“We Don’t Want to See You”

Isabelle is standing at the top of a sloping brick driveway. Her sister stands beside her. She is practicing in her mind the words she was trained to say. As her dad’s red SUV finally reaches the front door, Isabelle looks at her sister and then looks at her mom who has a smirk on her face. Mom’s eyes prod Isabelle. Isabelle fears not having the courage to say what she knows in her heart is wrong, because she feels hurt and fear.

Dad pulls his car to a stop and peers out the window at the children. Isabelle and her sister say simultaneously, “We don’t want to see you!” Dad glares at Mom. He speaks no words. He stares at the children. Isabelle wonders if he see the fear in her eyes? Tears well up in Dad’s eyes. He backs down the drive-way. Isabelle watches until his truck is gone and listens until she can’t hear his engine any more. She cries. Isabelle is seven-years-old.

During their marriage, Diana and Jeff, Isabelle’s parents, had many disagreements about their finances. Diana is angry that Jeff wants a divorce and is feeling rejected and abandoned by Jeff. Trying to either avoid or tolerate Diana’s criticisms at home, Jeff has become more distant and absent from the home.

Litigated Divorce:

Diana hires an aggressive litigation attorney to teach Jeff a lesson. Their financial disagreements are now fought with warriors inside and outside of the courtroom. One way to win the financial battle is to have more custody of the children. Less time with Jeff means more child support for Diana. Diana claims Jeff was absent from the home and hence did not care enough about the children.

Jeff, on the other hand, will not want to lose the financial battle. The war brings out the ego big time. Suddenly the family business is doing poorly. Jeff claims that the market is down for their business and the divorce has caused him depression and inability to perform. Jeff would rather lose money than lose the war with Diana.

It is far too common that in a litigated divorce, parents lose sight of what is most valuable and precious in their lives, their children, their peace of mind, their purpose in life.

The chaos, competition, and the process of litigation can be blinding, forcing you to be locked into the competition.

Collaborative Divorce:

Jeff consults with a Collaborative Divorce attorney – and learns about how divorce proceeds litigation, mediation, and the Collaborative process. Realizing the damage caused by litigated divorce, Jeff sets aside his ego, and appeals to Diana’s interest in saving money. He asks her to meet with his Collaborative attorney together to explore their divorce options.

Diana goes to the meeting with -Jeff. She is skeptical and doesn’t trust Jeff’s motives. . Diana is heard, respected, and listened to by Jeff’s Collaborative Divorce attorney. When asked what is most important to Diana, she says the children, financial stability, and Jeff listening to her.

During their consultation, Jeff and Diana walk through how -children are handled in litigation, what typically happens with the finances and the parties’ communication. They would ultimately and predictably hire two litigation attorneys, two forensic accountants, one to three custody evaluators, or a minor’s counsel (depending on the judge), two business evaluation experts, two appraisers for the house, and so on.

Next, they walk through the Collaborative Divorce Process. Diana will have her Collaborative attorney and communication coach and Jeff will have his Collaborative attorney and communication coach. The team will also include a single financial neutral who will create a clear picture of the finances and work out options to serve their future financial goals.

Diana sees an opportunity for finally being able to get her complaints heard by Jeff through the communication coaches.

-Diana and Jeff are encouraged to interview a financial neutral. During their meeting with the financial neutral, Diana and Jeff start thinking about their future personal financial goals which grounds them into their purpose. Now there is something other than their conflict that has their focus.

Diana and Jeff work with their communication coaches and learn how to listen and co-parent together.

The coaches show Jeff and Diana how to avoid playing the blame game. Anything either one says about the other parent to the children will be how the children will see themselves.

Jeff and Diana were supported and guided by the team through their divorce; Isabelle and her sister experience their parents watching out for them which eases the transition of the divorce.

Diana says: “We didn’t talk to the girls until the week before Jeff moved out, and I think that was the best choice,” she says. “Since the girls only knew for a short time, they didn’t have to worry about it and mull it over.”

Jeff says: “Even though we disagreed about everything else, we tried to agree on what to tell the girls, it helped them have sense of trust in both of us.”
Jeff and Diana are now divorced. They reached a financial agreement saving them thousands of dollars compared to a court fight. They share custody of their children and have a parenting plan in place thanks to guidance from their coaches. Isabelle and her sister are adjusting to their new family structure and have no doubt their parents love them just as much as before the divorce.

What Issues Will Involve You In a Divorce

If you are considering divorce, there are the issues involved in a divorce and THEN there are issues that you find yourself involved depending on the process.

The issues common to divorce no matter the process are child custody and visitation, child support, spousal support, attorney fees, and asset and debt division.

The issues that you don’t know that you will have in a divorce through the court system are: paying attorneys fees for your attorney to travel and wait in court for hours; having no control over your fees; having to pay for two forensic accountants; two appraisers, one, two or three custody evaluators, thousands of dollars for discovery, fighting in court about getting documents that you may already have.

Why? Well because when you hire a litigator or traditional divorce attorney then many times it becomes about them winning the case and their reputation. It is about winning battles until you get to the war. By then, unless you have millions of dollars in assets, you usually get wiped out by the end of the divorce process.

The issues that you deal with in a Collaborative process are how to talk to each other in a way that will bring out the best in your spouse and have him or her want to cooperate with you; how to talk to the children about divorce; what future you want for yourself after divorce so we could use the plan to guide us in working out the property division and support settlement agreement. Being requested to forgive your spouse so you can move on.

Let’s do the math. How much are you spending to get what?

You want to ask yourself: Do I want to spend the next few years giving money to attorneys and experts fighting each other? Do I also want to compromise my time, energy, and attention on a game of competition for the thrill of a couple of family law attorneys?

What am I getting? Is the possible humiliation and punishment of my spouse worth all that I am investing? Is the unpredictable outcome worth all my current and future time and energy and money?

How much else am I compromising by not spending my time, energy, and attention on wealth building?

How much is the value of the wellbeing of my children?

How much is the value of my peace of mind?

Or do I want to really get divorced and end the marriage efficiently. Is the future I want for myself the goal or is giving control to a couple of attorneys my goal?

A New Approach to Prenuptial Agreements

You have built your career and your wealth and now are ready to get married. You met the one you want to marry. You may have your own concerns about what happens in case of divorce. These concerns may come from your own prior marriage and divorce. They may come from advise from your counselors, friends, and family, or they may come from the stories you heard from people who have gone through divorce.

You now have a dilemma. You want to start your marriage with trust and dedication. And you are afraid if you tell your fiancé that he or she needs to sign a prenuptial agreement, they may think that you don’t trust them. You are concerned about damaging the trust or the foundation of your marriage.

Let me give you a perspective about premarital agreements that will actually strengthen the trust and foundation of your future marriage.

Premarital agreements allow for couples getting married to discuss difficult and important issues in a way that makes their relationship stronger. As future married couple you are financial partners. Most couples getting married avoid talking about the financial matters and therefore start a marriage on a weak foundation.

At Smart Divorce Options, we support you in an open, honest, and intimate way of communicating about marital financial plans and arrangements. You want your marriage to be based on a relationship where you can talk to each other about anything. You let your spouse know that you have these concerns from what you have heard or from your past experience. You want to let them know that you are 100% committed to have a trusting loving relationship and you want to address each other’s concerns together.

The key is your vantage point. If you talk about your concerns from the vantage point of “in case of divorce,” that will be a plan based on fear. No plan will be a productive plan based on fear.

I suggest a conversation about finances based on future dreams and goals. For example: I want this set aside for that and I want to build this with you for our marriage. In building this partnership, being open and honest with your finances is a big deal.

You want your plans to be future based not fear based.

Michelle Daneshrad, CFLS
(818) 991-0519

Divorce Litigation Status Quo

My mission is to transform the role of lawyers from adversarial and competitive to compassionate respectful and collaborative counselors; have community support structure that will support people in being collaborative in resolving their issues.

Status quo is that people are automatically placed in a competitive position to each other in the courts and our system is adversarial. Lawyers are known as aggressive competitors whose job is to convince the Judge or Jury to form beliefs about facts against the other party and favorable to their clients. The case is not about creating options to address what is best for clients. Families spend tremendous about of money and go through tremendous stress to get an unpredictable result. In some cases children are taken away from the family due to accusations of parties against each other. In many cases children testify against parents in a divorce case. The divorce process becomes more traumatic and painful than the problems in the marriage leading to the divorce.

What could be is that a team of 5 professionals including collaborative lawyers and mental health and financial experts support parties involved in a dispute or divorce to focus on what they want for their future and the future of their children and then work together and with the professionals to create a plan for that future as the outcome or agreement of their divorce or dispute.

This process is best for case closure or finality and respecting clients.

What are your different options for your divorce?

Michelle Daneshrad is a certified family law specialist that practices Collaborative Law. Michelle will go through the amount of professionals that you will need between Litigation or the Collaborative process. As you will see the Collaborative process will need less professionals, that amount to less money spent on you divorce. Not only will you save money, but you will have a better outcome. For more information please call 818.991.0519 or visit www.smartdivorceoptions.com

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