Divorced Familes Can Still Enjoy Happy Holidays

CFLG San Diego member Myra Chack Fleischer, Fleischer & Associates, offers excellent advice for divorced families on avoiding conflicts during the holiday season and making them more enjoyable for everyone in her latest column for Communities at Washington Times.

As Myra points out, all of us – attorneys, mental health professionals and financial advisors included – would rather enjoy the holidays with our own families than be called into action on behalf of stressed out clients during the season. Due to the recent court cutbacks, emergency filings are an even greater strain on everyone. This is the time to think ahead, anticipate and solve problems so you can enjoy your holiday season with minimum stress for you and your children.

The bonus: you’ll not only avoid stress but also any added financial expense from legal bills.

Read her tips here – and pass them on!

Read more: Divorced families can still enjoy happy holidays with a little planning | Washington Times Communities






Could collaborative process help Halle Berry avoid custody battle?

Halle Berry is in the news for all the wrong reasons after the father of her child and her  fiance got into an altercation on Thanksgiving, ending in the arrest of her ex for misdemeanor battery. The altercation occurred during a custodial hand-off involving Berry’s 4-year-old daughter with Gabriel Aubry, Nahla, according to Los Angeles police. See more details here.

Berry has been embroiled in a bitter custody battle with Aubry since they broke up in April 2010. Earlier this month, a judge denied Berry’s request to move to France with Nahla. Berry is now engaged to French actor Olivier Martinez.

A judge has since issued an emergency protective order requiring Aubry to stay at least 100 yards (meters) from Berry, their daughter and Martinez, according to celebrity website, TMZ.com

While Berry and Aubry were never married, a collaborative process involving counseling for everyone involved in this difficult situation could have prevented this situation. Halle, we’re available if you need us!

Consider a Divorce Coach To Set the Stage for a Healthy Family Transition

By Shawn Weber, Attorney, Brave Weber & Mack

In any family law case, a person’s relationship with his attorney is crucial.  I tell my clients that as their attorney I have “got their back” when they walk into the courtroom or a negotiation situation. It is not smart to try to litigate without an attorney, at least one on call, to make sure that any decisions you make are informed.  There is an old saying that a person who tries to represent herself “has a fool for a client.”  For the most part, I agree.

However, there are other professionals besides the attorney that are simply invaluable to any party in a family law case.  One hugely underused professional is the Divorce Coach.

A divorce coach is typically a mental health professional such as a marriage and family therapist, licensed clinical social worker or psychologist.  He or she has special training or experience in family law related issues.  As a family law attorney, I find the divorce coach extremely helpful. Divorce and custody cases can be so emotional.  If it weren’t for the emotional trauma, most divorces would be just like any business transaction.  In essence,  it would just be math.

While a divorce coach is typically trained in psychotherapy, he or she is not doing therapy when coaching. Rather, the coach is helping a client deal with the “here-and-now” emotions of the divorce.  The coach helps people deal with their soon to be ex-spouse and teaches  skills to help parents craft the best possible parenting plan.  Coaches are incredibly helpful in short-circuiting difficult issues that could typically lead to extreme conflict, animosity between spouses and painful litigation.  Coaches can also help provide a voice for children.

It is best when coaches are brought in early in a case.  My experience has shown me that a case goes much more smoothly and typically costs less when parties use coaches.  Many of my clients try to use me, their attorney, as a therapist. While I consider myself sensitive and empathic, I am simply not qualified to help with emotional issues. Even if I were, it’s expensive to pay an attorney to be your therapist. If a coach gets involved at the beginning of a case, many of the emotional conflicts can be resolved to make room for the case to move quickly to settlement. Patterns, boundaries and goals can be established early in the case to ensure a smooth transition for families. This reduces the amount of emotionally driven and often unnecessary litigation that can be so damaging to families and in particular children.

I am a big believer in making sure that divorcing couples arm themselves with every tool available to ensure that their divorce goes smoothly. My clients who use coaches appreciate the guidance they receive from a mental health professional during a difficult time.  Their children benefit from it. Setting the stage for a healthy transition at the very beginning of a case is so important and coaches provide powerful tools to make it happen.

If you are in San Diego County, I recommend using any of the coaches or child specialists listed on the website of the Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego at this link.

Post Election Income Tax Planning for Divorce

By Justin A. Reckers CFP®, CDFA™, AIF®

Managing Director, Pacific Divorce Management

We now have a bit more clarity about the future income tax landscape in the United States and the State of California specifically. Here is what I know.

In 2013 the 0.9% Medicare surtax kicks in on taxable income over $200K for single filers and $250K for married filers.

In 2013 the 3.9% Medicare tax on unearned income such as dividends, interest and capital gains kicks in for single filers with taxable income over $200,000 for single filers and $250,000 for married filers.

President Barack Obama wants the top rate on capital gains to rise to 20% for single filers with taxable income over $200,000 for single filers and $250,000 for married filers. He also wants the top tax rate to go higher from its current 35%.

What does this mean to you? It may be a good idea to sell appreciated assets in 2012. Taking gains in these assets in 2012 could save you the 0.9% Medicare surtax, the 3.9% Medicare tax on unearned income and 5% or more from the increase in capital gains tax rates.

For divorcing parties this might mean selling some appreciated assets such as stock positions or real estate in order to lock in the 15% capital gains rate and avoid the 3.9% additional Medicare tax rather than retaining them post divorce. It might mean exercising non-qualified stock options in 2012 to lock in the maximum 35% income tax bracket and avoid the additional 0.9% Medicare surtax.

California voters passed Proposition 30 on November 6. Prop 30 raises taxes on EVERYONE.

  • The income tax increases are RETROACTIVE to January 1, 2012
  • Sales tax rates are increased by 3.45%
  • Three new high-income tax brackets are created: raising rates from 9.3% to 10.3% for taxable income over $250,000 but below $300,000 (10.6% increase); from 9.3% to 11.3% for taxable income over $300,000 but below $500,000 (21.5% increase); from 9.3% to 12.3% for taxable income over $500,000 but below $1 million (32.26% increase); and from 10.3% to 13.3% on taxable income over $1 million (29.13% increase).

There is nothing you can do about Prop 30 at this point since the changes are all RETROACTIVE. It amazes me how many people did not realize the measure was retroactive.

CFLG San Diego attorney Shawn Weber appears on “The Real Estate Radio Hour”

CFLG member Shawn Weber, attorney with Brave, Weber & Mack, APLC, was the featured guest November 8 on “The Real Estate Radio Hour” which airs on 1700 AM ESPN. During the hour, Weber discussed “Love and Real Estate” including property law in divorce and collaborative divorce. If you missed it, listen here at this link to the podcast.

Court cutbacks Nov. 5 could cause significant legal, ethical challenges in divorce, custody, support matters

November 5, 2012

Contact: Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR / (619) 997-2495 or gayle@falconvalleygroup.com

Clients urged to consider collaborative divorce or mediation as alternatives

(SAN DIEGO) – With California’s court system facing significant budget cutbacks, as of Monday, November 5, official court reporters will no longer be provided in family law civil matters, including most divorce, custody and support proceedings. In addition, effective December 28, 2012, official court reporters will only be available in family matters for domestic violence restraining order hearings, contempt hearings, and Request for Order hearings of 40 minutes or less.

Since state law prohibits the court from using recording equipment as an alternative, parties who want an official written record of their court proceedings will have to pay privately-retained, certified court reporters. They must be appointed by the court and on a list of court-approved certified shorthand reporters. Information on the new policies and procedures is posted to the court’s website at www.sdcourt.ca.gov

Justin A. Reckers, CFP, CDFA, AIF, President of the Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego (CFLG San Diego), says the looming budget cutbacks give people going through a divorce, separation, or legal change in their custody or support agreements reason to keep matters out of the courts and instead pursue Collaborative Divorce or Mediation.

“The lack of financial resources from government keeps giving us more reasons to not rely upon them for court services,” said Reckers. “The easiest way to not rely upon the courts is to resolve our disputes respectfully outside of the court system through Collaborative Divorce, Mediation and settlement minded orientation from family law attorneys.”

“One of the basic tenets of our system of government is equal access to justice,” said Shawn Weber, attorney and member of the Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego. “Less financially well-off clients are as entitled to a record of their court matters as those who can buy a staff of reporters. This is troubling and may lead to some legal and ethical challenges that could negate any savings from not having a transcript.”

“Maybe the financial cutbacks in the Family Courts will actually help divorcing parents by causing them to seek more productive and healthier ways to cope with the stresses and conflicts of divorce,” Constance Ahrons, Psychologist and member of the Collaborative Fmaily Law Group of San Diego. “The cutbacks will clearly affect court calendars which are already overtaxed, and angry parents who want to have their day in court will find they have to wait months and months to have their cases heard by a judge. During that time children will be caught in their parents’ ongoing conflicts and the anxiety producing limbo of custody and living arrangements.

“Collaborative divorce and mediation have emerged as humane alternatives to resolving divorce related issues and conflicts. ”

Collaborative Divorce is an Alternative Dispute Resolution process that strives to preserve the emotional and financial resources of the family while achieving an agreement that considers and respects the welfare of everyone in the family. The collaborative divorce model provides divorcing parties the opportunity to problem solve in a private, confidential setting, with the help of their experts, to reach a creative settlement that meets the needs of their family.

CFLG is online at www.collaborativefamilylawsandiego.com, and LinkedIn.

About Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego

The Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego is an association of attorneys, mental health professionals and financial advisors working together to learn, practice, and promote collaborative processes for problem solving and the peaceful resolution of family law issues, with an eye toward preserving the emotional, as well as the financial, assets of the family. Its goal is to transform the resolution of family law issues through respectful, collaborative processes that protect the integrity and health of family relationships and eliminate the need of families to resort to court litigation.


Wisconsin declares week of November 4 – 10 “Family Is Forever Week”

Governor Scott Walker proclaimed November 4-10 as Family is Forever-Children and Divorce Awareness Week in Wisconsin in order to bring attention to the impact of litigated divorce upon children. The Governor also recognized the work of the Collaborative Family Law Council of Wisconsin (CFLCW) and its efforts to mitigate the effect upon children through the use of the collaborative law process.

You can read more at this link.

Is this something you’d like to see happen in the state of California, or ever just the County of San Diego as a start? Do you believe activities surrounding these declarations generate attention to the issues? Let us know.