Choose a “Better” Divorce — by Choosing the Collaborative Process

Divorce sucks. There is really no other way to say it. If you’d like it to suck less, consider a Collaborative Divorce Process.

In order to work within the Collaborative Divorce process, each attorney must have taken a multi-day, intensive collaborative training. Attorney Tasha Schaffner has completed this training and has been handling collaborative divorces for well over a decade.

Yes, you can choose to work through your divorce in a way where both you and your spouse agree to put the best interests of the entire family at the forefront. Yes, you can agree that you will handle this difficult life transition without litigation and the courts. 

When the parties agree to a Collaborative Divorce, they take the decision-making away from judges, and give themselves complete control of the process. Each party partners with their own respective attorney who can combine their efforts with neutral, trained professionals which include, licensed mental health professionals, child psychologists and financial consultants. 

Attorney Tasha Schaffner had the chance to sit down and talk with one of these professionals, Mary Gina Conner, Owner of Wellspring Psychological Services and a licensed, clinical social worker, on what she thinks of the collaborative divorce process and the benefits afforded those who decide to take this route instead of the traditional, litigated divorce. Mary Gina states “Divorce splits the family in harsh way. A collaborative divorce is a much softer approach and the children and family are primary in this process.”

To listen to the conversation, please click here:  Conversation with Mary Gina Connor

As a collaboratively trained, licensed, clinical social worker, Mary Gina can assist in the process by serving in several different roles:

  1. Assist one or both parties deal with the stress of the situation. Think of this as a “divorce coach.”
  2. Serve as a neutral party who helps ensure everyone stays committed to the goals that were decided at the beginning of the process.
  3. As a family specialist, she can assist with the development of the Parenting Plan to make sure the plan is in the best interest of the children.

The decision to divorce is not an easy one. Most people do not envision their divorce when they are saying their vows. As a party to a divorce process, you have the opportunity to make this situation less contentious, by choosing a Collaborative Divorce process.

To learn more about the Collaborative Process in Northern Kentucky, click here.

To learn more about the Collaborative Process in Cincinnati and other surrounding counties in Ohio, click here.

Ms. Schaffner is licensed in both states and is a member of both Collaborative groups.

To learn more about Wellspring Psychological Services, click here.

Schaffner Family Law featured on QDRO Consultant’s Blog

We want to thank our friends at EZ Law for featuring one of our successful Court of Appeals cases on their blog. Here, we represented the Husband in securing his portion of his ex-Wife’s pension account, which she had failed to disclose during the course of their divorce action in 2005 (we did not represent him in 2005). At Schaffner Family Law, we enjoy assisting our clients in securing their financial rights – even if it turns out to be many years after the decree was entered.

Kelly v. Kelly, No. 2018-CA-001282-MR (Ky. App. 2019)
Civ. R. 60.02
KRS 403.250(1)
Marital Property: disclosure, retirement benefits
Property Settlement Agreement
Dated: August 9, 2019
Not to be Published
The Court found no abuse of discretion in the trial court’s decision to reopen the decree dissolving the parties’ marriage and awarding one-half of W’s retirement pension to H. In 2005, the parties entered into a property settlement agreement, and a decree of dissolution incorporating the terms of that agreement was entered on the same date. In late 2017, after becoming aware that W had retired and was receiving retirement pension benefits from the Kentucky Retirement System, H filed a motion to reopen the decree seeking an equitable share of that pension on the grounds the pension plan was not addressed in the parties’ agreement. The trial court entered detailed findings of fact and conclusions of law supporting its decision to award H a share of W’s pension based on Civ. R. 60.02(f) principles.
W filed an appeal challenging the authority of the trial court to reopen the 2005 decree. Specifically, W argued that H did not cite Civ. R. 60.02 in his motion. However, the Court found H reopened the decree pursuant to KRS 403.250(1) (stating “[t]he provisions as to property disposition may not be revoked or modified, unless the court finds the existence of conditions that justify the reopening of a judgment under the laws of this state”). In Fry v. Kersey, 833 S.W.2d 392 (Ky. App. 1992), the Court interpreted this language to mean that “[t]he law of this state relating to the reopening of decrees is found in Civ. R. 60.02. Under the residual clause of that rule, a judgment may be set aside for ‘reason[s] of an extraordinary nature justifying relief.’” Id. at 394. Fry directed a circuit court to analyze the motion under the principles of Civ. R. 60.02 and that is how the trial court proceeded here.
Further, the Court found no merit in W’s contention that it was not clear how the trial court concluded that the decree should be reopened. The Court stated it was convinced that W’s arguments concerning fraud were a “red herring,” and further wrote that it was clear from a reading of the trial court’s opinion that its decision was based upon Civ. R. 60.02(f). The criteria for the proper application of subsection (f) were thoroughly examined and explained by the Court in Snodgrass v. Snodgrass, 297 S.W.3d 878, 884 (Ky. App. 2009) (explaining a successful movant must present to the court a “reason of an extraordinary nature justifying relief.” Civ. R. 60.02(f).
“What constitutes a reason of extraordinary nature is left to judicial construction.” Commonwealth v. Spaulding, 991 S.W.2d 651, 655 (Ky. 1999). Judicial construction must incorporate consideration of three specific factors. The first is that relief under subsection (f) of Civ. R. 60.02 will not be available unless “none of that rule’s [other] specific provisions applies.” Alliant Hospitals, Inc. v. Benham, 105 S.W.3d 473, 478 (Ky. App. 2003), citing Spaulding at 655 (“CR 60.02(f) is a catch-all provision that encompasses those grounds, which would justify relief pursuant to writ of coram nobis, that are not otherwise set forth in the rule.”). After determining that CR 60.02(a)-(e) do not apply, courts must consider two more factors: “(1) whether the moving party had a fair opportunity to present his claim at the trial on the merits, and (2) whether the granting of CR 60.02(f) relief would be inequitable to other parties.” Bethlehem, supra; Fortney v. Mahan, 302 S.W.2d 842 (Ky. 1957)).
Applying these factors to this case, the Court determined that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in reopening the decree under Civ. R. 60.02(f). Relying upon Fortney v. Mahan, the trial court directed its analysis to whether H had a fair opportunity to present his claim concerning W’s pension and whether granting him relief would be inequitable to W. The trial court specifically found that W was aware of her pension and failed to disclose it pursuant to the agreement and that H was unaware of the existence of W’s pension. Therefore, the trial court found H did not have a fair opportunity to present this issue in the original litigation and that it was not inequitable for H to share in W’s pension, as she had benefited from her equal share in H’s pension for many years. Finally, the trial court found that because W failed to disclose her pension and H was not aware of it, it had not been awarded to either party under the agreement.

Moving on to More Good Things: What is the Secret to Life?

What is the Secret to Life?

“the Secret to Life is that people are stupid…”.

Mary Gina Connor, MSW, LCSW

We all want to know the answer to this question, don’t we? Watch our latest video blog to understand why Mary Gina Connor says that the “Secret to Life is that people are stupid…”.

Mary Gina Connor, MSW, LCSW, has been practicing in the field of mental health for decades. She is the founder and owner of Wellspring Psychological, located in Florence, KY. She has been treating patients and helping parents to more effectively co-parent their children for many years. Like many people who have mastered their craft, she doesn’t futz around. She just calls it like she sees it – in a manner that is both direct and humorous.

Mary Gina says that people are stupid because they run around reacting to other people. When you learn to respond, instead of reacting, it changes everything. If you are constantly reacting to other people, they are in charge of your emotions. When you learn to respond, thoughtfully, instead of react emotionally, then you are in charge of your own emotions – sometimes you are even in charge of others’, as they are running around reacting to those around them, including you.

She suggests that if just you stop, breathe, think, plan and act you will find that things will usually go the way that you want to. Choose to respond, instead of react, and don’t be stupid.

“All men die, but not all men truly live.”

I am a divorce attorney. I have been asked a number of times as to whether I expect a spike in business, following the pandemic. The answer is – yes. The bigger question is, why?

The COVID-19 pandemic forced us all home. Many of us worked from home, cooked at home, played at home, entertained ourselves and our children at home. Many of us left our homes only on our biweekly grocery shopping trip. We suddenly had no distractions, nowhere to hide from the issues we were suppressing or ignoring. We were forced to see our relationships – with our spouses, our co-workers and our children — for what they truly were. For some, this was good news. For some, it was the opposite. What was tolerable became intolerable, and at the same time, what was good became great.

My friend, Andy, says that we must feel the lows, to get to feel the highs. He refers to this as an “Emotional Wavelength.”

Andy Rader is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Florence, KY. Andy has developed a theory on the importance – the absolute imperative importance – of truly feeling our emotions. I asked him to share his thoughts on this topic, in a brief 2-3 minute video. He started talking, and when you watch, you will see the video is longer than a few minutes – but I cut as much as I could. It’s 8 minutes of wisdom that you won’t want to miss.

Andy quotes Braveheart in saying: “All men die, but not all men truly live.” If you want to be one of those who truly live, then have a listen as Andy describes his theory on Emotional Wavelength.

Good Things, episode 3: Taking care of man’s best friend.

Now, as we start to return to activities that take us outside our homes, what should we do to better care for our pets?

We have all spent weeks at home. For some of us, that meant spending time with family, children and pets. I have two dogs, and one of them, in particular, has been noticeably happier to have his humans around, non-stop. He was made for companionship, and he takes his duties seriously. He has relished the extra time with his family, and we have enjoyed the extra time with him.

Now that we are heading back to work, what should we be doing to assist man’s best friend with the transition?

Most of us have heard the stories about some animals testing positive for COVID – most famously the tiger at the Bronx Zoo. But, how much of these news stories are real, and what should we fear? How does this affect us?

I sat down with Dr. Tony Hall, DVM and owner of Paws and Claws Animal Hospital in Alexandria, KY. Dr. Tony founded and ran an emergency animal hospital in the Greater Cincinnati Area for many years, and has been the primary veterinarian at Paws and Claws for over 2 decades. Dr. Tony graciously answered these questions, and more.

Dr. Tony is extremely approachable – he’s really a Kentucky boy, turned veterinarian. I am grateful to him for sharing his time and his expertise. I am sure you will agree, he has a true heart for animals.

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Feel Better, with Dr. Cathy’s helpful tips

Feel Better, with Dr. Cathy’s helpful tips

Good Things, episode 2. Little things that can make a big difference – a chat with Dr. Cathy of Florence Chiropractic 

I don’t know about you, but I feel a bit more stressed than I did in my pre-COVID life. My muscles are tight, my neck cracks each time I turn my head quickly. I want to see my chiropractor. Of all the healthcare and beauty professionals in my life, I miss her the most. So, I called her and I asked her if we could sit, safely distanced, outside and chat.

Dr. Cathy Gratkowski owns Florence Chiropractic. If you have met her, chances are you love her. She is a talented chiropractor and an awesome human. Please click below and watch and learn directly from her! It’ll make you sit straighter, I promise!