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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.

Free Divorce Workshop

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.

Divorce by Texting?

photo by DavidErickson via PhotoRee

According to Time Magazine’s Hillary Brenhouse, it is no longer permissible in Tajikistan to divorce your wife by sending her a text message. In some traditions of Sunni Islam a divorce can be granted by uttering the “triple talaq,” which simply means the husband repeats the words: “I divorce you” three times. Apparently, Tajik men working abroad found that texting the  triple talaq was just as effective, and much more convenient.

However, the sense that that this shortcut was just a bit too easy has been growing. Abdurakhim Kholikov, the head of the state religious affairs committee, issued a statement that delivering the coup de grace to a marriage by SMS was a breach of Islamic law, and plans to outlaw it entirely. In a nation where most marriages do not appear in the official records anyway, the talaq was a mere formality.

In other nations the triple talaq must usually be accompanied by arbitration and reconciliation. The practice had already been regulated or banned in Turkey, Tunisia, Algeria, Iraq, Iran, Indonesia, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Of course, in the US, divorce has never been so simple – or so arbitrary.

Read the article here.

How To Have A Better Divorce

Here are some tips and suggestions to help make the process of divorce a little bit easier. If you follow these suggestions, you will save yourself a lot of potential frustration down the road.

1. Always take your file with you everywhere.

2. Keep a journal. Write down every significant event, conversation, discussion and action of your spouse at the time it occurs.

3. Keep a ledger. Write down every financial aspect of your case to assure a complete, accurate, and legible record of all the financial aspects of your case.

4. Memorialize every agreement with every person who is interested/involved in your case. Keep/send copies.

5. Meet with your attorney in person to design strategies for your case. Explore consensual dispute resolution; confirm everything in writing.

6. Know your strategy; do not deviate without advice and counsel.

7. Participate in the preparation of your case; draft, document, investigate, gather information and pre-interview all witnesses.

8. Let your attorney know when s/he is on track or off.

9. Schedule regular spit and grouse sessions with your attorney. DO NOT let resentments accumulate.

10. Keep your account current at all times and offer security if you fall behind.

Prepare Yourself

Prepare Yourself for Divorce by Knowing Your Budget and Your Home’s Equity
By Randy Morrow, Certified Real Estate Divorce Specialist

You have filed for divorce and told your attorney “I want everything I can get from her/him.” Really? Do you think it is that easy?

What happens to you if ‘everything’ isn’t enough? How are you going to live? Do you have a job that pays enough to support you and/or the kids? Do you even have a job? Have you given any of this the least bit of thought? Tough questions, but questions you must answer.

My suggestion:  Sit down and start making a list of absolutes. Absolutes are monthly expenses absolutely necessary to survive, with no frills. I suggest having a trusted friend or professional help you make this list. (Remember, you probably aren’t thinking as clearly as you would like to right now.)

Read more…

The Big Lie About Co-Parenting

photo by greekadman via PhotoRee

Joseph Nowinski, PhD, has written a compelling article for the Huffington Post about whether or not co-parenting is actually in the child’s best interests. This is something I think about whenever I hear fathers of breastfeeding infants demand equal parenting time. While I appreciate the desire to be an integral part of your child’s life, I can’t help but wonder how the father plans to breastfeed his infant during his custodial time.

The idea of co-parenting between ex-spouses who are able to treat each other with respect, communicate in a healthy and adult manner, and work together to raise their children is brilliant.But what about a four-month-old breastfeeding infant? Is it in that child’s best interest to spend 50% of the time with dad? Probably not. What if, during marriage, Dad was responsible for 75% of child care while Mom worked full time and supported the family? Does it make sense, in the wake of major life changes (such as one’s parents divorcing) for the children to suddenly find themselves in Mom’s care 50% of the time? I can’t answer that question because it really depends on the child, the child’s age, the parents and their relationship after the divorce. From the article:

My personal bias is to try to roughly match initial visiting and custody arrangements with each parent’s level of parenting experience. For example, if reality shows that one parent has had 75 percent of the parenting experience described in the above questionnaire, while the other has had only 25 percent, after the divorce children should divide their time between the parents in roughly the same proportions, at least initially. Such an arrangement can easily be written into a divorce agreement, which might place a time limit on the 75/25 split.

Over time the less experienced parent should be given opportunities to “catch up” in the day-to-day parenting; for example, by taking the child or children to pediatrician appointments, by cooking family meals, and by supervising bedtime preparation. Then, as the less experienced parent begins to catch up, living schedules can gradually move toward a true fifty-fifty split. This gradual increase avoids making the child or children anxious and avoids having to separate a great deal from the parent who early had done most of the parenting.

What do you think? Would co-parenting work in your family? Have you tried it and had success? Or have you tried it and discovered that it’s not all its cracked up to be? Read the rest of the article here and share your opinion – we want to know what you think.

Pssst: Tomorrow is the last day to RSVP for our complimentary retirement seminar, Retirement Illusions: Where do we go from here? Click here to RSVP now!

A Child of Divorce

When I was nine years old, my mother took me by my shoulders in my grandparents kitchen in Seattle and said: “Ronny, we are not going back to Long Beach. I am divorcing your father. You are going to be my little man.”

My world fell apart. Suddenly, I felt the whole burden of the responsibilities and problems of our family shift to my shoulders. That was not what my mother intended, but that was how I felt. In response to the anxiety, I regressed and started wetting the bed, for which I was punished. I eventually got past that. I also started biting my nails, an anxiety habit I still struggle to overcome sixty years later. My mother’s mistake was honest and well-intentioned. She wanted to enroll me in the change, and make me feel important, but she had no way to assess the effect her statement could and would have on me. It changed my life forever.

How can parents do better? What, specifically, can we do to act responsibly as parents to guide our children through the aftermath of divorce? On Saturday, September 10, I am presenting the Second Saturday Divorce Workshop at The Law Collaborative office in Woodland Hills. Among the various topics covered, you will hear from a licensed mental health professional discussing what we, as parents, can do to help our children cope with divorce in a healthy and productive manner. Don’t have kids? We’ll also be teaching communication skills necessary for dealing with a difficult Ex. We’ll cover the divorce process from beginning to end, how to protect yourself in court, the Seven Options for Divorce, and what to do if you feel your case isn’t going anywhere. Certified Divorce Financial Analyst Irene Smith will provide important financial information for anyone going through or contemplating divorce, including common tax pitfalls most lawyers don’t know about. Breakfast is included.

You may not be thinking about a divorce or going through one, but someone in your life, someone you care about needs this information. We thank you in advance for passing this invitation on.

Also, this month we are offering a free retirement seminar presented by Irene Smith of Smith Financial Management. If you are concerned about the recent economic downturn, then Retirement Illusions: Where do we go from here? is for you. Join us on Tuesday, Sept. 20, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. for a comprehensive review of the challenges you’ll face during retirement and discover strategies for a lifetime retirement plan. Dinner is included. RSVP before Sept. 15, 2011 by calling (818) 884-4888 or RSVP online at www.thelawcollaborative.com/events.htm.

Best wishes,
Ron Supancic, CFLS and Robert Borsky, Esq.
Partners at The Law Collaborative, LLC

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