Parenting and Divorce | Guest Post from Michael Oberschneider

Dr. Michael Oberschneider, Psy.D.
Dr. Michael Oberschneider, Psy.D.

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Client Reviews

  • “Not knowing the first thing about hiring an attorney for an unexpected personal situation, a friend referred me to William Conners. From the very beginning, I felt very confident he would make sure that all negotiations and decisions made would benefit me and my daughter. Will has been very professional and caring and I cannot thank him enough.”

    A. S.
  • ” William Conners represented me in my divorce which was complicated by the fact that my ex-wife and I owned several successful businesses together. I have used many attorneys in the past. Will’s performance was exemplary and many, many steps ahead in legal skill, strategy, preparation and sophistication. My goals were more than met (and then some) and I ended up with the businesses! I can wholeheartedly recommend him.”

    D.R.
  • “I was mired in a contentious divorce that had spiraled out of control through nightmarish claims that were chilling in their seriousness. While struggling to deal with the emotional turmoil of a marriage that was over, I was facing bleak options that realistically included losing my job, my children, and even my freedom. Through Mr. Conners’ skilled counsel I came through the nightmare with my family and my future intact – defeating the false charges, successfully resolving the marital dispute, and keeping custody of my children. I have no doubt that without his expert handling of my case things would have turned out very differently indeed, and for that I am forever grateful. Thank you for giving me back my future!”

    D. G.
  • “A few of the initial things that impressed me about Will and his staff were their accessibility, promptness in responding to my requests and thorough explanation of the answers to my questions. I appreciated Will’s approach to giving me options and recommendations, and then he let me have a say in the decisions regarding the direction of my divorce case. Throughout the process, Will’s priorities remained focused on preparing my case to win in court if a fair settlement could not be reached and minimizing financial consequences without expensive legal posturing. He was my expert legal counsel and a part-time coach that knew how to motivate me and help me get through it. Will and his staff genuinely cared about the emotional and financial toll that the divorce was exacting on me. Without hesitation, I recommend William Conners for his expertise in Family Law matters and his compassion for the person he represents.”

    C.K.
  • “My divorce featured all the most difficult aspects including a vindictive spouse willing to do and say anything to destroy me and exclude my role in our children’s lives. No matter how difficult the situation though, Will Conners provided devoted and professional representation. He took the time and interest to understand my dynamic and craft a strategy that unveiled my spouses’ false vendetta, preserved the relationship between me and my children and protected my financial interests. I count myself fortunate to have had Will as my attorney and wholeheartedly recommend him.”

    P.B.
  • “I came to see William R.F. Conners for a divorce and to work out custody issues for my 5 year old son. I was very impressed with my first and subsequent visits to see Mr. Conners. I always felt that kindness was a given, my case was given the attention and professionalism it deserved, with particular emphasis on the welfare of my son and the staff was always courteous and helpful. Mr. Conners worked very hard on my case and always returned my calls in a timely manner. I highly recommend William R.F. Conners to anyone who needs a lawyer who makes you feel like your case is the most important one that he has.”

    C.O.
  • “As a commercial airplane pilot, a clean driving record is essential to my career. When I was charged by a Virginia state trooper with misdemeanor Reckless Driving by speed on radar (90 mph in a 55 mph zone), I was facing potential jail time, huge fines and a suspension of my privilege to drive. If convicted, I would have had to report the conviction to the FAA and faced potential suspension of my pilot’s license. The stakes were high and I turned to Attorney William Conners for help. Attorney Conners used his knowledge of traffic law and regulations to fight for me at trial and we won with the charge being totally DISMISSED without my even having to testify! If you need legal representation for a serious traffic charge, call Attorney Conners and experience what it really means to have someone on your side.”

    L.A.
  • “Charged with a clear “no win” 3rd Felony DUI, I was facing a dark future. I was destined to be a felon with no right to drive for 10 years and a jail sentence of 6 months to 5 years! Add my life threatening health problems and the situation could not have been worse. However, my prayers were answered and Attorney Will Conners succeeded in getting the charge greatly reduced with minimal consequences. I served less than 1 day in jail after my court hearing which I consider a miracle. I am so grateful for Will’s intelligence, loyalty and kindness. He made a profound difference in my life and I will never forget what he did to help me.”

    S.A.
  • “I am extremely pleased that I chose William R. F. Conners as my attorney for my criminal case. After interviewing several Loudoun County attorneys, I found Mr. Conner’s fee to be by far the best, his personality to be friendly, and his accessibility to be superior. Most of all, Mr. Conners went above and beyond what I expected by putting in numerous unexpected hours and doing an astounding job arguing against the prosecutor. As a result of his hard work and courtroom savvy, my charge was reduced beyond what was expected. I highly recommend William Conners for any of your legal needs.”

    C. P.
  • “After I was involved in a terrible car accident, I had no idea what to do. How do I handle the insurance questions, medical bills, lost time from work? Knowing I couldn’t, and shouldn’t, take this task on myself, I found Mr. Conners law firm thru an internet search. Shortly after completing the on line questionnaire from his website, I received a phone call from Mr. Conners. He was very polite, offered to meet and discuss my case. At the first meeting he made me feel comfortable. Will was always very prompt to answer any questions I had, both email and when I called the office; we even talked on the weekends. I had total faith that he had my best interest in making decisions and recommendations needed to resolve my case. I would recommend his services to any of my friends and family. “

    T.M.
  • “As recent immigrants to the U.S. we have been completely unprepared for dealing with the consequences of obvious negligence my wife encountered during one fateful visit to her new OB/GYN doctor. It was only due to the timely interference of more competent physicians and sheer luck we have been able to avoid permanent damage to her health. On our friends’ recommendation we asked the “Law Office of William R. F. Conners, P.C” to take up our personal injury suit, and through all the stages the firm provided us with the top-rate legal advice. In the end it was solely thanks to their persistence and professionalism that we have been able to arrive to a mutually acceptable settlement of our case. Our special kudos go to Mr. William Conners for his sharp legal acumen and personal dedication.”

    A.C. & I.C.
  • “The injuries I suffered in a car crash were severe and permanent. The extent to which Will prepared my case was extraordinary. Will Conners is the lawyer to call if you have been involved in a motor vehicle collision and suffered personal injury.”

    W.E.
  • “How do you thank someone who took a very frustrating situation and turned it into success! Even after being threatened with a “Contempt of Court” citation my ex-husband stopped support payments. I was told I could garnish his social security payments but that led to one phone call after another to government offices and no solution. I finally found Will and he told me to stop worrying that he would take care of everything. He did just that by following through and taking my ex to court. After back-and-forth coversations I received all of my past due support payments plus attorney’s fees and court costs without going before a judge. There aren’t enough thanks or praise for such a dedicated and caring attorney.”

    D.R.
  • “Will handled my family law case in the 2009-2011 time frame, and was instrumental in helping me achieve a desired result – and avoiding costly litigation. He was very familiar with law specifically applicable to my case, and was highly familiar with the opposing counsels tactics & tendencies. Will managed my case efficieintly and also helped me to do much of my own documentation (hence saving costs). I would be happy to recommend him in the area of family law. He’s a highly ethical counselor, with excellent knowledge of applicable law to divorce cases, and provided me good guidance on my case. Highly recommend.”

    J. C.
  • Nowadays, it is somewhat of a challenge to go through life without the need of an attorney. Should the need arise for a competent attorney to handle one’s legal affairs, I strongly recommend Will Conners. Will has handled a few of our family cases, including personal injury, family law and business transactions. His competency level in handling our cases was above and beyond any other attorney’s I have seen. Will has an extremely keen eye for details and always puts the client’s interest on a priority level. In a nutshell, Will is THE attorney our family turns to when any need arises for legal advice or representation. I would highly recommend Will. In my humble opinion, he is the best!”

    A. H.
  • I hired Will to represent me in a difficult divorce case. He did an absolute excellent job making sure my interests were looked after. It was a difficult time for me with an wife that had some personal issues. In the end Will made sure I did what needed to be done to protect myself but showed compassion for the woman I was divorcing without ever sacrificing my personal interests. I would employ his services again for any legal issues, which I hope there will be none, in a heartbeat!!! Rating would be 4.5 “

    K.A.
  • Attorney Will Connors helped me in filing an accident lawsuit against a drunk driver. Although it took a while for Will and his staff to reach the settlement which I desired, they were with me and my case every step of the way, keeping me fully informed and in the loop on every step of the process. They were most professional in every way, and I am one hundred percent pleased at having chosen Will to be my attorney on this issue. I would recommend Will and his firm without reservation.”

    T.P.
  •  Will has been a pleasure to work with during a difficult child custody battle. He has been almost always available, always on top of circumstances, provided very good counsel, quickly assimilated my issues without excessive dialogue and exhibited great flexibility under changing circumstances. While legal services don’t come cheap, his ability to quickly comprehend my issues probably netted a savings.”

    J.A.
  • Will Conners has been my lawyer for several years and has guided me through some difficult family law situations that occurred as a result of a divorce. His patience and ability to schedule and meet appointments and court appearances have been amazing. He was even able to formulate a plan to handle the final details of my case which is proving to be the best course of action. He has always been there for me when I needed him.”

    D.A.
  • I hired Will to represent me in an arduous divorce case knotted with a complicated financial scenario, and troublesome spousal support battle. Will and his staff’s unending commitment, and patience quickly sorted through my retired military and executive careers, disabled veteran entitlements, and the best interest of the children amidst an emotionally overbearing ex-spouse. My case rapidly spiraled from separation to divorce in under one year. His steadfast professionalism and goodness guided me through a toxic situation that protects both my finances and the children. I can’t thank Will and his staff enough.
    V.M.

Read all testimonials

Notice: The client quotations above are not to be construed to guarantee or predict a similar result in any future case undertaken by any attorney of the Law Office of William R.F. Conners, P.C. Each case result depends upon a variety of factors unique to each case and client.

For many, divorce is an unavoidable reality.  Put plain and simple, some marriages – short or long lived – just don’t work.  Research on divorce has shown infidelity, lack of communication and financial problems to be the top reasons for marriages ending.  Marrying too young, abuse, changing individual needs, sexual problems, psychological/alcohol/drug problems, and differences (e.g., religious and cultural) are some of the other reasons cited in the divorce literature.

Sometimes one spouse wants to call it quits, while other times, both are in agreement that the marriage is over.  But keep in mind that as the divorcing adults, you have many internal resources to wrestle through the emotional loss, adjustment and redefinition that occur during your separation and divorce.  Children and teens, even resilient ones, on the other hand, have fewer emotional resources to call upon during the process.

There is a large body of research to show that children of divorce have higher rates of emotional, behavioral and physical health struggles compared to children of intact families.  Academic and relationship problems also appear to occur at higher rates for divorced children and teens.  But divorce isn’t all bad, and there is even research to show that children of divorce have greater independence and emotional maturity; the idea being that two happy homes with love, respect and security is better for children socially and emotionally than one home where there is little to no love, respect or security.

As a psychologist in private practice, I am often perforce in the role of helping children, teens and the involved adults navigate their way through the changes and adjustments associated with separation and divorce.  In my experience, spouses and parents who manage themselves well, both individually and together, end up having fewer problems with their children during separation and after divorce.  My involvement typically becomes more intense and protracted when there is a longstanding and troubled family dynamic and history and/or when divorcing spouses have difficulty working together to positively co-parent their children/teens.

While each family is unique, and while there isn’t a one size fits all to managing divorce well for one’s children and teens, I’ve provided a few helpful points below for consideration.

Address the topic of separation and divorce (age appropriately) with your children and teens.  Once you and your spouse decide to separate and divorce, prepare your children.  Be honest and try to answer any questions your children might have for you as best you can.  The initial conversation is best dealt with together as a family, but be prepared for your children to have questions for you later and as the process unfolds.  The tone of the conversation should be supportive, and you should demonstrate and reassure your children of your love for them and for each other (as parents).   Also as parents, you should reassure your children/teens that they did nothing to contribute toward your decision to divorce.

All children respond differently to the divorce talk; some will deny and minimize the moment and reality, while others will become sad or angry.  Some children and teens will not be surprised by the news and may even welcome it if things have been bad for a while, while others will be shocked and devastated.  Your children’s age and personality style are also factors that will impact how the news is heard and taken, so be sensitive to each child’s individual needs.  Generally, younger children handle emotionally laden information in a more concrete matter, so you should keep the message brief and loving.  Older children and teens may want, and even expect, a more detailed explanation with additional information.  Be careful to keep your message loving and respectful of each other as parents.          

Support your child or teen’s relationship with your spouse.  Except in rare exceptions (e.g, significant abuse or mental illness, etc.) where your spouse would not be afforded an active relationship with his or her child, your children/teens have a right to a loving and healthy relationship with both of their parents.  So, remember to separate your feelings from your behaviors for your spouse when it comes to your children.  Regardless of how you might feel about your spouse or the wrongdoing that occurred in your marriage, encouraging and supporting a loving relationship for your children/teens with your spouse is the best thing you can do for them.  Children/teens learn from and identify with their same and opposite sex parents in very important ways that then contributes to who they become, how they feel about themselves and how they have relationships.

Co-parent with kindness and respect.  Again, regardless of how you feel about your spouse, he or she will likely be a part of your child or teen’s life forever – during his or her life and after in memory.  Fast-forward beyond your divorce, your spouse will be at the same graduations, weddings and family gatherings.  By practicing kindness and respect with your spouse in the presence of your children/teens, you are making the active point that their needs come first and that they do not belong in the middle of your issues.  So, don’t speak badly about your spouse in the presence of your children or teens.

Avoid blaming, show restraint and present a united front.  Again, keep your children out of the middle.  Even if you feel justified in remaining hurt and/or angry at your spouse, speaking or behaving negatively to him or her will likely only worsen things for your children/teens.  Sometimes children or teens will ally themselves more with one parent over the other during a divorce, but encouraging that to occur will most likely create later problems for all involved.  So, don’t treat your child as a messenger for adult issues, don’t keep secrets with your child that positions you and your child in opposition to your spouse, and don’t have adult conversations or fights in earshot of your child.  Instead, try to be aware of your thoughts and feelings when you are with your spouse and your children/teens inasmuch being united in the service of good co-parenting may not be easy to do initially and for some time.

Cover your co-parenting strategies and assess your bandwidth in advance.  Co-parenting as a concept isn’t static, and its success will determine on how willing and/or able you and your spouse are to work together.  If negative feelings such as distrust, sadness or anger remain, you may only be able to co-parent in very basic ways with your spouse when it comes to visitation, financial issues, medical needs, education and communication.  So, don’t expect too much from yourself or your spouse as you learn to co-parent your children and/or teens as divorced parents.  Apologize to your spouse if warranted, ask your spouse for his or her input and opinion and keep a level head.  Over time, the hope would be that you and your spouse are able to put aside your emotions and your issues in the service of parenting your children and/teens where respect, communication, compromise, requests and consistency can be managed together positively.

Get your children help if they need it.  Your child or teen may experience situational anxiety/stress or depression due to the divorce (or other problems), or if he or she may just need someone to discuss things with to deal with the many changes.  You as parents may also benefit from meeting with a therapist who is trained and credentialed in co-parenting work.  This work can be extremely helpful when the marital history or ongoing problems as parents are significant.

Don’t forget to take care of yourself.  They say that divorce is one of the most stressful events to experience in life, so be good to yourself.  Lean on your family and friends, exercise, eat healthily, set short and long-term goals, don’t drink to excess, and see a therapist if needed.  Adjusting to life after marriage as a family will take time, and there very well will be other changes to come for you and/or your ex (e.g., dating, moving and later blending your family with new partners, remarriage and perhaps stepsiblings).  The sooner you and your spouse can create a framework for yourselves that supports the most important thing in your life – your children and their wellbeing – the better off all will be.

About the guest contributor:  Dr. Michael Oberschneider is a highly accredited clinical psychologist and the founder of Ashburn Psychological and Psychiatric Services.  As a nationally certified custody evaluator and a nationally certified parenting coordinator, a large portion of Dr. Oberschneider’s practice is devoted to helping families who are going through divorce.  Dr. Oberschneider has spent the past 11 years working as a psychologist in a variety of capacities with children, adolescents and adults; he has practiced as a staff psychologist at an in-patient hospital unit, the United States Justice Department, the City of Alexandria (Youth and Family Services) and in private practice.  To learn more about Dr. Oberschneider and his services, you may visit www.ashburnpsych.com .

The Law Office of William R.F. Conners, P.C. in Leesburg, Virginia serves the cities of Chantilly, Fairfax, Herndon, Leesburg, Middleburg, Reston, and Vienna, Sterling, Ashburn and Purcellville, as well as all communities in Loudoun County and Fairfax County, Virginia.