The story behind the facts: How to get someone to talk

Written on July 2, 2013 by David C. Sarnacki

The New York Times Opinionator reminds us that what’s good for writers is good for us all. When you are “seeking the unknown — the story behind the facts,” the secret is is simple.

Lee Gutkind writes (excerpt):
This is the first lesson for writers — or anyone — who conducts interviews: If you want someone to talk, you’ve got to know how to listen. And good listening is a surprisingly active process. The interviewee is your focus of attention; you are there to hear what he says and thinks, exclusively.
This is a key point to remember. It is fine and often delightfully surprising to permit interviewees to go off on tangents — sometimes they absolutely need to tell you something, and sometimes what they tell you will be valuable material to supplement your story. But you must keep the primary narrative in mind . . . .

Kaganizing erudition: Writing the readable Supreme Court opinion

Written on July 1, 2013 by David C. Sarnacki

The New York Times recognizes Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan and her writing style. The editorial notes her goal of writing so that non-lawyers can understand and her usage of techniques to enhance understanding.

Lincoln Kaplan writes (excerpt):
She is a master of the topic sentence (“A trip back in time begins to show why”) and the stylish dig (“wrong, wrong, and wrong again”). Yet what puts her in a class by herself is her combination of down-to-earth writing and the ingredients essential to influential opinions: conceptual insight, penetrating legal analysis and argumentative verve.

Your baby or your phone: Who most deserves your attention?

Written on June 24, 2013 by David C. Sarnacki

The State Bar of Michigan’s Blog highlighted The Atlantic WordPlay post “Papa Don’t Text: The Perils of Distracted Parenting.” The author discovered parents pushing strollers and interacting with their phones instead of their children.

Deborah Fallows writes (excerpt):
These studies suggest that social interaction is important to early language learning. Of course, everyone learns to talk. But how ironic is it that, in this era when child-rearing is the focus of unprecedented imagination, invention, sophistication, and expense, something as simple and pleasurable as conversing with our children can be overlooked? As Dimitri Christakis, one of the authors of the Pediatrics paper, put it to me, “You can only do one thing at a time: talk to the baby or talk on the phone.”

Grand Rapids divorce attorney named Leading Lawyer in Michigan Family Law

Written on May 13, 2013 by David C. Sarnacki

David C. Sarnacki recently was named a “Leading Lawyer” in Michigan Family Law. His past designations include selection as one of “The Best Lawyers in America,” designation as a “Michigan Super Lawyer,” and acceptance as a fellow in the Michigan State Bar Foundation. Mr. Sarnacki concentrates his practice in the areas of family law, mediation, and collaborative divorce. He is a past chairperson of the Grand Rapids Bar Association’s Family Law Section (2003) and of the State Bar of Michigan’s Family Law (2006-2007), Litigation (2000-2001), and Law Practice Management (1995-1996) Sections. A frequent commentator on trial advocacy, family law, and mediation, Mr. Sarnacki has served on the faculties of the National Institute of Trial Advocacy/Hofstra University School of Law, U.S. Attorney General’s Advocacy Institute, Davenport University, and ICLE in Ann Arbor.

Great moms make great kids . . . and make those kids handle their own “small, affordable mistakes”

Written on May 8, 2013 by David C. Sarnacki

Love & Logic reminds us that parenting is sometimes counter-intuitive and offers comfort to “the best moms,” mothers who refrain from the urge to be a helicopter parent.

Dr. Charles Fay writes in the Insider’s Club newsletter (excerpt):
On this Mother’s Day holiday, I hope to encourage all of the wonderful mothers who let things fall apart from time to time . . . who understand the wisdom of providing a rather imperfect world for their kids.

The divorce roller coaster: Tips for handling your emotions and staying sane

Written on April 22, 2013 by David C. Sarnacki highlights ways that parents can remain emotionally stable during separation and divorce and make things liveable for their children.

Tina Paone and Thomas Petrelli listed these 4 tips (excerpt):
1. Don’t Play the Blame Game
2. Custody Is Not a Battle to Be Won
3. Acknowledge Change
4. Keep an Open Mind

Teaching children the value of doing something

Written on March 25, 2013 by David C. Sarnacki

CNN Opinion reveals Mick Jagger’s parenting philosophy on not spoiling your children.

Ruben Navarrette Jr. writes (excerpt):
But those are the wrong questions. We need ask ourselves only one question: Will buying my child this item teach him positive values or negative ones?
Like the saying goes, you want to leave your kids enough money so they can do something with their lives — but not so much that they can do nothing.

Anyone Youer than You?

Written on March 2, 2013 by David C. Sarnacki

Today, Theodor Geisel’s birthday, is a good day to grab a Dr. Seuss book and read it with someone you love. It was Dr. Seuss who said, “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”

Will you represent me . . . in my divorce . . . against your mother?

Written on February 4, 2013 by David C. Sarnacki

The Las Vegas Review-Journal spotlighted the Nevada Supreme Court’s ruling allowing a son–an attorney–to represent his father in a divorce action against his mother.

Ed Vogel writes (excerpt):
In the decision written by Justice James Hardesty, the court said that several Nevada Rules of Professional Conduct allow a lawyer to represent a family member and that “no rule prohibits [the son's] conduct in this case.”

Questions, answers: You want answers? I want the truth! You can’t handle the truth! [A Few Good Men (1992)]

Written on January 16, 2013 by David C. Sarnacki

CNN and all other media outlets have reported on United States Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas breaking his nearly seven-year silence on Monday during oral arguments.

CNN reported (excerpt): “The next words were hard to hear in the back-and-forth between the justices. But Thomas made a joke about the competence of Yale lawyers when compared to their Harvard colleagues, according to two witnesses.”

The Huffington Post noted several years ago that Justice Sonia Sotomayor asked more questions during her first day of arguments than Justice Thomas had in years.

The Huffington Post reported (excerpt): “Sotomayor displayed no reticence on the first day of her first term on the court; in the two cases on the docket, she asked as many questions and made as many comments as Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. The only sign of her newness was that she at times forgot to turn on her microphone before posing a question.”

As NPR’s Nina Totenberg discovered oral arguments are perceived differently from each side of the bench: “Chief Justice Roberts, who for years was among the finest Supreme Court advocates, conceded that asking questions as a justice is a lot “less nerve-racking” than answering questions as a lawyer. “Stupid questions,” from a justice, he observed, are “a lot less harmful than giving stupid answers.”"

Beware the technological traps looming in your divorce landscape

Written on December 27, 2012 by David C. Sarnacki

The Huffington Post offers us a Top 10 tips list for traversing the intersection of technology and divorce.

Deborah S. Chames writes her top ten list (excerpt):
10. Beware of the iCloud. . . .
9. What’s in your browser history? . . . .
8. The iPad you left at home may still be connected to your iPhone. . . .
7. Location services on your phone or other mobile device can be used to track your whereabouts. . . .
6. If you get a new phone and give the old one to one of your children, make sure to restore it and remove your data before they take it to your ex’s house. . . .
5. Look out for automatically stored passwords. . . .
4. Look out for automatically stored credit card information as well. . . .
3. Nothing you post on the Internet is private. (If kids can see your pages, so can your spouse.)
2. Stalking: there’s an app for that. . . .
1. It bears repeating: Change Your Passwords.

Remote communication: documenting in the hopes of better parental relations

Written on November 26, 2012 by David C. Sarnacki

The New York Times plugs into the use of technology to avoid, mitigate or address communication problems between separated and divorced parents.

Pamela Paul writes (excerpt):
Let’s just say that no matter how well ex-spouses and still-parents coordinate, there’s a good chance of teary phone calls, angry exchanges during drop-off, and all-out fights about who’s not saving enough for college, often played out smack in front of the children.

Unless, of course, it’s all done remotely. These days, the cool aloofness of technology is helping temper sticky emotional exchanges between former spouses. And for the most part, according to divorce lawyers and joint-custody bearers, handling the details via high tech is a serious upgrade.

How to have a happy marriage

Written on October 19, 2012 by David C. Sarnacki

TedX shares Jenna McCarthy’s entertaining commentary on what it takes to have a happy marriage. An interesting 11-minute diversion that will stimulate your mind.

I’m OK, you’re not?: Acceptance versus control

Written on October 15, 2012 by David C. Sarnacki

Hour of Power reminds us of the influence that flows from changing our own minds and perspectives, rather than trying to control another human being.

Bobby Schuller writes (excerpt):
[I]n our marriages, many times we’re destroying our own teammate by trying to change them into something that we want them to be.

Research shows that the more you try to change someone, the more you criticize and challenge them, the more they dig in their heels and they try to justify whatever or whoever they are. It also shows that the more you can be accepting of another person, the more that you can show them love no matter what, it actually frees them to make the changes that you would really like to see made.

A son is a son till he takes him a wife, a daughter is a daughter all of her life. (Irish Saying)

Written on October 11, 2012 by David C. Sarnacki

CNN celebrates International Day of the Girl with some thought provoking comments by “leading women.”

Beyond Kids’ Rules: Resources for divorcing parents

Written on October 2, 2012 by David C. Sarnacki

HBO has posted resources in connection with its DON’T DIVORCE ME! KIDS’ RULES FOR PARENTS ON DIVORCE documentary. The resources highlight 7 organizations offering support to children, parents and families transitioning through separation and divorce, and some extend into blended families and being good stepparents.

Steps to a Happier Life

Written on October 1, 2012 by Peter Sarnacki

U.S. News offers research on how simple adjustments of habit may translate to greater feelings of fulfillment and well-being.  While strategies were provided for each age demographic, certain practices rang true for all:

  • Express gratitude
  • Cultivate optimism
  • Avoid overthinking and social comparison
  • Practice acts of kindness
  • Nurture social relationships
  • Develop strategies for coping
  • Learn to forgive
  • Increase flow experiences, or intense focus on the present moment
  • Savor life’s joys
  • Commit to your goals
  • Take care of your body

    Best Lawyers in America Selection

    Written on September 19, 2012 by David C. Sarnacki

    David Sarnacki has been selected by attorneys and judges for inclusion in Best Lawyers in America, 19th Edition. His peer-review selection includes three areas: Family Law; Family Law Mediation; and Collaborative Law–Family Law.

    Strengthen the Relationship with Your Kids

    Written on September 7, 2012 by Peter Sarnacki

    With the fall school year approaching, The Huffington Post and Deborah Moskovitch outline tips for adjusting families to improve parent-child relationships.

    1. Re-frame your thinking: Rather than clocking minutes, place emphasis on the quality of time you are spending together.

    2. Be creative: Invest in the relationship by doing what is in their best interest.  Get involved with their homework, extracurricular activities, any area in need of help or attention.

    3. Let them know you care: Programs, events and school functions are a great way to stay connected. Sometimes all that’s required is a positive message that you’re interested and want to be involved.

    4. Get with the program: With the vast array of communication devices today, staying connected on their terms can help maintain a strong relationship. A subtle text may be all you need to keep the lines of communication intact.

    5. Be introspective: Ask yourself what you are doing to promote or hinder the relationship. Seek the help you need to get your life in order, and be the parent your child deserves.

    Take it from Them: Divorcé’s Guide to Marriage

    Written on August 31, 2012 by Peter Sarnacki

    Wall Street Journal highlights the work of psychologist Terri Orbuch, a research professor at the University of Michigan, who looked into 373 marriages over 25 years.  Of those who learned lessons the hard way (In line with the national average at 46%), Orbuch found five major themes divorced couples wish they could have done differently:

    1. Boost your spouse’s mood: Compliments, cuddling, kissing, saying ‘I love you’, anything to express your love and offer emotional support.
    2. Talk more about money:  With finance being a main area of conflict, partners must discuss and examine their individual money styles.
    3. Get over the past: Let go of the jealousy, anger, and sadness of the past.  Dr. Orbuch recommends putting your emotions on paper in order to release them.
    4. Blame the relationship, not each other:  Blaming your ex-spouse, or even yourself, can only lead to more grief.  Don’t discount asking for your partner’s perspective on them problem.
    5. Reveal more about yourself: Communication style is the No. 1 factor divorced individuals in the study said they want to improve in their next relationship.  For better lines of communication, couples should talk alone ten minutes everyday about something other than work, the family and children, or the household.