Transcript from Interview
Christopher B.: Hi everyone and welcome to another edition of the StayMarriedFlorida.com podcast series. As always, I’m your host, Christopher Bruce, a West Palm Beach divorce lawyer.
Christopher B.: Today’s topic is going to be on co-parenting in a divorce or a when you’re going to be separating from the parent of your children. I’m going to be interviewing Lisheyna Hurvitz, and it was really a great interview that we did in my office, which we also taped. So without further ado, here is the interview with Lisheyna.
Lisheyna H.: I need a cheat sheet for what I do. I do so much. But my background is that I’ve been doing counseling for over 40 years, and I work with individuals, groups, and couples. What I like to do is teach people how to have better communication.
Lisheyna H.: I find that the common breakdown in marriages and pretty much in families is a breakdown in communication. I would say that that’s what I really do, is teach people how to communicate. I also, as another part of my work, do sex crime victim healing, where I help people heal from traumatic experiences so that they can have a better life and move forward.
Christopher B.: Thank you for that introduction. I know you know a lot about what we’re going to talk about here today. I think it’s kind of how we met at a mental health counselor’s type event.
Christopher B.: When it comes to the issue of trying to have the best parenting relationship for the sake of your children after a divorce or after, you know, in this day and age, people who are never married that are ending their relationship, where should people be starting? I know we have a couple of things and it’s a couple layers of complexity to it, but where should people be starting in that process?
Lisheyna H.: Well, I think that one of the things that’s important to ask yourself is, “Where am I in this process? Am I still really upset with my ex partner?” If I am, what do I need to do and how can I handle my feelings so that I don’t take my upset out on my children.
Lisheyna H.: Usually you would go to an attorney and the attorney would explain the law and the financial things and the emotional stuff kind of gets pushed aside. In my experience, the emotional issues are driving this.
Christopher B.: Yeah, really.
Lisheyna H.: Yeah. I mean people are really angry with each other and they sort of make a decision to split or a choice to split over various emotional reasons. And then they go to a lawyer to legally separate things and then the lawyer tells them about this parenting stuff. But, they’re not over their initial upset with their partner.
Christopher B.: What do the people do when they’re at that point? I think we were saying earlier, they kind of have to make a choice how they feel.
Lisheyna H.: Well, they have to be honest about how they feel. You have to ask yourself, “How do I really feel?” Am I really still angry?” Usually the answer’s “yes.” You want to work with a counselor in conjunction with your lawyer so that you can sort through your marital or relationship issues separately from your parenting issues.
Lisheyna H.: In my experience, all this stuff is normally clumped together and they’re very separate things. Your finances are over here, that’s money. The law is over here and here’s your emotional barometer or temperature. You know, where what’s going on emotionally affects every other area.
Lisheyna H.: I think it’s important to be honest with yourself and with your attorney and say, “You know what? I’m not ready to co-parent. I need some counseling first to get over being so angry. I don’t want him to have the kids at all,” or “I don’t want her to see the kids at all.”
Christopher B.: That’s a big thing. I mean, I see it with people and trying to get them to go get professional help on that because it’s just when they’re in the moment, they don’t realize what’s actually going on. It really does have them making poor decisions.
Lisheyna H.: It makes for emotionally-driven decisions.
Christopher B.: Yeah, which I see you often for. But you know, after people get real with themselves and then figure out what’s going on, what should they be looking to do next?
Lisheyna H.: Talk to their lawyer and say, “Well, who do you recommend? I need some counseling. I need to sort through my feelings.” The lawyer hopefully will say to them, “Listen, Mrs. Jones, you’re really upset with your ex-husband and before we proceed, why don’t you work with this counselor who I can recommend. She works on Skype. She works by phone. There are lots of different ways to work with her and you can sort through some of these feelings before I can really address the legal issues with you because I don’t think you’d be able to hear this when you’re listening to your own emotional upset, and that doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you, Mrs. Jones.”
Lisheyna H.: That’s critical. There’s nothing wrong with people. It’s identifying the process. It’s really identifying, I’m emotionally upset with him. You’re a fine person and you get to deal with your feelings. That’s it.
Lisheyna H.: You don’t think there’s something wrong with you when I would hire you as a lawyer, but you would think there’s something wrong with you if you came to me as a counselor, “Well, I must be messed up.” No, that’s not true.
Christopher B.: That’s a common misconception. I mean, I used to… I’ve been pretty open about the fact I used to think that way until I started doing this stuff all the time. People in your field make a big difference. They’re a big help, and there’s nothing wrong with somebody for going and getting help. It’s, I think, where the silliness is. I’ll use that word, as by not recognizing there’s an issue they could use help with.
Lisheyna H.: Well, there’s a stigma. There’s no stigma going to a lawyer, but there’s a stigma about seeing a counselor. When I first got divorced and I had issues, I had plumbing issues, and the potty overflowed, I had to call a plumber. Well, I didn’t know anything about this, but there wasn’t a stigma hiring a plumber. This is ridiculous.
Lisheyna H.: It’s really about educating your clients and the public that everything is important. You go to a dentist to fix your teeth, to keep your oral hygiene. You hire a trainer at the gym to get better at working out. So you hire a communications expert to help you communicate.
Lisheyna H.: That’s what I tell people. I don’t call myself a therapist. I call myself a communications consultant because that’s what I do. I help people communicate with themselves and then with other people.
Christopher B.: For these two parents or somebody listening to this who is watching it as a parent, getting ready to go through a divorce, and they kind of go through with what we’ve talked about already, where should their thoughts be going next? They really, at the end of the day, do want to be the best parent to their child or children as possible.
Lisheyna H.: Well, that’s good. That’s great.
Christopher B.: Yeah, I guess getting there is the-
Lisheyna H.: Right. So going from point A to that point, is where there’s a breakdown in the system because then the system provides access to a parenting person. There’s lots of people you can use. But prior to that you want to not drag the relationship upset into parenting.
Lisheyna H.: I think that’s the most important part, is to recognize that. Before you would build a building, let’s say, and there’s another building there, you would clear the building, then you would clear the dirt, and then there’s this nice flat ground to build something new on.
Lisheyna H.: So how about we clear the upset and we clear the previous issues and we come to a new place where you could agree to disagree? You could agree to not like the other person. And then you could agree to come together as mom and dad because you’re going to be parents forever and you’re not married forever.
Lisheyna H.: There’s a dissolution of the marital relationship or the couple relationship, whatever you want to call that, and then there is no dissolution of the mom and dad relationship. What I would recommend is really then working with a counselor to be the best mom, to be the best dad and listening to your lawyer and listening to your financial consultant so that you build in a structure for your children where they can thrive and they’re not pulled apart by your previous upset.
Lisheyna H.: That’s really what I think is the most important thing. They are raised knowing they have a mother that loves them and a father that loves them and they’re important. How does that sound?
Christopher B.: Sounds pretty good. I guess probably easier in theory then in practice for some people, but that’s why professionals exist to help with this stuff.
Lisheyna H.: But you can help people when they’re available to listen to you and to receive your help. But if somebody, the father comes to you and he’s angry and upset and you’re going to discuss the procedure and case law and what he needs to do, he’s not going to listen. He’s like, “Oh, I’m going to get back at her. I’m going to…”
Lisheyna H.: There’s no listening. What I am suggesting for attorneys and for you as mom and dad is to create a ground of listening where you can get your upset. It’s like a glass of water. If it’s filled with water, you can’t pour more water in it. You have to dump the water out and then you have an empty glass and then you can put some law in there, you can put some finances in there, put some parenting in there, but there’s some room, right?
Christopher B.: Yeah.
Lisheyna H.: That’s the simple description. My suggestion is to not overlook that at the beginning.
Christopher B.: Okay. Any other hot tips so to speak as people are going through the process?
Lisheyna H.: Yeah. Remember what’s important. At the end of the day, remember what’s important. You have children, you had them because you wanted them, and you love them, and don’t forget that part.
Lisheyna H.: Whatever is going on with you is going on with you. Your children need love. They need a mom love, a dad love, and grand mom, all the community, the family. If you can keep that kind of in the forefront, that will help guide you.
Christopher B.: It makes a lot of sense to me. Thank you for taking the time to explain this stuff. For the people that are watching this and are really anywhere that a phone or a video conference might work and they’re looking to talk to you more about how you might be able to help them, how should they go about trying to get in touch with you?
Lisheyna H.: I have a phone that tracks me, a phone number. It will find me anywhere. That’s (561) 922-7044 and you could leave me a voicemail and I’ll call you back. Leave me a detailed voicemail. I’m the only person that gets that.
Lisheyna H.: I have a website and it’s lisheyna.com and you could read about me. But I think the most useful way to find me is just to call me since I do counseling and I don’t check my email frequently, so don’t email me.
Christopher B.: Lucky. The law profession needs to switch to that. Of course, we’ll have your information that we’ll put up on a screen that when people are watching this, they’ll see it. And of course we have our website where we support counseling and efforts like the things that you do, staymarriedflorida.com.
Christopher B.: We’ll have all that information up there, but if anybody’s hearing this and they can’t track you down, they’re welcome to call our law firm, Bruce Law Firm, and we will put you in touch.
Christopher B.: Thank you for taking the time to do this. I think it’ll be helpful to a lot of people.
Lisheyna H.: Thank you for having me. If you are not in any area near me or you don’t feel like I would be a great fit, then I will help guide you to find a better fit for your lives and your relationship.
Christopher B.: That sounds awesome. Thank you very much.
Lisheyna H.: Thank you.