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.

Desensitizing, Brutalizing, And Degrading: Is This the Effect of Divorce Court?

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.

by Mark Hill, Certified Financial Planner, Certified Divorce Financial Analyst
and Ryan Fentin-Thompson, Certified Divorce Financial Analyst
Pacific Divorce Management

Divorce can be a dehumanizing experience, especially for children. Avoiding a court battle can help relieve some of the negative effects of divorce on the family.

Divorce can be a dehumanizing experience, especially for children. Avoiding a court battle can help relieve some of the negative effects of divorce on the family.

Oftentimes, a couple going through divorce is portrayed as angry, revengeful and resentful towards one another. While these feelings may be present we have found that the more prevalent sentiment for both parties is a feeling of sadness and sorrow. Despite any current animosity that may be felt towards one another, no one enters into marriage expecting to divorce, so there will always be some sense of loss.

From the outsider’s perspective, one might assume the hostility between the couple stems from the decision to divorce; however, more often, it is the process of divorce which produces these feelings. The litigation system drives people from sad to furious, furious to enraged, enraged to resentful. Open court is usually the worst place to negotiate the end of an intimate relationship. Not only is this a public forum but also it tends to place the focus on winning and losing which usually does not benefit the whole family.

mark-hill-photo-02One example I saw in my own practice was in a highly contested divorce where both husband and wife wanted to keep the family home. Since they could not reach agreement, the judge ordered the house sold, which had the result of taking the children away from their friends and requiring them to change schools based upon their parents’ new residency.

Even the best judges seldom have time to do more than render strictly legal based decisions which lack the creativity which families always need when facing divorce. I was struck by a recent TV commercial related to our current presidential election using the tagline “Our children are watching,” and thought how it also relates to divorce. Offspring of divorcing couples always learn a lot about relationships from how their parents behave throughout the process. My experience is that choosing the adversarial approach seldom improves such behavior.

It can be dehumanizing for the professionals involved as well. Most people go into this field from a desire to help families work through what is usually an incredibly difficult life event. Too often, we find the system forcing decisions that we know will not fit the needs of our clients. It undermines what motivates us to do this work and can distance us from our own sense of humanity and compassion. We in the field have all experienced cases where outcomes fall well short of what our hopes and expectations were at the point at which we were retained. Recent research has suggested divorce professionals pay an ongoing price for this, described as “vicarious trauma.”

Alternative dispute resolution allows many of the shortcomings of a traditional divorce to be addressed. Professionals are required to look for creative solutions that benefit the entire family rather than trying to advance the cause of one side. The clients are engaged and required to take responsibility for the decisions that are reached. In the case of Collaborative Divorce they do so with the resources of legal, financial, and mental health professionals together with them at the table. We have found that this provides the best opportunity for outcomes that avoid much of the negativity usually associated with divorce.

 

 

 

Learn Your Divorce Options at August 6 Workshop

Getting answers to your tough questions at the next Divorce Options workshop will help you weather the storm.

Popular free seminar offers resources and answers to your questions

(SAN DIEGO) – If you find yourself struggling to find answers for your difficult questions about divorce, attend our next free Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego Divorce Options workshop.

The next Divorce Options seminary in San Diego takes place on Saturday, August 6, 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).

This free workshop takes place the first Saturday of every month. Our goal is helping people in a diverse range of situations. 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.

We know from experience 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.

Getting answers to your tough questions at the next Divorce Options workshop will help you weather the storm.

Getting answers to your tough questions at the next Divorce Options workshop will help you weather the storm.

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.

 

“Real Talk San Diego” Radio Features Collaborative Divorce on July 21

Certified Family Law Specialist Hildy Fentin, member and past president of the Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego, will talk about Collaboartive Divorce and other family law issues when she appears on the ESPN 1700 AM Radio program “Real Talk San Diego” with hosts Ryan White and Karen Kaseno on Thursday, July 21, at 1 p.m.

You can listen online on the Real Talk San Diego website.

Collaborative Divorce is the topic on Real Talk San Diego radio on ESPN 1700 AM on Thursday July 21, 1 pm. Real Talk San Diego airs weekdays from 10 a.m.-12 noon and 1 – 2 p.m. on ESPN 1700 AM. The show features community business leaders and entrepreneurs sharing their insights and opinions on business, finance, real estate, political and lifestyle related topics that impact our communities. Its mission is to educate and inform the listening audience by constantly challenging the national media’s sweeping generalizations and fear-based journalism so its listeners can make informed decisions about “the business of life” in America’s Finest City.

Four Tips For Healing After Divorce

by Julia M. Garwood, Certified Family Law Specialist
Garwood Family Law and Mediation

Allow yourself time to grieve and reflect after a divorce. San Diego mental health professionals in the Collaborative Family Law Group can help.

Allow yourself time to grieve and reflect after a divorce.

The divorce process can be grueling and cumbersome. The best way to allow yourself to heal is by starting fresh in order to move on and start the healing process. The following are just a few tips that can help you overcome divorce.

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

1. Visualize what you want in your life.

When you have been in a long term relationship you may have put everyone else before yourself. It is time to change that! Put yourself first. Think about what it is you enjoy the most or what your interests are. Set new goals or simply work on old ones that you had set on the back burner. It is time to make those goals a reality. Decide what steps you need to take in order to achieve a goal and visualize yourself achieving that goal.

2. Open yourself up to new experiences.

Being independent can be a scary thought after committing yourself to someone and doing everything together as a couple. You are an independent man or woman. Let that inspire you.

You would be surprised at the amazing experiences that may come from saying “yes”. Open yourself up to a new hobby, a date with someone who may not be your type, a new cuisine, or even moving to a new neighborhood. The bottom line is allowing yourself to experience new things.

3. Allow yourself to grieve.

There is no handbook on how to approach life after a divorce. Everyone deals with it in their own way. Focus on yourself and make your well-being a priority. Your healing is the first step in rebuilding your life.

Too often, we deny ourselves the time to grieve. We allow everything to come in the way and bury the pain. Confront it. It is okay to be upset or hurt. It is part of the process.

Allow yourself the time to have those nights where you might just curl up with a pint of ice cream and cry. You are only human. These emotions are normal. Soon you will see the need to cry will fade away.

4. Reach out to other people.

You are not alone. There are others around you that can help. It may be a parent, a friend or even a co-worker. It does not mean you are weak. It shows you have the strength to acknowledge that you need help in order to heal and overcome divorce.

Myra Chack Fleischer Named Collaborative Family Law Group 2016 Board President

Attorney Myra Chack Fleischer, Fleischer & Ravreby, Carlsbad California

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

(SAN DIEGO) – Family law attorney Myra Chack Fleischer, CFLS, has been named President of the Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego for the 2016 term. Fleischer is Lead Counsel for Fleischer & Ravreby, a family law practice based in Carlsbad, California, with offices in Beverly Hills, California.

Attorney Myra Chack Fleischer, Fleischer & Ravreby, Carlsbad California

Attorney Myra Chack Fleischer, Fleischer & Ravreby, Carlsbad California

Founded in 2000, members of the Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego work together to learn, practice, and promote Collaborative Practice 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.

An experienced family law attorney practicing law in Southern California since 1997, Myra Chack Fleischer founded her own law firm in 2001. In 2013, Fleischer added the respected law office of Richard R. Ravreby to her firm, forming the new firm Fleischer & Ravreby based in Carlsbad, California. Fleischer serves as Lead Counsel with a focus on divorce, property, custody and support, settlement agreements, mediation, asset division and family law appeals.

Prior to becoming an attorney, Fleischer worked for 10 years as an accountant in public accounting and then as the controller of international mid-sized software company. Her financial background combined with her law expertise is a key factor in Fleischer’s success in representing clients in cases where there are issues involving complex asset divisions. Although known as a formidable litigator, Fleischer strives to avoid court where possible, driving settlement of assets through Consensual Dispute Resolution, including Collaborative Divorce.

“Being involved in Collaborative Practice through the Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego represents a significant advancement in resolving civil disputes like divorce,” said Fleischer. “Going through a divorce is in some ways harder than dealing with the death of a loved one. It will get worse before it gets better. But in so many cases, couples can avoid the ‘scorched earth, win at all costs’ mindset involved in litigation.

“Collaborative Divorce keeps decision-making in the hands of the couple. The most significant advantage is sparing children the emotional fallout from an acrimonious divorce, preserving the family relationships and allowing them to move forward in a healthier way,” said Fleischer.

“My goals for the coming year are twofold. First, to build contacts with professional associations and acquaint their members with this method of divorce through presentations and speaking engagements. This will help them advise their employees, clients, family and friends about this healthier divorce alternative. Second, to build our ongoing series of public divorce workshops called ‘Divorce Options’ to allow individuals and couples to learn about the different methods of getting divorced so they make an informed choice for their family,” Fleischer said.

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.

End of the Year Divorce Survival Tips

by Julia M. Garwood, Garwood Family Law and Mediation

The holidays are a time for celebration and holiday cheer. Members of the Collaborative julia-garwood-photoFamily Law Group of San Diego understand that holidays can be challenging for divorcees. No need to simply try to survive them. Use these holiday survival tips to help you thrive instead of just survive the holiday season!

End of the Year Survival Tip #1: Positive Thinking

Positive thinking is an excellent tool to carry with you during the holiday season. It can help mend some of those emotional strains and provide you with a strong foundation for any challenges you might face. But positive thinking takes more than just an impulsive desire to be happy. It takes a dedicated mind set and a change in lifestyle. You’re not going to be able to achieve positive thinking by simply wanting to be happy. Positive thinking is accomplished through continued effort and long-term persistence.

Smile: Changing your mind set might be as simple as making yourself smile. Facial movements can influence emotional experience. Try smiling during a holiday gathering; you will come to find that the event will become much more enjoyable.

Contribute to the Community: During this time of the year there are many people in need. Giving to the less fortunate can relieve your mind. Volunteer in your local shelter and give back to your community. When you help someone less fortunate, it provides both of you with some positive thinking for going beyond just surviving the holidays.

Exercise: This doesn’t mean you have to sign up for a marathon. Simply walk in the park, enjoy the beach, or do some yoga. Certainly any of these activities will do the trick.

Rekindle an Old Hobby or Start a New One: Chances are during your marriage one or more of your hobbies had to take a back seat. There is no better time than the present to reach back into your past and pull forward some of these enjoyable pastimes.

End of the Year Survival Tip #2: Make A Plan

Unfortunately, there are going to be some challenges during the holiday season that you can’t avoid. It is important for you to do an internal evaluation, define what boundaries you need to set, and make a plan to help maintain your “positive thinking” attitude.

Holiday Traditions Plan: Traditions have a special place during the holiday season. It is sometimes difficult for recent divorcees to either continue a long-time tradition or to stop an annual tradition. Do you let a tradition go, or try to force yourself through something that is no longer enjoyable? If you are unsure about how to approach a tradition, simply look to your first tool in the End of the Year Survival Tip. If it is going to make you unhappy, don’t force yourself through it. It doesn’t have to mean the tradition is over, it can just mean you are taking a break from it this year or start a new tradition.

Children Plan: It is important that you and your ex establish a mutual plan for where your children will spend specific portions of the holidays and coordinate your gift-giving. Having a clear plan in advance is beneficial to everyone involved and can help avoid crisis situations and decisions that can threaten your ability to enjoy the holidays.

End of the Year Survival Tip #3: Outdoor Activities

There is no better way to get through the holidays than to get out and enjoy yourself. With a positive attitude, a plan, and a list full of fun activities, you are ready to thrive this holiday season!

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • San Diego Zoo
  • Balboa Park
  • Mission Bay
  • La Jolla Shores
  • Legoland
  • Your Local Library

 

Shawn Weber Takes California Collaborative Law Leadership Role

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

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

Weber installed as 2015-2016 President of Collaborative Practice California

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About the Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego

CFLG San Diego’s members work together to learn, practice, and promote collaborative processes for problem solving and the peaceful resolution of family law issues, with an eye toward preserving the emotional, as well as the financial, assets of the family. Its goal is to transform the resolution of family law issues through respectful, collaborative processes that protect the integrity and health of family relationships and eliminate the need for families to resort to litigation.

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

Divorce Via Facebook: Like?

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

Should this get a Like?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more about the case here.

 

Collaborative law featured on ESPN 1700 Radio

Real Estate Radio on ESPN AM 1700 San Diego

Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego member attorney Shawn Weber, Certified Family Real Estate Radio on ESPN AM 1700 San DiegoLaw Specialist with Brave Weber Mack, discussed the Collaborative approach to divorce during a recent guest appearance on “The Real Estate Radio Hour” on ESPN Radio 1700 AM with host Ryan White.

Weber pointed out that recent budget cutbacks to California’s family law court system makes it much more difficult, time consuming, and expensive to pursue a divorce via litigation, making the Collaborative approach to divorce a better choice for many families.

Hear the entire interview with Shawn via the link below.