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Divorce: A Problem to Solve Not a War to Win

Collaborative Divorce – a Better Option

Reasons Why Getting Divorced Is So Hard Common Questions About Collaborative Divorce

How much does Collaborative Divorce cost? It is hard to predict how much any divorce will cost. Dealing with complicated legal issues can increase the cost. A common reason divorce gets expensive is because strong emotions lead to conflicts that take a long time to resolve. Often the resolution involves expensive court proceedings. When you have a Collaborative Divorce, you can trust that no one will be involved in secrets or gameplaying. Collaborative Divorce helps people manage the emotions that come up in a divorce and communicate effectively. This reduces conflict and saves time and money.

Does a Collaborative Divorce shorten the process compared to going to court? Stock Image


etting divorced is hard. It is mentally and physically taxing. You can’t sleep. You can’t eat. You are consumed with thoughts of what life is going to be like moving forward. Yet you are stuck in the present, needing to sort through it all: thinking about what happens to the kids, the house, the cars, the pets. You feel overwhelmed. Or maybe you are just plain done. At a time when you may not want to deal with your spouse and talk about the future, you know that is exactly what needs to happen. Often there are still a lot of negative feelings involved. Maybe someone in the relationship was blindsided by the decision. Maybe you have been fighting for a long time. Maybe you have talked for hours and gotten nowhere. Maybe you feel that you will never agree on anything ever again. At this point, people in a relationship are at their most vulnerable. Being considerate of your spouse’s feelings and needs is not on your radar. Give yourself time to get your bearings and consider this reality: The more contentious the process of divorce is, the harder it will be to reach

Moving on from any broken relationship can be difficult, but when the divorce process is contentious, it aggravates your pain.


resolution and move on. Moving on from any broken relationship can be difficult, but when the divorce process is contentious, it aggravates your pain. You are constantly being forced to face the hurt, the fear and the frustration. You push each other’s buttons and you get nowhere. This is when you need to ask for help. If you have children, remind yourself the children’s feelings should be your priority. Your dignity and your emotional well-being are also important. You can’t move forward if you are trapped fighting a war with your spouse. But simply walking away isn’t a solution. You need to learn a new way to communicate and interact to manage the long-term issues: caring for your children, paying bills and dividing your things. You are facing so many life-changing decisions. It is smart to ask for help. Moving forward in a positive, collaborative way toward finding a resolution that meets everyone’s needs is possible. Many couples have done this successfully using the Collaborative Divorce process.

In Collaborative Divorce, you control the pace of the process. In a conventional divorce, you are at the mercy of in the court’s schedule, which often involves delay if the court schedule is overcrowded. In Collaborative Divorce, if you need time, you get the time you need. If you are motivated to get things done quickly, you can move through the process much more quickly than you would in court.

Why do we need Divorce Coaches? Ending a marriage involves a difficult mix of personal and practical issues. When children are involved, the emotional impact is even more complex. The court system is businesslike and unemotional. Showing emotion in court can work against you. Your lawyer might try to help you control your emotions, but a lawyer is not trained to do this. Meanwhile, you are paying an attorney fees for emotional support. In Collaborative Divorce, you have a Coach who is professionally trained with the experience to help you recognize and address the emotions that naturally arise. This way, those feelings are processed so you can move forward to reach agreements in a productive way. The bonus: A Coach’s fees are typically less than an attorney’s fees.

Why do we need a Financial Specialist? Using one neutral Financial Specialist is the most effective way to collect and organize your fiscal information. A Financial Specialist has the training and experience to guide you through this part of your divorce using skills that are not normally part of a lawyer’s training.

Divorce: A Problem to Solve — Not a War to Win | Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego |

The Collaborative Divorce Process Divorce without going to court


he Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego, an association of independent legal, financial and mental health professionals, provides an alternative to a conventional divorce that allows you and your spouse to resolve your issues respectfully. Instead of each person trying to navigate the divorce alone, there is a skilled team to help you manage the many complicated aspects of divorce. Whether you have legal issues, concerns about your children or the emotional wellbeing of everyone involved, or property or financial questions, your team will help you and your spouse take control of your divorce process and give you each the opportunity to find a resolution. Divorce is a life-changing event. Members of the Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego can help you, your spouse and your family find a compassionate transition into a healthy new beginning. By taking part in Collaborative Divorce, you and your spouse will be able to plan your new lives in the most positive way possible. In a Collaborative Divorce, you both commit to treating each other with respect. This is a fundamental aspect of this process and is based on three principles: a pledge to resolve issues without going to court; a complete and open exchange of information; and a solution that takes into account the interests of both spouses and of your children. Collaborative Divorce ground rules assure that you and your spouse focus on your mutual interests, making discussions more productive and paving

the way to reaching agreements. Open communication is vital to Collaborative Divorce. If communication breaks down, so does the ability to reach agreements. Even if the decision to divorce is mutual, communication can be strained at the end of a marriage. It is important to find a way to keep the lines of communication open and work through your differences face-toface. Members of your Collaborative team will support you through meetings between you and your spouse. The difference between a traditional divorce and Collaborative Divorce is that both you and your spouse pledge to reach an agreement without going to court. In a traditional divorce, you may see your spouse as the enemy and the divorce as a battle you have to win, with a judge deciding the outcome. In Collaborative Divorce, you and your spouse make the decisions yourselves, rather than giving that responsibility to a judge. You agree to work out your differences together, with the help and guidance of your Collaborative team. To achieve this, the parties consent in writing to be part of a team that works together to avoid court and reach resolutions both of you can live with. Finding an agreement that works for everyone is crucial to Collaborative Divorce. Reaching the decision to divorce is only the beginning. The Collaborative Process is designed to help you and your spouse reach an agreement with both of your interests in mind. It is also designed to

protect the well-being of your children. You can resolve your issues based on mutual agreement in a supportive environment. Instead of focusing on your grievances, the team will help you and your spouse find common ground again and help you both move forward with your new lives.

Divorce is a life-changing event. Members of the Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego can help you, your spouse and your family find a compassionate transition into a healthy new beginning.

Collaborative Divorce focuses on your future, not the past. While a divorce marks the end of your marriage, it does not mean the end of your family. When children are involved, both parents must work together to make sure their children are taken care of and have what they need. Collaborative Divorce helps you and your spouse continue to communicate after the divorce by encouraging respectful and productive interaction throughout the divorce process.

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Finding the Right Help Jason and Donna’s Story*


fter 15 years of marriage and two children, Jason and his wife, Donna, both age 40, had grown apart. Donna suggested that they look into getting a Collaborative Divorce. Jason looked into mediation, but learned that Collaborative Divorce was a better process for them. Not only did Jason have an attorney, but also a Divorce Coach, a neutral Financial Specialist and a neutral Child Specialist. Having these professionals working side by side with Jason helped him gain perspective and learn empathy, which made life after divorce better for his children. Jason was surprised by how helpful the Child Specialist was to his family. “I was extremely skeptical,” he remembers. “But it was enlightening. I learned the reality of how divorce affected my children.”

 ach party’s thoughts and opinions E were considered and valued.

The Child Specialist met with Jason’s children, ensuring their opinions and needs were considered. Instead of an adversarial process, Jason found Collaborative Divorce helped both parties remain civil and maintain respect. “Everyone on the team was a seasoned professional. The attorneys didn’t go for the jugular like I feared,” Jason says. Jason says Collaborative Divorce was a good fit, because he and Donna “didn’t want to trash each other in front of the children.” Initially, he says, Collaborative Divorce seemed more expensive, but it turned out less costly in the long run, both financially and emotionally. Jason’s issues were resolved quickly, helping him and Donna get back to living their lives. In Jason and Donna’s case, the process took three months. At first, the parties and their team met weekly. Later, when necessary, they met at three-week intervals, depending on the circumstances. Using Collaborative Divorce, the clients received guidance

Stock Image on how to control their emotions. “The team helps you to adjust to and process the reality,” Jason says. “My Divorce Coach was amazing.” Jason says both sides are encouraged to understand each other’s needs and interests. During the process, sometimes Donna would make a statement that Jason’s Coach agreed with, and his Coach would help Jason understand the reasoning behind her statement. The reverse also happened. The team helped to “reopen those doors to let the information in.” Each person’s thoughts and opinions were considered and valued.

Can my privacy be protected? In Collaborative Divorce, you have the power to arrange your meetings to suit your schedule, and these meetings are not in an open public courtroom. When conflict escalates in a divorce, a great deal of very personal information can end up in the court file. When emotions and conflict are managed effectively, your issues are addressed in a private setting. When clients are working collaboratively, they can work together to keep as much of their business private as possible.


Jason says although it is hard to go through a divorce, the Collaborative Divorce team made it easier. “It’s like having surgery,” he says. “It’s not pleasant, but it is as efficient and professional as it can be.” Jason says he would recommend Collaborative Divorce to anyone: “Follow this process. Anyone who doesn’t is just hurting themselves.” *Names changed to preserve clients’ privacy

Can we use Collaborative Divorce if we have children? Collaborative Divorce is specially tailored to serve the needs of children. It is well established that conflict between parents poses the greatest risk of emotional harm to children in a divorce. Collaborative Divorce is designed to manage conflict, so children’s needs are met and agreements are reached. A Collaborative Child Specialist gives a voice to the child in the divorce process — something that rarely happens on the courtroom.

Divorce: A Problem to Solve — Not a War to Win | Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego |

Working Together Toward a Better Future Luisa and Hector’s Story*


hen Luisa’s marriage to Hector ended, the stay-at-home mom had to figure out how she would support herself and her family. Luisa once worked as a high-level executive, but now, in her 40s, she stayed home to care for their special-needs child. Hector’s job was the family’s main source of income, and Luisa was worried that she might not receive sufficient financial support in a traditional divorce. Hector’s lawyer recommended Collaborative Divorce. Coaches and specialists made all the difference in the process, providing Luisa services she would not have received in a traditional divorce.

“I am thankful for Collaborative Divorce.” Luisa, Client

When her divorce started, Luisa says she was worn out. The stress of caring for their daughter and the emotional wear and tear from her marriage were almost too much to bear. Since she had recently moved, Luisa did not have a circle of friends or family nearby that she could rely on for assistance or empathy. When she met with her Divorce Coach, Luisa says she was “an emotional basket case.” Her Coach talked to her about the emotional element of the divorce process and worked through issues surrounding the care of a special-needs child. A neutral Child Specialist became part of the team to represent the child’s interests.

Consideration of the child’s current and future needs made a big difference in developing a positive outcome. The Child Specialist looked at issues from the child’s standpoint, which were then discussed among the Collaborative group. Luisa didn’t see at first how Collaborative Divorce could work due to the strained relationship between her and Hector. But by working with the Divorce Coaches, Hector was able to see Luisa’s role in a different light and understand what she was going through. The process included regular meetings for more than six months. The neutral Financial Specialist reviewed Luisa’s monthly expenses and determined more money was needed for their daughter’s care. Luisa says this independent and neutral viewpoint had more impact on her husband than anything she could have said to him. Even when she and Hector were not meeting, Luisa says their Divorce Coaches were working on their behalf. Luisa recommends Collaborative Divorce, especially when there are children involved. “Listen to the Collaborative team even if their advice sounds crazy. They know what they’re talking about,” says Luisa. Luisa is still using the Coaches’ advice. “Learn to let go of some things to reserve your energy for when you really need it. Sometimes things need to fall apart to get a better conclusion,” she says. “I am thankful for Collaborative Divorce.” *Names changed to preserve clients’ privacy

Is this process right for you? Here are some additional questions to ask yourself: • Are you open to solutions that will respect your and your spouse’s needs and interests? • Do you want to make decisions affecting the future of your family from a calm place? • Do you want to act ethically for yourself, your spouse and for the sake of your children? • Do you want a mechanism for your children’s feelings to be considered? • When the divorce is completed, do you want to be able to look back and feel good about the outcome and how you handled yourself during the process? (Adapted from “Is Collaborative Divorce a Suitable Process For Me?” by Nancy J. Foster, JD, Northern California Mediation Center, San Rafael, CA.) If you have more questions about the Collaborative Divorce process, please see our website at or contact any of the Collaborative professionals listed on the back page.

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Collaborative Family Law Attorneys Keeping divorce under your control


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xperienced family law attorneys across the United States representing clients in contentious divorce cases saw too often that divorce litigation frequently leaves at least one party unhappy. Several began looking for a better way to handle divorces, a process where couples could come together and solve their issues outside the courtroom. The Collaborative Divorce method was born. In San Diego, attorneys joined with like-minded financial and mental health professionals to form the Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego in 2001. CFLG San Diego focuses on helping divorcing families achieve the best possible solution for all parties involved. The biggest difference between being in a courtroom and Collaborative Divorce is that the parties retain control over their own divorce and create a resolution tailored to their most important priorities as individuals and as a family. In Collaborative Divorce, the divorcing couple works with trained professionals as a team to resolve disputes respectfully and without going to court. Along with their own attorney, spouses have a Divorce Coach and work with a Financial Specialist. When there are children, a Child Specialist may also be involved.

Every divorce is unique to the family involved. In Collaborative Divorce, solutions can be tailored to each family’s circumstances and what is important to them.

Divorce Coaches help clients identify and express what matters most to them, and learn communication skills necessary to a mutually acceptable resolution. The couple’s children may work with a Child Specialist, a coach working in a neutral role to assess the specific needs and concerns of the children. The Child Specialist gives a voice to the children, allowing them to become part of the process. This helps minimize areas of conflict. In Collaborative Divorce, the neutral Financial Specialist provides advice and assists couples with financial assessment and planning, guiding them


to a division of their assets on their own terms. Financial Specialists help gather the financial information and educate the divorcing couple to empower them to make informed decisions. Putting all of these pieces in place can help move the process along faster than in a litigated divorce in court. The couple is able to achieve a more favorable resolution in a less hostile setting. Every divorce is unique to the family involved. In Collaborative Divorce, solutions can be tailored to each family’s circumstances and what is important to them. They make the decision rather than a third party. Family members must continue to interact after a divorce, and the communication skills they gain during Collaborative Divorce have a lasting effect. Couples who learn how to work through conflict and reach mutually acceptable agreements will be better able to resolve conflicts in the future, without getting attorneys or courts involved again. Best of all, children whose parents learn to cooperate and co-parent well together have healthier lives and grow up free from the trauma of ongoing conflict.

The Attorney’s Role In Collaborative Divorce, each of you has a collaboratively trained attorney to advise you about your rights and responsibilities and assist you in negotiating your agreement. Collaborative Attorneys focus their efforts on helping you develop creative solutions.

Divorce: A Problem to Solve — Not a War to Win | Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego |

The Divorce Coach’s Role The importance of commuication


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The Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego has helped countless couples make positive decisions during the restructuring of their families. Divorce Coaches play a critical role in this evolution. Divorce Coaches act as advocates for individuals going through a divorce. They help individuals work through emotional issues and prepare them for difficult conversations with their spouse as they negotiate their divorce. It may be the first time challenging topics have been addressed in the marriage for many years. The importance of a Divorce Coach in Collaborative Divorce cannot be overstated. Divorce is one of the most significant stressors someone can experience. It is a time when many conflicting emotions surface. Coaches are licensed mental health professionals dedicated to providing support in whatever way an individual needs, whether it is emotional encouragement, assisting with stress management or teaching effective communication skills. Divorcing parents and their children benefit from support to deal with the wide range of feelings that surface during a divorce. In Collaborative Divorce, each spouse usually sees a separate Coach. The Coach works with the spouse to ensure their feelings, concerns and needs can be expressed in a positive and constructive manner. Coaches help people recognize the significance of this major transition in their lives. People are emotionally grieving the death of their relationship. In Collaborative Divorce, coaches help people commit to work through issues cooperatively while providing a safety valve for their disappointment, anger, or helplessness.

Coaches understand this is a painful time and people going through a divorce need assistance and support to emerge in a healthy way. In such an emotionally charged environment, discussions between spouses can take a negative turn in an instant. Coaches identify specific triggers that generate a negative emotional response. Collaborative Coaches are experienced, licensed

mental health professionals who use all their skills and training to assist clients in managing their feelings and understanding them so they can move forward toward a positive resolution. Coaches understand this is a painful time and people going through a divorce need assistance and support to emerge in a healthy way. Having conversations about the children, the house and family assets can be overwhelming and depressing. The role of the Coach is to prepare clients for the meetings where these sensitive issues are resolved. The Coach offers support from the start of the divorce process through to the finish. Coaches are present at meetings so they can provide direction and guidance to the parties, while continually keeping the process focused on a cooperative solution. Cooperation is what sets Collaborative Divorce apart from traditional litigated divorce. With the help of your Coach and the entire Collaborative team, you can keep control of your divorce and your future.

The Divorce Coach The Divorce Coach is a vital element of the collaborative process. You each have a collaboratively trained Divorce Coach to help you manage the strain of changing relationships, improve communication skills and focus on goals for today and the future. Your Coach fulfills a unique role, helping you be at your emotional best during this difficult time.

Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego | | Divorce: A Problem to Solve — Not a War to Win


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Money Matters Financial Specialists help couples make it work


eople facing a divorce often experience fears about the financial impacts of the separation. Will I be able to keep the house? How will my lifestyle change? The Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego’s highly skilled Financial Specialists help both parties analyze their financial situation as a neutral participant in the Collaborative Divorce team. It is not unusual for individuals to be fearful at the start of the process. Often one spouse has no information about the family’s financial status. The Collaborative Divorce process, by its very nature, will ensure full access to financial information for both parties. There are no surprises.

The financial aspects of divorce are resolved in a more streamlined, cost-effective and mutually beneficial manner in a Collaborative Divorce. In Collaborative Divorce, the neutral Financial Specialist takes both parties’ concerns into account. He or she works to get all issues identified to put both parties on an equal footing. Because many couples include one partner who managed the shared finances, the Financial Specialist often works one-on-one with the partner who had less contact with the family’s finances in order to bring him or her up to speed. This starts with a detailed factual analysis of the clients’ fiscal


situation. The Financial Specialist reviews what is often a complex financial jigsaw puzzle and creates streamlined reports on assets, debts, income and expenses that will help both clients make informed decisions. The reports are just as useful to the attorneys, who are freed from duplicate work to understand their clients’ financial situation. Divorce is difficult and there are decisions that need to be made, many based on financial information. The Financial Specialist’s goal is to help the couple make informed decisions from a family perspective and from a needs and interests perspective. The Financial Specialist will help clients decide how to divide assets and debts and informs them of the consequences of their potential decisions, while keeping in mind the goal of preserving the long-term financial security of both clients’ households. In some instances, the Financial Specialist will prepare long-term projections of different circumstances to aid the clients’ decision-making process. This process often alleviates a great deal of the stress associated with making the financial decisions of the divorce. Collaborative Practice is dramatically different from traditional litigated divorce. All professionals involved operate as a team, united in the goal of serving the needs of both parties and their children. There is full communication among the two attorneys, Divorce Coaches and the Financial Specialist. It benefits the clients when every team member knows and understands the concerns of both clients. The financial aspects of divorce are resolved in a more streamlined, cost-effective and mutually

beneficial manner in a Collaborative Divorce. Because both parties’ needs are considered equally, the Collaborative Process often results in a more durable financial agreement, one that will prevent future legal battles. When one participates in a decision, one is more likely to keep the agreement. A Financial Specialist plays a tremendous role in making the divorce process easier, both logistically and emotionally. Clients often express gratitude for the practical guidance and clarity the Financial Specialist plays in the Collaborative Divorce Process.

The Financial Specialist The mission of the Financial Specialist is to provide a comprehensive assessment of a couple’s current financial situation, and to educate them so they are able to make informed decisions. The Financial Specialist will also provide guidance to help them understand the short-term and long-term impact of decisions they will need to make. In Collaborative Divorce, the Financial Specialist works with the couple as their “financial neutral.” In the typical adversarial divorce, both parties have their own financial adviser, and both have their own set of documents. Reviewing different settlement options and the long-term impact of those options can help alleviate the emotions and allow people to reach reasonable outcomes in the best interest of the family.

Divorce: A Problem to Solve — Not a War to Win | Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego |

Helping Children Through a Divorce The Child Specialist’s mission


ivorce can rip a child’s world apart. Children often assume they caused their parents’ separation. They want their parents to stay together and desperately try to repair their family. Children may lose their home, security and stability. Rarely is a divorce something a child chooses. For many children, divorce is a foreign concept and is often confusing. It is the role of the neutral Child Specialist in the Collaborative Divorce process to meet with the children of a divorcing couple, explore their fears and concerns, and serve as their advocate and their voice as the divorce progresses. The Child Specialist is a licensed mental health professional with specific expertise, sensitive to the needs of children during divorce. He or she must focus on what truly will be in the best interests of the children.

The Child Specialist is a licensed mental health professional with specific expertise, sensitive to the needs of children during divorce. The Child Specialist is also available to promote coparenting communication and educate the parents on what they can do for their children to assure a more successful life after their parents’ divorce. Although children are in general resilient and can bounce back from change, many parents are unaware of how their own emotional state affects their children. They may not realize how much the children understand, or the blame they internalize. The Child Specialist can call this to the parents’ attention and help them ensure their children’s needs are addressed and met. Children are easily lost or forgotten in all the drama of divorce. A child may begin to act out or emotionally regress during the divorce as a result, and the effects can last for years. Collaborative Coaches encourage parents to spend one-on-one time with their children to address all of their needs. Every child deals with divorce differently due to age, gender, temperament and developmental stage.

During Collaborative Divorce, the neutral Child Specialist meets with both parents together and listens to their impressions and concerns about each of their children. The Child Specialist assesses their relationships and begins to gauge each child’s level of development and reaction to the divorce. The initial meeting can also serve as a forum for parents to voice concerns and ask questions about their children. After talking with parents, the Child Specialist meets with the children to get a better understanding of how they are dealing with the divorce and address any concerns. This meeting focuses on determining what a successful future might look like for each child. What are their concerns? What do they want their parents to know? What would they like their parents to do differently? The Child Specialist meets with the parents and the Collaborative Divorce team to present these issues to the parents and help keep them uppermost in mind during the Collaborative Divorce process. Parents can use this insight in developing a parenting plan. With the Child Specialist as the advocate for the children, their voices are heard and their concerns are recognized and considered, not lost or pushed aside. With attention being paid to the children’s needs, the entire family is more likely to make a healthier adjustment to their changing lives.

The Child Specialist Children should be a priority, not a casualty. The Child Specialist meets with your children privately, helping them express their feelings and concerns about the divorce. The Child Specialist then communicates the children’s feelings, concerns and hopes to the parents and the team to consider when planning for the children’s lives. Knowing the “voice” of the child helps parents focus the decision-making toward the child’s developmental and psychological needs.

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etired Appellate Justice Fred Morrison believes Collaborative Divorce provides the best possible outcome for all parties going through a divorce. A former family law judge, Morrison has seen families torn apart during the divorce process. Since learning about Collaborative Divorce, Morrison has advocated the approach over traditional divorce. He currently works as a mediator judge with JAMS Arbitration.

“Collaborative Divorce reduces a lot of the bitterness that can poison a relationship. If there are children, there’s going to be a relationship between the parents for the rest of their lives.” Justice Fred Morrison (Retired)

What are some common things you saw during a divorce when you were a family law judge?


Is there any one case that particularly affected you? [The cases that] would always get to me is when children were involved. There’s one in particular I remember where the mother and father were both very caring parents and were getting a divorce. The mother met a new man, but she wanted to move to Los Angeles. She had sole custody, but the father ended up moving there too to be close to his kids. That’s an amazing commitment to his kids. It’s always very difficult to put the kid in the middle of the divorce.

Why is Collaborative Divorce a better option in your opinion? It just makes a lot of sense to do things in a cooperative way instead of fighting. The lawyers on each side have agreed to not go to court and work it out, committed to an agreement that avoids all the expense and bitterness that is engendered by the process. … Another reason is, in Collaborative Divorce, you have control over it. You haven’t abandoned control to a judge and you can agree to things and not agree to things, but at least you haven’t lost control. … It’s also less expensive and it produces a lot less anxiety and anger and upset and emotional strain. I have not been through a divorce, which I am thankful for, but I think it’s the best way to make the best of a very difficult situation.

What would you say to someone considering their options for divorce? I would say the first thing you should do is attempt to do Collaborative Divorce. If both parties have good will, there’s no reason why it won’t work out in both of your best interests and the children’s. Barring something like one party trying to hide assets or take advantage of the other side, Collaborative Divorce is the best alternative for divorce.

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People would have a lot of anger and anxiety. People would usually fight about two things — spousal support and their kids. This is something I used to tell people in my court who were fighting over everything: “Whose kids would you like to send to college? Your kids or your lawyers’ kids?” Another thing that always troubled me was when one parent would bad-mouth the other in front of their kids. Even if it’s partially true, it’s a bad idea. Some lawyers back then were very good at getting their clients to work things out. Sometimes, one lawyer would stir things up and make things more difficult. Collaborative Divorce reduces a lot of the bitterness that can poison a relationship. If there are children, there’s going to be a relationship between the parents for the rest of their lives.

Image courtesy of Justice Fred Morrison

With Justice Fred Morrison (Retired, California 3rd District Court of Appeal)

Divorce: A Problem to Solve — Not a War to Win | Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego |

The Tools You Need Divorce Options workshop helps you build a new life


ivorce is difficult and stressful even under the best of circumstances. It can be especially hard if you have children or economic difficulties. Divorce affects people from all walks of life, and no two situations are alike. It is possible, despite challenges, to preserve the emotional and financial resources of the family while respecting everyone’s needs during a divorce. Learn about your alternatives at “Divorce Options.” Divorce Options is a monthly workshop presented by the Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego.

Divorce Options presents a unique opportunity for the public to learn about resources they can draw on to plan an effective transition that respects the needs and interests of all family members. Divorce Options provides unbiased information about self-representation, mediation, Collaborative Divorce and litigated divorce. The workshop deals with the legal, financial, family and personal issues of divorce in an informational and compassionate small group setting. It reviews the resources available and the best options for saving time, money and frustration. Led by volunteer attorneys, Financial Specialists, and mental health professionals who are members of the Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego, the workshop will cover the full range of choices couples have as they contemplate divorce, focusing on the nonadversarial, out-of-court options. Divorce Options presents a unique opportunity for the public to learn about resources they can draw on to plan an effective transition that respects the needs and interests of all family members. It puts you in control of

your own divorce instead of someone else who doesn’t know you or your family circumstances. Attorneys outline the variety of approaches, including self-representation, mediated divorce, Collaborative Divorce, traditional negotiation and litigation (going to court). Attorneys discuss the stages of the divorce process, child custody, child support, spousal support and division of property. Financial Specialists provide an overview to help couples prepare for divorce, including estate and taxation issues. A mental health professional or Divorce Coach reviews the emotional concerns, such as dealing with guilt, anger and grief, the impact of divorce on children, and how to preserve relationships with extended family. Although there is a specific program agenda, the discussion is tailored to the needs of the attendees. There is plenty of time reserved for a question and answer period. The Divorce Options program is useful to anyone thinking about divorce or other relationship transitions including cohabitating couples with children or LGBT couples looking for a process that is considerate and respectful of their unique needs.

Topics include:

Litigation, mediation and collaboration – the risks and the benefits of each process Legal, financial, psychological and social issues of divorce How to talk about divorce with your children Guidance from divorce experts By learning about divorce and the different process options available, you can maximize your ability to make good decisions during the difficult and challenging time. Divorce Options is a workshop designed to help couples take the next step, no matter where they are in the process. It identifies strategies to help you stay out of court, and helps you identify the social, emotional, legal and financial issues that are most pressing for you. There is a fee (currently $45) for materials. The materials fee is waived for mental health professionals who attend.

Questions about Divorce Options? Call the Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego at 858-472-4022 or email For more information about Collaborative Divorce, visit www.

The Collaborative Process and LGBT Families Marriage equality in California means samesex couples receive equal treatment under the law when getting divorced, whether it is the dissolution of a state-registered domestic partnership or a legal marriage. Collaborative Practice is particularly well-suited for samesex couples with a goal of reaching creative solutions in evolving areas of the law, which individual judges at court may not have experience in addressing.

This can include: •

Parenting matters where marriage equality does not always have the intended result, or potential custody issues when children travel or one parent plans on moving outside of California. Determining when the legal relationship began in the eyes of the state, especially if the couple formed before marriage was legal in their state of residence at the time. Addressing financial decisions made by same-sex couples in the past due to the nature of unequal legal treatment at the time. These can have a significant impact on current estate and taxation consequences of divorce, and even the division of retirement or pension accounts.

The main reason same sex couples should consider Collaborative Divorce is the same reason traditional couples should consider it: When you keep your family’s future under your control, instead of handing your lives over to the court system, the outcome will be a far better fit with a fairer, less stressful outcome for everyone involved.

Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego | | Divorce: A Problem to Solve — Not a War to Win


Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego Collaborative Attorneys Ilona Antonyan, CFLS 420 W. Broadway, Ste. 1500 San Diego, CA 92101 619-696-1100

Barbara Brown, CFLS 4370 La Jolla Village Drive, Ste. 230 San Diego, CA 92122-1250

Meredith Brown, CFLS 4370 La Jolla Village Drive, Ste. 230 San Diego, CA 92122-1250

Debra N . Caligiuri 2131 Palomar Airport Rd., Ste. 209 Carlsbad, CA 92011 760-477-8595

Hildy L. Fentin, CFLS

Myra Chack Fleischer, CFLS 2755 Jefferson St., Ste. 200 Carlsbad, CA 92008 858-720-8250

Julia Garwood, CFLS 1450 Frazee Road, Ste. 501 San Diego, CA 92108 619-692-8100

Win Heiskala, CFLS 530 B St., Ste. 1700 San Diego, CA 92101 619-806-4599

Traci Hoppes, CFLS 7777 Alvarado Road, Ste. 413 La Mesa, CA 91942 619-448-6500

Garrison “Bud” Klueck, CFLS

750 B St., Ste. 2300 San Diego, CA 92101 855-233-2300

7777 Alvarado Road, Ste. 413 La Mesa, CA 91942 619-448-6500

Nicholas A. Leto, CFLS 7777 Alvarado Road, Ste. 227 La Mesa, CA 91942 619-232-7427

Meredith G. Lewis, CFLS, CDFA 12625 High Bluff Drive, Ste. 306 San Diego, CA 92130 858-260-5228

Michele Sacks Lowenstein, CFLS 2650 Camino Del Rio North, Ste. 308 San Diego, CA 92108 619-298-6246

Julie R. Mack, CFLS 380 Stevens Ave., Ste. 310 Solana Beach, CA 92075 858-731-9331

Dan Martin 2755 Jefferson St., Ste. 200 Carlsbad, CA 92008 858-720-8250

Divorce Coaches Constance R. Ahrons, Ph.D.* 1150 Silverado St. La Jolla, CA 92037-4524 858-274-8943

Linda Altes, Ph.D.*

Miguel Alvarez, Ph.D. Multiple Locations San Diego and Encinitas, CA 760-632-7223

Merle Michelle Askren, Ph.D. * 9320 Carmel Mountain Road, Ste. D San Diego, CA 92129 619-458-9805

750 B St., Ste. 2300 San Diego, CA 92101 619-595-1505

Sandra Joan Morris, CFLS 750 B St., Ste. 2100 San Diego, CA 92101 619-685-3042

Frank Nageotte, CFLS 2366 Front St. San Diego, CA 92101-1414 619-239-0590

Richard M. Renkin, CFLS 1620 Fifth Ave., Ste. 800 San Diego, CA 92101 619-299-7100

Frann Setzer, CFLS 12625 High Bluff Drive, Ste. 111 San Diego, CA 92130 858-999-3000

Shawn Skillin 591 Camino De La Reina, Ste. 802 San Diego, CA 92108 619-299-4880

Nancy Taylor, CFLS 750 B St., Ste. 2300 San Diego, CA 92101 619-238-5501

Colleen A. Warren, CFLS 12625 High Bluff Drive, Ste. 111 San Diego, CA 92130 858-461-6840

Shawn Weber, CFLS 777 S. Highway 101, Ste. 123 Solana Beach, CA 92075 858-410-0144

Financial Specialists Debra Dupree, Psy.D. 1011 Camino Del Rio South, Ste. 530 San Diego, CA 92108 619-417-9690

Russell S. Gold, Ph.D.

4350 Executive Drive, Ste. 255 San Diego, CA 92121 858-824-1914

Laura H. Miller, CFLS

4060 Fourth Ave., Ste. 615 San Diego, CA 92103 619-574-1694

Anne Janda, LCSW* Multiple Locations San Diego, CA 619-229-0590

Lori Love, Ph.D.* Multiple Locations San Diego and Encinitas, CA 760-632-7223

Tina Mears, MFT 3435 Camino Del Rio South, Ste. 338 San Diego, CA 92108 619-261-7409

Marjorie J. Ospeck, LCSW* 5100 Marlborough Drive San Diego, CA 92116 619-787-8055

Mark Schlissel, LCSW 3914 Third Ave. San Diego, CA 92103 619-291-4808

Trish Stanley, Psy.D. 5190 Governor Drive, Ste. 104 San Diego, CA 92122 858-775-9388

Lynn Waldman, LCSW 12250 El Camino Real, Ste. 116 San Diego, CA 92130 619-865-3203

Anna M. Addleman, CPA, CDFA, CFF, CFE 600 B St., Ste. 2040 San Diego, CA 92101 619-677-5651

Kimberly Alvarado, CPA, ABV, CFF 10616 Scripps Summit Court San Diego, CA 92131 661-332-0106

Mark Hill, CFP, CDFA 12544 High Bluff Drive, Ste. 440 San Diego, CA 92130 858-509-2320

Cinda Jones, CFP, CDFA 11622 El Camino Real, Ste. 100 San Diego, CA 92130 619-795-1797

Dan Parks, CFP 9131 Fletcher Parkway, Ste. 124 La Mesa, CA 91942 619-202-0173

Justin A. Reckers, CFP, CDFA 12636 High Bluff Drive, Ste. 400 San Diego, CA 92130 619-770-7755

Ginita Wall, CPA, CFP, CDFA 10863 Vereda Sol Del Dios San Diego, CA 92130 858-792-0524

*Also a Child Specialist

We Can Help Call one of our members listed above today! If you have any additional questions: 858-472-4022

Call the Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego at 858-472-4022. Or go online at You can also attend Divorce Options, an informational workshop open to those who want to learn more about the process of divorce. To find out more about Divorce Options workshops, call 858-472-4022 or email

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