4 Apps for Busy Parents

Parents are busier than ever and always striving to keep their children active. Hancock Law Firm is here to help with a few suggestions to keep your family organized, learning, responsible, and still have a little fun!

Today, we’re sharing with you 4 Apps for busy parents! These Apps are available for Apple and Android users so try a few and be sure to leave us a note to let us know what you think! Do you have any favorites that didn’t make the list?

Cozi Family Organizer

This app simplifies family life by offering a family calendar that is interactive. You can keep track of everyone’s schedule with a brilliant color-coded calendar. The reminders tool allows you to set reminders for yourself and send reminders to other family members and even allows daily reminders and/or weekly agenda e-mails to family members. The App also offers you the option to create your shopping list and recipes and to share these with your family members. Never forget the shopping list when you’re at the grocery again! There’s a free version of the App (with ads) or an annual subscription available for a full, ad free experience. The paid subscription currently runs $29.99 per year.

DuoLingo

This is a learning App that makes learning a new language fun! The App offers French, Spanish, German, and over 27 other languages to choose from! This is a good back seat alternative to movies or YouTube for kids to play on the way to school in the morning or even for long road trips. There is something for every learning level (beginner, intermediate, and advanced) so everyone can join the fun. This App is completely free and has voice options that will play back how the words should be pronounced.

Chore Monster

Chore monster makes chores fun by engaging and rewarding your kids for completing the tasks. This App is aimed toward children ages 4 and older. Children earn points that can be used towards things like ice cream, an hour playing their favorite game, and many more. This App is completely free and user friendly .

Winnie the App

This App puts parents in touch with their local community. Parents can search for local child care providers, preschools, and fun child friendly events and activities.  Parents also have the option to ask other parents for advice or input on parenting issues they’re facing. We love the local aspect of this App because we know first hand that sometimes parents really need some help to find their “village.”

Have you tried any of these Apps for your family? What did you think? Do you use any others that you think should be added to the list? Let us know!

Ten Tips to Improve Your Negotiation Skills

by Autumn N. Hancock, Esq.

Negotiations are something that most everyone encounters in business and in everyday life. Whether it’s negotiating the terms of a business transaction, negotiating on behalf of a client at a mediation, or negotiating whether your child is allowed to stay up for 10 more minutes, honing your skills in this area is important.

As a mediator and an attorney, I’ve been involved in thousands of negotiations. This list is a very abbreviated version of what I have learned.

Here are 10 tips to help improve negotiation skills:

1. Be Prepared. You can never be too prepared. Even if you are a professional negotiator who has done this thousands of times, each set of facts is different. It’s important to prepare before each negotiation so that you can make well informed offers and decisions. In addition to knowing everything about the issue you’re negotiating, it’s helpful to learn as much as you can about the person on the other side. What are their needs? Why are they there? What are their risks. The more information you have, the stronger you will be in your negotiation.

2. Ask for What You Want. I once worked for a large litigation firm where a partner told me, “Women make less than men because they never ask for what they want.” While I disagree with his statement for many reasons, we all have to be careful not to fall into this trap. If you don’t ask for what you want in negotiations, it’s impossible to achieve your best outcome. Be assertive, but not aggressive. Start by letting people know what you or your client wants to achieve without anxiety and without inserting any feelings or accusations.

3. Aim High. If you expect more, you allow yourself to achieve more. I’ve worked with several successful negotiators who always open negotiations with an extreme stance. They use this strategy to gain a stronger starting position. Of course, this comes with the risk that the other side will walk away from the negotiations at the very outset. It doesn’t usually end this way though. People who ask for more than they expect to receive most often end up with a more satisfying result.

4. Stop Talking. This tip is the hardest for me personally but it’s so important. In order to be an effective negotiator, one must be a good listener. Successful negotiators gather information, they ask questions and then they stop talking. Ask open ended questions to the other side. It’s when you listen that you can learn the information you need to resolve the issues. Many negotiators follow the “70/30 rule” – talk 30 percent of the time and listen 70 percent of the time. Also, after you ask for what you want – STOP TALKING. Let the other side respond to your ask. If you keep going, chances are you will talk them out of giving you what you want. Embrace the awkward silences.

5. Don’t Focus on Your Reasons- Think About Theirs. If you spend your time focusing on the reasons that you need to resolve this situation, you may be working against yourself. In your mind, because you’re focused on your pressures, you will make the other side appear more powerful. While you need to be aware of them, don’t focus on the limitations of your position, focus on the strengths. If you think about the pressures being felt by the other side and the reasons that they need to make a deal, you will enhance your power and your negotiation position.

6. Satisfy Their Needs, Not Their Demands. Instead of responding to the demands being made by the other side, think about that they truly need to be satisfied. Look at the situation from their perspective and think about what concessions you can make that will add value for them but will have a very low cost for you or your client. Look to satisfy the basic needs of the other side. Focus on their needs, not their wants. This will allow a lot more negotiation room for your side to achieve its best outcome. Once you’ve figured out how to meet the basic needs of the other side, show them that their needs will be met.

7. Be Persistent. Negotiation requires an attitude that is persistent. Be resilient, especially under pressure. Often, the other side will try several strategies to move the negotiations in their favor, but a successful negotiator will be persistent and will stand firm. Eventually, this persistence will begin to break down the obstacles put up by the other side and will allow you to move forward towards a satisfactory outcome

8. Take Your Time. If you are in a hurry, you are more likely to make mistakes. If you have the most time, you will have the advantage. If the other side is in a rush to conclude the negotiations, and you are nonchalant about time, they will believe that you are not under any pressure. It will appear that you don’t need to make a deal. This is very likely to induce the other side to concede more and more in their position to entice you to agree.

9. Give Up Your Desire to Please. This means, don’t be willing to give away anything just to feel like you’re giving. Only concede when you’re getting something in return. When you give without receiving something in return, the other side will feel empowered to ask for more and more. Giving something up without asking for something in return is self-defeating. Make the other side earn the things you’re giving them by giving something up themselves. This is how you will work toward a beneficial resolution.

10. Be Ready to Walk Away. If you never consider walking away as an option, you will be more inclined to give in as a method to make a deal. Don’t be willing to take just any deal. Always negotiate with the knowledge that you can walk away if you can’t come to an agreement that is satisfactory. This will give you strength that the other side will feel

Do you have a tip you’d like to share? Feel free to comment below or send us a message!

7 Tips for Co-Parenting with Your Ex

As attorneys who’ve worked with divorcing and separating families for years, we think this is the hardest part for clients – CO-PARENTING. Now that you are separated or divorced, it is so important to your children that you can find some common ground with their other parent.

We could discuss this topic for days, but we know you don’t have time for that! Today, we are sharing 7 tips for co-parenting with your ex. We hope that these tips will aide you in peaceful collaboration with your ex.


Tip#1: Keep Communication Open

We know that it can be very hard to communicate with your ex- especially if the split was messy. Maybe you need to set some boundaries to make this work for you, but effective communication is absolutely required to co-parent well. You don’t need to talk to your ex about their dating life or help them pick out their outfit in the morning, but we suggest that you make sure to communicate with them about any issue concerning your child- scheduling, illness, school challenges or successes, field trips, or when your child has an argument with her best friend. This also prevents your child from taking advantage of you or your ex and manipulating your lack of communication. An open dialogue ensures that you are both on the same page about your children and that is what’s best for the kids. If you want to co-parent well, you need to communicate with your ex – whether you like it or not.


Tip#2: Let Your Kids Be Kids

Don’t let your negative feelings about your ex show when your children are around. Your emotions should not be what shapes a child’s perspective about their other parent. Don’t use your child as a messenger- talk to your co-parent directly. Don’t use your child as a private investigator to tell you what your ex is doing or who your ex is dating. Don’t use your kid to send child support back and forth. Remember, you must separate the father/mother role from the role of significant other, they may have been a terrible spouse but maybe they have the potential to become a great parent. If not, you will want your child to feel safe enough to talk to you about any issues that arise without worrying about how you will react. Kids are smart enough to figure out who their parents are without constantly hearing negative remarks from one side or the other.


Tip#3: Consistency

Try to work together with your ex to come up with a consistent routine for the children at both homes. This may include how much time the children spend on an ipad or in front of a television, what time they go to bed, how and when they do their homework, and what age they get their own phones, when they learn to drive, when they are old enough to date, what their curfew is, tattoos, piercings, and more. You may also find it helpful to discuss what role step-parents (or future step-parents) will play in the lives of the children. These discussions can really help establish expectations for each parent before conflict arises but can also be very healthy for children. Children need consistency to grow and to learn responsibility. It’s important for them to see and feel a similar routine while they spend time with each parent. This will help your children to feel safe and secure and to see that, though it looks different now, they still have a family.


Tip#4: Set Boundaries

In addition to setting consistent boundaries for your children, you may find it helpful to set healthy boundaries with your co-parent so that you’re not over involved in each other’s personal lives. The co-parenting relationship is about your children, not an excuse to stay connected with your ex. You do not need to divulge any more information than what you feel helps ensure that your children are doing well. Knowing every time your ex goes on a date or a vacation may trigger emotions that can throw your otherwise successful co-parenting relationship into a tailspin. Set reasonable boundaries.


Tip#5: Set Aside Your & Anger

If you’re reading this, chances are that it’s time to put what happened between you and your ex behind you and to come together for the sake of your children. If you can do this, you will be able to prevent lifelong division because of hate and unresolved anger. For many children, the transition of their nuclear family into two or more separate family units is very traumatic. During this time it is extremely important to put your children and their emotions first. To do this effectively, you will need to set your negative emotions aside.


Tip#6: Remember You’re a Team!

Co-parenting is a collaborative effort, and you are only as strong as your weakest player. So, stay strong and work together. Get apps and tools that will assist you in working together more peacefully and easily. If you need some suggestions on these, let us know. We are always happy to help!


Tip#7: Show Mutual Respect 
  

This is an opportunity for you to lead by example and to show your children that it is important to respect people even if they don’t agree with them or even get along with them. Showing respect for your co-parent will go a long way when something comes up that you disagree about. It is important that you don’t allow your children to disrespect their other parent in front of you and that you don’t show your children that you lack respect for their other parent. In addition to helping your co-parenting be more peaceful, this will help your children to build character and teach them important social skills.

We know first hand that parenting is no easy task. Add to that the unique dynamic that is co-parenting with an ex and you’ve certainly got your work cut out for you. But, this doesn’t have to be as difficult as some parents choose to make it. Keep it simple and when you want to give up just remember why you’re doing this!

8 Books to Read During Your Divorce

We often hear clients say that they feel completely alone during their divorce or feel that no one understands what they’re going through. Other clients feel unprepared and don’t know how to effectively protect their children or themselves from the difficult situations that arise during this transition. Here are some great books that can help with these feelings. In our office, we keep a “lending library” with some of these great selections available for clients to borrow. Stop by and borrow one!

Whether you like a book in hand, on your kindle, or an audiobook check out our list of great books for this “occasion.” Do you have a favorite book that isn’t on the list? Let us know in the comments.

Dr. Richard offers advice on how to:

  • Recognize early warning signs of trouble
  • React if your children refuse to see you
  • Respond to rude and hateful behavior
  • Avoid the seven common errors made by rejected parents.

Elaine Foster and Joseph Foster offers daily practices and information on:

  • Why your relationship did not work and what you can do about it
  • The truth about what our spouse is really running away from
  • Secrets to radical acceptance that help you stay in control no matter what is thrown at you

Suzanne Fennimore shares her personal triumph and how she got past heartbreak.  She shares information on:

  • What to do when divorce is unexpected
  • Keys to knowing you are deserving of love
  • How to come out on the other side changed

Susan K. Rowland offers insightful advice on:

  • How to begin to rebuild your emotional, physical and romantic life after divorce
  • How to acknowledge heartbreak
  • Practical and easy-to-follow steps to begin to mend a broken hear

Lisa Rene Reynolds PhD, provides practical advice on:

  • Reactions parents need to anticipate from their children while going through separation, divorce, and its after-math.
  • Provides listeners in a state of emotional distress with the practical, down-to-earth advice they need to sensibly and comfortingly guide their children through this often-painful process.
  • Covers the most common mistakes divorcing parents tend to make.

Bill Ferguson offers advice on:

*The process of healing the hurt, ending the cycle of conflict, and restoring the love, not as husband and wife, but as one human being to another

*How to let go, communicate, forgive, and how to take the conflict out of resolving issues

Sandra Hutchinson touches on what to do when the dream you gave up on arrives at the worst possible time. This book is based on a true story and a good read.

One Happy Divorce Hold the Bulls#!t offers it all- insightful and hearfelt anecdotes and a good laugh. They say laughter is the best medicine and Jennifer Weintraub is dosing it out. Through relatable stories and personal experiences, we learn that divorce doesn’t have to end in disaster. We know that a good marriage takes effort, well, so does a good divorce.

7 Ways to Move Past Hate

Martin Luther King once said that “Hate is too great a burden to bear”, and this proves to be true even after a great loss. We all know that sometimes don’t work out – marriages, intimate relationships, and friendships.

Hate is most often steeped in the idea that we have been personally wronged by the opposite party but harboring these thoughts and spending time with them weighs us down.

There is good news though: you have the power to change the way you think, react and deal with these emotions.

As attorneys who handle divorce, separation, and child custody cases every day, we often find ourselves lending an ear to clients about their feelings as well.

Today, we will share 7 simple ways to move past your hate and tolift the burden that it brings.

Tip # 1: Consider the WHY.

            We should always first consider why we feel that this person has wronged us. In considering why, we should ask ourselves whether the offense was truly harsh enough to cause an intense dislike for that person. If not, this should be reason enough to lift the burden.

Tip # 2: Keep yourself busy.

            Find things that make you happy and go after that happiness. Get back to your yoga class, call that old colleague for lunch.  Do whatever it is you need to get back your happy, so that you are not weighed down by hate.


Tip # 3: Change your outlook.

Sometimes in anger we look at a situation through frost colored glasses. Changing our entire outlook on a situation tends to change our attitude. When you change your attitude about a situation you change the attitude of your heart. If you can do that, you will be more willing to forgive and lift the heavy burden of hate.

Tip # 4: Look on the bright side.

We know that losing a relationship with someone you’ve put your trust in is especially hard because it can feel like you’re losing a piece of yourself. But, don’t forget that this also means that you’ve removed someone from your inner circle who probably didn’t deserve your trust- someone who didn’t have your back. Now that this potentially toxic person is out of your life, you will have time and space to truly live your best life. Bounce back stronger than ever! You now have space and time to heal yourself from the wreckage that was that relationship. This also means that you’ve cleared space for someone who deserves your time and your love .

Tip # 5: Just FAKE it.

When you fake happiness and contentment for long enough, the chemicals in your brain can change. Eventually, you will actually start to believe what you’re showing on the outside and then you’ll start to feel it.

Tip # 5: Practice gratitude. 

Any time you catch yourself focusing on the hate or anger, immediately stop and try to name 3 things you’re grateful for in that moment. At the end of your gratitude list, you will have changed your focus and let go of the hate you were feeling in that moment. Now, you have regained control over your day and can move forward in peace. You can do this as many times as you need to throughout your day. The more you practice gratitude, the less control hate will have over you.

Tip # 6: Write a Letter.

For a lot of people, strong emotions are not something they like to keep to themselves. Before you upset your divorce attorney by posting all about your feelings on Facebook or sharing nasty quotes about your ex on Instagram, write it down in private. Before you tell your friends for the 16th time how you feel about it, write it down in private. Before you call your mom for the 8th time today, write it down in private. Write a letter addressed to that person and write down the feelings you may not have been able to express to that person directly. It allows you to safely deal with your emotions in a safe space while releasing the weight that is hate.

Note: If I am your divorce lawyer, I will always tell you NOT to send the letter to anyone.

Tip # 7: Forgive

My mother once said that “forgiveness is for you, not for the other person.” This was after a nasty break up. At the time, I could not fathom the idea of forgiving my ex. She was right. I stopped thinking about how terrible he was or wondering if he would ever change. Through forgiveness, I was able to refocus on my goals and my life. Instead of focusing on my hate, forgiveness allowed me to move on and make sure history didn’t repeat itself.

Litigation is stressful. We often talk to clients who are experiencing some of the most difficult times of their lives. What can you do to help minimize the stress of handling legal issues?

 

  • Communicate with your lawyer. As lawyers, we are usually pretty busy but that will not stop us from an addressing an issue, question, or concern of our clients. You should always feel free to call or email your attorney and relax knowing that we will get back to you as soon as we are able.
  • Take notes. When you are meeting with your lawyer, it makes sense to take notes, right? What about those times in the middle of the night? Or when you are working on things related to your case on the weekend? It is often helpful to dedicate a notebook to you case and jot down thoughts and questions as they come to you. Then you can share these notes with your attorney when the need arises.
  • Be organized. Whether in paper or electronically, work out a system to stay organized. Place documents in file folders by topic. Put things in date order. Keep it all in one place.
  • Keep everything. It is never fun to have to back track and find documents. It can also sometimes cost additional money. When you have documents, keep them until you are sure that you will not need them.
  • Bring it with you. Too often clients and potential clients come to our office to meet with the attorney and do not bring necessary documentation with them. It is better to bring something and not need it than to come to a meeting and not be able to do everything because you are missing documents.
  • Set limits. It can often feel like litigation takes over your life. You can set boundaries for litigation in your life by doing things such as setting aside specific time to work on your case or making certain days “litigation free” days. While it may feel like litigation is over burdensome, remind yourself to set limits.

Trust me we all struggle to do some of the things above. If you do not believe me, you should check out the front seat of my car that is usually covered in all the things that accumulate in a day! Hopefully some of these tips will enable you to stress less and feel prepared to assist the attorney in your case.

Attorneys Autumn Hancock and Rachel Bennett recently attended the Lawyers for Young Adults Pro Bono Project Continuing Legal Education Seminar. The seminar provided instruction and guidance on assisting young adults who are aging out of the foster care system. These young folks are often entitled to living assistance, payment for college courses, and other opportunities but it can be tricky to navigate the systems that provide these benefits.

Hancock Law Firm is committed to providing pro bono services to members of our community who need but cannot afford legal representation. The under-represented youth aging out of the Foster Care System are particularly important to both Autumn and Rachel because each attorney has a personal connection to this group. Autumn has worked with at-risk youth in the past and Rachel’s father was a child in Foster Care in his youth.

The Firm is excited to engage in assisting young people to get a great start on adulthood and ensure that they receive all benefits that they are entitled to. Stay tuned as we look forward to sharing our exciting stories in this field of law!

I remember the first time my Dad told me he was adopted. I was not quite old enough or wise enough to really understand what he meant at the time but I was savvy enough to know that being adopted at the age of 13 was somewhat unusual. My grandparents on my Dad’s side were older than my other grandparents but that did not stop them from being amazing. My grandmother taught me how to play the piano, how to appreciate and cook gourmet foods, how to appreciate afternoon tea and fancy china dishes, and much more.

Adoption has shaped my life. I would not have been successful in school and been able to develop a career as a professor, lawyer, and firm administrator without my Dad. He would likely not be the man he is today without his adoptive parents. He was raised by abusive parents who frequently put him on a train between Tarpon Springs and Boston, by himself, because neither of them wanted to parent him. He went from foster homes to The Children’s Home Society in Jacksonville.

That is where his life changed. He met my grandparents. He was adopted at thirteen – with all of the strife that comes with being a teenage boy. He was shown unconditional love and support. He was taught discipline. He was given stability and a place to flourish. He went on to have a successful career in banking and church administration but the thing that is most impressive to me is that he became the greatest Dad in the world.

Despite all of the odds against him, my Dad thrived in his adopted home and was able to take his experiences – good and bad – and use them to shape his life into something wonderful. Adoption changes lives in real ways.

Hancock Law Firm is proud to work with families seeking to adopt children and we know how lucky we are to be a small part of a process that has real power to change lives.

As told by Rachel Bennett, a lawyer who was shaped by adoption.