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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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The Energy of Money and Divorce

Many people are paralyzed by fear when contemplating a divorce. Most often the fear is about money. It’s either a fight, flight or freeze response. But there is another possibility, and that’s empowerment. That’s the power created by two autonomous people with a shared vision for the future. I’m calling it the Third Power (1+1=3) and it’s possible to achieve in a facilitated process. I’ve seen it happen.

Energy is defined by the Oxford dictionary as “power derived from physical or chemical resources.” Money is energy. So is positivity. Learning about your resources and visioning what you want in your future can inspire and propel you forward. That capacity is increased if you do it together with a shared purpose.  A financial neutral, either as your mediator or as part of a collaborative team, can lead you there. It’s a journey that requires preparation.

As I see it there are 3 stages to work through, in the following order:

  • Emotional Regulation;
  • Information Gathering; and
  • Visioning.

Emotional Regulation

Focus must be on calming the mind and body. It’s important to practice neutrality in whatever way is comfortable for you. You will be offered tools to relax the nervous system so you can think clearly and make good decisions. You will be urged to consider your higher purpose, your long -term goals for yourselves and the family and your needs. It’s good to think about what you do have and find appreciation where you can. This is all energy savings. Anger, fear, doubt and other understandable but unhelpful emotions drain your energy and reduce the cortical function of that part of the brain needed to make good decisions. Negative emotions generate cortisol overload in the body which threatens health, well- being and the prospect of peace for all of you.

So, whether it’s meditation, prayer, a walk around the block, candles at the meeting or visits to the divorce coach, practice neutral as much as possible to build your resilience and capacity for getting to a calm place within yourself. Finding and maintaining that kind of attitude will make a world of difference.

Information Gathering

The core of the work of the financial neutral is to gather relevant information, put it in order and help you educate yourselves on asset/liability and budget formats and issues. The information must be provided voluntarily and completely.

Assets and liabilities are listed in a property statement and cash flow, present and future, will be developed in a series of budget reports. Present and future income and the intricacies of support are discussed. The reports are explained, questions are answered, and further information is added or corrected to get them right. At that point you have a very good idea about your resources and needs for cash flow. You build this information together, both understanding the information, the possibilities and the process. By the time this stage is complete you will be empowered with the knowledge of all aspects of your financial life in the past, present and possibilities for the future.

This information gathering is done efficiently, inexpensively and is empowering in itself. Even if you eventually go on to a different process, you will be prepared and have mutual understanding of the financial facts.

Visioning

You will also be encouraged to create a vision for your future in detail. This will include what you want in your life and what you want the next chapter to look like. In most cases, the life you will envision is simpler and less stressed. It becomes reasonable and has to be. There is no tugging at a position. It’s a creative process from an open mind and heart. What’s really important to you? Once that future vision is in your mind’s eye you begin to see an opening to the light, and that opening gets bigger and bigger. It will include new things and activities. You will have the resources you need through mutual planning assisted by the professionals. The most helpful perspective is to work toward a good future for both of you and your family. You will have the help of a vocational coach, realtors, mortgage lenders and the research done on your own about the possibilities. There is time and support for this. Your energy is put into creating a future rather than resisting or fearing.

When you have made these preparations, there is a synergy that creates that Third Power moving you forward and not looking back. It runs on its own. Positivity does that. Continuing to care about the best interests of all concerned is what will make the process smooth and a better result for your health and heart.

~~~

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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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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Maintaining Privacy During Divorce

When someone consults an attorney about getting a divorce, anything that person tells the attorney is private and protected by the attorney-client privilege. On the other hand, any written document that is filed with the court is open to the public and readily discoverable by anyone, stranger or friend. At Bridges Collaborative Divorce Solutions, we work with our clients so that your privacy is protected during the divorce process.

 

How Privacy is Protected in a Collaborative Divorce

In the traditional setting, the parties file documents with the court without regard to privacy. They do not consult with each other about what information is included in those documents. One or both spouses may want some information to remain private, but since the process is adversarial, private information is often shared with the court. This means it is also shared with the public.

In a collaborative divorce, documents are filed at the end of the case. Both parties sign off on the paperwork and give their okay about the information that is included. Attorneys and their clients do it together. Nothing becomes public record unless both parties have agreed to it. In some instances, settlement agreements can be signed off by both parties, but the document itself is not filed with the court.

Some examples of issues that the parties may want to keep private include:

  • Events that may have led to the divorce. In Oregon, we can state irreconcilable differences without including any specific behavior by one party or the other. With that said, if there have been mental health or substance abuse issues, one of the parties may disclose damaging details of those occurrences into the public court record, which could have a number of consequences for the other party.
  • Financial information, including assets owned and the value placed on each one, how real property is distributed, who maintains which bank accounts, how debt is divided and other sensitive information.
  • Parenting decisions such as where the children will live and what schools they will be attending.

The only people privy to all of the information are the attorneys and other professionals working with the parties in the collaborative process. This includes the certified divorce financial analysts, child psychologists, and others. They all have a duty not to share this information with anyone without the express permission of both parties.

Bridges Collaborative Divorce Solutions will work with you so that you and your spouse part in the most positive way possible and keep private information private so that the information is not discoverable by the public. Contact us for more information.

~~~

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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Collaborative Career Coaching Can Change Your Divorce

Attitudes about searching for career satisfaction have shifted dramatically in the last few decades. A meaningful and viable career path, one that integrates well with family life has gained broad appeal. The clients I see as a collaborative divorce coach and vocational expert share these views. As they engage divorce and career coaching, they become stronger, more flexible and reasonable. Self-confidence increases. The possibility of growing in ways that matter reduces fear and uncertainty about the future and enhances the ability to negotiate in good faith.

A divorcing client who had found her direction recently said, “I feel more settled, like I have something to hang onto, even though everything else in my life is turned upside down. I have something that is giving me hope for my future and my children’s future.”

Collaborative-style vocational experts engage clients beyond the superficial evaluation and report on marketable skills conducted in some traditional divorce cases.  These reports can be used to lock people into jobs worked fifteen plus years ago that no longer suit or feel relevant. Perhaps never felt relevant.

An outline of the role played by a vocational expert in collaborative and mediated cases includes:

  • Divorce coaching and coordination with the team;
  • Holistic career assessment and support to explore options;
  • Incorporating the special needs and school schedules of children;
  • Career and educational plans drawn up to highlight best options, costs, income projections and expected timelines;
  • Learning the views and opinions of the earning spouse that will influence the settling of spouse’s support and career planning;
  • Modification proposals where potentially helpful in support of educational and career planning;
  • Self-employment options considered, which can protect employment for aging adults.

The transformative case, where people emerge with better communication, a good parenting plan and hopeful about what’s to come, is facilitated by both parties feeling some degree of confidence in their future. The energy and focus generated by beginning to discover a purposeful and viable career direction is life changing. It typically leads to higher levels of commitment and discipline when it comes to training, study and/or job search. This benefits the already earning spouse by limiting their financial exposure.  It ensures children will be well provided for and have positive role modeling from two working parents.

Finding a meaningful and viable career path brings solace, peace of mind and a positive connection to the future: A place to picture oneself on the other side of divorce.

~~~

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

 

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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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Collaborative Strengths

Strengths of Collaborative Divorce

One of the strengths of Collaborative Divorce is that it permits ownership and control of settlement process by the people most impacted by the settlement – the couple! The process responds to YOUR agenda, not the agenda of a lawyer or a judge or some other third party.

So – with that in mind, this Blog will not be a “lecture” on how I, as a lawyer, will tell you “how it is” or “how it should be.” Rather, this Blog is a place for you, the reader, to tell us “how it is” or “how it should be”.

Please post comments, thoughts, or questions and we’ll try to respond – in hopes of making our process better and more responsive to the people who really matter: the clients.

Hope to hear from you!

~~~

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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Collaborative Divorce Knowledge Kit

Is Collaborative Divorce right for you?

Download your free knowledge kit quickly and easily.

This free information packet was created by the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (IACP) as a tool to educate you both about Collaborative Divorce. The PDF format can safely be downloaded onto your hard drive and emailed, or it can be printed as a portable and easy-to-read “hard copy.”

The kit contains the following:

  • A comparison chart: “Collaborative Divorce vs. Litigation Divorce.”
  • Case studies highlighting the flexible, solution-oriented process of Collaborative Divorce.
  • General information about Collaborative Divorce and how it can benefit you.

Download your free Collaborative Divorce Knowledge Kit and discover if collaborative divorce will work for you. Used with permission of the International Association of Collaborative Professionals. The download is a single PDF “kit” file.

~~~

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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Video ~ Collaborative Divorce : A Safe Place

A Safe Place

Watch this video, Collaborative Divorce: A Safe Placeand follow the true-life story of one couple going through their own collaborative divorce.

Collaborative Divorce: A Safe Place is a twenty minute YouTube video produced by the International Association of Collaborative Professionals (IACP) and used by permission.

~~~

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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Preparation for Divorce – Getting to the Heart of the Matter

Finding and Working from our Higher Selves

That’s the part of ourselves that’s more relaxed and less fearful. It’s where we make our best decisions creating outcomes that are highest and best for ourselves and the whole.   We find that part of ourselves by getting quiet, through prayer and meditation, exercise, being in nature, doing something we love.  Even thinking about these experiences helps to calm the emotions, opening us to intuition and higher forms of thought.  It’s important to take care of yourself. This goes for inside and outside of the negotiating space.  Taking care of yourself inside the negotiation space requires taking time before the meetings to figure out what is really important to you, what you must have from this process to move forward into your future as you envision it.  If you had those things, how would it feel? Sit with that and ideas will come showing how that picture will be made manifest in your life. We all do this – the professionals and the families.  It creates a safe container. We become mindful when we veer from our higher selves.  We remind each other. We are all in this together. We can keep the peace if we are all accountable.

High End Goals

We start with goals for the process and for yourselves.  What matters most to you? Take some time. Do this in a quiet setting with a quiet mind if at all possible.  

  • Why did you pick a peacemaking process? What are your goals for the process?
  • What is it you want for your future relationship together?
  • What do you want for the children? What is most important?
  • What are your values about money? What are your priorities?
  • How about personal and emotional goals? How do you want to feel, during the process and afterwards?
  • What are your concerns about future relationships with family, friends, work?
  • What do you need for self -care? Balance of life?
  • What does a positive future look like for you? How do you want to feel?

Negotiation Is Mindful Listening to Self and Other

Negotiation is shared listening.  That is, listening with attention and without judgment to the needs and goals for yourself and the other.  Attention generates new, fresh thinking. Mindfulness deepens the quality of attention.  This type of listening helps coherent intelligence unfold. Better ideas are the result.

We communicate with ourselves this way to unearth our dreams, wants, needs and what’s important to us.  We express this to the other in an environment of mutual respect met with uninterrupted attention. This is the ideal.  We can come close to it with intention, awareness and discipline. It’s not easy to do but will make the divorce easier and more fruitful.  It’s a primary requirement of a peaceful process.

Practices of connecting with the heart, meditation and other activities that balance the nervous system assist in making this type of communication possible.  Working with a divorce coach also helps build tolerance and gives practice in better communication to make negotiation at the table much more productive.

Brainstorming Options

When options are proposed, it’s important to consider the interests and needs of the other person as well as your own.  To do this takes courage and letting go. Relaxing into a process that is not intimidating is important. Flexibility to listen to and consider options you don’t think would work or don’t think you could agree to require moving into our higher selves with dignity, patience and understanding.  To listen and not react.

Deciding

Making decisions requires a lot of the same skills.  Know that everything decided upon will not be comfortable.  Any combination of things that constitutes a settlement will require giving up something.  How flexible are you or can you be to accept what is possible or the best possible scenario for your family?  How strong have you made yourself through taking advantage of practices of the heart and other techniques that lead to acceptance?  Acknowledging that you have done the best you can under the circumstances and accepting the result will make a smoother transition moving forward.  It will be a continual practice of releasing and sharing control. How flexible are you or can you be? Longevity and happiness require flexibility, acceptance, forgiveness and letting go.

Committing

What does it take to commit to the result and work towards honoring your agreement with good faith, good nature and willingness to adjust to a new normal?  How much can you forgive the past and look forward to a future of cooperation? These are all skills that can be practiced and mastered. It’s what creates a better life for us anyway.  This is an opportunity to make life smoother for ourselves and others.

~~~

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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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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Child-Centered Parenting During Your Divorce

Dian Gans, Child Specialist

Dian Gans, Child Specialist

As a Child Specialist, I have great compassion for the impact that the process of divorce has on families.  Parents are not only navigating their own loss and grief, but are intensely protective and concerned for their children’s well being and healing.  In many cases, parents have varied views about the effects on their children, one praising the resilience and happiness they observe and hear from them, while the other fears that irreparable damage has been done throughout the divorce.

When I meet with children, I often learn that it is somewhere in between. Children are not unaffected, but may deal with multiple emotions of guilt, sadness and anger that they are reluctant to share to protect their parent or prevent added conflict. However, they can explore and express these in therapy and/or with their parents as a part of the grieving process. while envisioning new and different ways of being in their family, moving forward.

Below are some helpful ideas written from a child’s perspective for parents to consider as they are creating new ways of interacting with each other and their children during divorce:

Dear Mom and Dad,

Here is a list of helpful ideas to help me manage the divorce:

  • Always remember I love both of you.
  • Even though you may not get along, I feel torn apart when you talk badly about the other parent.
  • Respect that I am grieving. This divorce is a loss for me and I may go through many stages as I adjust to our new family.
  • Create a special place for me at both homes, no matter how long I spend there. I might like a photo of my other parent and me to comfort me when I miss them.
  • Be careful of where you have adult conversations about the divorce and each other. Hearing about fighting and money create more worries for me- about myself and the safety of our family.
  • Ask me questions about my time away from you. Help me not to feel guilty about leaving you and having fun with the other parent.
  • Ask my other parent if you have questions about their new relationships or other private things. Secrets and spying make me feel anxious and disloyal.
  • Encourage me to call or text my other parent when I am with you. Help me schedule a routine at bedtime or before school.  This helps me stay connected to both of you.
  • Keep talking to each other about me! I feel very responsible about your reactions when I carry notes or messages between you.
  • Help me prepare for transitions with routines and special things that comfort me at both homes, such as a journal or favorite stuffed friend.
  • Agree on what rules I have at both homes. It will be much harder for me to fight about bedtime if both of you agree.
  • Attend my school and fun activities with me. It makes me happy that you are both sharing in something that is important to me.
  • Try to create as many opportunities for me to see you! Be flexible if my other parent has occasional requests to change our time together.
  • Protect me from your adult feelings. I am aware that you are often sad and mad too, and I feel very responsible to take care of you.
  • Find caring adults to support and listen to you. When you are healthy and happy, I feel happier too!

Thank you,

Your Loving Child

~~~

Diane Gans, MA, LPC
Psychotherapist & Child Specialist
1609 Willamette Falls Dr.
West Linn, OR 97068
503-704-3759

Diane’s Website
Email Diane

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Find Meaning in Work Life and Rebuild Your Confidence Mid-Divorce

Whether you’ve initiated your divorce or vice versa and you need a job now or down the road, “What job?” can seem as unclear as the nature of your projected earnings. The way you approach thinking and making decisions about jobs during or post divorce can dramatically affect how the process unfolds for you.

There can be many related questions and feelings that need settling and support as you seek the right employment and lifestyle. It’s a time of uncertainty, everything, or almost everything seems up in the air. In the middle of this most difficult life transition asking questions about what’s really important, brings us closer to understanding how to choose.

A building-block bridge.We need quality guidance. At the heart of career assessment or testing, interests and values clarification exercises offer powerful facilitation as we transition to a new life. To know what you really think and feel gives you something to navigate by in life and work life. It’s the basis for finding and creating meaningful direction. Give yourself time to reflect, drift off and space out on the subject of you.

Consider what you care about when it comes to pinning down what things should revolve around now, and next. It’s a way to pick up and begin writing the next chapter of “You.” How do you want to grow and relate to family, friends and community?

Look at your innate and developed skills as well, character strengths and learning goals, personality and work setting preferences. Before determining potential job and career matches, review your financial goals, need for benefits, employment location and commute tolerance. “It’s not rocket science,” but it is a complex process with more than a few moving parts, creating a meaningful life and work life post-divorce. It may also include co-parenting and caring for children, their needs and educational dreams.

Actively explore what matters job wise and discover a meaningful and doable path. Find what you can immerse yourself in because you care, and begin to feel that you matter again. Recovering from time with a partner who negated your interests and/or abilities is challenging. Chins up! Meeting people who share your passions is validating. Doing the thing you thought you might enjoy and do enjoy is intrinsically rewarding and requires no outside approval to sustain.

When you act on your deeper values you engage the highest part of yourself and nurture your inner self. Over time you’ll emerge stronger, happier and more confident as you build a life of meaning and purpose that also pays the bills.

~~~

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

 

 

 

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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

 

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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.

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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.

 

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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 Can I Better Understand Child Support In Oregon?

Child support is an important topic when divorcing couples have children under age 21. Parents have a lot of questions about why it must be paid and what the funds will be used for. One of the advantages of the Collaborative Divorce process is how we assist our clients so that they have a better understanding of the many facets of child support. First, we try to better understand a family’s goals, needs, and budgets. We can then collaborate to create an individual plan that will work for the entire family and that will be approved by the court.

Oregon Law, Child Support, and Creative Solutions

According to Oregon law, it is mandatory for parents to fill out a child support worksheet with the Uniform Child Support Guidelines formula attached to their paperwork. If a child support order is left up to a trial court judge, it will be limited to considering only incomes, spousal support (if any), work-related childcare, percentage of time-sharing with kids, health insurance premiums, and the base amount of child support itself. This does not always meet a family’s needs or goals.

Understanding child support

There are ways we can personalize the plan and provide the court with more details. We talk about the children’s specific needs and family budgets. There are different categories of expenses to consider when working to establish a monthly child support sum. For example, we take into account:

  • Special interests of the children, like swimming lessons, piano lessons, and other extracurricular activities.
  • Whether private school tuition is desired.
  • How sharing flexible time with the children might impact child support in a way that honors co-parenting, with a customized plan that fits both parent’s budgets.
  • What the long-term goals of parents and children are ~ Are they interested in establishing a college fund, or continuing to fund an already established plan?
  • Whether they want a more comprehensive healthcare plan than one required by the court.
  • Whether they agree that one parent should stay home to care for young children.

Determining resources and routine expenses (including tuition which may only come up once a year)

Our collaborative teams often use budget-based software called Family Law Software that has a lot of tools for us to use in assisting families who will now have two households to run on the same income they used to use for just one household. We want to be sure the plan we settle on is one that is going to meet the needs of the parents and the children.

To learn more about how to structure your child support agreement through the Collaborative Divorce process, 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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Oregon Child Support Tips

Child support can be a confusing and sometimes contentious issue between parents who are faced with the termination of their marriage.  Often, divorcing parents confuse child support with spousal support, which is a very different issue. The two topics should not be discussed together as one lump sum but addressed separately.  One reason is that modifications of each issue are handled differently and there may be legal ramifications to mixing the issues together. Here are some child support tips for parents who are attempting to work out this issue:

 

Child Support for Children Ages 18 to 21 (child attending school):

Oregon law concerning children ages 18 to 21 who are in school more than half time is somewhat complicated and governed by statute. Consulting a licensed attorney and working with a collaborative team is important to understand how to meet the child or children’s needs as well as the agreement being approved by a judge.  If you just utilize the presumed guideline formula online (https://www.doj.state.or.us/child-support/calculators-forms/child-support-calculator/), it will presume both parents shall pay the college age child cash child support each month.   This is not typically what parents desire in my experience.  The Collaborative divorce team works with parents, along with a financial advisor when helpful, to construct a written agreement that will meet the child’s recurring and periodic needs. This agreement must be structured in a way that will get the court’s approval as well.

Consider the Specific Needs of Each Child:

Our list of child support tips includes looking at the different categories of the individual child’s needs. This includes considering costs of healthcare, school related, childcare, (where applicable), and extracurricular needs. For example, if a child is involved in sports, takes music lessons, has special needs that require tutoring, or other needs that require funds, we recommend having a list of those items before sitting down to discuss child support. The meeting can be more productive if those costs have been determined prior to the settlement meeting.

Childcare related issues:

When filling out the Oregon child support worksheet, some parents will put in a specific amount for daycare cost. I don’t typically recommend doing that unless parents are not able to communicate or cooperate well. Daycare needs tend to fluctuate, especially in summer months, or with infants, toddlers, or preschoolers, and the amount ordered by the court at one time may be modified when the needs change later.   We can discuss alternate ways to apportion childcare costs between parents in a way that meets the family’s goals with less restrictions.

 Parenting Time Credit:

One area frequently asked about is how to calculate time a child or children spend with each parent as these ties into the child support guideline amount.   I usually start with the question of how much time a child typically spends with each parent when not at school or childcare and try to better understand actual costs the parents are incurring while caring for the child or children.  It’s important to better understand the goals and nuances of the family’s parenting plan when talking about this issue instead of going straight to a positional discussion of “how many overnights” does a parent have with a child.   The Oregon statute also allows parents (or the court) to look at shorter blocks of time (such as 4 hours) if a better fit to analyze what’s equitable in parenting time percentage.

Modification Process:

When a support agreement is modified, that modification must be approved by the court to be enforceable.

Parents do not need to appear in court to have court approval, but they must file the modification legal documents with the court for an enforceable agreement related to child support.

Meeting with a Financial Analyst:

We recommend meeting at least once with a certified divorce financial analyst (CDFA).  We include a financial professional on our collaborative divorce team. This professional will work with both parents to discuss tax implications, budgeting, or other financial issues that they have not yet considered.

If you have questions about child support settlements, 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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How to divorce without publicizing your private life

Most people don’t realize that everything they or their spouse files during their divorce case becomes a matter of public record.

Every scandalous accusation of past wrongdoing. Every detail about their finances and the finances of their business. Every embarrassing story about their weakest parenting moments. All of those details, if alleged by a party in a court pleading, become part of the court’s file and available to the public at large.

Years ago, when a person had to drive down to the courthouse and pay a fee to make paper copies of court files, this wasn’t such a big deal. But since all Oregon courts switched to electronic filing, obtaining court records is as easy as signing up for a login and doing a quick name search. What this means is that the most intimate details of your private life and the conflicts leading to your divorce are readily available to anyone who cares enough look for them online—including friends, family members, neighbors, employers/employee and children.

The solution to prevent the publicizing of details of a divorcing couple’s private lives is to choose a collaborative divorce process rather than litigating in the public spotlight. At the outset of collaborative divorce cases, parties sign a contract committing to resolving all of their conflicts in a series of meetings outside of the courtroom and before any salacious allegations can be made part of the public record.

Each party is represented by an attorney with specialized training in alternative dispute resolution and interest-based negotiation who advocates on their client’s behalf throughout the process. Only after a complete agreement is reached and tempers have cooled is anything filed with the court. Oregon law requires some minimal income information be recited in judgments involving child support, but the rest of the agreement can be set forth in a confidential marital settlement agreement.

Collaborative divorce has other benefits over litigation:

  • Instead of a judge, the parties control the process, including the timeline and the final decisions made.
  • Parties agree to openly share information with one another without the need for depositions or formal legal requests to produce documents and information.
  • The private details of your divorce remain between you, your ex-spouse and your attorneys.
  • Costs are manageable and typically less than in a litigated case.
  • Parties jointly retain experts as needed (appraisers, actuaries, child specialists) who provide information and guidance to help spouses develop mutually beneficial solutions
  • Lawyers work together to help their clients reach a mutually agreeable settlement rather than using resources that could be put toward achieving settlement toward trial preparation and legal positioning, which drives up costs.
  • The process is voluntary, but the parties are protected from having the content of their collaborative meetings used against them in court proceedings.
Can't we just get along?

At the outset of collaborative divorce cases, parties sign a contract committing to resolving all of their conflicts in a series of meetings outside of the courtroom and before any salacious allegations can be made part of the public record.

Collaborative divorce helps divorcing spouses get the education and legal advice they need to make informed decisions about their own future, rather than leaving those decisions up to a judge who may only be able to spend a few hours learning about the issues before making a ruling that will affect the family for years to come.

The collaborative process works in most types of divorce cases, including legally complicated cases, high asset cases and highly contested cases. It is an effective alternative to litigation that saves the participants from the stress of trial and the embarrassment of having sensitive information made public.

Courtesy of Portland Business Journal

Thank you!

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Joanna “Jo” Posey
Attorney at Law / Mediator
Posey Legal, PC
3115 NE Sandy Blvd., Ste 222
Portland, OR 97232
503-241-0818

 

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Why Do You Need a Prenup? 7 Good Reasons

It’s wedding season and there are many preparations for the joyous day. Have you thought about a prenuptial agreement? It’s becoming more and more relevant for reasons you probably haven’t thought of.

Here are 7 good reasons for a Prenup

1) Prenups Strengthen Relationships:
A prenup is an agreement about things that will come up in the relationship that are best understood and talked about now. In the glow of love and desire to be together happily ever after, entering into a discussion about a contract is not that appealing. However, if the practice of raising difficult issues and resolving them starts early, it will bode well for durability and happiness in the long run for the union.

2) Talk About What Is Important To You:
By identifying what is important to you and expressing it to each other you can work out the differences at a positive time and in a joyful light. To fulfill your dreams you will need to focus on practical matters, like financial planning, understanding money habits and disclosure of assets, debts and income. It’s better if the relationship is not based on vague illusions but on understanding and supporting each others’ dreams.

3) Talk About Money:
It’s an economic and emotional partnership. Disclosing present financial realities, making a plan and ground rules creates possibilities for bonding and security. Raise consciousness and confront issues, starting the practice of making intentional decisions now and in the future. Then the difficult issues are out of the way and you can relax and enjoy each other and the ride.

4) Protect Rights for Each of You:
You wouldn’t enter into a business partnership without an agreement laying out rights and responsibilities, conflict resolution strategies, assurances of being heard, having a measure of control – and, perhaps most importantly, a process for dissolution if it doesn’t work. Divorce is a $50B a year industry, largely due to the fact that these things haven’t been dealt with in the most important of partnership relationships. Family breakup is random and then left to lawyers and the courts with no predetermined, understood and predictable process or outcome.

5) Things to Discuss Up Front:
What kind of lifestyle do you want? How many children, if any? If having children – who will continue to work? If one stays home, what will be the compensation for time and opportunity lost in the job market in the event of divorce? What are your money personalities? Savers or spenders? What is the financial story for your family of origin?

All of these things can be made known, discussed and worked with from the beginning. Agreements can be made before you are married and modified as you go along to keep behavior in check so your future goals are met. You can work with mediators, attorneys, financial professionals, coaches and therapists as needed.

6) Develop Financial Plan:
Are you going to have HIS, HERS and OUR accounts? Is there a reason why some assets should be kept separate? Reasons might include other party in debt, threat of lawsuit, guarantee of business debts, high risk business situation, receiving assets from family, estate planning, keeping assets distinct for children from prior relationship, consistency for the prenup.

Adjust income tax withholding, determine contributions to retirement, insurance coverage (medical, dental, life, disability, long term care, car, homeowners or renters, umbrella or professional liability, selecting beneficiaries of life insurance policies, 401(k), pension, profit-sharing, 403(b) annuities and IRAs, registering assets in individual or joint title, writing a new will, health care proxy, living will, durable powers of attorney. Discussion of plan with adult children and providing a copy of the prenuptial agreement to third parties.

7) Empowering Women:
Having these issues discussed prior to marriage with agreements, advances women’s rights and ability to negotiate for themselves. Frankly it’s hard to get justice in the courts later, so claiming your power now is important. Things that come up include the financial consequences of staying home with children, supporting spouse through professional school, leaving your home for the home of a new spouse or not having an interest in the business because it’s hard to value.
There is opportunity for agreement for payouts in the event of divorce, equalized power at the table and legal, binding agreements. Having legal requirements for full disclosure and a more deliberative process at the beginning will begin to close the economic gap. You have more leverage before the marriage than after. You know what you’re getting in terms of the other person because the beliefs have all been brought out. It’s a positive atmosphere to get a fair agreement.
There is also an opportunity to talk about balancing other tasks like household and child-rearing responsibilities, freeing you to make more money.

Share This With Friends.

It takes more than love to make a marriage. It takes dispute resolution skills consciously developed over time. Work with collaborative professionals who can help you from the beginning, for the best chance at a lasting relationship or a lasting peace.

Click the image below to grab an Easy-to-Print comprehensive Premarital Checklist with more questions and ideas. If nothing else, it’s good for thought and discussion.

Printable Premarital Checklist

Premarital Checklist

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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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Children are our future…

The idea of a “Children’s’ Bill of Rights” is not new (or legally enforceable). Rather, use this list as a reminder to keep the best interest of the children a top priority.

We the children of the divorcing parents, hereby establish this Bill Of Rights for all children:

  1. The right not to be asked to “choose sides” or be put in a situation where I would have to take sides between my parents.
  2. The right to be treated as a person and not as a pawn, possession or a negotiating chip.
  3. The right to freely and privately communicate with both parents.
  4. The right not to be asked questions by one parent about the other.
  5. The right not to be a messenger.
  6. The right to express my feelings.
  7. The right to adequate visitation with the non-custodial parent which will best serve my needs and wishes.
  8. The right to love and have a relationship with both parents without being made to feel guilty.
  9. The right not to hear either parent say anything bad about the other.
  10. The right to the same educational opportunities and economic support that I would have had if my parents did not divorce.
  11. The right to have what is in my best interest protected at all times.
  12. The right to maintain my status as a child and not to take on adult responsibilities for the sake of the parent’s well being.
  13. The right to request my parents seek appropriate emotional and social support when needed.
  14. The right to expect consistent parenting at a time when little in my life seems constant or secure.
  15. The right to expect healthy relationship modeling, despite the recent events.
  16. The right to expect the utmost support when taking the time and steps needed to secure a healthy adjustment to the current situation.

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Joanna “Jo” Posey
Attorney at Law / Mediator
Posey Legal, PC
3115 NE Sandy Blvd., Ste 222
Portland, OR 97232
503-241-0818