Collaborative Law

collaborative divorce

Show Topic

This show aired on May 14, 2017. It was hosted by David Enevoldsen. Cristi McMurdie appeared as a guest on the show. Cristi talked about collaborative law, what it is, how it can be utilized in family law cases involving divorces or custody matters, how it’s different from mediation or litigation and the advantages and disadvantages in using a collaborative approach versus mediation or litigation.

Guest Information

Cristi works for McMurdie Law and Why Mediate Mediation Services, and can be reached at 480-777-5500 or through www.mcmurdielaw.com.

Headlines

Headlines on this show looked at the statistics on family law issues in Gallup’s annual poll on American Values and Beliefs, the pending hearings on the triple Talaq before India’s Supreme Court, and a long lost love letter from World War II, recovered and delivered to Rolf Christofersen from his late wife, Virginia.

Did You Know

This show’s Did You Know involved a Mother’s Day quiz, between Cristi, the show’s board operator, Josh, and David’s mother, Pam. The quiz involved multiple choice questions about Mother’s Day trivia.

Transcript

Josh:                                 Family Law Report is hosted by Family Law Guys, an Arizona family law firm. Family Law Report is dedicated to confronting difficult issues related to marriage, divorce, and children. This can range everywhere from addressing the legalities and controversies in topics like gay marriage, to current faults in the divorce system, to simply providing tips to those getting married, or going through a divorce or custody fight. Tune in every Sunday to Family Law Report at noon, here on KFNX. If you want to know more, or to schedule an appointment with David or another one of the Family Law Guys attorneys, call 480-565-8680. That's 480-565-8680.

Announcer:                  The discussions and information provided in Family Law Report are intended to be general in nature and are not directed for any individual circumstances. No attorney-client relationship is being formed through this program. If you need legal advice, your particular circumstances can vary from what is presented here, and you should seek the advice of an attorney licensed to practice in your state.

Josh:                                 Welcome to the Family Law Report. The show that explores issues related to marriage, divorce, and children. Hosted by David Enevoldsen, a practicing family law attorney in Arizona. Now, here's your host.

David E.:                          Hello, everybody. Welcome to Family Law Report. I'm your host, David Enevoldsen, here with you every Sunday at noon on Independent Talk 1100, KFNX. Here on Family Law Report, we talk about all the current topics of family law. And that can range from what's going on in the political arena, to just the basics, the nuts and bolts of a divorce, or a custody matter, or something like that.

                                         I am a practicing family law attorney. I work here in Arizona, and when I say "family law," I mean anything related to marriage, divorce, custody fights, child support, grandparents' rights, or just basic relationship issues. I partner at a law firm here in Arizona called Family Law Guys, and we focus principally on helping divorcing parents avoid getting screwed out of time with their children. We have offices in the Phoenix area, and while we don't practice outside of Arizona, if you want to call in and schedule an appointment to discuss your case, you can do so by calling 480-565-8680, or you can check us out on our website at www.familylawguys.com.

                                         On today's show, we're going to be talking about collaborative law. I'm joined by my guest, Cristi McMurdie. Cristi, thanks for being here.

Cristi McMurdie:             Hi, David. Thank you for having me.

David E.:                          Cristi does collaborative law. And you work for, correct me if I'm wrong, it's McMurdie Law and WHY Mediate Mediation Services. Is that correct?

Cristi McMurdie:             That is correct. Yes.

David E.:                          I'll give you another chance to plug in a second, but if somebody does want to reach out to your office, how would they get a hold of you?

Cristi McMurdie:             Phone number's best. 480-777-5500. Or Cristi, C-R-I-S-T-I, @mcmurdie, M-C-M-U-R-D-I-E, law.com.

David E.:                          Awesome. All right, we're going to talk a little bit more to Cristi about collaborative law in just a sec, and it is Mother's Day, so I've just got to acknowledge, Happy Mother's Day to all you mothers out there! Cristi included, and to my mother, and every other mother that's out there. I think this ... You can't have family law without mothers. You just can't, because you've got kids and spouses, and mothers are an integral part of this whole equation, so I think we have to acknowledge Mother's Day. So Happy Mother's Day, everybody!

                                         All right, first we're going to hit our headlines. What's been going on in the press recently in the family law universe. This week, there was a Gallup Poll result related to Gallup's annual poll on American values and beliefs. And within the poll, there are American attitudes related to a bunch of topics, many of which are, in my mind, family law related. Specifically, they looked at things including birth control, divorce, heterosexual sex between unmarried people, gay/lesbian relations, have a baby be out of wedlock, abortion, sex between teenagers, polygamy, extramarital affairs, pornography.

                                         The results were pretty interesting, because they've been doing this study every year since ... at various times, they've started checking each of these things. What they've found is that all of these, what they look at is the acceptability of each of these to the American public. What they've noticed is an increase, that is to say that attitudes toward each of these things have become more liberal over time than they were when they first started. Now, not all of these were significant changes, but many of them were, and everything on the list has shifted into a more liberal attitude.

                                         Just to give you some examples, for example, birth control, they looked at, and 91% of the people that were polled found it morally acceptable to use birth control. Previously, there was an 89% acceptability, back in 2012, which was when they first started checking that. Divorce, which has historically been a pretty controversial one, in the past. Many people hated the idea of divorce, and said that it was morally unacceptable to get a divorce in the first place. Well, in the 2017 results, 73% of the people that were polled said that it was acceptable to have a divorce. Whereas, in 2012, when they first started looking at this, it was only at 59%. All of this stuff, again, has shifted up, which I guess means that with respect to family law attitudes, everything's becoming more liberal, in a sense.

                                         In other news, we've got another update on the triple [talaq 00:06:30] thing, and if you've been listening to the show previously, you've probably heard me talk about this in some of the other headlines. Are you familiar with triple talaq, Cristi? Let me give you some background, if you haven't been listening to the show previously, or you just need an update. Triple talaq is an ancient muslim practice, which basically indicates that a man can, at any given point, just say "talaq" three times, which is, as I understand it, the analog of, in English, saying, "I divorce you. I divorce you. I divorce you."

                                         When he does that, no matter what the mechanism. He can do it by text. He can do it by over the phone. He can send you a Twitter post, if you receive that. As long as he sent that message to you, and it's transmitted. He says it three times. The divorce is just automatic. Doesn't have to be any fault. Doesn't have to be any grounds. Just, he says it, automatic divorce. There's been quite a bit of controversy in India, in particular, where the practice is still legally recognized. Now, it's not everywhere. There's a lot of muslim countries where they've expressly banned it, but in India, in particular, which obviously is a pretty sizeable nation, they've still recognized it.

                                         Well, there's been quite a bit of controversy there that's stirred up, and recently, India's Supreme Court has looked at it for its constitutionality, and whether or not that's going to be an acceptable practice. And that's kind of where the update of this whole thing comes, is this week, the Supreme Court in India started to have hearings on the issue. My understanding is that each side in the case is being given three days to argue the case. They're supposed to be closing hearings by May 19th of this month. They're going to be closing on May 19th, and they're expecting that the court is going to issue a ruling within a couple weeks after that.

                                         The bench that they're looking at there has a panel of five judges, and they're all from various faiths. There's only one muslim judge on the panel, so I think it's going to be very interesting where this all goes. Much of the controversy, previously, was centered on women's rights, because there was a lot of concern that when you were just unilaterally creating a divorce, without any say from the woman, she was getting denied things like property rights, or potential child issues, and just, it was an automatic thing.

                                         There were other concerns that were spin-off from the idea of talaq, which essentially involved the post practices. So, for example, there was one called [halala 00:08:44], which is basically this idea that if you've gone through this process of triple talaq, and you've been divorced, the woman cannot remarry the husband without having first gotten married to someone else, consummated that marriage, then divorced that person, and then gone back to the original husband.

                                         There were some situations that were hitting the press where it seemed that people were essentially exploiting vulnerable women in these situations where they'd just gotten a divorce by way of triple talaq. The woman is emotionally distraught, wants to either do one of two things, either wind herself back up, so that she can remarry the husband, so she suddenly feels compelled to go through this process. Or alternatively, there were some situations in which there was the husband that would come back, and say, "Oh, wait. I'm sorry. I want to reconcile and get back together, but we have to go through this other process in order for us to remarry."

                                         So what some people have done, is they've tried what were called halala services, in which people would hold themselves out for a fee to get married to some of these women, where they would take them into a back room, consummate the marriage, and then walk back out and get a divorce. And that could be up to a couple grand. The concern there was that it was creating a situation that was, in essence, taking advantage of women that were in a very vulnerable place, for something that really doesn't need to happen. I'm super interested in what's going to happen with the India Supreme Court, and how they find on all this. I will notify you when I get some update on all that.

                                         In other news, there was, and I think this one's nice, because a lot of the time in family law we focus on a lot of the doom and gloom, and even in the headlines here, often, I'm just talking about some of the crazy stuff that happens in celebrity divorces, and here's all of these horrible things. Here's people getting taken advantage. Here's these emotionally distraught things. Well, in the press this week, there was what I thought was a much more positive spin on something in the family law universe.

                                         It starts off, the whole story here, it starts off with Allen Cook and his family. They were doing some home renovations in Westfield, New Jersey. And when they were doing that, they had an electrician that was working in the ceiling, found a crack, and in the crack, he noticed there was a letter in a sealed envelope that was up in the ceiling there. Pulls it out. They open it up, and it turns out that this was a love letter written by Virginia Christoffersen, to her husband, Rolf Christoffersen, and the letter was dated May 4th, 1945. It had been sent to him while he was stationed overseas in the military. He was in the Norwegian Navy back in World War II.

                                         She'd written this letter. It went out. Was returned as "not deliverable," because she'd sent it to him overseas, and what they think happened is she put it somewhere in her room, and it fell through a crack in the floor, and then the family later moved out. So it was just stuck there until this subsequent family moved in, and they were doing renovations, found the letter, and pulled it out.

                                         Well, Rolf never got it. At the time she sent the letter, she was pregnant. Rolf now lives in California. He's 96 years old. Virginia had passed away six years ago, and so the Cook family forwards the letter to Rolf. They read it to him just in time for Mother's Day. Rolf apparently got very emotional with the whole thing. I'm going to read to you a little excerpt. I read through the whole letter. It's quite interesting.

                                         Virginia was pregnant at the time with their first kid, I guess, and she wrote, quote, "I just feel happy and proud to be carrying the baby of the person I love most in the world. I really feel as if I have a part of you with me all the time. You will always be more important to me, and the two of us together, alone in each other's arms, will always be heaven on earth to me. I guess I sound as if I love my husband. Well, I do. I love you, Rolf, as I love the warm sun, and that is what you are to my life. The sun about which everything else revolves for me." So, I thought it was a happy story. This is a slightly different spin from what we normally have. It's all about relationships and both positives and negatives.

                                         All right. We're going to take a quick break. I am attorney David Enevoldsen, joined by my guest Cristi McMurdie. When we return, we're going to do our Did You Know? And then we're going to talk about collaborative law. If you want to call and ask any questions, you can do so at 602-277-KFNX. You're tuned in to Family Law Report on Independent Talk, 1100, KFNX.

David E.:                          Welcome back to Family Law Report. I'm David Enevoldsen, your host. Attorney with Family Law Guys, an Arizona law firm, here with you every Sunday at noon on Independent Talk, 1100, KFNX. Joined today by my guest, Cristi McMurdie, from McMurdie Law and WHY Mediate Mediation Services.

                                         And if you want to reach out to my firm, you can schedule an appointment here by calling 480-565-8680, or you can check us out on our website at www.familylawguys.com. If you're listening, and you want to call in and ask any questions, or share thoughts, you can do so by calling 602-277-KFNX. Cristi, if somebody wants to reach out to your firm, how do they do so again?

Cristi McMurdie:             Thank you, David. It's 480-777-5500. That's 777-5500. Or my website. You can e-mail me at Cristi, C-R-I-S-T-I, @mcmurdielaw, M-C-M-U-R-D-I-E, law.com.

David E.:                          Great. Thank you. All right, we're going to talk about collaborative law in just a sec, with Cristi, who knows quite a bit about that. Before we get there, we're going to do our Did You Know? And on Did You Know? we do some kind of trivia. Sometimes it's just some information about a little known family law fact from the past. Sometimes it's something about statistics from the present. And sometimes we do a quiz.

                                         Now, it's Mother's Day, and I've spoken with my mother, who of course listens to the show. I guess, not surprisingly, that's what moms do. And so she's told me in the past that when I've done the quizzes on the show, she liked it. So I've invited my mom to call and participate. Are you on there?

David's Mom:                  I'm here.

David E.:                          All right. She's going to be involved in a quiz today, so I'm going to do a three-way quiz. I've got Cristi here. I've got Josh, our board op. You on there?

Josh:                                 Yes, sir.

David E.:                          All right. And then I've got my mom. So I'm going to go through, I'm going to start with my mom, because I have to, because it's Mother's Day. And then I'm going to do Cristi after that, and then Josh. I'm going to ask a series of questions here, and each of them is multiple choice. There's going to be an A through D answer. I'm going to ask you each to select ... I'll ask the question, figure out what your answer is, and then I'll just run around, and whoever wins gets some sort of gloating rights. I don't actually have a prize. It's just going to be fun.

                                         Right. So first question up. Number one: How old was the youngest recorded and authenticated mother in history? A-

David's Mom:                  Oh, my lord!

David E.:                          A. Five years old? B. Eight years old? C. 12 years old? Or D. 14 years old?

                                         All right. Mom, we'll start with you.

David's Mom:                  This is the youngest?

David E.:                          The youngest recorded mother, at the time she was giving birth to children.

David's Mom:                  I would guess eight.

David E.:                          Eight. So your answer is B?

David's Mom:                  Was that B?

David E.:                          Yes. You can say the number, too. All right, Cristi. What's your answer?

Cristi McMurdie:             I also go with B. Eight's my favorite number.

David E.:                          Josh, what do you think?

Josh:                                 Just to be different, I'll go with 12, but I'm pretty sure it's eight.

David E.:                          Okay. You are all incorrect!

Cristi McMurdie:             Oh! Five!

David E.:                          This one, to me, was a little bit mind-boggling.

David's Mom:                  Oh, wow.

David E.:                          It is actually five years old.

Cristi McMurdie:             No way!

Josh:                                 Holy cow.

David E.:                          There was a woman named-

Cristi McMurdie:             That is sick!

David's Mom:                  Wow.

David E.:                          Yeah, it's really bizarre. There's a woman named Lina Medina, in Lima, Peru, who gave birth at five years old, and in fact, as I understand it, her children were raised initially being told that she was a sibling, because she was still a kid herself being raised ... I can't even imagine how that happens, but I verified this. There was all sorts of stuff. There's photographs of the children. That's really bizarre. So you all missed it. Sorry.

David's Mom:                  Wow.

Cristi McMurdie:             Wow! Oh, my gosh. That poor child.

David E.:                          I know, right?

                                         Okay, question number two: How old was the oldest recorded and authenticated mother in history? So the opposite here. A: 45? B: 55? C: 65? Or D: 75? Mom, starting with you again.

David's Mom:                  Oooh. I think it's 65. But no. Let me go with 75.

David E.:                          Okay, 75. Cristi?

David's Mom:                  D.

Cristi McMurdie:             I'm going to go with 75 also.

David E.:                          Okay. You guys are in line with each other so far. Josh, what do you think?

Josh:                                 Once again, just to be the devil's advocate, I'm going to go with 65.

David E.:                          65. All right. Josh got this one! It was indeed 65 years old. There was a woman, I'm going to butcher this name, it's Satyabhama Mahapatra. I apologize for mispronouncing that. She is a woman from India, and she used artificial insemination and gave birth at the age of 65.

David's Mom:                  Wow.

David E.:                          Josh got this one.

Cristi McMurdie:             Fabulous.

David E.:                          Good job, Josh.

Cristi McMurdie:             Did she live after birth?

David E.:                          He's giving me thumbs up back there. I don't know how long she lived after that. That was the only information I noted.

                                         All right. Question number three: What is the highest officially recorded number of children born to one mother? Is it A: 15? B: 32? C: 51? Or D: 69 children? Mom?

David's Mom:                  Ooh. Ooh, if some of those are multiple births, I'll guess 51. C.

David E.:                          Okay. Cristi?

Cristi McMurdie:             Oh, my gosh! That's my choice as well. 51. And I think I read that somewhere.

David E.:                          [crosstalk 00:21:13].

Cristi McMurdie:             I think I read about that somewhere.

David E.:                          So you're both saying 51?

Cristi McMurdie:             Yeah.

David's Mom:                  Yep.

David E.:                          All right, Josh?

Josh:                                 What was B and D?

David E.:                          It's 15, 32, 51, or 69.

Josh:                                 Oh, man. That's a lot of kids, no matter what.

David E.:                          I know, right? I can't imagine that.

Josh:                                 I'll go with D.

David E.:                          D: 69? All right. The correct answer is 69.

Cristi McMurdie:             Oh, my God!

David E.:                          Josh got it again! Josh is on a roll.

Cristi McMurdie:             That is sick!

David's Mom:                  [crosstalk 00:21:38].

David E.:                          There was a woman named Feodor Vassilyev, who gave birth between 1725 and 1765. She had, this is crazy, 16 pairs of twins, seven sets of triplets, and four sets of quadruplets.

David's Mom:                  Yeah. It had to be multiples. Yep.

David E.:                          This is mind-boggling, again, to me.

Cristi McMurdie:             God, I hope they were rich! Wow.

David E.:                          I don't think they were, but regardless, it's crazy.

                                         Okay. Number four. You guys have got to catch up. Josh is winning here!

David's Mom:                  Yeah, he is.

David E.:                          Number four: When was Mother's Day first celebrated? Was it A: 1883? B: 1898? C: 1908? Or D: 1924?

David's Mom:                  Aw, crud!

David E.:                          What do you think?

Cristi McMurdie:             Can I get my phone and Google it?

David E.:                          No.

David's Mom:                  That would have been a good idea. I'm going to guess 1908.

David E.:                          Except I'm assuming you're on your phone, so hopefully that's making it more difficult for you to Google. And since you've missed the ones so far, I'm guessing you're not doing that! So what did you say? 1908?

David's Mom:                  That's my guess. That's my guess.

David E.:                          Okay, Cristi?

Cristi McMurdie:             Oh, gosh. Great minds think alike. That would be my choice as well, but so that I can just look like some sort of meager outlier here, I'll take D.

David E.:                          Don't feel like you have to take a different pick.

Cristi McMurdie:             Can you go through them again, so I can pick something ...

David E.:                          Sure. It's 1883, 1898, 1908, or 1924.

Cristi McMurdie:             I'll just go with B. 18-

David E.:                          B. 1898?

Cristi McMurdie:             Yeah.

David E.:                          Okay. Josh?

Josh:                                 [crosstalk 00:23:14]-

David E.:                          You're not Googling this, are you?

Josh:                                 No.

David E.:                          I don't see you doing anything.

Josh:                                 What were the last two?

David E.:                          1883, 1898, 1908, or 1924.

Josh:                                 I'm going to go with one of the 1900 ones.

David E.:                          1908 or 1924 then?

Josh:                                 Let's go with 1924.

David E.:                          1924? All right. It was 1908.

David's Mom:                  Yay!

Cristi McMurdie:             That's the one I would have picked! I could have had one right!

David E.:                          I know! I told you, you didn't have to be different! You should hae stuck with your gut there.

Cristi McMurdie:             It hasn't paid off so far. [inaudible 00:23:50].

David E.:                          Well, it would have this one. Okay. Number Five. We've got two more questions. I've got six questions total. Number Five: Which is a Yugoslavian Mother's Day tradition? A: Children lay three flowers on the breakfast table for their mother, before the mother gets up? B: The family is expected to cook all meals for the mother for the day? C: There are Mother's Day parades in which men dance with pillows under their shirts, pretending to be mothers? Or D: Children get up early, tie up their mothers, and demand that the mothers hand them candy before the mother can be untied? Mom?

David's Mom:                  Oh. Boy. I'll go with flowers. A.

David E.:                          A? Okay. Cristi?

David's Mom:                  Because it's pretty.

Cristi McMurdie:             D is so weird, that it has to have some basis of truth-

David E.:                          The candy. The tying up thing.

Cristi McMurdie:             ... because who would think of something like that?

David E.:                          I don't know. I'm pretty twisted.

Cristi McMurdie:             So I ... Okay. Well, either-

David's Mom:                  I'll tell you. That's true.

Cristi McMurdie:             ... David's twisted, or it's got to be D.

David E.:                          Okay. So you're going with D. Josh, what do you think?

Josh:                                 What was the C one again?

David E.:                          C is there are Mother's Day parades in which men dance with pillows under their shirts, pretending to be mothers. Which is also a little bit strange, so-

Josh:                                 Yeah, I kind of like that one. Either way, I want to see it. So let's go with that one.

David E.:                          I mean, you have to acknowledge that at least three of these were made up by me, which means that if there's more than one crazy thing here, it's crazy enough that I would have made it up. So, okay. You're going with C?

Josh:                                 Yeah, yeah. I'll go C.

David E.:                          The correct answer is: Children get up early, tie up their mothers, and demand their mothers give them candy before the mother can be untied.

Cristi McMurdie:             Oh! Awesome!

David's Mom:                  Yay, you!

David E.:                          So Cristi got this one.

Cristi McMurdie:             Yay! With twisted logic.

David E.:                          Yeah, I was [inaudible 00:25:35] another kind of mind-boggling, bizarre one. Okay. Number six. Last question. Approximately how many mothers are there in the United States? A: 85 million? B: 90 million? C: 100 million? Or D: 105 million?

David's Mom:                  Oh, blah! I'll go with 105.

David E.:                          105?

Cristi McMurdie:             Why do I have to follow her?

David's Mom:                  Well, you were right last time anyway.

Cristi McMurdie:             Yeah, I think I'm going to err on the side of more, although I think we're starting to flatten out our growth rate. Maybe I'll go with the even 100. Is that C?

David E.:                          That is C, yeah. So 100 million.

Cristi McMurdie:             I'll take C, just for grins.

David E.:                          All right. Josh, what do you think?

Josh:                                 I'll go with ... You said 90 million, right?

David E.:                          85, 90, 100, or 105 million.

Josh:                                 Yeah. I'll go with 90.

David E.:                          90? You are all incorrect. It is 85 million mothers, approximately, in the United States.

Cristi McMurdie:             All right.

David's Mom:                  Okay.

David E.:                          Josh, you are the winner today.

David's Mom:                  Yay, Josh!

Josh:                                 Well, in the spirit of Mother's Day, I'm going to defer my win to the ladies. Happy Mother's Day.

David E.:                          All right.

Cristi McMurdie:             Awwww. I feel so special.

David's Mom:                  Yay!

David E.:                          All right. Well, that is our Did You Know? for today. We just did the quiz. Mom, thank you for calling in. I will talk to you after the show, and you can go ahead and drop off.

                                         All right. We are going to now jump over to collaborative law, which is what we brought you here for today, Cristi. What's that? Oh, I'm sorry. So we're going to do a quick commercial break, and when we come back, we're going to talk to you a lot more about collaborative law, and what that is, what that means, what you do, all of that.

                                         All right. I'm attorney David Enevoldsen. I'm joined by my guest, Cristi McMurdie. When we return, we're going to be discussing collaborative law. If you want to call in and ask any questions, you can do so at 602-277-KFNX. You're tuned into Family Law Report on Independent Talk, 1100, KFNX.

Cristi McMurdie:             That was fun-

Josh:                                 Family Law Report is hosted by Family Law Guys, an Arizona family law firm. Family Law Report is dedicated to confronting difficult issues related to marriage, divorce, and children. This can range everywhere from addressing the legalities and controversies in topics like gay marriage, to current faults in the divorce system, to simply providing tips to those getting married, or going through a divorce or custody fight. Tune in every Sunday to Family Law Report at noon, here on KFNX. If you want to know more, or to schedule an appointment with David or another one of the Family Law Guys attorneys, call 480-565-8680. That's 480-565-8680.

David E.:                          Welcome back to Family Law Report. I am your host, David Enevoldsen, attorney with Family Law Guys, an Arizona law firm, here with you every Sunday at noon on Independent Talk, 1100, KFNX. Joined today by my guest, Cristi McMurdie, from the McMurdie Law Firm and WHY Mediate Mediation Services. If you want to reach out and schedule an appointment with my firm, Family Law Guys, you can do so by calling 480-565-8680. Or you can check us out on our website at www.familylawguys.com.

                                         If you are listening, and you want to call in and ask any questions, or share thoughts, you can do so by calling 602-277-KFNX. Cristi, one more time, do you want to tell us how anybody can get a hold of you if they want to do so?

Cristi McMurdie:             Yes. The number at my law firm is 480-777-5500, or you can go to mcmurdielaw.com, M-C-M-U-R-D-I-E law.com.

David E.:                          All right. Great. So! We've been building up to this. The collaborative law topic. First off, before we even get into anything else, can you tell me what collaborative law is, just in a general sense.

Cristi McMurdie:             Yes. Collaborative law is a process of getting your family legal conflict resolved without going to court. We form teams of professionals that can include a family therapist who's a trained coach, who facilitates the meetings, and a financial expert who's also been trained in collaborative law. And they work together with the two attorneys who are trained in collaborative law, and all of them sign a fee agreement with the parties stating that if they can't resolve all the issues, they are off the case, and it creates an instant conflict of interest. So there's skin in the game for everyone involved to have their team meetings and resolve all the issues, and then they are able to file a stipulated agreement at the end with the court, and nobody ever goes to court in these cases.

David E.:                          Okay, so I want to parrot back what I just heard in kind of a different way, and correct me if I'm mischaracterizing what this is. Are you saying that, essentially, collaborative law is a process in which the two sides are going into whatever the case is, divorce or child custody matter, or whatever, and they enter into an agreement that essentially says that they're going to have attorneys, but if they can't come to an agreement, the attorneys can't go to trial? Like, they back out of the case?

Cristi McMurdie:             That's true, David. They are conflicted out by virtue of the terms of the collective fee agreement that everyone signs together.

David E.:                          So that seems like that could potentially create a lot of pressure, in terms of coming to a settlement, and not just necessarily stonewalling or playing games with the litigation process. Is that a fair-

Cristi McMurdie:             There's pressure in every kind of family case. I think there's 10 times more pressure if you're headed towards the courtroom and litigation. With collaborative law, everyone is trained. Most lawyers who do collaborative law have been previously trained very well in mediation, and they understand, especially with the help of the family therapist, how to keep that stress at a minimum, and actually deal with it. Talk about it. And get it handled maybe before the family meetings.

                                         There are meetings with your clients. There's meetings with the other counsel. And then there's team meetings with the professionals. And when you come to a group collective meeting, everyone is aware of what you're going to be dealing with at the table that day, and they come in prepared, with full disclosure and transparency. That's one of the things you agree to at the beginning of the case. So there are certain kinds of cases that are perfect for this way of solving your family dispute, and then there are other cases, which David, I'm sure you have, and which I have, that are not really right for collaborative law.

David E.:                          That's actually one of the questions I had for you later. So let me, before we get into more detail on this, let me back up a step, and find out what brought you to this table. You're an attorney, correct?

Cristi McMurdie:             Yes.

David E.:                          Tell me about your background, just a little bit.

Cristi McMurdie:             Okay. I went to Arizona State University, and I graduated in '92. Did a couple of years of insurance defense work, but I took all the classes in family law at ASU. I was very interested. And I took mediation negotiations. I was very interested in that. I'm a natural collaborator. Natural negotiator. Because I'm really good at communication, I think. Can I improve? Yes. But I'm very good at-

David E.:                          Well, we can always all improve, I think.

Cristi McMurdie:             Yes. And so after I began my family practice, and I left the insurance defense firm that I was at, I started seeing how much destruction there was to the family unit, and I went out and became immediately certified in mediation. I've had an adjunct to my practice all these years doing mediation. About 10-

David E.:                          Do you still do that?

Cristi McMurdie:             Oh, yes! My mediation adjunct to my practice is called WHY Mediate Mediation Services. W-H-Y. And I'm also a WHY coach, so I help people-

David E.:                          What is a WHY coach?

Cristi McMurdie:             A WHY coach is someone that helps people discover their "why." That is, determining value system that you use when you're making decisions. So when you're doing mediation, it's very important to know what you and the other party, how you make decisions. Knowing what your WHY is expedites the resolution process. After I became a WHY coach-

David E.:                          That, to me, is really interesting. Because I've actually talked to mediators in the past who, at least, as I understood it, were expressing to me that a big part of the mediation process was trying to figure out what are the major motivators from each side of the equation. It sounds like you're making that process a little more expressed. Is that-

Cristi McMurdie:             That's true. And people who are willing to come in and discover their WHY find that it does aid in understanding the decision-making process of the other party. And it does help the mediation a lot. It helps the case move forward.

David E.:                          So how did you get from the mediation stuff that you were getting to, over to the collaborative law universe?

Cristi McMurdie:             About 10 years ago, in Phoenix, it was introduced, this collaborative law process, but they used the two-coach model. So that means at the table there'd be two professional coaches, oftentimes a financial, and sometimes two financials, and then the two lawyers. And I said, "Hey, with my client base, this is just too darned expensive." And I wasn't interested. Especially with all of the things I'm involved in as a coach, a mediator, and a lawyer, staying up on all of that.

                                         So I said, "Eh, I don't see the ROI for me." The return on investment, for me throwing my hat in the game on this and getting yet one more tool in my toolbox, or certification that I'd have to stay up on. But I was going to go check out the mediation scene in Portland last year, and prior to going there, I learned about a Tucson collaborative training that included just the one-coach model. And they were having an advanced training in Portland that I wanted to take part in.

                                         I went down to Tucson, and did this collaborative training, and became very enthused and passionate about this new model that includes just one coach who facilitates the meetings. I knew then that this would be affordable to many of my clients. And I found out that the group that was forming in Phoenix had come to a standstill, probably because of the expense, about three years ago, and it was dormant. Because I said to my trainers last year, "Why isn't there an active group in Phoenix?" Well, there had been some sort of rift that occurred in the group, and it's because it was too expensive, I believe. So I-

David E.:                          The group itself, you mean?

Cristi McMurdie:             The process of the two-coach model-

David E.:                          Oh, oh. Gotcha.

Cristi McMurdie:             ... and bringing in eight professionals.

David E.:                          Okay.

Cristi McMurdie:             In this model that I've been trained in, there's usually three or four professionals, and we often, in every case, in mediation, bring in a professional. Whether it's a financial, or a family therapist, there's usually a professional brought in. So it's not that more of an extension beyond that, but then each party gets their own representation. There's a whole segment of cases out there that are perfect for collaborative law.

                                         So I decided to start a new group in Phoenix. The rebirth of the Phoenix collaborative group, and we are now a 501c6 organization. We filed our articles of incorporation a couple weeks ago. We have participating about 40 members, and it's called the Collaborative Professionals of Phoenix. And I'm really excited, because we're growing-

David E.:                          I can tell. Yeah, you-

Cristi McMurdie:             There's a lot of momentum-

David E.:                          ... sound very passionate.

Cristi McMurdie:             ... about this. I believe that we can develop this practice even more, to support our overburdened courts, and help the public, for those cases that are ripe, that are ready for this type of solution in their family matters.

David E.:                          Cool. Okay. Well thank you for that. Maybe you can back up just to make this a little clearer for me. Can you walk me through an illustration of what it would be like to start ... Say, somebody's walking in, they have a divorce. And they're saying, "Okay, we're about to start this divorce, and I've looked at collaborative law, and that sounds really interesting to me. I want to take that approach. I think that's going to reduce the conflict, or the expense, or whatever. I feel like I can talk with the other side. We're sort of working, but we still have some conflict." What happens in this process? Walk me through an example, on a global view, what would happen?

Cristi McMurdie:             Yes. So this is one of the most important key points that collaborative lawyers have to know, and that is how to identify the right case for this type of solution. Okay? Learning how to share it with your client is super important. Because people don't know about us. So we're doing a lot of education. It's not on TV the way litigated divorces are. And people, just frankly, aren't aware of it yet. Plus, it's new in Phoenix. Now, there are-

David E.:                          I know quite a few attorneys that don't know what this is.

Cristi McMurdie:             Yeah. And that's why I'm doing the education piece. There's so many good lawyers that would love to be involved in this. And love to bring it as an adjunct to their practice. And I'm inviting David to come and join us.

David E.:                          She did!

Cristi McMurdie:             Our next meeting, for those lawyers who are listening to this, is June 15th. We'll be talking about how to do this exact thing. How to share this with your clients, so that they can understand that it's something that will work for them.

David E.:                          All right. We're going to take a quick break, and then we'll come back, and we'll continue this thought. You are listening to Family Law Report. Sorry. I just totally lost my train of thought there. All right. I'm attorney David Enevoldsen, joined by my guest Cristi McMurdie. You are tuned into Family Law Report on Independent Talk, 1100, KFNX.

Josh:                                 Family Law Report is hosted by Family Law Guys, an Arizona family law firm. Family Law Report is dedicated to confronting difficult issues related to marriage, divorce, and children. This can range everywhere from addressing the legalities and controversies in topics like gay marriage, to current faults in the divorce system, to simply providing tips to those getting married, or going through a divorce or custody fight. Tune in every Sunday to Family Law Report at noon, here on KFNX. If you want to know more, or to schedule an appointment with David or another one of the Family Law Guys attorneys, call 480-565-8680. That's 480-565-8680.

                                         Are you relocating employees to the area? Need resources to help find them the right house? Right schools? And places to shop? Order your free copy of the Phoenix Relocation Guide that is distributed free to employers to help them onboard new hires. The Phoenix area is booming, and we're here to help. To get your free guide to Phoenix, visit phoenixrelocationguide.com. That's phoenixrelocationguide.com. To find all the latest information, helping people with their relocation needs.

David E.:                          Welcome back to Family Law Report. I'm David Enevoldsen, your host, an attorney with Family Law Guys, an Arizona law firm. Here with you every Sunday at noon on Independent Talk, 1100, KFNX. Joined today by my guest Cristi McMurdie from the McMurdie Law Firm and WHY Mediate Mediation Services. If you want to reach out and schedule an appointment with my firm, Family Law Guys, you can do so by calling 480-565-8680, or you can check us out on our website at www.familylawguys.com.

                                         If you are listening, and you want to call in and ask any questions, or share thoughts, you can do so at 602-277-KFNX. And Cristi, one more time, if somebody wants to reach out to you, how do they do so?

Cristi McMurdie:             Thank you, David. My phone number at my office is 480-777-5500, and my website is mcmurdielaw.com. M-C-M-U-R-D-I-E, mcmurdielaw.com.

David E.:                          All right. Now, we've been talking today about collaborative law, and right before we went to break, in my inartful exodus to commercials there, I had just asked you about if you could walk me through a basic illustration of what would happen if somebody decides they want to go through the collaborative law process. And you were describing, if I understood correctly, the filtration process in identifying whether or not a case is ripe, or appropriate for the collaborative law process. Is that correct? Do you want to go ahead and elaborate on that?

Cristi McMurdie:             Yes. First of all, both parties have to have buy-in. They both want to do it this way. And usually one is ahead of the other, and so both parties have to say, "Yeah, I want to try this family conflict, or this divorce, this way. I think it's going to be best for us."

                                         Then they have to select who their attorneys will be, and usually they've already seen an attorney. If an attorney tells them about the collaborative law process, usually they're trained in collaborative law. They can offer the service. And there's a roster that we're putting together here in Phoenix of people who have been trained in the collaborative process and can deliver that service. So we want all the attorneys that we know that are collaboratively-minded to be on our roster list. We are expanding that as I speak.

                                         And those attorneys are the ones who have been trained to help facilitate these family meetings, and the family meetings are prepared for in advance. So the attorneys will work with their client, then they'll work with their team, and then everybody comes together, and it's a brainstorming session where both parties are there, with their lawyers, and whatever specialist is needed that facilitates the meeting as a neutral. That neutral, whether it's the financial or the family therapist, facilitates the meetings on the issues that are supposed to be on the agenda that day, whether it has to do with custody. Okay? Or parenting time. Or whether it has to do with dividing the 401K, or who's going to stay in the house.

                                         Everybody knows what the agenda is in advance, and they come prepared. There's been some disclosure in advance, so that we know what we're dealing with, and we can actually solve those problems, or resolve those disputes, and move forward in various terms that very day. So I like to see a lot happen in my family meetings.

David E.:                          Okay. How long does that process typically take?

Cristi McMurdie:             I find that the most people can handle is two hours. I also have that rule of thumb when I'm the mediator in cases as well. I don't do a one day deal like the way some mediators do. They come in, and they mediate all day long on all the issues, and it blows the minds of the clients, and oftentimes there's post-decree matters. There's post-agreement issues to work out that don't get handled. Sometimes they end up in court on those minor things that didn't get handled in that one day of mediation. I like to break it up, and let people have time in between, and we do the same thing in collaborative law.

David E.:                          Let's say you're going through this collaborative law process, and you've got these two hour meetings. In an average, say divorce case, with all of the standard issues, how many of these meetings do you end up having?

Cristi McMurdie:             It depends on the extent of the complexity of this particular family. It depends on what their estate is. How many children are involved. The complexity of the issues with the children. And also, with each of the parents. So it's hard to say. It could be anywhere from two meetings up to five or six meetings.

David E.:                          Okay. Do you find that it typically goes much over that? The five or six meetings?

Cristi McMurdie:             No.

David E.:                          That's the high end of it?

Cristi McMurdie:             Yeah.

David E.:                          And how are these billed? Are they billed in the same way you would bill any other family law case, on an hourly basis?

Cristi McMurdie:             Yes. Each of the professionals has their own billing rate. And everyone's agreed with that. So oftentimes, we have the collective fee agreement, that everyone signs together, and then each one of them, each professional, has their own fee agreement that they enter into on their rate and their billing practice with each of the parties.

David E.:                          Okay.

Cristi McMurdie:             Does that make sense?

David E.:                          It does. Yes.

Cristi McMurdie:             Yeah. Okay.

David E.:                          Let me back up a step. You kind of painted the picture for what happens in this, and what the costs are involved. How long this is usually taking. We were talking a few minutes ago about this filtration system, and making sure on the front end, this is an appropriate type of thing for the parties involved, and that everybody wants to be involved in that. Are there times where somebody comes to you and says, "I want to be involved in a collaborative divorce." And you say, "This is inappropriate for this situation." Or do you turn away people on that level? Or do you find kickback about collaborative divorce in general?

Cristi McMurdie:             It's a hard buy-in for folks. Okay. If it's the right type of case, everybody's going to know it. If they're not ready for it. If they're not appropriate for collaborative law, the attorney's going to be able to know that right off the bat. Either it's too expensive, or we have issues that don't allow people to be responsible enough, because of maybe addictions or abuse, those type of issues.

David E.:                          Mental health problems, I suppose, could also contribute to that.

Cristi McMurdie:             Even mental health problems can be carefully supported, because we have a family coach therapist involved.

David E.:                          Okay.

Cristi McMurdie:             So I wouldn't rule out, just because there's some mental health problems, the possibility of collaborative results. Or resolution for folks. Again, it depends on whether the parties can afford it. It depends on if both parties believe there's enough transparency on disclosure of documents, and understanding what the family has. And again, attorneys can bring a lot of support to their clients, if there's one party that's, say, less savvy with the financials. The attorney and the financial specialist can help a party who's less able in that situation, to bring them up to speed. So it actually can be very helpful in a case like that.

David E.:                          Can you tell me a little bit about the cost comparison. You've done a lot of litigation. You've done a lot of collaborative law. In the typical cases, and I know it's hard to quantify, because every case is so different, and you're always billing on an hourly basis in either set up. Take your average collaborative law case versus the average, say, divorce ...

Cristi McMurdie:             Litigated divorce.

David E.:                          Litigated divorce. Thank you for that distinction. So the average litigated divorce. What is the cost distinction? Is there a cost distinction? Do you see a difference there?

Cristi McMurdie:             Yes, and I don't have figures. That's something that we're working on right now, is gathering the comparisons. But generally it costs less to go to court than to have collaborative meetings. Okay? Now, collaborative meetings do cost more than just mediation. Because with mediation, oftentimes there's only one mediator, one professional, okay right? So one mediator, and two parties. Now, sometimes with mediation, each party has a lawyer, and then there's a mediator, and that's a mediated either divorce, or family issue.

                                         The cost of collaborative divorce, or collaborative family resolution, is more expensive than basic mediation, usually. And usually a lot less expensive than if both parties are drawing swords, and getting ready, and going to trial.

David E.:                          Do you find that there's much difference in the efficacy of the collaborative law process versus just doing a mediation?

Cristi McMurdie:             Yes, because sometimes people really want their lawyer. They really want to have their lawyer, and often with mediation, there's just the mediator and the two parties that are pro per, and then they go talk to their lawyers separately, later. They can have their lawyers present for mediation.

                                         What's better about collaborative than just straight mediation is that you have more professionals at the table. Okay? Five professional heads are better than one, right? So you have a team that's supporting the conflict, and you get the brainstorming effect of being creative with a team.

                                         The way the team is trained, once they're collaboratively trained, is that you're in a creative space. You're not in the highly defensive space that limits your brain ability in litigation and the courtroom. People have been ... They're slightly dumbed-down because of the fear and the intimidation effect of trial. Whereas when you're at the table, there's all this full disclosure, and everyone's trained on how to be in the creative space of solving the problem. It's very different that way, and you often get very different results.

David E.:                          It sounds like, and correct me if I'm misunderstanding, one of the major distinctions here is, number one, you're going to have a lot more heads at the table. A lot more people that are able to analyze what's going on, and contribute things that are going to make sense of it. But at the same time, there's going to be a cost implication of that, as well. Is that correct?

Cristi McMurdie:             Yeah. But there's creative problem solving with professionals, whereas in court, there's one judge making a decision, who has 9,000 active cases on his desk, and he's just trying to move the case off.

David E.:                          You have no control over what's going to ultimately come out.

Cristi McMurdie:             It's risky, and at the table with collaborative, there's no risk.

David E.:                          All right. One more time, how do people contact you, if they want to reach out?

Cristi McMurdie:             480-777-5500, or mcmurdielaw.com, M-C-M-U-R-D-I-E law.com. And thank you, David, for having me as a guest today.

David E.:                          Absolutely. So that's all the time we have for today's show. You've been listening to Family Law Report. I'm David Enevoldsen, attorney with Family Law Guys, an Arizona law firm. And Cristi, thanks for coming on. We've been talking about collaborative law. Please join us again next week, on Sunday at noon, for more of the latest on family law, here on Independent Talk, 1100, KFNX. Thanks for listening.

Josh:                                 Family Law Report is hosted by Family Law Guys, an Arizona family law firm. Family Law Report is dedicated to confronting difficult issues related to marriage, divorce, and children. This can range everywhere from addressing the legalities and controversies in topics like gay marriage, to current faults in the divorce system, to simply providing tips to those getting married, or going through a divorce or custody fight. Tune in every Sunday to Family Law Report at noon, here on KFNX. If you want to know more, or to schedule an appointment with David or another one of the Family Law Guys attorneys, call 480-565-8680. That's 480-565-8680.

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