Dedicate to Collaborate

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

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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.

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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).

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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'...
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Sep
01

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

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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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Apr
01

The 5 biggest mistakes people make in custody cases

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Your children are incredible; there isn't a thing you wouldn't do for them. The thought of someone — a stranger — telling you when, where, and how often you can spend time with them is more than you can stand…which is why you're prepared to fight tooth and claw for them. When you're faced with a custody battle, fear, anger, and strong emotion take ...
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Mar
29

How do you find the best divorce mediator?

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How do you find the best divorce mediator? Unfortunately, making the difficult decision to proceed with your divorce is only the first in a whole line of difficult decisions. The second decision is a pivotal one; how are you going to find the best person to help you navigate the whole process? After all, the professional you choose to work with wil...
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Mar
06

How to talk to your children about divorce

How to talk to your children about divorce
Whether they have the memory of an elephant or a fruit fly, there is one moment I guarantee your children are likely to remember for years to come: the divorce talk. That's a lot of pressure to handle, especially when you're going through your own emotional turmoil. So the first thing I want to do is reassure you that "the talk" absolutely doesn't ...
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Feb
20

Mediation vs. collaborative law: which is the right one for your divorce?

Mediation vs. collaborative law: which is the right one for your divorce?
You've made the decision: you're going ahead with the divorce. Now, before you Google "divorce attorney Portland/Vancouver" and steel yourself for the stress, upset, and eye-watering costs of a trip to the courtroom, ask yourself this: "What do I want my divorce to look like?" It may well be that you're not going to escape litigation. Sometimes, fo...
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Feb
06

What to do when “sorry” seems to be the hardest word to say.

What to do when “sorry” seems to be the hardest word to say.
"Sorry" can be a hard word to say. It's another way of saying, "I got it wrong", "I messed up", "I'm not perfect". Admitting that to yourself can be hard, never mind putting it out there for other people to hear. But you're human, which means that you will screw up at some point — at work, with your spouse, your parents, your kids, and your friends...
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Jan
23

7 Strategies for a Smoother Divorce

7 Strategies for a Smoother Divorce
Out with the old, in with the new?  This season is the perfect storm when it comes to divorce: holiday stress, financial strain, lots of time spent with the in-laws, all closely followed by the inevitable desire for New Year renewal. We're all looking for things to give up; not-so-great habits, not-so-great attitudes, and apparently, not-so-gr...
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Jan
09

The Butterfly Effect: Why We Should Make 2019 a Year of Collaboration, Not Conflict

The Butterfly Effect: Why We Should Make 2019 a Year of Collaboration, Not Conflict
We just can't help it. As soon as the ball drops in Times Square, we start thinking self-improvement.  The questions begin: how do I avoid the same mistakes I made last year? How do I become the best version of myself? How do I make this year a year of health and happiness, a year of progress, and a year of peace?  And sure, there are som...
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Dec
19

5 Mediation-Inspired Tips for Keeping Calm During the Holidays

5 Mediation-Inspired Tips for Keeping Calm During the Holidays
I bet every single one of you can remember at least one awkward holiday meal ruined by tactless family members, heated political debate, or the airing of past grievances. Even the happiest, most peace-loving families can begin to show a few cracks over the pumpkin pie.  And just think, we get to do it all again this month for Christmas! When i...
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Dec
12

The Most Important (And Often-Overlooked) Tool for Conflict Resolution

The Most Important (And Often-Overlooked) Tool for Conflict Resolution
Isn't it frustrating when someone just won't listen to you? You've begged, reasoned, pleaded and things still aren't getting done the way you want them. You're the only one pulling your weight and you've had enough. So you call on a mediator.  A quick fix? ​ ​ The relief is immediate — finally you'll get things sorted. After months (or years!)...
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Nov
28

The Most Important “Language” You Can Speak This Holiday Season

The Most Important “Language” You Can Speak This Holiday Season
There's nothing quite like the moment where a perfectly lovely family dinner takes a turn for the tense. Whether it's a political disagreement, old hurts resurfacing, or just the very logical result of a bunch of tired, stressed people getting up close and personal, it's never fun to have the conversation devolve. Depending on how your family deals...
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