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The Rigidity/Flexibility Continuum

I recently promised to share the Rigidity/Flexibility Continuum with blog readers, and I keep my word. I hope you find this extraordinary tool to be of help. It is a notion I was introduced to at a presentation on the new categories, revisions, and changes to the DSM 5 when it was first published in 2015. The authors recommend dropping labels and observing behavior instead. The idea is to connect consequences to choices by allowing people to know all of their choices and all of the consequences of each choice, they will see more objectively the result of their choices.


Curious, controlled inquiry allows you to drill deep to determine the interests underneath the fears, concerns, and positions on the surface of the client’s emotions. Paraphrasing and re-framing are crucial strategic tools that need to be mastered and implemented. The skills in moving communication forward involve first establishing rapport. That’s done through a paraphrase. Second step is introduction of a second perspective that makes room for movement. These ideas can be explored in “Difficult Conversations” and “Beyond Winning” from The Harvard Program On Negotiation.

Empathy opens the door to assertiveness; mindfulness opens the door to empathy; self-awareness leads to recognition of transference and counter-transference. We navigate the emotional currents of dispute resolution through applying the Rigidity/Flexibility Continuum Scale to our analysis.


Lack of Insight


Self-Reflection & Insight
Ownership & Perspective

It isn’t always helpful to call him a “Jerk” and label her a “Borderline”. It is more useful to think of difficult clients as more flexible or more rigid. You almost never go wrong if you start with a paraphrase. The more rigid the reply, the more frequent the paraphrase. This allows the loosening of the rigid response and opens the door of possibility when the chance of success seems slim. Our job is persistence, determination, and belief in the power of the process. Never give up. Never give in. Stay positive. Be creative. Offer ideas, suggestions, options, and alternatives. They hold the solution to their problem. Help them find it.

Every high conflict case presents as full of sound and fury. Experienced peacemakers recognize rage as a secondary emotion that is an unconscious emotional overlap for the primary emotion of fear. To show fear would be to show weakness. That is unacceptable. Thus the rage. Beneath the rage, covered over by emotions, are the positions to which people become attached. This is the beginning of the journey. Underneath the positions are the interests that are the heart of the matter.

P.S. Our next Free Second Saturday Divorce Workshop is June 10th from 10AM to 12PM at our office in Woodland Hills. Call (818)348-6700 to RSVP or click here for more details.

Why Mediate?


What’s in it for me? That is the question often asked when mediation is suggested.

Ideally, mediation of a divorce case will save time, money, and upset. Mediation can be a Win-Win proposition but it requires two people who really want it to work.

In mediation the goal is to help the parties design a settlement agreement that will realistically fulfill their needs, which requires that the parties clearly and specifically identify their ideal solution to the dispute while taking the other party’s desired outcome into consideration. This requires the three C’s: cooperation, collaboration, and compromise. To compromise – in other words, to find the middle ground and occupy it. This is the place from which people are able to negotiate their way through dispute to agreement.

Before a party to conflict can contemplate compromise, they have to truly listen to the other party, hear what they have to say, learn why they feel the way they do so there can be understanding, and then try to view the dispute from the other person’s position. This makes compromise possible where it was not previously considered. And in turn, allows for the transformation from dispute to resolution.

To learn more about the mediation process, we would like to extend an invitation to our next Second Saturday Divorce Workshop, which will take place at 10:00 a.m. on May 13 at our Woodland Hills Office. Attorney Ty Supancic of The Law Collaborative will address the legal issues in divorce and discuss the mediation process. This workshop is beneficial to anyone contemplating divorce, going through divorce, or curious about their options. This workshop is free, but space is limited, so please call our office at (818) 348-6700 to RSVP. Thank you for the opportunity to be of service.

Best wishes,

Ronald M. Supancic, CFLS

The Law Collaborative, APC

5955 De Soto Avenue, Suite 125

Woodland Hills, CA 91367

T: (818)348-6700

F: (818)348-0961


The Kardashian Quandary


Kim JUST married Kanye but divorce rumors are already in the air. How long will it last? In case you’d already forgotten, her last marriage to Kris Humphries lasted just 72 days.

While we’ll never know if Kim and Kris truly believed their marriage would last till death parted them, here’s what we do know: They were engaged within seven months of their first date. Their engagement lasted about three months. The wedding spectacle cost other people $20,000,000 (donations and sponsors) and the couple were paid $17,900,000 for their participation in the gala.

Their divorce took nearly 18 months (more than seven times longer than they were married) and they probably spent over $400,000 on lawyers. The waste of court time and the cost to California taxpayers who were denied justice while Kim and Kris posed for the press cannot be overstated. Remember, judges and clerks don’t work for free and California has recently faced some of the worst judicial budget cuts in decades.

The reality is, the end of Kim and Kris’s dalliance didn’t have to cost taxpayers a penny: The couple executed a prenuptial agreement and the couple could’ve afforded wise counsel. In the landmark case involving the ownership of the Dodgers Franchise, the McCourts had a prenuptial agreement and it wasn’t quite that simple for them either.

People simply don’t know that other methods, such as mediation or Collaborative Law (think of mediation on steroids), exist. And attorneys entrenched in the model of costly (and profitable) litigation have billion$ of reasons to fight in public. The right attorneys can keep a litigated case going as long as it takes to drain the estate of every asset. Why give that up?

The Law Collaborative has a better way which provides for a lower-cost, less destructive divorce. Mediation and Collaborative Law put control in the hands of the parties, and limits the attorneys (if any) to an advisory role. Parties control the fees, not lawyers trying to pay their rent.

Watch Happy and Healthy Magazine for future articles about Mediation and Collaborative Law.

Thanks for reading,
Ty Supancic, Esquire
The Law Collaborative, APC
t: 818-348-6700
f: 818-348-0961

Is Flat Fee Divorce Even Possible?


Flat Fee Divorce

Most lawyers will tell you that it is impossible to do a divorce on a Flat Fee Basis. That is only true based on their inherent flawed assumptions. Those lawyers are assuming that there always has to be either two people, a husband and a wife, or four people, the parties and their attorneys involved in a divorce. Granted, it is virtually impossible to predict the outcome of a proceeding in a contested, adversarial process, when those factors are controlling the outcome.

What I am proposing, and the reason I can offer a Flat Fee Divorce, is because I have altered the essential equation. I am talking about a situation in which only three people are involved: (1) a husband, (2) a wife, and (3) a Neutral Attorney/Mediator who is negotiating and drafting a document congruent with an understanding arrived at by the parties, with the help of the divorce Mediator in which all the parties are in agreement.

Here at The Law Collaborative, we offer three Flat Fee Divorces Packages – $1,495, $3,495, and $5,495. Each is clear, precise, thorough, and accurate as to what is being offered. The Packages do not include the filing fee, which is currently $435.  Our most affordable package reflects the time it takes for a Paralegal to put together fully executed Agreement by the parties in which they have a complete agreement on Custody, Visitation, Support, allocation and apportionment of Assets and Debts. This does happen. However, it is infrequent. More likely there is going to be some conversations or discussions that may lead to two or three meetings. We call that the Mid-Range Flat Fee Divorce. Our high-End Flat Fee Divorce for $5,495 assumes there is going to be some difficulty, a few meetings, but the parties are willing to work together.

Working with this new set of assumptions, an Agreement can be reached within two to three meetings. If the parties are willing to accept the ultimate Mediator recommendations, it can go even faster. The reason this process works is that the Mediator works for neither party. The Mediator is a neutral who is facilitating and supporting an outcome. If anything, the neutral is representing the minor child or children.

This alters the equation in so basic and essential a manner, that it is possible to predict with some certainty the outcome. This is only possible, however, because the attorney, who is negotiating and drafting, is controlling the outcome subject the guidance, advice, and input of the parties. But the parties must accept their responsibility and participate in good faith. It cannot work unless the parties are willing to work. That is the key. The matter and the parties must be ripe. I have seen all too often the sad result where one or the other of the parties is not ready.

Lawyers must become proficient in assessing and addressing the parties in this crucial regard. Failure to do so can and will produce sorry results. Therein lies the challenge we all face. We must all become competent, skillful, experienced, knowledgeable, and masterful in the practice of our art. The law, after all, is an art, not a science.

Navigating a Mediation Career

To download a PDF of the flier to your computer, click here —> April mediation event flyer

The Law Collaborative Los Angeles is pleased to announce that Ronald Supancic, CFLS is speaking along with Myer Sankary, Esq., at the Mentor project event at Cal State Dominguez Hills on April 23, 2012 from 5-7:00 p.m. in Loker Student Union. It is vital to provide support and mentoring to up and coming peacemakers. Please mark your calendars and plan to attend. We look forward to seeing you there.

Helene Antel, Lawyer and Peacemaker – P.4

If you have been following along for the last three weeks, you are familiar with Helene Antel’s story. If you haven’t been following along, you should start now. Her story is incredible. A former criminal prosecutor district attorney, a ferocious advocate for her clients, and a victim of domestic violence. Listen to Part 1 here, Part 2 here, and Part 3 here.

This week Helene talks about what she learned from her life experiences and how they changed her attitude about the practice of law. She discovered that being kind, patient, thoughtful, and charming, made her a better, more effective lawyer. In her words:

“The long drawn out expensive divorce litigation is the perpetration of the anger, the fight. It’s that neither party is willing to move on; the fighting is just a way to maintain a connection. If you declare peace, then the relationship is really over. Without knowing it, many people are not ready to truly separate themselves from their partner so they connect through a long drawn out battle. But you can choose not to fight anymore. You can choose to learn how to mediate your conflicts or manage your conflicts and keep the family together.”

Listen now to the fourth and final interview with Helene Antel, lawyer and peacemaker.

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Like what you heard? Subscribe to Ron and Robert on Divorce on iTunes and download free podcasts every week.

Helene Antel, Lawyer and Peacemaker – P.3

In last week’s episode of Ron and Robert on Divorce, we heard the story of Helene Antel, a successful, powerful, ferocious district attorney who was the victim of domestic violence. It took her years, but she finally learned how to follow the very advice she routinely gave her clients. Once she learned how to do that, she was able to begin building a life of freedom for herself and her child. When asked what the turning point was that allowed her to start taking her own advice, she says it was when she achieved ambivalence.

Now, she finds herself moving away from litigated court cases because she doesn’t want to make war anymore. She wants to make peace. In her words:

“Violence only breeds violence. Respectful communication breeds solutions. You can get a resolution without all the hate, the fighting and the misery. It takes less time, and it takes a far less egregious toll on the participants.”

Listen now to part 3 of this fascinating series:

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Missed the first two? Listen to Part 1 HERE and Part 2 HERE.

Don’t miss another one! Subscribe to Ron and Robert on Divorce on iTunes and download free podcasts weekly.

Hold Onto Your Hat

photo by RaidersLight via PhotoRee

This article by J. Richard Kulerski, a Chicago based divorce lawyer, is brilliant. What he says in this article we’ve been saying for years. Hallelujah, Mr. Kulerski.

From Hold Onto Your Hat: Introducing the New Way to Divorce:

The public is displeased with the divorce legal system, and sees it as too complicated, lengthy, and costly. The argument is that the system should satisfy society’s needs, not frustrate them. Heck, many soon-to-be exes are now spending more on their divorce than they did on their wedding. We need to change how we divorce, but the problem lies in figuring out what to change it to.

This is not as impossible as it sounds, but it does require our doing the last thing on earth that we want to do: treat our soon-to-be ex and their settlement position with respect and understanding. This does not mean being weak; it means being smart. Listening to their side of the story is the cheapest concession we can make.

This is the civilized approach to divorce. It calls for us to behave at our best, at a time in our lives when we are inclined to act at our worst. Up to now, we have felt entitled to act at our worst, and the result has been disastrous.

Read the full article…

Honest, Blunt & Brilliant: The Problem with Court

This is the fourth and final installment of Honest, Blunt, & Brilliant: Interviews with Attorney Leslie Ellen Shear. This week she talks about some of the problems with California’s family law courts.

“Family courts have been the stepchild of the judicial system all over the world for all of history. They don’t receive the percentage of trial court funding proportionate to the number cases, complexity of cases, importance of cases to individuals involved or the importance of the wellbeing of families and children to the society as a whole. The caseload and the budgets do not compute.”

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Missed Parts 1, 2 & 3? Here they are:

Honest, Blunt & Brilliant: “A” Stood for Alternative
Honest, Blunt & Brilliant: Child Development
Honest, Blunt & Brilliant: Custody Matters

Don’t miss another episode! Subscribe to Ron and Robert on Divorce on iTunes.

Learn more about Leslie Ellen Shear at

Zen and the Art of Handling Divorce

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One of our goals at The Law Collaborative is to support the professionals who assist families in crisis in creating and maintaining collaborative practices. We believe that the California Family Law system as it stands today is destructive and harmful to families in transition, and we work every day to make a difference.  That said, when we find other professionals in the U.S. who are working just as hard as we are to create a kinder, gentler way for families to reorganize in the face of divorce, we like to send them a little love.

Today we’d like to point you in the direction of Nanci Smith, a family law attorney in Vermont who advocates for Collaborative Law and Mediation. From an article by Mel Huff of the Times Argus Staff:

A former client characterizes her approach as “Zen,” although Smith says she wouldn’t call
it Zen with a capital Z. She explains what she does as “trying to help people get through the
divorce process, or civil union dissolution process, purposefully, mindfully and as humanely
as possible, given the circumstances.”

Sometimes, however, what people want is for their lawyer to be their gladiator or pit bull or
their shark. “That’s under-standable,” Smith says, “because divorce is so overwhelming. It’s
as if there’s a death in the family, except nobody is bringing food. It’s a great loss. There’s
sadness and anger and regret and fear. You have to work through all of those emotions to
get to acceptance, and hopefully, a sense of freedom at the end.”

If a couple can preserve some sense of decency, she says, they can move on “without
ruining their relationship with somebody they once loved.” Choosing the “warrior path,” on the other hand, can lead to a process that is “indecent and cruel and vicious.”

Read the full article here…