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Remarriage? Tips for blending families

In a recent article by author, educator and divorce consultant Deborah Moskovitch, we are reminded that real life typically doesn’t follow the same happy-go-lucky storylines we see on television.  Where Mike and Carol Brady were able to enter second marriages and turn their separate families into one big happy bunch, real life is hardly that simple.

Sandy Shuler, a social worker and certified Canadian family educator in Calgary, says:

“Every family is unique in terms of the way it looks and the way it operates. Expecting that there is going to be an instant connection and bonding situation when there are children involved can lead to disappointment and challenges.  Just because the adults are thrilled about the idea of merging does not mean that the children are, so the adults need to go into the situation realistically with their eyes wide open.”

Shuler advises couples to act proactively, tackling issues before blending the family: “Prior to blending, go to a counselor and find out what the likely hot spots are going to be.”

Deborah Moskovitch suggests the following tips for blending families successfully:

Help kids adapt to the new family configuration. Children will belong to two households/families; but they need guidance to adjust to different sets of rules, expectations, and systems.

Bonding takes time. Don’t expect children to love and adore each other or your new partner right away. In some cases, the best thing is to work towards courtesy and respect.  Building caring relationships between children and their new step-parent/family is a process that requires time and patience.

Be open to discussion. Creating opportunities for family discussions, problem-solving and negotiation helps children manage.

Prepare the family for change. Establishing new family patterns, rituals and traditions helps children feel a sense of belonging and shared memories.

Understand the new relationship. Clarifying roles, responsibilities and expectations in the blended family serves as a “road map” with strategies for building relationships and a solid framework for the family unit.

Develop a conflict resolution strategy. Conflict is a part of all families. Combined families have more complex and diverse needs and emotions in dealing with conflict; a solid conflict resolution model helps to address these issues.

Demonstrate your love. Children need reassurance that they are loved and are still a priority to their biological parent, as loyalty issues can arise in blended families.

Discipline your own, and step back for his. The general rule of thumb about discipline is that the biological parent is the one who guides the discipline for their own children when there are step-children living together.  But within one household the rules need to be consistently applied for all children who live there — there should never be two sets of rules.

The bottom line is that what ever you call it—a step family, blended family, combined family—it’s a newly reconfigured family unit. It takes time to bring this new family together, and it takes effort—just remember to resolve conflict, demonstrate love and find the fun.

For more information about Deborah Moskovitch, visit her website at www.thesmartdivorce.com.

The Law Collaborative, bringing peace to the legal process.

The Seven Options for Divorce: Number Four

The fourth option for divorce is Arbitration, which is quite different from our first three options.  The Kitchen Table Divorce is casual, creative, quick and inexpensive.  Mediation is a cooperative effort between individuals to reach a mutual agreement based on consensus and compromise.  Collaborative Divorce provides you with a team of professionals that rally and support you, ensuring that all your needs are met.  Though Arbitration is similar to mediation, it is more like litigation in that the parties present their respective positions, evidence, testimony and witnesses to a trial of fact.

Arbitration is a settlement technique in which a third party reviews the case and imposes a decision that is legally binding for both sides.  The arbitrator may be a retired judge, an experienced trial lawyer, or some other professional selected from a panel of competent arbitrators, such as the American Arbitration Association.  Arbitration can be either voluntary or mandatory and can be either binding or non-binding.  The principal distinction between mediation and arbitration is that whereas a mediator will try to help the parties find a middle ground on which to compromise, the (non-binding) arbitrator remains totally removed from the settlement process and will only give a determination of liability.

Arbitration is most commonly used for the resolution of commercial disputes, but it is desirable in divorce cases when agreement cannot be reached but the parties still wish to save the costs and expenses of litigating through the usual judicial system, which has built-in delays and attendant increased costs.  The Los Angeles County Superior Court sponsors an arbitration program and a “Rent-A-Judge program wherein retired Superior Court judges are available as arbitrators, or will sit as judges on a private basis.  But we’ll talk more about Rent-A-Judge in a later post.

Option 1:  The Kitchen Table
Option 2:  Mediation
Option 3:  Collaborative Divorce
Option 4:  Arbitration
Option 5:  Negotiation in the Shadow of Litigation
Option 6:  Rent-A-Judge
Option 7: Litigation

What’s new at The Law Collaborative

Dear Friends of the Law Collaborative,

This April we celebrate an anniversary. Although Ron and Robert have been practicing family law for a sum total of fifty years or more, this April we celebrate the First Anniversary of The Law Collaborative, LLP, formed by Ron and Robert with the stated aim of ‘Bringing Peace to the Legal Process.’

With this in mind, we offer our readers one simple suggestion for establishing peace in our daily lives.

Thankfulness.

Even in tough times, there is plenty for which to be thankful. If we establish a habit of noting the small things that mark us as fortunate, we cultivate Thankfulness and Appreciation. Establishing these qualities in our lives benefits our health, our relationships, and our general well-being. They also have a way of overflowing into the lives of others. Realize that there is no actual risk attached to exercising Thankfulness and Appreciation, and that such attitudes come with much potential benefit. Thankfulness and Appreciation may be experienced on a daily basis if we apply ourselves to forming the habit.

COLLABORATIVE LAW – The attorney who wishes to employ collaborative law in his practice must have a thorough knowledge of negotiation skills, and understand the underlying theories and strategies of negotiation. Minimum standards for collaborative family law practice are continually expanding, as the work continues to attract more followers throughout the country. The State Bar provides education on an annual basis, making available new tools, technology, and information generated by the professionals engaged in the practice. This month, on Saturday, April 10th, Ron will be the closing speaker at the “Helping Families” conference at Pepperdine Law School in beautiful Malibu. Any professional interested in learning more about collaborative practice would do well to attend. For more information, check www.CDR4-10-10event.com

We would like to share a testimonial, and our new blog –

www.RonandRobertonDivorce.com

Testimonial:

The Law Collaborative is a team of divorce lawyers and paralegals who advocate for the family. I have yet to come across another group of lawyers who take as much care in preserving family values, keeping costs down and protecting children, as the good people at The Law Collaborative. TLC focuses on keeping families together, even in the middle of a crisis. This concept has so enraptured me that I’ve been inspired to write “A Serious Girl,” a blog that focuses on marriage and family. The Law Collaborative opened my eyes to the many options we have for our marriages, our children, and our lives.

Visit Ron and Robert on Divorce on ITunes for additional information. Please call us if you have any questions. We are here to serve you.

Follow us on www.Twitter.com/TLC_Law
Add us on www.Facebook.com/TheLawCollaborative

Best,
Ron Supancic and Robert Borsky

How is Collaborative Law different from Mediation?

Ron Supancic answers that question in this quick informational video.

In Plain English

Two children are in the kitchen fighting over an orange.  Their father walks in, sees what’s going on and decides to put an end to it.  He grabs the orange from their hands, puts it on the chopping block, cuts it in half and gives half to his son and half to his daughter.

Both children burst into tears.  Astonished, the father turns to his son and says, “Johnny, why are you crying?”
“I wanted the whole orange!”  Johnny says, sobbing.
“You can’t have the whole orange, there’s only one orange.  You have to share it with your sister.  Stop crying.”  Then he turns to his daughter and says, “Suzy, why are you crying?”
Suzy sniffles and says, “Daddy, I didn’t want the orange at all.”
“What? What are you talking about?”
“I only wanted the peel.  I need it for an icing recipe for a cake I just baked.  But I have to have the whole peel.”
The father scratches his beard, thoughtfully.  “You only wanted the outside of the orange?”
Suzy nods her head sadly, a fat tear dripping from her chin.  “Yes.”
“Can Johnny have the inside of the orange?”
Her eyes widen and she bounces on her toes.  “Yes!”
“Johnny? Will you give your sister the orange peel if she lets you have the inside of the orange?”
Little Johnny’s face brightens and he clasps his hands together.  “Yes! Of course! I didn’t even want the crummy old peel!”

***

The truth about litigated divorce is that the judge doesn’t have the time, the inclination or the imagination to find out what your interests are.  When you get a traditional, litigated divorce, you get distributive bargaining.  The judge is following the law.  He’s lead by the rules and the statutes.

With Collaborative Divorce, as well as with mediation or The Kitchen Table Divorce, there is creativity and imagination.  Your wants, your needs, and your fears are heard, acknowledged, and understood.  Your spouse’s wants and needs and fears are heard, acknowledged and understood.  It’s impossible to be angry or hateful towards someone you understand.

You went into your marriage with love.  If you’re getting a divorce, you have the opportunity to reorganize your life with love.  It’s your choice.

The Seven Options for Divorce: Number Three

The third option for divorce is a Collaborative Divorce.  It’s like mediation on steroids.

Collaborative Divorce is similar to mediation in that it’s protected by the evidence code.  Everything is confidential, privileged, private, and can’t be used in court against you.  What makes it different is that it creates a team of people who will help you get through what can be a very painful process, as painlessly as possible.  Collaborative Divorce calms the waters.  It allows you to take stock in yourself before you get into the process.

In a Collaborative Divorce you are surrounded by a team of experts, appraisers, mental health professionals, actuaries, real estate people, people you need to access so that you can reorganize your life, maximize your tax position, divide your assets peacefully, and become successful co-parents.

When you go to court, you get distributive bargaining.  Judges are limited by the rules, by the statutes, by the code sections.  The judge makes the best decisions in accordance with the law.  When you have a Collaborative Divorce, you make the best decisions for your family.

Option 1:  The Kitchen Table
Option 2:  Mediation
Option 3:  Collaborative Divorce
Option 4:  Arbitration
Option 5:  Negotiation in the Shadow of Litigation
Option 6:  Rent-A-Judge
Option 7: Litigation

What experts are involved in the collaborative process?

Ron Supancic answers that very question in this short informational video.

Should I hire an attorney?

Only an attorney can tell you whether or not you need an attorney.

“The problem with being human is that you don’t know what you don’t know.  Even when people come into my office and they just want to use a paralegal, my practice is always to say, ‘That’s great, but let’s just spend a couple of minutes reviewing the main points of the agreement to see if  you’ve covered everything, if you’ve left out anything, if you’ve overlooked something or have been remiss in someway.’  Sometimes we’re able to tell a client that, great news!  They don’t need an attorney!  In those cases, a client can just work with a paralegal and they can get a very, very low cost, affordable dissolution.”  —  Ron Supancic, CFLS.

The Seven Options for Divorce: Number Two

Number two on the list of divorce options is Mediation. You’ve probably heard of mediation. It’s when the couple sits down with a neutral mediator who helps them negotiate the terms of their divorce. The mediator is not an advocate, cannot give legal advice, and ought to advise you to seek independent advice from a lawyer so that you can be sure you know exactly what you’re agreeing to.

The great thing about a mediator is that they can present options, alternatives, and different scenarios.  There’s creativity in mediation.  A mediator will invite you to decide how your divorce is handled and then will help you draw up a deal called a Memorandum of Understanding. Once you have your Memorandum of Understanding, you can take it to an attorney if you want to, or you can have it filed with the Superior Court. If the mediator you hire happens to be a lawyer, you can have your mediator draw up the agreement and file it in court for you.

Interesting Fact: In Los Angeles, the court actually favors consensual dispute resolution. If you come in with a mediation or a collaboration, you go to the top of the list with regard to processing and entering judgments, whereas litigious cases are going to wait six to twelve weeks for the clerks to get to them, because they’re so backed up and under staffed.

Option 1:  The Kitchen Table
Option 2:  Mediation
Option 3:  Collaborative Divorce
Option 4:  Arbitration
Option 5:  Negotiation in the Shadow of Litigation
Option 6:  Rent-A-Judge
Option 7: Litigation

What is Fiduciary Duty and Mandatory Disclosure?

In this ninety second video attorney Ronald Supancic uses plain English to explain Fiduciary Duty and Mandatory Disclosure.

TLC, bringing peace to the legal process.