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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

 

What kind of divorce is right for you?

Early in my family law practice I discovered that the easiest divorce to handle was the one in which the couple had been separated for two to three years, were working together collaboratively to parent their children, had divided most or all of their assets, and were coming in to see me simply to have a concise agreement drafted.  Typically they’d be friendly and respectful of each other.

These couples knew what worked for them and stuck to their deal. I was unfailingly impressed by their unanimity with regard to a genial, civilized conclusion to their marriage.  In these cases it was usually only necessary to counsel them about possible opportunities to save taxes, or to divide property in a way that might be more equitable.

It is rare to meet newly separated couples who are masters of communication and collaborative parenting.  It is usually quite the contrary.  In most cases, the couple is so caught up in rage that they fail to consider the needs of their children.  They confuse differences in parenting style with who is right or who is wrong.  The right way to parent is with consensus and agreement.  Children do not grow up and do what their parents tell them.  Children watch their parents and grow up to do what their parents did.  Parents that model rational, mature, adult behavior will produce children who act pretty much the same.  One challenge in our multi-cultural community is the variety of parenting strategies that abound.  Parents in harmony may have difficulty reaching agreement on which strategy is most effective.  Parents in conflict find that task impossible to achieve.

Dr. Bruce Derman and I have created a tool that can help you determine whether or not you are a candidate for collaborative divorce.  It’s the Pre-Divorce Survey.  You can find it on our website at TheLawCollaborative.com/lawsurvey. The Pre-Divorce Survey will assist you in finding out how many issues there are, and where you are on the anger management scale. We have learned that if you and your spouse can answer every question on that survey in the affirmative, it may be possible for the two of you to simply sit down with a paralegal and write up a deal.

The Pre-Divorce Survey is not an end unto itself.  It is a point of departure on the journey of divorce.  It may act as a signpost.  If the conflict quotient is high, the couple will need extra help.  If it is low, the case may be relatively simple to complete.  Typically, when a case is impeded by psychological and emotional issues, these issues will cause great pain and drive costs excruciatingly high.  The good news is that emotional interventions are available.  Today there are alternatives that may give even the most conflicted individual an opportunity to find an effective intervention, provided the parties involved enter into the process with honesty and integrity.

If you would like to take the Pre-Divorce Survey, click HERE.

Learning To Forgive In Divorce

Dina Haddad was an intern at The Law Collaborative two years ago. Today she’s an associate at the Law Offices of Michael L. Abrams and she specializes in family law matters. It is exciting to see young lawyers teaching these alternative principles to the community. She is rapidly distinguishing herself as a leader in the New Lawyer Movement. A grateful nod & tip of the hat to Dina.

LEARNING TO FORGIVE IN DIVORCE
By Dina Haddad

Suppose your settlement or trial results are exactly what you wanted. You have the parenting plan you desired. You are paying or receiving the support you thought was the fair amount. Now that the divorce is done, what are you going to do next?

As a divorce client, more often than not, the divorce process will consume you giving you very little time to process the divorce. During that time, you may become very angry, bitter and resentful of your ex-spouse. Sometimes anger forms because you expected your ex-spouse to act in a certain way. You might have said things like, “he should have,” “she failed to,” and “he should never have.” Imposing unrealistic expectations, you likely held your ex-spouse to standards that he or she was doomed to fail, and continue to do so during the divorce. When they do fail, it only feeds your forming anger and frustration, which can quickly over power you.

Divorce is hurtful. Often divorcees suffer deep hurt from a spouse’s betrayal, failure to work on the marriage, or inability to forgive the other’s wrongs. And even with a big win at settlement or trial, or a peaceful and agreeable mediated agreement, the anger and hurt is still there.

Although anger has the appearance of making you feel powerful, it will leave you frustrated and powerless. Anger can be the source of more pain, resentment and bitterness. Forgiveness, on the other hand, has the power to release you from the anger and stop the cycle of pain. When you forgive, you give yourself the chance to move past the hurt to a healthy future. You offer yourself the chance to heal.

Read more….

How much support can I get?

Part Two of the discussion launched in last month’s newsletter, the calculation of parental Child Custody time, begins with an important first step: determine the average weekly time that your child spends in your care. Use the information from last month to calculate the specific hours. There are 168 hours in each week, 7 days at 24 hours each. There are 52 weeks in each year. 168 x 52 = 8736. Next, add holidays, and those Mondays or Fridays that extend your weeks or weekends (such as Memorial Day). Then calculate vacation time, birthdays, and special days like Mother’s Day or Father’s Day.  Don’t forget to account for school closure days and other such events. Total these figures and you should have an accurate estimation of your time/custody percentage. Be certain of your numbers, since miscalculation may cost you additional negotiation, litigation and/or child support payments. If in doubt, review the calculations with your attorney or the paralegal in charge of your case.

Summer is officially here, and with it our next Second Saturday Divorce Workshop, which will take place on July 10th at our Woodland Hills Office. California Certified Family Law Specialist, Ronald Supancic, of The Law Collaborative, will address the legal issues in divorce. Irene Smith, Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, will discuss the financial issues associated with divorce. Christine Campisi, Court Mediator, will speak regarding childrens issues in divorce situations. This workshop is beneficial to anyone contemplating divorce, or curious about their options. Pre-registration is $45, or $50 at the door. Breakfast will be served. Please call our office at (888) 852-9961, for registration and additional information, or email IG@TheLawCollaborative.com.

Visit Ron and Robert on Divorce on iTunes for additional information.

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And please, if you have any questions, give us a call. We are here to serve you. (888) TLC (852) – 9961