Divorce at Altitude: A Podcast on Colorado Family Law

Take the High Road with Andy Heller | Episode 115

July 14, 2022 Ryan Kalamaya & Amy Goscha
Divorce at Altitude: A Podcast on Colorado Family Law
Take the High Road with Andy Heller | Episode 115
Show Notes Transcript

Joining us today to talk about the book his own divorce journey inspired, is Andy Heller, a real-life “Eric Wolf” who’s reached the other side and aims to help others through the process. Andy is a successful businessman with two real estate books under his belt, and who had neither the need nor intention to write another book. That was until his own divorce illuminated the need for a one-stop self-help book for those navigating divorce.

In this episode, we hear what inspired Andy to write Take the High Road: Divorce with Compassion for Yourself and Your Family, and how it differs from other divorce-centric self-help books. We discuss the common mistakes people make when negotiating a divorce, the value of therapy for both you and your children, and why you should consider getting a co-parenting counselor on board. Tune in to hear Andy’s pre and post-divorce tips, as well as how best to communicate with a former spouse, particularly in an adversarial relationship.


Key Points From This Episode:

  • Introducing Andy Heller, author of Take the High Road.
  • Why he wrote the book and how it differs from other divorce-centric self-help books.
  • Andy’s pre and post-divorce tips.
  • How criticizing your former spouse affects your children’s self-esteem.
  • Common mistakes people make when negotiating divorce.
  • Andy shares a positive case study from the book.
  • Why he recommends a co-parenting coach or counselor.
  • Various parenting coordinator roles.
  • The value of therapy for both parents and children of divorce.
  • Why kids should start therapy prior to learning about their parents’ divorce.
  • The biggest complaint of divorcees in the years following the divorce.
  • How to communicate effectively with your former spouse, particularly in an adversarial relationship.

What is Divorce at Altitude? 

Ryan Kalamaya and Amy Goscha provide tips and recommendations on issues related to divorce, separation, and co-parenting in Colorado. Ryan and Amy are the founding partners of an innovative and ambitious law firm, Kalamaya | Goscha, that pushes the boundaries to discover new frontiers in family law, personal injury, and criminal defense in Colorado. 

To subscribe to Divorce at Altitude, click here and select your favorite podcast player. To subscribe to Kalamaya | Goscha's YouTube channel where many of the episodes will be posted as videos, click here. If you have additional questions or would like to speak to one of our attorneys, give us a call at 970-429-5784 or email us at info@kalamaya.law.

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DISCLAIMER: THE COMMENTARY AND OPINIONS ON THIS PODCAST IS FOR ENTERTAINMENT AND INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES AND NOT FOR THE PURPOSE OF PROVIDING LEGAL ADVICE. CONTACT AN ATTORNEY IN YOUR STATE OR AREA TO OBTAIN LEGAL ADVICE ON ANY OF THESE ISSUES.

Ryan Kalamaya (4s):
I'm Ryan Kalamaya

Amy Goscha (6s):
And I'm Amy. Gosha

Ryan Kalamaya (8s):
Welcome to the divorce at altitude, a podcast on Colorado family law.

Amy Goscha (13s):
The force is not easy. It really sucks. Trust me. I know besides being an experienced divorce attorney, I'm also a divorce client,

Ryan Kalamaya (21s):
Whether you are someone considering divorce or a fellow family law attorney listening for weekly tips and insight into topics related to divorce co-parenting and separation in Colorado. Welcome back to another episode of divorce at altitude. This is Ryan Kalmia. As listeners know we have had various experts on and we've asked them about Eric Wolf. And Eric is, as listeners know is our hypothetical divorce client. This week, we get to hear from effectively Eric Wolf. When he's on the other side, we are joined by Andy Heller.

Ryan Kalamaya (1m 1s):
He has written a book, take the high road divorce with compassion for yourself and your family. It is excellent. I highly recommend it. My firm will be giving a copy of this book to our clients, and we'll hear from Andy about various aspects relating to his divorce and the divorce process in his book. So let me tell you a little bit about Andy. He teaches real estate investing to new and seasoned investors around the country. He runs a successful international freight forwarding company. He was born in Canada and then he immigrated to the United States as a child. He graduated from the university of Florida with a bachelor of science, double majoring in finance and marketing.

Ryan Kalamaya (1m 46s):
He has already co-authored two real estate investing books, and he stated that he had no intention of writing another, but after his own divorce, he saw a crucial hole in the self-help space for men and women navigating through divorce. His book is what he calls a give-back effort to make the process easier for those who are considering or who are on the divorce path. Andy, welcome to the show,

Andy Heller (2m 12s):
Ryan, I'm excited about it and thank you for having me as a guest today.

Ryan Kalamaya (2m 16s):
And before we kind of get into the book and the various takeaways. So we were talking before recording. So you are in California and tell us about why you wrote the book and what's different than some of the other books that may exist out there in the self-help and divorce landscape.

Andy Heller (2m 37s):
Sure. I'll try and give you my story in two or three minutes to leave more time for questions here, Ryan. So my ex-wife and I were sitting in front of our co-parent counselor. We had a lot of other things happen that made our divorce probably a bit more challenging. And she said, you know, both of you can benefit from a therapist. I saw, you know, what the heck, why not? You know, I always consider myself to be a reasonable and compromise oriented businessmen. I've run successful businesses, Ryan, but I was dealing with a lot. I had a new business at that time. My marriage was ending and I said, this can't hurt. So I asked specifically for a therapist who had dealt successfully with divorce men and I met this lady and she was amazing.

Andy Heller (3m 17s):
And with led me to think about writing this book. So whenever I'm stressed, I write notes. So I've been already been writing notes for a year, year and a half. So I started to go in to see her and I cannot count how many times I would go into her office. Something would happen involving my children or my ex-wife had said, this is what happened, but don't worry. I thought it through, I got a reasonable solution. I would tell her what I plan to do. And she would listen to me if he was very polite. She said, thank you, Andy, very reasonable, but you're not going to do that. You're going to do the opposite. I would sit there and listen and how the solution came out of her mouth, which is so opposite to what I intended to do. But up until five minutes earlier, Ryan, would I plan to do seems so sensible and like, oh my God, I was so impressed by how many times my instincts were off.

Andy Heller (4m 6s):
That's the first point. The second is that. So when I'm stressed, I also don't sleep a lot and I run my own business. So, you know, I have a lot more autonomy and flexibility than a lot of people. So things would happen. And she would say, Andy, I got a book for you. She'd go to her bookshelf. And she'd hand me a book, Andy, I got a book for you. She got her bookshelf and having another book. And I read these books, frankly, they were all good. And I'm a big believer, Ryan, that, you know, if you can get one or two good tips out of a two or three hour read, it's worth the 20 bucks. For sure. So at this point, now we, about a year later, I had benefited from her guidance. I'd read countless books on like, you know, there's a gap in the self-help space for divorce. I did a little research and a lot, a lot of people are going to have as much time as I did or they're going to sleep more than I did.

Andy Heller (4m 53s):
So they need a best practices. One-stop shop for getting through a divorce. The other thing that I saw, there's a lot of great books out there written by attorneys and therapists and co-parent counselors. And there need to be a book written very objectively by somebody who's not a professional in the divorce space about how to get through the process. So I started to interview dozens of attorneys, co-parent counselors, parenting coaches, people who ran divorce, support groups, therapists, family therapists, children, therapists. So what you're reading in this book is a best practices of how to get through a divorce process. Well, I really, my role is really a businessman who takes the counsel of these experts and organizes it.

Andy Heller (5m 38s):
And I'm very objective because I'm not an attorney. I'm not a co-parent counselor, I'm not a therapist. And the last point I'll say is that I realized from my own divorce, that divorce is that experiential journey. So during this journey, you're going to do some things, right? Some things horribly wrong, and some things that you could have done a lot better. And the problem is you need that counsel on day one, not day two 50 or 300 or 500 so that you and your ex and your children can all land in a healthier place. So the theme of my book is 46 tips and strategies of issues and events and things that will typically happen to most divorcees.

Andy Heller (6m 19s):
We give them these strategies on the first day with the goal of landing in a healthy place, much easier and faster because when these situations arise in your own divorce, you've already been counseled about how to handle them effectively. And you know, there's a lot of reviews that I've got that are really complimentary, but one of the most powerful reviews is from another author. She ended up writing my forward. She said, my book is the roadmap that every divorce he needs to get through the divorce and land in a good place. So that's my story. Why I did this? And look, I'm a successful businessman. Ryan I've run businesses. This is not my job. I want this book to be successful because I want to try to help a lot of people land in a better place and manage the process easier.

Andy Heller (7m 3s):
This is sort of my giveback. It's something I'm passionate about. I think it can help a lot of people. And it's why I'm here today is your guests.

Ryan Kalamaya (7m 9s):
Yeah, I think that it would help for listeners to hear a little bit from that forward that you referenced. And it was by Julie, a Ross. She had written a book, joint custody with a jerk, raising a child with an uncooperative acts. And so she wrote what I didn't do. This is Julie speaking and where Andy Heller's book comes in is provide a pragmatic guide of the divorce process itself. If we think of divorce as the destination take, the high road becomes the roadmap that we will, that we'll get a couple there. And I think that it's important for listeners to understand you cover things that I have never seen in a book before that I think would really be helpful for people going through divorce or even on the other side where they're similar to you, they are tidbits.

Ryan Kalamaya (7m 59s):
You use kind of various examples. So like Eric Wolf, as listeners know we use Eric Wolf. And so you'll have a vignette of Eric Wolf going through a divorce. And then one of the kids comes and says, mommy says that you had an affair. And then you run through how Eric could respond if he's emotional and why that's not good. And then maybe a potential, an ideal response. And it's an example of a lesson, one of your 46 lessons. And I found that to be really effective. So can you maybe speak a little bit more about some of the other tips that you have? You know, the, if Eric Wolf were kind of walking through some of the tips, well, it would, Eric, what stories would you tell about Eric or tips would you have for Eric?

Andy Heller (8m 46s):
Sure, sure. A big area let's talk about. So I know that a lot of the audience are also attorneys like yourself, Ryan. So I'll talk about tip before you get your divorce signed and one after. So one of the tips in before is that, you know, it's an attorney's job, a divorce attorney's job can be very, very challenging. And one of the things I talk about in my book is that it's more your responsibility as a divorcee to help your attorney as opposed you gotta guide him or her with what's important to you. And in the defense of all divorces, sometimes our lives are just blowing up and the ability to be focused is not an easy thing. So an action item we speak about before you get your MSA signed is to force yourself to write down two or three things, identify the two or three things that are most important to you.

Andy Heller (9m 36s):
You arm your attorney with his information and you say to him or her compromise everywhere else. These are the two things that are important to me and I'm empowering you to compromise everywhere else. Another businessman's tip I give in the book is sometimes, you know, when it collapsed in marriage, a collapse in relationship, Ryan, the communication is ended. So you don't really know what you need to do to get the deal done and get that divorce sign. So one of the business principles that I bring into the negotiation tips is to all right, if you and your attorney are unsure, what they're thinking on the other side, make two offers, okay, here's one offer, maybe one offer that has a bit more inclined towards finances.

Andy Heller (10m 16s):
Another offer, as an example only is a bit more inclined toward custodial time flip these say, and you tell the attorney except one or the other, even if they don't accept one or the other Ryan, the way they respond will help and arm the attorney with some sense of what needs to happen to get the deal done. These are the types of tips that will save you tens of thousands of dollars on the community communication end. I'm actually just going to kind of expand on the story you touched on. There's a lot of emotion percolating. And when you hear your children, particularly with younger children who don't really have the filter talking about what's happening in your ex's household, it's not an easy thing to manage. So you are right in one or two chapters.

Andy Heller (10m 58s):
I go through actually how to respond to your children. What to say what not to say. One of the other suggestions in one of those chapters is it might be helpful to write down or even to say to yourself, what you really want to say. You tell your mom, you tell your father this, but then you come back and you give the answer the nice vanilla answer that you need to answer. Now, I'm going to say something. My book touches on a lot of areas that I feel is groundbreaking. As it's not communicated. One of the, in other books, one of the, I'm not the first author who said, don't criticize your former spouse.

Andy Heller (11m 41s):
Okay? That's nothing new. But when I was researching this book, Ryan, I learned something from one of the interviews of therapists that really took that piece of advice and just made it more important. She said to me, Andy, your children, children of divorcees, whether they are five years old or 15, they understand one thing very clearly that they are the product, the DNA product of two individuals, a biological mom and a biological father. Okay. And they are the environmental product of those two individuals. Oh, it could be a mom and a mom and a dad and a dad like you're the biological creation of two people.

Andy Heller (12m 22s):
When you criticize your spouse, you're effectively impacting your child's own. Self-esteem, that's something that I had never read anywhere. Ryan and I found that was so powerful. So you may feel that you need, or you want to say, well, your mom should know this, or your dad should know that, but you got to remind yourself as a divorce seat, that that child is half of the person you're about to criticize and you can't do it. You just can't do it. And sometimes the answer just needs to be, you know, I just really can't go there right now, Johnny or Susie, I'm going to choose to change the subject.

Ryan Kalamaya (13m 3s):
Yeah. That reminds me of Abraham Lincoln use very well known for, you know, writing long letters that were, you know, emotional and, and, you know, just basically blasting his opponent or whoever he was riding for. And then he would let it sit on his desk and then throw it away the next day. And I've referenced that before. And you, you get into bill Eddy's bef communication protocol. We've, we've had some discussion on that, but it, it, your, your tips kind of go across and really run the gamut to how you should approach restraining orders versus, you know, special masters or co-parenting coordinators versus, Hey guys, get like a cookbook and figure out how to, to cook and what your life is going to look like.

Ryan Kalamaya (13m 47s):
So I've been really impressed with the, the range, because it's not just communication and touchy, feely, you know, therapy type stuff that, you know, some guys in particular, you know, Eric Wolf might say, oh, that's just a little bit woo for me. But you know, you really get into tactical practical advice. But Andy, I'm curious, what are some of the most common mistakes people make when negotiating their divorce from your perspective?

Andy Heller (14m 12s):
Well, I touched on it earlier. I think that the most number one mistake Ryan is a lack of focus. Okay. And that's why it's imperative to write down a couple of things and that are important to you and compromise everywhere. Number two, and this is where a good attorney can be helpful is on some level, it's almost impossible to completely shield yourself from emotion, affecting your decisions. Okay? And again, this is a partnership between a good attorney and the divorce, and maybe even the involvement of a therapist can help you manage that as well as writing down your goals. Okay. The other thing I would say is the night I say this throughout the book, a divorce, everybody is a marathon.

Andy Heller (14m 55s):
It's not a sprint. And people tend to focus so much on what do I get when the document is signed? And I cannot emphasize how that is very flawed thinking is really where you want to land as a father, as a mother two or three years later. Okay. And I'll give you a great example of that. We talk, actually, this is a case study in the book. Okay. It's a father who does a lot of business travel okay. And involve thought, okay. And his margins, and he wants 50% custody. He wasn't involved at all, right. He probably deserved 50% custody, but he took a step back and recognize the fact, these kids are already used to being alone with mom, but they're not used to being alone with dad.

Andy Heller (15m 43s):
And I'm not used to parenting on my own. I've got a good parent partner, current partner, but we're not meant to be together as a couple. So rather than asking for 50% custody out of the gate, this divorcee met with a co-parent counselor. Who's had interest in the children being paramount and the co-parent counselor was communicating with the children's play therapists. So the plan was set forth, Brian, where over the first 18 months, gradually his custodial time would increase. And it was done in ranges. It was actually brilliant the way they did this. And I speak about this in the book. So for example, he was started off with 30% custody, somewhere between three months, but no longer than nine months, assuming they got a green light from the children's therapist that would increase to 40 somewhere between nine months, no later than 18 months, that would increase to 50.

Andy Heller (16m 36s):
There was actually three stages. The bottom line is that he got his 50% custody, much sooner. Okay. And he did so in a manner that had the best interests of, of his children was, was paramount. And it was actually good for him because it gave him a chance to, he had to make some adjustments to his business travel so he could accommodate and handle that kind of custody. So people get a little bit too anxious for what they get out of the gate and they lose sight of what's in the best interest of the children. And I would also say, it's not just about what your best interest in the children's, you've got to consider your former partner and the more amicable your relationship can be with your former partner.

Andy Heller (17m 23s):
Even if that level of cooperation takes a couple years to land the better it's going to be for your children and the better it's going to be for your own stress.

Ryan Kalamaya (17m 33s):
This episode is brought to you by our law firm. Kalmia Gosha Amy. And I describe our law firm as an innovative and ambitious trial team that pushes the boundaries to discover a new frontiers in family law, personal injuries in criminal defense in Colorado. We currently have offices in Aspen, Glenwood Springs, Edwards, Denver, and Boulder. If you want to find out more, visit our website, <inaudible> dot law. Now back to the

Andy Heller (18m 1s):
Show,

Ryan Kalamaya (18m 3s):
Your recommendation on using kind of parenting coaches or co-parent coordinators is consistent. At least in my practice, it's something I've been doing a lot more fairly recently is having parents go and work directly with a co-parenting coach. And I think the guys in particular, they just want to jump in, immediately get to that 50 50, but it kind of goes to something in your book is that it's a process where you have these traditional roles in those roles are changing. There's going to be a change from the traditional model of the moms, staying at home and the guy who's out business traveling and, and making, you know, primarily the breadwinner.

Ryan Kalamaya (18m 47s):
And when you just, all of a sudden jump in and, and equal parenting time, it can really cause some waves. And I think guys, in particular, you said, you know, the, at the very beginning, you, you would have these ideas of what you were going to do and, and correct me if I'm wrong, Andy, it would be like you telling your ex-wife the ideal set the situation because you're so logical and telling her what to do, what she should do with her money, because you had it all figured out, which I see all the time. And so I think guys, when they in, particularly when they hear these co-parenting coaches give a game plan, they, it, it relieves a lot of anxiety because they know they're eventually going to get there.

Ryan Kalamaya (19m 28s):
And I think it's better for everyone as they transition into their new roles. So I'm wondering if you could speak to maybe some of those things I identified as they relate to your experience.

Andy Heller (19m 40s):
So Ryan, I'm going to start with the second question to go back to the first, in terms of use of funds. I got a great story that came from an interview with a therapist where she spoke of a divorced man who had agreed to a higher level of support because he felt it was the right thing to do. And that was all good. But then he watched some decisions that the ex-wife was making on the use of funds, the, the, the new car, the house that might've been too big. And he came in and he just started ranting and raving to the therapist. And just sorta therapist's response was he stopped them and say, his name is Paul.

Andy Heller (20m 22s):
Paul, are your children living in a good home? Yes they are. But Paul or your children live in a good home. Yes. But you don't understand Paul. I do understand, are your children living in a safe and good home? Yes, they are. Paul, your job is to write the check and then forget about it. You have a right to speak up. If there's anything about what your ex wife is doing, that puts your ship as it wouldn't be safe, or is not in your children's best interests, how she spends the money. As long as your children have a safe and comfortable environment is no longer something that you can impact. And this was a really powerful discussion because it took her basically three or four timeframe answering the same darn question before he realized I get it.

Andy Heller (21m 7s):
My role has changed to write the check. I'm no longer a guidance in her ear. That's not my job anymore. Okay. We live separate households and she is going to make some decisions I'm not going to agree with. And I just need to accept that. So the words I'll use on that, Ryan is it's a recalibration for many, you know, you know, is he cooking a healthy meal for the children? Is he, you know, if the kids come home and every day they talk about Mac and cheese for dinner is probably something that should be brought up because you got an obligation to learn how to cook and feed your children healthy meals. But again, you've got to recognize that there's a box around what you can address and what you can't address.

Andy Heller (21m 49s):
And it's simply not the same as when you were married. And if you have trouble identifying what's in that box, what's outside the box. That's where having a professional, like a therapist, who's not emotionally attached to your, your drama to help guide you until you can figure it out on your own. Okay. And that's one of the things we try to do with the book in terms of a co-parent counselor. There's few things I recommend in the book that I feel more powerful and committed to than the use of a co-parent counselor. Again, as you're going through divorce, even in an amicable divorce, we are not at our emotional desks as divorcees.

Andy Heller (22m 31s):
We're not operating at peak efficiency. So having somebody in the room to help guide you to make decisions while you're not able to communicate effectively with your ex there's no downside a co-parent counselor can be as frequent or infrequent as you like a typical relationship might look like this, Ryan. So the divorce C's say, look, we're not getting along, but we still, still got these kids. And we got, we got to manage their lives and make some decisions, but it seems like we're not able to get along with everything. So there's two things I'd recommend. One use of a special master. The special master is a binding tiebreaker that keeps you out of court. Okay. And the beauty about a special master, once you establish it, it could be something where you'd never use or use once in five years.

Andy Heller (23m 17s):
Okay. The co-parent counselor tend to be non-binding. Okay. And the benefit of the co-parent counselor, I would say it helps to frame your thoughts in a manner where your spouse, or soon to be ex spouse can hear you when you really not able to hear one another directly. So you come into the co-parent council, let's say you're meeting once a month. Your former palace has his or her list, your list. And she takes the two hour session and tries to go through as many of these items and come up with compromise or agreements that can allow you guys to parent effectively. Okay. A year later, you know what?

Andy Heller (23m 57s):
You're not fighting about. As many things, you change that from once a month to once every two months, two years later, you're once every quarter, three years later, you don't need anymore. That's, that's an ideal progression. And as you implement other tools to where you can communicate better as the anger and angst lessens over time, which typically does happen. You don't need to have such involvement from third parties because you're able to, to get things accomplished on your own. But I'm an absolute believer in this, Ryan. And look, the other thing about it, and as an attorney, we'll understand this very well.

Andy Heller (24m 38s):
If things do go south and you can't get things accomplished, you're also creating a witness. And God forbid, if you guys do end up in court and you've been the more reasonable one involving a third party to watch the process will only benefit you. If you guys end up in court, which is again, not where you want to end up.

Ryan Kalamaya (25m 0s):
Yeah. And you go through litigation, litigated, divorce, immediated divorce, the kitchen table approach to divorce. So that's one of the things that you touch on. But I want to maybe comment a little bit on the recommendations you have. So in Colorado, we do have special masters. We're going to be having an upcoming episode on that. It just came up in a case I have with a private judge, but, you know, frequently these professionals will be mental health professionals. And there are several, you know, in the Denver area, we're going to be having a guest episode on to talk maybe a little bit more specifically about those, but most of them will offer a range of services.

Ryan Kalamaya (25m 42s):
So there'll be individual child and family therapy. That's one grouping of service that a professional could offer. There is decision-making or a parent, a parenting coordinator, which is what you were referencing, where it's non-binding, but then they can have a decision maker role. We've had previous episodes on that issue, Erica Gebhardt, and some of the others that we've had to talk about PC DMS as they're commonly known. But then you can also have an arbitrator in Colorado, which is, is really similar to a special master. So they can be called different things, but have the same powers.

Ryan Kalamaya (26m 22s):
I think it's, it's helpful for people to know. Some of them are binding. Some of them are not, some of them can be witnesses, some of them cannot. And so, you know, really what, you know, there's parenting consultation and parenting coaching. Those are two other different ranges of services, but they're kind of all blurred and globbed into this soft kind of having a neutral third party, working directly with parents and potentially taking out and reducing attorneys. And I can tell you as a divorce attorney, if people come to an agreement for their children, it is more likely that they're going to be happy with their divorce, which is ultimately what divorce lawyers, you know, or they should want, or at least what I want and what you were talking about.

Ryan Kalamaya (27m 11s):
Andy, really, you know, people come to me, they never are sight to call me because they're going through divorce. Like no, one's happy. No one says Ryan, that was great. I really had a good time Instead. No, they, and you laugh, but it's true. But in a couple years, they come back to me and my goal is for them to say, listen, I was in a really bad spot. You saw me at my worst. And I can tell you things and do, you know, like bounce ideas off of view and I'm in a much better place. And that's really what your book is, is targeted to bring that perspective that people are emotional. They have a saying that in criminal law, you see bad people are at their best.

Ryan Kalamaya (27m 54s):
And in, in family law, you see good people at their worst. And there's an element of truth to that from my experience. I mean, my firm does both criminal offense and family law. And, you know, there is an element of truth. And for you, you kind of really touching on the emotional impact of decision-making and you've been through it. And you talk a lot about the value of therapy, both for divorces as well as for children. So I'm curious what, you know, beyond the parenting coaching, what would you say to a listener like Eric Wolf about the value of therapy, both for him and his children,

Andy Heller (28m 34s):
Let's start with him. And I guess we kind of touched on this earlier. You are incapable of recognizing the degree at which emotions are affecting your decisions. And I was very fortunate that I was able to go to a therapist and I recognize very quickly, Ryan, that I was not operating at peak capacity. And my therapist basically said, your situation is not unusual. And I consider myself a very much, I mean, the whole book that I wrote is very much a glass half full book. And that's how I'm wired. My dad was the perennial optimist. Then fortunately I inherited that trait, but I was just not able, I didn't have the capabilities at that time without the outside help to make the decisions I need to make.

Andy Heller (29m 21s):
So as far. And so I'd say to Eric, is that, I mean, looking at his story, he's clearly affected. So he could use some help getting to these people to recognize and look in the mirror saying, I need that help. That's something that's not always easy for everybody to do. Unfortunately, for your children, there is no better gift and gifting your children. The ability to have a child counselor. As I say in the book, you cannot both be the disruptor and their lives and the consoler. Yes, you can be a shoulder to lean on, but you got enough drama going on in your own life. There needs to be somebody dedicated to hearing the children that is not affected by your drama and that eliminates you and your former spouse.

Andy Heller (30m 4s):
So again, I'm not the first author to say therapy for children is a helpful thing, but there are some concepts and action items that I introduce that are not discussed in other books that I've read in one of my most powerful interviews, a brilliant child play therapist. She said, Andy, it's not just about getting your kids in therapy. Of course, you also got to pick a good therapist, but I've recently adjusted my own practice to stress the timing of the start of that therapy. Now, what I'm about to describe Ryan is not always possible.

Andy Heller (30m 44s):
She said this, but it's optimal. And that is getting the kids in therapy about three to six months before they learn the news of their parents split up. Why is that important? Everybody, if you put your kids in therapists, after you've already blown up their lives, you put the therapist in a position of damage control. She does not have a relationship with the children. So therefore she has to both build trust and get involved on calming down the drama and helping these children versus can you and your ex say, look, it's not working out. Or maybe we might go to a divorce where we're just not getting along.

Andy Heller (31m 25s):
All right, no matter what is happening, this is not a healthy household right now. Let's get our kids in therapy. So the therapist begins to build a foundation of trust. Let's say January one, June one, the parents say, you know, we're done. It's time to have that difficult conversation with our children. They may already sense it, but it's time to let them know they have the conversation. But from June one onwards, Ryan, the therapist can be far more impactful. Cause she already knows the kids. She's already built a foundation of trust so she can go right and immediately towards helping them get through the process versus getting to know them at the same time.

Andy Heller (32m 6s):
The therapist point is that if you can time the start of children's therapy, so that foundation of trust can be built before they learn the news of the household. Splitting up into two. You give the therapist the ability to be far more impactful to helping your children land in a healthy place and be able to manage the drama. You yourself, everybody we divorced. We're not capable of doing that. And again, Mr. Wolf, I'd say, okay, you may have a lot of confidence. You may have been very successful professionally, but your children need to have their own resource to help them land in a special place. And your best gift to them is to accept that and to get them with a resource like that before they learn the news.

Ryan Kalamaya (32m 49s):
Well, Andy, you've hit on several tips and I know that you've got 12 golden nuggets to start your divorce journey and people should check out the book. You know, we're not asking you to give everyone every single tip. And like I said, they should, they should we get the book, but are there any of your favorite tips or golden nuggets that you haven't mentioned already that you can leave listeners with an insight into what they can find in taking the high road?

Andy Heller (33m 19s):
Yeah. Yeah. So I'm gonna go to one of the biggest complaints of divorcees, particularly the years after. And that is the inability to communicate. We've we've been talking a little bit about this, but I'm going to give a great tip and this involves bringing in. And again, one of the unique elements of my book is I'm a businessman. All right? And I'm, I'm taking this great counsel from experts like yourself, Ryan from a legal perspective and therapists and co-parent counselors. And I've just organize it in a best practices book. So I cannot tell you by far the number one complaint during all my interviews with divorcees was around an inability to communicate.

Andy Heller (34m 1s):
So this great story I'm going to share and talk about this in the chapter in the book is this comes from a divorcee who is a Carnegie disciple, okay? Dale Carnegie's book how to win friends and influence people. They provide business people and also non-business people with best practices of how to deal with people and communicate and get through challenging situations. And so this divorce was simply the way he described it. If he said right, his exit left, if he set up his exit down and that was their situation, okay, whatever came out of his mouth or his pen, the answer was no. So he recognized that. So one of the powerful business tools in communication, when you have an adversarial relationship with somebody and you've got to get things accomplished, they teach business people, don't allow your adversary to own every suggestion and change how you communicate and rather define the problem or the question and then ask for a solution.

Andy Heller (35m 7s):
So an example might be Susan, I don't know what to do. Little Johnny is tired of ballet. He wants to go to basketball because his buddies are there in a normal world. I'd say, okay, let's put them in basketball. That's the solution. All right. But you know, she's going to say no, or he's going to say no. So instead you change that same. All you do is to find the problem, Susan, I don't know what to do. We got a problem that Johnny does not want to do about late. He's complaining to my home. I bet he's doing that in yours. What do you suggest? Okay. Now the hope is that the answer can either be similar to what you want as a solution or a step closer if it's similar.

Andy Heller (35m 54s):
Great take it. That's exactly what I'm so happy. You said you, you said that great thought. I agree with you. Okay. And your former partner owns the solution. Not you, even though she said, or he said exactly what you were thinking. If the answer is not exactly what you want to hear again, you have to change how you communicate. Well, I really appreciate that thought. I love this part. I still think we have a problem. Here's the problem. Again, not pushing your former spouse to the decision that you want. Just speaking in terms of identifying the problem. This does not work all the time, right?

Andy Heller (36m 36s):
I've got, I think two or three chapters dedicated to communication. And we talk about the use of a business tool called the time card. We talk about when you choose to answer emails, you already talked about the style of answers. Okay? What, you know, make your answers vanilla. Okay. There's also communication platforms other than the email to be used. Okay? So there's a host of suggestions and the whole Biff principle, brief, informative, factual and sticking to the basics. But one of my favorite suggestions is not. If you have an adversarial relationship, you've got to change the nature of your communications and stop communicating and identifying what your preference is.

Andy Heller (37m 22s):
And just keep asking questions. That couple was, some of these other suggestions will really help you communicate better. Now I will say something. The end of that story is this man said, you wouldn't believe it. I could not get her to agree to what color shorts to buy for the children. I started using these tools three years later, she's calling me asking, what do I suggest? Again, it's a marathon or a buddy, not a sprint. These things are not going to improve day one but day 30 after a quarter after half a year, eventually these helped bring down the top toxic levels that are out there and allow for a relationship.

Andy Heller (38m 8s):
You don't have to be friends. You don't really want to be friends, but you got to arrive at a point. The goal is to arrive at a point where you both can, co-parent effectively. So you're not screwing up your kids.

Ryan Kalamaya (38m 19s):
Well, and that's everyone's goal. And, and a lot of what you say resonates with me. I, I frequently will have conversations with my clients about how we can have the other party make it his or her idea of where we eventually want to get. Because frequently in divorces, it has to be one person's idea. And if it may be a great idea, but it has to be their idea, the other side's idea, and, you know, w you provide some recommendations and that's especially true in the post divorce phase. But you know, you, as a business guy can appreciate that.

Ryan Kalamaya (39m 1s):
You know, a divorce is, is unique for someone like Eric Wolf, because they are locked into a negotiation and they have no choice. They can't just walk out. You know, if they walk into Starbucks and the coffee is, you know, $5 and they just don't value that coffee $5, they can just walk out. You can't do that in a divorce, you are locked into a negotiation. And how you address that and deal with that is something that is a real key to your book, because that is a frustrating reality for many people in their divorce. They just don't understand that.

Andy Heller (39m 37s):
Yeah. And the one thing that was helpful for me is because I was a divorcee going through the process. I had a lot of empathy as well as personal experience. And I was able to look in the mirror and I was very fortunate, Ryan, cause I was able to identify things that I needed and not all people have that ability to have that kind of counsel or they don't have that kind of time, which is, you know, where podcasts like yours come in, where books like mine come in. When you have a limited amount of time, use those that time effectively to get you the guidance you need to get through the process. I will say again, this is my dad and the glass half full talk and it genuinely does get better.

Andy Heller (40m 20s):
And is when you're going through the worst of the worst, it's oftentimes going to feel like it can not get any, it's not going to improve. Generally it does. Time is a wonderful healer, but again, your children, because the effect of those years when they're younger, they go so fast. And they're so formative in this, in terms of the types of adults they become, you've got to get to a place where you can manage your lives, manage communications with your ex effectively as fast as possible, not only for your own mental health, but for theirs.

Ryan Kalamaya (40m 58s):
So Andy, for those that are listening to Eric and Melanie wolfs of the world, or a divorce attorney in Colorado, where can they find more about you and your book taking the high road?

Andy Heller (41m 11s):
Well, my email is Andy at take the high road, divorce.com. You can go to Amazon, get the book or Barnes and noble target and you can reach me also through my publisher and that's all on the book. Yeah. So I'm, I'm fairly easy to reach and find online through any of those means via email or like getting the book and reaching out.

Ryan Kalamaya (41m 31s):
Well, I appreciate the time and insight, Andy, and until next time, thanks for listening to divorce at altitude. If you found this episode to be helpful, you know, tell a friend and if you can leave a review, it helps others find us and take care out there. Thanks everyone. This is Ryan again. Thank you for joining us on divorce at altitude. If you found our tips, insight or discussion, helpful, please tell a friend about this podcast for show notes, additional resources or links mentioned on today's episode. Visit divorce@altitude.com. Follow us on apple podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen in.

Ryan Kalamaya (42m 12s):
Many of our episodes are also posted on YouTube. You can also find Amy and me@calamansi.la or 9, 7 0 3 1 5 2 3 6 5 that's K a L a M a Y a.law.