Twitter Facebook Myspace

Fighting Fair

Ty Supancic, Esq.

Everyone disagrees sometimes. In fact, a relationship that avoids conflict may be unhealthy. Healthy relationships do not avoid conflict, but use it to clear the air productively, without hurt feelings. Here are fourteen rules for fighting fair:

1. Take Responsibility. It may take two to argue, but it only takes one to end a conflict. Make a commitment to never intentionally harm your partner’s feelings.

2. Don’t escalate. The most important commitment you will make to fair fighting is to overcome any desire to speak or act hurtfully.

3. Use “I” speech. When we use “you” speech, it is often perceived as accusatory. Instead, talk about your own feelings: “I feel hurt when I hear ______.” This may prevent defensiveness, as it’s hard to argue with a self-report.

4. Learn to use “time outs”. Agree that if hurtful speech or actions continue, either party may call a time out. The three elements to a successful time out are: 1.) Use “I” speech to take responsibility, such as, “I don’t want to get angry.” 2.) Say what you need: “I need to take a walk to clear my head.” 3.) Set a time limit: “I’ll be back in 15 minutes to finish our talk.” These steps will keep either of you from feeling abandoned.

5. Avoid and defend against hurtful speech. This includes name-calling, swearing, sarcasm, shouting, or any verbal hostility or intimidation. Agree to a key phrase that indicates hurt feelings, such as “That’s below the belt.”

6. Stay calm. Don’t overreact. Behave with calm respect and your partner will be more likely to consider your viewpoint.

7. Use words, not actions. When feelings run high, even innocent actions like hitting a tabletop may be misinterpreted. Use “I” speech to explain your feelings instead.

8. Be specific. Use concrete examples (who, what, when, where) for your objections.

9. Discuss only one issue at a time. If you find yourself saying, “And another thing….,” stop.

10. Avoid generalizations like “never” or “always”. Use specific examples.

11. Don’t exaggerate. Exaggerating only prevents discussions about the real issue. Stick with facts and honest feelings.

12. Don’t wait. Try to deal with problems as they arise — before hurt feelings have a chance to grow.

13. Don’t clam up. When one person becomes silent and stops responding, anger may build. Positive results are attained with two-way communication.

14. Agree to these ground rules.

Remember, when you both agree to common rules, resolving conflict is more likely. Sometimes, no matter how hard we try to fight fair, we simply can’t resolve a conflict. When this happens, talks with a trained professional may help. We are always available to assist you when you are unable to reach a resolution you can both live with.

The family law lawyers at The Law Collaborative, Los Angeles, are dedicated to providing useful tools like these to assist couples in managing conflict, resolving issues, and preserving families. Remember: We host a FREE family law workshop on the second Saturday of every month. The next workshop is this Saturday, Sept. 9 from 10AM to 12PM. Call (818) 348-6700 to RSVP.

Best wishes,

Ty Supancic, Esq.

The Law Collaborative, APC

 

How Much Child Support Am I Entitled To?

This month we will begin the first of a two-part discussion about support in California. In this issue we’ll focus on child support which can be collected retroactively and is not optional.

While the formula for calculating child support might appear daunting for a non-math person, CS = K[HN – (H%)(TN)], the data inputs are relatively simple: custody time as a percentage for the parents and their net disposable income.

As a first step, you must determine the amount of time you spend in charge of your child per week. The Court is interested in hours spent, not days. In other words, which parent will be called to assist with the child in the event of illness or problem at school? On a normal day, it is the parent scheduled to receive the child after school. If you are not the scheduled parent, then the time belongs to the other parent. The calculation commences at pick-up, and ends at drop-off, either at school or to the other parent. It also includes holidays and vacations.

There are rules of thumb. For instance, someone who sees their children every other weekend, half of all holidays, and two weeks during the summer has about 19% custody. One way to figure out your custody percentage is to add up all the hours you have the child in a week and divide it by 168. Average the weeks each month. Then average the months at the end of the year.

Once you know the custody percentage and the net disposable income for the parties, you can use an online calculator to find out what California Guideline Support should be. We have a link on our website here: http://www.thelawcollaborative.com/custody-support.htm. If you find that the time factor has changed and the support number needs adjustment, call your attorney immediately.

Next month we’ll tackle spousal support or what is commonly called alimony.

We are excited to host our Second Saturday Divorce Workshop this Saturday, July 8 at our Woodland Hills Office. This workshop will be beneficial to anyone contemplating divorce or in the middle of a divorce. The workshop is free but reservations are required. Please call our office at (818)348-6700 for more information. We are here to serve you.

Best wishes,
Ty Supancic, Esq.
The Law Collaborative, APC
www.thelawcollaborative.com
T: (818)348-6700
F: (818)348-0961

Khloe and Lamar: Dangerous Oversight

 15-10-30 Lamar & Khloe Header

Thankfully, Lamar Odom appears to be making a complete recovery after being found unconscious at Love Ranch outside of Pahrump, Nevada. But for a time his condition was precarious and the outlook for recovery grim. Although Odom and Khloe Kardashian had filed for divorce in 2013, they had not finalized the matter and are still legally married. Furthermore, it appears that Odom had not executed a new Healthcare Power of Attorney which meant that doctors had to look to Kardashian for direction regarding his medical treatment.

If they thought about it, my guess is that most people would not want their soon-to-be-ex making life and death decisions about their medical treatment. But most people don’t think about it.

I meet with people all the time who are in the midst of a divorce that’s spiraling out of control. They’ve spent thousands of dollars fighting in court and are desperately looking for a way to stop the bleeding, so they come to our office for help. Mediation and Collaborative Law offer a solution to the insanity of court costs and legal fees.

When I meet with these people, one of the questions I ask is, “Who holds your Healthcare Power of Attorney?” This question is often met with a blank stare.

“What do you mean?”

I repeat my question a different way: “If you were in the hospital and could not speak for yourself, who would the doctor turn to for guidance?”

“My parents?” is a common response.

“Great,” I respond, “so you’ve got a signed Healthcare Power of Attorney naming your parents?”

“No,” is the usual answer.

“Well in that case, your soon-to-be-ex has that power. And if you don’t have an interim Estate Plan, they’ll also inherit your share of the property. Is that okay with you?”

Healthcare Powers of Attorney are an important part of any complete Estate Plan, but Estate Plans need to be kept current, and during a divorce, interim planning is critical. But just as people put off Estate Planning, they put off interim planning as well.

If your Estate Plan is out-of-date, update it now. If you don’t have an Estate Plan, get one right away, but don’t do it “on the cheap.” I recently got a sad call from the long-time companion of an elderly gentleman who’d passed. He’d used an online “trust mill” to draft an Estate Plan. His intentions were that his companion could stay in the house for the rest of her life and after she passed, everything would go to his kids. By saving money on a cheap plan, he inadvertently bypassed her and she got nothing.

For Lamar Odom, things seem to have worked out okay. Others are not that lucky. If you’re going through a divorce, talk to your attorney about interim Estate Planning. If you’re going through the “divorce from hell” talk to a Mediator or Collaborative Attorney about putting an end to the madness.

Thanks for reading,

Ty Supancic
Ty@thelawcollaborative.com
T: 818-348-6700
F: 818-348-6700

Why You Shouldn’t Feel Guilty for a Little “Me” Time

15-02-18 Newsletter_Header_Me_Time
My Legal Assistant and Paralegal, Courtney M. Howard, recently became a Certified Life Coach.  Seeing the pain and stress our firm’s clients go through on a daily basis, she felt it was important to pass on some tips for mindfulness and other coping skills that can help anyone not only get through the hard times, but to find peace and thrive.  In the article below, she explores the important practices of self-care and mindfulness.
– Ronald M. Supancic, CFLSIt is easy to get caught up in the stress of day-to-day life, especially if you are going through an emotional time such as a divorce, a child custody battle, or the loss of a loved one.  It is imperative to take time for yourself and practice self-care.  For some, that might mean doing fifteen minutes of yoga in the morning, cooking yourself a nice meal, reading a chapter of your favorite book before bed, or even just taking three minutes to listen to your favorite song.

Whether or not you have children, it is important to take time for yourself.  This is not selfish!  It is not overindulgence!  You cannot adequately take care of others if you are not taking care of yourself.  It is not sustainable, as you will end up unhealthy (mind and/or body), imbalanced, and resentful.

While you are at work or taking care of your kids, you might find yourself getting overwhelmed.  Mindfulness is a great tool to bring your awareness to the present, keep things in perspective, and refocus.  This short exercise can be used anywhere, including during that stressful meeting, at the playground, or while dealing with high conflict personalities.

S-T-O-P
Stop what you are doing;
Take a few deep breaths (focus on the oxygen going in and out of your body);
Observe what is going on (what are you doing, thinking, feeling, etc.); and
Proceed with your day (with a more mindful sense of awareness).

Though we all know the old adage, “This too shall pass,” that often doesn’t provide much comfort in the moment when we are upset, stressed, or spread too thin.  However, self-care, mindfulness, and similar coping skills will help you focus on the present, gain perspective, and release the negative energy that has been building so you can move forward to tackle the issue at hand.

 

Courtney M. Howard, Paralegal
The Law Collaborative, APC
Woodland Hills, CA 91367
T: 818-348-6700 F: 818-348-0961

Are Your Legal Affairs in Order for the New Year?

15-01-14 Newsletter_Header_Legal-Check-list

A friend recently and unexpectedly died.  His wife had asked him many times if he had written down his last wishes.  He assured her that he had, but they never discussed where he kept this document.  It has been several months since his death and the document he claimed to have written has not been found.  Neither his accountant or business manager had a copy.  Drawers, books, computers, and the safety deposit box were searched without luck.  As a result, his estate was sent to Probate which has caused unnecessary delays, added legal fees, and unnecessary taxes.  That was not what he wanted.

Have you expressed your last wishes clearly?  Are these intentions written down?  Where do you keep your Health Care directives and your Estate Planning documents?  Where do you keep your Will?  Where do you keep your Passwords?  Do you have a single place in which you store all your vital information?  Does your spouse or executor know where this is? 

Now is a good time to make sure these steps have been taken; review your Estate Plan, update your information, notify your heirs of your wishes.  If you haven’t completed these tasks, call us today. 

For the remainder of this month, The Law Collaborative is offering a free, 30-minute consultation as a way of helping you move forward with handling these important affairs. Feel free to call us directly and schedule your appointment.

Your friend,

 

Ronald Melin Supancic
Certified Family 
Law Specialist
The Law Collaborative, APC
T: (888) 852-9961  F: (888) 852-9962 

Parenting the Infant: Birth through Six Months Old

14-05-15 Newsletter_Header_Experts_In_Court

A new family law attorney recently asked me what I would recommend for a challenging situation in which unmarried parents, who don’t get along, share custody of their infant.

First, it is not only necessary, but vital that parents and other family care-givers put aside any disagreements or ill-feelings while in the infant’s presence. People may believe that small children are not affected by emotional estrangement but, in fact, they are particularly vulnerable to tension and arguing between parents and other family members.

 • The State Bar encourages parents to protect their children from any form of adult conflict.

 Further, every child has the right to bond with both parents and should be given frequent contact with the non-residential parent.  This idea may be inconvenient, but contact with the non-residential parent in the early stages of infancy is just as important as when the child becomes older. This is because a sense of security with caregivers is one of the cornerstones for healthy development.

 • The State Bar recommends that every child have ample opportunity to bond with both parents.

 Infants learn to trust and love through developing attachments to those who care for them. Consistent responses from their caregivers in the day-to-day activities of feeding, changing, bathing, and holding foster this sense of security which is the foundation for later development. Parents who have participated in these routines are also more attuned to the child’s needs and are more able to soothe and comfort the child when distressed.

 When parents separate during a child’s early years, it is especially important for them to consider the patterns of caregiving prior to the separation when planning for custody. If one parent has been more involved in an infant’s care, the parents may wish to maintain that arrangement in the short term, but ensure that the other parent has frequent contact. Frequent contact may be defined as at least three non-consecutive days each week for a period of two hours each day.  If at all possible, time with the non-residential parent should aim at not disrupting the infant’s nap and feeding pattern.

 For families where both parents have been highly involved in the hands-on care of the child, these patterns of care should be maintained as much as possible and may include overnight time for the child in both parents’ homes.

 Maintaining a regular sleeping and feeding cycle in both homes will help the child feel more secure.  It is critical that an infant be afforded ample opportunity to maintain and develop reciprocal attachments to both parents through these measures. Infants and young children have not yet developed a sense of time so have a limited ability to recall persons not directly in front of them.  An infant should not be separated from either parent for long periods of time.

At some points, infants may show little resistance to transitions between caregivers, while at other points, they may cry or cling to the caregiver. These behaviors are typical and not necessarily indicative of problems in the relationship with either parent.

Your friend,

Ronald Melin Supancic
Certified Family Law Specialist
The Law Collaborative, APC
T:
 (888) 852-9961  F(888) 852-9962 

The Blame Game

14-04-09 Newsletter The_Blame_Game

We’ve all heard the phrase, ‘The Blame Game.’ It is very easy for most of us to play. We have been programmed to play it since childhood. “He did it!” “She did it first!” “It’s your fault!” Finger-pointing is so simple when we’ve been disappointed. If a situation has not gone our way, and we find ourselves feeling ‘wronged,’ we can usually find someone else to blame. However, blaming is generally not helpful, and may even be perceived as abusive. In fact, it is an attitude that will easily embitter any relationship. This is because any relief the Blamer may experience from taking a blaming position will usually be more than matched by the bitterness, anger and guilt that the ‘Blame-ee’ will feel.

Fortunately, there are alternative ways to communicate disappointment without accusations or ‘dumping,’ even when we have been legitimately wronged. If someone has caused or contributed to a difficult situation, the transgression must be discussed. Instead of accusing or blaming, try resolving. In other words, focus on a future preventative solution. “I understand that you did not purposely (drop the ball, blow the account, insult the client), so, if we find ourselves in this situation again, I’d like you to (fill in the blank).” If a colleague has messed up, frame your response in terms of, “should this happen again, here is an alternative way to handle it.”

It is okay if the other person feels badly because of what he or she did or did not do, but it is not okay to hurt or humiliate them with your words or attitude. If you use this new approach, your relationship will likely not deteriorate. The other person will probably breathe a sigh of relief, and thank you (silently) for not chewing him or her out, and most people will appreciate getting a second chance. Try it. Let me know how it goes. Let’s keep this conversation alive. We can all be more collaborative.

Your friend,

Ronald Melin Supancic
Certified Family Law Specialist
The Law Collaborative, APC
T: (888) 852-9961  F(888) 852-9962 

New Ideas For Old Holiday Traditions

Holiday_Banner_2013

 

Like a devastating fire, divorce is usually tragic. But good can rise from the ashes. I am not a child of divorce; my parents have been married for over 50 years. But growing up, my family had two Christmas traditions: We celebrated Christmas Eve with my mother’s family because that’s what they “always” did, and we celebrated Christmas Day with my father’s family, as he had growing up. The compromise worked out to benefit all.

I cherish my Christmas traditions, but the truth is they were made up. They only became traditions because we repeated them.

When child custody comes up in my work with divorcing couples, this is one of my first questions: Do the parents have new family traditions they can adopt for their children going forward? Alternate custody is often the court’s solution, and seems to create a “loser” out of one parent each year. Since the couple is permanently reorganizing their family, I propose that divorcing parents consider starting new traditions. This idea can make the holidays even more joyful.

Hanukkah has eight nights. Parents might choose to alternate their evening celebrations. If Christmas is celebrated, rather than yearly alternating holidays, couples have the opportunity to create a new tradition: The children can look forward to spending every Christmas Eve with one parent’s family and every Christmas Day with the other parent’s family. This eliminates the holiday “loser.”

These new traditions will be cherished by the children if the parents embrace them. Perhaps they’ll have to flip a coin to see who gets what, but once they start observing the new tradition, the children will never experience a year where they wish they were with the other parent during a particular holiday.

Happy Holidays,
Ty Supancic and all of us at The Law Collaborative
The Law Collaborative, APC
T:(818)348-6700
F:(818)348-0961

The C**P That Makes You Want To Stay Home From Work, Keeps You Up At Night, Makes Your Life Miserable

C - - P_R1

 

Dear Friends,

This month, I’m addressing the c**p that makes you want to stay home from work, keeps you up at night, makes your life miserable: Conflict.

Let’s start out with the philosophy that conflict is normal. Conflict is good. Conflict opens the door to innovation, revelation, opportunity, understanding, and improved communications. That is, it can open those doors. But – we must each open our own door.

Recognizing that it’s our job to open our own door is the important first step in moving toward the opportunity to turn our relationships around. We don’t become Masters overnight. This endeavor requires time and patience, dedication, determination, and consistent follow-through.

Here is an Introduction to true Conflict Avoidance. And truth be told, it is not really about Conflict Avoidance.

The only people who avoid all conflict are in the cemetery. Living, breathing people who interact with other people experience conflict daily. Some even go out of their way to create conflict. We don’t have trouble finding it.

What do we do when we do? We all need help. We all had models of conflict engagement as little people. Some of us even had good models. Unfortunately, those positive models are in the minority.

What models did you observe in your home of origin?
How did that influence your reaction to conflict?
How do you deal with conflict now?
Has there been growth?
What changes still remain to be made?

Here is an exercise to explore with someone you trust. Take 5 minutes in some quiet place with a pad & pencil in hand. Write brief answers to the 5 questions raised in the paragraph above. Not more than a line or two. Take another 5 minutes to discuss your reply with your partner.

Be brief. Invite your partner to go next. Same protocol. After you’ve both shared, open a discussion about what you have learned. Write down your insights. How you will use them in the future to improve your approach to conflict management?

I hope you find this email helpful and that it puts you in the mood to converse. We only truly learn through discussion and, ultimately, fearless self examination.

Your friend,
Ron Supancic
The Law Collaborative, APC
Woodland Hills, CA 91367
T: (818) 348-6700
F: (818) 348-0961

I understand that this is controversial; I’d love your feedback.

NEW_Newsletter_Header_Second-Amendment

 

Experts estimate that American civilians possess at least 310 million firearms. In 2010, U.S. companies manufactured 5,459,240 new firearms compared to only 2,966,133 automobiles. The Economist recently declared, “It’s too late. Gun control in America is as quaint a proposition as prohibition.” Meanwhile, lawmakers are considering laws that will criminalize the passive act of having Grandpa’s old rifle in the closet, even if it doesn’t function.

Whether you support gun control laws or believe the only form of gun control should be the use of both hands, guns are here for the long haul and so are the legal traps they represent. If you’re a gun owner, or acquainted with one, you need to continue reading.

Unless you’ve purchased a firearm recently, you might be surprised by how many confusing and often conflicting laws control the transfer and ownership of firearms in California – and the laws aren’t any clearer for heirs. Putting firearms in a will or trust exposes heirs to accidental felonies and possible state and federal criminal charges.

If someone borrows your key ring, and one key opens Grandpa’s gun cabinet, both parties may be instantly guilty of several felonies.

If Mom gives Grandpa’s old broken rifle to Jimmy, and Jimmy has a prescription for medical marijuana — Mom and Jimmy may both go to jail.

During your life, a properly written Gun Trust will protect you, your family, and your collection should laws change, or should you or a family member lose the right to possess firearms.

When the gun owner is no longer around to provide guidance, a Gun Trust will help protect heirs by providing instructions for proper conveyance to prevent illegal transfers which might occur with a regular will or trust. A Gun Trust can also provide a means to support the continued use and maintenance of the firearms or instructions to maximize their sale potential.

If you want to pass on 2nd Amendment values to your heirs, we can prepare a Family Armory Trust which will provide firearm safety and marksmanship training, incentives to support the 2nd Amendment, and preservation of multi-generational heirloom collections.

Whether you own one gun or several, whether you own guns as an investment, or for self defense – you have a responsibility to ensure that those firearms are handled properly, now and in the future. You will leave a legacy – Make certain it isn’t a legacy of prison time.

How do you feel about gun control?  What do you think about the 2nd Amendment? I’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions on this controversial subject. Leave a comment on our Facebook page (Facebook.com/TheLawCollaborative), tweet us @TLC_Law, or reply to this email.

Call us now to discuss protecting your heirs and your guns today, before it’s too late.

Ty Supancic, Esq.
The Law Collaborative, APC
Woodland Hills, CA 91367
T: (818)348-6700
F: (818)348-0961