say, “Is it important to support your children?” Which, how many people are going to say, “No, we shouldn’t support our children, you should throw your children in a ditch and ignore them.” Nobody’s gonna say that. So I feel like I don’t know what the effect or the intended effect of the Child Support Awareness Month even is, other than to maybe promote a political platform for people in office to say, “Hey, look, I really care about children.”

                        Frankly, I don’t know what the impact is. I think rather than just saying child support is a great thing, as I’ve indicated in a previous show, I would really like to look at some of the mechanisms underlying whether or not the child support equation that we have in place is necessarily what’s going to be promoting the best interest of the children. Because here again, I think that this particular system in particular, and I won’t go into too much detail here, because I’ve had a whole separate show on this topic, but I think it promotes conflict. At any rate, I feel like you should question some of these things.

                        We’re going to take a quick break. I’m Attorney David Enevoldsen with Family Law Guys. When we return we will be talking about … We’re gonna do our Did You Know, and then we will be talking about the conflict dynamic.  If you want to call in and ask any questions, you can do so by calling 602-277-KFNX. You are tuned in to Family Law Report on Independent Talk 1100 KFNX.

KFNX:               Family Law Report is hosted by Family Law Guys, an Arizona Family Law Firm. Family Law Report is dedicated to confronting difficult issues related to marriage, divorce, and children. This can range everywhere from addressing the legalities and controversies of topics like gay marriage, to current problems in the divorce system, to simply providing tips to those getting married or going through a divorce or custody fight. Tune in every Sunday to Family Law Report at noon, here on KFNX. If you want to know more or to schedule an appointment with David or another one of the Family Law Guys attorneys, call 480-565-8680. That’s 480-565-8680.

David E.:           Welcome back to Family Law Report. I am your host David Enevoldsen, attorney with the Family Law Guys an Arizona law firm, here with you every Sunday at noon on Independent Talk 1100 KFNX. If you want to reach out and schedule an appointment with myself or another attorney at my firm, Family Law Guys, you can do so by calling 480-565-8680, or you can check us out on our website at www.familylawguys.com.

                         If you are listening and you want to call in and ask any questions or share thoughts, you can do so by calling 602-277-KFNX. Today we are going to be talking about part two of the conflict dynamic that I started a couple weeks ago. Now before we do that, I want to hit Did You Know, but I also want to couple more quick headlines, just because I got kind of caught up in my commentary and there’s a few interesting things in the press. First off … There’s gonna be two more headlines, here.

                        First, in this sort of ongoing saga about the growing tensions over homosexuality that we have been seeing all around the planet, if you’ve been listening to the show, you know that we’ve been seeing just a lot of stuff popping up. There’s various countries that have been legalizing homosexuality, there’s other countries that on the opposite extreme of the spectrum are doubling down on making it illegal. There’s some places where it’s still a criminal offense to just engage in homosexual conduct, sometimes to even demonstrate anything that could be interpreted as homosexual, like just kissing a man, if you’re a man, could be construed as something that’s criminal activity. Well in that sort of growing line of things, we’ve got a story coming out of Jigawa, which is a state in Nigeria. On August 6th, there was a murder of a kid there that was suspected of being homosexual. What happened was …

                        Backing up, Nigeria is one of those countries where there’s a pretty strong stance against homosexuality and they’re just sort of coming from this perspective that it is inherently evil and you should not be engaging in it. This is still one of those countries where it is still criminal to engage in homosexual conduct. Well, in this particular incident, back on August 6th, the police ended up arresting 15 students ranging in age from 17 to 19. All these students attended the Government Science and Technical College.

                        They’re alleged to have formed a committee, decided that one of the students was homosexual, and then took him, after making this decision, took him out to a bush and basically beat the heck out of him with a bunch of sticks. Then they dragged his body back to the school and just left him there, where he died. Police found that, they ended up arresting several students. I don’t know what comes of it after this, but I think it’s another interesting reflection on these tensions and the polarization that we’re seeing around the planet on this issue of homosexuality.

                        One more article, related to Jordan. Jordan’s parliament recently voted to repeal a so-called Marry Your Rapist Law. The basic idea was under the way the law was previously set up, a man could rape a woman and under normal circumstances, that would subject him to criminal prosecution. He would be arrested and charged if he was determined to have raped a woman. Well, under this previous law, he could get out of that criminal charge if he simply turned around and married her. Of course, opponents of the law were saying that doesn’t take away the fact that there was rape, just because you turn around and marry somebody, doesn’t suddenly mean that that rape disappears. Second, you’re now taking the victim of rape and subjecting her a lifetime of abuse, because now this guy can just come in and say, “Well I want this whenever I want.” She’s reliving this issue over and over again. So, there were a lot of people objecting to it.

                        Well, Jordan’s parliament just got rid of the law. It seems like quite a progressive step there, in terms of this particular issue. Keep in mind that these … There’s very similar laws that are on the books in other countries. There’s places like, as I understand it, Algeria, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Palestine, all have very similar legislation that will allow you to simply marry a woman that you have raped to get out of the rape charges on the criminal end. Now interestingly, this is something we’ve talked about on a previous show, at least in passing.

                        In the United States, we also have provisions that will allow you to marry a minor under certain circumstances. One of the major concerns about these provisions, and Arizona has one of these, you’re allowed to marry a minor in Arizona. One of the major concerns is that it’s sometimes used as a mechanism by which to avoid statutory rape charges. Because if now you’re suddenly facing the possibility of a charge, because say you got a minor pregnant, and you were sleeping with a minor that you shouldn’t have been sleeping with, because you are not a minor, then all the sudden it’s gonna be very obvious that you did this, which means you’re going to be facing statutory rape charges.

                        One mechanism by which to avoid all this is to suddenly get married to the minor. So there’s a lot of people that are fighting against that particular concept just because … It’s similar in concept. You’re basically just subjecting a rape victim, somebody that’s pretty immature and isn’t in a position where there should really be deciding that they should be getting married. Now you’re just subjecting them to the same thing where they’re taking the person that has slept with them and subjecting them to this person permanently. So, it’s a whole interesting topic, and I think we should have a whole separate show on that. Those are our headlines.

                        All right, I’m gonna switch over to Did You Know, and on Did You Know we usually talk about some sort of trivia or some sort of interesting thing about family law. Sometimes it’s quizzes that we do. Sometimes we just do some vestigial thing from the past. Today I wanted to share something that I saw recently. This is actually a movie. It’s kind of embedded with the particular concept, so it’s a little weird for Did You Know, but it’s a movie I saw on Friday, actually. I watched it, it’s on Netflix. It’s called Who Gets the Dog, and I thought it was super interesting.

                        It seems to be an indie film, made in 2016, it doesn’t look like it had a very high budget. It stars Alicia Silverstone and Ryan Quantun and the basic story about it, and I don’t think if you haven’t had exposure to, in particular a custody fight, or a fight over a dog in a divorce, I’m not sure that this would be super interesting. But if you have had those experiences, I think there’s a lot in this movie you’ll be able to connect to. Specifically, the plot of the movie deals with the story of a married couple. They’re in this position where they say okay we’re just not getting along anymore, we can’t live together, and they’re trying to figure out how they’re going to split up. So they’re kind of mapping out their divorce.

                        Everything seems kind of amicable until they get to the issue of the dog they have. They have this one dog, and his name is Wesley, and as soon as they both realize that they both want the dog, all the sudden the tensions mount. The conflict explodes. It’s really interesting, because the movie, I don’t think it’s legally accurate, at least not as I understand law in Arizona or other places, but they treat the dog as though it’s a custody fight over a child. In the very beginning, they go into court and the judge is saying well I don’t know whose property this is. Until we resolve whose property this is, we’re gonna treat this like a custody matter.

                        So they go around and they’re going to various experts, and you see much of the same dynamic that you see in the real world when people are going to custody experts related to their children. You see the ways that they interact in the midst of conflict. You see the dynamics of frustration. You see the polarization of the friends and families of the parties that are kind of linking onto either side. You see the weird frustrations you deal with in experts. They go to this vet who is supposed to be some equivalent to a custody evaluator, and as they’re going in there, there’s questions about are these people presenting how they really are? Are the experts aligning with one person or the other?

                        They go in and they try to alter the dog’s behavior so that they can win over in the fight, which you see people do with children. They will go in and try to align the child against the other parent. They all have all the back and forths that you see in court, the sort of frustration, the outrage, they see people on a very personal level. There’s jealousies about new lovers that pop in, which you see, again, in the family law universe. So there’s a lot about the movie that seemed to me you could really connect with if it’s something that you have been through. Now I don’t know that the ending was super realistic. The movie itself is pretty short, it was only like an hour and a half, and one thing I do want to highlight, and maybe this is where the Did You Know component of this comes in, is that the major thing they’re fighting over is the dog.

                        They way that we deal legally with dogs in divorces is a little frustrating, because we look at the dog as if it’s property. Most people that have dogs, I think treat the dogs like they are their children. These are living things that you’re dealing with. You have these emotional bonds to these animals. The animal is going to interact differently with the different parties. So, a lot of times, when you’ve got people, and some people will expressly have dogs in lieu of children. They’ll intentionally go in with that mindset. So, it’s interesting to watch this dynamic, because it makes it this lighthearted look at a custody battle.

                        In the real world, you’re really just dealing with property, insofar as the law is concerned. So, it can be … I’ve seen some situations in my personal experience where you’re dealing with the fight over the dog and it can get very ugly. Because at the end of the day, somebody’s got to get the dog. By agreement, this is an interesting point, if you have an agreement, and you come to the other party and say all right, we’re gonna agree that somebody is going to have the dog, and you can have custody type arrangements, where you’ve got timesharing of the dog and the dog moves back and forth. I’ve seen people actually do this. I see Derek laughing in the back.

                        But I’ve seen this. I’ve seen situations where people go into a divorce and then end up with basically a custody agreement for the dog, and they move the dog back and forth, somebody has the dog on weekends. There’s a pickup time and all of this stuff. You can have that situation, but only by agreement. If the court has to come in and say all right, we’re gonna figure out how to split the property, typically they’re looking at it like anything else, like here’s a car. What do we do with the car? You can’t just … You’re not gonna have a timesharing agreement for a car, typically.

                        That’s our Did You Know. And I guess the movie itself, check it out if you have any exposure to custody fights. It kind of takes a light hearted look at everything, but it’s got a lot of the basic elements that go into it. And then understand that if you have a dog in the midst of your divorce, how exactly that’s gonna interact in terms of it’s just property. Unless you can find an agreement.

                        All right, we’re gonna take another quick break. I’m Attorney David Enevoldsen with Family Law Guys. When we return, we’re going to getting into part two of the conflict dynamic. If you want to call and ask any questions, you can do so by calling 602-277-KFNX. You are tuned in to Family Law Report on Independent Talk 1100 KFNX.

David E.:           Welcome back to Family Law Report. I’m your host, David Enevoldsen, attorney with Family Law Guys, an Arizona law firm, here with you every Sunday at noon on Independent Talk 1100 KFNX. If you want to reach out and schedule an appointment with myself or another attorney from my firm, Family Law Guys, you can do so by calling 480-565-8680, or you can check us out on our website at www.familylawguys.com. If you are listening and you want to call in and ask any questions or share thoughts, you can do so by calling 602-277-KFNX.

                        And today, I wanted to do a part two of the analysis of the conflict dynamic that we started a couple weeks ago. Now, there was a show, just as a recap, we did a show, it was rebroadcast last week, I believe, and it was actually I think like three weeks that we did the original … In which I started talking about the basic anatomy of conflict, particularly as it applies to a family court case. Now, I think these are principles that can apply to conflict in any setting. You can see the same basic dynamic, but I’m specifically looking at how it applies to family law. So, I mean, these are principles you can extrapolate elsewhere if you’re not in the midst of a family law case.

                        And, just as a review, I spent a lot of time talking about a couple of the elements of this, and one is narrative theory. I’m not gonna spend super long but, I’m still gonna re-explain what that is, just because I kinda, I think I hit it to death on the last show. And then, another piece of this equation is values, and how people’s value points can conflict.

                        Now, just as a recap, narrative theory is this idea that people make sense, human beings make sense of their world and they reinforce values and they do lots of things through storytelling. If you think about what we do on a daily basis, we love stories, we love movies, we love reading books, we love watching television. If you’ve got some marketing thing, you usually try to hook people in with a story, because people are naturally drawn to stories. Now, when you have these stories, there are typically themes built into the stories, there’s morals, there’s things that we teach, there’s stuff that you’re getting out, reinforcing these core values that we have.

                        Simultaneously, people use the stories to make sense of the world when something seems crazy. So, for example, I brought up this example previously where you have, if you’ve ever seen somebody or if you yourself have been through a dramatic breakup with a romantic partner, or if you’ve been through some sort of heavily conflict-based situation, or if you’ve watched somebody go through a divorce or have a child custody fight, one of the first things they’ll do is start running to all their friends and telling a story over and over and over and over and over. Part of what that’s doing is twofold. One is it’s reinforcing that this person is doing the right thing, that this other person that they’re in conflict is doing the wrong thing to themselves. At the same time you’re getting feedback from other people saying, yes, that person is wrong, yes, you are right. Simultaneously you’re getting other people around you to align with you against the person that is the source of your conflict.

                        So that’s piece number one, is that we’re narrative creatures. We love to run to stories. We love to tell stories and use stories to make sense of everything. The second piece that I talked about was all about value points, and I think this is where I actually talked to a couple people afterwards who were, I think, had interpreted something different from what I intended, so this is another part of the reason that I want to do part two of this is that everybody has these different value points, and they’re just kind of broad-level value points, and then there’s this huge spectrum of them, they go down to very narrow things.

                        It can be stuff as simple as it is wrong to kill someone. That is a value that someone holds, it is not an appropriate action to go out and just murder someone in cold blood. Most people have that, in our culture at least. Not everyone, there are people who have different viewpoints, but for the most part, if you run around and run a tally of people, they’re gonna say, oh yes it is wrong to kill someone. It is wrong to enslave someone, it is wrong to be mean to people. There are these basic ideas that we have, and they are values that are indoctrinated.

                        You can have value points that are far more local in scale. For example, some of the things that I illustrated last time are, you’re doing something that is wrong if you don’t clean out the coffee pot when you’re the last person to use it at the office.

                        I gave a story last time about a dryer which I think is illustrative, and I wanna just repeat it here, wherein I was at a public laundromat where the machines were always being used, so I would set an alarm, this was in my apartment complex at the time, and when this all happened, I was going over there, I would set an alarm when my clothes were supposed to be done in the washer because I wanted to make sure I was over there, because I knew other people were waiting to use the machines. I went over there and I was gonna put all my stuff into the washer and all the machines were being used. Now, there was a couple of machines that were not in use, that is to say, there was stuff in there, but it wasn’t actively running. So somebody had basically just ignored this point of getting back there promptly to make sure that they could put their stuff in the dryer so that they could clear up the washer. I’m sitting there getting super irritated, and meanwhile this person eventually shows up, and she comes over and she starts moving stuff into the dryer, she started having kind of a little meltdown with her I think boyfriend or some guy who was with her there about how nobody ever cleans out the lint traps.

                        So we were both looking at these different value points. We could’ve come into conflict about this whole thing, I could’ve started screaming at her about her inconsiderate use of time and not tracking leaving the machine full so I couldn’t use it. She could’ve started screaming at me about something that I don’t usually do, I wasn’t usually emptying out the lint trap after I’d used it. I would always do it beforehand, so that didn’t seem important to me.

                        My point here with this whole thing is that when you’re looking at people’s different values, this is often one of the base sources of conflict. The misconception that I think people were having, because I was illustrating that these values can change over time. One of the points that I made was that even with our broad brush values you can have things that evolve based on how we’re reinforcing them. One example is, consider slavery. If you went back 300 years in time, you would be the crazy person if you said it is wrong to enslave someone who has different skin color than myself. Everybody would look at you like you were nuts because there was just these narratives everywhere, there was a social ideal that that’s what you do. Today, you say something like that and that’s accepted. In contrast, if you say, I think it is appropriate to go out and enslave someone because they have a different skin color from me, everybody would pounce on you and say you’re a nut job, as I think we’ve heard some comments about recently in the press.

                        It’s very clear, particularly if you look at stuff that’s been happening recently, like this whole Charlottesville tragedy and all the stuff that was going on there, we’re seeing a lot of that same basic theme: it is wrong to look at those things.

                        Now, I am not saying, and this is the point where I really want to clear up, is because from that comment, I think a lot of people were hearing me say that nothing matters. Either that our values are all relevant or that you should just eat whatever happens to you and just not care. To be clear, that is not what I am saying here with this mechanism. What I am doing is I’m stepping back and, as a very preliminary step before you do anything else, I wanna step back and look at what is happening in conflict.

                        One of the major things in my mind that is happening in conflict is you’ve got these different perspectives on values or ways to implement values, and they’re butting heads with someone else. You can see that in a lot of the political hot button things we have. Look at, for example, gay marriage. People have different underlying values and they’re butting heads over it, and then that thing can escalate. Look at something like abortion: you’ve got these core underlying values, you’ve got one for example that is saying it is wrong to murder a baby, on the other side you’re saying it’s wrong to deprive a woman of her right to choose in various situations.

                        You’ve got these core values that at their base people are butting heads about. I personally believe that people need values. Everyone’s gonna have their own internal code. You’re gonna have something you define and there’s stuff that you need to sit down and say, all right, this is something that I am going to establish as my own moral code. This is something that I’m going to follow. I personally, just as a simple point, feel like it is wrong to treat someone differently in a negative way, or in any way, because of their skin color. That’s a value that I think is a common value that I embrace. I think there are times to kind of stand up and say, “There’s a bad thing happening here, and it shouldn’t be happening, it conflicts with my moral code,” and you should step out and do something about it.

                        The thing to be aware of is that when you do that, conflict may well happen when you’re butting heads with someone. For example, think about the Civil War for a second. One of the major things that we were fighting, I think the major thing we were fighting about in the Civil War was whether or not we could enslave people of color.

                        If you analogize that to what happens in a family court case, people are butting heads over things constantly in family court. Look at that dynamic and say, it’s something akin to, you can never see your children, and it’s because of some value point between the two parents. You could walk away from that and say, okay, like in the Civil War we could’ve stepped back and said, well, my values aren’t really that important, or we could’ve just butt heads and fought it out. The thing to be aware of is, look at what happened in the Civil War. It was a really bloody and ugly war. Lots of people died, just thousands and thousands of people had their lives ruined, their families destroyed.

                        There was a lot of ugliness that came out of the war. That doesn’t mean that it wasn’t something that we should have done. It was something that needed to be fought for and it was something important in our history. But it’s not something I’m promoting should have been ignored, in the same way that I’m saying you, on a daily basis, if you’re in your family court case or something and you’ve got a particular thing that is particular thing that is conflicting with your moral code, your personal way of living, and the thing that you have defined as right or wrong, there are times to stand up for those things. But when you do stand up for it, just be aware of what kind of conflict is coming back.

                        All right, we’re gonna elaborate more on this in just a minute. We’re gonna jump to another quick break, I’m attorney David Enevoldsen with Family Law Guys. When we return, we’re gonna be talking more about the conflict dynamic. You want to call in and ask any questions, you can do so by calling 602-277-KFNX. You are tuned into Family Law Report on Independent Talk 1100 KFNX.

KFNX:               Family Law Report is hosted by Family Law Guys, an Arizona Family Law Firm. Family Law Report is dedicated to confronting difficult issues related to marriage, divorce, and children. This can range everywhere from addressing the legalities and controversies of topics like gay marriage, to current problems in the divorce system, to simply providing tips to those getting married or going through a divorce or custody fight. Tune in every Sunday to Family Law Report at noon, here on KFNX. If you want to know more or to schedule an appointment with David or another one of the Family Law Guys attorneys, call 480-565-8680. That’s 480-565-8680.

David E.:           Welcome back to Family Law Report. I am your host David Enevoldsen, attorney with the Family Law Guys, an Arizona law firm, here with you every Sunday at noon on Independent Talk 1100 KFNX. If you want to reach out and schedule an appointment with myself or another attorney at my firm, Family Law Guys, you can do so by calling 480-565-8680, or you can check us out on our website at www.familylawguys.com. If you are listening and you want to call in and ask any questions or share thoughts, you can do so by calling 602-277-KFNX.

                        Today we’ve been talking about the conflict dynamic, particularly as it applies to family court cases. Now, I’m hoping what I just said a few minutes ago before the break kind of clarified my points on the conflict and values. It’s not that nothing matters, and it’s not that you should endure every little thing that anyone says, it’s more that I’m trying to look at the anatomy of what’s happening here. I do think everyone should have a moral code, I don’t think we can function without a moral code. I don’t think human beings are capable of that. You have to decide what you think is right and wrong. Many of those things are going to be commonly accepted by others, others, like the coffee pot or the lint trap, are not gonna be so important.

                        Let’s bring this back to the family law dynamic, here’s the problem that I very often see. I have cases, and I’ve had this particular experience many, many times, where I’ve got a client sitting behind closed doors in my office, who may be engaged in this awful fight with the other side, over whatever the issue is, divorce or custody or the dog or whatever the thing is. They will sit there, and I had this just this week, where someone said to me, “I just want this to end,” and they would cry and say, “I can’t handle this anymore, there’s so much conflict, it’s so stressful, it just goes on all the time, it never ever ends,” and the dynamic that is happening in family law is very often just a big ball of pain.

                        It is people lashing out in different directions feeling misunderstood, feeling like they’re not getting what they wanted. The other person has wronged them and no one’s acknowledging it. So they just keep lashing back. When both people are doing that it just balloons out like crazy. This goes back to the drama triangle, the Cartman Drama Triangle that I was talking about before, where there’s always this perception of a three parts on a triangle, the victim, the persecutor, and the rescuer. The victim is someone that feels that they have been wronged. It’s someone that feels that they are held back, that they can’t do something because of any other person, the persecutor, the person that is holding them back or oppressing them or hurting them.

                        Meanwhile, you’ve got a rescuer, who is the person that either goes and does harm to the persecutor to try to lash back at the persecutor, or sits there and reinforces the victimhood of the victim. The rescuer generally feels this need to be needed. So, you feel needed when someone else, you sit there and reaffirm someone else’s victimhood. Now that dynamic is at play in family law all the time. People get wrapped up in it. The example I gave last time was just kind of the classic scenario of abuse. You have a husband beating the heck out of a wife. The wife says, “I’m a victim,” runs to some other guy, says, “Oh my gosh do you believe what he’s doing,” This other guys says, “Oh my gosh, I’m gonna tell him what’s what,” so he goes over, beats up the husband. The husband now gets angry and says, “What lies did you tell that guy?” and goes and beats up the wife and everything just mushrooms out of control.

                        I am not saying that there are not times to step back. I’m not saying that domestic violence is okay. I’m not saying that there are not times to fight back. What I am saying is whatever conflict you are in, in the midst of your family court case, you should step back for a second, rather than just lash out in an angry ball of pain at the other party which is then gonna make them last back at you and amplify this drama triangle, which creates all this drama that is just gonna go on and on and on. Rather than reacting like an animal in a bear trap that is just hurting and lashing out at anything that walks by, step back for a second and look at what’s going on. Take a look at the dynamic.

                        So, you step back, you say okay here’s what’s going on. Here’s the things that are happening. Here’s how I’m reacting. Now if you’re just immediately running back, and this is one of the common ones, somebody says something and you immediately just start arguing with them. No, that’s not what happened, you didn’t understand me, you didn’t acknowledge this. Most of the time what people are trying to is correct the narrative that the other person is spewing at you. This is how the marriage went and it’s all ruined because of you. You start to lash back and say no, that’s not what happened, here’s what happened, you’re the one that ruined the marriage because of whatever. You’re the one that’s harmed our child because of whatever.

                        Which is gonna then prompt the other person to do the exact same thing back. Which is gonna make you do it back, and it just spins out of control. What I’m saying is step back and say, “What am I trying to do here?” Before you engage, before you do anything, before you just start responding, firing off all sorts of things that are gonna inflame the conflict, step back and say, “What is my objective here?” This is the core thing I’m trying to convey. I want to look at the conflict. When you’re in the midst of conflict, rather than just snapping back, step back for a second. Stop. Don’t respond. Don’t shoot back that email. Walk away if you’re in the midst of an oral argument. Whatever it is, step back from it for a second. Let yourself detach from the emotion, to whatever extent you’re able to do that. You’re not gonna be able to completely do that.

                        Sometimes you are gonna have to go and do this narrative, because his is how we are hardwired. You’re gonna have to go out and say hey buddy, my BFF, whatever, my family member, can you believe he/she did this thing to me, oh my gosh I am so frustrated. I’m angry. Now that doesn’t mean you have to necessarily go lash back though and amplify the drama triangle by trying to correct the other person’s narrative or put your own narrative on them, because nine times out of ten, especially in these high conflict situations, you’re not gonna be able to convince them of that. That’s what a lot of people are doing, spending all their energy with the core objective of trying to correct the other person’s understanding of them. I’m not a bad person. You’re the one that ruined the marriage. I want to impose upon you the understanding that I’m hurt, which is now making the other person kick back at that.

                        So, step back and say, “What is my objective?” This is what I want you to do. This is the very base level thing that I’m trying to convey here, is that you need to look at what’s happening and just step away from it for a second. Then decide what you want to accomplish. If the thing that you’re fighting over is just correcting attacks, it’s a waste of time and energy and it’s just gonna amplify conflict. You may be dead convinced that that other person is wrong, but sitting there trying to convince them of that is not an effective use of your energy, and it’s gonna make you miserable. On the other hand, there are times to fight. Just like when I said with the Civil War situation, that was a time to fight. It made sense because there was a particular set of values that we were pushing and saying this is what’s right and we’re willing to go to war over that.

                        There are times, like for example, someone comes and says, you know what I don’t like you as a person so you shouldn’t ever see your children again, I’m not gonna let you see them. Then the person just withholds the children. That’s a time to fight. If there’s no legitimate reason for that whatsoever, the person is just saying you smell like bologna and I don’t like you, so you shouldn’t see your kids, that’s a time to kick back and say no, we’re gonna go to war over this. We’re gonna go into the courtroom and I’m gonna find a way to see my children, because I’m entitled to do that, and I want to see my kids. It’s very different if you’re just going back and dealing with some base level attack.

                        This is the underlying analytical framework that I would submit that you should use if you’re going through your family law case. This doesn’t just apply in family law. Again, this can apply in other situations, like for example, look at all the political stuff that’s been happening recently. If you have somebody screaming at you over any political issue, if you’ve got somebody screaming at you about a political issue or a religious issue or whatever, what are you trying to do in the midst of your argument? Are you trying to convince them that they’re wrong and they’re clearly not going to be altered from that perspective? In which case you’re just wasting your energy.

                        Do you have some other underlying objective? Are you sending a message to someone else? Are you trying to effectuate a certain thing? It’s about efficiencies of energies. There’s a couple other things, and I’m running a little short on time, that I just want to talk about quickly, that people will do within the conflict model here. I think the way that you’re dealing with this has to be the same thing, but another thing that people will do sometimes is, because we’re such emotional creatures, and we want to put everything into a rational framework, but we are very very driven by emotion. So, another one of the things that people will do very often is talk about something that is coming purely from emotion but may even sometimes conflict with what you’re saying.

                        This doesn’t change the underlying analytical framework, but it’s just something that you look at in terms of trying to figure out how to proceed forward. For example, if you’re in the midst of a relationship and you’ve got someone that is screaming at you about something that makes zero sense to you, sometimes the thing that they’re screaming about, in terms of the words, is not really what they’re upset about. They may be upset about something very different. One simple example. I’ve seen … If you ever listen to … There’s some radio shows that will do things where they’ll call people up and try to catch cheaters and they’ll send flowers or something. There’s a few programs out there that do that sort of thing.

                        A lot of times the first thing you hear when these people get caught is, “How could you violate my privacy? How could you snoop through my phone? How could you trick me on the air to give some flowers out?” So they’re sitting there talking about privacy, but the thing that they’re really upset about is being caught. There’s an emotional component to this that’s coming out as different words. Then the other person will start reacting to the thing about privacy. There’s all these different pieces that are going on. The underlying theme here is, even if you’re in that particular situation, step back and say, “What am I trying to accomplish with this particular conflict I’m in?” Step back. Make sure that the things, the actions that you’re taking, the things that you’re arguing are in line with those particular viewpoints and save yourself a heck of a lot of stress. That’s my thing.

                        All right, that is about all the time we have for today’s show. You have been listening to Family Law Report. I am your host, David Enevoldsen, an attorney with Family Law Guys, an Arizona law firm. We have been talking today about part two of the conflict dynamic. I hope you join us again next Sunday at noon for more of the latest on family law here on Independent Talk 1100 KFNX, and remember, it is very important that if you have a family law matter you go and talk to an attorney about your case. Check us out on www.familylawguys.com. Thank you all for listening, and have a great week.

Announcer:               Family Law Report is hosted by Family Law Guys, an Arizona Family Law Firm. Family Law Report is dedicated to confronting difficult issues related to marriage, divorce, and children. This can range everywhere from addressing the legalities and controversies of topics like gay marriage, to current problems in the divorce system, to simply providing tips to those getting married or going through a divorce or custody fight. Tune in every Sunday to Family Law Report at noon, here on KFNX. If you want to know more or to schedule an appointment with David or another one of the Family Law Guys attorneys, call 480-565-8680. That’s 480-565-8680.

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