Archive for collaborative divorce

My Latest Appearance on San Diego ESPN Radio Real Talk San Diego

Shawn Weber the Dolphin Lawyer on ESPN Real Talk San Diego talking about mediation

The “Dolphin Lawyer” Shawn Weber

Shawn Weber on the Radio

I had a blast on Real Talk San Diego on ESPN Radio AM 1700 with co-hosts Ryan White and Karen Kaseno as well as my good friend and fellow University of San Diego School of Law Alum, Brian Dirkmaat, of the Coast Law Group. I enjoyed sharing my insights about Divorce Mediation and my Dolphin Lawyering philosophy. Give it a listen and let me know what you think.

Listen to the Podcast Here:

https://soundcloud.com/realtalksandiego/shawn-weber-brian-dirkmaat-08-18-16

 

Looking at the New Year Post Divorce

new year post divorce, new year's resolutions

Alas!  A New Year has come and gone again.  For most of my current clients, 2015 was a rough year.  It brought them the end of their marriages.  The year may have been filled with conflict with a former spouse over money, kids, etc.  Perhaps there were tears shed.  Maybe dreams were shattered.  Sound depressing?  It can be.   But 2015 is over, so there is an opportunity to build a new experience for the New Year post divorce.

Here are my suggestions for some words to consider when making your resolutions for the New Year post divorce.  This is in no way a comprehensive list.  It’s just some of my own thoughts.  Perhaps you have your own resolution ideas that you would like to share.  Here are mine:

Peace.

You got a divorce for a reason, right?  I’m sure things weren’t all butterflies and rainbows.  But now you are divorced. So take the opportunity to stop the fighting and discontinue the war with your ex.  If there is a legitimate legal concern that needs addressing, use mediation or Collaborative Practice instead of adversarial litigation to resolve those differences.  It’s a great opportunity to move on and find peace in the New Year post divorce.  A meditation or mindfulness practice can go a long way towards achieving some peace.

Co-Parenting.

Before your divorce, parenting may have been easier.  Post-divorce, you still have to interact with the person you divorced to raise your kids.  Your kids need you to get along.  There is a lot of evidence that continued parental conflict after the divorce is very harmful to children.  Resolve now to be the best co-parent you can be in the New Year post divorce.  Look for ways to be cooperative (even when the other parent doesn’t).  If you haven’t always been a leader in the child rearing arena, now is the time to step up to the plate and make a helpful contribution.  Be the grown up here and your kids will thank you.

Self-reliance.

Now that you are on your own, you don’t have the other person there to rely on.  This is a great opportunity to stand on your own two feet with your head held high.  Be your own person.  Be strong. Be self-assured. Be independent.

If you are receiving alimony, look for ways to be self-supporting so that you don’t need support anymore.  Meet with a vocational counselor to make new career goals.  Enroll in school or get trained, or retrained, in a field that you can be passionate about.

Plan for your future financial well-being.  Meet with a financial advisor to make sure you are using your money wisely.  Come up with a five year or ten year plan.  Meet with an estate planning attorney to make sure you have updated your will and estate plan.

Health.

Perhaps during 2015 you let the stress of the divorce affect your health.  Maybe you didn’t eat well.  Maybe you stopped going to the gym.  Maybe you weren’t sleeping well.  Perhaps you were depressed or angry causing your emotional well-being to suffer.  Resolve now to restore your health in the New Year post divorce.

Take the time to eat well and exercise.  Get good sleep.  Perhaps get your annual physical from your doctor and make a plan for your physical health.  Take care of your body and it will take care of you.

But don’t forget your emotional health either.  Divorce can be such a toxic and painful experience.  If you are struggling, meet with a therapist and work through the changes in your life resulting from your divorce.  Before you date, make sure that you work though any lingering issues you may have so that you can be your best self before you involve another person in your life.  I have noticed a clear correlation in my clients who sought post-divorce therapy and their level of happiness years later.

Forgiveness.

I know that “forgiveness” is a loaded word.  It’s easier said then done.  You may be hurt or angry with your former spouse.  As mentioned before, you got divorced for a reason.  However, you are divorced now.  It’s time to let it go.  The past is in the past.

Now keep in mind, I am not suggesting that you allow yourself to be abused if that is what happened before.  Keep in place whatever safety measure you have to make sure you can’t be hurt again.  I am just suggesting that it is time to move on from there.  Anger and hurt can be very damaging emotions.  Do what you can this year to forgive so that you can leave those terrible feelings behind you.  If you find you can’t do it alone (and most can’t) talk to someone.  Turn to a spiritual advisor or a mentor to help you leave the past in the past.

Don’t forget to forgive yourself.  Guilt has it’s place, but it can eat you up if you can’t get past it.  Perhaps you have serious regrets about how your marriage ended.  Rather than let the guilt consume you, find a way to learn from the experience, forgive everyone involved and move on.

 You have read my list of New Year’s Resolution words for the newly divorced.  What are some of your words?  I would love to read them!

Related links:

Five Tips to Reduce Your Stress in a Divorce that Most Attorneys Won’t Tell You

10 Essential New Year’s Resolutions for Your Divorce

12 New Year’s Resolutions for Divorced Moms

New Year’s Resolutions During Divorce

Top 10 Difficult New Year’s Resolutions for Divorced Parents

New Year’s resolutions, new year post divorce, new year’s divorce, san diego divorce attorney

Why “Fair” is the F-Word in Divorce Negotiations

The F-word

Those of you who know me are aware that my wife and I have five kids.  When I tell people how many kids I have, there is usually an audible gasp and sometimes an expletive.  (I don’t know why because I love my kids.)  But as any parent will know, kids have a lot to learn about this world.  One very important lesson to learn in the Weber house is that a lament that something isn’t “fair” gets you nowhere.  We make it clear to the kids that “life isn’t fair and the sooner you learn that, the better off you’ll be.”  That’s why “fair” is the F-word.

When people come through my door, I see the tumult in their lives.  Clients will often make demands for what they view as the “fair” outcome.  However, “fair” is a subjective concept and quite impossible to define objectively during family law or divorce negotiations.  In their search for peace, clients sometimes bog themselves down in a vain attempt to achieve an unachievable result.

Really, there is no such things as a”fair divorce” in family law.

There’s a reason for that.  The idea of “fair” is rooted in one’s perspective and perception.  We view “fair” through our own prism of reality.  In family law or divorce negotiations, what one party might view as fair is often different from what another person views as fair.  If fair were easy to define, I would be out of a job because people would just be able agree with little to no effort.  But fair is not an objective standard.  Fair is always subjectively defined.  A truly fair divorce is very rare.

fairness divorce, "fair" is the f-word, divorce negotiations

Why “Fair” Is the F-Word

The Myth of Lady Justice

Concepts of “justice” are equally subjective.  The statue we see at the courthouse of Lady Justice with the blindfold and the scales is a myth.  Anyone who has spent any time around a courthouse knows that achieving true justice is rare.  Rather, the courts simply apply the imperfect laws written by imperfect legislatures and interpreted by imperfect courts.  Very often, folks perceive the application of those laws as unfair or unjust.

Make a Good Business Decision

Rather than asking, “what is fair,” it makes more sense to ask, “What is a good business decision?” or “What will maximize my outcome given the hand that I have been dealt.”   These questions remove the emotional and loaded questions regarding justice and fairness. They allow the participant to focus on reaching a settlement that he or she can live with.  A settlement by definition requires compromise.  A compromise by definition means that both parties are giving something up. A fair divorce, in that situation, isn’t the point.  Rather, the focus is on making a decision that can end the conflict so that a person can move on, which in turn will bring peace.

Many of the rapids on our journey through life a borne in a sense of dissatisfaction with the choices before us.  Divorce has a way of limiting many of our choices.

I’ve never seen a client find peace in life by focusing on what is fair or unfair.  Peace comes from finding a resolution and reaching an acceptance of what is.   It’s an opportunity to transition from a conflictual sense of being to one that is harmonious and whole.

See Also:

Five Tips to Have a Miserable Divorce: https://weberdisputeresolution.com/five-tips-to-have-a-miserable-divorce/

Forgiveness During Divorce: A key to finding peace:  https://weberdisputeresolution.com/forgiveness-during-divorce/

How much does it cost to go to divorce mediation? https://weberdisputeresolution.com/divorce-mediation-cost/

Shawn Weber, CLS-F: https://weberdisputeresolution.com/meet-our-team/shawn-weber/

Doing your Divorce with a Child Specialist

child specialist san diego divorce

My friend and colleague, San Diego Divorce Attorney Fran Setzer, wrote a great post about using a neutral Child Specialist to help with divorce proceedings.

A neutral Child Specialist, who is a mental health professional experienced with children and divorce, can be an excellent resource for parents and really puts the needs of the children front and center.  I am a big fan of bringing the right specialized resource to the right situation.  A Child Specialist is the perfect tool when considering the needs of kids in a divorce.

Read Fran’s post at the Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego Blog here: http://collaborativefamilylawsandiegoblog.com/do-you-need-a-child-specialist-for-your-divorce/ 

3 Great Tips to Give Your Kids a Voice in Your California Divorce

kids and divorce

Do you want to give your kids a voice?

Issues involving kids and divorce can be tricky.  One of the great things about using consensual dispute resolution options like Mediation and Collaborative Practice in your California divorce is that you can give your kids more of a say in how the parenting plan will turn out.  This is not to say that you leave the decisions to the kids. It does, however, mean you can hear their voices, which can mean a lot to them, especially if they are old enough to thoughtfully express their preferences.

Not all kids should be given the same level of input.  How much you let your kids sway your decision making is up to you.  You will want to consider such factors as the child’s maturity level, age, ability to articulate and emotional needs.  But if you decide that giving the kids a voice is what you want to do in your family, here are some tips.

Let Your Divorce Mediator Talk to the Kids.

With kids and divorce, it is important to give children a voice.  As a mediator, sometimes I will talk to the kids.  I only do it if both parents agree that it will be appropriate.  Importantly, I never ask the kids, “Where do you want to live.”  But, I will give them the chance in a non-threatening environment to say what is important to them.  Writing their responses on a whiteboard and then, with their permission, I boil their thoughts down into a report to share with the parents.

It’s amazing what useful clues I can learn from the kids.  In one case, the teenage kids told me that they worry their father will die from his alcohol abuse.  In another situation, an over-scheduled child shared that he felt it was hard to relax because of his very busy schedule.  He said that he had a hard time “just being a kid.”

Another child volunteered that his complex and confusing parenting schedule made it difficult to adjust to the move from one house to another.   As a result, he felt his grades suffering. He expressed that because he was bouncing back and forth so often, he didn’t ever have time to feel at home in either household.

Before I talk to a child, I will get a release to speak to the child’s therapist if available.  This gives me the insight to ensure that I spend time with the child appropriately given the child’s emotional circumstances.

Have a Joint Session with Parents and Therapist.

Another option for kids and divorce is to allow the child to articulate her feelings in a  joint session with a therapist and parents.  The therapist can help everyone find ways to work together for the good of the child.  You can also trust that a mental health professional will take care to prevent the talk from becoming inappropriate.  It can be a safe way to promote healthy dialogue and to appropriately empower your child.

With Kids and Divorce, Use a Collaborative Child Specialist.

In Collaborative Practice, we use neutral child specialists to make sure that the parenting plan will protect the child’s needs.  The child specialist is a mental health professional experienced in helping kids through a divorce.  In essence, the child specialist becomes an advocate for the child’s needs.

In the Collaborative Practice model, the work is confidential.  As a result, it cannot be used later in court. Everyone can trust that they can be open and frank while working towards solutions.  Children in divorce often tell parents what the parents want to hear and not necessarily how the children really feel. But kids will open up to a child specialist, giving her the ability to articulate the children’s unvarnished needs and worries.  I have often used neutral child specialists even outside of Collaborative Practice.  In my humble opinion, it never hurts to give kids an advocate.  Using a trained child specialist is often the perfect solution.

Summary

There are many ways to give your kids a voice.  These are just three.  While it is generally not a good plan to let the kids feel like they are in charge, it never hurts to give them an opportunity to be heard.  You may be surprised what your kids can teach you as you go through your divorce.  Often the kids are ahead of the parents in dealing with the heartache and emotions of the split.  Considering the kids’ needs and really, truly listening to their point of view can provide tremendous insight and great rewards.  Most importantly, your kids will appreciate that you took the time to pay attention.

 

Read also:

Doing your Divorce with a Child Specialist: https://weberdisputeresolution.com/do-you-need-a-child-specialist-for-your-divorce/

Why “Fair” is the F-Word in Divorce Negotiations: https://weberdisputeresolution.com/why-fair-is-the-f-word-in-divorce-negotiations/

Five Tips to Have a Miserable Divorce: https://weberdisputeresolution.com/five-tips-to-have-a-miserable-divorce/

How much does it cost to go to divorce mediation?: https://weberdisputeresolution.com/divorce-mediation-cost/

Forgiveness During Divorce: A key to finding peace: https://weberdisputeresolution.com/forgiveness-during-divorce/

Mediating Your Divorce When the Other Party Is a Bully

San Diego Divorce Mediation when the other party is a bully, Shawn Weber

I will often receive a call from a potential client interested in a San Diego divorce mediation, but who is a little apprehensive because their spouse has had a history of coercion, manipulation and bullying.  The question then arises as to whether mediation is really the appropriate venue to resolve the case.  Many of my peers may disagree with me, but a good mediator can successfully resolve almost any case.  Here are some points to consider for a successful divorce mediation when your spouse is a bully:

Check to make sure you have a well-trained mediator.

Mediating a case where there is a history of coercion or manipulation is advanced work and not for the faint of heart.  You need to make sure that your mediator has the skill, background and personality to ensure a level playing field.  It may be a good idea to bring up your concerns in a  caucus session so that the mediator is aware.

Make sure you consult with an attorney.

Mediation is actually without risk because the mediator makes no decisions in your case.  She can only help facilitate the discussion.  Nothing becomes binding until you sign the marital settlement agreement.  You would be wise, however, to work with advising counsel throughout the mediation process.  Come to mediation sessions armed with knowledge of your rights and what the law may or may not provide.  Under no circumstances should you ever feel pressure to sign any documents without first having had the opportunity to review it with your attorney.  If you continue to feel uncomfortable, you may want your attorney to attend mediation with you.

Consider hiring a divorce coach or a therapist.

You need to bring your best self to the mediation sessions.  To avoid falling into the same old patterns where you may have been manipulated or coerced in the past, it is wise to meet with a mental health professional knowledgable in divorce issues to prepare you for the sessions so that you can avoid getting your buttons pushed.  You can find divorce coaches by looking up your local Collaborative Practice group.  In San Diego, you can go here: http://www.collaborativefamilylawsandiego.com.

Demand Full Financial Disclosure.

In successful mediation, disclosure is essential.  Make no decisions without having had the opportunity to thoroughly review all material financial information.  A financial disclosure should also include back-up statements and documents.  Like in the cold war, it’s “Trust but Verify.”  You may consider having a financial professional such as a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA) review the disclosures to uncover any “red flags” deserving additional investigation.

Stand Your Ground.

Bullies often bluster and threaten.  More often than not, the threats are empty.  If you prepare yourself, you need not be intimidated.  Often times, abusive relationship involve a sort of abuse dance.  You don’t have to dance anymore.  You are getting divorced.  You are intelligent.  You are certainly not stupid.  Stand on your own two feet and rely on your support system to be strong.

If there is physical intimate partner violence, think twice.

It is one thing to be a bit of a blowhard and a verbal bully.  It’s entirely different when the situation involved physical violence.  Do not trifle with domestic violence.  If that is happening, mediation is very difficult.  However, even in such situations, mediation can be appropriate with safeguards in place.  For instance, you can be in separate rooms at all times or you can demand anger management counseling.  In any case, make sure you have trained professionals who know what they are doing.  If for one moment, you do not feel safe, you can withdraw.  However, as a general rule, physical intimate partner violence presents a huge red flag.

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