In Life and Divorce, The Greatest Rewards Come From the Toughest Challenges

Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego with divorce solutions. Call 858-472-4022

by Tina Mears, LMF
Collaborative Divorce Coach

Change can bring many wonderful gifts, but it can also be very intimidating. New ways of tina-mears-photothinking and behaving to achieve a goal can be difficult, mostly because for a lot of us, we want to do what we’ve always done.   We think we’re right or the stress of life persuades us to not put in the effort. It’s natural to say, “I already have too much on my plate and I just want to do what I’ve always done because it’s easier!”

Let me offer two strong benefits to going through any transformative process, such as divorce. First is the outcome.   We reach our goals by identifying the right steps and putting in the work. By taking the route of Collaborative Divorce, you are offered the opportunity to reach an agreement that best meets the needs of everyone. Litigation is not an option and the well-being of the entire family, especially the children, is preserved.

Second and most importantly, is what you learn along the way. When we only focus on the end-goal we miss the many parts of ourselves that develop and strengthen as we go. We can all probably come up with examples of how we’ve gained insight and wisdom because of a difficult situation. The Collaborative Divorce process offers the same benefit because it challenges you to be your best at what might be the most difficult time of your life. It’s when we step up to the challenge and commit to the process do we build on how we cope with life, and as a result, other aspects of our lives become less complicated.

Finally, when we as adults find ways to make life easier, we make our children’s lives easier. When we learn how to be patient and problem solve, we can teach them to do the same. If we aren’t teaching our children how to be flexible, respectful and self-controlled, who will?

To collaborate with someone asks you to first have an open mind and an open heart. Compromise is possible when we practice patience, knowledge and endurance. The Collaborative Divorce process will challenge you to summon your best self. But remember, the most difficult challenges will bring the greatest rewards.

 

Del Mar Times: Solana Beach lawyer named president for statewide group

Del Mar Times collaborative divorce Shawn Weber

Del Mar Times collaborative divorce Shawn Weber

Attorney Shawn Weber, a former president and active member of the Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego, received coverage in the Del Mar Times/Solana Beach Sun as he assumes the presidency of Collaborative Practice California, the statewide association for Collaborative Practice.

Shawn is one of several members who plays a significant professional leadership role in his or her field. Learn more about Shawn and his work in the article or see below.

Del Mar Times collaborative divorce Shawn Weber

 

Shawn Weber Takes California Collaborative Law Leadership Role

CFLGSD member Shawn Weber is the new president of Collaborative Practice California.

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

Weber installed as 2015-2016 President of Collaborative Practice California

(SAN DIEGO) – San Diego family law attorney Shawn Weber, CLS-F, member and past

CFLGSD member Shawn Weber is the new president of Collaborative Practice California.

CFLGSD member Shawn Weber is the new president of Collaborative Practice California.

president of the Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego, was installed as president of Collaborative Practice California (CP Cal), the statewide organization for Collaborative Practice groups, at its annual conference in Los Angeles, California on Saturday, April 25.

Individual members of the practice groups included Collaborative lawyers, mental health practitioners, financial specialists, and other professionals. The Collaborative Process is being used in divorce and family law, domestic partnerships, same sex marriages, employment law, probate law, construction and real property law, malpractice, and other civil law areas.

CP Cal’s mission is to unify, strengthen and support the Collaborative Practice community and to increase public awareness of the Collaborative Process throughout California.

“Divorce is a human experience, not just a legal process,” said Weber. “Collaborative Practice through CP Cal represents a significant shift in our approach toward resolving civil disputes including divorce. The litigation model doesn’t have to be the first choice. In a divorce, we help people resolve their issues without harming each other or their children. We help them arrive at options that preserve the long-term interest of the family.

“My goal during my term as CP Cal Board President is to foster communication about the many benefits of Collaborative Divorce and to encourage more legal, financial, and mental health professionals to embrace this philosophy as a possible solution for their clients,” said Weber.

For nearly 20 years, Weber has worked exclusively in the area of family law. In that time, he has proven to be a skilled advocate and attorney, as well as an adroit negotiator and mediator. He is especially skilled at resolving difficult divorce, alimony, child support, custody, and visitation issues in an unthreatening and confidential environment through mediation, with a success rate of 98 percent.

A dolphin instead of a shark, Weber specializes in helping clients reach agreements and avoid the heartache and stress of court. He uses his ingenuity, creativity, warmth and skill to craft better outcomes instead of threats or intimidation, in a process tailored to the client, not the legal system.

Weber started with the Solana Beach based law firm of Brave, Weber & Mack in 1999. Just a few years later, he became the firm’s managing attorney. In this role, he has grown the firm from a small solo practice to a full service firm. In 2006, he also became a Partner and CFO of the firm and is trusted with the firm’s day-to-day financial management.

Weber served on the Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego board from 2005 to 2013 and served as its President in 2009. He is also currently a member the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals. Weber has been a member of the San Diego County Bar Association, Family Law Section since 2001 and is currently a member of the San Diego Family Law Bar Association. He received his law degree at the University of San Diego School of Law, and earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science and Germanic Studies at Indiana University. He is the father of five children and lives in El Cajon.

About the Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego

CFLG San Diego’s members work 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 for families to resort to litigation.

CFLG is online at www.collaborativefamilylawsandiego.com, and LinkedIn at http://bit.ly/LinkedIn-CFLGSanDiego

Divorce Via Facebook: Like?

Facebook-heartDivorce service has entered the era of social media. A New York superior court judge ruled that a woman could serve her husband with divorce papers using Facebook.

Should this get a Like?

The attorney for nurse Ellanora Baidoo, 26, argued that she had tried repeatedly using numerous methods but been unsuccessful contacting her husband, Victor Sena Blood-Dzraku, also 26.

The circumstances of the wedding were unusual. The pair were married, but never lived together. There was a dispute over having a wedding after their civil ceremony in 2009, and the pair never consummated the marriage. Blood-Dzraku kept in touch for a while by telephone, but since 2011, there had been no contact.

Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Matthew Cooper ruled Baidoo “is granted permission to serve defendant with the divorce summons using a private message through Facebook,” with her lawyer messaging Blood-Dzraku through her account, Cooper wrote.

“This transmittal shall be repeated by plaintiff’s attorney to defendant once a week for three consecutive weeks or until acknowledged” by her hard-to-find hubby.

“I think it’s new law, and it’s necessary,” said Baidoo’s lawyer, Andrew Spinnell.

The first message went out at the beginning of April, but no response as of publication.

Read more about the case here.

 

Keeping The Costs Of Divorce Down Is Up To You

by Myra Chack Fleischer
Lead Counsel, Fleischer & Ravreby

There is an old joke about divorce.

Why is divorce so expensive? Because it’s worth it. Plunging into Bankruptcy - Financial Speedometer

Humor is rooted in the truth. The truth is that sometimes getting divorced can cost a lot of money. The legal fees can seem out of proportion after it’s all over and the parties involved tally up what they’ve “won” in the form of spousal or child support or property like a home.

But here is another important truth. The cost of a divorce is largely up to you. Your actions determine whether legal fees keep adding up, or whether they can be managed in a reasonable way and minimized.

These are the recommendations I provide to my own clients when they express the need to control their spending on their divorce.

1. Just the facts

Your family law attorney needs to gather all the facts of your case. He or she needs specific information to prepare certain documents and begin the divorce process. The more efficiently and accurately you can provide the necessary information to your attorney, the easier it is for your attorney to get up to speed and prepare documents. Easier equals quicker, and quicker means less expensive if you are paying by the hour.

Don’t think because you “hide” something it will go away. The truth always comes out. Your attorney prefers to avoid surprises.

2. Honesty is the best policy

As part of the divorce process, each side collects as much detailed information about the other side’s circumstances as possible. Written questions are drafted (called interrogatories), and requests for documents and records are made. Depositions are often used, where witnesses are put under oath and asked more extensive questions with all answers on the record. There is no reason not to be forthcoming with your attorney about the good, the bad, and the ugly. The longer it takes to put the story together, the more it costs.

3. Be prepared

If you and your soon-to-be-ex spouse cannot settle your disagreements outside of the courts on your own, with or without help from professionals, you will end up in a trial. This is when divorce gets expensive. Try to avoid this if possible. Consider Collaborative Divorce or mediation as a more efficient, cost-effective way to work things out.

If you are heading to court, a lot of preparation is required. There are simply no shortcuts. There are endless details that must be gathered and verified. Your attorney must be diligent on your behalf and determine how best to use the facts to best persuade a judge to make a decision protecting your interests.

It takes time to prepare the parties and witnesses for a courtroom appearance. This is a new and intimidating experience for most people. They need to understand what will happen when they provide testimony, especially when they are cross-examined and challenged by the other party’s attorney.

4. Watch the clock in court

Assuming you don’t decide on a resolution along the way, you will find yourself in a courtroom where a third party – the judge – will make decisions for you since you cannot. A family law judge will listen to all of the testimony, read all of the written documents, and consider the total sum of all evidence presented by both sides. The judge will then render a decision on all of the issues on which you and your ex-spouse disagree.

Trials can last a few hours, a few days, or a few weeks. Complex cases can last months. Juggling the schedules of everyone involved can make it challenging to get everyone in the courtroom at the same time. Factor in work and family conflicts, sick days and vacations for more delays. If there are lengthy delays, more time is added to get back up to speed.

5. Family court cutbacks

Many family law courts across the country have experienced funding cutbacks from their state governments. The result is often a shortage of courtroom space or a shortage of personnel available for the amount of cases waiting for a trial. It not only takes longer for you to get divorced, it takes even more time invested by your attorney and other professionals involved to stay up to speed. None of this helps the bottom line.

Have you picked up on a common theme? Time is money where a divorce case is concerned.

You can help save costs by working through the process with your attorney as swiftly and openly as possible. Make decisions in a timely manner; get expert help from a licensed financial professional specializing in divorce, and mental health professional if necessary.

For many reasons including cost, consider a form of Alternative Dispute Resolution that keeps you out of the courtroom, but still allows both sides to work through disagreements. A Collaborative Divorce can present an ideal way to advocate for your interests without the enormous investment of time and money necessary for a litigated divorce.

Myra Chack Fleischer serves as Lead Counsel for Fleischer & Ravreby in Carlsbad, California with a focus on divorce, property, custody and support, settlement agreements, mediation, asset division and family law appeals. Follow Myra on Facebook and on Twitter.

Reducing Reactivity in High Conflict Divorce

Divorce and Fighting, Boxing Gloves

Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego member Shawn Weber, attorney with Brave Weber & Mack, offers helpful tips for reducing conflict in this video presentation. Weber points out that even in a High Conflict Divorce, courts cannot always address all slights and grievances.

Within the structure of a Collaborative Divorce where the parties are committed to a resolution of their issues without going to court, these tips provide tools to de-escalate any conflicts that could appear.

Collaborative Divorce Gaining Ground in New Jersey

Collaborative Divorce is an option in California and now in New Jersey. Collaborative Divorce saves time and money.

The state of New Jersey already has one of the lowest divorce rates in the United States. For those couples who do make the decision to divorce, they will be better informed about Collaborative Divorce as an option thanks to a new state law signed by Governor Chris Christie. New Jersey is one of 11 states in the U.S. where Collaborative Divorce is an ‘official’ method of divorce along with litigation, mediation, or arbitration.

The high cost of divorce was the reason Assemblyman Holly Schepisi (R-Dist. 39) introduced the New Jersey Family Collaborative Law Act in the first place. The cost of a litigated divorce, she said, can range from $10,000 to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Significantly, New Jersey’s new law extends the privilege of confidentiality to all the professionals on the collaborative team.

The Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego applauds this development and we look forward to a day in the near future when Collaborative Divorce is commonly used in all 50 states and the U.S. territories. Read more about the new law here.

 

Stress, Divorce and Down Dog

Yoga is one of many methods you can try to manage stress during a divorce.

By Win Heiskala, Certified Family Law Specialist
Attorney-Partner, Beatrice L. Snider Family Law Group

Stress. That is one word that comes to mind for most people when they think of divorce. Either their own or someone else’s divorce[1]. How to manage that stress? Obviously, the best way to handle any stress is to remove it, but that is not possible if you find yourself in the middle of a divorce process, either as the initiating party or responding. The divorce will happen and you need to be involved in important decisions affecting you and your family. Even if you think you are “in control” and have come to terms with the decision and the outcome, it is still one of the most emotional processes of your life.win-heiskala-photo

I am not a medical expert, nor is this a medical/mental health article, but it seems fairly well documented that stress is hazardous to one’s physical and emotional health. And, based on experience and observation, your stress (anxiety, anger, fear) can be very hazardous to those around you. Your children can be irrevocably damaged by your inability to control the negative emotions of a divorce, your workplace will only tolerate so much, and your friends can be quickly exhausted.

So, what to do? You are already overloaded to make time for attorneys, accountants, therapists, and the inevitable repair people for those appliances that always decide to break down during this upheaval. But there must be space for some time for you. Find the time.  I recommend you spend that time at the closest Iyengar[2] yoga studio, and begin lessons at whatever level is recommended to you.

Focusing on your mind/body connection, through methodical, specific instruction can result in a calmer, more centered you.

Meditation in yoga is experienced, not by sitting staring into space, but by concentrating on the movement of specific parts of your body with awareness and attention. It is difficult to think of one’s problems when you are attempting to remember the multiple points it takes just to stand straight (let alone on your head – but you won’t be asked to do that in the first class). And you are the arbiter of what you will do in class – it is your body. The alignment of your body, in and of itself, provides calmness and clarity of thought. A backbend can provide joy (that won’t happen first class either).  The release of tension can be immediate and lasting.

Yoga is one of many methods you can try to manage stress during a divorce.

Yoga is one of many methods you can try to manage stress during a divorce.

In the Iyengar discipline of yoga, you are encouraged to ultimately establish your own “home” practice as well as attend classes. Yoga is good for any body, at any age, regardless of any physical limitations. Obviously, there are no guarantees and much depends on the time and effort expended. This is not an ad for yoga. I am not a paid representative of Iyengar yoga. There is no contract to sign. It is a pay as you go system. No commitment is expected except your own commitment to your own mental, emotional and physical well being. Try it!

[1] As an attorney I do feel obliged to make reference to the legal terminology of Dissolution of Marriage, but it is still commonly called Divorce by most.

[2] My yoga experience (of over 20 years) has been exclusively with this discipline of teaching. So I am not comfortable making a recommendation for any other method, but that is not to be interpreted as a negative for any other yoga discipline or course of study.

Should You Treat Your Marriage Like A Business?

The New Love Deal is a helpful book and it strongly supports collaborative Divorce.

There are many new models for what used to be the traditional marriage. People are living together without getting married in the legal sense. People are establishing domestic partnerships. There are now legal same-sex marriages.

When couples break up, many times they end up in new legal territory. What isn’t new is The New Love Deal is a helpful book and it strongly supports collaborative Divorce. that any breakup can quickly turn contentious. Individuals are hurt and angry. They become emotional and lash out. The result: a stressful, messy, hostile, and expensive situation that causes lasting damage, especially if children are in the picture.

Chicago based family law attorney Gemma Allen, retired Cook County (Illinois) judge Michele Lowrence, and financial columnist Terry Savage have published a book calling for couples to have open and frank communication before, during, and after their relationship and strongly encourage prenuptial agreements. It’s called “The New Love Deal: Everything You Must Know Before Marrying, Moving In or Moving On.”

The authors present helpful information for all couples no matter their current legal circumstances as if having a conversation among friends. Their advice supports the Collaborative Law approach taken by the Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego in encouraging open and respectful communication at every step.

If you are considering marriage, a civil union, domestic partnership, or a divorce, you may find this book helpful. It is available on Amazon. If you need help with your own family law issues involving marriage or divorce, custody, support, or settlements, contact the Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego.

 

Can a Divorce Team Save You Money?

By Win Heiskala, Certified Family Law Specialist
Attorney-Partner, Beatrice L. Snider Family Law Group

You made the very serious personal decision to terminate your marriage. This decision necessarily takes you to the procedure known as divorce (AKA Dissoluiton of Marriage in the Court).

You found yourself an attorney who discusses the different processes with you that can be win-heiskala-photoused to divide assets and debts, set a child sharing plan, and set support. You say, “We don’t want to go to court – we just want to settle.”

The Collaborative Family Law model provides the most complete and efficient process to meet your goal. The hallmarks of the Collaborative Law divorce process is an agreement from everyone at the outset to exclude all court proceedings, and engage the services of various professionals, known as “the team” to make assist in the resolution of all issues.

Why is a “team” needed? Why do we need a team just to get a divorce? If you don’t have any assets, income or children, then you don’t need a team and you can stop reading. If you do have any of these, I encourage you to continue.

ALL parties in a divorce in California no matter what process is used are mandated by law to exchange Preliminary Declarations of Disclosure. It means each side must provide in writing to the other a disclosure of all assets and debts. There is considerable debate regarding the extent and specificity required, but the goal of the law of disclosure is to adequately inform both sides before decisions are made regarding dividing assets and liabilities.

The main advantage to having one neutral financial person as part of a Collaborative team is that you deal with just one individual working to provide fair and accurate information to both parties in a divorce. Both parties provide financial information to the single financial expert. He or she verifies and organizes it, and reports the information in an understandable form to both parties and their counsel. Everyone is on the same page.

In comparison, in many “litigated” cases, a joint expert is not retained at the outset of a case, and after a great deal of increased animosity, distrust and anxiety, not to mention expense, the parties either reach the point of a joint expert or continue to battle each other with their own expensive experts – two instead of one.

Many times even the most sophisticated party in a divorce may be surprised to learn some information in the exchange. For example, husbands and wives can be wrong about how title is held on a property, whether something is community property or not, or the true value of a given asset. Clear, organized information such as this is essential to the parties in a divorce to reach reasonable and informed solutions.

The independent financial specialist also assists in determining the true income of both parties and the relative expenses for separate households going forward. Compensation packages for W-2 earners as well as the self employed have become increasingly complex with the proliferation of compensation such as Restricted Stock/Units, Performance Restricted Stock, Stock Options, claw back provisions, insider trading rules, irregular bonus payouts, profit distributions, 401K and profit sharing plans. Employment benefits can impact both asset division as well as ongoing income available for support. Self employed individuals often have unrealistic opinions of their worth or income.

The parties and their respective counsel need accurate, efficient documents and information in order to adequately educate and advise the parties as to the best solution and informed decisions for their particular case.

Even more important than the financial considerations in a divorce is the attention needed to preserve the best interest of the children. A child specialist can be the most valuable person on the Collaborative team.

First, the children need to be assured early and often that the separation of the parents is not the fault of the child. The child may be in need of therapy that neither parent is able to recognize or facilitate because of his or her own emotional upheaval. The child needs a neutral place to discuss his or her input and even vent, without fear of recrimination from a parent. Children of different ages have different needs and concerns.

All of this can be discussed with the parents and the child specialist in a safe and calm situation in order to reach a suitable, workable family child sharing plan. Every mental health expert agrees that continued animosity and conflict between the parents in divorce renders irreversible harm to the children from which they never recover. The Collaborative team, with the help of the child specialist, has the best chance of avoiding this tragedy.

If parents are unable to agree regarding the sharing of the children in a litigated divorce case in court, the family frequently undergoes a costly custody evaluation process and may have their own “expert” to review the work of the expert conducting the evaluation. Once again, you have the potential for three experts instead of one, as well as counselors and therapists, coming in at a much later stage of the proceedings after further polarization of the parties and damage to the children. The structure of the Collaborative team and process can “put everyone in the same room” from the beginning of the process.

Equally important to the team are the coaches for each of the adults. Divorce is one of the most emotional processes a person can go through in a lifetime. Everyone can use assistance from time to time for insight and balance while dealing with the inevitable feelings of loss, uncertainty, fear, anger and overall anxiety. Your attorney is not a psychologist. It is the duty of the attorney to maintain as much objectivity as possible in order to advise the client in the decision making process, and the individual coaches are a tremendous assistance in facilitating the parties to reach resolution.

With a professional Collaborative team of your choice in place from the outset of a divorce, you will be provided information, organization, support, advice and assistance for the entire family in the transition process for the best possible solutions. Otherwise, you may end up with a team or two anyway, but in a courtroom instead of a conference