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A Friendly Divorce

“Friendly” and “divorce” aren’t words most people would typically choose to string together in a sentence, but this wonderful article by Karina Bland at the Chicago Sun Times explains exactly how people all over the country are discovering that divorces can, in fact, be friendly.

Most divorce cases still are handled in the traditional way, with lawyers on each side trying to get the best deal for their client, often through nasty disagreements over custody, child support, property settlements and finances. Divorcing couples typically aren’t feeling friendly toward each other anyway, and contentious experiences in court can make those feelings even worse.

“It makes it almost impossible to have a civil relationship going forward. You don’t forget what it’s like to be cross-examined by your spouse’s lawyer,” says family law attorney John Zarzynski, who co-founded Agreement House. “It sets them up for years and years of not being able to communicate well.”

Mediation is one kind of a friendly divorce. Collaboration is another, in which both parties retain their own attorneys but also use experts and work together for a solution for everyone. Couples don’t set foot in court in either instance. Proponents say it reduces the emotional costs on everyone; both children and adults start their new lives on relatively stable ground.

Click HERE to read the rest of the article.

Knowledge is Everything

If you were filing for a divorce thirty years ago, you didn’t have a whole lot of options. Certain laws favored mom, certain laws favored dad. You had to prove there was reasonable cause for the divorce and if the judge thought your reason wasn’t good enough, you didn’t get your divorce. Things worked a certain way and there wasn’t much you could do about it.

Today, we have lots of options. We can mediate or arbitrate, we can collaborate or litigate, we can rent a judge and get divorced at the four seasons or sit at our kitchen table and work it out over coffee and donuts. Unfortunately, most people have no idea there are so many options. Our legal system has been designed for battle, so we hire lawyers slick as knives and we cut each other until we are each bloodied and broken. But what is the point of that? How does that help? How do you heal from a wound cut so deep?

The fact is this: Divorce does not have to leave you bloodied and broken. You can have a divorce where you emerge on the other side with your eyes opened wide to the possibilities of new life. Where you come out standing with your shoulders back and your chin up. It’s up to you. You get to choose which divorce you have; the one with all the blood and gore, or the one where you come out standing straight and strong.

Read more…

Why Mediate?

Dear Friends of the Law Collaborative,

Why Mediate?

What’s in it for me? That is the question that a client usually asks when mediation is suggested. Ideally, mediation of a divorce case will save people; will save them angst, alienation, and money. Mediation requires that both lawyer and client clearly and specifically identify their ideal solution to the dispute, and both are advised to carefully consider the other party’s desired outcome as well. Mediation can be a Win-Win proposition if those involved really want it to work. From the outset, The Law Collaborative’s goal is to design a settlement agreement that will realistically fulfill the basic needs of all of the parties to the mediation. We happily and readily employ the word, “compromise.” To compromise, cooperate, concede – 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.

Learn more about Collaborative Law:

Many lawyers consider that they are competent to practice collaborative family law because they believe in settling cases and resolving disputes outside of court. However, a willingness to settle is not the only requirement. 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 Law Collaborative is pleased to provide education for attorneys and other collaborative professionals, making available new tools, technology, and information generated by professionals successfully engaged in the practice. To those professionals interested in learning more about collaborative practice, consider attendance at our 3 day workshop coming in November!

We also invite you to our next Second Saturday Divorce Workshop, which will take place on August 14th at our Woodland Hills Office. Attorney Robert Borsky 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. A marriage and family therapist will also address emotional issues in divorce situations. This workshop is beneficial to anyone contemplating divorce, or curious about their options. Pre-registration cost is $45, or $50 at the door. Breakfast will be served. Please call our office at (888) 852-9961 for registration and additional information. We are here to serve you.


Ron Supancic and Robert Borsky

“Bringing peace to the legal process.”

Visit Ron and Robert on Divorce on iTunes and subscribe to our free weekly podcast.

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Step By Step Guide to Divorce, Part 1

Divorce is confusing enough, but when your ex’s lawyer is demanding a dizzying array of paperwork on top of everything else you’re dealing with, the actual legal divorce process can become incredibly overwhelming. In the next five podcasts, Ron and Robert will walk us through all of the necessary steps required in order to obtain a divorce in the state of California. This is an opportunity to find out what you’re supposed to file with your Response and why. What is an OSC and do you need to have one? How come you have to fill out an Income and Expense Declaration a second time?

Click the play button below to hear part 1, and don’t forget to subscribe to Ron and Robert on Divorce on iTunes!

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Secrets of Power Negotiating

From the latest LACBA Negotiation Tips Newsletter:

Whenever others confront us with a viewpoint we totally oppose, we easily start arguing about the veracity of that position. What is the problem with this approach, or more to the point, this reaction? It leads to an argument. When we start pushing others, they push back as if by instinct. The more we argue with others, the more they feel forced into proving they are right.

So how do we overcome this natural tendency to try to prove we are right? Let’s consider a playbook that enables us to disagree without being confrontational and that give us time to think. A master negotiator, author, and trainer, Roger Dawson* has come up with a basic formula: “feel, felt, found.”

Take a phrase we often hear in legal negotiations and mediations: “That is a ridiculous and insulting offer.” Armed with Dawson’s “feel, felt, found” formula, you can respond as follows:

1. FEEL: “Please help me understand why you feel that way.” Or “I understand how you would feel that way.”

2. FELT: “I have been in your position and have often felt that way too.”

3. FOUND: “And, what I have found is that taking a step back to listen to what the other side has to say about why this is so insulting, often opens the door to other possibilities that might satisfy your interests.”

The bottom line: instead of arguing, get into the habit of agreeing with them and then turning it around to your favor.

*Secrets of Power Negotiating, Roger Dawson, The Career Press, Inc 2001

Canadian Family Law is Way Ahead of U.S.

BC was one of the first provinces in Canada to recognize same-sex marriage, and the Canada Supreme Court endorsed it. Canada appointed a female judge as Chief Justice of Canada Supreme Court back in 2000, and now Canada is planning revolutionary changes to their family law system that will change the Canadian definition of family — for the better.

Here’s a quote from Canadian Attorney-General Mike de Jong in a recent article in the Vancouver Sun:

“We have family law built around a very adversarial model and we think there is a better way — when a family changes or when a relationship comes apart — there is a better way to resolve some of those issues then rushing off to court,” said de Jong.

“We will always need the court, but we do not need a system that is primarily an adversarial system.”

A big Hurrah! to our Northern Neighbors. Click here to read on.

A Powerful New Case

This powerful new case creates a presumption in favor of the parent who protects the children from racial bias in the home. It does not matter that the children were not present when the remarks were made. That is a big step. Click on the italicized text below to read the full court document.

The Welfare and Institutions Code* section 300 petition was filed on January 27, 2009. The petition contained allegations of: serious bodily harm; failure to protect; serious emotional damage; and sibling abuse. (§ 300, subds. (a)-(c), (j).) After several continuances, the adjudication hearing was held on March 19, 24 and 27 and April 2, 2009. The twins were declared to be dependents pursuant to section 300, subdivisions (b) and (j). The juvenile court found the father: used inappropriate discipline; G.G. “has exhibited explosive, aggressive, uncontrollable behavior requiring therapeutic, psychiatric intervention, and the father failed to obtain timely, necessary therapeutic, psychiatric intervention for the child despite numerous recommendations for treatment”; and “has provided a chaotic home environment including regular and consistent confrontational behavior with the children‘s school and in the community . . . .”

At the conclusion of the adjudication hearing, the disposition hearing was held. The juvenile court ordered: the twins be placed in foster care; individual counseling for the twins and the father; visitation by the father three times per week including on the weekends; one hour of the visitation was to be unmonitored; the father participate in a fatherhood class; and the father‘s individual counseling address his use of sexist and racist language. In connection with this latter requirement, the juvenile court minute order states, “Father to be in individual counseling to address issues with a male therapist regarding father‘s racist and sexist views.” The father filed a timely notice of appeal.

*All further statutory references are to the Welfare and Institutions Code except where otherwise noted.

Juvenile court found that they did not abuse discretion in ordering that father undergo counseling regarding his repeated angry use of racial, ethnic and gender epithets; the requirement was a reasonable response to father’s repeated use of such invective in dealing with school and social services personnel, together with other evidence of his temper, suggesting that he was creating an unhealthy environment for the children, regardless of whether he used such language in their presence.

In re G.G. – filed June 29, 2010, Second District, Div. Five
Cite as B215471
Full text

Mark Your Calendars!

We are happy to be hosting our monthly Second Saturday Workshop on Saturday, August 14, 2010 at our Woodland Hills office.  Attorney Robert Borsky will discuss the steps to divorce from beginning to end, what to expect in the way of necessary and reasonable fees, how to protect yourself in court, and the in’s and out’s of child custody and child/spousal support.  A Certified Financial Analyst* will address the financial issues of divorce and a mental health professional** will be on hand to discuss communication and parenting issues that so often come up for divorcing parents.

Pre-registration for the workshop is $45, or $50 at the door. Breakfast and coffee will be served.  Call our toll free number to register, or visit our website for more information:

(888) 852-9961

Click the image for a larger view

Remember to follow us on Twitter, be our friend on Facebook, subscribe to our podcast on iTunes and don’t forget to “Like” our two Facebook pages: The Law Collaborative and Ron and Robert on Divorce. See you at the workshop in August!

*Speaker will be announced at a later date

**Speaker will be announced at a later date

Lessons From A Veteran Trial Lawyer

In this podcast, Ron and Robert interview Steve Finston, a Certified Family Law Specialist. The three lawyers, Ron, Robert and Steve, with more then seventy years of experience between them, talk about all the recent changes to family law legislature, the crisis in the California courts, the closing of courtrooms and the layoff of court employees which is resulting in months and months of delays for couples involved in traditional litigated divorce. However, you have alternatives! Ron, Robert and Steve offer peaceful solutions which will keep your family out of court and your divorce as straightforward as possible. Click the play button below to hear what they have to say.

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Like what you hear? Be sure to follow us on Twitter, be our friend on Facebook, and subscribe to Ron and Robert on Divorce on iTunes.

Out of the Mouths of Babes

M. Marcy Jones is a Virginia family law attorney, author, speaker, coach and advocate for change. She founded Graceful Divorce Solutions for many of the same reasons Ron and Robert founded The Law Collaborative and Ron and Robert on Divorce — to provide tools, information, and education to separated and divorcing people.

Ron and Robert often talk about the rights of children in divorce. You can read some of their articles on the subject here. I just discovered Marcy’s Top 10 List of Do’s and Don’ts for Parents Going Through Divorce, and I thought it fit so beautifully with The Law Collaborative’s 12 Inalienable Rights of Children, that I had to share it with you.

    Check out Attorney M. Marcy Jones Top 10 List of Do’s and Don’ts for Parents Going Through Divorce. Her article has some wonderful insight for parents, divorcing or not.