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Dedicate to Collaborate

Reflections from a peacemaking lawyer and mediator dedicated to collaborative problem-solving.
Jul
28

Embracing virtual mediation in the time of COVID (and beyond…)

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I'm going to come out and say it: virtual mediation isn't so bad. I know that, after several weeks/months of nothing but virtual meetings with everyone from your co-workers to your old college friends, we're all experiencing just a little bit of Zoom fatigue. But there are distinct advantages to moving mediation online and even before COVID-19 and ...
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Jul
14

Uncontested divorce vs. contested divorce: why they’re not so different after all.

2020-07-14
We tend to think of divorcing couples in very black and white terms. You have your amicable, uncontested divorce candidates in one corner, the at-each-other's-throats couples in another. The amicable bunch can hash things out themselves, no professional legal help required, while the others are going to have to engage their attorneys to fight to th...
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Jul
01

Managing the divorce process when the courts are (mostly) closed.

2020-07-01
Twenty-four hours a day, 7 days a week, quarantined together for the foreseeable future…even the strongest of couples and the happiest of families are feeling the pressure right now. However, despite the reported rise in divorce rates in China due to COVID-19, in my practice at least, I haven't seen any evidence to show that shelter-in-place orders...
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May
01

Divorced? Here’s what you need to know about your stimulus check.

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Like most people, you probably heaved a huge sigh of relief when the government announced the first coronavirus stimulus package back in March. And with another stimulus package likely, you can breath out a little again. After all, there are very few of us who've made it through these last few months of the pandemic financially unscathed; for many,...
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Apr
15

3 Tips for Parents Sharing Custody during the Corona Pandemic

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Sharing custody is tricky at the best of times — and we're definitely not in the best of times right now. We're dealing with so many unprecedented changes, it can feel like we're all having to learn new ways to move through our daily lives. And while this is inconvenient and frustrating when it comes to things like grocery shopping, it can feel abs...
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Apr
05

Problem-Solving Tips for Couples Struggling during Corona

To say tensions are high right now is a huge understatement — the world's in a pandemic, people are panicking, and the market is all over the place. On the micro level, all these challenges turn up the volume on pre-existing issues in people's lives, especially conflicts. Take relationship issues for instance. Things that might have been problemati...
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Mar
16

How I’m making dispute resolution even easier

2020-03-16-2
I've always had a passion for access to justice –– a fundamental tenet of the work I do is that everyone should be able to get the legal help they need, no matter who they are, or what's going on for them. Above all, it matters to me that my practice is "human-friendly," by which I mean, it needs to work with your life, not the other way around. An...
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Jan
28

The two big mistakes people make in trying to get at the "truth" of a conflict

2020-01-13-2
Imagine that you're overseeing a mediation between a couple who's getting a divorce. One person tells a story of being abandoned, painting a picture where their spouse is never there for them, behaves irresponsibly, and has clearly demonstrated that they don't want to be in the marriage any more. The other spouse looks at them like they're crazy, a...
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Jan
15

Hanlon’s razor: the brain behavior that could be the answer to a peaceful divorce.

2020-01-14-2
Ever feel like absolutely everyone is out to get you? Your new colleague is a bit short with you during your morning meeting, so you assume they don't like you very much. The woman in the grocery store almost knocks you over in her hurry to get to the checkout. What is her problem? Your kid yells at you the minute they get home from school — you ju...
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Jan
06

The brain behavior that could be controlling your divorce: reactive devaluation.

2019-12-01-2
Would you support a drastic bilateral nuclear arms reduction program? That was the question posed to pedestrians in the US back in the 1980s. The results were fascinating — and go a long way towards explaining why achieving a peaceful divorce settlement can be so very difficult. A certain number of those surveyed were told the proposal for the prog...
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Dec
01

The real reason I’m in law – and how it’s shaping what I do next.

When I first passed the bar and started working in a private firm back in 1991, my mentors pointed me in two directions: first, to juvenile delinquency court to provide indigent defense services to juveniles charged with crimes; and second, to the Clark County Volunteer Lawyers Program (CCVLP) to volunteer with their family law legal aid clinic. I ...
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Nov
14

Mediation vs. arbitration: choosing the best alternative dispute resolution for your divorce.

2019-11-14-15
Like so many couples these days, you're probably shying away from settling your divorce via litigation. Maybe you don't have the heart for a public process, the finances for a court battle, or you're still hopeful that you can end things reasonably amicably. Whatever the reason, you're considering alternative methods of conflict resolution. But the...
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Nov
06

Returning the favor: why reciprocation bias is making your divorce harder than it needs to be.

2019-11-06-2
Think about a time when a friend invited you to dinner or offered you a ride you felt an intense desire to cook for them next time, or to return the favor in some way, didn't you? And sure, you assumed that was simply because you've been brought up that way, or because you think it's nice to be nice, but actually there's a really powerful psycholog...
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Oct
06

Cognitive Dissonance (or how Ben Franklin can help settle your divorce).

2019-10-06-3
Have you heard of the Ben Franklin effect? Benjamin Franklin, the scientist and politician, had a bitter rival. But when he discovered that his rival owned a rare book that Franklin needed, he swallowed his pride and asked to borrow the book. The rival obliged and Franklin returned the book the following week, along with a thank you note. To Frankl...
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Sep
08

The brain behaviors controlling your divorce: confirmation bias.

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"He just said what?" When conflicts arise it feels like logic and rationality are the first things we toss aside. We end up saying and doing things that feel completely out of character and reacting in ways that even we can't understand. The inevitable outcome is, of course, heightened tension and petty arguments that become all-out war. But here's...
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Sep
01

You’ve decided on mediation — do you still need a divorce attorney? The answer may surprise you.

2019-10-10-2
Divorce lawyers really do get a bad rap. Many folks see them as blood-thirsty demons who'll try their best to turn a squabble into a war and suck your bank account dry in the process. So if you're exploring mediation as a more peaceful way of handling your separation, it would make sense if you were a little leery of attorneys in general. But is th...
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Jul
23

Custody and the court system: why it might not be the solution you're looking for.

When it comes to divorce and relationship breakdown, for every person desperate to avoid the courtroom, there's another who thinks that court is the only solution. As soon as they realize that a separation is on the cards they start to draw battle lines. They begin lining up their evidence in an attempt to "prove" that their spouse or co-parent is ...
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Jul
05

Co-parenting problem-solving: 7 questions to ask yourself when emotions are running high.

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From the minute that blue line appears on the pregnancy test you find yourself thrown into a world of never-ending decisions. Some may be less significant (which range of prenatal vitamin should you choose?), and some may be life-changing (should baby be brought up with Mom's religious beliefs or Dad's?) but while you're going through them, they ca...
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May
22

How to use mediation techniques to build a positive co-parenting relationship after divorce

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How to use mediation techniques to build a positive co-parenting relationship after divorce After a contentious divorce, your ex is the last person you want to talk to — you'd probably be happy to avoid them forever more. But, if you have children together, you're stuck with each other for the foreseeable future, divorce settlement or not. So how d...
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May
13

How to know when it's the right time to call in a mediator

How to know when it's time to call in a mediator. No one ever calls an attorney unless they really have to. After all, the whole process can be a little scary, if you've never worked with one before, so it makes sense that they're the absolute last resort if you're having relationship troubles — only to be called upon once you're past the point of ...
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