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Talking Stick Ceremony

Ty Supancic, Esq.

The following is a powerful communication exercise developed by the first Americans. It was used in tribal disputes to ensure everybody was heard and any resentments were addressed.

The parties sit facing each other with notepaper and writing utensils. The person who asked for the ceremony is designated “the Speaker.” During the ceremony, the Speaker may hold some item designated as the “talking stick” in their hands, while the other person (the “Listener”) should hold paper and pen for note taking.

1. The Speaker begins saying what they want to say to the Listener while the Listener takes detailed notes. The Listener does not comment or interrupt except to ask non-accusatory clarifying questions. “So you’re calling me a liar” is not appropriate. “So you heard me say, ‘I missed the bus,'” is acceptable.

2. When the Speaker has said everything they need to say and they feel “empty” the Listener repeats back what they heard in their own words (direct quotes are okay). If the Listener misstates what they heard, the Speaker may interrupt to correct them.

3. When the Listener has repeated everything to the Speaker’s satisfaction, the Listener asks if the Speaker has anything they wish to add. If the Speaker wishes to say more, go back to step 1. Repeat steps 1-3 until the Speaker is “empty.”

4. Only when the Speaker is empty does the Listener get to respond to the things the Speaker said. Step 4 is actually a reversal of roles; the Listener becomes the Speaker and the Speaker the Listener, bound by the same rules as before. With the roles now reversed, the parties go through steps 1-3 as many times as necessary until the new Speaker feels empty. Once empty, the parties may switch roles again and continue the exercise as many times are necessary until both parties are empty.

Important notes:

If the parties cannot follow the protocol, schedule a time to reconvene when emotions have subsided.

The Listener may not argue, correct, or do anything else except ask questions with the intention of understanding what the Speaker is saying.

The goal is clear, complete communication, not persuasion. If both parties walk away feeling they have been heard, the exercise is a success.

Remember, our office hosts a free Family Law and Divorce Workshop on the second Saturday of every month. The next workshop is Saturday, October 14 from 10AM to 12PM. For more information or to reserve a seat, please call (818)348-6700.

Best wishes,
Ty Supancic, Esq.
The Law Collaborative, APC
www.thelawcollaborative.com

Fair Fighting

We are pleased to announce that we are celebrating our One Year Anniversary as “The Law Collaborative!” Although Ron and Robert have been practicing family law for a sum total of more than fifty years, we are excited to celebrate the First Anniversary of The Law Collaborative, LLP, formed by Ron and Robert with the stated aim of ‘Bringing Peace to the Legal Process.’

As a celebratory token, we offer you some insight on Fighting Fairly.  Is there a such thing?  There is.

The Seven Rules for Fair Fighting

1. No physical violence or verbal/emotional abuse while engaged.

2. No cursing, name calling, or vulgar language.

3. Agree to take turns.  Listen, take notes, and do not interrupt.

4. No lying or exaggeration, as in “You always…,” or “You never…,” or “I’m the only one who ever…”  Such statements are useless, untrue and frustrate problem solving.

5. Use the Time-Out, rather than walking out of an argument. If you need a break because you’re getting too emotional to think clearly and observe the Rules, ask for a break and agree on a time to resume. Maintain civility and decorum at all times.

6. No ultimatums or threats. For example: “This has to stop, or I’m calling your mother about this!” Don’t threaten as leverage to win the argument.

7. No bringing up the past; keep the conversation looking forward.

Remember, the point of Fair Fighting is not to win, but to respectfully discuss issues with your partner until you are able to reach some understanding and achieve a fair solution.

Also, we are very excited to be hosting our first Second Saturday Divorce Workshop for Women this Saturday, May 8th, 2010.  Ronald Supancic, Attorney at Law, will be discussing the options for divorce.  Renee Leff, LMFT, a featured speaker, will be addressing the emotional issues in divorce.  Irene Smith, Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, will be discussing the financial issues within divorce.  The cost of the workshop is only $45.00 if you pre-register, and $50.00 at the door.  Call our toll-free number to register! (888) 852-9961 or email IG@TheLawCollaborative.com.

Helping Families

Just a reminder about tomorrow’s program, Helping Families.  For more information, click here!

Also, we recommend this excellent podcast interview of Rosalinda O’Neil talking about how to tell your kids you’re getting a divorce.


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Rosalinda O’Neil holds a bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Miami and a master’s in counseling psychology from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.  She is a California Licensed Marriage Family Therapist with expertise in addiction, conflict resolution, partner dynamics, relationship, trauma and achieving success.  For more information about Ms. O’Neill click here, or you can check out some of her publications here.

The Seven Options for Divorce: Number Two

Number two on the list of divorce options is Mediation. You’ve probably heard of mediation. It’s when the couple sits down with a neutral mediator who helps them negotiate the terms of their divorce. The mediator is not an advocate, cannot give legal advice, and ought to advise you to seek independent advice from a lawyer so that you can be sure you know exactly what you’re agreeing to.

The great thing about a mediator is that they can present options, alternatives, and different scenarios.  There’s creativity in mediation.  A mediator will invite you to decide how your divorce is handled and then will help you draw up a deal called a Memorandum of Understanding. Once you have your Memorandum of Understanding, you can take it to an attorney if you want to, or you can have it filed with the Superior Court. If the mediator you hire happens to be a lawyer, you can have your mediator draw up the agreement and file it in court for you.

Interesting Fact: In Los Angeles, the court actually favors consensual dispute resolution. If you come in with a mediation or a collaboration, you go to the top of the list with regard to processing and entering judgments, whereas litigious cases are going to wait six to twelve weeks for the clerks to get to them, because they’re so backed up and under staffed.

Option 1:  The Kitchen Table
Option 2:  Mediation
Option 3:  Collaborative Divorce
Option 4:  Arbitration
Option 5:  Negotiation in the Shadow of Litigation
Option 6:  Rent-A-Judge
Option 7: Litigation