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.
Orange County Collaborative Practice professionals will share their expertise with colleagues in April at the annual Collaborative Practice California Conference XII in Redondo Beach.
Members of Collaborative Divorce Solutions of Orange County (CDSOC) are in demand as professional education panelists and seminar leaders throughout Fall 2017 due to their expertise and experience working with a diverse array of Orange County clients in the Collaborative approach to divorce.
“Many collaborative professionals are committed to continuing professional education in order to provide the best service to our clients,” said Dr. Carol Hughes, CDSOC member and workshop leader. “The annual conference of Collaborative Practice California is one venue for us to do this.
“We CDSOC members are honored to be contributing to the further growth of our Collaborative colleagues throughout the state. Ultimately, the reward is offering better options to clients who want to avoid the trauma, time and expense of a litigated divorce or other disputes,” added Dr. Hughes.
Collaborative Practice California presentations include:
Collaborative Family Lawyer and Mediator Bart Carey, Divorce Coach and Child Specialist Dr. Hughes, Ph.D., LMFT, and Financial Specialist Cathleen Collinsworth, CDFA™, MAFF™ will facilitate an advanced seminar titled “Grand Rounds for Collaborative Practitioners.”
by Jann Glasser, Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT), Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), Coach/Psychotherapist, Collaborative Coach
Holiday season is here again. If you are divorced with children, the season can be challenging as you attempt to coordinate two households and extended family, trying to meet everyone’s needs simultaneously. As you begin to review your child’s wish list for the season, there is something more precious every child wants that you won’t find in any store or even on Amazon.
It’s time with both parents during the holidays, the kind of quality time that helps your children feel reassured that while their parents might not be living together anymore, your relationship with your child remains the same.
If your child could write out their wish list for the things to make it easier, the list would look like this:
1. Help me shop for or make a gift for my other parent, if I’m not old enough to do it myself. It feels good when I can give you each gifts that you like.
2. Don’t make me feel guilty about the gift I got or what fun I had with each of you.
by John R. Denny, Family Law Attorney Hittelman Strunk Law Group, LLP, Newport Beach, California
The team approach helps you get through the process without going to war.
You will work with a team of legal, financial, and mental health professionals who are specifically trained in the Collaborative Process. They agree to work with you to reach a settlement outside of court.
You make the decisions, not the judge.
In the Collaborative Process, the parties do not go to court. They resolve their differences through cooperative negotiation. Thus, all orders are made with both parties’ agreement.
The process is less expensive than a litigated divorce.
While all cases are different, studies show that a successful Collaborative case is less expensive than a litigated case, even one which settles before trial.
Coaches help you and your spouse learn to communicate in ways which can reduce the adversarial nature of the divorce.
In a full team Collaborative Divorce, each party will work with an assigned mental health professional acting as a coach. Among other things, the coach will assist the party to avoid the type of communication which will further divide the parties, and make settlement more costly and difficult.
The effect of divorce on children and the benefits of the Collaborative Divorce approach were recently featured in the community news publication Stu News Laguna. Collaborative Divorce Solutions of Orange County member Patrice Courteau was interviewed and provided her insight and expertise on lessening the negative effects of divorce on children, particularly teenagers who are not always considered as vulnerable as younger children.
Why do so many people behave so poorly when they separate and divorce? You know what I mean. As people choose to separate and divorce, as we get caught up in emotions and conflict, we say and do things that, in our everyday lives we’d never do or say.
Worse, this behavior is often condoned, counseled and/or supported by well-meaning family friends and even professionals. We fight for control or justification by speaking to and treating our children’s mother or father in ways we’d never condone under any other circumstance. We’d certainly never teach our children such behavior is acceptable, except they actually are learning from observing what we do.
This reality became personal for me when after a number of years as a litigator, I experienced my own divorce. I learned that divorce is not a legal process. It is a life experience.
Note: To avoid the clumsiness of using “child/children,” “children” is intentionally used throughout this article
It is clear you care about doing the best you can for your children through the separation and divorce process, because you are reading this article. Give yourself permission not to be perfect. No one is. Remember to keep taking slow, deep breaths. You and your children will get through this difficult time.
Consider the following tips to help you prepare to talk with your minor children.
Agree on a time when you and your spouse can talk with your children together. Siblings need the support system they can provide each other. Divorce is a major life crisis for all family members and should be treated as such. Ideally, it is best to share the news with your children when they will have adequate time to absorb what you will be telling them; for instance, when they do not have to go back to school in a day or two after hearing the news.
Members of Collaborative Divorce Solutions of Orange County had a wonderful opportunity to train with Vicki Carpel Miller and Ellie Izzo, Collaborative mental health professionals from Scottsdale, Arizona. Miller and Izzo discussed how people going through divorce are often in a “fog” of confusion and paralysis. Our job as competent and compassionate Collaborative professionals is to help each of the spouses to “recover” through what we hope will be a transformative process through Collaborative Practice.
How does this happen? By the use of a cohesive and skilled team of Collaborative professionals—attorneys, mental health, and financial professionals– who can alert you, educate you, and bring you out of the chaos and into the sunlight. This can be done by identifying the different phases of transition and encourage the following stages of recovery:
Recovery Mode: Burned out, over stimulated. Trying to be productive is hard. Transition by focusing on the basics like adequate sleep, water, exercise, the comfort of friends, etc.