Amanda D. Singer, Esq., MDR, CDFA
Growing up my mom was a therapist and I learned early on how important our feelings can be to our relationships and that we need to tell other people how we feel or they won’t know what needs to be changed. I had originally even thought about following in my mom’s steps and becoming a therapist, but I was also really interested in the law and problem solving.
During my senior year in college at Brandies University I took one of my last classes for my legal studies minor on mediation, negotiation and conflict resolution. This class is what really turned me on to mediation and made me realize that there was a career option that allowed me to blend the emotional side of conflict with the pragmatic problem solving side.
When I applied to law school I only applied to schools that had dispute resolution programs so that I could not only get my law degree but also take classes in mediation and conflict resolution. I was determined to not be in graduate school for longer than three years so I worked on completing my JD at Chapman University School of Law while earning my Masters in Dispute Resolution (MDR) from The Straus Institute of Dispute Resolution and Pepperdine University School of Law. While I was completing both of these degrees I was able to learn more about the law as well as better understand conflict, how people deal with conflict and ways to resolve it.
Why Children Matter So Much To Me
I had always done a lot of work with kids and families, from babysitting when I was young, to working as a camp counselor to teaching religious school. While I was in law school I completed my basic and advanced mediation training and began mediating civil cases in the Riverside Superior Court. Additionally, I assisted the Riverside Courts Alternative Dispute Resolution Office to implement a Juvenile Mediation program at Juvenile Hall for the residents. Working with these children and teenagers to teach them effective methods of problem solving and dispute resolution that wouldn’t land them back in jail made me realize how important of a tool conflict resolution is.
I felt that family law was an area where people could benefit from mediation because couples getting divorced were going through a change in their life and the court did not have the time, energy or resources to effectively work with each couple to recognize this and help them move forward. Mediation on the other hand could blend the emotions that they were feeling about the past and what had happened and assist them in moving forward, not only through the legal process but in problem solving ways to effectively maintain a relationship and not hate each other at the end of the process, especially when kids are involved.
Working with my clients I want them to understand that conflict is ok and we all have it in our life, but it’s about how we communicate with each other about the conflict and work at moving forward. I want people to understand no matter how difficult the issues at hand, that there are ways to solve them without having to go to court. I understand what it’s like to step outside of your comfort zone having completed five marathons, many half marathons and two triathlons. While it’s not always easy I know the feeling I get after doing so, makes it worthwhile going forward.
Other Important Services: Premarital Mediation
I enjoy working with couples before they get married through the following services:
- Premarital Mediation: I want to give them the tools to have healthy relationships and start their marriage off such that they never end up back in my office for a divorce. If we can help them improve their communication now before it gets too bad then they’ll be able to work together to problem solve.
- Premarital Financial Planning: the biggest issue we see in couples getting divorced has to do with finances. Too many couples never took the time before getting married to discuss their spending and saving habits, their debt, credit scores and their thoughts on money.
- Prenuptial (Premarital) Agreements: without a prenup if you get divorced the Family Law of the state of California control, which you and your spouse might not agree with. Putting down on paper how you both want to handle your separate and community property provides an open conversation before getting married. Having a prenup also can cut down on the conflict later on since you already have your agreements.
My Other Community Involvement Activities
I serve on the Board of Directors for the Academy of Professional Family Mediation, the premiere family mediation association in North America. I have presented at the conference the past two years and am in charge of this year’s conference coming up in the spring. I am also a member of the State Bar of California, the American Bar Association, Lawyer’s Club of San Diego, San Diego County Bar Association, San Diego Family Law Bar Association, ProVisors and Emerging Leaders at Jewish Family Services.