Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Mediation in San Francisco, Marin & our newest location in Contra Costa!

We are pleased to announce a third office location for Lawhon Law & Mediation, P.C.! Our main office (and mailing address) remains in San Francisco at Market and Powell. Our second office is in Marin County just off the 101 freeway in downtown San Rafael. Our third office is now in Contra Costa County in Lafayette and just a short walk from BART.

We are excited to be able to serve our East Bay mediation clients as well as our Marin and San Francisco clients and since our three mediators live in Marin, San Francisco and the East Bay, this works well for us too!

We schedule appointments for any of our three mediators for divorce mediation, premarital agreement mediation, postmarital agreement mediation, and consulting appointments for individual clients in all three of our offices so please be sure to let us know which office would be most convenient for you!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

What in the World Do You Do When Your Parents Divorce?

I picked up this book, among others, at the AFCC Conference this week (Association of Family and Conciliation Courts where I was speaking on the topic of co-mediation) and am writing here to recommend this to children whose parents are going through a divorce, to parents who are concerned about their children as they go through a divorce, or to divorce mediators or other family law attorneys or therapists who would like to provide a helpful resource to their clients and their families.

"What in the World Do You Do When Your Parents Divorce?" by Kent Winchester & Roberta Beyer is a little over 100 pages in an easily handled 6"x6" book well-designed for children of reading age through at least early teenage years if not later and falls in the "Self-Help for Kids" category. 100 pages may sound like a lot but there is a lot of white space on the small pages and illustrations so it's a quick read for parents. The topics are simple and straightforward and the advice is direct and practical without being patronizing about the feelings that can arise for both kids and parents going through a divorce. Two of my favorite aspects of the book are the recommended books and other resources for kids at the end of every section and the suggestions for "words you might say" for addressing specific issues with parents or other adults as suggested throughout the book.

I wanted to read this book before recommending it (here on this blog and to our clients directly) so I naturally would also suggest that parents read it before recommending or giving it to their own children but hopefully parents will find lessons for themselves and also see how helpful this type of book can be for their children who are experiencing something so much differently than the parents during this time.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Client Checklist for Divorce Mediation

It can be nerve-wracking to walk into a mediator's office to start your divorce mediation and not know what's going to happen. We like to remind our clients that nothing happens in mediation without both parties agreeing to it. In your case, your mediator will likely provide you with some kind of overview of what to expect in your case - sometimes that's a broad overview of the divorce case and other times it's a very specific agenda of what will be discussed in the first mediation. The following is a basic client checklist that may help get you thinking about the issues that will come up and need to be discussed with your spouse as you work together to reach agreements on all of the issues related to your divorce.
  1. Court Case: File/serve Petition and start 6 month waiting period; discuss what it means to have a pending divorce or legal separation case.
  2. Create plan for living arrangements with transition plan if needed.
  3. Custody/Parenting: Issues include physical custody; legal custody; weekly schedule; holidays and special days; co-parenting issues such as communication, childcare issues, new partners, travel/moving, etc.
  4. Child Support (monthly and bonus/commission true-ups) and additional expenses for children outside of base child support (health insurance, medical expenses, travel expenses, extra-curricular activities, life insurance, college expenses, etc.).
  5. Spousal Support (temporary support; long-term support; tax issues).
  6. Spousal health insurance.
  7. Assets and debts: Identify (via formal financial disclosure requirements to be discussed) and divide/allocate between spouses including logistics and related issues (house sale issues, household items, vehicles, bank accounts, investments, retirement transfer issues, stock and option vesting issues, business issues, etc.).
  8. Tax issues regarding settlement, support, future tax filing related to dependents.
  9. How to share/allocate mediation fees, separate attorneys’ fees and fees of other professionals.
  10. Estate planning issues (existing plans; new plans; issues regarding children).
  11. Resolution of future disputes including options for co-parenting, mediation, private judge.