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Formula for Infidelity

Dr. Goulston gives us 4 R’s to heal a marriage that’s been hurt by infidelity:  Remorse, Restitution, Rehabilitation, Request for Forgiveness.

Remorse is not the same as regret.  When you feel regret you look back at something you’ve done and think, “Wow, that was a stupid thing to do.  Wish I could go back and do it over, but I can’t, so let’s move on.”  Regret makes people who’ve been hurt feel as if they have no right to be hurt.  When you feel remorse, you think of your past actions and feel sick, ashamed, you’d give your eye teeth to have a do-over.  But mostly?  Mostly you just can’t stand that you hurt your spouse.  Showing remorse for infidelity will help your hurt spouse feel cared for, listened to, and understood.  You can show feelings of remorse by looking into your partners eyes, listening to them talk about their feelings of pain, and by expressing the pain you feel when you witness how much your actions have hurt them.  Remorse requires courage to admit that you’ve made a terrible mistake, that your actions hurt someone you love, and that you’ll do whatever you need to do to be forgiven.

Spouses who’ve been cheated on feel as if they’ve had something stolen from them, they feel violated and taken advantage of.  They need Restitution, which literally means, the restoration of something lost or stolen.  You can help your spouse find restitution by showing remorse, and then asking them what they need from you so that they can begin to heal.  Ask your spouse what you can do to give them back what they lost.  They may say there is nothing you can do.  Be patient, give them time.

Many times when a spouse cheats, they’ve cheated because they are angry or upset or disappointed with some aspect of their marriage. Rehabilitation is an excellent way to help your partner find Restitution.  Get Rehabilitated.  Show your partner that you’ve learned how to deal with your unhappiness in a healthy way, rather than in a way that is a betrayal to them (through infidelity).  Show your partner that you are happy to have learned a new coping mechanism, and that you have confidence that you will be a trustworthy spouse from now on.

The last of the 4 R’s is Requesting Forgiveness.  Dr. Goulston says it can take between six and eighteen months for a couple to heal from infidelity.  If you’ve shown remorse, if you’ve given your partner restitution and rehabilitated yourself, you have the right to Request Forgiveness.  You deserve a second chance.  If your partner refuses to forgive you even after all 4 R’s, the problem shifts from you’re being unforgivable, to their being unforgiving.  It’s up to them to stop Holding Onto A Grudge.

For more of Dr. Goulston’s Usable Insight, click here.

When a spouse cheats

Tiger and Elin are getting a divorce, Sandra Bullock’s filing for a divorce, and Larry King is thinking about divorce.  Each of these celebrities has something in common that led to their divorces – infidelity.  But do we have to suffer through a divorce if a spouse has been unfaithful?

Dr. Mark Goulston says that when you betray someone’s trust at such a deep level, you trigger four intense reactions in them: Hurt, Hate, Hesitation To Trust and Holding Onto A Grudge (the 4 H’s).

When your spouse finds out you’ve had an affair, feelings of intense and devastating pain are triggered.  Many people feel as if they’ve been made a fool of, they feel ashamed, embarrassed, they feel anger at themselves for failing to see.  They feel as if they’ve been living in a lie, as if they are not respected or loved by their spouse.  They may become physically ill, depressed, angry or volatile.  All of these reactions are reactions to hurt.

Realizing that you’ve been lied to by your spouse, that the very person who promised to love, honor and respect you has gone behind your back and broken the vows of your marriage and then lied about it, may trigger anger so strong it can only be called hate.

The spouse who ignores their gut feelings and convinces themselves they’re being crazy, or who confronts you and believes you when you swear there’s no one else, is going to experience an enormous Hesitation to Trust.  How can they possibly lower their guard and trust again, when surely they will only be re-traumatized?

A spouse who has been cheated on will want to protect themselves against future pain.  Even if your spouse wants to get back together, it is frightening and painful to learn to trust after such a huge betrayal.  It’s much easier to Hold Onto A Grudge.  Holding Onto A Grudge allows a spouse who’s been cheated on to keep their guard up and hold it up with fortified bursts of anger.

What can you do if you or your spouse has cheated?  How can you get past the 4 H’s and heal your marriage?   Check back tomorrow to find out.

Not just a lawyer

An article this week in the New Zealand Herald got me thinking.  The author writes, “Lawyers know about conflict and extreme positions and applying rules and measuring out assets and applying formulas and assessing risk. What lawyers don’t seem to know about is that there is really only one answer to everything.  Forgiveness.”

In a way, she’s right.  Yet what she says is basically what those of us practicing collaborative law have been trying to say all along.  Divorce is a crisis of huge proportions.  It’s messy, it’s complicated, it’s painful.  While traditional lawyers are trained to defend their clients according to the laws, collaborative lawyers are trained to help families in crisis reorganize their lives with dignity, honor and peace.  The goal of Collaborative Divorce is to begin as two, end as one, and still feel whole.

Recently I heard a woman say that it was too late to begin the collaborative process because she’d all ready hired a traditional lawyer.  It’s never too late to turn things around and seek peace.

If you or someone you know has questions about the collaborative process, send us an email by clicking here:  Info@TheLawCollaborative.com.  You can also call our toll free number (888) 852-9961, and please feel free to visit our information center.  We’re here to help.

The Four Horsemen

According to Gudrun Zomerland MFT, within the first three minutes of watching a couple have a conversation, Dr. John Gottman can predict with 96% accuracy whether the relationship he is watching will survive or not.  Zomerland says that Gottman bases his predictions on four potentially destructive communication styles and coping mechanisms, one of which Gottman calls The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

In the Bible, The Four Horsemen are a metaphor depicting the end the world.  They represent conquest, war, famine and death.  When introduced into a marriage, The Four Horsemen are disguised as criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling (avoiding conflict.)

Criticism is an expression of disapproval based on perceived faults or mistakes.  When we criticize our partner, we chip away at his or her self-confidence.  With criticism we tell our partner they are not good enough, smart enough, sexy enough, hard working enough.  For example, if your husband comes home late and you say, “Where were you?  I was worried.  You said you’d call if you ran late,” you’re complaining about a behavior.  Laying into him, accusing him of being forgetful or saying something like, “You never think about my feelings,” is criticism.

Contempt is the feeling that a person or a thing is beneath consideration, worthless, or deserving of scorn.  When we communicate with contempt we are being mean; we are disrespecting those around us by ridiculing, using sarcasm, or name-calling.  If you’re at a party and your spouse launches into a story you’ve heard a hundred times and you roll your eyes and interrupt him or her to say that no one wants to hear that stupid story again, that’s contempt.  In marriage it’s a quick poison.

Defensiveness is easy to fall prey to.  Your wife asks you to get milk on your way home from work, but you have a long day and forget.  When she greets you at the door wanting to know where the milk is, you snap at her and say something like, “Do you have any idea what my day was like?”  We feel accused of something and so we defend ourselves, but often the act of defending our self tells our partner that we’re not listening to them, and that we don’t take their feelings into consideration.  By defending our self we ignore our partner.  Instead, when we feel defensive a better response is, “Hey, I’m feeling under attack.  I’m sorry I forgot the milk.  I had a long day, and I didn’t mean to ignore your needs.  Can the milk wait until tomorrow?”

To stonewall is to delay or block a request, process or person by refusing to answer questions or by giving evasive replies.  People stonewall to avoid conflict, but avoiding issues only makes them accumulate.  People stonewall by tuning out, turning away, being too busy, or engaging in obsessive behaviors.  A spouse who stays up all night playing online poker despite his partner’s invitation to come to bed may be stonewalling issues of intimacy.

If all four horsemen are active and alive in a relationship, it is likely too late to turn things around.  If stonewalling and defensiveness are present, couples counseling can help you and your partner get through whatever issues are blocking your path to a truly happy marriage. However, a partner who engages in criticism or contempt is attacking their partner’s self worth.  It is toxic behavior often stemming from childhood wounds, and anyone participating in this kind of behavior should think seriously about seeking individual counseling.

The Seven Options for Divorce: Number Seven

Alec Baldwin wrote a book last year called A Promise To Ourselves, decrying “the corrupt California divorce industry” (his words).  He describes a nightmare divorce that lasted eight years and cost over three million dollars, after a ten-year marriage to Kim Basinger.   That is the seventh option:  Litigation.

A few years ago there was a case all over the newspapers.  A short marriage; a two-year-old child.  Dad was voluntarily giving Mom $50,000 a month in child support, but the mother wasn’t satisfied.  Mother wanted $350,000 a month in child support for the two-year-old.  Why?  Because Dad could afford it.

The couple spent over a million dollars – each – on the Order to Show Cause Hearing.  At the end of the day, after hearing all of the evidence and testimony, after concord jets and race horses and all the other evidence put in for a two-year-old child, the judge raised the support from $50,000 a month to $60,000 a month.   A hundred thousand for a million.  That’s litigation, straight up, all the way.

The good news is that you have options.  You don’t have to spend your life’s savings on legal fees or spend years fighting in court.  It’s your money, it’s your family, it’s your choice.

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

What’s new at The Law Collaborative

Dear Friends of the Law Collaborative,

This April we celebrate an anniversary. Although Ron and Robert have been practicing family law for a sum total of fifty years or more, this April we 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.’

With this in mind, we offer our readers one simple suggestion for establishing peace in our daily lives.

Thankfulness.

Even in tough times, there is plenty for which to be thankful. If we establish a habit of noting the small things that mark us as fortunate, we cultivate Thankfulness and Appreciation. Establishing these qualities in our lives benefits our health, our relationships, and our general well-being. They also have a way of overflowing into the lives of others. Realize that there is no actual risk attached to exercising Thankfulness and Appreciation, and that such attitudes come with much potential benefit. Thankfulness and Appreciation may be experienced on a daily basis if we apply ourselves to forming the habit.

COLLABORATIVE LAW – The attorney who wishes to employ collaborative law in his practice must have a thorough knowledge of negotiation skills, and understand the underlying theories and strategies of negotiation. Minimum standards for collaborative family law practice are continually expanding, as the work continues to attract more followers throughout the country. The State Bar provides education on an annual basis, making available new tools, technology, and information generated by the professionals engaged in the practice. This month, on Saturday, April 10th, Ron will be the closing speaker at the “Helping Families” conference at Pepperdine Law School in beautiful Malibu. Any professional interested in learning more about collaborative practice would do well to attend. For more information, check www.CDR4-10-10event.com

We would like to share a testimonial, and our new blog –

www.RonandRobertonDivorce.com

Testimonial:

The Law Collaborative is a team of divorce lawyers and paralegals who advocate for the family. I have yet to come across another group of lawyers who take as much care in preserving family values, keeping costs down and protecting children, as the good people at The Law Collaborative. TLC focuses on keeping families together, even in the middle of a crisis. This concept has so enraptured me that I’ve been inspired to write “A Serious Girl,” a blog that focuses on marriage and family. The Law Collaborative opened my eyes to the many options we have for our marriages, our children, and our lives.

Visit Ron and Robert on Divorce on ITunes for additional information. Please call us if you have any questions. We are here to serve you.

Follow us on www.Twitter.com/TLC_Law
Add us on www.Facebook.com/TheLawCollaborative

Best,
Ron Supancic and Robert Borsky

In Plain English

Two children are in the kitchen fighting over an orange.  Their father walks in, sees what’s going on and decides to put an end to it.  He grabs the orange from their hands, puts it on the chopping block, cuts it in half and gives half to his son and half to his daughter.

Both children burst into tears.  Astonished, the father turns to his son and says, “Johnny, why are you crying?”
“I wanted the whole orange!”  Johnny says, sobbing.
“You can’t have the whole orange, there’s only one orange.  You have to share it with your sister.  Stop crying.”  Then he turns to his daughter and says, “Suzy, why are you crying?”
Suzy sniffles and says, “Daddy, I didn’t want the orange at all.”
“What? What are you talking about?”
“I only wanted the peel.  I need it for an icing recipe for a cake I just baked.  But I have to have the whole peel.”
The father scratches his beard, thoughtfully.  “You only wanted the outside of the orange?”
Suzy nods her head sadly, a fat tear dripping from her chin.  “Yes.”
“Can Johnny have the inside of the orange?”
Her eyes widen and she bounces on her toes.  “Yes!”
“Johnny? Will you give your sister the orange peel if she lets you have the inside of the orange?”
Little Johnny’s face brightens and he clasps his hands together.  “Yes! Of course! I didn’t even want the crummy old peel!”

***

The truth about litigated divorce is that the judge doesn’t have the time, the inclination or the imagination to find out what your interests are.  When you get a traditional, litigated divorce, you get distributive bargaining.  The judge is following the law.  He’s lead by the rules and the statutes.

With Collaborative Divorce, as well as with mediation or The Kitchen Table Divorce, there is creativity and imagination.  Your wants, your needs, and your fears are heard, acknowledged, and understood.  Your spouse’s wants and needs and fears are heard, acknowledged and understood.  It’s impossible to be angry or hateful towards someone you understand.

You went into your marriage with love.  If you’re getting a divorce, you have the opportunity to reorganize your life with love.  It’s your choice.

The Seven Options for Divorce: Number Three

The third option for divorce is a Collaborative Divorce.  It’s like mediation on steroids.

Collaborative Divorce is similar to mediation in that it’s protected by the evidence code.  Everything is confidential, privileged, private, and can’t be used in court against you.  What makes it different is that it creates a team of people who will help you get through what can be a very painful process, as painlessly as possible.  Collaborative Divorce calms the waters.  It allows you to take stock in yourself before you get into the process.

In a Collaborative Divorce you are surrounded by a team of experts, appraisers, mental health professionals, actuaries, real estate people, people you need to access so that you can reorganize your life, maximize your tax position, divide your assets peacefully, and become successful co-parents.

When you go to court, you get distributive bargaining.  Judges are limited by the rules, by the statutes, by the code sections.  The judge makes the best decisions in accordance with the law.  When you have a Collaborative Divorce, you make the best decisions for your family.

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

The Seven Options for Divorce: Number 1

The Kitchen Table

Most people don’t know this, but there are several different options if you’re thinking about getting a divorce.  The first option is called The Kitchen Table Divorce.

In a Kitchen Table Divorce, the couple sits down at the kitchen table with a pad of paper and a pen and they create a plan.  They say, “Here’s what we’re going to do about the kids, here’s how we’re going to pay the bills, here’s what we’re going to do with the property, and we’ll split the cost of whatever it costs to hire someone to put this all in writing.”

With this kind of divorce a couple doesn’t need to hire attorneys and they certainly won’t ever see the inside of a courtroom.  California has a new professional: the Licensed Document Assistant or LDA.  LDA’s are not paralegals, they’re not lawyers, they don’t give you advice.  But if you’re going to have a Kitchen Table Divorce you can hire an LDA, tell them what you want and they’ll fill out the forms for you.  It’s the fastest, cheapest, most efficient way to get a divorce.

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

Reduce Your Legal Fees

The dissolution of a marriage often comes at a time when a family is going through a financial as well as emotional crisis. Sometimes the emotional crisis can make the financial one worse by increasing the attorney’s fees incurred and costs expended. For example, if a spouse is vindictive or just plain upset, he or she can refuse to negotiate in good faith, or act in such a way as to provoke numerous court appearances or otherwise delay the proceedings. When this happens it is usually beyond our control, and we have to cope the best we can though the mechanisms provided by the court. Frankly, it can be extremely expensive and frustrating.

However, you can help to keep your fees and costs to the minimum for your case by following these simple rules:

1. Remember that talking to me on the phone is expensive. My time and skill in the law are all that I have with which to make a living, and I must charge for the time I spend on the telephone just as I charge for research, document drafting, and court appearances. Therefore, you can save yourself a great deal of money by not always asking to speak directly with me. As a general rule, discuss your needs first with my paralegal, my law clerk, or my accounts manager, or my front desk administrator. If legal advice or intervention is needed immediately, they are trained to recognize it and will bring it to my attention, as soon as possible. Furthermore, if I am in court or working on a research project, or otherwise unavailable at the time, a detailed message through my staff will get my attention a lot faster than simply asking me to call you back. Better yet, my assistant can often handle the problem right then and there. If you wish information on a court date, the status of service or filing of papers, or other similar information, they can help you as well as I can and at much less expense to you. My account manager can answer all of your billing questions, again at less expense to you. Finally, if you merely wish to leave some information such as an address, telephone number or some figures that I have requested, please leave the message with my staff or with the answering service if they are available.

2. Remember that I am trained as an attorney, not a counselor. Certainly, unless I understand the nature of your relationship with your spouse, I cannot represent you as well as I might. For that reason, I will spend some time with you exploring this interaction, especially toward the beginning of the case. From what you tell me, I may be able to point out some of the “games” that are being played and how to avoid being one of the players. A dissolution or other family law matter can be one of the most stressful times of a person’s life, and it is to your best legal interest that you cope with the stresses. If you are not thinking clearly, you may be inclined to make decisions on whether or how to settle the case that will be very expensive in the long run. However, at some particular point, I will have learned what I need to help you legally, and I will be giving you the best advice I can on how to cope with the legal and practical aspects of the case. From that point on, my listening to your non-legal experiences with your spouse, your spouse’s faults and other matters will usually appear on your monthly statement. Generally, this will be the case after the initial consultation or first court hearing.

3. Participate as effectively as you can in your own case. Your time is likely to be less expensive to you than mine, and you will certainly be more familiar with many of the details. Therefore you will probably wish to obtain and organize as much of the information and documents for your case as possible. For example, in a case involving child or spousal support, the required income and expense forms are long and complex and require extensive background information and documentation. Experience shows that if you use your best efforts to complete these forms and provide the information and documents before the appointment at which we will discuss them, you will save up to two hours at that appointment and will be able to most clearly and favorably present your evidence to the court. If my office has to do all the work involved in preparing these forms and organizing the information, your case will become more costly. If there is a delay in preparing and filing such documents, the other side could apply to the court for sanctions in the form of a money judgment against you, use the delay in answering as an excuse to postpone court dates, request that the court prevent you from having your evidence submitted, or invoke other penalties.

4. Organize your questions and concerns so that they may all be discussed at one time rather than on separate occasions. It is generally much less expensive to have one long discussion rather than several shorter ones.

5. Think about settling the case instead of going to trial. Under the best circumstances, a trial’s outcome is uncertain. It is very unusual for husband and wife to recall things in the same way, especially the circumstances and understandings involved in acquiring assets or incurring debts. Because of such factual disputes and because there are numerous unsettled areas in the law, neither I nor anyone else can accurately estimate the odds of any particular outcome, nor can any single result in the case be guaranteed, if trial is necessary. For these reasons, trial is generally not in a client’s best interest if it can be avoided, and it is almost always best to settle the case if we can obtain a reasonably fair agreement. Therefore, as soon as we have enough information to evaluate the issues, I will usually seek your authority to negotiate a settlement.

Despite this, my usual office practice is to file a request for a trial date fairly early in the proceedings. This has the effect of putting an externally imposed time limit on negotiations. Even if the case may not actually be tried on the first assigned trial date (usually because the court schedule is overcrowded), there is an incentive to negotiate and achieve the best settlement for you. We present the position that we are prepared to try the case, unless we receive an acceptable offer. Just because we have filed a request for trial date, you do not need to assume that your case will go to trial or give up on trying to think of constructive settlement possibilities.

6. Particularly if your spouse has an attorney, please do not try to settle any major issues directly with your spouse unless you have discussed your proposals with me first. You have hired me because of my knowledge of the technicalities and practicalities of California Family Law, and if you try to negotiate major issues yourself you may unwittingly waive substantial rights, fail to provide for certain common contingencies, or otherwise damage your case. On the other hand, after discussion I frequently advise clients to attempt to settle who is to receive items of furniture, furnishings, appliances, and other personal and household items directly with your spouses. “Trying the Tupperware” issue usually results in spending more money to divide these items than it costs to replace them.

7. Please call the office if your address or telephone number changes, so that we can reach you. Sometimes it is important that I talk to you within a few hours, and it is most helpful for us to have both a home and a “daytime” number.

8. Please call the office if there are any important changes in the facts or your circumstances. These changes can drastically affect the case, the best strategic approach to it, and our position. I may not be immediately available to talk to you, but I will do my best to return all calls that require a response or have them returned by my staff. If you need to speak to me, I will be happy to accommodate you as soon as possible. I only want you to remember the financial realities; my time is billed at a much higher rate rather than that of my staff. Just as I give attention to your case when I am working on it, I have other cases that also require full attention when I am working on it, I have other cases which also require full attention when I am working on them.

9. In all cases, tell us the truth and provide complete and accurate documents, even if you fell that it is embarrassing or may not be information you want to share. Having to work without full and accurate information almost always leads to performing work over and over again that should have been finished the first time and unpredictable, to say the least, hearing in court.

I don’t want you to have the feeling of “Don’t call us, we’ll call you”. On the contrary, there will be times, perhaps many, when you will need to speak to me. I urge you to do so when necessary. Please bear in mind that, in the most literal sense, my time is money and if you always insist on speaking to me you will probably be wasting your money. Again, my assistants and my accounts manager are trained to recognize when your case requires my immediate attention and to assist you at other times. Most legal matters move slowly. Unless a threat of physical violence or other irreversible and immediate harm is present, there are few situations that require immediate action (or in which immediate action is even possible).

Similarly, while you can leave messages with my answering service evenings and weekends, and while I can usually be reached in a real emergency, there is almost no action I can take until normal business hours that you cannot take yourself. You will have copies of existing court orders. With very few exceptions, new or different orders cannot be obtained after court hours. Please try to be patient, organized, and bear in mind which services can be provided best by myself, by my staff, or by someone else.

TLC, Bringing peace to the legal process.