San Diego Osteopathic Physicians Learn About Collaborative Divorce

Cinda Jones (left) and Myra Fleischer address the San Diego Osteopathic Medical Association about Collaborative Divorce as an alternative to traditional litigated divorce.
Cinda Jones (left) and Myra Fleischer address the San Diego Osteopathic Medical Association about Collaborative Divorce as an alternative to traditional litigated divorce.

Cinda Jones (left) and Myra Fleischer address the San Diego Osteopathic Medical Association about Collaborative Divorce as an alternative to traditional litigated divorce.

Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego incoming 2016 president, attorney Myra Chack Fleischer, CFL-S, and board member Cinda Jones, CFP, CDFA, joined members of the San Diego Osteopathic Medical Association spoke at the group’s November meeting for a presentation on Collaborative Practice as an alternative to traditional litigated divorce.

The presentation provided an overview of the process, introduced the members of the divorce team and how they work together with the couple, and the advantages of Collaborative Divorce as a more holistic approach, including privacy protection and the emotional well-being of the family.

The Collaborative Family Law Group thanks all of the members who attended for their time, attention, and questions about the Collaborative Divorce process.

If you would like a presentation to your business, service, or social organization about Collaborative Divorce, please contact Gayle Falkenthal at gayle@falconvalleygroup.com or call 619-997-2495 to schedule. We look forward to speaking with you.

Understanding the Chemistry Of A Divorce

Relationship chemistry is sometimes described as a "spark." There is a chemistry present in a divorce as well.
Relationship chemistry is sometimes described as a "spark." There is a chemistry present in a divorce as well.

Relationship chemistry is sometimes described as a “spark.” There is a chemistry present in a divorce as well.

People often express the need to find “chemistry” in their relationships, the connection, bond, or feeling of commonality between two people. Without positive chemistry, any potential for a relationship is stopped cold.

But even an intense attraction which leads to a marriage can often fade or become lost over time, leading to the decision to divorce. What role does chemistry play at the opposite end of a relationship’s life span?

Michele Sacks LowensteinCertified Family Law Specialist Michele Sacks Lowenstein, member of theCollaborative Family Law Group of San Diego, discussed the role of chemistry in a divorce in a recent interview for the Huffington Post. Lowenstein says attorneys need to understand the role of chemistry when working with their clients.

Lowenstein urges attorneys to problem solve with their clients before going to court. In a Collaborative Divorce, family law attorneys work with divorce coaches and financial specialists to help couples reach a solution for their family in a respectful, fair way withe a problem solving approach rather than an adversarial approach.

Contact the Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego by calling (858) 472-4022 to help you problem solve and achieve a healthy, respectful divorce.

 

 

Empower Yourself During Your Divorce

Debra N. Caliguri, family law and divorce attorney, Carlsbad

by Debra Caliguri, Law and Mediation Offices of Debra N. Caliguri

How many times have we all heard and even repeated the phrase “Ignorance is

Debra N. Caliguri, family law and divorce attorney, Carlsbad

Debra N. Caliguri

bliss”?  Itmay be popular, but ignorance is bliss is no credo to live by. One online dictionary defines “Ignorance is bliss” as “a term used to falsely justify apathy on the given subject in the form of a catchy cliche.”

In our knowledge-based society it is unlikely that choosing to be ignorant will bring you success in any of your life’s endeavors. This is particularly so when you are going through a major life transition like divorce.

Gone are the days when you and your spouse can afford to hire attorneys to take your case and leave the decision-making and thinking to the attorneys and judge to figure it out. Instead, you need to empower yourselves by gathering reliable information and becoming a savvy consumer of divorce-related services.

One of my clients recently concluded her divorce process in which I served as her Collaborative attorney. She and her husband had been married over 20 years, had children preparing for college, and with ten years or less to work before reaching retirement age, they were concerned with preserving their retirement funds.

Like many divorcing couples, both spouses felt wounded and found it difficult to trust the other. Their children were hurting as well, having witnessed the parental conflict over the years. The parties had disagreements over financial, legal, and even parenting issues.

The one thing they agreed upon: they wanted to stop the hurt, not only for their own sake, but for the sake of their children. This goal led them to seek alternatives to a knock-down, drag out fight in court.

The couple considered mediation, but decided they needed more information, advice, and support than the neutral mediator could provide. They found their way to Collaborative divorce after meeting with several attorneys and financial professionals. Through the Collaborative process, they were able to successfully reach a full agreement in under six months.

My client is extremely grateful she found the Collaborative divorce process and shared with me what she had learned to help going through a painful divorce.

My client found that for her, Collaborative divorce was superior to going to court, as the Collaborative process fosters an environment of creative problem-solving. This is strikingly different than what happens in court where a judge makes decisions in an atmosphere of mud-slinging advocacy.

The team approach was key to providing the parties with the right information, financial analysis, legal advice and emotional support to reach a mutually agreeable conclusion. My client said the time spent on the Collaborative process was productive time in which the parties were directed and engaged with the team to identify issues, define their interests, and the issues at hand.  The Collaborative team members facilitated the couple’s discussions, which led to their finding a path to agreement on all their issues.

The presence of legal counsel, the financial expert and coaches resulted in the parties feeling safe enough to talk to each other directly about their goals, concerns, and needs for their individual futures. They found common ground in wanting what is best for the children.

Collaborative divorce may not suit those people who prefer blissful ignorance. But it is the wise choice for those who choose knowledge, even in a difficult and painful life transition.

 

Is Mediation or Litigation the Right Choice for My Divorce?

Julia Garwood, Family Law attorney and Certified Family Law Specialist, San Diego, Collaboartive Family Law Group of San Diego

by Julia Garwood, Attorney at Lawjulia-garwood-photo
Family Law, Mediation and Collaborative Divorce
Garwood Family Law and Mediation

When heading toward the end of a marriage, many people ask what the difference is between divorce mediation and litigation. And beyond that, which one is right for them. There are numerous differences between divorce mediation and litigation, however the primary three include cost, decision-making and privacy.

Cost

Mediation is often much less expensive. Litigation can cost as much as six times the amount as mediation.

Decision-Making

A judge makes all the decisions in the case of litigation. This includes decisions about your children, division of property, alimony and even pets. However, through mediation, you and your spouse make the decisions together.

Level of Privacy

Mediation occurs in a private conference room and details never have to be disclosed publicly. Because of the public nature of the courtroom, when your divorce is litigated, all information is public record. That means all the details, including your finances and “dirty laundry,” are available to the public.

In order to help you decide whether mediation or litigation is right for you and your personal situation, below is a list of frequent situations when mediation and litigation are used.

Mediation is often used when:

  • You and your spouse mutually have decided to get a divorce.
  • You and your spouse can have a rational conversation in the same room.
  • You both realize that divorce is happening and you’re able to rationally approach the outcome.
  • You’re both willing to try to agree on issues like alimony, child custody, division of assets and child support.
  • Cost is a factor and you and your spouse want to incur as few costs as possible.
  • You both want to be active decision makers regarding the details of your divorce and don’t want to leave the final decisions for a judge to make.

Litigation is often used when:

  • One or both of you aren’t open to mediation.
  • One or both of you have difficulty conducting reasonable conversations.
  • There is a history of domestic violence or child abuse during the marriage.
  • Either you or your spouse has a drug or alcohol problem, impeding rational thinking and decision-making.
  • One or both of you is stalling or gathering information on the other spouse and don’t have any intention to settle. Sometimes spouses agree to mediation to stall the process or to gather information for later use against the other spouse during litigation.

While we’ve included some basic guidelines above, every situation is different. Consulting with a divorce attorney who is trained in Collaborative Family Law and/or a Certified Family Law Specialist including members of professional associations such as the Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego, is the best avenue.

Don’t Trash Talk Your Ex: Staying Civil After Divorce

Family conflict and stress

Among the many significant benefits of collaborative divorce is providing a framework for respectful, civil discussion between spouses about difficult issues. By remaining civil, emotional stress is lessened on everyone in the family, especially the children.

Once the divorce is final, parents need to continue those respectful communication practices as they work together to raise their children. The positive aspects of collaborative divorce can be unraveled quickly when children witness their mother and father speaking harshly about one another, even if the conversation isn’t directed at the children. Conflict and the family stress it creates benefits no one in the long run, no matter how justified you may feel at the time.

Marina Sbrochi  is a dating coach who works with people returning to the dating scene after a divorce. She offers her advice about refraining from “trash talking” your former spouse. Sbrochi’s endorsement that reinforces our collaborative divorce philosophy of respectful communication continuing well after all of the legal details are final. Read Sbrochi’s sensible advice here.

 

Your Brain on Collaborative Divorce

Your brain and Collaboraive Divorce

By Garrison “Bud” Klueck

Americans of a certain age likely recall a memorable TV commercial.  The TV image is that of someone breaking an egg.  The voice-over announcer says “This is your brain.”  It then cuts to a very hot frying pan sizzling.  The egg is dropped into the pan, where it rapidly fried.  The voiceover says “This is your brain on drugs. Get it?”  In other words, taking drugs fries your brain.

Your brain and Collaboraive DivorceThe services offered by the professionals in a Collaborative divorce team have the opposite effect on clients going through the divorce process.  Collaborative divorce “unfries your brain.”  The client’s “unfried brain” then has the capacity to make the important decisions that a divorcing person needs to make.

Brain science tells us that there are parts that are basically the source of all the emotions that we experience.  These brain parts are known by the term “amygdala.”

While emotions are important to living a full and satisfying life, almost everybody has experienced how our emotions can sometimes become overwhelming.  Modern brain scans tell us why. Those brain scans show that, when the emotional parts of the brain are activated, the higher-reasoning parts show little or no activity.

The divorce process generates intense emotions.  Meanwhile, those divorcing spouses have to make very important decisions by weighing the costs against the benefits of various options.  In other words, the usual way people get divorced demands that they make important life-affecting decisions at a time in their lives when their emotions make them least likely to make sound decisions.

As a Collaborative attorney, I have witnessed that the very valuable services rendered by our well-trained divorce coaches have the effect of “turning down the heat” of the emotions of our clients.  When you lessen the activation of the emotional centers of our brains, it lets the decision-making centers become activated; then the divorcing persons are freed to make the very important decisions that will affect their lives and their children’s lives for years to come.

Over my more than a quarter-century of family law practice, I have witnessed people in the traditional court-based divorce process make some very bad decisions which affected their future and their childrens’ future.  To protect against this almost inevitable problem, there must be some process to prevent those very powerful emotions of the moment affect long-term planning.  The involvement of mental health professionals to help divorcing people process their emotions not only lets those people feel somewhat better during the process, it empowers them to make the decisions they will need to make.

Your brain “on collaborative divorce” will not be a fried brain, like on drugs, but a healthy brain ready to make good choices for a healthy future for you and your family.

Author Garrison “Bud” Klueck has received training as both as an attorney and as a mental health professional.  As an attorney, Bud has been practicing law for over 27 years and is a certified legal specialist in family law.  He was among the first group of San Diego professionals to train in the collaborative process in 2001 and has, over the years, participated in many collaborative cases. As a mental health professional, Bud has a Master’s degree in counseling psychology (MACP) and has internship status with the California Board of Behavioral Science (BBS).

 

Five Tips For Successfully Negotiating Your Divorce

by Michele Sacks Lowenstein, Attorney, California State Bar Certified Family Law Specialist, Lowenstein Brown, A.P.L.C.

Trying to negotiate a divorce in a conference room with either a mediator or two attorneys is hard work. However, the result can be worthwhile if you bear in mind that you are a parent forever and the story of your divorce will, ultimately, be your child’s story as well.

An important component of successful negotiation is the use of language during these negotiations. Words express how we think about and see life. The words we use are symbolic of our perspective on life. Some people may wonder why the use of language factors so heavily into these negotiations. In my experience most people going through a divorce don’t want to end up in court. They do, however, want to feel that they have been heard by the other person and efforts were made on both sides to address each party’s issues and concerns.

Consider that when people have filed for divorce they are already at a point where they are unable to communicate effectively and are probably unable to communicate effectively about anything. Participating in divorce negotiations requires people to do something they probably haven’t done in a long time; they must listen to each other in a new way where they no longer jump to conclusions about what the other person is saying.

It’s not easy. In fact, it is hard. However, it can be done. And, it can be done successfully so long as each party is aware that they can each frequently press the other’s “hot button” without even meaning to do so.

So, here are five tips for the successful discussion and negotiation of a divorce.

1.         Stay Away From Polarizing Language.

Using the terms “custody” and “visitation,” while accurate, tends to draw battle lines. Expressing the child sharing plan in terms of “I want to have custody and I want you to have visitation” will certainly cause the other parent to begin to focus on the terms “custody and visitation.” The focus, in fact, should be on a parenting plan that works for the child and not on the terms. Parents who focus on working out the times the child will be spending with each of them rather than arguing over the terms “custody and visitation” will be more successful in their negotiations. And, being more successful in the negotiating process means that these parents will ultimately be more successful in their co-parenting post divorce. Ultimately, the parents are more likely to stay out of court, which causes less stress to the children and to them. So, everyone comes out ahead.

2.         Frame the Issues in a Non-Combative Manner. 

I have been in a number of negotiations where we have reached an impasse on an issue and have decided to move onto another issue. Unfortunately, someone may say “We can fight about that later,” when the non-combative way of phrasing this is “We’ll put this on our list to discuss later.” It may seem small, but framing issues in terms of having to be fought out later rather than discussing them makes a huge difference in the mindset of the parties who are experiencing the divorce. People have already had their share of “fights” and don’t need to be gearing up for another one.

3.         Engage in Interest Based Negotiations Instead of Position Based Negotiations.

Positional based negotiations are adversarial as the “other side” or “opposing party” is seen as an opponent. (Again, labels play a large part here). Reluctantly, a concession will be given. Reluctance leads to resentment and this, of course, results in either the negotiations breaking down or the parties litigating issues in the future. Also telling someone that you are not going to change your position is not conducive to reaching resolution as it only causes each party to dig in their heels. Interest based negotiations seek to find an outcome that is mutually acceptable to both parties. Of course, neither party can generally meet all of their goals and objectives but it is important that each party work  with his or her professional team to set forth realistic goals and objectives and see if a solution can be fashioned which will benefit both parties.

4.         Don’t Refer to Your Soon to Ex in the Third Person.

Sometimes a person will refer to his or her spouse as “he” or “she” rather than using the other person’s name. While it is understandable that doing this is part of venting anger and frustration, referring to someone in the third person as if they aren’t even the room only serves to create additional conflict because that person will feel they are being diminished. People who feel their feelings are being diminished are not likely to be able to act in a constructive fashion to resolve issues.

This  applies especially to lawyers who tend do this or, even worse, refer to the parties possessively as in “your client” or “my client.” This is very de-personalizing.

5.         Don’t Curse, Please.

It should be evident that using four letter words during a business meeting is unprofessional and disrespectful. However, it is amazing how many people actually do swear during negotiations. Using curse words will not bring resolution to any issues but will only serve to cause people to focus on the fact that “them is fightin’ words.” Learning how to express oneself not only allows for improved communication but also provides for a better understanding of one’s own feelings.

As Margaret Thatcher once said: “Watch your thoughts for they become words. Watch your words for they become actions. Watch your actions for they become habits. Watch your habits for they become your character. And watch your character for it becomes your destiny. What we think, we become.” Good advice for everyone.

 

How Divorce Affects Your Health

by Craig B. Grether, Ph.D.  
Clinical Psychologist, Collaborative Coach and Past-President of the Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego

The Stress Effect

Divorce ends what was supposed to be our most intimate life-long relationship. It is one of the top ten stressors on all life event stress scales, ranking close to the loss of a loved one and serving a jail term.

The stress of marital separation and divorce can be acute, (short-term) or chronic, (long-term: greater than six months). The health problems from separation and divorce are both psychological and physical. These effects are more severe for people who separate and divorce in their 30s and 40s and less severe in older adults.

Short-term effects may include:

(1) Difficulty sleeping
(2) Loss of appetite
(3) Inability to concentrate
(4) Digestive problems
(5) Decreased immune system functioning
(6) Increased secretion of cortisol (a stress hormone)
(7) Elevated systolic and diastolic blood pressure (hypertension in men)
(8) Smoking relapse among prior smokers
(9) Increased alcohol use/abuse
(10) First time cannabis use

Most adults are resilient and cope successfully with the stress of divorce and the short-term effects.

However, almost 20% of divorcing adults experience long-term effects without recovery four years post-divorce. In addition to the short-term effects, the long-term effects may include clinical depression and an increase in the number of diagnosed medical illnesses.

The incidence of psychological and medical illnesses are more prevalent for divorced people of all ages compared to those who are continuously married. Divorced men and women have the same overall number of health problems but men’s problems are more medically severe compared to women, while women have more psychological health problems.

A Healthy Divorce

Divorce does not have to take such a toll on the psychological and physical health of the divorcing adult. In the Collaborative Divorce process, the negative health effects of divorce can be reduced by working with Collaborative Divorce coaches.  These are specially trained licensed mental health professionals who provide a variety of coping strategies, some derived from behavioral medicine, to address the health effects of divorce.

These strategies include:

(1) Direct physiological regulation through mindful meditation and relaxation techniques
(2) Cognitive (mental) refocusing and reinterpretation of life stressors
(3) Reaffirming personal values and redirection of life energies
(4) Healthful life restructuring including exercise and proper nutrition
(5) Social support outreach to family, friends and community

For divorcing adults with children, a Child Specialist, another licensed mental health professional, is available to support the children and be their voice throughout the divorce process.

Collaborative attorneys can help reduce the stress on divorcing adults by ensuring that clients will not have to endure the cost and stress of legal proceedings and litigation. Financial specialists complete the Collaborative Team by empowering clients intellectually through an understanding of their current and future financial status.

Contact the Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego at (858) 472-4022 with your questions about the Collaborative Divorce Process.

What to Expect When You Have Filed for Divorce

San Diego Family Law Attorney Nancy Taylor

by Nancy A. TaylorSan Diego Family Law Attorney Nancy Taylor, Esq. Hargreaves & Taylor, LLP
California State Bar Certified Family Law Specialist
Member of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers

As soon as your friends and family find out you have filed for divorce, the first thing they will want to do is tell you their horror stories and/or how you and your attorney should be handling your case.  They mean well, but the problem with their divorce stories is this: every case is different. You can’t expect to have the same outcome they experienced.

Based on years of working with divorcing couples with no two of them alike, there are a few things divorces have in common.

  1. Trust that what your attorney is telling you is more than likely closer to the reality you will experience.
  2. As much as you might want to discuss your case in detail with those who love you, these conversations may result in your second guessing yourself and the advice of your counsel.
  3. Going through a divorce is not something you want to handle on your own. It can become one of the most difficult journeys of your life. Instead of seeking advice from friends or using your attorney as a therapist, seek the advice of a mental health professional who is trained to assist you in this situation. It will cost you a lot less in the long run.
  4. There are NO stupid questions!  Experiencing anxiety is not uncommon and can easily be caused by the unknown.  Always ask questions of your attorney so that you know what to expect. The more you know, the less anxious you will become.
  5. If you have children it can be best for them to learn about your divorce together as a family. Go to a family therapist with your spouse to discuss the best way to address the divorce process with your children.
  6. Recognize the process will not be resolved overnight.  It takes a minimum of six months at the earliest to become divorced. The six month time clock starts ticking once your spouse has been served with the Summons and Petition for Dissolution.
  7. Getting divorced takes work and just doesn’t magically happen. In order to be divorced at the end of the six month period, you and your spouse must have either entered into a full written agreement or have gone to trial, with your Judgment of  Dissolution having been filed.
  8. The best way to work with your attorney is to be as organized as possible.  The more thorough you can be in providing them with the information they request, the more time and cost effective for you. Handing over a pile of papers, expecting your attorney to go through and organize it can be costly and a waste of your hard-earned money.

One well-tested way to avoid many of these conflicts and pitfalls is to proceed with a Collaborative Divorce.  In the Collaborative Divorce process, each spouse will have an attorney guide him or her through the legal process; a coach/child specialist to help guide them emotionally; and a neutral financial specialist to gather, organize and prepare a report outlining the marital estate.  It is an enlightened process that will allow for every one’s Happily Ever After, even if that means not living together under the same roof.

Collaborative Divorce Can Help You Capitalize on the Holiday Season Spirit

San Diego family law attorney Colleen Warren

by Colleen A. Warren, Esq.
Certified Legal Specialist – Family Law, LEWIS, WARREN & SETZER, LLP

San Diego family law attorney Colleen WarrenWhat did you do during the holiday season? Most of us enjoyed spending time with family and friends. Many people put their differences aside during the holidays and attempted to live together harmoniously for the sake of the children or their family, or to ensure no one else knows they are unhappy in their marriage.

Many people wonder, “Now that I have made it through the holidays, is it the right time to tell my spouse I want a divorce?” Those same people do not want to disrupt their family life by separating or divorcing.  However, now may be the best time to have this most difficult conversation and capitalize on the feel good spirit enjoyed during the holidays.

If you have children, Summer Break is still six months away, and the next holiday season is a little less than a year away.  If you are worried about how a divorce or separation will impact you financially, you are likely to know, or at least have a better sense of, what you and your spouse earned last year, or how your investments fared over the last 12 months.  Now is the time to resolve your differences, rather than waiting until quick decisions must be made.

Rather than start a divorce or separation with fighting, posturing, or all-out war, Collaborative Divorce can help you and your spouse capitalize on the holiday spirit, resolving issues in a manner where each party feels supported.  You and your spouse will work with a team of expert attorneys, coaches, and financial advisors, to reach agreements that are beneficial to both parties and their family, all without going to court.  Imagine resolving all the issues in your separation without seeing a judge, without exposing the most intimate details of your life in a public court? This type of resolution is promoted and highly successful through the use of Collaborative Divorce.

The professionals in the San Diego Collaborative Family Law Group are here to assist you to resolve the issues between you and your spouse without traditional litigation. See our “Contact Us” page to find someone to answer the questions you may have about whether Collaborative Divorce is right for you.