Category Archives: Dr. Jeffrey Arden Psychologist

8 Insights – Divorce & Child Custody by Forensic Psychologist Jeffrey Arden

Divorce and Child Custody – Some Thoughts

JEFFREY ARDEN, Ph.D.

Forensic Psychologist

Few things in life that a family goes through are upending as a divorce, and even more so when young children are involved. From working as a child custody evaluator for 20 plus years, I have gained some useful insights that seem to lessen the trauma.

 

Insight 1: Come up with a parenting agreement.

Divorcing parents are usually encouraged to come up with a custody agreement, also called a parenting plan, usually with the help of their attorneys. Ideally, a written parenting agreement or plan defines how both parents are going to share time and decision-making regarding the children. It helps set the stage for a successful post-divorce relationship because it sets clear expectations, which in turn can reduce conflict between the two of you and lessen a child’s confusion regarding roles, schedules, and commitments.

You can work with your spouse/partner to negotiate and write down a parenting agreement yourselves or you can seek the help of a child custody mediator or other specialists. Whatever agreement is reached, it’s important to know that your parenting agreement can be made a court order so that you can enforce it if your spouse doesn’t live up to its terms.

 

Insight 2: Know the different types of child custody.

The parenting agreement is largely designed to determine how child custody will be handled. The term “child custody” refers to the rights and responsibilities parents have for taking care of their children. Topics like child custody will typically be included in the final divorce decree, also known as a judgment of divorce, which essentially declares that your marriage is dissolved.

There are several types of custody, so it’s important to know what type of custody you’re deciding on. For example:

Legal custody refers to your ability as a parent to make the major decisions about a child’s life, such as medical treatment, which school he or she will attend or whether they will be raised according to certain religious beliefs.

Physical custody is when you gain the right to have the child live with you and involves his or her day-to-day care. When the child lives primarily with one parent, that parent is recognized as the custodial parent with full physical custody or sole physical custody. The other parent is considered the non-custodial parent and would be awarded visitation rights. It’s also possible that you may share physical custody with the other parent, which means the children alternate between households. The rules regarding legal and physical custody vary by state and individual circumstances, so it’s generally best to involve an attorney to ensure the best outcome for your kids.

Sharing child custody

When it comes to deciding legal and physical custody of the children, courts can and do make any number of arrangements. Some parents may share physical custody but not legal; some may share legal custody but physical custody may be split to accommodate living with one parent while going to school and visiting the other parent in the summer. Here are some of the terms related to how custody is commonly divided:

Sole custody means only one parent has the legal capacity to act on the child’s behalf. In physical custody, this often means the child spends all or a majority of time with this parent.

Joint custody means both parents share joint legal custody and joint physical custody. This arrangement can be established either by a parenting agreement or it can be ordered by the judge.

Split custody is where custody is shared equally or at least one parent has substantially more time with the children than the other. In many cases, this exists when one parent is the custodial parent during the school year and the other during summer vacation.

Third-person custody is when a court awards custody of the children to a third party if they have sought custody. The third party (e.g., a grandparent) may have become the primary caregiver for a child or children when circumstances arise where the parents are unable to care for the children or due to the death of the biological parents.

If you cannot agree on a custody arrangement, the judge handling the divorce will decide the matter for you. The child custody laws in most states require judges to consider the best interests of the child when it comes to determining custody. Several factors are considered by the court.

Insight 3: Come prepared for child custody proceedings.

If you and your spouse are not able to work out a child custody arrangement, you will need to attend family court with the goal of obtaining an arrangement that will be in the best interest of the child(ren). A child custody hearing is a proceeding used to determine temporary orders and some procedural matters. A child custody trial is when you and the other parent present evidence and arguments for the judge to use in making a final decision. The judge will also review your rights and duties as a parent. When deciding on custody, courts can make any number of arrangements. For example, some parents may share physical but not legal custody or vice versa.

Prior to your court appearance, it’s best to work with an experienced attorney who can walk you through the proceedings and outline what to expect. Additionally, be sure to document all your interactions with your child(ren), as well as any discussions with your spouse, whether it’s in person or phone calls, emails, texts, etc.

 

Insight 4: During the court proceedings, be prepared to:

Answer questions from the judge regarding details of your day-to-day schedule and your ability and resources to care for the child(ren).Present documents that indicate things like your employment status and income. State your case in a succinct, rational manner for why you should be awarded partial or full custody. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to have your thoughts collected and assure the court that you truly want what is best for your child(ren) rather than what is “fair” to you. As well, try to not point fingers or lay blame on the other parent during the proceedings, as the judge’s main role will be to evaluate the information you provide to the court, not personal opinions.

 

Insight 5: Understand your rights for visitation.

If you do not have physical custody of the children, it’s still possible for you to have visitation rights. A visitation schedule is usually decided between the parents, but if you cannot agree, a judge may decide the matter for you. Visitation is different than custody, as it is typically defined as how you will spend time with your child. Visitations may be unsupervised, in which you can visit your children without the other parent present, or supervised, in which a third party is present to monitor your interaction. Supervised visits are often required when there is a concern for the safety/well-being of the child(ren).Make the most of your visits by actively listening to your child(ren), limiting distractions (like a text or call that comes in) and being fully engaged in whatever activity you’re doing with your child(ren).

 

Insight 6: Show up on time, keep your promises.

Regardless of what type of custody you’ve been awarded, or what your opinions may be of the arrangement, your main job is to keep up with your end of the deal. That means showing up on time for court proceedings, scheduled visits, events or school, and daycare drop-offs/pick-ups. Also, refrain from talking about the status of the divorce proceedings in front of or to the children. Make sure that any promise you make to your child is realistic and can be readily kept. For example, a trip to an amusement park that’s canceled at the last minute will only work to erode the trust and stability you’ve worked so hard to build. Also, never think that gifts can make up for being consistently late or failing to follow through on your promises. Remember that the most valuable thing you can give your children during this difficult period is your time.

 

Insight 7: Learn how to talk to kids about divorce.

Even in the most “friendly” divorces, children rarely have much say about what’s going on, yet they are greatly affected. Even if they know they are loved by both parents, it usually takes many years for children to understand the situation. The good thing is that the majority of children do adapt. Here are a few ways to help them through the transition:

  • Watch for signs that they may be having a hard time with the issues and be open to counseling for that child or for you and that child when they need it.
  • Never talk poorly about the other parent in front of your child. This creates resentment and bad feelings all around.
  • Be open and upfront about the “new normal” and clearly communicate the changes that may impact your child. Invite an honest discussion and make sure your child has the chance to express his or her fears, feelings and frustration.
  • Also, know that your child(ren) will likely wish you and your spouse were still together, but as time goes by, often they will accept the divorce.

A final Insight:

Always try to negotiate the custody of your child with his or her best interests as the sole intention. One of the worst experiences children can suffer in a divorce is when they realize a parent has ulterior motives or they feel “caught in the middle” between parents fighting about them in a drawn-out custody battle.

DYSLEXIA-EDUCATING EDUCATORS

Help with Dyslexia

DYSLEXIA-EDUCATING EDUCATORS

Jeffrey Arden, Ph.D.

Educating educators about dyslexia, and teaching children with dyslexia has been a long-
standing major problem in the United State as well as in other countries. This is a problem that exists not just in public schools, but in private schools, expensive or otherwise. The problems in having remained ignorant and/or inert with respect to this issue are legion. Numerous studies have identified moderate to high correlations between non-identified dyslexics and children that have a number of mental health issues. Unfortunately, there are all too many well-documented cases whereby children attempted to conceal their difficulties by avoiding circumstances and situations where they were likely to fail and the adoption of dysfunctional diversionary problematic behaviors. The literature is replete with accounts of hundreds of children, now adults, who spoke of their embarrassment, anxiety, humiliation, and guilt. Consequently, they lost confidence in themselves as learners and often lost friends, and experienced many failures socially. I haven’t meant to tirade on, however, this is one particular issue that I feel passionate about, is fairly easy to remedy, and by teaching teachers to identify children with dyslexia, and have them educated accordingly is something that can and must be done both in the UK and in the United States.

PROGRESS IN ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE

PROGRESS IN ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE

Jeffrey Arden, Ph.D.

About 5.3 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, and this number is expected to triple to nearly 16 million by the year 2050 per the Alzheimer’s Association. Currently, there is no effective treatment or cure for the disease that is characterized primarily by eroding senses, cognition, and coordination, and ultimately death.

The loss of one’s sense of smell is known to be one of the earliest known impairments caused by Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers have found that by restoring a plaque-forming protein, a study utilizing research animals indicated that the sense of smell could be restored. The study led by a Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine researcher confirms that the protein called amyloid beta is the primary culprit. According to Daniel Wesson, Ph.D. “the evidence indicates we can use the sense of smell to determine if someone may get Alzheimer’s disease, and use changes in sense of smell to begin treatments, instead of waiting until someone has learning issues and problems remembering.” We know that the loss of smell can be caused by a number of ailments, exposures, and injuries, but since the 1970s, it has been identified as an early sign of a sign of Alzheimer’s.

ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE - Psychology & Alzheimer's on the Brain

The new research shows how and where in the brain this happens, and that the impairment can be treated. Further, it is believed that understanding smell loss will hold some clues about how to slow down this disease. In this particular study, it was noted that early on, the part of the brain called the olfactory bulb, where odor information from the nose is processed, became hyperactive. Over time, however, the level of amyloid beta increased in the olfactory bulb, and it became less active or hypoactive. The research team tried something interesting. They sought to reverse the effects and injected the animals with a drug that clears amyloid beta from the brain. After two weeks on the drug, the animals could process smells normally. After then withdrawing the drug for one week, impairments then returned. This is only one of a number of exciting new experiments that show great hope for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.

Behavioral training improves connections in the brain

Behavioral training improves connections in the brain

by  originally posted on JULY 30, 2011 · in INTEGRATIVE HEALTHCAREMINDFUL THINKING

The results of a recent study of children with poor reading skills who underwent an intensive, six-month training program to improve their reading ability showed increased connectivity in a particular brain region. This was in addition to making significant gains in reading, according to a study funded in part by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

The study was published in the Dec. 10, 2009, issue of Neuron. “We have known that behavioral training can enhance brain function.” said NIMH Director Thomas R. Insel, M.D.

“The exciting breakthrough here is detecting changes in brain connectivity with behavioral treatment. This finding with reading deficits suggests an exciting new approach to be tested in the treatment of mental disorders, which increasingly appear to be due to problems in specific brain circuits.”

For the study, Timothy Keller, Ph.D., and Marcel Just, Ph.D., both of Carnegie Mellon University, randomly assigned 35 poor readers ages 8?, to an intensive, remedial reading program, and 12 to a control group that received normal classroom instruction.

Sticks and stones may break my bones but names can really hurt me

by  Orginally posted on DECEMBER 7, 2010  · in MINDFUL THINKING

A recently published article in the American Journal of Psychiatry, penned by Martin H. Teicher, M.D., Ph.D., Jacqueline A. Samson, Ph.D., Yi-Shin Sheu, M.A., Ann Polcari, R.N., Ph.D., and Cynthia E. McGreenery, revealed some fascinating and troubling findings. Among these, the researchers note that exposure to physical and verbal aggression from peers, perpetrated by other children who are not siblings and are not necessarily age-mates, is a highly prevalent form of childhood stress.

Victims of peer aggression show the scars; they have increased rates of depression, suicidal ideation, loneliness, and even psychosis. Additionally, their grades are lower, their absentee rates higher, they are more likely to carry weapons to school and to engage in fights, they are likely to suffer more injuries, abuse over-the-counter medications, and intentionally hurt animals.