As family law collaborators and mediators, we know all too well how the emotional aspects of a divorce can threaten to derail what often begins as a stable and effective process toward a peaceful resolution of our clients’ family law disputes.
Clients come to us for help in resolving their family law matters with the hope and intention of staying out of court. This is a laudable goal, and most everyone comes with the highest intention of achieving that goal. But then, something quite predictable happens… and if we collaborative professionals are not ready for it, the entire process can be unexpectedly hijacked, thereby posing a threat to the successful outcome for our clients and their families. The ‘something’ that invariably shows up is our clients’ deeply held emotions about the unraveling of their marriages, including all of the uncertainty and fear that accompany such momentous changes in a person’s life circumstances. As we know, once strong emotions enter the picture, it is quite challenging to remain in option-creation and problem-solving mode during the collaborative or mediation process. However, that is what we must do, relying effectively upon our best kept secret, the “neutrals”.
All of the emotions that we see during the course of the breakdown of a marriage and the divorce process boil down to fear. I do not say that from my own expertise but from what I have heard over and over again from my colleagues in the mental health profession.
The first victim of any marriage that is going south is communication. As communication breaks down, people cannot solve problems together anymore. So, what they do is out of frustration and they start taking unilateral action. However, because we are in a relationship, what you do affects me. This is when the fear sets in. You lose control and you do not know what’s going to happen next and you don’t understand why your spouse is doing this to you.
This is when the fears arise and what it leads to is a tit for tat situation. It leads doing something that will make me feel like I am back in control of the situation. This back and forth starts to happen and it evolves. All of this happens before the client comes to us in the family law arena. This … Read More “Dealing with the Fear in a Divorce”
By Patrice Courteau, MA, LMFT and Paula J. Swensen, Esq.
The ending of a marriage can be a minefield of emotions and reactions. A “no drama” divorce helps to shift a mindset from pain and unrealistic expectations to one of managing emotions, learning better communication skills, and gathering information in order to reduce anxiety of divorcing spouses.
In our experience of working together in a co-mediation process, the goal is to reduce the drama by reducing fear, managing both spouse’s expectations, and setting a course for the couple to be able to successfully navigate. We cannot overstate the value to clients of using well-trained collaborative professionals to help them manage the fear and emotion in order to achieve their best family-centered outcome.
While the legal professional is educating on the legal process and the issues presented, the mental health professional (divorce coach or child specialist) is gathering information from the spouses regarding their urgent issues and concerns, including any communication challenges.
Those of us of a certain age remember the immortal words of a successful football coach after whom the Super Bowl trophy was long ago named.
Vince Lombardi famously opined, “Winning isn’t everything… it’s the only thing.” That’s a pithy and fitting philosophy for a coach to use to inspire his or her team to attain greater and greater success on the football field, but we collaborative divorce professionals know that it is not so useful when it is applied in the context of a divorcing couple.
It goes without saying that everybody wants to win. No one wants to lose, regardless of the undertaking or the endeavor in which one is engaged. We know intuitively from a very young age that winning is “good,” and that losing is “bad”. We all want our team to win, and we become frustrated and sometimes angry, when our team loses. We all know from following sports that when there is a winner, there is also a corresponding loser.
By Carol R. Hughes, Ph.D., LMFT, Child Specialist and Divorce Coach
“Children are like wet cement. Everything that falls on them leaves an impression.” ~ Dr. Haim Ginott, World Renowned Child Psychologist
Often married adults include as one of their New Year’s resolutions that they are going to “start a new life” by filing for divorce. For this reason, there is an increase in divorce filings in January. This is why January is National Child-Centered Divorce Awareness Month.
When parents file for divorce, how does it affect their children? It depends.
For decades, the research about children and divorce has indicated that children report that the news of their parents impending divorce and how their parents divorced made a lasting impression on them, even into their adulthood. Most parents want to prevent emotional and psychological damage to their children during and after divorce, but they do not know how to do so.
A recommended article written by Diana L. Martinez, Collaborative Attorney, Mediator, Lecturer & Trainer
“As we enter the holidays, many divorcing couples choose to put their divorce on hold, preferring to focus on more enjoyable aspects of the season. Unfortunately, this can make for a horror movie later on. Before you slow things down, understand the potential nightmare lurking behind delays in your divorce, and how you can create a safer way to give yourself a much needed respite this holiday season.”
We recommend the following article titled “Seven Reasons to do a Collaborative Divorce” by John Denny, Collaborative Divorce and Mediation Attorney. John expresses some very important views on the subject of Collaborative Divorce in the Orange County Area.
“If we don’t stand up for children, then we don’t stand for much.” ~Marian Wright Edelman, Founder, Children’s Defense Fund
Research about the effects of divorce on children indicates that:
Each year, over 1 million American children experience the divorce of their parents.1
Ongoing parental conflict increases kids’ risk of psychological and social problems.2
Improving the relationships between parents and their children helps children cope better in the months and years following the divorce.3
Children are the innocent victims of divorce. Divorce ranks second only to the death of a loved one as life’s most stressful experiences.4 Litigation, which by definition is adversarial, can compound that stress exponentially due to the hostility it can engender and the exorbitant costs that parents can incur. “Combat divorce,” a common term for litigation, requires that each parent have the biggest battleship armed with the biggest guns, which take aim at the battleship of the other parent. Let’s remember that, no matter what else changes, each of these soon to be “ex-spouses” forever remains their child(ren)’s other parent. During the process of litigation, that obvious fact can become obscured in the … Read More “How to Help Your Children During Separation and Divorce”
by Diana L. Martinez Collaborative Lawyer and Mediator, West Coast Law & Mediation, APC
As a family law lawyer, I really look forward to my time on duty to volunteer at Riverside County Superior Court for VSC (Voluntary Settlement Conference) day. It is offered two Fridays per month and is THE most successful mediation program in the nation with an over 90 percent success rate!
Why? Because, in order to be a mediator on this panel, you must have the highest training and qualifications as both a family law lawyer and as a mediator. Not only do we donate our time, we must be in practice at least 10 years and have hundreds of hours of mediation training and practice under our belts. Other family law mediation programs that either do not have a structured program with high mediator qualifications, or that pay retired judges to do this work, enjoy a success rate below 60 percent.
Judges have an incredibly difficult job. It takes very specific skill sets to be a good judge. But being a talented judge does not, in and of itself, make you a good mediator.
Statewide award honors Collaborative Practice professionals
Media Contact: Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR 619-997-2495 or firstname.lastname@example.org
(Irvine, California) – Family law attorney Diana L. Martinez and financial professional Tracy McKenney were honored as recipients of the 2017 Eureka Award, bestowed annually by Collaborative Practice California. Martinez and McKenney received their awards at Conference XII held in Redondo Beach, California. McKenney’s award was bestowed posthumously; she served as CDSOC president before her death due to cancer in September 2016.
The Eureka Award recognizes and honors those who “have made significant contributions and demonstrated an abiding dedication to establishing and sustaining Collaborative Practice in California.”
Diana L. Martinez is a committed Collaborative professional who has tirelessly served the California Collaborative community for many years. Ms. Martinez has devoted 100 percent of her family law practice to out-of-court dispute resolution including Collaborative Practice since 2007. She is passionate about educating others about the benefits of Collaborative Practice through personal contact. Ms. Martinez is a noted trainer and educator for legal, financial, and mental health professionals locally and nationwide on family law topics including Collaborative Practice, confidentiality, cultural competency, and ethics and best practices. She has presented to state and local bar associations and legal … Read More “Diana L. Martinez and Tracy McKenney Receive Eureka Award”