Knowing divorce can be painful, California attorney Donna M. Encinas helped found what is now Family Divorce Solutions of San Fernando Valley. Family Divorce Solutions of San Fernando Valley is an association of professionals who work together to help divorcing couples find peace in and through the separation process.
Since graduating from law school and being admitted to the California Bar, Ms. Encinas’ legal practice has focused on family law. She has represented clients in all aspects of family law, including separation, divorce, and post-judgment, child custody and visitation, child support, spousal support, property division, and estate planning.
Helping create San Fernando Valley Collaborative Professionals, now known as Family Divorce Solutions, was a natural fit for her and her practice.
“I am a strong believer in the collaborative divorce process,” Ms. Encinas said. “When someone comes to me seeking a divorce, I point them toward the collaboration process. It is less expensive than a trial divorce and in my experience, it generally leads to a more fair and amicable settlement. When I saw how much other professionals impacted a divorce and the people, I knew creating an association of family law and family matters professionals was the right thing to do.”
Over the years Family Divorce Solutions has grown in numbers and reach. Membership now covers mental health experts and financial planners. More and more people learn about the association and turn to it for help when ending a relationship. Ms. Encinas said this growth and outreach into areas beyond the law is exactly what she envisioned in the beginning.
She said when a couple decides to stop their relationship, it is more than just ending a marriage. If children are involved, those children will need help as their parents work through the divorce process. Money matters are an issue too.
“What happens in a divorce is two adults who intertwined their lives now have to unravel. It is like taking a shirt apart. You can use scissors or a knife and cut it into pieces. Or, you can take time and tools and pull the shirt apart thread by thread. Doing that means all you did was separate out the threads, which can be used again, versus shredding the shirt,” she said. “With time and a little effort, the threads can be used to make two new shirts that look as good as the original. The pieces of a cut up shirt can be sewn together to make another shirt, but the seams are obvious. Seams, in this case, are the scars that result from a contentious divorce.”
When that couple has children, divorce gets even more complicated. Ms. Encinas said she’s seen children greatly hurt by divorce even with well-meaning parents. Worst of all is the parent who uses children as a tool against the other parent. The attorney said there is no excuse for that kind of behavior.
A collaboration that brings in mental health professionals provides the children with the needed coping abilities and resources to handle their parents’ separation. Ms. Encinas said, knowing the children come through the process in the best shape possible is a major reason she worked so hard to create Family Divorce Solutions.
“Children can be victims in a divorce, but they do not have to be,” she said.
Ms. Encinas has been a volunteer mediator and Judge Pro Tem with the Los Angeles Superior Courts for the past 20 years and is a former Adjunct Professor at Southwestern Law School teaching Family Law Procedure and Practice.
Family Divorce Solutions of San Fernando Valley is an association of experienced, licensed and trained attorneys, mental health professionals and financial neutrals. All the members of the association have their own businesses, but choose to work together to make divorce a less painful and more equitable process of couples.
Donna M. Encinas
Family Divorce Solutions of San Fernando Valley