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The New Divorce “Fad”

Collaborative Divorce helps people worldwide

For those who think Collaborative Divorce is just a fad, you should read this article from Open.Salon.com.

Collaborative Divorce is not a fad. It’s a new way to help couples separate while keeping their family intact – and all over the world, it’s working for the common good.

Budget Cuts Imperil Access to State Courts

photo by s_falkow via PhotoRee

Across the nation, state court systems are facing severe budget cuts that may result in a delay of justice for many.  Because so much of the budget of the court is personnel, staff reductions are one of the only options. California has been no exception. In their frantic effort to stem the tide of red ink in Sacramento, legislators have cut $350 million from the state court budget, with more cuts to follow. A local newspaper is calling it “Courtmageddon.”

For someone contemplating braving the courts to get a divorce, the news is grim. Twenty-five of San Francisco’s 63 Superior court chambers have been shuttered. Two hundred of 480 employees will be getting pink slips. “It will take a year and a half to get a divorce in San Francisco and to get a child custody order. If you file suit, we won’t do anything with your case for five years,” San Francisco Superior Court spokesperson Ann Donlan said. Unfortunately, Los Angeles County may not fare much better. Right now, it is common for a lawyer in Los Angeles to face an eighteen-month delay when filing an order to show cause. That can be catastrophic if the matter concerns custody of children, visitation, or any number of other sensitive issues.

Getting on with one’s life is paramount, and a lingering, costly battle in court is the last thing anyone wants. It simply stretches out the pain, multiplies the cost, and hurts your children.

However, there is a glimmer of hope. Collaborative Divorce offers a different, and less destructive, path to reconstituting the family. Ron Supancic, a seasoned litigator and expert in alternative divorce strategies, is recommending collaboration as a sensible alternative to the embattled and clogged state courts. The professionals and resources of The Law Collaborative can make the journey shorter, less traumatic, more equitable and leave more goodwill and cooperation than traditional divorce.

For more about the benefits of Collaborative Divorce, click here.

Non-Communication Can Cost You

This is a risk of “traditional” divorce that doesn’t come up often. Traditional divorce doesn’t teach you to communicate with your ex spouse, but rather to have an adversarial relationship, where non-communication becomes the norm. If you think that’s fine, think about the following situation, involving two parents, two sets of lawyers, and one wise old judge.

The custodial parent moves and enrolls their child in a new school, but fails to communicate the details with the other parent, who comes to believe that the child would be walking home along dangerous, busy streets and coming home to an empty house. That parent files a temporary restraining order to prohibit the enrollment. The truth is that the custodial parent had in fact taken all concerns into account, and the child was at no risk. The non-custodial parent based their fears on hearsay, and the restraining order had no merit – so, after reviewing the evidence and the custodial agreement, the judge threw it out.

But, and this is a big one, he didn’t grant attorney’s fees to the custodial parent. Why not? The restraining order had no merit, after all. The judge decided that court was a poor substitute for a simple conversation. In effect, he punished the custodial parent, who was acting within their rights, for not pro-actively communicating with the other parent. Mediation or collaborative divorce can help avoid expensive and wasteful litigation not just at the time of the divorce, but years down the road.

On October 18th, The Law Collaborative is offering Tips, Tricks & Strategies for Divorce, a seminar that will provide tools for moving a stuck case forward, how to communicate effectively with a former spouse, tricks for negotiating even when negotiation seems impossible, and more. The workshop is $25 in advance or $35 at the door. Licensed attorneys who attend will earn 1 MCLE credit. Anyone contemplating or going through a divorce is invited to attend.

Register online at www.thelawcollaborative.com or call us toll free at (888) 852-9961.

Baby Boomer Break Ups

Photo credit: FoxBusiness.com

Why are so many Baby Boomers divorcing? An article  by Casey Dowd for the column ‘The Boomer” interviews Karen Stewart, a divorce and relationship expert, on this topic. Stewart answers questions that cover, for example, the most common reasons for splits among the age group, how Baby Boomer’s can protect their wealth and children, and if she believes the trend will continue.

When there is a lot of money in marriage, divorce is a reasonably easy financial solution because when it comes to dividing the assets, there are enough for both parties. Marriages with not a lot of money tend to be more financially strained which can lead to stress and increase the risk of divorce. The baby boomer generation is hit most by those extremes.

To read the interview in its entirety, click here.

Collaborative Divorce For Arnold And Maria

photo by schumachergirl1956 via PhotoRee


Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver, in their tumultuous marriage’s end, seem to be leaning towards the option of Collaborative Divorce. Charles D. Jamieson goes over some of the advantages to Collaborative divorce for the ex-couple in his article titled “How Collaborative Divorce Can Help Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver”.

Contracts signed by their attorneys and the parties in a Collaborative Divorce clearly indicate that this is a private process and is a confidential process. Consequently, the press would have no access to the meetings or the paperwork generated during the process. If Arnold and Maria engage in a litigated divorce in public court, their documents will be available for public review and all hearings would be open to the public and the press….

The piece in its entirety is available here.

A Safe Place

The International Academy of Collaborative Professionals has created a twenty-minute film titled “A Safe Place” which follows the true life story of a couple as they make their way through a Collaborative divorce. At one point, the couple reads out loud a portion of the mission statement they have written for their divorce.

“We want our children to grow up feeling loved and nurtured by both of us and without a sense that their parents are angry with one another or conducting a quiet war behind the scenes. We want to continue to work as a team in raising our boys, to share in the major decisions, to support one another and to share in the traditions and celebrations we have established.  We want as little change for our boys as possible.”

Later, when the couple gets stuck trying to divide a particularly coveted asset, their collaborative team goes back to their mission statement, revisiting the couple’s longterm goals, to help them come up with a creative solution both parties feel good about.

The film beautifully illustrates how the Collaborative process works and why it benefits the couples who use it. Click here to watch A Safe Place.

Top 5 Reasons to have a Collaborative Divorce After 50

The following is a blurb from a fabulous article written by Tracy A. Timby, a lawyer and mediator in Newtown, Pennsylvania. I found the article on NewtownPatch.com and I’m sharing it here because I think that any couple who has decided to divorce, over fifty or not, should read it before filing papers. Actually? Any couple in the middle of a divorce should read it, especially if they’re in the middle of a litigated divorce, because no one has to keep litigating once they’ve started.

Divorce files are public record and all court appearances are open to the public. In a typical litigated divorce, the court file will contain details about income, retirement funds, investments, value of your home, mortgage balance, all debt, names and ages of your children, your age, health status, documentation of any drug or alcohol issues, allegations about your parenting, marital misconduct, credit worthiness, and much more.

In a collaborative divorce, all of the above is shared only with the people directly involved in the case and only upon agreement of both parties. The paperwork filed is what is necessary to process the divorce and document the agreement of the parties.

If that information alone isn’t reason enough to choose collaboration over litigation, I don’t know what is.  But that’s just my opinion. If you’re not convinced, head over to NewtownPatch.com and read the full article.

Photo from UPack.com

Why We Collaborate (Part 5 of 5)

By Ty Supancic, Esquire

God Is In The Details

These may all seem like trifling details, but as several wiser than we have observed, “God is in the details.” Details are things we can easily control and change.

By changing our language to reflect our goals, and by changing our office culture from hierarchical to heterarchical, we hope to fundamentally change the way we think when we walk into our office. When we’re sitting at our desks, we want Collaboration to be our first nature. When the phone rings, we hope to already be in a cooperative, collaborative mindset. When a client starts sharing their conflict with us, we want our minds to search automatically for creative collaborative solutions. If we labor hard to be collaborative all of the time, we won’t have to labor so hard to be collaborative when our clients are depending on it.

This is why we collaborate. Be changing these and other details of our work life, we hope to change our thinking. By changing our thinking, we hope to change our practice. By changing our practice, we hope to change our system, and eventually our culture. The most ambitious journey starts with the smallest steps.

Part 1 – Why We Collaborate and Collaborative Problem Solving
Part 2 – The Collaborative Paradigm
Part 3 – Changing Our Paradigm
Part 4 – Leading By Example
Part 5 – God is in the Details

Honest, Blunt & Brilliant: “A” Stood for Alternative

Ron and Robert caught up with Attorney Leslie Ellen Shear at the Pepperdine Law School Consensual Dispute Resolution seminar in 2010. Leslie Ellen Shear is a graduate of UCLA Law School, a Board Certified Family Law Specialist, a Certified Appellate Law Specialist, and the author of numerous published opinions. Ron and Robert have known her for over twenty-five years and she is a deeply respected colleague. Honest, blunt, and brilliant, Leslie Ellen Shear is a true powerhouse.

In the first of this four-part series, Attorney Shear discusses the shift from Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) to Consensual Dispute Resolution (CDR), as well as the pros and cons of both CDR and the traditional adjudicative legal system.

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Subscribe to Ron and Robert on Divorce on iTunes and tune in next week for Honest, Blunt, and Brilliant: Child Development.

Learn more about Leslie Ellen Shear at CustodyMatters.com.

Why We Collaborate (Part 4 of 5)

By Ty Supancic, Esquire

Leading By Example

One of our goals is to instill in our clients those skills they will need to navigate future controversy and conflict without allowing it to escalate to the level of litigation. We must teach our clients that oftentimes the best solution is not one of the choices presented. Often, the best solution is something neither side can see nor has considered. When you’re digging trenches and getting ready to exchange fire, you don’t always have time to step back and survey the landscape. In fact, any delay may result in your becoming a casualty of the conflict. “Strike first and furiously”.

The traditional fight or flight attitude and belief system, so fundamental to zealous advocacy, are anathema to effective CDR. Parties truly interested and committed to finding a low-cost, low-impact solution to their conflict can find their process instantly and irrevocably derailed by the argumentative fighting instinct honed by their attorney after years of argument and litigation.

It is so important that we nurture, foster, and maintain the collaborative mindset that we must even change our language. In our Collaborative cases, there are no “opposing party” or “opposing counsel.” Not even in our notes. We labor to use the terms Collaborative Counsel (abbreviated “Cola” in our notes) and we try to use the parties’ first names at all times. We want our notes and our letters and our files to reflect this radical new way of thinking. Collaboration does not yet make up the majority of our case load so our other files use traditional terms, but as soon as we open a Collaborative file, the language we’ve used should help to place us in the right mindset – the only mindset that supports the scope of representation for which we were retained in a Collaborative case.

Likewise, we labor to use neutral terms and first names in our mediation cases. We labor to insure that our correspondence and notes are neutral on their face. All correspondence is addressed to both parties in mediation. We alternate parties in the greetings from letter to letter and we even alternate the return addresses at the top of the page. Typically, if wife’s address appears on the left and husband’s on the right, or wife’s on top and husband’s underneath, we reverse the greeting so the party “billed” first is greeted second. In our next letter, both are reversed.

Check back soon to catch the final part in this wonderful series…

Missed the first three?

Part 1 – Why We Collaborate and Collaborative Problem Solving
Part 2 – The Collaborative Paradigm
Part 3 – Changing Our Paradigm
Part 4 – Leading By Example
Part 5 – God is in the Details