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Total Eclipse of the Heart

On August 19, 2017, portions of Oregon and the U.S. experienced the once in a generation experience of a total solar eclipse. I had reservations at a state park on the path of totality and then a month or so before the event, a friend suggested I come to rural Idaho which was also on the path. I tried to give away my camping reservation to my teen son and friends, as well to several other friends, but I could not find a taker. I assumed that this prime camping spot was going to go to waste.

I’ve been mediating with a divorcing couple for more than 3 years. They have been separated that entire period and the husband had re-partnered already. Their case has been the most unusual of the 500+ I have handled. They have assets spread literally across the globe, lived overseas for many years with business and investment ties there, have assets that are very difficult to value and while they clearly have great support and affection for each other, they bicker almost every time in our 10+  meetings. Sometimes one of them has failed to show up for meetings or appeared an hour late. One or both has been unprepared at times, or suddenly changes his/her mind. Yet, they do basically trust each other and put they teen-aged kids first at all times.

This feisty, unusual couple has been one of my more challenging cases, and one of the most fun. Despite their periodic tension, there is a core of love that they share from their amazing life together. They switch from arguing, to joking, to laughing together very easily. They are fun, super interesting people stuck in a marriage that they needed to end. Our meetings feel more like a connection with old friends than clients at this stage.

Then, finally, they suddenly and relatively quickly resolved their remaining issues with a compromise that fit them and that, we all joked, would drive lawyers crazy for being too vague, and relying too much on their sense of humor and mutual trust. We had one final meeting to sign the documents, which included a little bit more bickering, some tears, shared memories, jokes and a really sweet poignant end to the process. I gave them both orchids to mark the end of our work together. True to form, they insisted on taking selfies together with their flowers. And, I mentioned to them that I was heading off to see the eclipse and could not give away my reserved campsite. A few days later, Husband emailed asking if he could have the campsite, to which I easily agreed. I assumed he would be going with his new partner.

The eclipse was amazing from my Idaho mountain and I shared photos with friends and family and got a few in return. Including . . . a wonderful, fun photo of my eclectic clients and their kids all together in a big pile on a hammock at my Oregon campsite. They looked like the happy family they will continue to be, divorced but still connected, forever.

~~~

Jim O’Connor, Collaborative Attorney / Mediator
3939 NE Hancock St., Ste. 309
Portland, OR 97212
503-473-8242

Jim’s Website
Email Jim

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There’s Only One Side in a Collaborative Divorce

As a Mediator and Collaborative attorney, I only work with clients who want to avoid court and resolve their issues themselves, on a mutually fair basis. This gives me a window from which to see and hear many interesting, touching stories of couples who are determined to be their best selves, while at the same time struggling with broken hearts, stretched finances and the many practical challenges of separating. Divorcing parents have the added task of managing their kids’ emotional adjustment to the family’s restructuring.

Here’s one impressive example I’d like to share:

In a Collaborative Divorce, each spouse has an attorney but agrees that neither lawyer will under any circumstances take the matter to court; if the process breaks down (which is rare), the attorneys are disqualified, and new litigation counsel must be retained. The Collaborative process looks and feels much like a co-mediated case, with the clients and both lawyers working together in group meetings as a “settlement team” to find the best possible win-win-win solutions for the family.

A while back, I was representing a wife in a Collaborative case with a very close colleague representing the husband.  Before we began, each spouse had developed some very beautiful goals to guide their work together. One of wife’s goals was that there would be no “sides” in the case, since she felt that everyone should be on the same side – that of caring for the whole family (especially their kids).

Our first meeting was at the other lawyer’s office, which has a rectangular table.  Husband was already seated on one side when we arrived. I sat across the table from him and wife sat down next to me.  After settling in, she then looked up, and realized that she was now on one side of the table, while husband was on the other. Without a word, she got up and moved across so that she could sit next to husband before we began our work. From that point on, the couple sat together for all of our team meetings. Wife had literally walked the walk to stick to her important family goal of avoiding taking sides.

This couple promised each other that they and their kids would always remain a family, now and in the years to come, despite their choice to divorce. That commitment required that, in addition to resolving their finances, these partners had to keep in mind this important relational piece of their work together. This sweet couple continued to hug, fist-bump, and occasionally bicker as they successfully worked through the issues of their separation and divorce in a series of team meetings. At the end, they laughed and cried in appreciation at what they’d accomplished together.

They taught me something very important:  In a family-centered divorce, there really, truly is only one side.  I’ll continue to share their important insight with all those I have the honor of helping divorce peacefully.

~~~

Jim O’Connor, Collaborative Attorney / Mediator
3939 NE Hancock St., Ste. 309
Portland, OR 97212
503-473-8242

Jim’s Website
Email Jim

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Giving Thanks After a Split

When you’re a child of divorce, holiday celebrations can come with a lot of baggage.

 

Check out this first-person article about new Thanksgiving “traditions” (it’s older, but still appropriate).

[click the turkey]

 

“On a holiday devoted to gratitude, it makes sense to let go of grudges, set aside differences and focus on the positive.”

~~~ Aisha Harris

 

…or check out these posts:

A divorced parents’ guide to surviving Thanksgiving without your kids

A Guide to Surviving Thanksgiving with Divorced Parents

The Truth About Thanksgiving With Divorced Parents

For Grown Children Of Divorce, Holidays Are Always Half-Full

~~~

Forrest Collins
Collaborative Attorney & Mediator
Forrest Collins, PC
Ste. 150
5200 Meadows Rd
Lake Oswego, OR 97035

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Why Mediation?

. . .why not just “ask the judge?”

  • Mediation is a confidential process for resolving disputes. A neutral professional mediator assists the parties to reach a mutually acceptable resolution of their issues. The mediator does not take sides or make decisions, but assists people in sharing information, identifying goals and discussing options. Mediation offers a very cost-effective and less invasive alternative to the traditional litigation process. For most families, there is nothing of value to be found in court. The people in the conflict are far more familiar with the problems to be solved, and better able to clearly communicate what each needs to feel heard, respected, and treated fairly.
  • Mediation is sometimes described as facilitated or assisted negotiation. This option works best when the parties are able to sit together and, with the mediator’s help, develop problem-solving solutions on their own.  Of course, some families will require more support than mediation provides (see “What is Collaborative Divorce?” page).
  • Frustrated Judge

    The judge is just the “decider.”

    Bridges professionals are available to help parties mediate their family disputes, in a private, neutral and safe process. We have extensive training in negotiation and conflict resolution techniques. Our role is to ensure that the process remains respectful and works to develop win-win solutions that might not otherwise occur within the families. Don’t put up with this guy’s frustrations.

  • Finally, the judge is the just the “decider.” The courts are crowded, rigid and public. Even if you insist on “seeing the other side in court,” rules of evidence and time pressure usually won’t allow you to satisfy your desire to be heard. A mediated solution is a hand-crafted solution.

~~~

Forrest Collins
Collaborative Attorney & Mediator
Forrest Collins, PC
Ste. 150
5200 Meadows Rd
Lake Oswego, OR 97035

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Divorce Coach

A divorce coach is a mental health professional – often a psychologist or an LCSW – who assists the client to effectively move through the divorce.

The “divorce coach” is unique to collaborative law.

There is an emotional component of divorce that must be addressed, in addition to the legal component. In fact, the emotional divorce is often more complex than the legal divorce. In traditional litigation, emotions are legally irrelevant  i.e., ignored. In a proper collaborative divorce,  emotions are fully considered.

The divorce coach does not perform therapy. Rather, the relationship is a short-term intervention aimed at helping a client confront the emotional hurdles involved in divorce. Divorce coaching can involve working on a number of skills needed to navigate the process. A few of these skills include:

  • effective listening;
  • effective communicating;
  • learning how to speak-up for oneself;
  • identifying interests; and
  • recognizing how your behavior impacts others.

THREE REASONS WHY YOU NEED A DIVORCE COACH

  1. Divorce Coach will help you get clear and get you out of the “stuckness” you may be feeling.
  2. A Divorce Coach will listen, then help you set goals and plan for the future.
  3. A Divorce Coach will hold you accountable and keep you moving forward, even when it feels too difficult and you want to say ‘enough!’

“A Divorce Coach works for YOU!”

Divorce coaches can help clients address difficult topics too, such as substance abuse issues, infidelity, leaving or having been left and issues related to money.

VIDEO: NBC’s Today Show on Collaborative Divorce (older, but still accurate!)

Because Collaborative Divorce Solutions is client-centered ~ Divorce coaching is client-centered as well. Clients can choose to have a divorce coach or not. One coach can work with both clients or each client can have a coach. Rarely only one client has a divorce coach and the other does not. It is important to realize that the entire family benefits, even if only person is receiving coaching. It is beneficial for the whole family because the issues of one person often effect the entire family and the entire collaborative negotiation.

~~~

Lee Hamilton, MA
Mediator & Collaborative Divorce Coach
2233 NE Skidmore St.
Portland, OR 97211
503-703-0528

Lee’s Website
Email Lee

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FAQ – Fall 2019

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


  • I’m worried that my partner might not be fair to me in the divorce process. How can we try to work together in a peaceful process but still make sure I am taking care of myself?

Divorce is stressful and scary so your question is a very typical one. You (and your partner, if willing) should schedule a consultation with a Bridges Divorce professional and learn about your options for working together on a peaceful divorce that takes care of the needs of all family members (especially children). “Bridgers” are all very experienced in helping individuals and couples find the best option to fit the unique circumstances of their family and, after consultation, will advise you whether it seems like your situation is a good fit for a non-court process.

  • FAQIf there has been a major breach of trust (such as an affair) is it even possible for a couple to work together on their divorce?

Yes, it is possible for couples who start with a low level of trust in each other to work together in a process that will be both sale and transparent. While such work is not always easy, it is usually much less stressful and expensive than using the court model.

  • How can we decide whether Mediation or Collaborative Divorce fit our situation best?

All Bridges Divorce professionals are experienced in both Mediation and Collaborative Divorce. A consultation (by phone, email or in-office) to discuss your family’s specific situation is the best way to determine which of these peaceful options is the best fit for your family.

Bridges Divorce Professionals

 

~~~

Myah Kehoe, Attorney at Law / Mediator
Kehoe Law, LLC
319 SW Washington St., Ste. 614
Portland, OR 97204
503-388-6065

Myah’s Website
Email Myah

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How do you “bridge” the chasm between you?

As obvious as they are, the elements of a constructive divorce become obstructed from view by the emotional intensity of the experience. It is all too easy to stop caring about what happens and start justifying destructive behavior. It is easy to get trapped in spiraling hostilities.

 

Copy this, print it out and paste it on your mirror (from “Between Love and Hate” by Lois Gold,  pp. 55-56).

 

  • Take responsibility for regulating your behavior, regardless of what your partner does.
  • Separate your emotions from the decision making process.
  • Separate your job as a parent from the conflicts with your partner.
  • Accept responsibility for your contribution to the break-up.
  • Learn to understand your partner’s viewpoint.
  • Be willing to negotiate, compromise and cooperate in resolving your differences.
  • Make a commitment to an equitable and non-adversarial settlement process.

~~~

Dona Cullen, Attorney at Law / Mediator
Certified Divorce Financial Analyst
5200 Meadows Rd., Ste. 150
Lake Oswego, OR 97035

503-867-1763
Dona’s Website
Email Dona

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Divorce Options – 4 Different Ways to Divorce

Once a couple has made the decision to part, they have different divorce options available. Which one they choose depends on their own personal situation.

The Do-It-Yourself-Divorce

A do-it-yourself-divorce is also known as the “kitchen table divorce.” The divorcing couple does all the paperwork themselves and files the documents with the court. This may work when a couple has no unresolved issues between them and can easily make their parting decisions together. They should consider having individual attorneys look over the agreement before it is filed with the court to make sure they did not miss any key issues and that they understand their rights and obligations.

 

Mediation

In Oregon, mediation is when a neutral third party sits down with the couple and helps them negotiate the issues that need to be resolved. The mediator can cannot give legal advice to either party. The mediator can tell the couple what other divorcing couples have done in similar situations, but the couple must ultimately make their own decisions.

 

When the settlement has been committed to paper, some mediators with a legal background will draft the paperwork. They will suggest that each party have their own attorney review the paperwork before it is filed with the court. If the mediator does not have a legal background, they will refer the couple to a lawyer who can draft the paperwork for them or the parties will draft the documents themselves (see DIY, above). Couples may also hire attorneys to attend mediation sessions with them.

 

Litigation

Just a frustrated judge....

Just a frustrated judge….

Litigation is an adversarial process, which also results in more antagonism than other divorce options. Each party hires his or her own attorney and attempts to resolve all issues through back-and-forth negotiations. Sometimes, a mediator is called in to help. If the issues cannot be agreed upon by the parties, the case goes to trial. Then, the parties have no control over the final decisions; instead, the judge will make the decisions for them, and they must abide by all court orders. Because the parties have no control over the outcome, this can result in the parties continuing to fight long after the trial is complete.

 

Collaborative Divorce

A collaborative divorce is a non-adversarial process. The goal is for the parties to come to mutually agreed resolutions of their issues as amicably as possible. When children are involved, the attorneys assist parents in making a parenting plan that accommodates the needs of both the children and the parents.

 

Each specially-trained Collaborative Attorney is still an advocate for their client, but the attorney is more like a diplomat, there to help the parties’ sort through the issues and come to solutions that are best for their family. Neutral parties are called in to assist when necessary. For example, a third person with a financial background may assist with asset division. And a mental health coach is often an automatic party to the Collaborative team to assist with challenging emotional roadblocks.

 

A Collaborative divorce is a method that is the most efficient for most divorcing couples and families. The parties do not need to have everything figured out before entering the process. They can add in any additional professionals as needed. And, they can still have the advocacy of their own attorneys, without feeling the pressure of the courtroom.

 

For information on divorce options, or to discuss any aspect of your need for assistance for your divorce, contact us at Bridges Collaborative Divorce Solutions.

 

~~~

Myah Kehoe, Attorney at Law / Mediator
Kehoe Law, LLC
319 SW Washington St., Ste. 614
Portland, OR 97204
503-388-6065

Myah’s Website
Email Myah

 

 

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Relationships / Feedback

Negotiation requires listening to different perspectives that often conflict with how we see ourselves and our world. This is feedback. It’s hard to give and hard to take.

Why is feedback so hard? Because of our insecurities.

Why is feedback so important? For the mutual benefit of understanding, to make positive changes in how we behave and to grow.

What can we do to overcome the pain of feedback? The only way to face our fear of feedback is to engage in a process that fosters safe dialogue, including both deep honesty and empathy.

How can we safely engage in conflict (including giving and receiving feedback) in order to grow and improve our relationships? Relationships continue after divorce, especially if there are children. Learning to resolve conflict is an ongoing process for us, and our abilities positively or negatively affect our lives and the lives of those around us. People must feel safe to discuss their concerns and interests. Once fear of vulnerability is removed, people can aspire to their higher good and find excellent solutions.

How do we apply this to feedback? What’s required is a change of heart – from negative, evaluative feedback to appreciation. Try to find new truth in what is being said. Know it’s a process of understanding that each person is a culture and sees things differently. Build trust by buffering individual differences with feelings of appreciation, seeing the innocence and insecurity in others and understanding them. Take feedback with a mind open to change, new information, curiosity, and wanting to get better.

What are the tools?

  • Positive Affinity George Pransky in his Relationship Handbook says compassion is our innate, personal lubricant that helps us get along with others. When we feel compassion we are in a healthy state of mind and have the wisdom to know how to respond. It’s a blanket of warm feelings that protects us from the rough edges of personalities. It protects us from harsh self-judgment and raises our spirits. It allows the other person to regain a sense of security. We can bring out the best in others if they feel safe.
  • Trust Trust in oneself. Innate trust is defined by Philip Moffit as “the understanding that if you live mindfully moment to moment and have the intention to act according to your values even in difficult or confusing situations, your life will unfold in the most harmonious manner possible.” Innate trust is unconditional. It allows us to engage in feedback with understanding, empathy and compassion as well as the confidence to express our needs and set boundaries.
  • Non-Defensive Communication We know feedback is important for our relationships, our growth and our development. The key is to be able to deliver and accept feedback in a way that doesn’t provoke defensiveness. Sharon Strand Ellison, author of Taking the War Out of Our Words – The Art of Powerful Non-Defensive Communication, says we reduce defensiveness by using basic communication tools: asking questions, making statements and making predictions.
    • Questions: Asking questions with real curiosity and authenticity for the purpose of gathering information. A “safe question” is one that establishes the subjectivity of each person’s viewpoint and assists us in remaining separate from someone else’s judgment.
    • Statements: Making statements that are open and direct, being vulnerable and unguarded with no hidden agenda. We state our needs, desires and goals directly. A non-defensive statement is subjective, descriptive and lays it all out on the table. We no longer defend ourselves and try to control how the other person is reacting. It encourages accountability and clarification and results in personal growth.
    • Predictions: These are not threats or manipulations. With predictions we foretell what can be the consequences of certain actions or choices. They must be given with neutrality, be definitive and absolute. The function is to create security for ourselves and others through predictability. Predictions protect us and create clear boundaries.

~~~

Dona Cullen, Attorney at Law / Mediator
Certified Divorce Financial Analyst
5200 Meadows Rd., Ste. 150
Lake Oswego, OR 97035

503-867-1763
Dona’s Website
Email Dona

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Help Create a Caring Workplace and Economy

As a psychotherapist and career counselor starting out in the mid-80’s, my biggest surprise has been how many people come in my office and complain not about their work, but about their dysfunctional workplace. They’ve talked and still talk about a lack of vision and organization among managers resulting in chaos and confusion, distrust among employees at all levels and cultures of toxicity that lead to high stress and health problems. A focus on productivity alone is behind decision-making that ignores a worker’s need for respect, to believe in what they do, manageable deadlines and a chance to speak out when problems occur.

I wish I had a nickel for every time someone said, “My company used to feel like family, it doesn’t anymore. I never see my manager and it seems I’m expected to do three jobs now.” Since I began my career, our country has seen the steady incorporation of management styles with an eye on short-term profits and efficiencies over quality. Not only has quality of life for employees suffered but it has wrecked havoc across industries from retail and health care to the manufacture of airplanes. Beginning in the early 1970’s a focus on paying profits to shareholders shifted the view of managers who were increasingly trained in MBA programs that emphasized financial gain for investors over benefits to customers, employees and community. Instead of creating full time jobs with health benefits, employee training, contributing to retirement funds and giving back to the community, we saw a trend to send good jobs overseas to increase short term dividends for shareholders.

My hope for future business dealings in Oregon and elsewhere stems from the way I see my clients and others put their deeper values and interests on the line in the workplace. From my socially oriented clients who prioritize wanting to “help people” to folks who want to “make something useful and beautiful for others,” I see many who want to care about what they do for a living. It seems to come naturally, as a part of a need to be our true selves in relation to the larger community.

“The promise of business is to increase the general well-being of humankind through service, creative invention and ethical philosophy. Business is the only mechanism on the planet today powerful enough to produce the changes necessary to reverse global environments and social degradation.” Paul Hawken

I agree with Paul Hawken, visionary, environmentalist, activist and entrepreneur; work is a place where we can change the world. But given the “eroding and precarious state of employment” (a phrase coined by Dr. David L. Bluestein,) as the impact of bean counters led by greed over the last several decades is felt more and more, it is the workplace itself that now needs our help.

Dr. Bluestein, an expert in the changes our economy is experiencing and author of soon to be published “The Impact of Work in an Age of Uncertainty: The Eroding Work Experience in America,” says a good way to keep a job today is to make caring and creativity your focus. He says this in part to steer those of us whose jobs are being taken over by robots into work that will always be around. But now there is another imperative, we must care and think at work if we are to maintain our very humanity and not turn into robots ourselves. David Graeber, in “Bullshit Jobs,” warns people negatively affected by their lack of meaning and purpose at work suffer from “depression, anxiety and a warped sense of values” and also points to “caring and creativity” as a way through our present dilemmas.

In closing I ask you, “What do you care about? What do you want to create?” And what might it look like if you were doing this at work? As I’m fond of saying, meaningful direction in career often starts as a small feeling, a feeling of caring, of being interested in something or falling in love with an idea. Trust your subjective experience. It is crucial to the process of discovering and growing your passions. As Barbara Sher, a well-known career author, says, “We are what we love.” You’ll soon notice a side benefit to caring and feeling more connected to others, a boost in self-confidence and a decrease in anxiety. So tune out any negative self-talk about your little idea not being important or good enough and get to work! The world is waiting.

~~~

Gail Jean Nicholson, MA, LPC
Divorce Coach / Personal and Career Counselor
1020 SW Taylor St., Ste. 550
Portland, OR 97205
503-227-4250

Gail’s Website
Email Gail

Mediation as an Option

Is Mediation a good Option for us?

Randall Poff, Mediator.Law

 

Mediation is a way of resolving a dispute with the help of an impartial person (the mediator). The neutral mediator helps both of you discuss personal concerns and, if possible, reach a voluntary agreement. The mediator helps you both think about your individual needs and interests, clarify your differences with the other person and find common ground.


In mediation:

  • You are the decision-maker: the mediator has no authority to make decisions.
  • You determine the issues that need to be addressed: the mediator guides the process and maintains a safe environment.
  • Handshake mediated agreement

    Formal, adversarial, public OR thoughtful, cooperative, private: Which approach works for you?

    The mediator uses and helps you to use active listening skills.

  • The mediator does not give legal or other professional advice to either of you. The mediator may help you think of options to consider, possibly with the help and advice of another professional.
  • Mediation is usually private. If not, the reason why is explained before beginning mediation. You have a right to quit mediation at any time.
  • Agreements are reached only when you both agree.

Mediation is sometimes described as facilitated or assisted negotiation. This option works best when the parties are able to sit together and, with the mediator’s help, develop problem-solving solutions on their own. Of course, some families will require more support than mediation provides (see “What is Collaborative Divorce?” page).

Bridges professionals are available to help families mediate their disputes, in a private, neutral and safe process. We have extensive training in negotiation and conflict resolution techniques. Our role is to ensure that the process remains respectful and works to develop “win-win” solutions that might not otherwise occur within the families.

~~~

Randall Poff
Collaborative Attorney & Mediator
Ste. 340
1500 NW Bethany Blvd
Beaverton, OR 97006

503-241-3141
Randall’s Website
Email Randall

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We, at Bridges, are Peacemakers

What Does That Mean?

Peacemaking means processing differences in a way that results in resolution. It’s not the absence of conflict. It’s an appreciation of conflict as an opportunity to rise to a higher level of function and satisfaction.

Conflict comes up naturally within ourselves and in relationship to others. It’s caused by unexamined habits, unmet needs, differences of opinion, personalities, perspectives, interests and values. It arises because of expectations and things that happen in life we can’t control or understand.

Inner conflict manifests as anger, jealousy, fear, anxiety and other conscious or unconscious emotions. Failure to resolve inner conflict results in ways of being that create discomfort for others and dysfunction in relationships.

The coming together in marriage is a time of peace and confidence. We expect to live happily ever after. But this peace is short-lived and is predictably disturbed by life and living in relationship.

Facing conflict is how we learn and grow. Not processing it properly means ongoing personal and relational dysfunction and pain. Learning and using peacemaking skills to resolve conflict results in ongoing growth, harmony and happiness.

In peacemaking, differences are expressed, heard and integrated into a higher peace. This higher peace is based upon new perspectives that are more inclusive. It transcends the personal to larger goals and deeper satisfaction.

How Is a Peacemaking Process Different?

Problem Solving Approach

Mediation and collaborative processes use a method of negotiation called “interest based” problem solving. It’s not the usual thought of bargaining, outwitting, overpowering, puffing, threatening and even bullying.

Interest based negotiation has these steps:

  1. Information gathering in a neutral way with full and voluntary disclosure
  2. Each party being able to express their own interests and listen to the concerns of the other in a safe, confidential environment without reaction or criticism.
  3. Together creating options to meet the interests of each as closely as possible.
  4. Choosing the best option after analyzing the strengths, weaknesses and feasibility of each.
  5. Committing to the option chosen.

Getting Help from Other Professionals:

Family issues are emotional, relational and financial as well as legal. Peacemaking processes take all of this into account. We work with families through each of these areas in a targeted and efficient manner, seeking to meet the needs of each situation.
The natural complexity of issues, concerns and experiences for our families is recognized and validated. Coaching is available for each aspect.

Dona

Dona Cullen, Attorney at Law, Mediator, Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA)

Unbundled Services:

Lawyers can now provide what is called “unbundled” services. With informed consent on your part, we can assist where you need help. A high percentage of people choose to go through a court process unrepresented, particularly in family law. This is due to expense and the fear lawyers will unnecessarily polarize and/or complicate matters. That being said there are things a lawyer or other divorce professional can help you with. We can now coach, share information and encourage on an as needed basis.

What Makes Us Different?

Peacemaking being our passion is what makes us different. We have worked together for a long time to build this potential and make this service available. We regularly meet, share and support each other in improving our skills and have for the past 10 years. We believe in peacemaking, in ourselves and in your potential to choose a process that can have enduring positive consequences for your future.

Call one of our professionals to see the difference for yourselves.

~~~

Dona Cullen, Attorney at Law / Mediator
Certified Divorce Financial Analyst
5200 Meadows Rd., Ste. 150
Lake Oswego, OR 97035

503-867-1763
Dona’s Website
Email Dona

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Pro Bono Spotlight

James O’Connor
Pro Bono Spotlight

From the Multnomah Lawyer, January 2019 Volume 65, Number 1

Multnomah Bar Associationby Anthony Blake
YLS Pro Bono Committee

Early in life, James O’Connor realized he had an overarching desire to help people. He went to Georgetown Law School with the intent of using the law as a tool for change. After graduating in the Ronald Reagan era, O’Connor found himself searching for a job that allowed him to assist individuals and couples in finding solutions to the issues that many families face. So, he traveled to a rural part of Arkansas where he worked as an attorney for Legal Aid of Arkansas. His next stop was Legal Aid of Greater Cincinnati. At each of these locations, he had the freedom to combine his education and personal experience to brainstorm new ways of approaching old problems. “My early positions allowed me to attack the cause of problems instead of just spotting the symptoms,” O’Connor said. The on-the-fly experience he gained as a budding legal aid attorney would stick with him for the rest of his career. Eventually, O’Connor walked away from the family law arena and worked as general counsel for the International Union of Operating Engineers in Washington, DC. There, he provided various services to the union and its 4,000 members.

In 2006, he opened his own firm, Jim O’Connor LLC , in Northeast Portland where he works as a mediator and collaborative divorce attorney. After opening his firm, O’Connor wanted to re-connect with his family law roots in a way that he does not always get to experience in his daily practice. Thousands of miles away from the Arkansas Delta where he started, O’Connor became a volunteer at Legal Aid Services of Oregon. Since then, he’s found a way to volunteer at LASOLegal Aid Services of Oregon at least once a month for the last 12 years. This commitment has allowed him to provide family law assistance to almost 200 clients. “Jim’s long-term dedication to assisting low income clients is truly remarkable. Jim provides critical legal help with family law legal issues and goes above and beyond to ensure low income individuals receive assistance,” said Jill Mallery, Staff Attorney/ Pro Bono Coordinator at LASO ’s Portland office. When asked why he continues to volunteer at LASO each month, O’Connor responded, “Family is everything to the people who come through the doors of LASO. They have the same issues we all have. Their feelings are real and they’re extremely appreciative of the services volunteers provide.”

Despite decades of helping hundreds of families, O’Connor remains grateful for every opportunity, “It’s a privilege to use your education to help people.” Without dedication from volunteers like O’Connor, a majority of the families at LASO would have to face the legal system on their own. He’s a great example of what it means to remain committed to finding a way to help the less fortunate, regardless of one’s career path. “On behalf of the hundreds of clients Jim has assisted, we thank him for his commitment to increasing access to justice,” said Mallery. Our local community is lucky to have him.

Jim O'Connor

James O’Connor, Mediator and Collaborative Attorney

~~~

Randall Poff
Collaborative Attorney & Mediator
1500 NW Bethany Blvd., Ste. 340
Beaverton, OR 97006

503-241-3141
Randall’s Website
Email Randall

 
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IACP Forum, Seattle

International Academy of Collaborative Professionals ~ Forum

19th Annual Networking and Educational Event

October 25 to October 28, 2018
The Westin Seattle, WA

Several of your Bridges Divorce professionals are back from the world collaborative conference in Seattle, Washington.

IACP is the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals, an international community of legal, mental health and financial professionals working in concert to create client-centered processes for resolving conflict.

More than 450 lawyers, mental health professionals, financial professionals and other Collaborative practitioners from several countries attended the Forum at the Westin Seattle.

Vision

Transform how conflict is resolved worldwide through Collaborative Practice.

Mission

IACP supports Collaborative Practice as a conflict resolution option worldwide by:

  • establishing and upholding the essential elements, ethical and practice standards of Collaborative Practice;
  • fostering professional excellence by educating and providing resources to Collaborative practitioners;
  • leading and integrating the Collaborative community; and
  • promoting the growth of Collaborative Practice. 

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    Randall Poff
    Collaborative Attorney & Mediator
    Ste. 340
    1500 NW Bethany Blvd
    Beaverton, OR 97006

    503-241-3141
    Randall’s Website
    Email Randall

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IACP Forum, Lake Las Vegas

IACP Forum

17th Annual Networking and Educational Forum

October 27-30, 2016
Hilton / Lake Las Vegas

Several of your Bridges Divorce professionals are back from the world collaborative conference in Lake Las Vegas, Nevada.

IACP is the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals, an international community of legal, mental health and financial professionals working in concert to create client-centered processes for resolving conflict.

Vision

Transform how conflict is resolved worldwide through Collaborative Practice.

Mission

IACP supports Collaborative Practice as a conflict resolution option worldwide by:

  • establishing and upholding the essential elements, ethical and practice standards of Collaborative Practice;
  • fostering professional excellence by educating and providing resources to Collaborative practitioners;
  • leading and integrating the Collaborative community; and
  • promoting the growth of Collaborative Practice.

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Jim O’Connor, Collaborative Attorney / Mediator
3939 NE Hancock St., Ste. 309
Portland, OR 97212
503-473-8242

Jim’s Website
Email Jim

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What is Co-Mediation?

Many family mediation matters are handled effectively by a single mediator, but there are also situations when two professional heads working together are better than one.

Co-mediation involves two trained professionals (usually one lawyer and one with a mental health or financial background) working together with the family as a 4-person settlement team. If the case involves difficult emotions or complex issues, two mediators with different professional backgrounds may assist the couple to reach better, faster and more enduring agreements. For example, financial decisions may be intertwined with emotional or kid-focused issues. Two mediators take turns “in the lead.” and can be better able to observe and keep notes.  Two mediators help ensure that both parties remain engaged and feel heard in the process, even when the circumstances of the case make that a challenge. Co-mediation allows mediators with different backgrounds and varied skills to work together in a complementary way to provide a full range of assistance that many families require. Alternatively, family members may mediate with the professionals in separate sessions, depending on the topic or work needed.

Engaging two mediators will most likely cost more than a session with just one professional.

However, co-mediation can offer tremendous synergy to the family and may result in a more efficient, effective process. Most families using co-mediation remark that the additional expense was value-added and well worth the marginal cost. Families should have access to a full range of peaceful options to help them address their unique challenges. The Bridges Professional(s) that you consult with can discuss co-mediation with you and your family to see if this option will best fit your needs, or whether another option, such as collaborative method or pure mediation is preferable.

If you have questions about co-mediation, or any other issue concerning divorce or separation, contact one of our Professionals at Bridges Collaborative Divorce Solutions.

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Tonya Alexander
Collaborative Attorney & Mediator
Alexander Law, PC
Ste 235
15220 NW Greenbriar Pkwy
Beaverton, OR 97006
503-531-9109

Tonya’s Website
Email Tonya

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Tips for families to prepare for a Peaceful and Cost-Efficient Separation

Finances – Gather information on your monthly expenses, income, and cash flow needs on a monthly basis. To help with this task, there are free sites such as www.mint.com that can categorize spending and help you understand your monthly budget. Many banks and credit unions offer this service as well. It’s also a great time to meet with a financial adviser to better understand your financial situation and how to save and plan for the future.

Kids – Start thinking about your vision for co-parenting and how these new roles will be to help your child or children thrive and minimize the negative impact of divorce. Inquire about parenting classes for divorcing parents offered in each county. Statistics from the court show the earlier each parent completes these courses the greater the likelihood of avoiding litigation and co-parenting with success. I also recommend meeting with a child specialist or parenting coach to optimize communication and ease the transition of your family and children during this difficult transition.

Home – Start thinking about your goals and vision for the future, and whether you agree on selling the family home, buying out your spouse’s share of equity, or continuing to co-own in some manner after divorce. Gather information on value of home, mortgage(s) and any lines of credit attached to the home.

Debts – Run free annual credit reports to better understand any and all debts and liabilities outstanding as well as credit score for possible re-finance or loan. One site that seems user friendly is www.myfico.com but there are many others you can find as well. You may consider closing unused joint accounts and trying to simplify and disentangle debts.

Tip for unemployed spouse looking to transition back into the workforce – I highly recommend meeting with a vocational coach or career services staff at a local college to explore initial steps to develop a plan for re-entry into the workforce and different educational plans and career paths.

Balancing ActFamily business – If you have an ownership interest in a family business, it is a good idea to organize your accounting and books to make sure everything is up to date and in order. It’s money well spent to hire a good bookkeeper or accounting firm to help set up QuickBooks accounts or assist in bookkeeping.

Taxes – If you have any past years in which you have not filed taxes, it is crucial to meet with a CPA or other tax professional and catch-up to current year.

Retirement accounts – Try to avoid early distributions or withdrawals from retirement accounts prior to divorce or legal separation. I highly recommend obtaining legal advice for any possible creative solutions to avoid penalties and look at all available options.

Communication – Most importantly, in my opinion, is the ability to maintain open communication and transparency, so there are no surprises or changes from the “status quo” without discussion and agreement. Family coaches and mediators can help facilitate these discussions in a safe and confidential environment. Also, think about using the collaborative team approach if you would like to have more support and advocacy than mediation offers while still staying out of court and meeting family goals. Coaches can be utilized in both mediation and collaborative models.

Bottom line is separation and divorce don’t have to be awful. It takes hard work and compassion to keep the process peaceful, and we have a community of collaborative professionals here to help. We are peacemakers at heart, looking to help families avoid the pain and cost of litigation.
Disclaimer: Content of this article is not intended as legal advice and it’s strongly recommended that you consult with an attorney licensed in the state in which you reside if you have legal questions.

If you have questions about peaceful separating, or any other issue concerning family or divorce, contact one of our Professionals at Bridges Collaborative Divorce Solutions.

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Tonya Alexander
Collaborative Attorney & Mediator
Alexander Law, PC
Ste 235
15220 NW Greenbriar Pkwy
Beaverton, OR 97006
503-531-9109

Tonya’s Website
Email Tonya

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Collaborating collaborators…

Your Bridges’ professionals took Veterans’ Day away from their offices to honor vets and learn from and with about forty local collaborating professionals. We spent the day engaged and engaging with our peers.

  • Tonya started the conference with her presentation on What? Why? How? When? The Essential Questions for Collaboration.
  • Dona was inspirational with her talk on The Power of Purpose.
  • Jim shared his personal experience with both a peaceful and non-peaceful divorce. His son remarked about the peaceful case, “Hey, Dad, it wasn’t that bad.”
  • Forrest gave the road map of his changing practice, from full service law firm to strictly collaboration and mediation, all without losing his “lawyer-identity.”
  • Gail spoke about her passion for Vocational Choice in Collaborative Cases.
  • Lee gave her own story, Helicoptering into the Fire (or, My Journey Toward Boldness).

Bridges professionals will always keep honing our skills, so your family can achieve the best possible results.

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Jim O’Connor, Collaborative Attorney / Mediator
3939 NE Hancock St., Ste. 309
Portland, OR 97212
503-473-8242

Jim’s Website
Email Jim

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Robin Williams on Conflict

Robin Williams (1951-2014) demonstrates CONFLICT with his Sesame Street friends

Robin and the Two-Headed Monster

Play video of Robin and the Two-Headed Monster

Collaborative Divorce is so much more than simply negotiating out-of-court. Robin Williams used the collaborative divorce process and is said to have maintained an outstanding relationship with his ex wife. Said Williams during his 2008 divorce, “We will strive to be honest, cooperative and respectful as we work in this [collaborative] process to achieve the future well-being of our families. We commit ourselves to the collaborative law process and agree to seek a positive way to resolve our differences justly and equitably.”

Collaborative Divorce is a holistic approach to the complex process of divorce that can preserve time, money, and the health of the entire family moving forward.

or View the video at the YouTube Sesame Street Channel

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Randall Poff
Collaborative Attorney & Mediator
Ste. 340
1500 NW Bethany Blvd
Beaverton, OR 97006

503-241-3141
Randall’s Website
Email Randall

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Welcome Portland Monthly readers

Welcome Portland Monthly readers!

If you saw our little “bluish” ad on page 85 of the November “Best Restaurants” issue, you’re entitled to a free telephone consultation (be sure to leave a message if you miss us).

Please call 503-567-2848

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Forrest Collins
Collaborative Attorney & Mediator
Forrest Collins, PC
Ste. 150
5200 Meadows Rd
Lake Oswego, OR 97035

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2011 Oregon Legislature Repeals 90-day Waiting Period

Prior to January 1, 2012, Oregon law seemed to prevent “a quickie-divorce.” There was a 90-day waiting period between starting a divorce and time of trial or judgment.

The waiting period had been in effect since 1971, when Oregon adopted “no-fault” divorce. I think the legislators included this provision as a sort of “cooling-off” period, but almost no one I know of reconciled during the waiting period. With just a bit more paperwork, folks could reasonably and promptly end their marriage. For years, in appropriate cases, lawyers routinely asked the court to waive (skip) the waiting period, and this request was usually granted.

…so, now Oregon enters the 21st Century: Marriage is serious and divorce is not to be taken lightly. No one I know is ever thoughtless about ending his or her marriage. The waiting period just became an anachronism in modern family matters. The upshot of all of this: Less paperwork (“save-a-tree”) and avoiding unnecessary legal expenses!

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Randall Poff
Collaborative Attorney & Mediator
Ste. 340
1500 NW Bethany Blvd
Beaverton, OR 97006

503-241-3141
Randall’s Website
Email Randall