Divorce: A Professional’s Personal Story

Divorce doesn’t have to difficult. Alternative Dispute Resolution methods such as Collaborative Divorce can make a painful process easier for anyone.

by Mark C. Hill, Certified Financial Planner, Certified Divorce Financial Analyst
Managing Director, Pacific Divorce Management

It is not unusual for professionals who work in the divorce field to have been motivated in their choice of career by personal experience of divorce. Sometimes it is the memory of how their parents’ divorce was handled in childhood, while other times it is the experience of their own divorce that drove them to work in the field.

In my own case, it was the experience of my second divorce in the 1990s together with watching others struggle with the process that was the motivation. At first glance, this divorce should have been simple since we had no children and it was a short marriage lasting less than four years. However, it went all the way to an all-day trial that resulted in me saying these words to my attorney at its conclusion: “I feel violated by this process.”

Ironically, a conversation with my ex-wife years later had me learn that she felt exactly the same way that day — despite the fact that we both had very experienced, competent and caring attorneys working on our behalf. Additionally, as a financial advisor since the early 1980s, I had watched clients go through the traditional litigated approach with devastating financial consequences and yet still feeling compelled to share their stories of being disappointed, frustrated and angry at the outcomes.

As the years have passed, on many occasions I have thought back on my court experience and compared and contrasted it with the very different way my first wife and I chose to end our marriage. This was in the early 1980s and our financial and personal situation was very different from my second divorce. Our finances consisted mainly of debt, but we had a child, then a toddler, who we both loved dearly and were determined to be involved in raising.

At the time the concept of alternative dispute resolution when it came to divorce hardly existed in San Diego. But my wife and I both refused to go through the adversarial process. After a conversation with a non-family lawyer friend, I learned there was nothing inappropriate in a couple negotiating their own settlement if they both had full command of the issues involved.

The problem was that initially I could not find a family lawyer willing to work with us and prepare the agreement. Meetings with four lawyers resulted in the same pushback: “I must represent either you or your wife,” they would tell me. Despite this, I kept looking and eventually found a lawyer who did not say “no” fast enough! As a result, we were able to resolve all issues between the two of us and then, after signing disclosures for the attorney saying that she did not represent either one of us, have the Marital Settlement Agreement filed with the court.

Time passed, and by the time my son was attending college I was actively working in the divorce field and felt that the time was right to ask him “How was it growing up for you?” After getting this first comment off his chest, “You and mom are so different, I can’t imagine you guys ever being together!” he said “The good thing was that I never heard either one of you say a bad word about the other and I knew that you both loved me.”

So, despite the fact that his mother and I had challenging times, especially when both of us remarried, we were able to keep his needs above our fray. I doubt that we would have been able to co-parent so successfully if we had been through an adversarial divorce. I feel great relief that there were no children involved in my second divorce as the ending was so toxic that I cannot imagine it not having a negative impact on children.

Divorce is intrinsically difficult because very few marriages end unless trust has been broken, and it will always represents a loss of some kind. Usually we experience this as the loss of personal relationships and of financial resources. I believe that the underlying negative backdrop this provides is more often than not exacerbated by the traditional litigated approach.

Please know I understand there will be cases where avoiding this is impossible, and our court system is critical in attaining resolution. However, where both spouses show a willingness to try to work together, taking the alternative dispute resolution approach will usually result in more durable and better outcomes with less residual bitterness. Additionally, today couples have access to trained professionals in the legal, financial and mental health fields to offer support throughout the process that did not exist for my first wife and me.

As my own experience shows, this can result in better outcomes for our children. Isn’t that really what is most important?

August Now Peak Divorce Month: Free Workshop on Saturday, August 5

Divorce Choices

(SAN DIEGO) –Recent research reveals the peak month for divorce filings is not January as previously believed. It is August, sparked perhaps by the end of summer vacation time for families and the start of a new school year.

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, August 5 from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at our NEW location: Torrey Pines Business Park, 11622 El Camino Real, Suite 100, San Diego. This is conveniently located at the intersection of Interstate 5 and Route 56, next to Ruth’s Chris Steak House.

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.

Cost is $25. Pay in advance and secure your seat here.

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

Law Week 2017 Special: Divorce Options Workshop Free June 3

TGet your questions about divorce answered at a free workshop on Saturday, June 3 in Carmel Valley. RSVP today.

Special for Law Week: Workshop is free for the last time in 2017 – RSVP today

San Diegans facing difficult decisions about divorce can now take advantage of a valuable workshop offering information about their alternatives to a stressful, adversarial divorce.

Led by volunteer attorneys, financial specialists, and mental health professionals who are members of the Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego, the next “Divorce Options” workshop session takes place on Saturday, June 3, from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at 11622 El Camino Real, Suite 100, San Diego, California, 92130. The building is next to Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse at the intersection of Route 56 and Interstate 5. See a map here.

In honor of San Diego Law Week 2017, this workship will be offered to the public at no cost. For the remainder of 2017, workshop attendance will cost $25.

TGet your questions about divorce answered at a free workshop on Saturday, June 3 in Carmel Valley. RSVP today.

Get your questions about divorce answered at a free workshop on Saturday, June 3 in Carmel Valley. RSVP today.

Workshops are held on the first Saturday of each month. Facilitators cover the full range of choices couples have as they contemplate divorce, focusing on the non-adversarial, out-of-court options.

Divorce is difficult and stressful even under the best of circumstances. If you have children, it’s even more difficult. Most people have a lot of questions, but aren’t sure where to get answers.

Our workshops let people know it is possible despite challenges to preserve the emotional and financial resources of the family while respecting everyone’s needs during a divorce. Presenters offer 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.

Our goal is helping people avoid crowded family courts, save the time, cost, and emotional stress involved in litigation, and emerge with healthy family relationships moving forward.

The Divorce Options program is useful to 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.

Becoming more knowledgeable can go a long way to ease the anxiety about your divorce, and allows you to take control of your future.

For additional information or to RSVP for the Law Week Divorce Options Workshop ONLY, call Divorce Options at (858) 472-4022 or email at sandiegodivorceoptions@gmail.com

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.

RSVP Now For Divorce Options Workshop Saturday, May 6

Popular new location for workshop in Carmel Valley offers convenient freeway access for discussion about your no-court alternatives

San Diegans facing difficult decisions about divorce can now take advantage of valuable free workshops in a convenient new location, where they can learn about their alternatives to a stressful, adversarial divorce.

Led by volunteer attorneys, financial specialists, and mental health professionals who are members of the Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego, the next “Divorce Options” workshop session takes place on Saturday, May 6, from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at 11622 El Camino Real, Suite 100, San Diego, California, 92130. The building is next to Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse at the intersection of Route 56 and Interstate 5. See a map here.

Learn about your Divorce Options at a free workshop on March 4 at 10:30 a.m. in the Carmel Valley area of San Diego. RSVP at 858-472-2022.

Learn about your Divorce Options at a free workshop on March 4 at 10:30 a.m. in the Carmel Valley area of San Diego. RSVP at 858-472-2022.

Workshops are held on the first Saturday of each month. Facilitators cover the full range of choices couples have as they contemplate divorce, focusing on the non-adversarial, out-of-court options.

Divorce is difficult and stressful even under the best of circumstances. If you have children, it’s even more difficult. Most people have a lot of questions, but aren’t sure where to get answers.

Our workshops let people know it is possible despite challenges to preserve the emotional and financial resources of the family while respecting everyone’s needs during a divorce. Presenters offer 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.

Our goal is helping people avoid crowded family courts, save the time, cost, and emotional stress involved in litigation, and emerge with healthy family relationships moving forward.

The Divorce Options program is useful to 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.

Becoming more knowledgeable can go a long way to ease the anxiety about your divorce, and allows you to take control of your future.

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

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.

What About The Kids?

by Dr. Debra Dupree, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
Relationships That Matter

Dr. Debra Dupree

You’ve made the decision to divorce. It’s been agonizing but a decision that had to be made. Now, what about the children? Never in your wildest dreams did you expect to bring children into the world so they could live in two different households. Where do you begin? What’s in their best interests? How will they be affected?

Tip #1: Even though you are at odds with the other parent, crafting a joint message is critically important.

Pull no punches here. There are plenty of websites that offer good sound guidance to parents on how to tell the children and what to expect at different ages. Here’s what Psychology Today has to offer.

The most important tip here is to assure them these are adult differences. Place no blame and never tell the children if there has been an affair or other adult misbehavior. Those are adult issues, not children issues.

Tip #2: Children respond differently to divorce depending on their age and maturity. Here is a breakdown by age:

Some common issues that surface for younger children include fear of abandonment, self-blame for the divorce, the need for reassurance, conflicting loyalties, and fantasies about parents reuniting.

Older school-age children are often angry, embarrassed about their parents’ chaos, often take sides, experience depression, experiment with drugs and alcohol to escape the home pressures. How you support and cooperate with the other parent in helping teens through the transition is crucial.

Regardless of the age, what all children need are consistency, stability and predictability.

And, don’t think the impact of divorce stops there! The young adult, ages 18 to 25, often have the most difficulty with their parents’ divorce as the life they’ve known is shattered through divorce. Studies suggest that adult children of divorce are less likely to attend or complete college, are more likely to be unemployed or on welfare, are more likely to have problematic relationships with parents and siblings, and have more trouble forming their own marital relationships. So do your homework and be prepared.

Divorce is difficult on children no matter their age. Photo: Michael “Mike” L. Baird/Creative Commons license

Tip #3: How parents handle their divorce is the single most contributing factor to how children adjust.

We’ve just taken a look at how children react to divorce differently at different ages. One of the most important things parents can do for their children is to develop a structured parenting plan that is predictable (no surprises or frequent changes) and consistent. There is already enough turmoil going on during the transition into two households. You are most likely frazzled and on edge. Having a schedule the kids can rely on helps stabilize the anxiety that can come with change. Using daycare and school as places for transitions, rather than directly from one parent home to the other, allows the kids to go through a normal day just like any other kid in school. It is also reduces the anxiety that comes from leaving one parent for the other.

It is critical that parents learn to disengage from what was their intimate marital relationship and re-engage in the business of parenting (like two professional partners working through business decisions). It might sound odd, but over 20 years of experience working with families in divorce proves this shift in mindset between the adults in the divorce is essential for minimizing the negative effects of divorce on children. After all, the divorce is ending the marital relationship between two adults, but it does not end the parent-child relationship that is intended to go on forever.

Now is the time for parents to get help through short-term counseling, educational programs, or coaching on how to parent in a post-divorce world. It is different! Children need structure and they need both parents in their lives, just not at the same time in a post-divorce world. They will adapt but much of it has to do with how the adults manage their lives and interactions with others, including new significant others.

The bottom line: divorce is a tough road to follow. Take a good look at ALL your options for recovery, both inside and outside of the marriage. And, if divorce is the only option, choose Alternative Dispute Resolution such as Collaborative Divorce or mediation as the route to follow, as this offers the greatest potential for recovery.

Dr. Debra Dupree is a forensic mental health professional, licensed as a Child and Family Therapist in 1986 and a Credentialed Mediator in 1994. She obtained her Doctorate in Psychology, specializing in Marriage and Family Systems, in 2014. Debra has an extensive background spanning more than 30 years helping people understand their communication dynamics, belief systems, and impact on those relationships that matter. She is a member of the Southern California Mediation Association as well as the San Diego Family Law Bar Association.

Top 5 Financial Moves If Divorce Is In Your Future

There are so many financial implications to divorce including tax obligations. Work with expert divorce attorneys and financial professionals to plan ahead and make thoughtful choices about your money.

If previous statistics are any prediction, a wave of divorce filings will hit courts across the United States including in San Diego County at the beginning of 2017.

Divorce is a chaotic time, but no matter how difficult it is, it is critically important to address your financial situation and take several specific steps before your divorce to ease the financial implications before, during and after your divorce.

There are so many financial implications to divorce including the date of separation. It is best to work with expert divorce attorneys and financial professional on your side.

There are so many financial implications to divorce including the date of separation. It is best to work with expert divorce attorneys and financial professional on your side.

Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego president Justin Reckers, CEO of Wellspring Divorce Advisors. Reckers is a Certified Financial Planner and Certified Divorce Financial Analyst and offers advice based on his practice working with individual going through a divorce. The key? “Budgeting is the most important thing to consider before, during and after a divorce,” he said.

Read the entire article here.

First Divorce Options Workshop of 2017 in San Diego Saturday, January 7

If you plan to file for divorce in 2017, attend our helpful free workshop first

(SAN DIEGO) – If your marriage is ending and you plan to file for divorce in 2017 once the holiday season is over, start on the right track by attending a free “Divorce Options” workshop in San Diego offered by the Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego.

The next “Divorce Options” workshop takes place on Saturday, January 7, 2017, 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

If the first of the year is bringing a divorce into the picture, attend our free San Diego workshop

If the first of the year is bringing a divorce into the picture, attend our free San Diego workshop

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.

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.

Your Pre-Divorce Holiday Season Coping Guide

There are many unanswered questions that you may face in the New Year, but for now coping with the reality is a challenge.

There are many unanswered questions that you may face in the New Year, but for now coping with the reality is a challenge.

by Lynn Waldman, LCSW

Have you been facing this holiday season with a mix of emotions; on one hand, hoping things will get better in your relationship, while at the same time dreading another holiday feeling stuck, empty, alone and wondering why you stay?

Suppose part of you has decided you are going to leave your marriage, but you need to get

Lynn Waldman, LCSW

Lynn Waldman, LCSW

through this holiday season for yourself and for the sake of your children. There are many unanswered questions that you may face in the New Year, but for now coping with the reality is a challenge. Staying calm in front of family, friends and children may be one of your goals.

Clients often struggle with how to make the best of things until they can leave their relationship. One coping strategy that works for clients begins with letting go of expectations. Letting go of hoping things will change or get better or that you will feel differently. Sometimes it is a relief to just accept things as they are. With acceptance comes a willingness to let things unfold and be as they are, as opposed to a sense of willfulness and of trying to change things we have no control over. To feel the willingness of accepting things as they are, try sitting with your arms slightly outstretched, palms up, take a breath, and repeat to yourself, “it is what it is.”

Another coping strategy is to check into your thoughts. When we have difficult feelings, it is often due to a difficult thought lurking somewhere in our minds. We may not even be aware of the difficult thought. With the difficult thoughts and feelings we often engage in behaviors we may regret. Try and identify those thoughts and feelings. Naming feelings often releases us from the overwhelm. Also, ask yourself, “what else may be true besides my difficult thought?” Focus on the facts of the situation, and if you need more information, seek out professionals who may be able to help. Remember, just because we have a thought or a worry, does not mean it is true.

In going forward with your divorce, the Collaborative process is one that takes into consideration, not only the legal and financial aspects of your marriage, but also your emotions and the emotions of your family. A Collaborative divorce coach offers assistance with coping skills to help you manage through the transition of divorce while focusing on the best resolution for everyone.

While this holiday season may be the last you will spend under the same roof with your spouse and co-parent, you certainly will have many more holiday seasons to come. Making the best of this season may be the best gift you can give yourself and your children this year.

Get Answers at Divorce Options Workshop Saturday, May 7

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, May 7, 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.

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.

Family with dogThe 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.

“We could not be more pleased by the response to our workshops,” said Dan Martin, family law attorney and Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego member. “The Divorce Options program gives us an opportunity to help people 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,” said Martin.

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

Collaborating From Afar On Collaborative Divorce Cases

Long distance Collaborative Practice can work effectively with the right team and approach.

Long distance Collaborative Practice can work effectively with the right team and approach.

by Meredith G. Lewis, CLS-F, CDFA

In most Collaborative Divorce cases, the parties and professional team members reside and work in the same city, and are able to have in person meetings throughout the process. What if a situation arises when one of the parties, or even one of the chosen professional team members, lives in another city, state or country? Is a Collaborative Divorce case even possible under this scenario? Depending on the circumstances of the case, it is absolutely possible.

Based on the success of a recent Collaborative case, my colleagues and team members Shawn Weber, CLS-F, Anna Addleman, CPA, CDFA, and Robert A. Simon, Ph.D will offer tips in our upcoming presentation titled “Collaborating From Afar: Strategies For Overcoming Obstacles in Long Distance Collaborative Cases” at the Collaborative Practice California (CP Cal) “Celebration XI” conferencein Redwood City, California in late April.

(L to R) Anna Addleman, Shawn Weber, Robert Simon, and Meredith Lewis will discuss long distance Collaborative Cases at the upcoming Collaborative Practice California Celebration XI Conference.

(L to R) Anna Addleman, Shawn Weber, Robert Simon, and Meredith Lewis will discuss long distance Collaborative Cases at the upcoming Collaborative Practice California Celebration XI Conference.

With the availability of technology, if a party or team member is not local, he or she can still attend Collaborative Divorce meetings and be completely involved in the process. We had the wonderful opportunity to participate in a Collaborative case where one of the parties resides outside of the United States. Though the team and the parties have faced some challenges with the process, it has worked well, and has enabled the case to proceed using the Collaborative Process without requiring the spouse who lives in another country to travel to San Diego.

Our team has developed several requirements for assessing whether your long distance Collaborative Divorce case can be successful. Note, however, that these are based on our experience with only one case and, therefore, these criteria are evolving.

  • Use of Technology: The professional team and the party who resides outside of the area needs to be familiar with the necessary communication technology to be utilized. There are several programs such as GoToMeeting, WebEx or Citrix which allow a person to appear remotely at a meeting.
  • Ability to Cooperate: The parties have a reasonable level of mutual respect for one another or have the ability to communicate.
  • Professional Teamwork: The professional team must be cohesive and flexible.

There are also ethical dilemmas that should be addressed by the team the Collaborative Team should address:

  • Is there an advantage or disadvantage with one party appearing remotely?
  • Are there power imbalances that would make such a process ineffective?
  • Is it better to have the party participating remotely have a local mental health professional as a coach, or one who can attend the meeting in person?

Just as not all family law cases are appropriate for the Collaborative process, not all Collaborative Divorce cases are appropriate to be conducted remotely. Deciding the appropriateness requires a detailed review of the situation by the potential Collaborative Divorce team, and the willingness of the parties to understand and accept the benefits and drawbacks of the remote model. However, geography alone does not necessarily have to be a bar to a successful Collaborative Divorce case.

Concerned whether your long distance divorce can be resolved using the Collaborative Process model? Contact the Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego at 858-472-4022 to discuss your questions and schedule a consultation. Or attend one of our free “Divorce Options” seminars the first Saturday of every month from 9 a.m. to 12 noon at the Scripps Ranch Civic Association Community Center. To reserve your space, email sandiegodivorceoptions@gmail.com