The Patton Family – Information for All Participants
Robert Dennis Patton, age 46
Denise Renee Patton, age 43
Leigh Kay, age 15
Arnold Robert, age 6 1/2
Robert and Denise have known each other since high school. They married 23 years ago, when Robert was 23 and Denise was 20. Both were in college at the time.
The first few years of their marriage, Robert and Denise focused on career building. Robert became a licensed real estate broker while Denise became a software designer, receiving her BS in information sciences from a major university.
When Denise was 28 and Robert 31, Leigh was born. Denise took six weeks off from her job at a bank and then returned to work. After six months, she found it too difficult to work full time and be a parent. She left the bank, and since then, she has worked a series of part-time jobs. At first she looked for work in her field, but it was difficult for her to find work that fit her busy schedule as a parent. About eight years ago, she was laid off from her last software job when her firm downsized. Her career devolved into odd jobs and then into volunteer work. Denise has not had a paying job for about five years, and her last job was a brief three-month stint as a receptionist for Robert’s real estate business, filling in for an employee on medical leave. A number of her volunteer posts have involved some pretty heavy computer programming.
Robert is another story. He has built a successful real estate brokerage and does well financially. Of course, a benefit of being a real estate broker is that Robert gains knowledge of emerging real estate opportunities. He has purchased several properties, including one he acquired jointly with his father and his father’s wife (his stepmother).
Leigh, the Patton’s older child, is in her first year of high school and is doing well. An easygoing and accommodating child, Leigh is an avid equestrian, and two years ago the Pattons bought her Midnight, a retired hunting gelding. Midnight is kept at a local stable under an equi-lease agreement by which the family receives discounted boarding in return for lending Midnight out to other riders at the stable.
Arnie, Leigh’s younger brother, is another story. Arnie is in kindergarten at the local public school. Since he was a toddler, Arnie has been different from Leigh. Arnie has boundless energy and cannot sit still, even by kindergarten standards. Denise has talked to the educational team several times about Arnie’s adjustment. He appears to be very bright, but he is falling behind in his readiness skills. He is finding it hard to get along with other children and is constantly in trouble. There has been a great deal of friction in the family over Arnie’s troubles, which have been evident since preschool. He is becoming increasingly oppositional at home, and Denise monitors him constantly to try to keep him out of trouble and to guide him through his homework.
Denise says that Arnie obviously has a neurological difference that makes him incapable of conforming to the school’s environment, and she wants him evaluated by a neuropsychologist. Robert has never taken much stock in shrinks and says that they are a waste of time and money. Denise, on the other hand, feels that she is dyslexic, and she has a close relative with manic depression, so she has interacted closely with mental health professionals.
Over the past three years, Denise has become more and more absorbed in trying to deal with what she characterizes as Arnie’s special needs. At first, Robert and Denise engaged in screaming matches over how best to parent Arnie. Then they both withdrew, with Robert sleeping on the couch and neither speaking much to the other. Denise, who has always struggled with her weight, gained 40 pounds.
One morning about six months ago, Robert arrived at the breakfast table with a suitcase and announced that he would not be returning home in the evening. “The marriage is over,” he explained to a shocked Denise. Since that time he has periodically returned home to pick up personal items and to see Arnie, but otherwise he has refused to communicate with Denise. He never did speak much with Leigh and has not really had an opportunity to do so since leaving, except to briefly greet her in passing.
Both Robert and Denise sought legal consultation. They were each asked to fill out the accompanying financial statements.