Stevens Firm May 2018

What Matters Most

THE Stevens Firm, P.A. Family Law Center

Navigating the Role of “Stepmom” Biological or By Marriage, I Love My Children the Same 349 E. Main Street, Suite 200, Spartanburg, SC 29302 • • (864) 598-9172 April 2018

As most people know, I have six children — three who are mine biologically and three who came into my life when I married my husband and law partner, Ben. When I was younger, I never imagined I’d be a mom — and certainly not to so many children — but I wouldn’t give up my life today for anything. My relationship with each of my children is unique because they all have such different personalities and needs. Our kids range in age from 8 to 21, so my role in each of their lives can be wildly different. As a mom, I’ve learned how to meet each of their individual needs based on their ages, maturity levels, and chapters in life. I learn something new from them every day. Although I technically have three “stepchildren,” that word is rarely used in our home. All of our kids know they have three parents in this world who love them and do everything possible to care for them. Our youngest, Dexter, really has no memory of his life before I was his stepmother, so my relationship with him has never gone through the typical adjustments stepparents often experience. However, my older stepchildren were 10 and 12 when I married Ben. While I’d be lying if I said there weren’t occasional hiccups in the blending process, I was lucky to have their mom as a supportive co-parent during that time, and that continues to this day. Our children know

without a doubt that they are loved from all sides, regardless of biology. Being a stepmom is one of the hardest jobs I’ve ever tackled, but it’s also one of the most rewarding. It takes time to earn a child’s trust, especially when you haven’t been there from the beginning. However, with patience and consistency, it can be done. The best advice I can offer other stepmoms is that regardless of what the children call you (stepmom, bonus mom, Mom, Dad’s wife, your name, etc.), you just have to meet them where they are and love them unconditionally. They will respond to your love far quicker than they will respond to strict rules about how they should treat you and

what to call you. All of my stepchildren have had their moments when they took out their anger or frustration on me, but over time, after they saw that I loved them and I was going to take care of them no matter what, I gained their trust. We will never share the bond that a biological mother has with the child she carried for nine months and gave birth to, but we can build our own bonds that are special and treasured in their own ways. Above all else, I love watching my children grow into productive, successful citizens of the world. I can’t guide them forever, so being able to stand back as they get older and watch them make good decisions or fix mistakes they’ve made along the way always brings happy tears to my eyes and a tug at my heart. Years ago, I learned that there’s really no way to perfectly balance motherhood with anything else that demands even a fraction of my time. I just have to get up each day and meet the challenge head-on, aiming to do better than the day before. I ask for patience when it’s possible and extensions of deadlines when feasible, but ultimately, my kids will always come first in my universe.

Jenny Stevens

Reminder About Our Firm’s Communication Policy Our promise to you is that while we are working on your case, we don’t take inbound phone calls, faxes, or emails. Our senior partner, Ben Stevens, takes no unscheduled inbound phone calls, as we have found this makes him much more productive and enables him to focus on getting your case resolved faster. You can always call our office at (864) 598-9172 and schedule an in-person or phone appointment with any of our attorneys, usually within 24–48 hours. We believe this approach is much better than the endless game of phone tag played by most businesses today. Email is also an efficient way to communicate with us, but please

be advised that emails are not typically checked more than twice per day. If you need something quickly, don’t email — call our office and speak with one of our assistants, who will be happy to help you. Disclaimer: This publication is intended to educate the general public about family law issues. It is not intended to be legal advice. Every case is different. The information in this newsletter may be freely copied and distributed so long as the newsletter is copied in its entirety and proper credit is attributed to “The Stevens Firm, P.A. — Family Law Center (”

1 (864) 598-9172

Step Up Your Kids’ Goo Game If you’re a parent in 2018, you know how popular slime has become among the kiddos. NPR reports that the gooey stuff has become a “social media sensation” and even led to glue shortages in many areas across the country. But instead of making a traditional pile of neon goop with your child, why not upgrade it with magnetic capabilities? Make your own magnetic slime with just a few ingredients you can easily find around town. What you’ll need: • Liquid starch • Elmer’s glue (or any white glue) Make Amazing Magnetic Slime 1. Start off by pouring 1/4 cup of liquid starch into a disposable bowl. Add 2 carefully-measured tablespoons of iron oxide, and stir vigorously until fully mixed. 2. Mix in 1/4 cup of glue, and stir like crazy. You’re going to doubt that this preslime mixture can possibly turn into anything, but have faith and continue to mix. Eventually, it’ll take on that gooey slime-like texture. 3. Once the slime is a little squishy, remove it from the bowl and start mashing it with your hands. Knead and knead until the mixture is evenly distributed throughout. Don’t worry about the black juice remaining in for the magnet, almost like some alien creature. This is the perfect opportunity to explain how magnets work. Check out the “Magnetism” page on Or just squish the slime around and see what it can do! Though it may not be as colorful as the slime you usually see, it’s definitely more interesting. It’s the perfect simple activity for a playdate with your kids this May. Give Your Children Support Through the Divorce Process the bowl — just mix it in as best you can. When that’s done, give your hands a good scrub. The black mess will leave a stain for a little over a day. 4. Pat the slime down to dry off excess juice. That’s the stuff that makes a mess and blackens your hands, not the slime. Now it’s ready for action! Set the slime on the countertop and get out your magnet. Your kids will be amazed by the way the thick slime reaches • Iron oxide powder (can be found at home improvement stores — avoid breathing it in!) • Disposable bowls • An extra-powerful neodymium magnet (check online retailers or hobby stores)

As family law attorneys, most of the cases we handle on a day-to-day basis involve child custody in some form or another. Occasionally, the case is what’s called an “initial determination” of custody, which is the first time a court makes an order that defines the custody arrangement between two parents. Other times, we deal with modification cases where the parents are having issues with the original custody arrangement and are seeking modification by the court. In the midst of a family court case and all that accompanies it, one key aspect often gets missed. The children in these cases experience their own worries, fears, and concerns throughout the process, and with both parents wrapped up in the case, they can feel alone in those concerns. If they are young, they often don’t have the vocabulary or courage to let anyone know, but children therapists can usually recognize the signs of distress. In her book, “Putting Children First,” JoAnne Pedro-Carroll, clinical psychologist, cited a research survey which found the top-five worries expressed by children during divorce:

These are complex issues for anyone, let alone young children. During their parents’ divorce, children find themselves experiencing emotions they are completely unprepared to deal with. While most parents are unable to discuss the particulars of the case with their children, it is imperative that parents learn how to be empathetic and as supportive as possible for their children. By doing so, they provide their children with a level of comfort and reassurance even as the family’s routines and life may be drastically changing. If you are having trouble helping your child cope through the divorce process, don’t be afraid to seek the advice of a therapist who specializes in families and children going through separations and divorces. If you would like a referral, please don’t hesitate to ask our team.

• When I’m with my mom, I miss my dad. • When I’m with my dad, I miss my mom. • I worry about what will happen to me. • My parents fight about me. • My parents argue a lot. 2

Grilled Skirt Steak With Asparagus Asparagus and steak is a classic pairing. Skirt steak packs a ton of flavor without the high price point of other cuts, and this is the best time of year to buy asparagus. So what are you waiting for? Let’s get grilling!

Local Events What’s Happening in Spartanburg?

Music on Main Featuring Back9 When: May 10, 5:30–8:30 p.m. Where: 100 N. Liberty St Music on Main is downtown Spartanburg’s favorite after-


• • • •

1 1/2 pounds skirt steak 2 tablespoons canola oil

2 teaspoons crushed red pepper Grated pecorino Romano cheese

1 pound asparagus

Salt and pepper to taste

work, live music series. It’s a social gathering spot where friends and colleagues get together to enjoy great music, cold beers, and good times right on


1. Heat grill to high. Season room-temperature steak with salt, pepper, and 1 tablespoon oil. Any oil with a high smoke point, such as canola, will work. 2. Trim bottom inch of asparagus. Season with salt, pepper, and remainder of oil. 3. Cut steak into four portions and grill for 3–5 minutes per side, depending on desired doneness. Skirt steak is thin and will cook quickly. 4. Let steak rest for 10 minutes. While it’s resting, grill asparagus for 6 minutes, turning once. 5. Sprinkle cheese and crushed red pepper on asparagus. Serve alongside steak take a break Recipe inspired by Food Netowrk

Morgan Square. This event is presented by Piedmont Natural Gas and sponsored by Budweiser of Spartanburg, Coca-Cola of Spartanburg, Wild Wing Cafe, Rock 101, and 104.5 The Block. Meet us downtown for a rockin’ good time! Spring Market at Vintage Warehouse When: May 12, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and more will make this a shopping day you won’t want to miss. This year, Vintage Warehouse has more space than ever. They are hoping to host up to 50 vendors and food trucks! We hope to see you there. Pints for Pups When: May 12, 2–5 p.m. Where: RJ Rockers Brewing Company Back by popular demand, RJ Where: Vintage Warehouse Vintage Warehouse is proud to host another seasonal market! Craft vendors, artists, food trucks,

Rockers is proud to host the third annual Pints for Pups charity event, which benefits the National Canine Cancer Foundation. Head down to RJ Rockers Brewing Company for live

music, great food, and vendors. Bring your crowd-friendly furry friends for a fun afternoon! If you have questions, feel free to email Joshua Henderson at

3 (864) 598-9172

THE Stevens Firm, P.A. Family Law Center


349 E. Main Street, Suite 200 Spartanburg, SC 29302

PAGE 1 Navigating the Role of “Stepmom” PAGE 2 Step Up Your Kids’ Goo Game During Divorce, Kids Have Worries Too PAGE 3 Grilled Skirt Steak With Asparagus Local Events PAGE 4 The Radical Transparency of Ray Dalio’s ‘Principles’

The Radical Transparency of Ray Dalio’s ‘Principles’

Dalio’s dedication to the idea of openness in all things is evident through the organization of his life’s work into a detailed and actionable program. Recognize How to Get Beyond Disagreements . Dalio’s transparency extends to creating an open forum for disagreement. In an earlier 2011 draft of Dalio’s “Principles,” he wrote of the importance of “creat[ing] an environment in which everyone has the right to understand what makes sense and no one has the right to hold a critical opinion without speaking up about it.” From the outside, it might seem that such an uncompromisingly honest vision would create problems. After all, Bridgewater employees describe “public hangings” of those who don’t rigorously follow Dalio’s rules and meetings that sometimes stretch for hours due to disagreements about a single item on the agenda. But Dalio argues that creating this fluid back- and-forth is a vital component of a healthy organization. Systematize the Decision-Making Process . Aside from his trademark transparency and sometimes brutal honesty, “Principles” has one thread that runs through the whole book: Everything can and should be boiled down and understood with a simple system. By acknowledging how reality operates, you can transform your business and achieve clarity in every aspect of your life.

If you grew up in an ordinary, middle-class neighborhood on Long Island, proceeded to found an investment firm out of your apartment in NYC, and went on to make more money for your clients than any other hedge fund in the history of the industry, you would assume there was something uniquely special about you, right? Not according to Ray Dalio, founder of Bridgewater Associates and one of the most successful — and influential, as 2012’s Time magazine attests —men in the world. He’ll be the first to tell you that there’s no secret to his genius. Just open his book and memorize the 200-plus “Principles” he honed over his career. Dalio believes these are the real reason he stands in such a prominent position today. Trust in Radical Truth and Radical Transparency Since its publication last year, Dalio’s book has risen to No. 5 on Amazon’s charts, become a No. 1 New York Times best seller, and been touted as revolutionary by some of the most successful businesspeople of our time. It’s a thick volume of just under 600 pages but nonetheless compelling.


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