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Second Saturday Divorce Workshop

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We are once again offering our monthly FREE Second Saturday Divorce Workshop. This is a free community event designed to help individuals and couples who are thinking about filing for or in the middle of a divorce.

If you or someone you know is going through a divorce, thinking about divorce, or is faced with other family law issues, I invite you to join us Saturday, August 13 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at my office in Woodland Hills for a round table discussion providing information and guidance. Learn about the 7 options for divorce, how to communicate with your ex effectively to achieve goals that are consistent with your interests, and how to restructure your family in a healthy and positive way.

As a California Bar Certified Family Law Specialist, one of my goals is to help clients achieve a successful divorce. It may seem like the words “successful” and “divorce” contradict themselves, but they do not. Experience and academic studies have helped us identify the basic elements of a successful divorce. “Successful,” as used here, means to complete the process of emotional separation, establish a new center of balance as a single person, maintain the welfare of your children, and develop healthy attitudes toward yourself, your ex-spouse, and your past marriage.

As in life itself, absence of conflict is not part of a successful divorce. A degree of anger and conflict is natural, useful, and constructive. It helps break the bonds of attachment, stimulates reflection, and enables change. (Excessive and destructive conflict, however, requires special treatment – usually the intervention of divorce coaches).

I ask clients to try to view their “ex” as a problem-solving partner. It is helpful to consider the ‘ex’ as someone who can actively and constructively participate in resolving the issues created by the separation. The closer the parties come to mutuality and balance, the healthier it will be for them and their family.

If you would like to attend this free family law workshop, please RSVP by calling (818) 348-6700. I encourage you to forward this invitation to your friends, family, and colleagues.

Best wishes,
Ron Supancic, CFLS

Planning now protects your loved ones later

Protect your assets - prepare an estate plan

The world was stunned when we learned that Prince had passed unexpectedly at the age of 57. How is that possible?!? That same question came up when I learned that Prince died without a will. In life Prince was so concerned about his musical legacy that he stopped using his name for seven years in order to wrest control of his music away from his record label. When discussing the topic with Rolling Stone, Prince said, “If you don’t own your masters [master recordings], your master owns you.”

An artist that concerned about controlling his music while alive would surely have wanted to exert control over his image and music from beyond the grave.

Instead, the persona and music of Prince will likely be tied up in court for years as his legal heirs fight and wrangle for control. In the end, the lawyers and the government will be the big winners likely taking more than half of his estimated $300 million dollar estate. Not too long after that we’ll hear “Purple Rain” as a jingle for hair dye and “Little Red Corvette” re-recorded as “Little Red Kia.”

The only reason I can fathom that Prince didn’t take the necessary steps to ensure he forever controlled his legacy is that he, like his fans, never thought he’d die. Sure, everybody knows they’re going to die someday, but that’s way off in the future. Right now, when we can do something about it, we have other things to do.

I got a call last week from the son of a couple who suffer from dementia. The son has decided it’s time his parents do some low-cost estate planning. While I help people with simple planning all the time, I can only do so when they still have their faculties about them. Once a person no longer understands what they have and who their heirs are, it’s no longer simple. It’s costly and time consuming. What a horrible burden to leave your children.

It’s not just parents who burden their children. I’ve received heart-breaking phone calls from parents who cannot speak for their children because their adult child never executed a healthcare power of attorney. They can’t even handle their child’s business during a short-term incapacity because they lack a financial power of attorney. Those that have the power, often lack the information. Online cloud storage, photo storage, social media accounts — all inaccessible because nobody left behind a list of the domains, log-ins, and passwords. Will they even find all of Prince’s creative output?

They say Prince left thousands of recordings behind. Without any guidance, who knows how they might be exploited. Prince was one-of-a-kind. I doubt that the person or committee who ends up in control of his legacy will possess a similar genius. His court-appointed executors are already talking about launching a circus-like Vegas show using all unreleased music. I shudder.

God bless Prince. God bless grieving families. Go out and do the planning necessary to minimize the grief, suffering, and upset that your incapacity or death will inevitably impose on your family.

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

When Stars Collide

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Madonna and her ex, Guy Ritchie, are locked in a transatlantic custody battle over their 15 year-old son Rocco. With cases filed in both the USA and the UK, even the courts were in dispute until a judge in London approved Madonna’s request to withdraw her UK filings.

Before doing so however, the British judge joined his American counterpart in suggesting the celebrity parents try to settle things outside of court stating, “It would be a very great tragedy for Rocco if any more of the precious and fast receding days of his childhood were to be taken up by this dispute. Far better for each of his parents to spend that time enjoying… the company of the… young man who is their son and who is a very great credit to them both.”

The judge continued, “I renew, one final time, my plea for the parents to seek, and to find an amicable resolution to the dispute between them.” But the conflict continues and Madonna and Ritchie are scheduled to appear in a New York court on June 1st.

In California, parents are required by statute to meet with a court appointed child custody mediator before they can ask a Judge to rule on custody issues. As a result of a program my father Ron was instrumental in implementing in Van Nuys in the late 70s, volunteer lawyers are also available to assist parties in finding mutually agreeable solutions before court. That mediation program was so successful that it was eventually implemented in most Southern California counties.

Another California twist on this case is Rocco’s age. With the enactment of Family Code Section 3042, Judges are now required to consider the custody preferences of a child over 14 years old when issuing a decision. Children under 14 can still express their preferences but the court can disregard them because the legal standard is “best interests of the child.” In California, if 15 year old Rocco said he wants to spend all his time touring with mom and hanging out with her groupies, the judge might not grant his wish. But the judge must explain in the ruling what their considerations were and how they affected the decision.

Hopefully Rocco’s parents take the judge’s recommendation to heart: a parenting plan they design is far more likely to fit with their lifestyles and values than anything a stranger in a robe can impose. Some Judges in Los Angeles won’t even make orders regarding holidays, instead warning the parents that if they cannot reach an agreement between themselves and counsel, the court will impose sanctions. At The Law Collaborative we strongly believe that parents know what is best for their children. Leaving it to a judge in a custody proceeding, or leaving it to a probate court when a parent dies is rarely “best” and always more expensive and destructive to the family. Siblings forced through probate sometimes never speak again.

Parents owe a duty to protect their children during divorce and avoid creating conflicts for them after death. Using mediation or Collaborative Law during divorce and preparing a proper estate plan can help avoid unnecessary drama, cost, and alienation. Please feel free to call me if you want to discuss anything in this article.

Ty Supancic works with his father Ron at The Law Collaborative to help families avoid crisis

Ty Supancic, Esq.
The Law Collaborative, APC
(818) 348-6700 F: (818) 348-0961

CyberStalking New Laws and Their Effect on Family Law

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Ron Supancic was interviewed for the San Fernando Valley Business Journal regarding California State’s new laws on CyberStalking and how these new laws will change family Law. Read the article here: 16-02-22 SFVBJ Ron Supancic

Khloe and Lamar: Dangerous Oversight

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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

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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

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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

Bennifer 2.0: In the (Dog) Guest House

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After 10 years of marriage, Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner are calling it quits. Ben isn’t exactly moving into a dog house however; reportedly he’s moving into a guest house on their property.

Thankfully, Bennifer are part of the current movement dubbed “Conscious Uncoupling” which is less destructive and less expensive than old-fashioned litigation. Reportedly, they’re going to mediate or utilize the Collaborative Law Model wherein the attorneys are barred from going to court. They could literally save millions in unnecessary legal fees by avoiding court.

If Ben and Jen are able to keep their cool and stay in a consensual dispute resolution model, they will not be subject to a judge’s scrutiny of Ben’s new living arrangements which nicely illustrate one of the biggest changes to hit California Family Law in decades.

First some background: Almost everything a couple acquires from the date they’re married to their “Date of Separation” is community property. So if forced to divide that property in court, each party gets half.

On the other hand, everything a party acquires prior to marriage and after their “Date of Separation” is their separate property. So in a divorce you’re supposed to get half of the community property and all of your separate property.

Because the Date of Separation cuts off property sharing rights, it can be very important when parties have significantly different earnings or are separated for an extended period of time. Years of earnings you thought would not be shared might end up being shared based on what a judge determines to be the “Date of Separation.”

For many years now in California, if both Parties thought they were separated, and acted like they were separated, the court would generally find they were separated. If the parties couldn’t agree to the date they separated, they could present the court with evidence to prove their state of mind. This could include separating their finances, or telling friends and family they were separated, or moving out. But there was no consistency. Instead, judges would weigh evidence on a case-by-case basis.

There have been cases where a husband moved into the guest house but the judge found the couple were still married because the wife continued to do his laundry. In other cases, couples could continue to share a house for the kids or to save money, but the judge found other evidence that proved they were separated.

But the Appellate Court’s finding in July’s Marriage of Davis now requires that somebody move out in order to establish a Date of Separation. So in a case where a couple have moved into separate rooms even if they separated their finances and told people they were separated, the judge could determine they’re still together. The Appellate Court was not clear on whether or not moving into a guest house on the same property will suffice, but if Ben and Jennifer can avoid court and settle things between themselves and their attorneys, it won’t matter.

Couples who mediate or collaborate can agree to things no judge can order. And they can save tens of thousands of dollars in the process.

Thanks for reading,

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

Workplace Conflict Solutions

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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 

The Kardashian Quandary

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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
e: info@thelawcollaborative.com
t: 818-348-6700
f: 818-348-0961