Divorce,Co-parenting & Custody

If you are a single parent that has experienced divorce and/or child custody battles, than this section will provide you the necessary tools and information that you may need to empower yourself as you go through this process.  In many cases, it’s not a done deal once the judge hits their gavel.  It’s a continually evolving process that doesn’t end as soon as your child turns 18.  I have had many of my own battles with divorce and have experienced the following things:

1)  Separation and Divorce

2)  Child custody battles up to and including visitation scheduling, education and religious conflicts, determining extracurricular activities, medical and dental decisions and more

3)  Child Custody modifications

4)  Child Protective Services  and More!

This does not replace the advice that is NECESSARY from a licensed legal professional or from a licensed therapist. These are my opinions based upon my experiences.

There’s a lot more that you can learn in this forum and my goal is to create an open dialogue or at least an open window so that you can see the bigger picture from the everyday issues that involved divorce.

Dallas Single Mom’s Top 5 Books on Divorce and Coparenting

  1.  Co-Parenting Nightmare
  2. How to Parent Successfully with your Ex! Even if They’re a Jerk! by Jill Darcey
  3. Avoid the Ten Biggest Divorce Mistakes
  4. New Beginnings for Divorcing Parents – Workbook Co-Parenting Divorce Workbook
  5. Cooperative Parenting and Divorce Parent’s Guide
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My daughter doesn’t need a father

Heather Buen : July 29, 2014 9:27 am : Co-Parenting, Divorce, Relationships, single moms

My middle daughter does not have a father that is active in her life. His exact email/message to me was specific. He didn’t want to be involved unless he had to pay child support because he could barely afford to take care of himself.

That’s it in a nutshell. Explaining to a 4 year old in simple terms that her father doesn’t want to be her dad is difficult. I don’t believe in sugar coating the truth. I told her countless times as well as a few other times that her daddy was not capable of being a dad so chose not to be in her life. Since those are his words that’s what I use. As far as she knows, she doesn’t have a dad unlike her brother and sister who have dads. I already got a yelling from a judge that I was the dumb one to have babies with idiots so no judgment on my life is needed here. I could have chosen abstinence (which sounds like a great idea now) or had an abortion (I don’t believe in) and of course I didn’t choose any of that. So I take care of my daughter in the best way I know how without a dad.

It didn’t occur to me she needed a dad

It never really occurred to me that she even needed a dad. In our day to day lives we have our routines and our schedules. I do what I need to do in order to feed the children. If you are new to the site you will know that when I use the term feed the children I am talking about taking care of my responsibilities. The things you need to do every day to provide security and put a roof over your head and those of your loved ones. The last man I dated mentioned to me that Baby B REALLY WANTS A DADDY! I remember hearing those words and it took me a step back. I always just assumed as a single mom it would always be just her and I (along with her brother and sister of course). I thought we were both in it for the long haul. Baby B and I are the outcasts in society looking for love finding it only with each other. It wasn’t until I saw how people responded to her that I even thought about it.

She’s my mini Snow White

Animals and people are attracted to my daughter. She has this fun loving quality that draws people to her. She takes direction very well and for the most part is very well behaved. The worker at Legoland saw her enthusiasm to race Lego cars with the boys and built a car for her. My ex loved giving her piggy back rides. My daughter still prays for him before she goes to bed. My friend from Houston who is a single guy loves playing with her as well. There was only one person that she knew as my boyfriend and that was my son’s dad. Other than that I made a vow not to really introduce the kids until it was serious. I mean men would play with the kids and we’d go out together but it was never something that established this person as my romantic partner. As far as she knows, these are just “fun guys” that do fun things like buy her stuff, take us for ice cream, go to Build A Bear etc.

She doesn’t need a dad

Baby B does in fact need a dad but this person has to be in love with me, her mother first. One of the things that rubbed me the wrong way was a friend of mine who enjoys spending time with her when we are together. I don’t view him in a romantic manner but some of the things he does rubs me the wrong way. For instance he mentioned her eating habits one day. My child eats very well when I am around. But since she ate sparsely with him he began asking me about whether she takes vitamins or not. The part that rubs me the wrong way is that I don’t like being told what to do. I like to be told logically or coaxed into new thinking but don’t enjoy declarative statements. If my daughter is to be blessed with a male role model in her life I can assure you it would be someone that has my approval first. If she is going to have a dad, it will be the man that I marry. If her real dad doesn’t want to be a dad, I’m sure whoever I get involved with romantically (who I am willing to put up with) that eventually wants to settle down would be willing to first accept her and of course then adopt her. There is no grey area there. My daughter has a lot of wonderful male role models such as my friends, my family, my dad and so she is blessed to have them as examples.

I have no advice on introducing your significant other to your kids. I know what I did and I was happy with what happened even if we ended up breaking up. The key is communication that is open and friendly with your child. As far as the dad discussion, I don’t exactly date just on who would be a good dad. While that is one aspect of choosing a lifetime partner there are so many other things. Instinct and your gut play a big role in it. At this time, Baby B doesn’t need a dad, she already has one and it’s his choice not to be involved. I’m sure in the future things may look different, but I think we are doing a great job now.

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The Ugly and Beautiful Truth about Divorce

Heather Buen : July 2, 2014 3:24 pm : Child Custody, Divorce, Relationships

family-law-329569_150Prologue: One of the key things I have learned about divorce is that it is not meant for the faint of heart. Even the strong that go through it experience extreme difficulties once in the aftermath. As many of you know I went through a divorce and the annulment process with the Catholic Diocese of my home parish. That process was an eye-opener for me in ways you could never imagine. Had we gone through that process prior to getting married I probably would never have gotten married. The post below comes from an attorney for Koons Fuller (who I have used in the past). In this post it gives the appearances that since everyone has found someone that life is hunky dory. Don’t fall into that belief. Whether you are single, divorced or married your journey is your own. I do believe in Mr. Robertson’s assertion that you have to truly evaluate your options and move forward.

The young woman in my office — we’ll call her Janette — looked at me sheepishly. “I don’t’ believe in divorce,” she said. “I believe it’s against God’s will.”

Janette’s husband had a different view. He was having an affair and wanted to pursue that relationship. He filed for divorce.

As an attorney, it’s my job to represent my clients. I informed her that in our secular legal system, a court has jurisdiction over divorce and a judge will generally grant it even if only one spouse wants the divorce. Almost half of all marriages in our society end this way.

Janette was not able to reconcile with her husband. I could protect her legal interests, but I couldn’t save her marriage. She was heartbroken.

I come from a family where people didn’t get divorced — it wasn’t an option. But as I’ve handled legal matters for those who do, I’ve realized that God’s plan for us extends far beyond our personal decisions.

Janette called me a few years later. She wanted me to meet her new husband — a devout Christian. When we met, it was clear Janette’s new marriage was much more in line with her values. It was also obvious to me that both husband and wife loved each very much. She said she had never realized how wonderful life could be.

Divorce as a Process

Another couple — we’ll call them the Coopers — lived with financial and personal stresses that were overwhelming them. They decided to divorce. After one year, when neither had established a relationship with anyone else, they realized they had made a mistake. They still loved each other and decided to get married again. They even did so on their original wedding date. Now, more than 20 years have gone by and the Coopers are still happily remarried.

Financial, job or relationship stresses are seldom solved by divorce. Often, a pastor or counselor can help in this type of situation. Divorce, if its purpose is to get away from stress, often just diverts the sources of stress to other problems.

When individuals are faced with imminent divorce, I often encourage counseling to help them “redefine” their relationship. Divorce is not an event, it’s a process.

“What kind of relationship do you hope to have after the marriage ends?” I ask. Sometimes they’ve thought this out, but often they haven’t. They don’t realize they will continue to see each other at various events. If they have children, they will both go to school plays, graduations, weddings and parties. They will have to work with each other on visitation rights and other legal issues. Though this is not marriage counseling, it sometimes leads to reconciliation as a couple sees their relationship in a new light.

Divorce and Cancer

When I’m asked how to avoid divorce, I tell folks to think of it like it was cancer. Divorce and cancer have basic similarities: 1) You try to avoid both, and 2) Each changes your life dramatically.

When people have cancer, however, they usually pull out the stops to beat it. They get the most qualified professional help they can and often change their lifestyles. Many marriages could be saved if people applied this same level of commitment.

The Marriage Commitment

Bad examples abound in our society, including many of today’s prominent people. But divorce by Mom and Dad can have a much more insidious effect on children, especially when Mom and Dad make little effort to redefine their relationship. I once handled a divorce for a couple with a 13-year-old son. Years later, the son called me for an appointment. He wanted a divorce. I took him to lunch to talk it through, but he was resolute. That path had already been paved.

One thing I’ve learned from working in this business is that God is in charge and he uses all things for good. For those who trust in God, good will come. We have God’s Word on it. Janette and the Coopers are just two of many examples.

Sometimes I think of Isaiah addressing the Hebrews, who had been overwhelmed by the might of the Babylonians. “But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” You’d think this would start with walking and end with soaring, right? In many ways, this passage is appropriate for marriage. In your courtship and honeymoon phase, you soar, and then in your early years, you run. But as you encounter life’s ups and downs you learn that it takes a day-to-day commitment by both of you to make it work, and your relationship grows stronger.

About Rick:

Rick Robertson is one of the nations best known divorce attorneys. He has been selected one of the Top 100 Attorneys in Dallas-Fort Worth (Thomson Reuters, 2005), the Top 50 Attorneys in Texas (Thomson Reuters, 2012), has been nominated a Super Lawyer for 12 consecutive years (2002-2014) Thomson Reuters), was featured on the cover of the 2011 Texas edition of Super Lawyers (Thomson Reuters, 2011) and Awarded Best Go-To Lawyer for Texas Lawyer’s Go-To Guide. He is Board Certified in family law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Rick Robertson also speaks to church and civic groups on staying married and the many challenges that face those who decide to divorce.

“We always offer clients the possibility of saving their marriages,” he says. “We don’t need to drum up business, and we would much rather see people get their lives in order.”

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5 Tips to Communicate Effectively With Your Divorce Lawyer

Heather Buen : February 17, 2014 4:18 pm : Divorce

CommunicateNo one likes getting divorced, but sometimes life doesn’t give you a choice if you want to stay sane. And that means you’ll have to hire a lawyer to help you out. Knowing that you’ll have to talk to a lawyer can add a whole new level of stress to your life, but it doesn’t have to. Communicating with lawyers isn’t as difficult as you might think. Here are 5 tips to help you learn the trick.

Attorney-Client Privilege

When you’re going through a divorce, you need your lawyer to know all the facts. If your lawyer doesn’t know pertinent details—like your spouse making a certain amount of money or the circumstances around the time your son broke his leg—he won’t be able to represent you as well as he could otherwise.

Be as honest as you can be while communicating. When you’re as honest as you can be, your lawyer can plan out a good defense should your spouse’s lawyer bring up a situation that puts you in a bad light. It’s never a good thing for a lawyer to be surprised in court—especially when you can do something about it. Tell them everything. The more they know, the more they can help you. And if you’re worried about your lawyer knowing too much and revealing private information, don’t be. Attorney-client privilege protects the information you give your lawyer, so they can’t reveal anything you say without your permission.

His Secretary

Every decent lawyer has a secretary in charge of their schedule. Get to know your lawyer’s secretary. Befriend him or her. Remember little details about them, to show them that you care. If your spouse misses a child support payment or something happens to one of your children, you’ll have to go through the secretary first to get to your lawyer, and if they’re on good terms with you, you’ll probably get in to see your lawyer a lot faster than you would otherwise.

Your Questions

If you have any questions about the court proceedings, paperwork, or any other legal matter, don’t be afraid to ask. Your lawyer is your legal counsel, and as such, they are there to counsel you. However, they can’t counsel you unless they know your questions. If you don’t ask questions and let them know your knowledge about legal matters (even if you know next to nothing), the best your lawyer can give is general advice and hope that it’s enough. Make the money you’re paying worthwhile.

Types of Communication

Face-to-face communication is important for the first couple of meetings with your lawyer. That type of communication is the best way to get a read on a person. After those first few times, though, you don’t need to meeting in person regularly. There are many other valid ways to communicate, like through phone or email. Make use of them, because oftentimes, they’re a lot more convenient for the types of questions and advice you need.

Efficient Communication

To go along with the above point, make sure you’re making the most of your money. You’re paying your lawyer for the amount of time they spend on your case, including phone calls and emails they have to respond to.

By saving some of your questions until you can ask multiple questions in an email, rather than sending a bunch of emails with one question in each of them, you’ll save yourself a nice chunk of money, and your lawyer will be appreciative, because no one likes answering five or six emails from the same person in one day.

Getting a divorce is never a fun experience, but by knowing how to communicate with your lawyer, it can make the process a lot less stressful. From Dallas to Kingston, personal injury lawyers, divorce lawyers, and criminal lawyers all speak the same language, and by following these tips, you can pass that language barrier and learn to communicate with them.

Eloise Hamilton has always been fascinated with law. In college, she studied the subject briefly before switching to business, but she still loves to maintain her knowledge of all things law, by visiting all kinds of law sites like Ontario Injured. She seeks to inform the general public about the finer details of law in a way they can understand.

Disclaimer: All guest posts and guest authors are prescreened by Dallas Single Mom. All opinions presented are 100% the opinion of the author as applicable. Opinions expressed are not necessarily representative of this site.
Looking for guest bloggers or to guest post for more exposure? Check out MyBlogGuest

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Single Mom’s Anti-Survival Guide for Valentine’s Day

Heather Buen : February 11, 2014 2:54 pm : Daily, dating, Divorce, Relationships, single moms, Valentine's Day

Why does everyone think single women or single moms need a survival guide for Valentine’s Day? There are 16 million entries that come up in Google Search for “survival guide for Valentine’s Day.” If you don’t have the tools necessary to manage yourself why should anyone put up with your hot mess? You don’t need to SURVIVE since this is not a war zone (unless you created that in your head). Don’t be afraid to to shine like the great white light that you are on the one day out of the year devoted to love.  Spread that joy around for another 364 days. Dave Mann founder of Sweet Tea Pumpkin Pie – a music review site based out of DC said this in response to my question about his thoughts on Valentine’s Day,

“i think v-day is cool for elementary school aged kids. Cause they don’t care about the commercial side of it. there are really no strings attached with those young kids. all they want is to know that they have a valentine and most of the kids (if not, all?) give valentines to each other. personally, i think v-day should have stopped after elementary school..possibly the term “it’s complicated” started with valentines day, it should never be complicated, right?”

I AGREE Mr. MANN!

Photo by  Knox Knox

Photo by Knox Knox

This is my Anti-Survival Guide to Valentine’s Day. After reading stories about surviving the day when you are alone I was wondering what everyone did on the other 364 days they are alone? I was browsing around Craig’s List Personals ads as they are close to the bottom feeder of personals that I have ever seen in my life and I decided to do a search for the term, “Valentine’s Day!” I was surprised at the number of men and women putting out personal ads that they are available for a date on Valentine’s Day.

Some with the headline of “I want to get wasted on Valentine’s Day” to “I’m looking for a Valentine’s Day date to disappoint this year.” if that works for you go for it, but let’s look at the facts. Approximately 1 in 5 people get dumped on Valentine’s Day and 1 in 6 people get cheated on or cheat on Valentines’ Day. According to the same survey by AYI.com, a ton of people would go out on a blind date on Valentine’s Day with 51% of women and 70% of men willing to take the risk on Valentine’s Day.

To gain insight on this year’s Valentine’s Day, online dating site AYI.com surveyed over 1,000 people and analyzed over 55,000 responses to some of their most popular multiple-choice questions.

Angry_birds

Don’t get so Angry if you are alone on Valentine’s Day. Photo by Knox Knox

Would I go out on a blind date on Valentine’s Day? No. overpriced entrees, long wait times, cold food and couples on their smartphones as we all jam pack together in a crowded restaurant is not my idea of fun.

Opt for ordering takeout from a great restaurant and create a great setting at home without the rush and commotion. My favorite choice is Outback Steakhouse. They have some good specials but I would NOT dine in that evening. A boyfriend of mine in 2001 went to Outback for Valentine’s Day and waited hours for a table. They have conveninent online ordering and you can drive by and pick it up.

The Steak Menu for Two includes a Bloomin’ Onion appetizer and Classic Cheesecake to share, paired with two of Outback’s favorite steak entrées.
Choices include:
-Two 6-ounce sirloins
-Two 9-ounce sirloins
-Two 6-ounce filets
-One Bone-in Ribeye & one filet, one of Outback’s most popular combos
-And for a truly impressive meal, lobster tails are 50% off when added on to any of the above

Plus, for those in need of more than a great meal this Valentine’s Day – perhaps to make up for a past Valentine’s Day fail – enter the #BloominDoOver sweepstakes for a chance to win a $50 Outback gift card for a date do-over. Beginning Monday, Feb. 10th, enter to win by following @Outback and sharing a date disaster story (Valentine’s or otherwise) via Twitter using the hashtag #BloominDoOver. 10 winners will be selected at random each day from Feb. 10th – 13th, and 20 winners will be selected on Feb. 14th. So Visit OutbackOnlineOrdering.com and order now.

Would I go get a cup of coffee on Valentine’s Day? yup – quick and easy for a blind date if I treated VDAY like any other day.  This is also great for first dates which is what a blind date is?

No Love Interest? I love coffee and so a great gift would be Trader Joe’s Coffee or just stopping by the house of a friend or family member and enjoying a cup of tea or coffee with them. Add some cookies or brownies and you have a sweet treat

For Single Parents, what would make a great Valentine’s Day Date?

How about a family date? Nothing says love like when the guy you are dating will head out with you and the kids to Speedzone or Chuck E Cheese. Or if you aren’t dating someone, do a craft project with your children. Some easy ideas are to create the Candygram or Valentine’s Day card box for your kids with craft items and a shoebox. Or how about a making party boxes for kids in need. Family to Family has an idea for families with Birthday Giving Parties. Spend the holiday creating parties in a box for needy kids.

Accomplish Something

How about accomplishing something this Valentine’s Day? In a previous post I talked about single moms treating themselves on Valentine’s Day. Find something that makes you happy and do it. When you accomplish it, treat yourself. I am volunteering this weekend for the North Texas Food Bank and I’m also volunteering for the American Red Cross. Find a special cause or just donate your time reading to a child or cleaning up a park. It will make you feel better inside that you contributed to something and made a difference.

Watch a NetFlix or Movie Marathon? 

Game of Thrones: The Complete Third Season Limited Edition  is coming out on February 18th – Oh Wait that is my ex’s favorite show. Find a series that you would love to watch and watch the entire season in one night on Valentine’s Day. I got rid of cable and so I fell in love with the show The White Queen on the Starz Network so I plan on watching everything there is to know about treachery, power, prestige and sex on Valentine’s Day.  I signed up for Amazon Prime and I found it way better than Hulu Plus for providing access to the latest television series and movies from the cable networks. Of course you have to pay $79 for the year, but for me it’s worth it.

Don’t worry about not getting flowers

I used to sell flowers for a major florist. Every year tons of people would call in to order flowers and most often they heard a promo code on the radio and so when they called in our job as salespeople was to upsell them. If they called at the last minute, we charged extra for next day or 2 day delivery. Most guys had no clue what to put on the card so we had pre-written notes for the card that we selected from. I would say 90% of guys that called in had no clue what they wanted, they just wanted the best deal or the promotion they heard on the radio. A few would have scriptures or something in their mind they already wrote out. Some guys bought flowers for multiple women and wrote the same thing on all the cards. The emphasis on the holiday should be with the people you love and not the flowers or the stuff that is bought. So DON”T buy yourself flowers and have them delivered to yourself (I fielded those calls too). It’s a waste of money and time. A man should buy you your favorite flowers and if he doesn’t know he should ask which ones you like the most. I have always loved light pink roses or exotic tropical flowers that remind me of home and I have yet to get those given to me so I buy them myself.

One person I spoke with summed it up best:

“I buy my gf flowers on a regular basis (at least once a month) and i don’t do the cookie cutter / cliched stuff. I know what she likes, what smells good to her.”

Photo by Knox Knox

Photo by Knox Knox

Build your Foreseeable YOU!

Are you still trying to create the best you? Build  your vision board that day, write in a journal or do something creative. There is a lot that you can do to build a better you on Valentine’s Day. Take some time to reflect on your life and review your resolutions or goals. Remind yourself why you set those goals in the first place. Are those goals still in alignment with your needs? I’ve spoken about goals before, so don’t take your eyes off the prize.

What other tips do you have for singles on Valentine’s Day?

Disclaimer: The above post may contain affiliate links. All opinions presented are 100% my own. For more information, please visit my disclosure page.

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5 Tips for a Smoother Divorce

Heather Buen : February 3, 2014 2:56 pm : Divorce, single dads, single moms

Generally if I were to add another tip for a smoother divorce on this list I would definitely say keep healthy and fit. Reason being is that getting sick and having to deal with illness or having no energy to deal with the divorce is not fun and mounting medical bills on top of a divorce wreaks havoc to finances.

Getting a divorce can be hassle, generating far more drama than you ever wanted. Whether you just fell out of love or your spouse cheated on you, there are a lot of factors that make divorces difficult, but you don’t have to make it more difficult than it has to be. Here are a few tips to make your divorce run a little smoother and cut out a little drama you’d rather not deal with.

Cancel Joint Accounts

One of the first things you want to do when getting a divorce is split the money. Typically, financial disputes are one of the biggest sources of contention when a relationship goes sour, so the sooner you can separate the accounts, the better. If both parties are on good terms with each other, you don’t have to wait for the court to split the finances. You can take care of the financial decisions amiably, cutting all the joint assets right down the middle. And with that out of the way, half of the battle is over, and you can move onto the rest.

Check Credit Report

Make sure get a credit report and know your credit score. Have a good idea what the problem areas are in your report, along with the strengths. You might be able to use the information in it during the divorce negotiations.

Get your credit report as soon as you even suspect you’ll be getting a divorce. You don’t want any chance of having your credit score affected if your soon-to-be ex decides to be malicious. If you have documentation of your credit score prior to any vengeful acts, you’ll be able to get everything fixed, and you can stay calm throughout the ordeal.

Fix Insurance Policies

As soon as you can, you’ll want to look into your different insurance policies, for property, health, and life. You need to adjust those to your changing marital status, and you’ll want to remove your ex’s ability to make decisions about you. You’ll also want to fix any policies that your ex benefits from, naming your children as the beneficiaries if you can.

You’ll want to look into changing policies before you actually file for divorce, because in some states, you can’t adjust policies once you file a divorce—you have to wait until after the divorce is settled.

Keep Emotions and Emotional Health in Check

Emotions run notoriously high during divorces, but getting angry and upset during the proceedings won’t accomplish anything. Keep your emotions contained regardless of what happens. You also want to be careful who you express your emotions to and where you express them. Letting mutual friends know what you’re upset about means that your ex will probably find out. You should also refrain from posting anything on social media—even if you’re just telling your close friends and family—because you could be held in contempt of court and punished for those kinds of actions.

Additionally, pay attention to your emotional well-being, because it’s a proven fact that divorce wreaks havoc on the average person’s health and happiness. Do what you can to stay happy and feeling good about yourself, despite your changing marital status.

Spend Time with the Kids

Most importantly, remember to spend time with your kids. Make a plan with your ex for how your want to parent your kids from this point forward. Even if you two aren’t getting along, put your differences aside for the sake of your children. They need to know that both your still love them and will be there for them, and you need to work together to ensure your children will continue feeling that love.

Even the best marriages can end if one or both parties fall out of love, but just because the love isn’t there and you choose to get a divorce doesn’t mean you need to fight all through the proceedings. By using these tips, you can make your divorce smooth and as drama-free as possible, even if you’re separating from adultery or domestic violence. From Edmonton to Atlanta, keep your divorce smooth.

Author byline:

Eloise Hamilton has always been fascinated with law. In college, she studied the subject briefly before switching to business, but she still loves to maintain her knowledge of all things law, by visiting all kinds of law sites like The Defence Team. She seeks to inform the general public about the finer details of law in a way they can understand.

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Disclaimer: The above page may contain affiliate links. All opinions presented are 100% my own. For more information, please visit my disclosure page.

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