Free Labor Day Weekend Workshop on Divorce Sept. 3

Get your questions about divorce answered at a free workshop on Saturday, April 1 in Carmel Valley. RSVP today.

Find answers to your difficult questions at this free workshop

(SAN DIEGO) – San Diegans who are struggling with the difficult choices of a divorce have found the place to get their answers: the Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego Divorce Options workshops.

The next Divorce Options in San Diego takes place on Saturday, September 3, from 9 a.m. to 12 noon at the Scripps Ranch Civic Association Community Center, 11885 Cypress Canyon Road (corner of Scripps Poway Parkway and Cypress Canyon, two miles east of Interstate 15).

Workshops take place the first Saturday of every month. Seminar leaders help people in a diverse range of situations and are able to take any questions. Divorce is difficult and stressful even under the best of circumstances. It can be especially hard if you have children or economic difficulties. Divorce affects people from all walks of life, and no two situations are alike.It is possible despite challenges to preserve the emotional and financial resources of the family while respecting everyone’s needs during a divorce.

For additional information or to RSVP, call Divorce Options at (858) 472-4022 or email at sandiegodivorceoptions@gmail.com

Led by volunteer attorneys, financial specialists, and mental health professionals who are members of the Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego, the workshop will cover the full range of choices couples have as they contemplate divorce, focusing on the non-adversarial, out-of-court options.

Get your questions about divorce answered at a free Scripps Ranch workshop on Saturday, September 3. RSVP today.

Get your questions about divorce answered at a free Scripps Ranch workshop on Saturday, September 3. RSVP today.

The Divorce Options program helps San Diegans become more knowledgeable about the resources they can draw on to plan an effective transition that respects the needs and interests of all family members. Taking time to become more knowledgeable can go a long way to ease the anxiety about your divorce, and allows you to take control of your future.

Divorce Options provides unbiased information about self-representation, mediation, collaborative divorce, and litigated divorce. The workshop deals with the legal, financial, family and personal issues of divorce in an informational and compassionate small group setting. There is NO solicitation of business.

The Divorce Options program welcomes anyone thinking about divorce or other relationship transitions including co-habitating couples with children or LGBT couples looking for a process aware and respectful of their unique needs. Divorce Options offers useful information adaptable to a wide variety of family circumstances.

Topics include:

  • Litigation, mediation and collaboration – the risks and the benefits of each process
  • Legal, financial, psychological and social issues of divorce
  • How to talk about divorce with your children
  • Guidance from divorce experts

By learning about divorce and the different process options available you can maximize your ability to make good decisions during the difficult and challenging time. Divorce Options is a workshop designed to help couples take the next step, no matter where they are in the process. It identifies strategies to help you stay out of court, and helps you identify the social, emotional, legal, and financial issues that are most pressing for you.

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.

Is The Alternative to Killing Each Other The Solution to a Family’s Problems?

Taking your divorce disputes in front of a judge is not always the best method of reaching a satisfactory solution. Consider the Collaborative Divorce approach instead.

by Sandra Joan Morris, Certified Family Law Specialist; Member, American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers
Seltzer Caplan McMahon Vitek

Courts evolved long ago to provide an alternative to self-help and violent solutions to San Diego Divorce Attorney Sandra Joan Morris can help with your Collaborative Divorce 858-472-4022disagreements. Both sides submitted their positions, and a Solomon decided how to resolve the dispute. Determining a property boundary, or allocating fault and awarding funds might not go too badly, but dividing up a baby or deciding deeply personal issues, can. Resorting to litigation and court is a default position, the one last thing to try when all else fails, short of the self-help we call taking the law into your own hands. The question is, is court the best way to solve problems? It took me 44 years as a trial lawyer, but I have come to see that the alternative to settlement is litigation, not the other way around. And of the settlement methods I have used in the last two years, Collaborative Process has proven to be the most successful.

We have come to look at court suits and litigation as the inevitable recourse for a solution, forgetting that it requires turning over to a stranger who does not know you, your life, your family, or your history, the control of what will happen next.   That stranger may have little or no knowledge, experience or interest in your area of the law, or even in judging.   That stranger may have biases, implicit or explicit, that no one knows about, that will affect their own perception of what they see and hear.

There is the fantasy and misconception that somehow a judge will be able to determine the true facts and make the right decision based on the correct interpretation of the law. The reality is that there are no true facts as to events, there is only the perception of the facts. Over 2,000 innocent prisoners so far have been released from incarceration based on subsequently discovered scientific evidence, because witnesses misremembered, misidentified, didn’t see things correctly, and juries and judges erred. The Rashomon effect is described as the contradictory interpretations of the same event by different witnesses to it. It does not require that the witnesses have an evil intent or desire to lie. The case books are filled with cases that were judged incorrectly or in which the law changed unexpectedly.

Trial lawyers know that everything is perception, and they know that their job is to create in the judge a perception of a narrative that helps their client in court. It may not be true, but it will look and sound true.

This requires the parties in a litigated matter to state their case to the court in the way that is most helpful to themselves, and the least helpful to the other side. The judge then tries to figure out which person or witnesses sound the most like they are telling the truth. This is all done in a public forum for all the world to see and hear. In family court the process usually takes two to seven years, and a lot of money in fees, to conclude. Litigants on the opposite sides of a case do not like each other better after this process. It is asking a lot to expect that after it is over, the two parties will somehow be able to put the case behind them and go forward to co-parent children, or show up at family events at the same time, in a civil and respectful way.

There are better ways to solve problems than merely an alternative to violence. There are ways to reach creative solutions that work for the family going forward in a humane and respectful way. There are more economical ways to conserve resources for your families, rather than providing them for your lawyers’ families. I used to tell my litigation clients, you can send your children to college and settle this case, or you can send my children to college and litigate it. The better way to solve the problems is through a negotiated settlement. This can be facilitated by sitting down and talking, or having the assistance of a neutral mediator, or through the team approach of the Collaborative Process.

The least well known to most people, but the most effective, is the Collaborative Process. The reason why it is so effective is that all of the persons on the teams are trained the same way, and are dedicated to using their different skill sets to helping the parties reach their own informed settlement based on their respective needs and interests. The parties are in control of the outcome, and are assisted by the Collaborative teams to arrive at solutions.   It is a confidential, respectful process that empowers both parties. It rarely takes more than a year to complete, and the cost for the assistance of all of the team participants is far less than the fees and costs of the litigated case. The parties leave this process feeling intact, and with skills to assist them if they need to interact in the future to work through new issues that might arise.

Seven Steps to Divorce Your Finances from Your Ex

Don't forget to tie up financial matters after you divorce. Our checklist will help.
Don't forget to tie up financial matters after you divorce. Our checklist will help.

Don’t forget to tie up financial matters after you divorce. Our checklist will help.

by Ginita Wall, Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA), Certified Financial Planner (CFP®)

Even in the best of circumstances, a divorce is a long, arduous, and emotional task. As soon as you finalize the divorce, you might just want to curl up in bed for a few weeks and watch every single thing on Netflix. Not so fast! Now that you and your ex have uncoupled your married lives, it’s time to uncouple your financial ones at well. As you begin to walk your own path, you must ensure that you are now solely in control of your finances, including your bills, insurance policies, and estate planning documents. Pause that Netflix show, you have some financial divorcing to do!

Ginita Wall Divorce Financial advice San Diego 858-472-4022

Ginita Wall

  1. Separate Your Bank Accounts and Open Your Own

If you and your spouse held joint bank accounts, it is time to close those suckers out and open your own accounts. This will allow you to control your own money and will help you both avoid inequities in spending within the shared account.

  1. Re-Route Direct Deposits and Direct Bill Pay

Now that you have your very own checking and/or savings accounts (I recommend both), you need to make sure that your automated deposits and bill pay go to the right place. You are going to be mighty unhappy if your next paycheck tries to go into the joint account you just closed, and your electric company won’t appreciate trying to pull your monthly payment from a non-existent account. Make a list of all the automatic payments that go into and out of your joint accounts and then make sure to re-route the ones you are responsible for.

  1. Deactivate Joint Credit Cards

It might be tempting to put some last-minute charges on a shared credit card, but it is best to resist. Instead, open new credit cards in your own name first and then work with your spouse to close down all your shared cards. You two will need to work together if your shared cards have a balance. Most credit card companies allow you to transfer part or all of a card’s balance to a new account, and many actually offer special promotions with low or zero introductory interest rates on transferred balances. As with your online accounts, make sure you re-route any automatic payments from your old credit cards to your new ones.

  1. Remove Your Ex from Your Insurance Policies

Unless your divorce agreement provides otherwise, it’s time to boot your ex off of your health insurance policy, car insurance policy, and renter’s insurance. Make sure to let him or her know what you are doing so he isn’t surprised to learn he doesn’t have insurance after a car accident. If you are on your ex-spouse’s insurance policies, don’t bet on him paying your premiums unless that was part of your settlement. Time to start shopping for your own insurance policies. (Learn about how to Maintain Your Health Insurance After Divorce).

  1. Make Sure Your Ex Isn’t Your Beneficiary

During the good days of your marriage, you probably made your ex-spouse the beneficiary of your life insurance policy, your retirement accounts, the trust that holds your inheritance, and perhaps your entire personal estate. Unless you two somehow managed to stay best friends, chances are you don’t want him to benefit financially from your demise. Schedule some time in the near future to remove him as your beneficiary from these documents. (Learn more about Estate Planning for Women).

  1. Remove Your Ex From the Title of Your Assets

Is your spouse listed on your car title or the deed to your house or other property? If you received these items as part of the divorce settlement, you’ll want to make sure that yours is the only name on those important documents. Transfer your vehicle title to your name and record an Interspousal Transfer Deed to remove your spouse from the house deed once all other ownership arrangements have been made (for example, you’ve paid him to buy him out his share of the home).

  1. Create a New Will

One of the most important things you need to do now is make sure that your financial legacy goes to the right people in your life. If your ex-spouse is the prime beneficiary of your will or is listed as your agent in your durable power of attorney, you’ll likely want to update both of these documents. This might mean giving your estate planning attorney a call or filling out new online templates.

Yes, tying up all of these loose ends is a lot of work, but it is also worth the hassle. Financially divorcing your spouse after your official divorce will put you on more solid financial ground and give you a clear path ahead as you begin to rebuild.

Top Four Reasons Why You Should Hire a Divorce Financial Specialist

by Shawn Weber, CLS-F
Attorney, Weber Dispute Resolution

There are so many financial implications to divorce, it is best to work with a financial professional on your side.

There are so many financial implications to divorce, it is best to work with a financial professional on your side.

In my years as a Collaborative Divorce practitioner, folks have asked me why they should spend the money to hire a Financial Specialist as part of their divorce team. A financial specialist is an excellent resource, who can bring a neutral financial perspective to a legal process. Here are my top four reasons why it makes TONS of sense to hire a financial specialist as part of your divorce team:

  1. It’s Usually Not a Good Idea to Ask a Lawyer for Financial Advice. Most went to law school instead of getting an MBA for a very good reason. I, for one, went to law school so I could avoid math. (Ironically, I do math all the time anyway). I know there are exceptions, but we attorneys are generally not trained to be financial advisors. Yet many of our clients ask us to play that role.
  2. You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know. There are so many financial implications to the decisions you are about to make regarding your property, cash flow and debt. Why not get with a professional who knows the questions you may not know to ask. As an attorney, I am grateful when a financial specialist points out a tax pitfall that I may not have known about.
  3. Your Spouse May Trust the Neutral Financial Specialist More Than You. Let’s face it. You’re getting a divorce and often trust can be an issue when a divorce is happening. Don’t worry! You don’t need to have trust. Let the Financial Specialist digest all of the financial data into a digestible format. This gives your spouse less reason to be distrustful because a neutral third party helped assemble the information. Increasing the trust factor saves money by preventing the need for costly forensics.
  4. You Have to Do a Financial Disclosure Anyway. Why Not Let the Financial Neutral Do This? In every California divorce, a full and complete financial disclosure is required. You can pay your attorney at his exorbitant rate to put the disclosures together, or you can have a financial professional take care of this part. You’ll spend less money and get better work.

The temptation is to assume that hiring more professionals costs more. But, often the opposite is true. Just like any mechanic will tell you, use the correct tool for the correct job. The Financial Specialist is the best tool to use when considering the financial aspects of your divorce.

ESPN Radio 1700 AM Features “Divorce Options” Discussion

Real Estate Radio on ESPN AM 1700 San Diego

Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego member Shawn Weber, Certified Family Real Estate Radio on ESPN AM 1700 San DiegoLaw Specialist attorney with Brave Weber Mack, recently appeared as a guest on “The Real Estate Radio Hour” on ESPN Radio 1700 AM to talk about the new “Divorce Options” program. Weber reviewed the different choices facing families when considering divorce, and explained how the new workshop program helps individuals understand the options and the differences among them.

Hear the entire interview with Shawn at this link.

What You Can Do to Reduce Attorney Fees and Costs and Finish Your Divorce Sooner

by Susan Rapp, CLS-F, Family Law Attorney

There are a number of ways to resolve parenting, property, debt, and support issues in a divorce.  These methods include Collaborative Divorce, hiring an attorney and attempting to settle issues outside of court, going to court and litigating unresolved issues, and working with an impartial mediator, with or without attorney involvement.

I have been a family law attorney for over 25 years.   No matter which approach you take,  there are several thingSusan Rapp, CLS-F, Family Law Attorneys you can do to reduce attorney fees and costs, minimize feelings of a loss of control over your life and the divorce process, and reduce the amount of time it takes to complete the divorce.

Here are some of the things I have found will help you achieve these goals:

(1) Determine at the beginning of your case, what income, asset, and debt documentation will be needed. If you are working with an attorney or mediator, ask for a list. Whenever possible, pull together and organize the documents yourself.  Otherwise, you are going to pay your attorney’s office to do it. You will likely be asked for documentation of earned and unearned income for you and your spouse, your last two years of income tax returns, and documentation of assets owned and debts owed by you and/or your spouse, as of the date you separated.  Nearly all banks, financial institutions, and credit card companies make several months or years of statements available on line. When real property is involved, locate and copy your most recent deed, as well as a recent mortgage statement. If you or your spouse have retirement interests or investment accounts, obtain recent account statements.  Organize your information and documentation chronologically, and by account or debt.  Keep an identical copy of whatever you give your attorney, spouse, or mediator so you can readily access the information if there are follow-up questions.

(2) E-mail communications to your attorney and her or his staff are usually more cost efficient than phone calls.  Some divorces take several months or longer to complete.  Keep your e-mails to and from your attorney.  If you aren’t sure that you already asked a particular question or got an answer, review your e-mails before contacting your attorney’s office. You might find the answer in an earlier communication you’ve forgotten due to the passage of time.

(3) Unless you believe the matter is truly time-sensitive or an emergency, review, finalize, and transmit written communications to your attorney a day or more after you draft the communication.  In the interim one or more issues may resolve without attorney involvement, or you may find the answer to questions some other way. If you end up not contacting your attorney, you don’t get billed. When you review your drafts a day or so later, you may find a better or clearer way to communicate the information or ask the question. (This is also a good suggestion for attorneys).

(4) Have a written list of everything you want to ask or go over when you speak to your attorney or staff. Prepare a follow-up e-mail, or a memo to yourself confirming the important points of what you discussed.

(5) Buy and learn how to use an all-in-one printer, scanner, and fax machine. Scanned documents that are either e-mailed or “burned” onto a CD disk and sent or delivered to the attorney’s office are generally preferred. Preparing and transmitting documents this way will save you time and money.

(6) Request a periodic update from your attorney.  Determine what still needs to be done, and approximately how long will it take. Ask what you can do to keep things moving.

(7) Be open to settlement. Arrange a phone or office conference with your attorney a week or more before any settlement conference with your spouse and his or her attorney.  Verbalize your settlement preferences, and ask your attorney to identify the pros and cons of various settlement options.  Meeting with your attorney a week or so in advance of the settlement conference will give you time to think about settlement options and clarify your position on disputed issues.

(8) Last but not least, have a good outside support system.  If that’s friends or family, be sure they are objective.  Go to a therapist, even if you don’t think you need to go.  If there’s ever a time a therapist is needed, it’s when you’re getting divorced.

If you follow these suggestions, I predict you will achieve the goals identified.