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Every once in a while a member of our group has a compelling story. This story is one that is heads above many others. It is this type of story that is so unusual that helps us come together to support one another. It makes our own story feel a bit less difficult. OR it’s a story where you say – “yeah, I can related to that!”

The uniqueness of this story, and what makes it so interesting, is that it involves an international treaty between the U.S. and Japan and a legal battle in both countries.

I am sure that some of you have such a story and we’d like to print more of these. Please, if you have the feeling that your experience in some way may help another, then contact us (available on our Contact Us page).

With the permission of our member, James Cook, I wanted to share his story with everyone.

As a 501c3, we are dedicated to providing a positive impact for men experience divorce. Please consider supporting us with a membership or a donation.

The post Bring the Kids Home appeared first on The Divorce Men's Network.

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I’ve lived through many a Valentine’s Day in my 53 years, and rarely was one smooth sailing. I was always wondering, will she like it? Was I romantic enough? Did I spend enough money? Is dating on this special day worth it?

Over the years my mind settled down, not playing as much games on me. And I grew less worries about making it “the right Valentine’s Day” and more about, “this is me and who I am”.

Sure I still want to be a great partner and still have a bit of romanticism within, but the years have weighed upon my fun and romantic outlook.

There is still many a guy that goes through what I do/did so on February 7th, we invited professional match maker Michelle Braun from Elite Private Search, an Its Just Lunch affiliate. Michelle has not only been through many Valentine’s Days, but she’s heard a lot about them from her clients and other women. Our goal was to understand and perhaps dispel the high expectations women have on men for Valentine’s Day.

Here were a few of her tips:

  • Question: When dating, when should you give a gift on Valentine’s Day?
  • Answer: It’s not about the length you’ve been dating, it’s about the conversations you’ve had. And when you do buy something, search for something that shows you’ve been listening to her and know her.
  • Question: What does it mean if you do go out on Valentine’s Day (or any special event)?
  • Answer: It’s more of a reflection on you than on the relationship. Going out on am important day/event suggests you are either serious or getting serious about the relationship. So think about what you’re trying to communicate before you make plans on a special day.
  • Question: What is a good first date?
  • Answer: Really, just choose any activity that is lighthearted and fun. Do an activity where you can not only talk, but you can learn a bit about each other.

Those are just a few bits of advice we learned. But there is so much more to our meetings. One member shared his stories about “If we do it now, it will be our last.” It’s those stories, when we share with other guys in the room that create camaraderie. Connections are formed and I’ve seen many men form long relationships by coming to our meetings.

There is some much more to our meetings than learning from experts and creating friendships with like-minded men. I invite you to come and experience what we offer. When you help yourself, we help each other and together we are building a powerful community.

The post Dating and Valentine’s Day appeared first on The Divorce Men's Network.

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Think of who you are and what you do as a river. The path you lead creates the twists and turns, rapids or smoothness, and fast or slow pace of the water flowing in your river. These characteristics of your river depict how you achieve your goals and passions (your values); the final destination of your river being your life’s mission.

In my opinion, your values are more important, they are your river bank. The river bank keeps the river in check. A widening indicates when you stray from your values, a narrowing when you are focused.

What causes us to stray from our values? Without digressing into a deep neuroscience and psychological discussion, it’s the efficient auto pilot aspect of our brain and our emotions.

Background
Since birth we have been trained that life is a series of cause and reactions. As an infant, you cry, your parents feed you or comfort you. When you are a child, you do something your parents like – your parents react positively, or the opposite if you do something upsetting.

Through events in your life, your brain creates an efficient “cause -react” memory. Because your brain needs to conserve energy, and is built to be efficient, this cause-react memory turns into habits. Someone makes you mad, you react a certain, but same way. Someone makes you happy, you react a certain, but same way.

This brings me to a very important point – if our thoughts are built on cause-react memory, when a situation happens to you, who is mostly influencing your life, you or the people around you? You may be thinking, “What? I don’t get it.”

  • Example: Your spouse/ex-wife say something to push your buttons (the “cause”). You then begin to say something immediate after (the “effect”). So who was the most influential in that situation? Not you because your brain is built with a cause-react auto pilot. So it must be your spouse/ex-wife for creating the situation in the first place.

Self Mastery
This brings me to my second and most important point – self-mastery!

Self-mastery is the ability to be aware of what is happening (be present, mindfulness …) and then choose how to react. Now you are the most influential person in any situation. To get to a point of self-mastery we must begin with defining who we are and what we stand for, your values, or you use your old frame of reference (emotions) to make decisions.

Self-mastery truly flips life upside down.

Live your Values
Living your values is a process of mental reprogramming. The first step is to increase your consciousness (mindfulness) to become more aware of your “react” situations – situations when you experience an immediate emotional reaction. When those situations occur – STOP, think of your values, then react!

This Stop, Think, React repetitive habit turns into self-mastery!

You can create the Stop, Think, React mentality using several strategies to retrain your cause-react memory. Those cause-react neuro-connections are deeply embedded like the Great Canyon walls carved by the Colorado River. A few strategies you can use to lead you to self-mastery are:

  • Repeat your values several times a day, every day
  • Bring your decisions into your consciousness.
  • Learn your triggers (your “buttons”)
  • Visualize your new action when your buttons are pushed
  • Review your day and note where you made decisions based out of emotion

The process of defining and loving your values was the focus of our January 14th meeting. Our meetings are not only a great way learn from an expert, but also to connect with other men, and get out of the house!

Come to a meeting to help yourself, learn from each other and together we’ll build a great community of men!

The post Creating a Laser Focused Life, Live your Values appeared first on The Divorce Men's Network.

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Divorce impacts your home and your mortgage in more ways than you can even think. For me and my divorce, I remember much debate around who would keep the house? There were home repairs to consider. Who can afford the mortgage? How much equity did we have and how could that be split?

During our January 8th, 2017 meeting we Brett Leschinsky of Venture Bank, a mortgage expert specializing in divorce transactions.
Brett has been a respected mortgage professional since 2002. He has also been features on WCCO’s Real Estate Radio Hour to discuss common mistakes divorcing couples make.

A few topics we discussed were:

  • Why is it important to determine what to do with the house early in the divorce process?
  • How you can improve your decision making ability by switching your mind frame from a romantic relationship to a rational, business relationship.
  • An important clause to put in your mortgage if one person will be keeping the home – it can save literally save tens of thousands of dollars.
  • How to appropriately calculate remaining equity after the sale of your home.
  • Why it is so important to know the current terms of your mortgage.
  • Not all assets are equity. It is important to understand your cash needs and the tax adjusted value of your assets.
  • An important strategy when you agree on splitting assets that could save you thousands of dollars.

Our meetings are powerful, informative and helpful. But meetings are not just about education. We help men connect, support each other and at the same time, we build community. You don’t have to feel isolated in your thought, feeling or your situation.

I invite you to a meeting. Help yourself – when you do, we help each other and together we are building a strong and connected community!

The post Divorce and Mortgages, What you Need to Know appeared first on The Divorce Men's Network.

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I remember sitting at the financial mediation table. My body was tense and I had a warm, uncomfortable feeling. I was thinking “this is just a big waist of my time”. With my master’s degree in finance, I could cut through this crap faster than any mediator. I had already worked out a spreadsheet for splitting everything 50/50. I want’s out for blood, just wanted to be fair so I could be proud and hold my head high by taking the high road.

After the first 2 hour meeting, all we got accomplished was listing out all financial accounts – really? I did that in 15 minutes! The second meeting we got a lot more accomplished; I won a significant non-marital asset claim, we split the remaining assets and we finalized spousal maintenance! (Note that my attorney did not mention the concept of a “non-marital” assets – you’ve got to take the initiative and get educated, IT’S YOUR FUTURE.)

My marriage was length was only 7 years when my divorce started. I was thinking – no maintenance. But I did make 3 times her income (no, I did not make six figures, we just did not make that much overall).

As we were discussing spousal maintenance, the mediator turned to my wife and said: “Bruce is not going to support you for the rest of your life – you will have to work” (YES! I though no spousal maintenance!) Then she turned to me and said, “you’ll need to invest in your spousal to help her get back on her feet”. I actually bought into that and felt it was fair. My “financial sentence” – two years maintenance that stepped down: first six months was the highest, the next 18 months was 1/4th the payment.

Looking back, I wish I had a resource that would have told me what to expect. How does mediation work? Will I have to pay spousal maintenance? Who gets tax deductions? What is a non marital asset? I had so many questions and no where to go.

That’s why I founded The Divorce Men’s Network. We have meetings on a wide range of topics. Our November 22nd meetings was “Financial Aspects of Divorce”. We discussed topics ranging from:

  • How does a bankruptcy proceeding affect divorce
  • Trends in spousal maintenance
  • What is the different between community property laws (like WI) versus equitable property (like MN)?
  • How is my pension or disability income affected by divorce? Would my spouse get part of that?
  • How much child support will I have to pay?
  • Who will get to claim the kids as a tax exemption?
  • How long will it take to financial recover from divorce?

Our meetings are powerful, informative and helpful. But meetings are not just about education. We help men connect. We support each other. We build community. WE help men realize you are not isolated in your thought, feeling or your situation.

I invite you to a meeting. Help yourself – when you do, we help each other and together we are building a strong and connected community!

The post Financial Aspects of Divorce appeared first on The Divorce Men's Network.

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Men work hard to provide. We sacrifice things we enjoy to blend into relationships. Men work hard to fix things. And when the relationship ends, we have feelings of failure, guilt, shame, sadness, and anger. On top of that, reaching out for help is a sign of weakness. What happens … a feeling of isolation. We need to connect!

What a sad paradigm. We set ourselves up for emotional hell.

It doesn’t have to be that way. What if we could connect with other guys going through the same thing? What if we could learn from each other? What if we can help provide a shoulder to lean on during this hard time?

Each month, The Divorce Men’s Network provides an open house – it is a relaxed way to find out what we’re all about. So you may be thinking, “who comes to the open house and what is it like?”

Guys new,  mid-way through and those completed the divorce process come. After a short introduction, we split up into smaller groups of 3 or four and discuss each other’s situation. Then we come together as a larger group and discuss more significant issues.

There is great benefit coming to our open house:

  • Connect – We talk and share our stories. Ours stories end up not being so different or have many similarities. When we start to see these similarities, a connect is made.
  • Learn – Because men coming to meetings are at different stages of divorce, we learn from each other. Guys just starting the process learn from guys mid-way through and those that have finished the process. Guys mid-way through learn from guys already divorced. And guys that are divorced help the man coming through the process and develop friendships.
  • Help each other – Not only do we learn from each other’s stories be we share advice. We also listen and understanding. And dare I say, we emotionally support each other. Whoa guys, now don’t get scared if the dreaded “e” word.

Get rid of that isolated feeling. Connect. Learn. Help. When you come to a meeting to help yourself, you help everyone and together we will build a great community of men!

The post Get off Your Butt and Connect appeared first on The Divorce Men's Network.

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When I got divorced, my wife had not worked for about 5 years. Prior to our marriage, however, she did have fairly nice income working in customer service at an insurance company. When we sat down at the financial mediation table in October 2006.  I was thinking: “she has the capability to make $30,000 to $40,000”. But no one told about “Imputed Income”.

Imputed income is income assigned to your spouse by 1) both parties agreeing or 2) a judge’s/mediator’s decision. Imputed income can be used when your spouse has been unemployed or is current underemployed. It is  an option that may decrease your share of child support or reduce spousal maintenance.

Additionally, if you are unemployed or underemployed, visiting with a career expert can help. The expert can guide you through all your options, identify your strengths and more narrowly direct your search.

That’s why we had Mark Raderstorf and Jen Bey of Raderstorf and Associated come in to speak at our October 25th meeting. Both are vocational experts and were extremely insightful and packed with information.

Disputed Income (Imputed income)

Mark provided the following tips:

  • Do  a vocational assessment if your spouse a) is struggling with confidence, b) appears to be dragging her feet returning to work or c) is being unreasonable with returning to work expectations.
  • When forecasting imputed income, Mark’s experience is to expect your spouse to make between 25% and 50% of what she made prior to leaving work. This assumes a fair amount of time out of work – 8 to 15 years. She would make more if time away from work is shorter and she stays in her prior field of work. She would make less if she has been out longer or changes career field.
  • Her job search would take a minimum of 3 to 6 months; the longer her absence from work or the higher the salary, the longer it will take.
  • A vocational assessment is roughly $2,000 to $2,500 and is a day long evaluation including: education and work history, interest exploration and career goals, comprehensive testing (interests, intelligence, aptitude, work values…), career goal recommendation, path to employment, timeline of activity and earnings projections.

Contact Mark if you have more questions: Mark@RaderstorfAssociates.com or 612.823.5187

Job Change 

For your own search here are a few sites and tips Mark and Jen provided:

  • careerwise – a website with career exploration, job search and education planning
  • careeronestop – a website with self assessments and career search
  • Glassdoor – a website with salary information, job postings and company search
  • O*Net – a website with occupational information (job tasks, knowledge needs, skills and abilities needed …)

Find the hidden job market with these tips: network, have informational interviews and volunteer.

Mark and Jen also provided a few books on the subject:

Our meetings are a great way to connect with other men, learn from experts and get out of the house! Come to a meeting to help yourself, learn from each other and together we’ll build a great community of men!

The post Disputed Income and Career Direction appeared first on The Divorce Men's Network.

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What does your life look like? How have you limited your life? Where does your inner critic stories show up?

Those question begin to peel back the limiting aspect of life. I am a bad father? Romance is just not me. I can’t connect with others. I am not that attractive. That’s Crap!!

Yeah, okay, okay – most men may have checked out by now. Ahhhh – questions about life (arms flailing above my head) . Bear with me guys, it can be life changing if you dare.

The questions above are the questions that have defined, or better yet, limited your life. It doesn’t matter what the topic is we all have that inner critic. You might excel professionally, but as a husband or father, you’re not a peak performer. A lot of guys will push it aside and say, “that’s just the way I am.”

Eric Larson, life and leadership coach and founder of Men, Alive Life and Leadership Coaching, would just laugh and say “That’s bullshit”. We invited Eric into to give a free workshop October 22nd on Silencing your Inner Critic.

Eric has coached literally thousands of men on uncovering their limits by analyzing the inner critic and making men limitless. At the workshop Eric offered a four stage approach to silencing your inner critic: Define, Originate, Consequences, Action.

Define it: what is your self-limiting story? Are you “not good enough”, “too weird” or “I don’t fit in”, “not lovable”? Starting with defining what your inner critic is saying is important because you bring it out into the open.

Where did it Originate: The workshop then focused on where in our life did we start to hear these inner critic stories. Was it during your childhood and something your parents use to say. I remember my parents always criticizing me or not wanting me to do things. That’s where I think my limits started. But now that I am, we are, older, do we still need to hear these stories? Better yet, do we realize that these are just stories and not really REAL!

What are the Consequences of the stories: How has the stories of you inner critic limited your life? Or how has the stories made you act, say things, behave? A powerful exercise I learned from improvisation was called “Declare”. In this exercise, I had to say an emotion in a way that also displayed the emotion. If I said “Angry” I had to BE angry when I said it. Then, when you start an improvisation scene, start with an emotion and all your words and actions follow. AH HA!

That’s the same way life works too. When you’re mad, you say mad things. If you’re happy, you say happy things. What if you’re “not good enough” … you say and do things that illustrate you’re not good enough. That’s an AH HA moment! It makes your marriage end. You may not perform well in your job. Literally, you are telling the world you are not good enough with each word and action. Then realize it’s crap! It…is…just…a…story!

Now take Action: Okay, now that your life of stories, of lies are uncovered, it becomes conscious. What are you going to do? Ignore what you just learned and push it aside by saying “that’s just the way I am”? Or are you going to pay attention to the consciousness and start to change, realizing that your inner critic and the limits are just a story? It’s not real.

What’s your choice? Just like the Matrix, you take the blue pill and you will fall blissfully asleep and continue on with your life. But if you take the red pill you will face a hard reality and you have a lot of work and re-storying telling to create.

Do you see the value in our meetings? We are the red pill. But we help make reality less hard. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Meetings are even more powerful when you come, address you specific situation and then have a discussion about it; discussions lead to connecting with other men.

That is what The Network is all about:

  • Connect with other men
  • Learning how to make life better and easier
  • Supporting one another
  • Advocating for each other
  • We build inner strength

Please join us; coming to a meeting to help yourself. At the meeting we all help each other. And together … we will build a community.

The post Silence that Inner Critic, the Crap appeared first on The Divorce Men's Network.

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I remember the anger, frustration and anxiety when I started the divorce process in my first marriage.

  • Anger because although I was unhappy, it was not my choice to start the divorce process, nor did I believe divorce was right. You work at a relationship. You compromise. And you blend lives together to make a family. Divorce mean failure and I don’t fail.
  • Frustration because I had nowhere to go. I did not know where to start and I was dreading the cost of a divorce.
  • Anxiety because I did not know about the divorce process, and I hated not knowing where to go, where to turn, how long it would take, how expensive it might be…

After the divorce, I looked forward to starting my life over. Divorce is a blessing in disguise because it is an event that, if you do it right:

  • shows you who you really are
  • start a fresh, new life
  • learn from your mistakes and grow
  • create any life you want

That’s why I founded The Divorce Men’s Network. We connect with men to:

  • Ease the pain
  • Ease the anxiety
  • Learn from one another and industry experts
  • Connect with other men
  • Something funny

On Wednesday, October 19th our meeting focused on learning about the divorce process. Zach Smith (of Vox Law, no relation to me) came in to speak to the group and answer YOUR question. It was a power meeting to connect and learned:

How do you split the home value?
When both people were married and purchased the home during marriage, the home it considered “marital property” and both are given equal share of the home. If the home was purchased by both people prior to marriage, then typically the value each person receives is proportional to the amount they contributed prior to marriage. Last, if one person bought the home prior to marriage, that person would receive his/her portion of the value as “non-marital” (or not split). Then the  appreciation of the home above the nonmartial portion is considered marital and split equally.

What is a Karon waiver?
The 1989 case of Karon v. Karon, 435 N.W.2d 501, was a landmark case in Minnesota that basically says once spousal maintenance is determine, neither party can approach the court to modify spousal maintenance. The good – spousal maintenance cannot be increased. The bad – if you get hurt and no longer make what you use to, you cannot go back to court to lower spousal maintenance. A Karon waiver is usually put into a divorce decree to limit future legal battles over spousal maintenance.

What’s the difference between parenting time vs custody?
Parenting time is a schedule of time in which each parent spends time with the kids. Custody is a legal designation regarding the child’s physical location (Physical Custody) and parenting decision making (Legal Custody). Physical custody is the address (physical location) of the primary parent. Legal custody is about decision making, who can make decisions regarding school, health and religion. Custody can be “joint” (both parents have equal say in the topic) , or “sole” one parent has all decision making authority.

Why can’t I get 50 percent parenting time?
Your best situation is to negotiate parenting time between you and your spouse. If you can’t and others get involved (mediators, lawyers, judges), 50% parenting time with young children becomes less frequent. But in older children (over age 8 – 10) 50% parenting time is more common.

There are several factors mediators and judges looks at for parenting time (see MN Statute 517.175); all decisions are supposed to be centered around the theme “child’s best interest”. One common sense factor is distance. If the parents live 20 miles apart, it is perceived by the courts that during the week it would be very hard on younger kids to travel back and forth during the school year (getting the child to school) without waking the child up very early.

How do you start the divorce process?
Either way, with out without lawyers divorce follows a process:

  • Petition – notice that you want a divorced. If both of you agree on all things, you can file a joint petition.
  • Service – the spouse not filing for divorce is delivered legal notice of divorce (in a joint petition , this does not occur
  • Initial Case Management Hearing – first meeting with judge to understand the factors in your case.
  • SENE – If custody and parenting time are not decided mediation is ordered (Social Early Neutral Mediation or SENE)
  • FENE – If finances have not been resolved mediation is ordered (Financial Early Neutral Mediation or FENE)
  • Judgement and Decree – is the written final agreement that is submitted to the court and recorded at the county

What are Parenting Consultants?
A Parenting Consultant (PC) is used as a neutral third party when the two parents cannot agree on certain decisions; it is similar to arbitration in that the PC will be the decision maker. A PC is usually recommended in high conflict divorces.

You can see the value in our meetings. The information above is just the tip of the iceberg regarding what was shared and the value you get out of meeting. Meetings are more powerful when you come to get your specific questions answered and then have a discussion about it. Discussions lead to connecting with other men.

That is what The Network is all about:

  • Connecting through shared experiences
  • Learning from experts and from one another
  • Supporting each other through this difficult time
  • Advocating for each other
  • Gaining internal strength through numbers

Please join us. By coming to a meeting to help yourself, it helps each other, and together … we will build a community.

The post Dispelling Divorce Process Fears appeared first on The Divorce Men's Network.

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It feels like you’re in a dating nightmare. You’re body temperature rises, you get that hot, uncomfortable feeling. You’ve have that fake, half pierced smile on your face, just to be nice. Your hands sweat. You try to make small talk while inside your head you are trying to think of your exit strategy.

Or maybe you’re just saying “really?”, and just laugh at the whole thing. Either way, in the end you just want to get the hell out of there.

Reflecting back on dating, I was there too many times – bad dates and just going through the motions and picking a time to exit. Now they are hilariously funny stories, but when they were happening … well, not so much.

At our October 12th meeting we share bad first date experience. One man shared a story where his date said “You know, I’ll need to do a background check on you.” Say what?

Luckily we had professional match maker, Michelle Braun, from Elite Private Search (affiliated with It’s Just Lunch), at the meeting. We inter-mixed dating horror stories with dating tips:

  • How many drinks should you have on the first few dates? Rule of thumb is one drink for the number of dates (one drink on first date, two on second). After two, use your best judgement.
  • Where to meet on the first date? Make it a fun, public place like a drink at a bar or coffee at a coffee shop.
  • How long should the first date be? No more than two hours. (Personally I like the one hour rule – always keep them wanting more.)
  • Wehn trading messages online, what are ways to know she’s interested in you? How quickly is she responding to texts, emails or phone calls? The faster the more interested. Has she expressed interest in meeting you?
  • So, what do women really want in a man? Someone that makes her laugh, can have an intelligent conversation, asks interesting questions, and his appearance shows he cares for himself.

Some of the stories we shared were: “Schedule sex with me Sally.” The exceptionally good at oral sex septuagenarian (so she says). Or the cancer survivor princess who requires that her boyfriend pays for everything (because she deserves it).

I’m not sure if I’m turned off by all the stories and never want to date again (well I am remarried now, so no need to answer that one). Or do I laugh my head off and want to go out on dates just to be able to share such incredible stories (well the wife would get mad)!!

I share this to let you all know what a Network meeting is all about:

  • Connect by sharing stories
  • Learn from experts and from one another
  • Support and advocate for each other
  • Create strength through numbers – a community

Please join us at our next meeting. By coming to a meeting to help yourself, we help each other, and together … we build a community.

The post Dating Horror Stories appeared first on The Divorce Men's Network.

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