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Avoiding Financial Bedlam

In my last blog, I asked you to think about a question: Am I willing to turn over a significant percentage of my net worth in order to be divorced? Since you’re back to read more, I’m guessing you answered NO to that question and you’re ready to Avoid Financial Bedlam.  Here are a few ways to keep more of your cash when you’re getting divorced. Avoid litigation.  In my last blog, I introduced you to Tim and Kathy.  Even though they eventually reached settlement in their divorce, the path they took was pure litigation.  Their attorneys wrote rough letters and held long blustery phone conferences where nothing much was accomplished other than defending their clients’ polarized positions.  They filed motions and went to hearings, they argued over dishes and debts, they over-involved the children in their fights, and they both did so with the conviction that they were “right” and would have their “day in Court.”  They didn’t sit down at the settlement table until they were over a year into the process.  This is a sure path to Financial Bedlam. Reduce conflict.  Remember, Conflict = $$$.  The more conflict your attorney can create, the more money he/she will earn.  The more conflict you or your spouse create, the more money you will each pay to your attorneys to “resolve” your conflict.  If you solve your own problems, like responsible adults should, then you will reduce conflict and save money.  Make no mistake, even if it’s “the other side” causing the conflict, you’ll still be paying to put out the fires. Create a budget.  Tim and Kathy never budgeted their...

What is Collaborative Mediation?

Trends come and go, what was hot a week ago is now passé, and things evolve. More and more, I’m seeing a trend towards Collaborative Mediation and it’s client-driven.  In this post I will define Collaborative Mediation and provide some examples so you can determine if it’s right for you. The only constant is change, which is why I was not surprised to spot this mediation trend among my collaborative colleagues and clients.  The “law” of collaborative work is that it fundamentally requires two attorneys who agree not to litigate.  While the International Association of Collaborative Professionals has not changed their guideline, it seems to be morphing in real life. IACP defines Collaborative Mediation as: Collaborative Mediation – Collaborative mediation is a style of mediation where two or more people are encouraged to work toward resolution in a transparent and peaceful manner. The goal is to support the parties to unfold the issues and create fair agreements that will stand the test of time. Collaborative Mediation is an offshoot of Collaborative Practice in that it uses the “team” vernacular and litigation is off the table.  Some collaborative practice groups (Arizona Collaborative Colleagues included) began incorporating the role of mediator into their collaborative teams as a way to overcome impasse on distinct issues.  For example, the professionals and clients might be unable to resolve a division of business assets, so they would call in a mediator to help tease out a solution. Generally, the role of the mediator in a classic Collaborative Divorce is finite and limited to problem-solving on specific issues (versus global settlement) and the mediator is not...

What I learned on Summer Vacation

Summer is almost over, at least on the calendar.  Here in Arizona, we have several weeks of hot weather ahead, and I hope you have a chance to escape the heat for a little vacation.  Some people went on vacation under less-than-optimal conditions, and the lesson – both from Judge Ryan and from my own three-week road trip through the American West – is that trying to control the “little stuff” will drive you crazy and detract from your ability to appreciate the “big stuff.”   From all of us at Donison Law Firm, we salute Judge Rayn and appreciate his wit and humor in handling a crazy mess of “little stuff.”   From an actual Minute Entry, June 6, 2013, Maricopa County Superior Court In Re Marriage of McCXXXX The Hon. Timothy J. Ryan “The Court is in receipt of Mother’s Motion for Permission to Travel Out-of-State with children. It is sad that such a motion has to be written, let alone ruled upon. The motion does not indicate how long Mother intends to remain outside the state of Arizona on her vacation. The motion does not indicate why Father has any objection to the children having fun at the Happiest Place on Earth, the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California. The court cannot think of any good reason why any parent would refuse to agree in writing for his or her children to go to Disneyland. Had Father timely consented, Maternal Great Grandmother would have been able to purchase the tickets at a cheaper price. The Court takes judicial notice of the fact that, as a result of...

Summer’s End

Even though the temperatures are still blazing in the desert, days are long and the nights are sultry, for most Arizona kids, summer (meaning the summer break from school) is almost at an end.  As we approach the 2010 – 2011 school year, you should be asking yourself a few key questions: Are the kids doing well on the current parenting schedule and, if they aren’t, what changes could we make now that would help them in the new school year? Is this the right school for our children right now?  Should we consider a change to private / public / charter / Montessori / non-traditional / parochial? Do we need to address certain issues with each child individually?  For example, if one child has learning challenges, another is having behavioral issues, and your eldest is entering the hormone zone, how do  you parent each one to his and her best potential? Do we have our school year holiday schedule all worked out?  Who gets Thanksgiving and Christmas this year?  Are there any vacations on the horizon that your co-parent should be notified of? When are the upcoming teacher conferences and are both parents attending? If you like to be involved with your children’s school activities, have you worked out a schedule with your co-parent about who is bringing treats or attending field trips throughout the year? If your child’s schedule is changing, have you arranged for before or after school care?  Who will transport the kids to extracurricular activities like sports and music lessons? These are the questions that most parents are rolling around in their minds yet often don’t get around...

Financial Bedlam

Financial Bedlam.  That’s how one client described his divorce. Like many people seeking a divorce, “Tim” just wanted a short and simple divorce without a lot of fighting over “things.”  (No, it’s not really Tim. See Disclaimer.)  Tim, a small business owner, has the “entrepreneurial temperament,” which means that he is used to getting what he wants, when he wants it.  Divorce was no different, so Tim did a lot of pushing.  After all, he was being “fair” and his wife just needed to see his side of things. For “Kathy” (see Disclaimer), Tim’s wife of 17 years, divorce was not at all simple or easy.  At first, Kathy was devastated and in denial.  She was terrified of being on her own, grief-stricken that Tim would break up their family, and outraged that Tim had announced the divorce to her “out of the blue.”  Kathy felt that she was at battle with an unseen force (maybe another woman?), so she gathered the “troops” — her girlfriends, family, teachers at the children’s school, hair stylist, and anyone else who would listen — to let them know how Tim had failed the family.  Kathy got the validation she was seeking and many of those “troops” advised her to take Tim to the cleaners to teach him a lesson.  Their advice was well-intentioned, but the worst possible thing they could have said. So Kathy and Tim engaged the “best” lawyers they could afford.  Tim’s attorney made settlement offers, demands, threats, and filed motions, pushing Kathy and her lawyer to accept Tim’s offers “within 24 hours or else.”  Kathy dug in her heels and her attorney,...