Temporary “Phonelessness” Is OK

by Stephanie Maloney

Temporary “Phonelessness” Is OKCo-parenting is tough enough without having to wonder if you’re one text away from that phone call from the Highway Patrol. Nobody wants to be the cop in the family even when it makes sense to everybody else.

We all abuse the privilege of using the phone while driving so it’s tough being tough on the kids without hearing “you both do it and you’re the only one that gives me grief about it”. Just what you don’t need-playing mom & dad off each other.

With 400,000 “distracted driving” related injuries recorded in 2015 the (growing) numbers are too much for parents or teens to ignore and teens are four times more likely to be unlucky.

There are no easy answers but I keep reading about families that set their own guidelines and act on the “honor system” when driving alone-parents included.

50 Million People Can be Wronged

by Stephanie Maloney

50 Million People Can be WrongedIt’s an old advertising ploy used by promoters for everything from cigarettes to soap; postulating, “If so many other people are doing it how can they all be wrong?” The simple answer is they were sold out – literally.

Mr. Zuckerberg has stepped up in a somewhat delayed timeline to acknowledge that like the captain of a ship he is responsible for whatever happens with his vessel.

He will now face a barrage of questions in D.C. to explain the massive borrowing of personal data by Cambridge Analytica for the purposes of obfuscating information related to the candidates in the 2016 elections.

Facebook gives away its services in return for our data. If you’re not familiar with “Bedazzled” you still might recognize the “made a deal with the Devil” dynamic and what your soul is really worth.

I admit that it never occurred to me that 50% of us rely on Facebook for news about the country and the planet, not just vacation videos. So if we thought that we were getting a free ride with our friends and family “pics & clicks” we were wrong.

There are any number health professionals suggesting that we find, no make, the time to unplug for a while every day. It might not be a bad idea to show the kids what it’s like to get an actual letter in the mail-no the other one-with a stamp and their name on it-and it can’t be hacked.

Spring Cleaning

by Stephanie Maloney

Spring Cleaning Your FinancesAs we finally are getting some much-needed rain I keep thinking about things, besides the social and political black holes, that are ripe for clean up.

With a clearer picture of your finances under the new tax laws it’s probably not a bad idea to get an overview from your advisors about all your options.

I used to talk with my brokerage clients at the end of the first quarter, especially after a turbulent year, so they could position themselves for any changes their tax advisor might suggest.

We already know the landscape has changed but we’re just learning about the effects on our individual situations.

You might very well need to talk about some adjustments with your ex-spouse about your co-parenting parenting plan in light of what is not working so well and any increased levels of stress on the kids. Worries about money have a habit of affecting all family members.

As I have noted please let me know if you think I might be able to be of help even if only for a referral to someone with a very specific area of expertise.

Also let me know if you or a friend might be interested in our Tuesday Support Group.

Crypto-Scams, or, Old Wolf New Online Sheepskin

by Stephanie Maloney

Crypto ScamEvery year around “Tax Time” consumers, across the board, get hit with opportunities to “turn that refund into a lot of money” and this year some of it is coming a “Bit Coin” at a time.

Scams that have historically targeted retirees, widows and widowers are now bleeding out to include the newly single. The promise of fantastic returns on even small investments involving “Crypto Currencies” and “Block Chains” is a familiar tale echoing the old hustles of Oil & Gas and Gold & Silver back in the eighties. These scams always prey upon the “fear of missing out” and for a certain percentage of people it always works.

If you, like many of us at a certain age, are engaged in parental care you’ve already heard about some “incredible” offers being made online to “make those retirement funds really pay off”. It’s a relative new development for people to say ‘I know Dad ever since the divorce those things started showing up every day”. Since it’s all online one bad decision might open a “Pandora’s Box” of connected problems.

One of the insidious aspects of this “currency investment” is that it has become all too easy to use the pitch “no traditional broker can make money from it so they steer you away from it”.

That strategy plays deeper into the “missing out” fear and makes it a lot easier to push those buttons and “get in” on something they think is a deal “too good to miss”.

You’re going to see more about this so “be careful out there” as the “Woodsman” said to “Little Red Riding Hood.”

Mediate! Don’t Litigate.

There are huge advantages when you mediate your divorce, family law, custody, child support, alimony, spousal support or modification.  If you’ve spent any time at all on our web site, you already know how passionate we are about mediation and its benefits.

We saw a new couple this week for mediation.  They’d already spent about $100,000 on lawyers’ fees and going to court and had gotten basically nowhere.  I know that sounds like I’m exaggerating, but that’s not unusual for Los Angeles in terms of legal fees.  It looks like we’ll settle the case at Peace Talks for about $5000. We’ve accomplished in a few hours what the lawyers didn’t do in 4 years. Amazing. 

Of course, as much as I’d like to claim all the credit, it’s because the clients are ready to settle and want to settle (although there is still a ton of conflict) that makes this possible. But still. $100,000? 

And we’ve recently implemented a sliding fee scale, too. We want to help people who want to get through their divorces as peacefully as possible, so please don’t let fees be the barrier.  If you’re struggling financially, let us know and if you qualify for the sliding fee, including some free services, we’re happy to help you.

Peace Talks is a business, but it’s also a vision.

So mediate, don’t litigate. In case we haven’t convinced you, we’ve listed the benefits below.

Here are a few of our favorites:

  • Less expensive—generally 90% less expensive–than going to court.
  • Faster—mediation is on your schedule, as fast or as slow as you want. You’re not at the mercy of the court’s schedule.
  • Helps preserve what’s left of your relationship. Do you really want to duck and cover every time you bump into a former in-law or mutual friend?  And if you have kids, you’re going to be co-grandparents. You’ve got to figure this out! and mediation can help.
  • Unique to your situation:  the mediation process is designed around your agenda and your needs, not the court’s and not the mediator’s.  You’ll negotiate an agreement that’s tailored to your family and unique situation, not just what a judge you’ve never met before thinks should work for you.

And when you’ve got children, mediation is even more important and effective.  Preserving or creating a good co-parenting relationship is really crucial to your child’s wellbeing.  Mediation can help.

Would you really want your divorce to hurt your child?  We didn’t think so. Our best tips:

Custody Mediation

1. The best predictor of how children do after a divorce is the amount of conflict between parents.  Mediation teaches you how to parent with less conflict.

    2. Mediation lets you create child-focused parenting plans that are tailor-made to suit your schedule as well as your kids’ needs. Mediation puts kids first but doesn’t leave parents behind, either.

        3. A good parenting plan let’s you avoid “He Said/She Said” arguments. The details are already in the plan. No more fighting.

          So mediate! don’t litigate!

          If you’re in the Los Angeles area, we’d be happy to help you through the process.  If you’re not near LA, you can find a mediator near you at Mediate.com.

          book-a-freeappointment-with-a

          And visit our video mediation blog!

          Mediate for Success

          I’ve been a divorce lawyer for 22 years (youthful appearance notwithstanding!) and I’ve learned a lot about what works and what does not work when you’re getting divorced.

          I also got divorced myself. That was a big lesson, too.  Thankfully it was on the “what works” list as opposed to the “what doesn’t work” list.

          When you’re faced with a divorce or other family law case (custody, support, domestic partnership, cohabitation), you have the best chance for success in resolving everything at stake if you mediate.

          I know, that sounds a little self-interested, since I’m a full time mediator….but I became a mediator by giving up a very high paying divorce lawyer job because I knew it was time to be part of the solution, and not part of the problem.  I traded my fancy car for a 2002 Honda Accord and 11 years later I still value helping families through this difficult life transition (divorce).

          Diana Mercer, Mediator (that’s me!)

          Here’s how it works:

          In mediation, you and your spouse or partner will work with a neutral professional, often a lawyer or a therapist trained in mediation, or both (but non-attorneys make good mediators, too).  Their job is to help you settle your case, from cars and pots and pans to parenting plans for children, support, and retirement accounts. 

          Shop around, as mediators’ styles vary greatly.  Ask if there’s a free orientation or initial consultation.  Decide what kind of mediator might work for your situation. This is a very personal process so you want to be able to make a connection with your mediator.

          Mediators’ styles might include:

          • Making suggestions
          • Informing you about the law
          • Telling you what others have done in your situation
          • Outlining your options
          • Helping you think of different ways to resolve a problem
          • Facilitating communication
          • Making sure the discussion is balanced, productive, and respectful
          • Writing down agreements
          • Helping you with court paperwork (or doing it for you)
          • Helping you to stay on task and finishing discussions, because when discussions become difficult, it’s tempting to just change the subject
          • Whatever else you ask them to do

          Not all mediators do all these things, so ask.

          In our practice, we design the mediation to fit the clients’ needs, while following some proven steps we know help mediations be successful.

          For example, we insist that we make an agenda (all together, all ideas count) of everything that needs to be decided. We do this very early in the process. This helps everyone stay organized.

          We insist on making the agenda list—but that list will include whatever the clients want to include, even if it isn’t on our checklist.  And we get some unusual topics sometimes:  pet visitation, dividing Beanie Baby collections, creating a shared story that both parents can tell the children about the divorce, you name it.

          So the agenda is part of the office’s “best practices” but what the agenda includes is completely up to the clients.  We find that this kind of structure makes more mediations successful than if we didn’t follow these procedures (and the agenda is just one of several)…but the topics, timing, discussion, format and priorities belong to the clients.

          Mediation is about 90% less expensive than hiring 2 lawyers and litigating in court. I know that’s hard to believe, but it’s true.  And even if your case is very difficult and complicated, it’s still a better process and it results in long term success because the people who are living with the outcome (the couple) have so much input into the final agreement.

          Mediation typically attracts some very nice people who are having an extremely bad day.  Divorce is really stressful and a very sad experience (generally) and we never forget how hard it is to sit in our office and talk about everything you care about in this world:  your children, how they’re raised, your home, your financial security, and the dreams you had for this relationship.  Mediation is the best way to go about dealing with this unfortunate situation.

          If you want to find a mediator near you, Mediate.com will help you find a mediator if you’re not in the Los Angeles area.

          Or, if you’re in the Los Angeles area, call for a free appointment today:

          book-a-freeappointment-with-a

          Court Field Trip: Mediation

          to kill a mockingbird resized 600We see a lot of grandstanding in mediation.

          I think a lot of clients think they’re going to get To Kill a Mockingbird Atticus Finch style attention in court.  The sad truth is, however, that if you get 10 minutes you’re lucky.

          I know you don’t believe me. Nobody does until they actually spend the $ and time necessary to get their 10 minutes (squeezed in before the lunch break, so you already paid your lawyer for 4 hours plus travel time).

          So go ahead, and think I’m some self-interested mediator who just wants to drum up business.

          Don’t believe me when I tell you that California has closed entire courthouses since the recession began. Or that in Los Angeles county there’s a monthly mandatory furlough day when there’s no court staff and the courthouse is closed. Shuttered.

          Judges getting pink slips? You better believe it.

          And this is AFTER you were already probably going to get 2 sentences and a stack of paperwork to hand the judge and then your hearing was over.

          Over 41,000 couples get divorced in Los Angeles County each year.

          But no, don’t believe me….why should you? You can see for yourself!

          Here’s what we put in our summaries and reports:

          Court Field Trip: At different points during the mediation session, you each indicated that you might feel like court would be a good option for resolving some of your impasse issues.  Before you make a final decision as to whether court would be a good option for you, we’d suggest that you make a trip down to the Superior Court at 111 N. Hill Street, 2nd floor, Los Angeles,CA 90012 and see what happens in the family courtrooms.  We think it makes sense for you to have all of the information before you make final choices about going to court or not going to court.  Without seeing how the court operates, you won’t know if it’s the best choice for you.

          As you know, we’ve painted a fairly bleak picture of the litigation process and pros and cons of using the court to resolve your dispute.  But you don’t need to rely on our version of the situation:  you can go to court and see for yourself.  All court files and proceedings are public record, which means you can look up anyone’s file in the filing room (room 112) or sit in on anyone’s divorce case in any of the family court rooms (most are on the 2nd floor).

          By going to court, you can observe the litigants, lawyers, bailiffs and judges. You can see and feel what the court experience might be like for you if you were to choose to go to court on your case.  You can get an idea of how much time a judge has to hear each case as well as the opportunity litigants have to speak to the judge, their lawyers, and the other party.  You can get an idea of how much attention the court proceedings give to individuals’ goals, values, common interests, and creative non-judicial solutions.  We think that you’ll agree with our observations, but it’s important that you see for yourself.  Without seeing how the court operates, you won’t know if it’s the best choice for you.

           

          Diana Mercer is the co-author of Making Divorce Work: 8 Essential Keys to Resolving Conflict and Rebuilding Your Life (Perigee 2010). Join the conversation > and check out Diana’s divorce blog on the Huffington Post. Join the community on our video blog .

          The Tale of 2 Blogs: Mediation

          For those of you who’ve found this blog, but not the Making Divorce Work blog, I actually maintain 2 blogs. This one, the Peace Talks blog, is pretty straightforward. Mostly mediation and legal information and advice, in a sort of op-ed type format. The 2nd blog is much more personal.

          I’ve found that as a mediator, the more personal I get with people the better success rate I have.  I actually do care about clients (contrasted with my feelings about my litigation clients, with few exceptions, 15 years ago). 

          So for the 411, the Peace Talks blog is the place. This is the mediator whose articles you’ll read:

          Diana Mercer

           

           

           

           

           

           

           

           

           

           

           

           

           For insight into what really goes on at the office, and inside my head, check out the Making Divorce Work blog. This is the person whose blogs you’ll read:

          describe the image

          Sincerely (and I do mean that),

          Diana Mercer

          Divorce and Graphotherapy

          graphotherapy divorce recoveryDivorce and Graphotherapy

          Guest blog post by Sheila Lowe, MS www.sheilalowe.com

          Divorce sucks. No point denying it. Whether you’ve grown to hate the person you once loved or the parting is amicable, when it comes to ending it all, you still have to grieve for the hopes and dreams you once shared. It’s stressful, it’s painful, and there are plenty of difficult feelings to deal with. But there is a way to make some of it just a little bit easier.

          In my work as a handwriting analyst, I’ve found that people in stressful situations such as divorce have been helped by doing a few simple exercises called graphotherapy. Some exercises help difficult emotions come to the surface for release. Others help the brain to focus and attend better, so that when you’re filling out all that paperwork and figuring out who gets what, you won’t miss any important details.

          graphology

          Graphotherapy works because everything you’ve ever done or thought or said remains in your brain, and when you pick up a pen and write, the way you’ve responded to all your life experiences and integrated them into your personality is translated into the trail of ink you leave on the paper.

          Your handwriting is unique to you

          Family Mediation and “Failure”

          A client told me this week, “I think that divorce is one of the great failings of adulthood.” 

          If it was only that simple.

          family mediation

          Let’s face it. We fail a lot of the time. And if we never fail, it means we’re not taking enough chances and not trying enough new things.  People who never fail are failing to challenge themselves.

          Of course, nobody opts into the divorce system on purpose.  When you get married, you think it’s for keeps. Divorce is definitely not Plan A. It’s probably not even Plan B or Plan C.  But when it happens to you, you have a choice of how you handle it. 

          You can scorch the earth, gossip to all your mutual friends, and slash your spouse’s tires.  That’s one way. It’s actually more popular than it should be.

          But as a responsible adult (which this client is) you can choose to deal with divorce and other unfortunate things that happen in a respectful, sane way.  Click to find out how Family Mediation works.  There are so many choices for divorce nowadays that running to a lawyer isn’t necessary.

          As much as he felt he’d failed, or that his spouse had failed, in creating a lasting marriage, ultimately he didn’t fail to be a responsible adult.  

          There are some things in life that we can control and some things we can’t.  What we can control is our reaction, and actions, once these things happen.  And this is where he succeeded.  He could’ve run off to court, but he chose to mediate. And when the discussion was difficult, he didn’t give up. He kept coming back to mediation…and ultimately, this couple figured it out.

          Bad things happen to good people.  They happen all the time.  My mom, the kindest, gentlest person in the world, died of cancer in 2010.  My friend who adopted a drug-addicted baby from foster care has a brain tumor. The bad things that happen are not necessarily because you failed.

          And even if you did fail, the measure of a person’s character is how you deal with that failure, not the fact that you failed.

          • Did you do everything you could to save your marriage? 
          • Did you speak frankly and respectfully to your spouse about your marital problems?
          • Did you seek counseling or outside help?

          And if none of that worked, did you leave your marriage in an honest, honorable, respectful way?

          Family mediation gives you the opportunity to do exactly that.  You can honor the years you spent together and the good things you gave each other when you mediate your divorce.   Sure, the last couple of years probably haven’t been so good, but you got married because you were in love (or at least you thought that you’d be a lasting couple) so surely there were some good times.

          And if you have children, certainly they are part of the gifts you gave each other.

           

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          Mediation Training: Family Law

          Mediation Training:  Family Law

          Here at Peace Talks we get a lot of questions about how to become a mediator.  For the full story, here’s a link to the “how to become a mediator” blog post.

           We also offer a mediation training program.  It’s a 25 hour program on DVD.  It also comes with a 220 page manual so you will have all of the forms and templates which we reference in the video program.

          preview-the-dvds-free

          This beginning family law mediation training program was edited down from a full week 40 hour training so you get the full experience of a live mediation training without having to leave your home.

          Here’s an exerpt from the DVD set: 5 Sources of Conflict.  Take a look and you can see exactly what the training looks like.

           

          In fact, there are a lot of samples from the DVD set on our Peace Talks You Tube Channel. Plus lots of other interesting stuff.

          It is approved for California MCLE and I can issue a certificate of completion once you notify me that you’ve completed the entire course.

           California does not certify mediators, so this is not a “certification” course but it will satisfy the minimum requirements to sign up for most mediation panels. Here’s the link to join the Los Angeles Superior Court mediation panel: http://www.lasuperiorcourt.org/adr/forms/LAADR006.pdf For more information on the Los Angeles Superior Court mediation program, click here:  http://www.lasuperiorcourt.org/adr/UI/index.aspx

          Here is a summary of the topics included:

          Why mediation?

              • What we will do in this training
              • Value, benefits and results of mediation for mediators and clients
              • Uses for mediation and mediation skills
              • Who is a mediator?
              • Mediation styles and signatures
              • Other types of ADR

          How mediation works from first contact to agreement

              • Mediation process overview
              • Convening
              • Mediation orientations (link is a video!)
              • Session structure (joint sessions, caucuses, preliminary appointments)
              • When the clients arrive
              • Ground rules and the agreement to mediate: the first agreements
              • Therapeutic intake
              • Setting the agenda

          preview-the-dvds-free

          Role Play:  your first mediation session (intake through agenda)

          What is conflict?

              • Our values surrounding conflict
              • Moore’s 5 sources of conflict
              • The nature of family conflict
              • Conflict resolution strategies

          Negotiation techniques and demonstrations

              • Interest based negotiations
              • BATNA and WATNA
              • Reality testing
              • Doubt and dissonance
              • The psycho legal approach
              • Bias and impartiality
              • Neutrality redefined:  invested, but not aligned or biased
              • Getting to Yes
              • Pacing and transitions

          Mediation Planning

          • Setting up success
          • Case conferencing
          • Evaluation and feedback

          Mediation Planning role play:  the first agenda items

          Communication in Mediation

              • Mediator goals when listening
              • Mediator goals when speaking
              • Communication techniques:
                • Active listening
                • Summarizing, reframing and rephrasing
                • Empathy
                • Naming, and making the hidden transparent
                • 10 Tips for asking questions
                • Using neutral language

          Helping clients through the process

              • Mediation readiness
              • Support systems
              • Setting the intention

          The Emotional Divorce and Mediating Solid Parenting Plans

              • Ambivalence
              • Grief
              • Re-capitulation and Re-traumatization
              • Anatomy of a parenting plan

          The Legal Divorce

          • Child support,
          • Spousal support
          • Property division                             
          • Drafting agreements

           The Legal Divorce: domestic violence

           Role play: Parenting Plan Mediation

           Hot topics in mediation:  comparison of ethical standards, reporting requirements, mediation confidentiality, professional development, practice development, future trends, career opportunities

          Final Role Play:  from therapeutic intake to agreement

            order-the-9-dvd-set

           

          Mediation vs. Litigation

          More and more people are choosing mediation rather than litigation.  Why it has taken so long to catch on, when the benefits of mediation are obvious, is beyond me, but better late than never.

          There are huge advantages when you mediate your divorce, family law, custody, child support, alimony, spousal support or modification issue.  If you’ve spent any time on our mediation website, you already know how passionate we are about mediation and its benefits.

          A new couple came in for mediation recently.  They’d already spent about $100,000 on lawyers’ fees and going to court, and had gotten basically nowhere. That’s not unusual forLos Angelesin terms of divorce lawyers and legal fees in court. It looks like they’ll settle their case with Peace Talks for about $5,000. We’ve accomplished in a few hours what the lawyers didn’t do in four years. That’s the difference Peace Talks can make. 

          Of course, as much as I’d like to claim the credit for this breakthrough, it’s because the clients are ready to settle and want to settle (although there is still a ton of conflict) that makes this possible. But still

          Divorce Threats: I’ll See You in Court!

          There’s often a lot of grandstanding in divorce court proceedings.

          A lot of people say, “I’ll see you in court!” not knowing exactly what that means.  In the moment, they don’t like what they’re hearing, whether it’s in mediation or around the kitchen table, so they say, I’m done with this!” not realizing that saying “no” to whatever settlement process you’re engaged in means you’re saying “yes” to something else.

          And so before you choose litigation, here are some things we thought you might like to know.

          In California divorce courts, many clients think they’re going to get the Atticus Finch style representation in To Kill a Mockingbird in court.  The truth is, however, that if you get 10 minutes to state your case in a divorce court proceeding, you’re lucky.

          divorce mediation

          Mediation is not just a less expensive and time-consuming divorce alternative; it also lets your whole story be expressed. So don’t think of me as some self-interested Southern California divorce mediator who wants to drum up business (which I am, I suppose, but I’m also interested in helping people get divorced without losing their shirt or their sanity). Think of mediators like me as the moderators in a reasoned debate that will produce the fairest result in your own divorce situation.

          California has closed entire courthouses since the recession began. In Los Angeles County, there’s a monthly furlough day that’s mandatory where there’s no court staff and the courthouse is closed.

          And these built-in delays are BEFORE you are likely to get two sentences plus a pile of paperwork to hand the judge, and then your “hearing” is over. Over 41,000 couples  go through this divorce process in Los Angeles County every year. Don’t believe these divorce court facts? See for yourself!

          Take a court field trip! It’s free and open to the public.

          Court Field Trip: At different points during the mediation session, many couples can feel like court would be a good option for resolving some of your divorce or impasse issues.  Before you make a final decision as to whether court would be a good option for you, we suggest that you visit the Superior Court at 111 N. Hill Street, 2nd floor, Los Angeles,CA 90012 (or your local courthouse if you’re not in Los Angeles) and see for yourself what goes on in the family courtrooms.  We think it makes sense for you to have all the information before you make final choices about going to court or choosing mediation as the vehicle to navigate your divorce, and which presents the best choice for you.

          Peace-Talks paints a fairly bleak picture of the litigation process, and the pros and cons of using divorce court to resolve your dispute.  It’s based on considerable family law experiences, but you don’t need to rely on our version:  you can go the courthouse and see for yourself.  All court files and divorce proceedings are public record, which means you can look up anyone’s file in the filing room (room 112), or sit in on anyone’s divorce case in any of the family court rooms (most are on the 2nd floor in the downtown Los Angeles courthouse.

          By going to court, you can observe the litigants, lawyers, bailiffs and judges. You can see and feel what the court experience might be like for your divorce process, divorce settlement, and pos-divorce issues if you were to choose to go to court for your case.  You can get an idea of how much time a judge has to hear each case, as well as the opportunity litigants have to speak to the judge, their lawyers, and the other party.  You can see how much attention the court proceedings give to individuals’ goals, values, common interests, and creative non-judicial solutions regarding child support, visitation and parenting plan mediation and administration.  We think that you’ll agree with Peace-Talk’s divorce mediation service, but it’s important that you witness Los Angeles divorce court for yourself.

          If you’re seeking divorce information in Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, or the SouthBay, visit https://www.peace-talks.com or call 310-301-2100.  If you’re not near Los Angeles or Orange County, you can find a mediator near you at http://mediate.com. For more information, visit http://www.makingdivorcework.com.

           book-a-freeappointment-with-a

          Diana Mercer is an Attorney-Mediator, and the founder of Peace Talks Mediation Services, https://www.peace-talks.com. She is the co-author of Making Divorce Work: 8 Essential Keys to Resolving Conflict and Rebuilding Your Life (Penguin/Perigee 2010) http://www.makingdivorcework.com and Your Divorce Advisor: A Lawyer and a Psychologist Guide You Through the Legal and Emotional Landscape of Divorce (Simon & Schuster/Fireside 2001) http://www.yourdivorceadvisor.com and writes for the Huffington Post http://www.huffingtonpost.com/diana-mercer as well as her own blog Making Divorce Work http://makingdivorceworkblog.com.

           free-stuff

          Cost of Divorce: Cost of Staying Together

          Putting a price on sanity?

          There have been so many articles on people who aren’t getting divorced because they “can’t afford it” that it’s making me a little alarmed.

          The monetary cost of divorce is one thing. Certainly, divorce mediation is a less costly alternative to fighting it out in court, especially when finances are tight and savings are dwindling.

          What people don’t see, and what I do see as a divorce professional, is the toll that staying together when you really should be living separately is taking on couples.  Mediation cases are getting harder to settle because couples are really burning bridges by trying to stay in the same house, so by the time they get to mediation they’ve really used up all the good will that they had for each other. 

          And, of course, there’s always the couple that says, “Oh, living together will be fine,” and then I get a call for a criminal lawyer because someone called the police and one or both spouses is in jail.

          But this didn’t start with this recession. It’s pretty much always been the case….

          It was a crisis, alright.  I didn’t think we would ever make it out.  Mortgages were becoming more expensive than the houses they were paying for and being in debt was the rule, not the exception.  Does this story sound familiar?  It’s a familiar plot, but the setting here is Los Angeles, California, 1988.  There I was, a fresh-faced divorce lawyer, newly admitted to the bar in the midst of a looming recession.  There was no end in sight.  Of course, things did eventually turn around, that is until the economic bubble burst again in the early 2000s, and then again in 2008 leading to the situation we are challenged with today.

          Only today is different.  It used to be that couples on the brink of divorce would separate and move into their parents’ homes until the dust settled.  Not anymore.  Now it’s all about staying together and trying to “make do” with changing your living situation being a last resort.

          Sure, it sounds like a decent plan

          California Divorce

          Divorce in California

          Divorce law varies state-to-state, and California has the distinction of being one of 9 states that have enacted a Community Property law.

          As a divorce lawyer in Los Angeles, this actually simplifies things (at least initially) because California follows the 50/50 rule.

          Partners each get 50% of their collective property from the time they tie the knot to the day their separation is official.  This includes all property (cars, houses, pets, even debts).  Doesn’t matter what it is, if it happens the marriage is added to the Community Property (sometimes called “marital property”) and then split equally upon divorce.

           uncontested divorce california

          So for that Los Angeles Divorce attorney, now that the percentage has already been decided, all she or he now has to do is to figure out who gets what.  But wait–it doesn’t stop there, they still have to sift through the scores of exceptions to this 50/50 rule.  Not only that, they have to deal with contentious meetings with their client (let’s face it, nobody who’s getting divorce is having a good day) or spouse’s divorce attorney.  So much for being simple.  With each spouse hiding behind their attorney it creates unecessary issues.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a client say “if only we could just talk things out.”

          Here’s how you can, with Family Mediation Services.  What is Mediation?  Mediation with an attorney-mediator is like “divorce made easy.”  The advantage to Mediation is you can talk things through.  In a mediation session, we answer all of your questions about the laws applying to your case.  We define it from both sides, what each law and exception means to each spouse.  Then we talk about the facts that may sway a case one way or the other.  All this is very open, with all sides participating in the dialogue.  At Peace Talks we make sure nobody is left out of the conversation.

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          Being an Attorney-Mediator, I am allowed to facilitate the discussion without taking sides or representing just one spouse. I can talk to you about legal information without giving advice.  Everyone can be in the same room and hear both sides of the story.

          From there we can get to the bottom of what’s fair for both sides.  And you, as the participants, decide what “fair” means.

          In California and Los Angeles, where these Community Property rules are in effect, divorce mediation is popular because it allows couples to divide their property by talking it out.  Not only that, it ensures that each party has the same information and everyone knows the laws that apply.

          The most common knock I hear against other mediationfirms is that “so-and-so mediator is being partial to one side” or “x participant didn’t get to talk.”  The advantage of mediation is open communication.  If someone feels uncomfortable they need to speak up! It’s also part of the mediator’s job to make sure everyone is getting a chance to talk.  It’s important to get everything out in the open.  The mediator does their best to get everyone involved, but sometimes it can be hard to judge whether one participant is uncomfortable.  Most importantly, if you have a question or an issue bring it up in session.  These sessions are for you!  Plus you’ll make our job a lot easier.  We want to help YOU!

          Do you live in California or need the help of an experienced divorce mediator?  Try Peace Talks, and check out the resources on this site for more information and helpful links.

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          Setting Clear Boundaries in Divorce

          Setting Clear Boundaries

          Often, your marital or domestic situation does not meet the level of serious violence where you have to flee, but you are subject to consistent intimidation or abuse.

          These actions are also a form of violence or battering, and also an indication of the deterioration in your relationship. Understand that when you are being victimized or attacked in some way, your children risk being hurt, too. Furthermore, you are showing them a dangerous model for their own future relationships, a type of behavior they may carry with them throughout their life and repeat as adults when they become involved in intimate relationships.

          domestic violence

          Establish standards now for how you allow yourself and your children to be treated. Click here for an informative article on boundary setting.

          Some indications that your spouse, partner, husband or wife has gone too far include: getting angry at you when you disagree; punching holes in walls; throwing objects (aimed at nothing or at you); destroying belongings; threatening to hurt you or leave you for the purpose of intimidating you; physically preventing you from leaving home; putting pressure on you not to work when you want to; insulting or ridiculing you; becoming jealous of your friends, activities, or hobbies; making you account for your whereabouts at all times; using promises and lies to manipulate you or to get you to forgive their angry or threatening behavior; isolating you from friends or family; making you ask permission to go out or make a career move; and threatening to harm your possessions, pets, or children.

          Do not allow behaviors that feel uncomfortable, frightening, or intimidating to become acceptable to you or your children in your home or anywhere. These behaviors are forms of abuse even if you do not fear for your safety.

          Make it clear to your spouse that s/he can no longer try to control your life or your actions. If you do fear for your safety, you will need to take additional steps to guarantee your safety. Click here for information regarding protection orders and the protection order process, and here to familiarize yourself with Peace-Talks’ mediation services. Finally, click here to download the PDF version of Peace-Talks brochure that provides a quick visual means to our family law and mediation services.

          When Your Children Are Involved and Affected Children can be affected by parental violence in several ways. They can be physically injured during an incident between their parents; they can be traumatized by fear for their mother and their own sense of helplessness in protecting her; they can blame themselves for not preventing the violence or see themselves as causing it; they can be directly abused; and they can be neglected by parents who aren’t caring for their kids properly due to the violence present in the parental relationship.

          Studies show that parents fail to understand how often and to what extent children who witnesses parental violence or abuse are affected by it. Both mothers and fathers report that children are aware of abusive behavior less than the children report themselves when given the opportunity to respond.

          You can also take advantage of a book I wrote in 2001 that offers a comprehensive outline of the divorce process, Your Divorce Advisor: A Lawyer and a Psychologist Guide You Through the Legal and Emotional Landscape of Divorce (Simon & Schuster/Fireside 2001).

          There are free browsing and top 10 tips sections to help you at : http://www.yourdivorceadvisor.com . If you’re seeking divorce or other marital information in Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, or the South Bay, visit https://www.peace-talks.com  or call 310-301-2100.

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          If you’re not near Los Angeles or Orange County, you can find a mediator near you at http://mediate.com.

          For more information, visit http://www.makingdivorcework.com.  Diana Mercer is an Attorney-Mediator, and the founder of Peace Talks Mediation Services, https://www.peace-talks.com.  She is the co-author of Making Divorce Work: 8 Essential Keys to Resolving Conflict and Rebuilding Your Life (Penguin/Perigee 2010) http://www.makingdivorcework.com  and Your Divorce Advisor: A Lawyer and a Psychologist Guide You Through the Legal and Emotional Landscape of Divorce (Simon & Schuster/Fireside 2001) http://www.yourdivorceadvisor.com  and writes for the Huffington Post http://www.huffingtonpost.com/diana-mercer  as well as her own blog Making Divorce Work http://makingdivorceworkblog.com .

          Mediation is the New and Improved Litigation

          Well, there’s really no improvements on divorce and custody litigation.

          But mediation is definitely a better way to go.  Less costly, faster, confidential, on your schedule, tailored to your needs….the benefits of mediation are pretty clear.

          When you mediate your divorce, family law, custody, child support, alimony, spousal support or modification issue you don’t have to go to court and waste time and money.  If you’ve spent any time on our mediation website, you already know how passionate we are about mediation and its benefits.

          divorce mediation

          A new couple came in for mediation recently.  They’d already spent about $100,000 on lawyers’ fees and going to court, and had gotten basically nowhere. That’s not unusual forLos Angelesin terms of divorce lawyers and legal fees in court. It looks like they’ll settle their case with Peace Talks for about $5,000. We’ve accomplished in a few hours what the lawyers didn’t do in four years. That’s the difference Peace Talks can make. 

          Of course, as much as I’d like to claim the credit for this breakthrough, it’s because the clients are ready to settle and want to settle (although there is still a ton of conflict) that makes this possible. But still

          Creating a Good Divorce

          I know it’s an oxymoron:  nobody wants a divorce, so how could one be good? But when you’re faced with divorce, you have lots of opportunties to make it less bad (if not actually good, at least in the long run, in hindsight).

          I’ve been a divorce lawyer for 24 years, and expert on what works best for both parties when you’re getting divorced. As a divorcee myself, I perfected a personal “what works” that helps people navigate the often rough waters of divorce.

           When you’re faced with a divorce or other family law case (custody, support, domestic partnership, cohabitation), you have the maximum opportunity for success in resolving everything to the best benefits through mediation.

          mediation

           This might sound somewhat self-interested, since I’m a full time family law mediator….but I became a mediator after giving up a very high paying divorce lawyer job because I felt it was more important to be part of the solution, and not encourage the fighting that often characterizes divorce.  I traded my fancy car for a 2002 Honda Accord, and 11 years later it’s still fulfilling helping families through this difficult life transition of divorce.

           Diana Mercer, Mediator

          You can work through a lot of the issues you’ll face with our free tools:

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           Here’s how it works:

           In mediation, you and your spouse or partner work with a neutral, unbiased professional or team of mediators. This is more often a lawyer, a therapist trained in mediation, or someone with both legal and counseling expertise. The job of the mediator in your family law case is to help you settle your differences,  from cars and furniture to parenting plans for children, financial support and sharing of retirement accounts.

           When considering a family law or divorce mediator,  look around.  Mediator styles vary.  Ask your prospective mediator if a free orientation or initial consultation is available.  Take time to decide what type of mediator might work best for your personal circumstances. This is an intensely personal process,  so you should seek a personal connection with your chosen mediator.

           A mediator’s style might include:

              * Making suggestions

              * Informing you about legal provisions

              * Relating what others have done in your situation

              * Defining your options

              * Helping you consider alternative ways to resolve your problem

              * Facilitating communication

              * Ensuring the divorce discussion is balanced, productive, and respectful

              * Writing down agreements in a cogent, easy-to-follow way

              * Guiding you through court paperwork (or doing it for you)

              * Mentoring your staying on task and finishing discussions, because when discussions grow difficult, it’s tempting to just change the subject.

           Not all mediators do all these things, so use this list as your own list of questions when considering a mediator in a divorce proceeding.

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          In Divorce, The Truth Is Not Relevant

          The TRUTH IS IRRELEVANT IN DIVORCE.

          I know that sounds like crazy talk.

          But think about it this way:

          When we think of disputes, most of us think that the truth is the key to the resolution of any disagreement.  Get to the truth, and you have the resolution to the conflict. Yet, despite the words of P.D.Q Bach, “Truth is just truth. You can’t have opinions about truth,” how many of us see “the truth” the same way?

          Truth is said to be the foundation of the American justice system, yet how many litigants are satisfied with the outcome of the case once the judge makes a ruling?  By its very nature, litigation results in at least half of the litigants being disappointed, and disagreeing with the mandated “truth”.

          “I Promise to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth”

          divorce mediation

          This oath that’s stated by every witness in an American court is designed to bring out the truth.

          Honesty and veracity are important virtues— in the courtroom and around the mediation table. A witness who is perceived to be lying on one point—even a small one—may be disbelieved in other parts of his story.

          Having credibility and being believed is no less important in mediation—since mediation settlement requires voluntary agreement, you have to gain the trust of your adversary to conclude a deal. Truth is never irrelevant when you’re talking about credibility and trust.

          And the truth is….

          Does it really matter who downloaded the virus onto the computer system?  Does it really matter how many times President Clinton was with Monica Lewinsky?

          Interesting? Yes. But whichever way this testimony came out or was perceived, what truly was important went beyond the truth of this evidence. Could the President regain the trust of Congress, the Cabinet, the American people, and his wife and daughter? Could Monica Lewinsky move on with her life? What happened was that the country’s focus disintegrated into partisan bitterness, when its energy and resources would have been better spent in improving the economy or protecting our citizens from terrorist danger.  That’s what happens when when the focus shifts to the wrong part of the conflict.  The country focused on “the truth” and the past, rather than the bigger picture, and more important goals.

          Looking at it a different way, the truth, though important, remains different for each individual and probably can’t be reconciled. What really happened in the White House bathroom was less important than what President Clinton did at the infamous press conference when he pointed his finger and defiantly (and credibly) stated: “I never had sex with that woman.”  His mealy-mouthed attempt to shade the facts did irreparable damage to his credibility.  The truth mattered much less than the country’s trust in his credibility.  By losing focus on the goals

          Insider Divorce Advice

          Divorce Advice I Give My Friends

          I’ve been a divorce attorney for 24 years (youthful appearance notwithstanding).  As yo might guess, every single one of my friends (including Facebook friends) ask me for my advice when getting divorced.

          I’ve written a couple of books about divorce, and that’s where the official advice is.  This is the unofficial advice.

          Jedi Warrier, Use This Advice Wisely to Stay Trouble:

          Wile E. Coyote Schemes: Your spouse may be plotting and being strategic like some sort of Divorce James Bond. But at the end of the day, it’s a business deal and a parenting plan.  It is what it is. Don’t let your imagination run away with you.

          You can keep costs (and suspicion, and plotting) down by:

           1. Be organized. Make a notebook or set of folders with labeled dividers with all your financial records (recent ones, at the very least) and all tax returns you can find.  Get  a comparative market analysis for free from any realtor to estimate the value of your house and include that in your notebook.  Also include a recent pay stub or two.  Make your spouse a notebook, too.

          Yes, you heard me right.  Make a 2nd notebook for your spouse.  No playing games. If you don’t organize and copy the financial documents, your spouse’s lawyer will, billing by the hour.  Either you can make the notebook or your marital property will pay for having the notebook made (the attorney’s fee comes from somewhere, and most likely that’s your savings account).  Yes, it sounds crazy. But removing the mystery from the finances will prevent a lot of arguments and legal wrangling.  

          mediation

           2. Don’t get paralyzed by your emotions. It’s natural to be upset during your divorce. If you find yourself too upset to make good decisions, ask for help, whether it’s your therapist, best friend, clergy or family member.  And even if you’re feeling numb, it’s easy enough to get a hole punch and a notebook and sit at your kitchen table and get this information together.  You don’t need all your faculties to do that, so it’s a good activity for when you’re feeling lost.  Some really great free resources for keeping your sanity:

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           3. Don’t take the bait: Your spouse will say things just to get you upset. Ignore it. “We aren’t getting anywhere with this fight, so I’m not going to fight about it anymore. I hope we can work all of this out, though, eventually.”  Change the subject. Say that sentence as many times as you have to.

          Eventually, your spouse will get bored when it’s clear you aren’t going to fight back. It’s going to be very hard to do, but you must refuse to fight.  When you behave differently than you have in the past, your spouse will wonder what’s up and watching that might be amusing, so enjoy that moment and watch as your spouse adjusts to the fact that the old tricks don’t work anymore.

           4. Stay Sane. Take care of yourself. Exercise. Eat right. Make appointments with your therapist, make extra time for your kids (this is bonding time so don’t talk about your spouse), play soccer or checkers (ideally with your kids), make hang out time with friends.

          5. Finding that Special Someone: If you decide you want to meet someone, date or get laid, keep that plan to yourself. Seriously. It’s actually better to wait to get involved in a relationship, but so many people start to date as soon as they can so I’m telling you that your spouse will not take this news lightly. Your spouse will go nuts if you’re with someone else.  I know that makes no sense, but it happens all the time. All the time. It doesn’t matter if it’s your spouse who found a new lover first or if he or she moved out and filed for divorce and you wanted to reconcile.  Your spouse will still go bananas when they see you’ve moved on. I’m not saying don’t do it. I’m saying don’t let anyone find out.

           6. My Friend Said: If your spouse talks about other people’s divorces or what the lawyer has planned for you, ask:

          •  How many years did that friend’s divorce take?
          • How much did the divorce cost?
          • How much did your lawyer say that all of this would cost in legal fees?   https://www.peace-talks.com/compare.php
          • Will your lawyer put it in writing their guaranteed result? And that it will be better than what I’m prepared to offer without having to go to court? Net of the legal fees?

           You’re safe with that last question—no sane lawyer will guarantee an outcome or total fee so this will force your spouse and his or her lawyer to have an honest discussion about the pros and cons of pursuing any given legal action.

           7. Legal Advice from Your Spouse:   I love that spouses try and give each other legal advice. Really? Since when did your spouse become a divorce lawyer?  I thought he was a marketing executive

          TopTips for Choosing your Divorce Mediation Attorney

          Choosing the right mediator is important.

          You’re going to be talking with your mediator about everything you care anything about in the entire world:  Your future, your kids, your home, your job…..and so you want to choose someone you feel comfortable with.

          Mediators are all trained in basically the same way, but each person has a different way that they practice.  So ask if they have a free mediation orientation (or if they charge just to meet them) and do a little research. Click on the link above for our mediation orientation outline and information.  

          When you talk with the mediator and the office staff, how are you treated? Are they patient and do they answer your questions? Or is it just an answering service without any information and they are slow getting back to you?

          divorce mediation

          Are they generous with resources and do they encourage self-help?  The “really useful free stuff” below includes an interactive divorce mission statement you can do in just a minute or two, an interactive divorce journal you can download for free, and worksheets and checklists to get you organized and started. They were written by Peace Talks Mediation Services founder, Diana Mercer, as a supplement to her most recent book, Making Divorce Work: 8 Essential Keys to Resolving Conflict and Rebuilding Your Life.

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          Need a mediator but you’re not in Los Angeles?  Mediate.com lets you search for a mediator by your telephone area code.

          My colleague Fern Topas Salka came up with a good interview list:

          Questions to Ask a Mediator

          If you are interviewing a mediator ask these questions:
          1. Why did you become a mediator?
          2. What do you see as your goal for a mediation?
          3. What kind of commitment do you need form us to agree to mediate?
          4. Will you want to meet separately with us? If so, why? And if so, would you hold secrets?
          5. How familiar are you with Family Law?
          6. Will you tell us how you think a court would decide our case?
          7. How important is the law to you in mediation?
          8. How would you deal with stalemates?
          9. How do you feel about our using consultants, including consulting lawyers?
          10. Would you talk directly to our lawyers?
          11. How do you see your role in our communication with each other?
          12. What is the place of our feelings in this process?
          13. How do you feel about our talking to each other about our conflicts outside the mediation office?
          14. What mediation training have you undertaken?
          15. How much mediating experience do you have?
          16.  What is your fee? Can you estimate the total cost for my cases, or give me an average cost for cases like mine?
          17. Do you require a retainer?

          That’s a lot of questions!  But feel free to ask the ones that are important to you. How your mediator answers questions like these will give you a good idea of how he or she will answer your questions during your actual mediation session.

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          Parental Alientation and Divorce Mediation

          I get asked a lot about Child Custody. 

          It’s not surprising, since a parent’s love for their children is bigger than any financial settlement.  Oftentimes, a parent feels that getting more time with the child is worth more than any divorce settlement can buy.  Unfortunately, as a mediator specializing in divorce and child custody here in Los Angeles, I see a lot of clients who try to manipulate their children into choosing sides.

          parental alientation

          As a kid I remember seeing my friend’s parents getting divorced and wondering, “who would I choose?”  It’s a terrible thought, but with all the Law & Order-type shows on TV nowadays and with divorce rates sky-high, it’s one that kids think they might have to make.  Fortunately, entertainment is entertainment, and most often it is not the child’s decision.  The legal system in the United States and here in California have it set up so it doesn’t get to that point.

          Sometimes, however, a child involved in a custody dispute does verbalize or behave in a certain way that makes their wish known.  This can be tricky.  If they favor your side, you may want to encourage the behavior.  This is irresponsible and only creates further damage.  A child is young enough where they sometimes don’t know the affect that a decision will have on them.  This is why they need to be encouraged (and even forced) to visit both parents.  Stress to them that it is both parents’ wish to share time and that they shouldn’t feel that they are dividing loyalties.  If it is necessary, consult professional help from a therapist or counselor.

          In Los Angeles, Major Family Services offers a number of really terrific, high quality programs on how to deal with parental alienation and high conflict parenting.  Co Parenting classes can also be very helpful, and there are many available in most communities.

          As a divorce mediator and attorney, I see these delicate situations firsthand.  In a mediation session I can offer my advice based on your unique situation.  Divorce is not easy.  It is tough on everyone, including, and especially, children.  There is a clinical term for what a child faces when they prefer not to visit a parent.  It’s called Parental Alienation Syndrome, or PAS.  They may disregard the unfavored parent or even express vitriol or hatred towards them.  Even if you may think that you are not expressing it to your child, you may be encouraging it by what you don’t say, or even through small behavioral cues that the child picks up on, for instance when you are answering the phone or when you see your spouse’s car pull up in the driveway.  The behavior of your child often expresses your subconscious desires.

          The important part is open communication with your child and your spouse.  Try to get your child to express truly what they feel to get it out in the open.  Talk with your spouse about it too.  That’s one of the things I love about divorce mediation, the ability to sit in a room and talk it out.

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          If you feel you are a victim of Parental Alienation Syndrome, you have a few options.  First, talk with your child about it directly.  If that doesn’t help you can have a loved one, someone who you both trust, like a grandparent, talk to them about it.  Above all else, express your love for your child.  Let them know how much rejection can hurt, and how you really want to work on your relationship.  Ask your child what obstacles are getting in the way.  You’d be surprised how honest children can be when confronted directly.

          You don’t need me to tell you that dealing with children can be tricky.  Sometimes the best way to get a message to them is through the least amount of intervention.  If, after speaking with them, you don’t feel like your relationship has improved, you do have legal options.  There are motions you can file, such as contempt of a visitation agreement, to get the court to intervene.  Detainment and/or financial sanctions could handed out to the offending parent.  These are last resorts and we can talk about all your options when you meet with a mediator.  Search this website for more details on Family Mediation and Child Custody Laws in California or to set up an appointment.

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          Mediate Family Law, Don’t Litigate!

          Here at Peace Talks, we love Mediation.  If you’ve spent any time looking through our site and blog posts, you know that already.  It’s an easy sell, because, to us, it’s a no-brainer.

           Just look at a recent example: one couple came into our Los Angeles office looking to get a divorce settlement through mediation.  Divorce in California can be tricky, there are divorce laws and fee schedules that can get complicated, not to mention courts are overcrowded to the point where some Judges are seeing over 30 cases a day!  Their case was particularly bad.  They had been in court for months, to the tune of $100,000 and had made ZERO progress!

           At Peace Talks Mediation Services we want to get your case settled as quick and painless as possible to get you on your way to your new life.  That’s what we care about.

          mediation

           Sure we’re a business, but we also have a vision.  We realize divorce is something no one wants to go through.  It’s scary and intimate and can bring out the worst in people.  We understand, but we reject the notion that it has to be this way.

           If we can help people get settled for as little money and hoopla as possible, but be fair and leave you with the confidence to go on with your lives, we’ve done our jobs.

           Oh yeah, and that client?  The one who had $100,000 invested in a litigated divorce and had enough?  In and out of Divorce Mediation to the tune of $4,000.  To get an idea of the cost of divorce mediation vs. litigation, check out the chart on our website. There’s also a great list of pros and cons of mediation vs. litigation.

           So whether you are going through divorce, custody, family law, alimony, child or spousal support, come take part in the Divorce Mediation and ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution) Revolution.  Here are a few of our favorite reasons why mediation is better than going to court:

           1.  It’s cheaper – Duh.  In real numerical terms, it’s over 90% less expensive, on average, than going through litigation.

          2.  You decide the schedule.  It’ll go as quick or as slow as you want it to go.  It’s your decision, not the court’s.

          3.  It will preserve your relationship.  Eliminate that added stress and negative energy of a contentious divorce.  You don’t want to always be thinking “what if I run into him?” at the store or at the gym.  Especially if you have kids, it’s important to keep that familial bond.

          4.  It’s more child-friendly than any court option.  You care about your kids and so do we.  Mediation will teach them that Mommy and Daddy can work things out with respect and understanding.

           More on kids: I was talking to a child psychologist the other day, and they were telling me how easy it is to avoid behavior problems after divorce.  Her advice: Be An Example.  There is a direct correlation to how kids do after divorce and the amount of conflict between their parents.  Mediation helps you avoid conflict.  Even clients that come into our offices thinking they have it all figured out often have layer upon layer of conflict waiting to rear its head in our sessions.  We help them get through it.  That’s what we’re here for.

           Each session is molded to your specifications and to your unique situation.  We never have a set agenda, it’s what YOU want, not us.  We have even implemented a sliding-fee scale.  Contact us and we will review your case to see if you are eligible.  It’s “Divorce Made Easy.”  We want our services to friendly and affordable, the opposite of what most divorce attorneys in Los Angeles provide.  Remember, don’t litigate…MEDIATE!

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          Divorce Lies, Mediation Truths

          Truth is a beloved institution.  It’s the cornerstone of our legal system.

          “The Truth of the Matter.”  “The Whole Truth, and Nothing But the Truth.”  “I Want the Truth,” says Tom Cruise to a defiant Jack Nicholson.  “You Can’t Handle The Truth,” he snorts back.

           This exchange from the movie A Few Good Men“helps to illustrate an important distinction.  Tom Cruise, like any good lawyer, is looking for the cold, hard facts.  Unfortunately, in the real world, facts are often soft and hot.

           What’s a hot fact?  A hot fact is something that isn’t cut and dry, it’s open to interpretation and it’s multiple interpretations often cause an array of emotional responses from those involved.  Think about the O.J. Simpson case, centered right here in perpetually sunny Los Angeles, California.  The facts involved were too hot to be ignored and suddenly the truth took a backseat.

           In that case, a cold decision had to be made in a hot case, and in its wake came anger from all sides.  That’s what happens when you are forced to funnel an entire history of systematic problems into a simple Yay or Nay.

           In A Few Good Men Jack’s character knew his Truth would be seen as cold, but that, in fact, it touched on a myriad of issues that neither a hot shot lawyer nor our blind legal system would understand.

           Does it really matter that Bill Clinton had an affair with Monica Lewinsky?  It’s interesting, but it’s irrelevant to the bigger picture.  The big picture was whether or not Clinton could regain the trust of Congress, the American people, and even his own family.  Suddenly, in our haste to discover where Monica bought her blue dress, we are distracted from real issues affected our lives, like terrorism and the economy.

           Often we get bogged down with black and white answers when the emotional truth is a shade of grey.  When litigating a divorce, the judgement is cold, and both sides are often disappointed.  That’s why Divorce Mediation and Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) exists.  It acknowledges that the truth can be irrelevant.  A resolution should not be exact and immediate, but instead represent the best possible scenario on an on-going basis.

           Think about the last dispute you had with someone.  It could’ve been something as simple as fighting over the remote.  Did you use the situation to set up guidelines for future disputes, or to build a foundation for the future of your relationship with that person?  What was more useful, being able to watch your show or being able to use the heat of the moment to talk to your spouse or loved one about underlying issues?  That may be an exaggeration, but you can apply this technique to any dispute.

           That’s what we do in Divorce Mediation sessions.  Often litigated divorces, in their search for Truth, can get lost in petty “he said/she said” talk, rather than look at the big picture.  Research more about Mediation Services and Divorce Mediation to see if it is right for you.

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          Resolving Divorce Conflict – Listening Is Not Obeying

          A Closer Look at Resolving Divorce Conflict 

          Key 2: Understand that Acknowledging and Listening are NOT the same as Obeying

           

          You may be tempted to issue decrees as you deal with your spouse over your divorce.  It might seem a whole lot easier to lay down the law and have those around you adhere to it.  You may feel you’ve heard enough and all you want is to be heard.  You may really want things to go your way.  The chances of that happening however, go way down if the only way you and your spouse communication is through an argument.

          It may have been a long time since you’ve really listened to one another.  The people who successfully navigate a divorce mediation are those people who’ve learned how to listen.  Even with that seems like the hardest thing to do. When people argue, generally they’re just waiting for their turn to talk