Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Kids Don't Bounce Back - Parents Must Prevent Damage BEFORE It's Done

Have you ever heard some talk about how they are a product of divorce and that a custody battle put them through hell? And that they're still working on resolving issues surrounding their parents' divorce? Jason Mraz has a great song that describes one man's feelings on the subject: "Love For a Child." I know many adults who still carry the pain and resentment for the way their parents handled their divorce.


Parents have a duty to protect their children during a divorce. And if the kids (even adult kids) are hurting from one parent, the answer for the "in" parent is not to make it worse and buddy up to the kids. The answer is for BOTH parents who love their children to work with their kids together. How?


That's what child specialists are for - to work together with parents to do what's in the KIDS' best interest. Too many parents don't put their kids first and rationalize that since the other parent failed by breaking up the family and the kids don't like that other parent, that "I'll support the kids" to alienate her/him. Wrong! And if you're attorney doesn't insist that your client work it out with a child specialist and leave the kids to fend for themselves along with two parents who are winging it, shame on all of the adults.


You can expect the parents to show up at their kids' weddings years later and ruin that too, with the tension and even worse behavior. Instead, love your children and put them first - don't drag them through a custody battle.


For more information on using a child specialist during and after divorce, contact Leslie Howell at (626) 351-1200. Read also articles by Mark Baer, Esq. on this issue.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

What is a Retainer Fee?

Family law attorneys who go to court require an initial retainer fee somewhere between $3,000 and $50,000 (usually depending on the location of the law office) before they will do any work. Once we receive an initial retainer, that money is deposited into an attorney-client trust account that can be monitored or audited by the State Bar of California. In fact, the interest paid on the funds in that trust account automatically goes to the State Bar.


As we attorneys work on your court case, we get paid for our time out of that trust account. When the retainer is close to being depleted, the retainer fee must be replenished. The clients replenish the retainer as many times as it takes to complete the court case. Some clients replenish their retainers monthly or more often if their case is being heavily litigated. Remember, court appearances are costly for both sides.


But know that if the case is settled and there is an unearned credit balance at the conclusion of the case (after the judgment is signed by the judge), that credit balance must be refunded to the client or it can remain in the trust account to go toward post-judgment issues or modifications.


However, if you proceed with your divorce amicably, retainer fees range from zero to a fraction of a retainer that would be required for a court case. Mediation and collaborative divorce cases are substantial money savers.


For more information, call Leslie Howell at 626-351-1200 for a free initial consultation.

Monday, April 6, 2015

What is Collaborative Law? Part 1

Collaborative divorce offers a team approach. The usual team is made up of:


    -2 collaboratively trained lawyers (must be licensed to practice law)
    -2 divorce coaches (must be a licensed therapist and collaboratively trained)
    -1 neutral financial specialist (must be licensed accountant and collaboratively trained)


In addition, there may be a child specialist, realtor, tax attorney, or other specialist.


The parties and lawyers sign an agreement which says (among other things) that the parties shall not litigate, and if someone is going to litigate then the collaborative process terminates. However, the collaborative lawyers are not permitted to represent the client in court. The parties have to retain new attorneys to represent them in court. Many litigating attorneys do not like this agreement because they are precluded from staying in the case if it falls out of the collaborative process. Collaborative lawyers like this provision because it makes the entire team buy into the process for a solid commitment from all to resolve the parties' concerns.


To learn more, call for a free initial consultation with Leslie Howell at 626-351-1200.

WARNING

People are reading these posts which tell you to avoid shark or bulldog attorneys, but some of you are not asking the right questions and end up retaining them anyway. These are the questions to ask:


-How much of your practice is peacemaking (mediation or collaborative) and how much is litigation?
-How often are you hired as a mediator rather than a litigating attorney?
-What are your most recent trainings for mediation and/or collaborative law? How long was each training?
-How do you serve the petition papers on the other person for a collaborative divorce case?
-How many times have you used a collaboratively trained divorce coach?
-Which collaborative protocols do you use?


You want to look for a peacemaker who attends mediation and/or collaborative training no less than once every 2-3 years. These trainings are 2-5 days each. It is necessary to attend multiple trainings in order to make the shift from cut-throat litigator to peacemaker. This is a more difficult shift for some attorneys. In fact, while some attorneys believe themselves to be peacemakers, they only add more stress to a case that could be solved more amicably and make clients second-guess whether peacemaking is an effective process.


Petition papers really should not be served by personal service if the parties agree to mediate or collaborate. Personal service is for a party who is not committed to peacemaking.


Good collaborative attorneys work with divorce coaches and encourage the use of them from the beginning. Divorce coaches handle all of the emotional aspects of the divorce. In litigation, the attorneys wing it and try to solve the emotional problems themselves. However, we attorneys are not trained to handle emotional issues the way that a divorce coach is and we should be humble enough know that.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

February 2015 Divorce Seminars

This month's free divorce seminars are February 14 and 28, 2015, from 2-4pm in Old Town Pasadena. Call 626-351-1200 to reserve a seat. We're keeping these events small so space is limited. Learn about the divorce process and amicable ways to get through it which will save each party tens of thousands of dollars that you would otherwise spend battling it out in court.


Everyone is welcome but it is not appropriate for children to attend. Couples find it helpful to attend together to learn their options so that they can go discuss it and decide what process works best for them and their families.


We look forward to seeing you there.


www.pasadenamediationlawyer.com

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

December Divorce Seminars

The November Divorce Seminar was such a big success that we are scheduling future seminars twice a month. The free December 2014 Divorce dates are December 6 and 20, 2014. Please call Renata at 626-351-1200 to register as seating can be limited.


You are invited to attend from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., where Leslie Howell will educate you on the divorce process and options to make your case run more affordably, effectively and efficiently. You decide the process that is right for your family. You will learn the difference between litigation, mediation, collaborative divorce and much more.

The seminar is for anyone who:  is considering divorce, has begun the divorce or paternity process, has been going through the process and wants to understand it better, or has been through it and is considering a judgment modification. If you are considering hiring Leslie as your mediator, both spouses (or unmarried parents of minor children) should attend together.

The seminar will be held at 30 N. Raymond, Suite 707, in Old Town Pasadena between Colorado and Union.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Free Divorce Workshop in Pasadena

You are invited to attend a free divorce workshop on Saturday, November 22, 2014 from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., where Leslie Howell will educate you on the divorce process and options to make it more affordable, effective and efficient. You decide the process that is right for your family. You will learn the difference between litigation, mediation, collaborative divorce and much more.


The workshop is for anyone who:  is considering divorce, has begun the divorce or paternity process, has been going through the process and wants to understand it better, or has been through it and is considering a judgment modification. If you are considering hiring Leslie as your mediator, both spouses (or unmarried parents of minor children) should attend together.


The workshop will be held at 30 N. Raymond, Suite 707, in Old Town Pasadena between Colorado and Union.


To register, call (626) 351-1200 and ask for Renata.