Collaborative Divorce Offers Alternatives to “Divorce Corp.” Documentary

January 20, 2014
Contact:
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR
619-997-2495 or gayle@falconvalleygroup.com

 

(SAN DIEGO) – The release of the new documentary film “Divorce Corp.” has generated renewed attention and focus on family law court proceedings involving divorce, child custody and child support issues across the United States.  While the film offers a critique of the way that divorce is commonly handled in the United States, it does not discuss a critical and viable alternative for many families: the Collaborative Divorce process.

The Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego (CFLG San Diego) is a non-profit group of legal, financial, and mental health professionals trained in the Collaborative Process offering  an alternative to litigated divorce.

Julie Mack, CFLS, attorney and President of CFLG San Diego, says the film presents the opportunity for fresh dialogue, which will allow couples, especially those with minor children, to learn more about Collaborative Divorce.  “Long before the film ‘Divorce Corp.,’ many couples, discouraged by the prospect of an expensive, adversarial divorce, started looking for an alternative way to address their family law issues that did not involve confrontation or handing over decision-making regarding their lives to family law courts. For many, the alternative is Collaborative Divorce.

“Thanks to the attention generated by this documentary, we have a new platform available to introduce the many benefits of the Collaborative Divorce process. When people learn that going to court is not inevitable, they eagerly embrace this positive, respectful approach to resolving issues in a way that avoids litigation, including the time and expense, to say nothing of the lasting emotional turmoil,” said Mack.

“The Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego is eager to let people know we offer them a range of choices for legal, financial, and mental health services all with the ultimate goal in mind of preserving the health and well-being of the family.  “We urge divorcing couples or parents wrestling with child custody or support issues to give the Collaborative Process a chance. Even if they are skeptics, they have nothing to lose by giving our alternative a try,” said Mack.

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.

See the trailer for the documentary “Divorce Corp.” here.

Ten Golden Rules for a Good Divorce

Is a good divorce possible? After 30 years of experience helping families cope with divorce and remarriage, Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego member Dr. Constance Ahrons believes it is possible.

Dr. Ahrons works with those navigating through a divorce and its aftermath as coach, mediator and/or therapist. She is among the earliest champions of collaborative divorce.

Constance Ahrons is a best-selling author of the books “The Good Divorce” and “We’re Still Family,” and co-author of the highly regarded book, “Divorced Families.” An acclaimed speaker, she he has been featured on numerous national television interviews.

Dr. Ahrons is deeply interested in the welfare of the entire family, particularly children, who are facing the challenges of divorce. If your divorce involves children, Dr. Ahrons suggests following these rules to help everyone cope and move forward in the most healthy way possible.

Ten Golden Rules for a Good Divorce

1.    ACCEPT THAT ALL-OUT WAR IS NOT INEVITABLE.

In fact, it is destructive.  Mediation and Collaborative Divorce are two choices that aim to reduce anger between divorcing spouses.

2.   STAY IN CHARGE OF YOUR DIVORCE.

Remember, this is your divorce, not your lawyers.

3.    SLOW DOWN THE PROCESS

Although adults often want to move on quickly, remember that children need time to adjust.

4.   ACCEPT THAT YOUR CHILD NEEDS–AND HAS A RIGHT–TO BOTH PARENTS.

Even though you’re angry with your spouse, remember your children’s needs.

5.    COOPERATE WITH YOUR EX FOR THE SAKE OF YOUR CHILDREN.

It’s one of the best gifts you can give your kids.  Ongoing conflict between parents increases children’s distress.

6. DON’T BADMOUTH YOUR EX IN FRONT OF THE CHILDREN

When you badmouth your ex to the kids you are telling your kids that the part of them that is like their other parent is bad too. It is bad for their self-esteem.

7. DIVORCE IS NOT THE END OF THE FAMILY

It’s important to your children’s well-being for them to feel like they still have a family.  Help them to understand that the divorce means that they are now a dual-household family.

8. RECOGNIZE THAT COMPROMISE IS ALWAYS NECESSARY

This is key to helping to reduce your anger.

9. LET YOURSELF FACE AND GRIEVE YOUR LOSSES

One of the big losses is the loss of future dreams. Just beneath    your anger is sadness over the losses of those special things you might have hoped for in your future.

 10.  LET THE ANGER GO—AND MOVE ON WITH YOUR LIFE.

Holding on to hostility and anger is self-destructive.  It keeps you stuck in the past and keeps you from finding new joys in life.

 

CFLG San Diego in the News: San Diego Daily Transcript: January 3, 2014

The San Diego Daily Transcript published a story about the Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego’s outstanding membership growth in 2013 in its January 3, 2014 edition.

You can access the article at this link, or see a screenshot of the online version of the article below.

Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego sees record membership growth in 2013

January 2, 2014

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

(SAN DIEGO) – The Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego (CFLG San Diego) saw record membership growth in 2013. CFLG San Diego is a non-profit group of legal, financial, and mental health professionals trained in the Collaborative Process as an alternative to divorce litigation.

Hildy Fentin, CFLS, attorney and immediate past president of CFLG San Diego (2013), said membership is up nearly 25 percent in the last year. Fentin pointed out several reasons stimulating interest in membership. “Due to court cutbacks, resolving divorce issues or any family law matter through the court system prolongs the resolution of these issues. This creates enormous financial and emotional strain on everyone involved, especially children.

“We also have more baby boomers getting divorced later in life. These couples want to avoid an expensive, adversarial divorce. They want to work with attorneys, financial specialists and mental health professionals who can provide them an alternative way to address their family law issues.

“As professionals grow more familiar with the many benefits of the Collaborative Divorce process, they enthusiastically embrace this positive, respectful approach to resolving issues in a way that avoids litigation including the time and expense. By joining the Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego, they can work with and learn from like-minded colleagues, and expand the range of choices for families who come to them for legal, financial, and mental health services,” said Fentin.

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 of families to resort to court litigation.

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

 

Ask These Five Questions to Find Out If You Are a Candidate for Collaborative Divorce

by Adryenn Cantor, CFLS, AAML 
Law Office of Adryenn Cantor, San Diego, California

If you see the completion of your marriage as transition, instead of failure, then you can consciously decide how to move forward in dissolving your marriage with grace and thoughtfulness.

Instead of seeing the process as dividing assets, dividing time with the children, and each of you having your “own” attorney, using conscious transition means you can work together with the support of a Collaborative Team.

You may have no choice that your marriage is ending, but you have many chooses on how that ending is accomplished.

The team approach used in the Collaborative process allows:

  1. Each party to be supported by their own attorney, who works individually with their client and cooperatively with the team to assist the couple in getting to a win-win result.
  2. Each party, should they so desire, can have guidance from a well-trained mental health professional to help them with the emotions of transitioning.
  3. Children can have a mental health professional to be their voice during the process.
  4. The parties can have the wisdom and expertise of one neutral expert to assist with the financial issues; thereby getting the information they need at half the cost.

So, if this New Year you find your marriage ending, perhaps the Collaborative approach is the way to make this important transition happen with the help of a conscious and caring team.

Some thoughts about whether you are a good candidate to use the Collaborative Team approach. Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Do you want to end your marriage with respect and integrity?
  2. Is taking a rational and fair approach to dividing your assets more important than seeing yourself as a winner and your spouse as the loser in this process?
  3. Are your children the most important aspect in this process?
  4. Is saving money, which could go to you or your children more important than spending it on protracted litigation?
  5. Do you want to model for yourself, your spouse and your children how mature adults handle significant challenges?

If your answer is “yes” to two or more of these questions, you should definitely consider having a consultation with a collaboratively trained professional to see if the Collaborative Team process is for you.

 

 

 

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.

 

Brave New World of Divorce: Alimony For Your Eggs?

Divorce is never a happy situation. But it can be especially difficult for women who would like to become mothers and face an expiration date on their fertility.

Baby CupcakesReproductive medicine provides many more options for people who wish to become parents. But this can also complicate a divorce. Fertility preservation could now become an issue in divorce if a New York family law case sets a precedent.

CFLGSD member Mel Mackler shares this article from the New York Times on September 7 about the case; read it at this link. How do you see this playing out in the courts and in divorce in the future?

Tips for Empty Nesters When the Kids Leave for College

Many parents are working through the transition in their lives created when their children leave for college. As CFLGSD member and family law attorney Julia Garwood notes, things change. They no longer know when the kids are home, whether they are eating or sleeping properly, who they are hanging out with, and other everyday activities.

Many couples find themselves in the situation where the kids are gone and they are left with a spouse that they no longer know – except in relationship to the children. It can be a crucial time in your marriage. Unfortunately, some empty nesters find themselves contemplating divorce or separation because they’ve spent so much time being parents that they forget how to be lovers. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

College Empty NestersGarwood has excellent advice for parents who might feel confused or even overwhelmed by the changes created due to your child’s new “freedom,” and your own new “freedom” as a result. Read her excellent tips here to help survive the transition to becoming a happy empty nesting couple.

 

 

Survey: Single Fathers Head Record Number of Households with Minor Children in U.S.

A record 8% of households with minor children in the United States are headed by a single father, up from just over 1% in 1960, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Decennial Census and American Community Survey data.

SDT-2013-07-single-fathers-01The number of single father households has increased about ninefold since 1960, from less than 300,000 to more than 2.6 million in 2011.

The entire Pew Research study can be found at this link. There is a tremendous amount of data offered in this study which could be useful to anyone dealing with issues affecting families including divorce, custody and support issues.

Have you run across this trend in your own professional experience? Tell us and add your observations in the comments section.

Four Tips for Making Divorce Easier on You and Your Family

by Myra Chack Fleischer, CLF-S, Fleischer & Associates

Making the decision to get divorced is never easy. If you have been there, done that, no matter when you file you know it can be consuming and is usually the result of a thought processing lasting weeks, months, even years. If there are children involved, it is even more gut wrenching.

This is why our group so strongly recommends the collaborative divorce process to mitigate the impact to your children and your family as a whole.

But once you have crossed that bridge in your mind, heart and soul, now is the time to be ruthlessly practical. Even if you choose collaborative divorce, you must also prepare yourself and your children. This is not selfish. This is healthy, this is smart and this is in your long-term best interests.

It is natural to feel overwhelmed, and there is a lot to do. As a family law attorney with experience representing hundred and hundreds of divorcing clients, there are some priorities you need to address BEFORE you break the bad news, hire an attorney, file any paperwork, or decide to avoid the court system entirely. This advice applies equally to men and women, straight or gay.

Gavel and Wedding Rings

  •  Make sure you get copies of all your financial records.

This includes bank statements, investment and retirement accounts, credit cards, loans and any other debts. You will also be able to quickly tell and later prove if there are significant changes or movement of assets, and this may help you make the decision about whether collaborative divorce is right for you.

  • Make sure you have a source of funds if you do not work outside the home.

Create a financial strategy with your attorney or a divorce financial planner before any formal filing for divorce.

  • Make sure you disclose anything damaging about you and your situation to your attorney.

The last person you want to be blindsided by any misbehavior or skeletons in your closet is your attorney. He or she cannot help you to mitigate the impact if he or she knows nothing about it. Sure, it can be some embarrassing stuff to admit to extramarital affairs, criminal acts, struggles with your physical or mental health, or tweeting racy photos.

But believe me, divorce attorneys, divorce financial planners and divorce coaches have heard it all and then some. We are not shockable, and we will not think less of you. Professionals involved with divorce proceedings are committed to confidentiality. Most of it can be handled. It’s entirely possible that by getting these issues acknowledged and out of the way, the healing process can begin and a collaborative divorce may be possible. But if not, it’s better to learn this early in the divorce process.

  • Listen to professional advice.

If your attorney, divorce financial planner or divorce coach tells you something or asks you to do something, there is a reason for it. Usually it is to protect your interests and make things easier (and maybe less costly) for you and your family in the long run. We know how to engage the legal system to your best advantage, and we have plenty of experience that tells us what works and what does not work. Don’t ruin the good counsel you are getting by ignoring it.