When I started Go Divorce Clinic, I knew that changing the old way of doing divorces would not be easy. The challenge was not just the significant task of restructuring the typical business protocols of the business of divorce that family law attorneys had created, but that there would also be the second necessary action which involved the critical component of educating the public about the very existence of a better way to divorce. In my business, advertising about a divorce business is akin to advertising about funeral home services, it’s not going to be about a flashy marketing. I realized early on that with the very discreet and intimate nature of divorce, my most powerful marketing would come by word of mouth from those individuals who had experienced not only a tremendously affordable, but superior service from Go Divorce Clinic. The power of that synergy has propelled Go Divorce Clinic to expand at a phenomenal rate. Now not only Sonoma County, but all bay area Counties utilize the divorce services of Go Divorce Clinic. Some jurisdictions we initially had no office in, but the clients there had heard about our services, saw our website, and understood that there was no divorce mediator or family law attorney who could serve their needs the way that Go Divorce Clinic does. And so we have grown exponentially at a rate that is truly extraordinary in this business, and in this economy. I am thankful to those many couples over the years who have used our services, told friends and family, and taken the time to write testimonials to share with the public that there is a healthy and quick way to dissolve a marriage without unnecessary emotional toll and cost.
On July 1st, 2013, Go Divorce Clinic will relocate it’s main office from Healdsburg to Santa Rosa, Ca. and we are so excited! Our comfortable home office in Healdsburg has received so many couples over the years, and has served as a safe and serene location to launch our unique service. Our Healdsburg office remains to serve our north Sonoma county and Mendocino County clients, but now our new expanded office in Santa Rosa will become the main central office, with receptionist, comfortable waiting lobby, and multiple conference rooms. Our new facility, equipment, staff and proximity to the Court 5 minutes away allows us to offer a new product we are so excited about: The “One-Day Divorce”!
Now offered in Sonoma County exclusively, the “one-day” divorce allows our clients to come to one typically 2 hour meeting and be done with everything they need to do to finish their divorce after that meeting. Go Divorce Clinic has created a system where, when certain criteria are met by the divorcing couple, we reduce their total participation in the divorce to one typically 2 hour meeting at our office! While a divorce decree cannot be issued until after the 6 month “cooling period” statutorily provided for by California law, our clients will be free to get on with their lives and have the issue of their divorce processing resolved with only a couple hours of their total participation in a single meeting required!!
At Go Divorce Clinic we understand that a divorce may be the single most emotionally difficult thing we may be faced with in our lives. It’s a transition that deeply challenges the most well adjusted of us. We know that not only do we provide a completely affordable alternative to traditional contested divorce, but we also provide the best in comprehensive divorce service to our clients, bar none. If you are facing a marital crisis and would like a safe and professional place to come to for clarity and assitance, call our office today to schedule your fee-free consultation with me. And visit our website at: www.GoDivorceClinic.com to learn more about how our clients have made Go Divorce Clinic the “Go-To” divorce service provider in northern California.
Go Divorce Clinic: The New “Divorce Facilitator”
Interestingly enough, whenever you create innovation around a new product or service, the consumer is the last to learn about it, so educating the public to increase awareness becomes the number one task of marketing. At Go Divorce Clinic of Sonoma County, we have radically redefined the old business model of divorce – including the tired alternatives to contested divorce. We have replaced the typical Santa Rosa service providers (divorce lawyers, divorce mediators, and online do-it-yourself sites) with accessible and affordable divorce facilitators. A divorce facilitator has legal training and experience (Paralegal minimum) in family law, is authorized and registered by and with the County to legally perform the task of preparing and filing legal documents (Registered Legal Document Assistant), and has an alternative dispute resolution (Mediation) background, and formal training in child development and child advocacy (Court utilized Special Masters, Parent Coordinators and Decision Makers), and verbal communication training (Non Violent Communication) Skills. This unique combination of skill sets allows the Go Divorce Clinic divorce facilitator to assist any divorcing couple in Santa Rosa, or Sonoma County, to help them work together, by providing them the useful information, and creative options they need to choose from, all while employing a calm, neutral and even handed approach to the process of settling out the marital estate.
Uncontested v. Contested Divorce
Go Divorce Clinic specializes in uncontested divorce only. 95% of all divorces filed in Santa Rosa, Sonoma County, and in the United States are all eventually resolved as uncontested – meaning they eventually settle out of Court and come to some form of divorce settlement agreement. However in the traditional divorce method using Santa Rosa divorce attorneys, this settlement agreement takes significant time and resources to finalize. The average divorce in the United States costs $36,000.00 to process; that means this is the average national cost to have lawyers do a divorce for you when in the end most divorces do not end up going to hearing and requiring formal in court representation. At Go Divorce Clinic, we recognize that 95% of divorcing couples really only need information and assistance with questions, along with document preparing, agreement drafting, serving and filing services. This is what we provide. Why hire Sonoma County divorce lawyers and file a contested divorce in Santa Rosa, when you can instead cooperate with your divorce using the right professional service, and get that divorce done yourself? Did you know that it even costs more to file a contested divorce in Sonoma County than it does to file an uncontested divorce? With or without lawyers, even the Court fees are more expensive when you file for for contested divorce. Are the family law attorneys in Santa Rosa telling you that? It’s time for the people to have access to safe, informative, ethical, affordable and professional divorce services in Santa Rosa and Sonoma County.
In Sonoma County there are traditional “alternatives” to regular contested divorce. The most common I hear folks in Santa Rosa mention is “mediation”. Interestingly enough, in actuality mediation is often associated with contested divorce where opposing attorneys and their clients cannot come to any form of agreement and therefore require the intervention of a skilled mediator. In these cases mediation is less an alternative than it is a last ditch effort at unclogging a nasty contested divorce with lawyers. Some lawyers offer mediation services to individuals, and offer to act as a “third party neutral” to help draft an agreement. The key thing to keep in mind is the phrase “lawyer-mediator”. Whenever there is a “lawyer, or “attorney” or even a J.D. (Juris Doctorate) involved in the mediators title, it often means that the mediation costs associated with the title of attorney are commensurate with traditional lawyer fees. Law school is expensive, and whether you are filing a motion or doing “mediation” the fees involved are typical for the profession. The second thing to keep in mind is can an attorney, trained and immersed in adversarial dynamics everyday, really be very practiced at the art of neutrality? Being impartial is hardly the training one receives in law school when representing one client against the opposition. It is a contracted lawyers duty to a client to “win” and cause the case for that side to “prevail” . We have all heard about, and lawyers suffer from, the reputation many attorneys have at going to extreme lengths to win a case. Is it reasonable to assume that such ingrained biases will not present themselves just because any given lawyer decides to offer mediation? Does this lawyer even have formal mediation training? And if so, do they take alternative dispute resolution seriously as a craft? At Go Divorce Clinic we immerse ourselves in the collaborative process of uncontested divorces in Santa Rosa everyday; cooperation is our daily creed and practice, not just a sideline we dabble in. Our fees are affordable, and our office is friendly and accessible. We know family law and the terrain of divorce form a different perspective, a healthier one that sees it as a life transition, not a contest to win.
Another area of divorce alternative is known as Collaborative Divorce. This process was created by well intentioned divorce attorneys, and other professionals that assist divorcing couples who wish to cooperate to end their marriage. At Go Divorce Clinic, we acknowledge and applaud the great inroads these collaborative professionals are making in the field of divorce. I know personally, and am quite fond of many of the family law attorneys, mediators professionals in Santa Rosa and Sonoma County that make up our own local Collaborative Council of the Redwood Empire (CCRE). We support each other in spirit. In a very basic way our approaches parallel one another in the basic protocol that the divorce must remain uncontested through to the judgment, and the clients agree not to vary from this uncontested course. The primary difference between the formal collaborative divorce process of CCRE and the Go Divorce Clinic is one of cost and complexity. Go Divorce Clinic clients often simply cannot afford to retain a Santa Rosa divorce attorney, let alone two of them, along with the host of other support professionals that often fill out the collaborative process. To utilize the collaborative process of CCRE, marital estates must have enough resources to afford paying for two attorneys along with any other professionals that may be brought in during the collaborative process to assist. For financially complex and well funded marital estates the collaborative process is quite excellent and I highly recommend it if you can afford it. Though Go Divorce Clinic is quite capable of handling these larger estates as well, people with extensive monetary resources are often inclined to utilize family law attorneys to represent their interests, and if they do, they really couldn’t do better than to contract the services provided by the professionals at CCRE. It is good to know that family law in Santa Rosa has healthy options for divorce, and Go Divorce Clinic is proud to be the leading edge of simple and affordable divorce assistance in Sonoma County, putting the uniquely skilled and professional services of the divorce facilitator at your disposal. Visit our website at: www.GoDivorceClinic.com to learn more about our new vision for the business of divorce.
A New Vision For Divorce In Sonoma County
Anyone who has experienced significant marital crisis can understand that even if it has come to a decision to end the marriage, the last thing anyone wants or needs is an enhancement of adversarial posturing that will serve only to exacerbate an already emotionally fragile and frightening situation. And yet our legal system is designed to perform within these exact structures of Parties confronting one another before a Court, traditionally with hired counsel, to prevail, one over the other. Given this understanding, two immediate questions arise: First, do clients always need to hire counsel to conduct a divorce? And second, must the Parties posture as adversaries to process a divorce? The answer to both questions is of course, “no.”
This revelation prompted me to create an alternative model for the divorce that is governed by a vision for ending a marriage with cooperation, dignity, respect, and understanding that would serve as a process to end the polarizing format that has been the typical structure for routine marital dissolution. The result of that vision is the GO Divorce Clinic in Sonoma County.
The crucible that forms GO Divorce Clinic’s success is that we assist both Parties to co-create their own settlement agreement, and we move that agreement forward through the Court system in an uncontested posture, mitigating a conventional need for attorney representation. This model is not a mediation format because entrenched positions rarely arise within this process. At no time during the process do the Parties need to go to hearing or present before Sonoma County Family law Court any issues regarding the marital estate that are unresolved. This approach stabilizes the potential for emotional volatility because the focus is always on accord, and not the “prevailing party” mentality that produces a loser or a victim as part of the collateral damage inherent in legal victory. Safety mitigates emotional volatility; it is a simple equation.
Children of Divorce
The attention given to children of divorce presents another aspect of the process of traditional marriage dissolution that is in need of more skillful oversight and care. Unfortunately the family courts are typically overwhelmed with a volume of caseloads well in excess of what they can reasonably manage, and the judges
themselves are simply often not familiar with the current research in child development that would be the cornerstone for any sound child advocacy review in the cases put before them involving minor children. In most instances of traditionally disputed divorce cases, the emotional issues of the children will get lost, ultimately buried under the scope and velocity of the flailing pain bodies exhibited by the separating parents.
Child Advocacy For Divorce In Santa Rosa, CA.
I have a strong focus and training in child advocacy, child development, and the interviewing of children (ages 8-18 for interviewing). At GO Divorce Clinic of Sonoma County I provide for the space and review of healthy child advocacy considerations by first taking note of the parents ability to cooperate in the co-parenting and custody agreement phase of the process. If the parents display a mutual desire to put the children first in spite of the personal pain they are experiencing, and represent that value with concrete demonstrations of solidarity and accord around child custody and support issues, I make the assumption that the parents ability to remain present and aware of their children’s needs has not been significantly compromised, and proceed with the drafting of the settlement agreement.
If however the parents exhibit erratic, volatile, and significantly uncooperative behavior around family planning, custody and support that provides for the well being of the children I am given pause. In such cases clients can demonstrate a lack of boundary setting around unhealthy behavior that puts the children at risk to unnecessary exposure to complex adult emotions that may be seeking the child’s support or emotional solidarity. Here I will intervene by requesting of those parents that I have permission to interview any minor children 8 years of age or over. If the parents do not consent to the request for interview, I will interrupt the dissolution process that is being facilitated through my office to refer them to a qualified mental health professional. I will agree to resume the process when a licensed mental health professional can provide reasonable assurance to me that in their opinion the welfare of the children is not at risk.
It is rare that my cases are this extreme, and in such instances the clients most often agree to me interviewing the children, and upon completion of those interviews I can fold into the family planning all considerations of the pertinent needs of the children that I have discovered in my interviewing of them – and often include provisions in the settlement agreement that directly and specifically protect the children by providing specific measures that will hopefully assist in insulating them from further toxic and damaging behavior.
Most all my clients experience a relatively smooth process of marriage dissolution through my office, and child interview measures are rarely required, but I feel it is essential to have those structures in place if needed. I rely on a referral base of competent and skillful para- professionals (financial, legal, and mental health) to augment my ability to field my client’s needs. I encourage any M.F.T’s in Sonoma County who may resonate with the approach of the GO Divorce Clinic to contact me at www.GoDivorceClinic.com and set up an occasion to meet and get together.
So many folks in marital crisis come into our office feeling that they have reached the end of the line. “It’s over” they say at that first meeting. But there are times when it doesn’t quite feel that way somehow when you are speaking with them openly and intimately. There have been instances when I have felt more love in the room between the “divorcing” couple than animosity. It has always struck me as curious when this happens, and I have learned to take the time to ask the couple, to inquire as to what this is that I am feeling between them. The outcome of such conversations are always beautiful, even if they are sad. And sometimes, on rare occasions, the conversation leads to reconciliation instead of divorce.
Instances of marital crisis are first and foremost human events. At Go Divorce Clinic of Marin and Sonoma County we understand that every relationship is as unique in its beginnings as it is in its end. No one should be handled like they were on an assembly line when they feel they are on the threshold of a divorce. There is so much confusion, disorientation, and overwhelm when a life partnership seems to be coming to an end. Of all the cases that come through our offices for divorce, there are instances when breathing space into the process and honoring the basic human dignity of both parties sometimes reveals that there is more to the matter than perhaps even the couple themselves is seeing. In these moments I feel it is my responsibility to ensure that the couple is understanding fully the import, and scope of the decision they are about to make, and offer them an opportunity to arrive at a place of clarity that can form the foundation needed to move forward with whatever decision is best for them.
It is part of the ethical component of the vision of our company to provide space upfront in the process that might even allow for outcomes that don’t always offer us a profit on every occasion. We have no agenda to divorce couples anymore than we have one to keep them together. What we do have is a heart-centered committment to help couples in marital crisis discover what it is that serves them best as human beings, and empower them to do that in any way we can help through our office – and that doesn’t always mean divorce. It is true that some people have come to our office expecting to divorce, and found that after the initial consultation they had re-considered, decided to work together to stay together, and are in fact still married today.
Some couples have come to our office needing something to change significantly in their relationship, and believing that that something had to be a divorce. Upon some discussion and deliberation during our consultation they were made aware of other options they had not considered. For some I have helped structure a trial separation with an informal written separation agreement that is not filed with the Court, in tandem with formal counseling, life coaching or other forms of relationship support outside our office. For many, a formal legal separation with a leave to amend to a divorce in the future if they so decided was the answer. For some, a spark of hope for reconciliation was what revealed itself at that first meeting, often leading to one or both parties working in scheduled sessions with me to enhance their communication and emotional skills to bridge the gap that was rupturing their intimacy.
It has always been important to me as the founder of Go Divorce Clinic that this company would be grounded in an ethical imperative that serves the needs of those who walk through our office door, and not the other way around. Unlike family law attorneys, that means we sometimes risk losing business to outcomes that may move away from the specific divorce services we provide. But it is necessary and appropriate that we do this, because I know children today who’s parent came into our office for a divorce, and still have mom and dad together and at home because during the initial consultation we stopped, listened and found something other than irreconcilable differences at work in their relationship. Instead, with these cases, we helped them move toward a better marriage instead of a divorce. We did the right thing instead of the profitable one, because my personal conviction is that abundance comes in more forms than money.
I hope we can help couples caught in marital crisis find whatever course they need to take to unfold the next chapter in their lives. Let me know how we can help. You can visit us at: www.GoDivorceClinic.com
At Go Divorce Clinic we began our vision for divorces in Sonoma and Marin County with the notion that a divorce was first and foremost a human event, not simply a legal one. Many divorcing couples in San Rafael and Santa Rosa come into our offices really wanting more from the divorce process than just the paperwork done right, and for it to be affordable. Most all divorcing couples these days want the process to have some dignity to it. They want to be in control of the speed and timing of the dissolution, so that it is not too fast or too slow for them to process the event emotionally. Often times they want to ease into the initial divorce decision, and insure that both parties have an opportunity to be heard and to feel safe enough to continue, even though the whole thing may be very scary to one or both of them. More and more people want to find a way to reflect back on the marriage with something other than bitterness and disdain for the other spouse, particularly if there are children between them. Most interestingly perhaps to me is that many of our divorcing clients want to have a sense that their marriage, though ending now, had some beneficial meaning during its term. They yearn to feel that the union had some purpose; that their partnership wasn’t all a mistake from the very beginning, that it all had not been a colossal waste of time.
Perhaps guilt and regret play some part in this, but I prefer to honor the needs of these particular clients as a genuine attempt to re-discover the value and beauty that once fired their partnership, so that they can move forward with the dissolution knowing that although not everything lasts forever, it doesn’t have to mean that the marriage itself was ever a mistake or a failure. People put so much energy and faith into a marriage, and often they produce children out of it. To come to the end of a marriage and look back on it with bitterness, regret or shame is certainly damaging to the future emotional health of the individuals involved. The toxic feelings and perceptions that are stirred during a divorce may be even more damaging after the fact than even the very relational rifts that broke them apart irreconcilably as a couple in the first place.
At Go Divorce Clinic we understand the delicate nature of divorce, and the emotional toll and psychological strain it has on those moving through it. We are not divorce lawyers. We have a different assignment than family law attorneys. We are not duty-bound to represent one party over anothers best interest. We do not help our clients win the war of bitterness; a war where no one really wins in the end. We provide a safe, compassionate, understanding and supportive environment first and foremost. We provide information and creative strategies for a mutually beneficial dissolution. A heart-centered divorce does not mean everyone is going to be happy and joyful in the midst of a marriage ending. A spiritual divorce does not mean we chant and burn sage and all the sad feelings drift away immediately with the incense. A heart-centered divorce simply means we prepare a space for all the human aspects of divorce and honor them. A spiritual divorce means we consider more than ourselves in the process, as we learn that a dissolution requires the same cooperation, the same teamwork, that gives any marriage its mileage during its lifetime.
Today, divorcing couples expect more from divorce services than coming out on top with their divorce lawyers, or dragging on endlessly with a mediator over every little crumb in the estate. Today’s divorcing couples want dignity throughout the process. They want to move forward without feeling tethered to a guilt, shame, bitterness or overwhelm that only multiplies through a divorce process that serves lawyers and not the people paying them for help. It isn’t pollyanna to want to end a marriage with care and respect. It’s important to people going through a divorce that this critical juncture in their lives be handled right, and it is important to our culture that we learn to heal the ailing business of family law in the United States for ourselves and our children. Visit us on the web at: www.GoDivorceClinic.com
Just because I always advocate for attorney free uncontested divorce in Sonoma County, it doesn’t mean that there are not occasions when a good divorce lawyer is needed. Sometimes the tide of goodwill between a separated couple has receded so far, it has left the marital ship aground. I know first hand because there are several instances when I will refer individuals out to divorce attorneys when the situation has gone too far, and the couple is too polarized to cooperate.
Sometimes there are incidents of domestic violence, or child abuse, or a general volatility dynamic occurring in the partnership that is genuinely scaring one of the Parties. Family law attorneys in this case are essential to help generate emergency orders that can protect the health safety and well being of children and affected spouses.
Sometimes in divorces there are situations where one spouse is controlling all the financial aspects of the marital estate and the other party feels beholden to, or a victim of the other spouses control of the purse strings. In such cases a family law attorney is critical in supporting the dis-empowered spouse, so that he or she may gain access to marital funds to help them begin the transition toward separating and beginning a new life outside of the marriage.
Sometimes a spouse can fail to disclose all marital assets, or debts. A divorce attorney can through a process called “discovery” compel a full and transparent disclosure of everything in the marital estate, including all forms of income.
Lawyers are not the evil empire, they are extremely valuable tools when used in the right context. Fortunately most divorces don’t require such extreme methods of intervention, and that is why Go Divorce Clinic is the “go-to” solution for most couples facing divorce in Santa Rosa, Ca. and Sonoma County. Find out how you can save money and avoid the extreme version of contested divorce with lawyers, by visiting your local office of Go Divorce Clinic today for a fee-free consultation.
Visit us on the web at: www.GoDivorceClinic.com