Meet Mari

For over 35 years I have had the privilege of helping couples dissolve their marriage or partnership with mutual respect, dignity, and civility to reach a peaceful, fair settlement for themselves and their families.

It’s been my honor to facilitate and coach my clients to deal with their pain, anger, resentment, and hurt in such a way as to empower them to diplomatically ask for what they want, rather than what they don’t want, to arrive at mutually satisfying agreements. Divorce can be a frightening experience – it is a major life change that affects financial situations, parenting relationships, living situations, and most of all one’s emotional sense of wellbeing. I have been through a divorce myself, and never want my clients to experience the disastrous court battle that I endured.

My mission is to show my clients how they can get their needs met without destroying each other. In fact, some of my clients in mediation learned new skills that enabled them to fall in love again, renew their commitment to making the marriage work, and dismiss the court case. Those cases were most gratifying! But for those who ended the marriage, they were able to co-parent successfully, acknowledge each other respectfully, and release the negative emotions to move on optimistically- many to new loving relationships.

I see conflict as an opportunity for positive change. We all have inner conflict as well as outer conflicts which force us to grow. My journey to arrive at writing about and teaching transformative dispute resolution has been an evolution. I have always loved teaching and inspiring others to connect. After obtaining my college and Master’s degree, I taught high school Spanish and English, and later became a public school Administrator. As a result of my involvement in education, I was elected to a school board and found that I needed to better understand the complex legal issues facing our district, so I returned to school and became a lawyer.

I began practicing law for a time in the District Attorney’s office and subsequently with an insurance defense firm, and later I opened my own office. I quickly learned, however, that the judicial system did little to heal conflict. Court battles were time consuming, costly, and caused great stress for my clients and me. The adversarial process increased hostility between disputants and left people angry and economically devastated. That awakening pushed me to undertake extensive training to become a certified attorney mediator. I used my training in psychology, teaching, and negotiation to facilitate consensual dispute resolution. The focus became solutions instead of arguments about who is right. This result was far more rewarding for me and, most of all, my clients. They could not only resolve disputes with much less stress and less money, but they could also protect their privacy and reach a confidential settlement. None of this would happen in a public law suit. Privacy issues in the information age became increasingly important in my practice as my clients wanted to protect their finances and their reputations. Along the way, I became very concerned about privacy issues and became a certified expert in the field.

I have shared my expertise as a media commentator on such shows as The O’Reilly Factor, Dateline, NBC, 48 Hours, Montel, CNN, ABC Nightly News Investigative Reports, and dozens of other national and local television shows. I was featured in the New York Times, LA Times, U.S. News and World Report, Your Money Magazine, Parade Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and dozens more national publications.

Radio was the most fun and fulfilling because I could share more information to help myriad consumers for free without having to worry about my hair, makeup, or my wrinkles! By serendipity, after being interviewed on NPR, I was asked to create my own radio show, which I have been hosting since 2005 on KUCI 88.9 FM in Irvine, California. It streams on and podcasts on ITunes. I enjoy enlightening and educating my audience with interviews of great authors and other guests who share their expertise. My two show which air on Monday mornings are Privacy Piracy ( and Fighting for Love: Turn Conflict into Collaboration ( ).

I believe my purpose in this lifetime is to bring more harmony and serenity to my clients, my family, my community, and our planet. I feel blessed to do this when I mediate privately or for the Orange County Superior Court. However, my greatest gratification comes from teaching through coaching, training and writing to inspire others to engage in “solutioneering“ to effectively resolve escalating conflicts through collaboration. What could be more important than having peace, joy, and love in our lives?

Peace is not the absence of conflict but the presence of creative alternatives for responding to conflict — Dorothy Thompson

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