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.
by Suanne I. Honey Attorney at Law, CFLS, Mediator and Collaborative Attorney
Sorry for the silly pun when this is such a serious topic. Seriously, though, pre-nuptial agreements are hot topics which give rise to many emotions.
“It paints the Devil on the wall.”
“It is anticipating failure of the marriage.”
“If he or she really loved me, this would not be necessary.”
“I am uncomfortable talking about finances.”
The list can go on and on. Sometimes emotions are an unnecessary waste of energy. Other times emotions have some benefits, even negative emotions. For example, fear in a dark alley in a dangerous neighborhood will cause you to be zealously vigilant about your surroundings which will lead you into taking appropriate steps for your safety … much like the pre-nuptial agreement itself.
Unfortunately, statistics today are not favorable for a lasting marriage. If and when there is a decision to get divorced, the person you once loved turns into the enemy. There is often a total lack of trust at the time of a divorce. There are fights over money, property, and other issues creating stress for both partners. This stress almost always filters down to the children.
What single item can add the most cost to your divorce or civil dispute? Acting or reacting based on emotional thinking, or making unilateral decisions that are based in emotional thinking. It is critical to understand how our emotions can drive our thinking and our behavior, and it is important to manage those emotions in a healthy way that allows for understanding viable solutions and facilitates well thought out problem solving.
Every legal and financial decision is potentially wrapped in emotion, and those emotions can prevent us from fully understanding our options and choosing the options that make the most sense going forward. For almost every divorcing couple or civil disputant, trust is usually broken and communication is not working very well, if at all. Bringing broken trust and poor communication into the decision-making process is not a good recipe for success.
by Brian Don Levy, Esq., Collaborative Attorney & Mediator
The case history: John first came to see me looking for an attorney to represent him in his divorce case in family court. This is the most important choice he will have to make in the entire divorce process: choosing the process for his divorce case.
As a firm believer in the Collaborative Divorce Process, we discussed why John should consider the Collaborative Divorce process, which is part of every initial divorce consultation – when I meet with clients – I discuss divorce process options.
John then disclosed he had already been in mediation with some of my legal colleagues. John’s wife, Mary, withdrew from the process. He was distrustful of the process and not inclined to give it another try.
In spite of John and Mary’s failure, I still believed the Collaborative Process would serve them well. Nearly a year later, the divorce case was successfully concluded through the Collaborative Process.
One of the most difficult steps in the divorce process is talking about your decision with your adult children. It may feel like admitting a failure, or letting them down.
Divorce is a major life crisis for all family members and should be treated as such, even when your children are no longer “kids.” Children who are adults when their parents divorced consistently report years later the news of their parents’ divorce “rocked the very foundation” of their world.
You are making a good start and doing the best you can. You are reading this blog post. Give yourself permission not to be perfect. No one is perfect. Breathe deeply; you and your children can get through this difficult time together. These tips will help guide you through this process.
Schedule a time when you can speak with your children together and preferably in person. Siblings benefit from the support system they can provide each other. When you are scheduling the time to talk, tell them you have something important to discuss with them. Assure them no one is sick or dying. If they ask you what you want to talk about, tell them
Clients often wonder how working with a team of professionals will benefit them when moving forward with the Collaborative Process for their divorce. Even experienced practitioners sometimes fail to understand how all professionals on an interdisciplinary team can assist and support clients, even high-conflict clients, to become “Agreement Ready.”
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Dr. Carol Hughes, family law lawyer Diana L. Martinez, and financial specialist Cathleen Collinsworth offer recent findings from neuroscience showing how working in teams can assist clients resolve even their most difficult conflicts at the upcoming Collaborative Practice California (CP Cal) “Celebration XI” Conference in Redwood City, California April 29 – May 1.
Dr. Hughes says the training is designed for all practitioners who want to continue evolving their ability to assist clients with the powerful tools provided through the Collaborative Process. Participants will learn techniques for assisting clients:
Identify and develop the clients’ ‘Key Elements of Agreement’ that avoid being too specific or too vague and therefore of no value.
Identify and develop the clients’ ‘Questions To Be Answered’ relative to their ‘Key Elements of Agreement.’
Develop ‘Options for Resolution’ that are both individually and family-centric interest based.