Thursday, January 31, 2008

Can You Tell a Divorce Professional by the Car He or She Drives?

The nature of a divorce s is determined first by the process a person chooses. Is it an adversary divorce, a collaborative divorce or a mediated divorce? The nature of a divorce is next determined by the divorce professional the person chooses. One of the first questions I ask a client is who is representing his or her spouse. It tells me a lot about how the case is going to proceed. Is the person a "shark" who says your spouse is the enemy? Is the person a reasonable person who wants the person to be able to have a better life? Is the person interested in the biggest possible fee or helping the person get thru the divorce with the least possible pain? Is the person interested in how the divorce affects children? But how does a person tell the type of divorce professional the person is choosing. People usually ask friends for a referral. This does not always work because people have different needs and perceptions. I have always wondered if you can tell a book by its cover, can you tell a divorce professional by the car he or she drives? My simple observation is more adversarial divorce professionals drive a BMW or a Mercedes and more reasonable divorce professionals drive a Volvo or Saab. There are many more cars. What is your experience? What do you think? Let us know by posting a comment by clicking on comments at the end of this blog. WM 1/31/08

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

In the News - Court: Child Support Past Age 18

The Arizona Daily Star reported a case today that "parents who pay (child) support have to keep paying until their kids finish high school, even if they've turned 18 and even if it takes them longer than four years to get a diploma.: You can read the article at
The law did require through high school but no later than age 19. The parent did not feel this was correct when it took the child five instead of four years to complete high school. Post your comments by clicking on comments at the end of this post and let us know how you feel about this decision. WM 1/30/08

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Immigration Mediation Program on February 9

Although our name is Center for Divorce Mediation, we do other types of mediation. These include marital, elder, civil rights to name a few. An area of mediation which does not get a lot of publicity is immigration mediation. The Arizona Chapter of the Association for Conflict Resolution,, and the University of Arizona School of Law are sponsoring a program on February 9, 2008 on this topic. If you want more information, the following is a copy of the flyer. WM 1/29/08

University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law
Recourse to Employment, Education, Health Care, Housing, and Consumer Discrimination
DAY: Saturday DATE: February 9, 2008
TIME: 10AM - 1:30PM
PLACE: UA, Rogers College of Law, 1201 East Speedway @ Mountain, Tucson, Arizona Room 146
VISITOR PARKING: Garage is on Park, north of Speedway
LUNCH: Compliments of AACR (Please RSVP to
CLE credit (3 hours/ including .5 hour Ethics)
KAT RODRIGUEZ, Coordinator of Coalicion de Derechos Humanos, Tucson, AZ.
TOPIC: Residents of Tucson who file grievances over abuses find assistance in
achieving resolutions, via mediations and negotiated interventions.
JENNIFER ALLEN, Founding Member & Executive Director of Border Action Network, Tucson.
TOPIC: Current policies impacting immigrants and border communities in Arizona are under
attack as unfair, inhuman, and unworkable policies.
JUDITH GANS, Coordinator for the Udall Center for Public Policy, Tucson.
TOPIC: The role of immigrants within Arizona and U.S. A.;
& The difficulties associated with immigration reform.
SUSAN BULFINCH, Board Member & President-elect of AACR, Phoenix.
TOPIC: Are there any ethical or legal considerations for mediators where one party is an
illegal immigrant?
Roger Hartstone, AACR

Monday, January 28, 2008

YouTube and Divorce

There are many ways to get information about divorce and many ways our views of divorce are shaped. YouTube is one of the new ways. I have started a Playlist on YouTube which includes the following clips: Pool Boy, One Way to Make a Divorce Final, "Tammy Wynette" in Night of the Singing Dead: D-I-V-O-R-C-E, Meryl Streep in Kramer Vs Kramer. You can see the clips by clicking on Playlist Link. The first two clips are actually advertisements for a divorce attorney. It is sick humor which some may find funny and others may find offensive. The Tammy Wynette is entertaining and the Meryl Streep is a good demonstration how the movies both reflect and change our thinking. Post your comments about other clips you find on YouTube which are good and what you think about what I have shared. WM/1/28/08

Sunday, January 27, 2008

In the News - What to Ask When It's Over and the Divorce Season

I always watch for articles about divorce when I am reading the newspaper. I recently read an excellent article in the New York Times by Vincent M. Mallozzzi, First Wives World Is Their Oyster, Pearls Included (click on the title to the article to read it).

One of the comments in the article discusses the "divorce season." The quoted attorney speaks of a spike in calls to the attorney's office in January. I have always notice more calls in January and September. I attribute the January calls to the fact that couples do not want to get a divorce during the holiday season from Thanksgiving to New Years. They don't want to spoil the holidays for their family. On the other hand the pressure of the anticipated divorce and the holidays create a pent up demand. Thus many people call as soon as they can after the holidays. The September spike may be a result of the children going back to school. I have also noticed more telephone calls when the weather is bad and at the end of the day. I am not sure why when the weather is bad it causes more telephone calls. Any ideas? I assume the end of the day telephone calls are a result of procrastination. Many people also make the telephone call when they know we are gone for the day. The calls after hours are becomes they really don't want to reach us.

The article also lists the following questions that arise after a divorce. I would be interested any comments you have about them.

1. Am I emotionally strong enough to move on? If not how do I become stronger?
2. What are you looking for, now that you're single again?
3. My spouse cheated on me, so why do I feel like a failure because my marriage didn't work?
4. Before dating again, shouldn't I first try to get comfortable with being alone?
5. Will I stay in touch with my ex's friends and family?
6. If children are involved, how do I cope when they are under another roof?
7. How soon will I start dating again? If there are children, how will I explain it to them?
8. In terms of my ex, is it ever a good idea to get physically or emotionally involved again?
9. What is one thing I want to do now that I would never have done when I was married?
10. In addition to lines like "Forget about him" and "Move on with your life," what divorce cliches are you most tired of hearing?
WM 1/27/08

Friday, January 25, 2008

Mediators from Around the World

I was very fortunate to be invited by Victor Quiros to a reception at Our Family for a tour sponsored by the State Department of mediators from around the world. There were mediators from India, Pakistan, Cambodia, Israel, Lebanon, Nigeria, Hungary, Morocco, and many other countries. Their English was impeccable. They asked many questions about the community mediation that Our Family does and the divorce mediation I do. I was sorry there was not more time so I could ask them more about what they did. We did exchange business cards and promised to follow up our discussions online. I was flattered that they wanted to take pictures with me. The meeting reminded me of the universality of mediation as a tool for all conflict resolution and that mediators are people I like to associate with. I was fascinated that people whose countries did not get along seemed to get along so well. It was very hopeful. If people from such diverse cultural background can get along, then couples who are getting divorce from similar backgrounds should be able to be reasonable and amicably resolve their marital issues. WM/01/25/08

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Are There Good Divorces?

When have you ever heard someone say his/her divorce wasn’t that bad? Or that they got a pretty fair deal? We all hear about the crazy divorces, that take up years of people’s lives and tons and tons of dollars but we rarely hear about the divorces that mediators see all the time. The ones in which couples get beyond their anger, hurt, and grief. The ones in which couples put their children first. I’m not sure why we don’t hear much about those. Maybe it’s one of those things in which good news isn’t news but bad news is. Or maybe it’s that it’s macho to fight to the last dime for one dime’s advantage over your "opponent" who incidentally happens to be the mother or father of your children. Maybe it’s considered weakness in our society if we compromise and we certainly don’t want to be perceived as weak. Just think of the language we use to describe the process of resolving disputes. There’s litigation, which is when lawyers duke it out, and then there’s alternative dispute resolution, which is when couples use mediation or collaborative law to resolve a divorce. So if mediation is an alternative, that sounds like the standard method is litigation. Don’t most of us want to use the standard way of doing anything? The alternative is good for the early adopters, the granola crowd, but not for us. For the sake of families, maybe it’s time for us to change the language of divorce.-mgm 12/10/07.

Divorce Urban Myths

Divorce urban myths are plentiful and never seem to die. Maybe it’s that people feel so vulnerable emotionally and financially. Some shred of seeming truth to cling to makes us feel better because we feel we have some sense of control and predictability. How else to explain the stubborn resistance of these myths to death by fact? It’s almost as if divorce creates its own antibiotic resistant culture(legal MRSA). Why else would people in 2007 be insisting that mothers "always" get custody of the children? Just because studies have shown that depending on the state or county 35%-90% of couples have joint legal custody (parents share all important decision-making) and 10%-60% of couples have joint physical custody as well, doesn’t seem to kill this urban myth. Same with the myth that says "if property is in my name, I own it and get to keep it." An interesting myth and reassuring, if you’re the person who has the property in his or her name. Unfortunately, or fortunately, it’s just a myth. Property regardless of whose name is attached to it, is usually considered marital property or community property unless there are a bunch of conditions met like it was acquired by the "name" before the marriage, maintained as separate property, not used to benefit the other person during the marriage, etc. And then there’s the most frequently spouted myth: "if I move out of the house, that’s abandonment, and she/he staying in the house gets to keep the house." That myth keeps couples together in a household in which the tension is enough to drive everyone crazy. Perish the thought that a couple could sit down with a mediator and discuss that tension, and that living separately is essential to reduce tension, how the second place will be paid for, and that it will change nothing in the ultimate division of assets and debts.- mgm 12/10/07.