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Fight Better, Fight Fair

YourTango is a digital media company dedicated to love and relationships. They recently posted an article about fighting fair – something we at The Law Collaborative have been talking about for years.

“Many couples wish for no more arguments but what they really need is just better conflict resolution.”

After you check out their article, come back here and re-read our Rules for Fair Fighting. Fair fighting will change your relationship with your spouse for the positive, whether you’re in a divorce or happily married.

We’re Moving!

We are pleased and excited to announce that we are moving to a new office on Friday, April 8, 2011.

Our phone number will stay the same. Local: (818) 348-6700

Since we anticipate the new office being a fantastic pile of boxes on April 9, we will be canceling the April Second Saturday Workshop.  Our next Second Saturday Workshop will be Saturday, May 14, 2011 at our new office in Woodland Hills. Speakers will be announced soon. Be an early bird and save $75 if you register for the May workshop now!

Mary Culbert’s ABCs of Mediation (Part 1 of 3)

Mary B. Culbert is a Bilingual Certified Mediator, an Associate Clinical Professor at Loyola Law School, and the president of The Loyola Law School Center for Conflict Resolution.  She is also a Loyola Law School graduate.  A giant in the Southern California Mediation community, she attributes her family history and a background in theatre as having helped pave the path to her career as a mediator.

In part one of this three part series, Mary talks about how and why she became a full time peacemaker.

For more information about Mary Culbert, visit www.LLS.edu/academics/faculty/culbert.html.
For more about The Center for Conflict Resolution, visit www.lls.edu/academics/candp/ccr.html.

Like what you heard?  Subscribe to Ron and Robert on Divorce on iTunes.

How to Tell the Kids

HOW TO TELL & HELP THE KIDS WHEN DIVORCE LOOMS
From NortheastCobb.Patch.com
By Lynn Louise Wonders, LPC, RPT-S, RYT

Q: My husband and I have decided to divorce. We want to be proactive in supporting our kids through this. Our children are ages 3 and 5. How do we tell the children? What can we do to help them through this? It’s a very difficult time for my husband and for me but we want to work together for the best of our kids.

A: Those last eleven words of your final sentence above need to be the touchstone that you and the father of your children establish, maintain, and return to again and again throughout this process.  In my years of experience counseling children and parents through the divorce process, and my training as a Child Specialist in Collaborative Divorce Law, I will tell you that though divorce can be a very difficult challenge for children, it’s all in the way you, the parents, handle it.  It will be essential at all times for both of you to focus on working together for the best of your children as you say you wish to do.

Read more…

Reduce Those Legal Fees

The dissolution of a marriage often comes at a time when a family is going through a financial as well as emotional crisis. Sometimes the emotional crisis can make the financial one worse by increasing the attorney’s fees incurred and costs expended. For example, if a spouse is vindictive or just plain upset, he or she can refuse to negotiate in good faith, or act in such a way as to provoke numerous court appearances or otherwise delay the proceedings. When this happens it is usually beyond our control, and we have to cope the best we can though the mechanisms provided by the court. Frankly, it can be extremely expensive and frustrating.

However, you can help to keep your fees and costs to the minimum for your case by following these simple rules:

1. Remember that talking to me on the phone is expensive. My time and skill in the law are all that I have with which to make a living, and I must charge for the time I spend on the telephone just as I charge for research, document drafting, and court appearances. Therefore, you can save yourself a great deal of money by not always asking to speak directly with me. As a general rule, discuss your needs first with my paralegal, my law clerk, or my accounts manager, or my front desk administrator. If legal advice or intervention is needed immediately, they are trained to recognize it and will bring it to my attention, as soon as possible. Furthermore, if I am in court or working on a research project, or otherwise unavailable at the time, a detailed message through my staff will get my attention a lot faster than simply asking me to call you back. Better yet, my assistant can often handle the problem right then and there. If you wish information on a court date, the status of service or filing of papers, or other similar information, they can help you as well as I can and at much less expense to you. My account manager can answer all of your billing questions, again at less expense to you. Finally, if you merely wish to leave some information such as an address, telephone number or some figures that I have requested, please leave the message with my staff or with the answering service if they are available.

2. Remember that I am trained as an attorney, not a counselor. Certainly, unless I understand the nature of your relationship with your spouse, I cannot represent you as well as I might. For that reason, I will spend some time with you exploring this interaction, especially toward the beginning of the case. From what you tell me, I may be able to point out some of the “games” that are being played and how to avoid being one of the players. A dissolution or other family law matter can be one of the most stressful times of a person’s life, and it is to your best legal interest that you cope with the stresses. If you are not thinking clearly, you may be inclined to make decisions on whether or how to settle the case that will be very expensive in the long run. However, at some particular point, I will have learned what I need to help you legally, and I will be giving you the best advice I can on how to cope with the legal and practical aspects of the case. From that point on, my listening to your non-legal experiences with your spouse, your spouse’s faults and other matters will usually appear on your monthly statement. Generally, this will be the case after the initial consultation or first court hearing.

3. Participate as effectively as you can in your own case. Your time is likely to be less expensive to you than mine, and you will certainly be more familiar with many of the details. Therefore you will probably wish to obtain and organize as much of the information and documents for your case as possible. For example, in a case involving child or spousal support, the required income and expense forms are long and complex and require extensive background information and documentation. Experience shows that if you use your best efforts to complete these forms and provide the information and documents before the appointment at which we will discuss them, you will save up to two hours at that appointment and will be able to most clearly and favorably present your evidence to the court. If my office has to do all the work involved in preparing these forms and organizing the information, your case will become more costly. If there is a delay in preparing and filing such documents, the other side could apply to the court for sanctions in the form of a money judgment against you, use the delay in answering as an excuse to postpone court dates, request that the court prevent you from having your evidence submitted, or invoke other penalties.

Read more…

Technical Difficulties

Photo courtesy of FreeFoto.com

If you tried to catch our newest podcast this week and had trouble playing it – we apologize. We’re having some technical difficulties, but working hard to fix them.  We’ll have new podcasts up and running shortly. Thank you for your patience!

In the mean time, we have over sixty wonderfully informative podcasts available right now at Ron and Robert on Divorce on iTunes. Subjects range from how to tell your kids you’re getting a divorce, to financial check-ups, to issues concerning domestic violence, and there’s even a step-by-step guide to divorce. Subscribe today!

Orange You Happy?

Two children were in the kitchen fighting over an orange. Their father walked in, saw what was going on and decided to put an end to it. He grabbed the orange from their hands, put it on the chopping block, cut it in half, and gave half to his son and half to his daughter.

Both children burst into tears. Astonished, the father turned to his son and said, “Johnny, why are you crying?”

“I wanted the whole orange!” Johnny answered, 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 turned to his daughter and asked, “Suzy, why are you crying?”

Suzy sniffled and said, “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 scratched his beard, thoughtfully. “You only wanted the outside of the orange?”

Suzy nodded her head sadly, a fat tear dripping from her chin. “Yes.”

“Can Johnny have the inside of the orange?”

Her eyes widened and she bounced 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 brightened and he clasped 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.

Modern Family Meets the Great Recession and Divorce

By Susan Carlisle, CPA
From
Valley Lawyer – December 2010
A publication of the
San Fernando Valley Bar Association

An attorney received a frantic call from Steven, a man in his late 40’s. “Please help us. Over the last year the lawyers got the remaining $60,000 equity in our house. There’s nothing left, and we’re not even divorced yet. We’re still living together in the same house. It’s awful. Can we come talk to you right away?” he pleaded.

DIVORCING COUPLES ARE desperately seeking alternatives to making deals “at the courthouse steps.” A trip to the Superior Court in downtown Los Angeles found that a majority of the people in the halls are dressed in clothing from Target or Walmart and few, if any, wear tailored Italian suits. Estimates are that eighty percent or more of the cases are in pro per. The expensive suits are more often sitting in conference rooms in Century City or Encino with private judges at the head of the table.

As the middle class suffers through trauma and disruption, can the family law community justify taking what little remains? In the midst of this jobless recovery, emotional distress is being caused. The impact of the economic downturn will be felt by families for quite some time. The practice of family law will also be transformed, not only as a result of the Great Recession, but as a result of the changing nature of marriage itself.

The normal challenges associated with splitting one household into two in a marital dissolution have been rendered even more daunting. Falling home prices, the slow market in home sales, sizeable credit card debt and home equity loans, along with diminished savings and retirement funds make negotiating a marital settlement agreement even more stressful.

Although there are discussions about giving up on real estate with excessive mortgages, clients think that the market is poised for an upturn in the near future. Only the “ruthless and the reckless” have walked away from their homes (Brett Arends, The Great Mortgage Mystery, Wall Street Journal, Oct. 8, 2010). Most people, especially women, still feel that it is essential to remain in the family residence.

Job loss, or the losses generated by a previously flourishing business, is a real financial stressor that leads to the breakdown of marriages. Men account for about 75% of the decline in employment (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2009). The breadwinner has to cope with his declining self- image. Often this triggers depression or exacerbated abusive behavior. Women report their resentment after coming home from work to find their unemployed husband on the couch watching television, or worse, with a bottle of booze. A sudden decline in the marital standard of living is difficult to cope with.

Read more…

Financial Check-Up (Part 4 of 4)

Divorce and taxes.  Not unlike death and taxes, though probably not as often seen together in the same sentence. Which is why Ron and Robert asked CPA James Cagle from Allegent Group to talk about this very topic.

Listen now as Mr. Cagle discusses some common misconceptions about how your tax situation may change after divorce, as well as some recent changes to the laws surrounding divorce and taxes. (Podcast #67)

Missed the first three episodes? Here they are:

Part 1 – Prepare for Tax Season 2011, Filing Your 2010 Taxes

Part 2 – Tax credit vs. Tax deduction

Part 3 – The Proper Care and Feeding of Your CPA

Like what you heard? Subscribe to Ron and Robert on Divorce on iTunes.

News from The Law Collaborative

News from The Law Collaborative

Ron and Robert are pleased to announce that they will be presenting a workshop at the 2011 Orange County Mediation Conference along with Kathryn Dager, President of Profitivity Inc. Be sure to check out our Events page for more information.

Also, this Saturday is Breakfast with Ron and Robert: The Second Saturday Divorce Workshop. This month Irene Smith, CDFA will discuss important financial issues, and Dr. James Walton will discuss the emotional issues that arise during divorce.  You may not need this workshop, but someone you know does. Register by Friday, March 11 and get a 50% discount on the registration fee. Register online at TheLawCollaborative.com/SecondSaturday.htm or call our offices at (888)852-9961.

The Marriage Eulogy

By Ty Supancic, Esquire

There is an old saying, “History is written by the winners.” In litigation, there are winners and losers. We believe that when parties in crisis choose mediation over litigation, everyone has the potential to come out a winner. If the winners write history, why can’t the winners in a dissolution write their own history?

Fifty years after a divorce, the children and grandchildren of the original divorcing couple will tell and believe a story about why their parents and grandparents divorced, what kind of people they were, and what aftermath or legacy they left behind. A couple going through a dissolution has the opportunity to write what they would like that story to be. By writing that story, and by keeping that story in mind, they can guide their actions and decisions in such a way that the story can become a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy. Without having the story as a guideline, the parties are building without a plan, traveling without a map. They’ll build something and end up somewhere, but not with anything or anywhere they would have hoped.

The exercise of having individuals who are going through a dissolution of marriage write a “Joint Divorce Story” is not a new idea. Ron has been recommending it to his clients for years. Unfortunately, few ever take the time to engage in this useful exercise. Oftentimes they confuse the Joint Divorce Story with a mission statement or their short-term goals. The exercise might be more easily understood if it is renamed “The Marriage Eulogy”.

One of our paralegals, Maria, told me that when she was in high school, the nuns had them write their own eulogy as part of a “Death and Dying” class exercise. The idea was that by writing about all the great things they wanted to be remembered for when they died, one might be guided in making decisions during their lives. The Marriage Eulogy has the same goal.

Click here to read the rest of the article…

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Very truly yours,
Ron Supancic, CFLS and Robert Borsky, Esq.
Partners at The Law Collaborative, LLP