I’ve spent years honing my legal practice and the way I approach family law for a reason: I want to make my client’s divorce experience comfortable and more productive for them; and I want the process that my client invests so much energy in to have a greater purpose and more positive impact than simply getting to the end – dissolving their marriage.
That’s why I embrace the Insight Approach for conflict resolution in my practice and use it in Mediation, Collaborative Divorce and even in Litigation cases. (Well, frankly, I use it in everything I do, personal and professional. Once you are steeped in the Insight Approach, you take it with you everywhere!)
But I sought out this training, and became an expert in Collaborative Divorce, because I believe both of these wise methods pave a path that makes it easier to move forward after a breakup, for all involved.
For parents, the Insight Approach causes them to pause and reflect to consider what they know about themselves, the other parent and their children, and then to make decisions with this knowledge as their north star. It encourages clients to let the other parent lead, if necessary, to achieve a satisfying outcome for both parties. It embraces a learning process driven by what is truly best for the kids and not let ego get in the way – which happens way too often in divorce.
Basically, I want to limit the drama and expand the possibilities for co-parenting with success.
And for clients whose children are adults or who never had children, using my Insight Approach training, my client will also understand what is important to them and what they value at a deeper level to help guide their decision making throughout the process.
As attorneys skilled in the Insight Approach for conflict resolution we facilitate discussions between parties in the direction they want to take their family post-divorce. Thoughtful, productive, respectful and mutually beneficial conversations.
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It’s not without challenge – not by a long shot! Divorce is a breakup. There are emotions, hurt feelings, old wounds and those can certainly create obstacles, but the right process deals with them.
When we set out with a deliberate desire to keep it peaceful and productive, we can and do achieve this! And the Insight Approach is the best way I’ve found to make this happen.
In the end, everyone gets to a good place. With this method, I can bring out the underlying ability everyone has deep within, to respect the other person and bring them to a healthy compromise where they are both happy and ready to move forward.
It’s important to understand why a particular family law attorney practices in the way that they do. When a client meets with me for an introductory meeting, I explain my perspective, my approach, my track record, and why I offer the specific methods for divorce that I do. I hope potential clients ask these questions of ALL lawyers they interview.
I’m sure not everyone does. And that’s why I’m writing about it here. Because the more we know, the more possibilities we have to end up content, empowered and ready to move on.
It’s no secret that we are big fans of Collaborative Divorce here at Transitions Legal, and this blog will tell you why.
First and foremost, Collaborative Divorce is the most humane approach to the legal process of ending a marriage. It’s in the definition! Professionals trained in Collaborative Practice come together to facilitate the dissolution of a marriage.
Collaborative Practice is a way of resolving disputes without ending up in a courtroom and asking a judge to decide how you’ll move forward. This approach originated in the Midwestern United States in the mid-20th century and the movement, and it popularity are growing every day.
Both people must agree to the Collaborative approach to divorce. And then, once they do, each spouse hires a collaboratively-trained lawyer to represent them.
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But there’s more. Joining the lawyers and the clients on the Collaborative Divorce team are mental health professionals, financial professionals, business and tax experts, and sometimes even advocates for the children. Whichever professionals will be most helpful in the case.
All participants in the Collaborative process sign a contract agreeing to this approach. Today, there are about 22,000 lawyers trained in Collaborative Law worldwide, with more than 50,000 cases already completed according to this method.
Even judges are on board with Collaborative Divorce, according to the American Bar Association. That’s because the process keeps courts from being cluttered with needless litigation.
Other benefits of Collaborative Divorce include…
A high level of privacy and confidentiality
More client control over the process
An opportunity to be creative and innovative with settlement details
A focus on building positive, fruitful post-divorce relationships
Prioritizes the children
A variety of productive perspectives and guidance
Learn more about Collaborative Divorce the Transitions Legal way here.
Divorce attorneys are fond of saying that they see good people at their worst. Indeed, it’s hard to bring your best self to divorce – especially if you did not initiate the breakup!
Still, a divorce is a legal transaction, not an emotional healing. An attorney represents the legal aspects of the divorce and while the Transitions Legal team is compassionate and guided by the Insight Approach to dispute resolution, no matter what method a client chooses for their split, it can be hard to succeed on our clients’ behalf if they are emotionally wrecked during the process.
So, how do you bring your best self to your divorce?
Articulate Your Values & Priorities. Tapping into the intellectual perspective to divorce can help quiet the emotional turmoil for a time. One great way to do this is to write out your values and priorities. What is a must-have and where could you compromise? Knowing what your optimal outcome looks like helps guide a smoother process and can be grounding for the client. Our firm’s resource workbook, Our Family in Two Homes and for those with adult children, Our Family in a Few Homes, assists our clients greatly in this process.
Consider Collaborative Divorce. This team-based approach is expansive and includes a mental health professional or divorce coach to guide the emotional aspects of the divorce process. Its aim is to avoid the stress and combative stance of the courtroom.
Seek Support. Anyone facing a divorce would be wise to engage with a mental health professional before, during and after a divorce. This person provides an outlet for your emotional unrest and can help you cope through the various, personal emotional challenges you will face during and after your divorce. If you aren’t sure who to turn to, the Transitions Legal team can offer recommendations for mental health professionals that we trust.
View Divorce as a Transition, Not a Failure. It’s in the name of our firm! We believe divorce is a transition between life stages, not good, not bad, and certainly not a failure. Not every marriage lasts forever. Once you embrace this notion, you can ease up on the blame – whether it’s directed at yourself or your spouse.
The very name Transitions Legal on my law firm door makes a statement that we remain judgment-free during divorce.
When a client walks in our door or calls on the phone, we don’t form an opinion. We listen. We take notes. We ask questions. We hear what the client wants to have happen. We compile information, do research, ask more questions, form a case.
Judgment never factors into our divorces. We are here to do a job – help a client achieve a desired outcome. We are here to guide people legally through the process of divorce and other family law situations.
We are not here to judge or offer personal opinion on anyone’s relationships. We remain judgment-free.
There used to be an automatic nose-wrinkling judgment in America (and elsewhere) when people admitted to being divorced. We are fortunate to live in a time when divorce is acceptable. And possible.
It wasn’t long ago, though, when you’d say you were divorced, and the automatic response would be, “I’m sorry.”
Well, no! What if the divorce was a good thing? It often is.
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Divorce happens when a relationship has run its course or is no longer healthy for the people within it. Divorce is a legal option to end a marriage that isn’t working, or which causes more strife than support.
Divorce is an answer to a situation, a resolution, a way out. Neither good nor bad.
Which is why we insist on remaining judgment-free during divorce, and express this value in the name of the law firm, in our marketing messaging and mission statement, and in the way we discuss cases with clients and team members.
Think about what happens when you judge a situation: you assign your values to what is happening. You like it, you don’t like it, you pity a person, you champion them. You don’t notice and wonder, and you miss the opportunity to learn and offer support in a meaningful way.
Judgment changes from person to person, informed by their own background and belief system.
Which means judgment is subjective, always. And thus, it’s never truth.
This month in America, we see all kinds of stories about freedom and independence. This made me wonder if divorce is actually about freedom or, like the name on my door, transitions in life.
Because, a person can feel free within a marriage, right? And a person can feel caged, too.
Likewise, a single person can feel stunted or yearning, or independent and available. The legal state of a person’s relationship status has nothing to do, really, with freedom.
Maybe it’s a state of mind?
Certainly, in cases of domestic abuse or assault, a person can be in a very real situation where they are denied freedom of identity, movement or thought. In those cases, divorce can be a lifesaver, and a necessity. Every person should have the freedom to determine how they will live and with whom.
Beyond that, though, it’s important to realize that freedom is a choice, a perspective, a belief. We can limit our lives by believing that we don’t have options. Simply separating from a partner does not guarantee that a person will have any more freedom of thought, movement or opportunity than they had before. They must decide to make it so.
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When a divorce client comes to Transitions Legal, we are careful to explain that they must set realistic expectations for the process ahead. There will be ups and downs, and emotions (plenty of them). Sometimes it will seem like an impossible and endless situation. Sometimes they will feel hurt by the proceedings, and by the person they called partner and love for so many years.
And by the end, most clients feel a mixture of relief, possibility and optimism, but sometimes the hurt and raw emotion continues. It’s not always over when the judge pounds their gavel or the ex-spouses sign the divorce judgment.
To be free of sadness, loneliness, hurt and betrayal is something one works at. It takes time to heal, and sometimes help is needed to get there, fully.
That’s why I think I’m saying that divorce is about transitions (hence our firm name!) and not necessarily freedom and independence. Freedom is something to shoot for and which everyone can attain, but it does not merely come with a divorce.