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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.

Why Mediate?

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What’s in it for me? That is the question often asked when mediation is suggested.

Ideally, mediation of a divorce case will save time, money, and upset. Mediation can be a Win-Win proposition but it requires two people who really want it to work.

In mediation the goal is to help the parties design a settlement agreement that will realistically fulfill their needs, which requires that the parties clearly and specifically identify their ideal solution to the dispute while taking the other party’s desired outcome into consideration. This requires the three C’s: cooperation, collaboration, and compromise. To compromise – in other words, to find the middle ground and occupy it. This is the place from which people are able to negotiate their way through dispute to agreement.

Before a party to conflict can contemplate compromise, they have to truly listen to the other party, hear what they have to say, learn why they feel the way they do so there can be understanding, and then try to view the dispute from the other person’s position. This makes compromise possible where it was not previously considered. And in turn, allows for the transformation from dispute to resolution.

To learn more about the mediation process, we would like to extend an invitation to our next Second Saturday Divorce Workshop, which will take place at 10:00 a.m. on May 13 at our Woodland Hills Office. Attorney Ty Supancic of The Law Collaborative will address the legal issues in divorce and discuss the mediation process. This workshop is beneficial to anyone contemplating divorce, going through divorce, or curious about their options. This workshop is free, but space is limited, so please call our office at (818) 348-6700 to RSVP. Thank you for the opportunity to be of service.

Best wishes,

Ronald M. Supancic, CFLS

The Law Collaborative, APC

5955 De Soto Avenue, Suite 125

Woodland Hills, CA 91367

T: (818)348-6700

F: (818)348-0961

E: info@thelawcollaborative.com

www.thelawcollaborative.com

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

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

Divorce Can be an Opportunity for Growth

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Thanks to Deborah Moskovitch for this great opportunity to tell the story of my own family divorce. I was just a little boy when it happened and it changed me forever.

“It’s Never Too Late to Have a Good Childhood” — with Deborah Moskovitch.

Rob, His Family, and the Tree

Protect your assets - prepare an estate plan

Most people contemplating divorce don’t consider the sad reality that one of the parties may die while going through the process. When this does happen it results in chaos for the survivors. I’ve witnessed this several times during my practice, but one of the most poignant was early in my law career. I represented a young man with three children who rode a motorcycle to work every night. Rob worked the night shift as a machine technician at a local trade school. He was responsible for the necessary cleaning and repair of the machines that were used each day by the teachers and students. During the day, Rob happily packed lunches, took the children to school, and attended school functions.

He was married to a woman who wasn’t very interested in marriage or family. She was home at night while the kids were asleep, but spent that time entertaining various married boyfriends. During the day, she also had a very active social life. When the decision to divorce was made, she agreed that most of the property should be put in trust for the children, and that Rob would have physical custody. She also agreed to accommodate Rob’s work schedule by continuing to care for the children at night while they slept. But before we could finalize the divorce, Rob lost his life in a motorcycle accident on his way to work one night when he was cut off by a drunk driver and hit a tree.

Rob was a great father but he failed to prepare an estate plan. Despite my advice that he prepare an interim estate plan during the divorce process, he chose to wait – he believed that he had plenty of time. He had not taken his wife’s name off of his life insurance. She was the sole beneficiary. He had not taken her off his retirement and pension plan. She was still the joint tenant on the real estate, the vehicles, the bank accounts, free to use and spend everything any way she pleased.

Most of us act like we’re going to live forever, or like we can predict our death. We deny the truth. Statistics show that only half the lawyers who are married and have children also have an estate plan! That’s among a population that should be most informed and knowledgeable about the need. I do not know the statistics for the general public, but I know that most people have not made even the most basic arrangements for the allocation of their estate.

Don’t make the kind of mistake Rob made. His wife, not his children, inherited everything. Nothing was set aside to provide for the children and she probably squandered it all as she continued the self-indulgent lifestyle that ended her marriage. Act now to ensure that your assets are protected and go to the right people. We are here to assist and support you. We can help you set up a plan, or make any changes that need to be made to an existing plan. Please let us know how we can help.

Best wishes,

Ronald M. Supancic, CFLS

Guess the leading cause of divorce?

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Check this great NY Times article here:

When you’re done reading that, click here for more information regarding Prenuptial Agreements and how they can help protect a future marriage.

 

Disengage from Conflict

Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama was asked what human trait he found to be most baffling.  He replied that he was mystified that Man, “sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”
~ Dalai Lama XIV

 
That is an accurate description of Man as Machine. Humankind, as programmed by media, by upbringing, by circumstance, to strive rather than to abide. This is the way that most of us live. It’s what war is all about, and progress too. What a conundrum. Where does consciousness fit in to our lives, so that we may make peace instead of war, and make progress as well?
Let’s start with the psychological term, ‘projection.’ A wise man explained to me that projection is when we see our own mostly negative qualities, problematic issues, or challenges in another person. It’s called Projection, “because it’s like having a light on your forehead that shines” our own injurious, unmindful material, onto that other person. Then we feel angry or hurt, and blame that person for causing our pain. Our projection does not come from anything that person may have done – it comes from us, from our own unconscious. When we are in the grip of projection, we refuse to take responsibility for our own ‘stuff.’

Projection is, unfortunately, alive and well before, during and after divorce. Projection can even cause divorce. How is this possible? Projection interferes with relationships because, when it occurs, it is impossible for the person in it’s thrall to take responsibility for owning the negative material. We cannot claim to be conscious, and ‘adult,’ while refusing to take responsibility for Projection.

This month, l am going to try an experiment. On a daily basis, when a conflict arises, I am going to attempt to keep my projections at bay, to disengage them from play. If I find myself judging, suspecting or accusing another person, instead of voicing that negative and giving it life, I am going to ask myself how that negative might apply directly to me – what does such a thought have to say about my own motives? If I am judging another as greedy, am I myself actually feeling avaricious, or miserly, grudging or impoverished or jealous? Will I then take responsibility for that feeling and own my responses to it? That is probably the most important and challenging part of the experiment. Admitting fault, even to ourselves, makes us feel vulnerable and unmoored, but more importantly, it exposes the conflict for what it is and enables resolution.

If you decide to join my experiment, please let me know.

 

Is Flat Fee Divorce Even Possible?

 

Flat Fee Divorce

Most lawyers will tell you that it is impossible to do a divorce on a Flat Fee Basis. That is only true based on their inherent flawed assumptions. Those lawyers are assuming that there always has to be either two people, a husband and a wife, or four people, the parties and their attorneys involved in a divorce. Granted, it is virtually impossible to predict the outcome of a proceeding in a contested, adversarial process, when those factors are controlling the outcome.

What I am proposing, and the reason I can offer a Flat Fee Divorce, is because I have altered the essential equation. I am talking about a situation in which only three people are involved: (1) a husband, (2) a wife, and (3) a Neutral Attorney/Mediator who is negotiating and drafting a document congruent with an understanding arrived at by the parties, with the help of the divorce Mediator in which all the parties are in agreement.

Here at The Law Collaborative, we offer three Flat Fee Divorces Packages – $1,495, $3,495, and $5,495. Each is clear, precise, thorough, and accurate as to what is being offered. The Packages do not include the filing fee, which is currently $435.  Our most affordable package reflects the time it takes for a Paralegal to put together fully executed Agreement by the parties in which they have a complete agreement on Custody, Visitation, Support, allocation and apportionment of Assets and Debts. This does happen. However, it is infrequent. More likely there is going to be some conversations or discussions that may lead to two or three meetings. We call that the Mid-Range Flat Fee Divorce. Our high-End Flat Fee Divorce for $5,495 assumes there is going to be some difficulty, a few meetings, but the parties are willing to work together.

Working with this new set of assumptions, an Agreement can be reached within two to three meetings. If the parties are willing to accept the ultimate Mediator recommendations, it can go even faster. The reason this process works is that the Mediator works for neither party. The Mediator is a neutral who is facilitating and supporting an outcome. If anything, the neutral is representing the minor child or children.

This alters the equation in so basic and essential a manner, that it is possible to predict with some certainty the outcome. This is only possible, however, because the attorney, who is negotiating and drafting, is controlling the outcome subject the guidance, advice, and input of the parties. But the parties must accept their responsibility and participate in good faith. It cannot work unless the parties are willing to work. That is the key. The matter and the parties must be ripe. I have seen all too often the sad result where one or the other of the parties is not ready.

Lawyers must become proficient in assessing and addressing the parties in this crucial regard. Failure to do so can and will produce sorry results. Therein lies the challenge we all face. We must all become competent, skillful, experienced, knowledgeable, and masterful in the practice of our art. The law, after all, is an art, not a science.

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