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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

Marriage Eulogy

Ty Supancic, Esq.Fifty years after a divorce, the children and grandchildren of the original divorcing couple will 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 divorce have the opportunity to write that story. 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.

The exercise of having divorcing couples 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”.

When planning their future, a couple dreams about what their married life will be like. When divorce ends a marriage, that powerful dream dies. Couples going through divorce really are witnessing the death of an entity. Psychology informs us that children witnessing the divorce of their parents may be as devastated as a parent losing a child.

A eulogy is not something scrawled in haste. It is not something we compose in our heads while driving. A good eulogy is something we craft and hone and polish so that the result is powerful and evocative. We are trying to sum up the essence of an entire being in a few succinct words. The Marriage Eulogy should be written in such a manner.

When couples are not ready to write a joint eulogy, I suggest they write individual eulogies to exchange and reflect on individually. Knowing how your ex-spouse wants your marriage to be remembered by their grandchildren can be a powerful thing.

One might tread more softly and be more thoughtful if mindful of what history will say about them and their life. “I can’t think about my ex in that way yet! It’s too soon.” Okay, but you could write a fairy tale about how a divorce would be remembered. That is a powerful starting place. If we all were to conduct ourselves in accordance with the values and motives of a fairytale hero or heroine, we would all find ourselves kinder, gentler, nobler, and wiser as a result.

If you or someone you know has questions about divorce or another family law topic, please remember that our free Second Saturday Divorce Workshop is this Saturday, June 10 from 10AM to 12PM at our Woodland Hills office. For more info, visit www.thelawcollaborative.com/secondsaturday.htm or call (818)348-6700 to RSVP.

Ty Supancic, Esq.

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.

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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.

POSITIONAL

Lack of Insight
Blame/Projection
Anger/Vengefulness
Entitlement/Self-Absorption
Victimization
Passivity
Catastrophizing

OPEN

Self-Reflection & Insight
Ownership & Perspective
Forgiveness
Generosity
Volition
Empowerment
Hope

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.

7 Steps to Magical Conversation

Passage

A few weeks ago I posted about Magical Conversations and in that post I promised to share the tool I developed called 7 Steps to Magical Conversation. Here it is:

7 STEPS TO MAGICAL CONVERSATION

1: What is the centermost deepest part of your core? What is the one word that springs to mind, that is your essential core value?

2: Take a deep breath and breathe in your core value. Hold the value in your mind as you hold your breath in your chest for as long as is comfortable. Breathe out anything that gets in the way of that value, such as fear, anxiety, apprehension, etc.

REPEAT STEP TWO THREE TIMES.

3: Set your intention congruent with your core value. What is your intention? Is it a phone call? Is it a meeting? Is it an encounter? Is it a transaction? Remember you have control over your intention.

4: Stay conscious, stay focused, remain unshakeable. The world, events, circumstances, individuals, will attempt to distract and derail you, stay in control.

5: Slow down. Observe silence, listen deeply. Search for the interests behind the declarations, accusations, and statements you hear. Think before you speak, consider what you might say, what you could say, as distinguished from what you should say, in order to achieve the outcome congruent with your core value.

6: Inquire politely. Respond civilly, be courteous, and respectful. Do not accuse, threaten, argue, or object.

7: Express interest, concern, and appreciation. Do not try to fix the problem until requested to do so. Wait for an invitation. Simply allow the matter to conclude with the notion that you have heard completely everything the other is trying to say.

Magical Conversations


serene lake view

Your universe is no bigger than your vocabulary. Your vocabulary is the only limitation to your universe. Words are everything. Every time we open our mouth it is for good, or something else. What comes out of our mouth started in our brain and shaped us. We have no control over others, what they say, what they do. We can only control our own words and actions. We can only control what we say and what we do. That we can control, and it shapes us, and forms us as well.

You chose to be where you are today, you chose to read this post. This post is intended for like-minded individuals who gather on a regular basis to seek and pursue peace.

I talk a great deal about mediation as an alternative to litigation. That is because mediation is at the heart of creating peace, making peace, and building peace. By listening, ingesting, absorbing and ruminating on the words you read, and the words you speak, you will be changed, transformed, illuminated and enlightened. Each of us shares what he or she knows with the other. Each of us is the “Us” and the “Other”.

Here are a few ideas to share that have profoundly shaped me. You might have already heard some of them. Some of them may be new. If it is old, consider it a reminder. If it is new, pursue and explore so that you may expand and grow. That is the purpose of any of the time that we spend together. It is also important to invest time exploring the ideas of others on the same journey.

Words Can Change Your Brain by Andrew Newberg is easily the most transformative book I have read in years. It teaches the 12 steps to Intimacy and Trust. I share it with you as an invitation to a new life practice in the days and weeks to come.

Consider the newly designed and promulgated Rigidity/Flexibility Continuum. 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.

Out of this information and material I have designed the Seven Steps to Magical Dialogue, which I will be sharing here soon. I offer it for your consideration in addition to the Rigidity/Flexibility Continuum, which will also be available in the upcoming weeks. Let me know if these are at all helpful, if they assist you in any way, if you are able to use this information in your own professional application.

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

An Important California Family Law Update

RON NEWSLETTER (1)

Beyond brilliant! Amazing! That was my reaction to the presentation of the Honorable Thomas Trent Lewis at the 88th annual California Bar Convention in Anaheim. In his talk, “Domestic Violence in the New Era”, Judge Lewis introduced to California lawyers the idea of “coercive conduct” as an appropriate expansion of domestic violence and spousal abuse. He pointed out that Family Code section 6320 expands the definition of spousal abuse to include activity such as: stalking, digital harassment, and any other pattern of deliberate conduct intended to harm, frighten, irritate, or upset the intended victim of said abuse. Such conduct need not be recent or physical. All that is required is that as a result of the conduct, the victim is in reasonable fear of his or her safety, or the safety of an immediate family member. Contact is considered a credible threat if delivered by electronic means, such as cell phones, computers, video recorders, or fax machines. Under California Civil Code 1708.7 a perpetrator is potentially liable to the victim for general damages, special damages, and punitive damages.

This is a far cry from days of past, when you had to show police blood to get any relief at all. The law has made significant strides in the direction of reducing and eliminating spousal abuse in recent years. Judge Lewis admonished lawyers to download from the Internet the “Power and Control” wheel, which depicts the progressive stages of domestic violence that begin with coercive control, move into threats and intimidation, emotional and financial abuse, and ultimately ends with physical violence that can result in death. Enactment of the federal Violence Against Women Act makes clear this is an issue of national concern rising above mere local interests. Under current law, the occurrence of domestic violence and spousal abuse now has far reaching consequences including competency for co-parenting and liability for expanded support obligations for both the other party and the minor children.

It is more important than ever for lawyers to become familiar with the differences in the levels of domestic violence and spousal abuse in their cases. It has been the case for some time that abuse of a parent in the presence of a minor constitutes child abuse, per se. Most parents in high-conflict divorces are all too often oblivious to the irreparable harm caused to their children by their unconscionable behaviors.

Huge kudos to Judge Lewis for this brilliant and timely presentation.

Warm Regards,

Ronald M. Supancic, CFLS
The Law Collaborative, APC
e: info@thelawcollaborative.com
t: 818-348-6700
f: 818-348-0961

His Vision, Our Practice

15-11-04 His Vision, Our Practice

Recently, my father was interviewed about the AAML’s Child Centered Residential Guidelines, a comprehensive and insightful publication that addresses some of the most important issues in Family Law. I am proud of his endorsement of this material, and glad that the spotlight is shining on children’s issues. Ron’s interview was published on Reuters, Yahoo Finance, the Daily News, and over a hundred other media outlets, highlighting the importance of a value our firm was founded on: keeping people whole.

The publication encourages mindfulness and offers solutions that can reduce stress and tension that naturally accompany a very painful process. A recent documentary, Divorce Corp., highlights the common fear of losing everything you have to the legal system. The current legal system is mired in a “win/lose” model of dispute resolution, which entrenches parties deeper and deeper in confrontational posturing, ironically depleting the very assets they are fighting so hard to protect.

To what end does the constant fighting lead us? What toll does this have on the people involved? Having witnessed it first hand for over forty years, my father has championed Mediation and Collaborative Law as a remedy for this unnecessary destruction of families. The process of divorce may be the most traumatic experience someone goes through in their life, but in Collaborative Law and Mediation we have the tools to protect those who are embarking on this arduous journey.

I am proud to say that my father has been on the cutting edge of the conscious uncoupling movement. I am even prouder to say that he is not alone.

Thanks for reading,

Ty Supancic The Law Collaborative, APC
e: info@thelawcollaborative.com
t: 818-348-6700
f: 818-348-0961

Workplace Conflict Solutions

Newsletter_Header_WCS

On Thursday, July 9th, the Sovereign Health Group in Culver City hosted an introductory workshop to Workplace Conflict Solutions. This workshop has been developed over the past decade by the conflict professionals at the Law Collaborative. The assembled mental health professionals gathered enthusiastically to learn more about conflict resolution strategies, tactics, and techniques for conflict avoidance and dispute resolution through the application of imaginative and creative tools developed and designed for the specific needs of family oriented businesses.

The Law Collaborative primarily handles family law and divorce, and the tools we’ve developed in an effort to settle these sometimes high conflict cases are extremely effective. The trials and tribulations so familiar to family settings are no stranger to the TLC team. Communication errors are common. Misunderstanding seems to be a normal part of every day life. So what do we do? How do we manage the emotional meltdown in a way that lessens loss and maintains productivity? The purpose of the workshop is to teach those skills and provide those essential tools. What do you do when there is a meltdown? What do you do to prevent a meltdown? How do you handle conflict, combat, and competition in the work place?

These are very important questions that are discussed and answered in the 90 minute workshop I gave at Sovereign Health. Please contact me if you think this workshop would benefit your company. I’d be honored to present to your staff, co-workers, and colleagues.

Very truly yours,

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