Michael C. Cotugno, Esq., Attorney/Mediator
Michael is both an attorney and mediator with over 26 years of experience in family law. After decades of litigation experience, and seeing it’s debilitating effects, Michael knew there was a better alternative. He founded Conscious Divorce to provide settlement focused support to help separating couples move on as peacefully as possible.
Janessa Cotugno M.A., Office Administrator
Janessa provides client and project management support to provide clarity and structure throughout the process so clients can focus on what matters. She also oversees business operations for Conscious Divorce.
Michael C. Cotugno, Esq.
Janessa Cotugno, M.A.
To us, a “conscious” divorce is a process of pursuing clarity and courage while moving through the challenges of separation. It’s about clearing away the fear and intimidation of the legal process and becoming informed about your options.
It’s about communicating clearly and honestly while working through differences. It’s bringing a grounded, yet compassionate approach to negotiations and being open to finding solutions.
Our role is to help demystify the legal process and offer settlement focused support so you can make the heart-centered decisions that work for you and your family.
My Dilemma With Divorce
By Michael C. Cotugno, Esq., Founder of Conscious Divorce
It’s safe to say that we’re all familiar with the horror stories of conventional divorce litigation. It often involves turning your life over to attorneys and judges who will tell you how to resolve your issues based on a narrow view of the options available, which generally do not work for you, or your family.
But divorce is not just a legal process. It’s personal. It’s emotional. I’ve been through it myself.
It’s also extremely difficult to find balance, healing and closure while constantly being exposed to the fighting and conflict that a traditional contested divorce encourages.
I kept asking myself, could there be a better way?
As an attorney practicing since 1996, dealing primarily with divorce cases, I’ve personally witnessed the debilitating effects the conflict driven legal system wages on our whole community.
I’ve seen couples fighting over insignificant details just for the sake of fighting. I’ve dealt with opposing council who would stir up conflict so they could bill more hours. I’ve had judges make decisions that go completely against the legal precedent.
How could I participate in this broken system and keep clear conscience?
The world we live in is hectic enough. I couldn’t consciously choose to encourage more chaos in my life or in the life of others. After seeing countless cases get stuck in a broken system that often costs people everything they have, I knew there had to be a better way.
Over the years, I’ve developed a deeper understanding of my role as an attorney and mediator. I’m here to offer structure, guidance and support during one of the most difficult periods in someone’s life.
This led me to obtain my M.A. in Spiritual Psychology in 2012. This educational experience has offered me a tremendous resource of tools and techniques for facilitating deeper levels of communication as well as personal healing and growth.
I believe that staying out of court and working towards settlement through mediation is that better way, but it does take cooperation and the willingness to let go of at least some of the bitterness and upset that usually surrounds the divorce process.
I’ve seen that conflict arrises when communication breaks down and one person stops trying to see things from the other’s perspective.
At this point, it can seem easier to simply walk away, hire a litigation attorney, and let them handle everything. Unfortunately, that’s not typically how it works (unless maybe you have unlimited funds and aren’t considering the emotional toll it takes on you and your kids).
Instead of avoiding the issue, the only way to effectively resolve it is by working through the energy of a perceived problem. This doesn’t have to be hard (or at least as hard as you might think).
It can start with choosing to let go of the upset, and becoming informed about your options. It’s about making a few clear-headed and compassionate decisions about what’s sustainable for you and your family so that everyone can move on with their lives as unburdened as possible.
This is why I founded Conscious Divorce.
What if someone was available that you and your spouse could go to and they would guide you through the process and help you both avoid the pitfalls and challenges that come up in most other divorces?
In most cases, people don’t even realize this is an option. They hear “horror stories” from friends and relatives about their divorces and are encouraged to protect themselves and lawyer-up. This is where things get much more complicated than they need to be.
I’ve never been a fan of doing things just because that’s how it’s always done. I much prefer stepping back and seeing if we can rise above the level of thinking that has resulted in the apparent “problem” so we can see the solution. I firmly believe that every problem comes complete with the solution, it just takes a higher perspective to see it.
It is my responsibility to my clients to help them to rise above the murky waters of the conventional divorce and see that there are peaceful solutions that will work for them.
Michael C. Cotugno, Esq.
Attorney / Mediator / Founder of Conscious Divorce
Michael C. Cotugno, Esq.
What went into drafting that agreement, were many conversations with Michael in which, based on his many years of Family Law litigation experience, he was able to tell me when my expectations were unreasonable and what likely outcome would happen in court if I chose to fight on certain issues.”
“Prior to engaging with Michael, I had hired the type of lawyer one might call a “shark with teeth.” I learned very quickly that those types of lawyers bite in all directions and only want a fight. That is what causes irreparable pain and massive loss to your bank account.
My ex and I have a beautiful little girl. It was paramount to me that I treat this divorce as a temporary situation that is resolved quickly with fairness and as much heart as I could muster. Michael’s diverse and unique background in human psychology and law was JUST the magic sauce and heroic action I needed.
Now that the divorce is safely behind me, my ex and I enjoy a positive co-parenting relationship that could NOT have been achieved with my prior lawyer!!”
“”Fortunately I had Michael who not only supported me legally to avoid ligation (the cost and the time) but also spiritually and emotionally.
He kept me calm and never let my emotions get the best of me. He guided me through the toughest of times.
He was also very fair on fees and advised me of my options – and guided me from what could had been a very expensive and emotionally scarring litigation.”
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San Diego CA 92101
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