Do You Know the Transitions Legal Tagline?

Do You Know the Transitions Legal Tagline?

When I started Transitions Legal in 2013, I created a tagline that has served us well: dignified divorce driven by compassionate expertise.

Those were the words and concepts I felt were important to convey about my approach to family law. In fact, I named my firm Transitions Legal because I wanted to emphasize that I see divorce as a transition from one stage of life to another – neither good nor bad.

Over the years, I’ve built a name for this firm, and for my approach to family law. After nearly 10 years in business, I felt it was time to change our tagline to represent how we’ve evolved and changed, to embrace insight and innovation in our approach to conflict resolution.

Photo by Daniele Franchi on Unsplash

So my marketing guru, Lynne Golodner, and I embarked on a quest to fashion a new tagline, that better represents where we are today.

I was surprised to realize that I could not come up with anything better than what we already have!! A tagline is supposed to serve as a quippy, memorable phrase that explains what we do and how we do it. What matters to us. What values this firm is built on.

Dignified divorce driven by compassionate expertise really says it all. The one thing I could change would be the word divorce – though I won’t, because I like the alliteration – only because we do so much more than divorce. Family Law is a far-reaching category of law that addresses any legal quandary or need in a family situation.

So why did I seek this change, then?

Because I wanted to make sure that key concepts were in our marketing messaging. Ideas like curiosity, innovation and insight.

But when I looked at my Guiding Principles, I saw that these concepts were already embedded in Transitions Legal language. My Guiding Principles emphasize how I talk to every client, ask questions and use insight to guide how we approach client cases.

Photo by Patrik Michalicka on Unsplash

I reviewed my Mission Statement, too, and was thrilled to see that these ideas were already there, too!

I consistently operate with insight to learn my clients’ needs and guide them based on what they want to achieve. One key question on my intake form is, what are your goals.

The Our Family in Two Homes workbook, a resource which I encourage all my clients to use, helps people more clearly define their goals. It’s easy to say my goal is to make sure my kids are taken care of. Or make sure I have financial security. But what does that mean?

What does it look like for your kids to be feeling safe and secure? What does it look like to have financial security?

Such questions are not as easy to answer once you start digging into specifics. I’ve asked those questions, and the resources I’m using now are consistent with what I’ve always been doing.

So we are keeping our tagline! With almost 10 years in business, I am encouraged that the marketing messaging I initially created serves us still as we’ve grown and expanded. We are steeped in our values and approach. We are consistent. We know who we are.

What I do is different from other attorneys. I am really good at Mediation, and I’ve been studying the Insight Approach to Conflict Resolution in a year-long course, called “The Curious Mediator,” with educator, Jacinta Gallant.

This has made me sensitive to curiosity and the importance of asking questions, followed by focused listening. Many family law attorneys and mediators take a directive approach, working through the case to get it done.

But that’s not how we operate at Transitions Legal.

I embraced Collaborative Divorce long before it was a common approach in Family Law circles in Michigan. Even Collaborative Practice has changed!

Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

Since the Collaborative Movement started in 1990, and has been in Michigan approximately 18 years, we’ve learned that we can expand and evolve the model to better support our clients. Which should be our focus in the practice of law no matter what.

My marketing coach, Lynne Golodner, has always taught me that a tagline should be a pithy statement that is memorable, so that when a potential client learns of our firm, they know immediately what we are about.

We are about gaining insight so that we can innovate in the way we approach family law. Insight is a step deeper than knowledge. I help clients know themselves, their values, their intentions, based on a variety of factors – lifestyle, social affiliations, culture and background and more. From there, they can move forward with clarity.

When you’re thinking “should I get divorced,” you’re sitting in an uncomfortable place. Choosing a firm that will allow you to be dignified, where you will be led with compassion by experts in the field of family law, should be a comfort.

Dignified Divorce Driven by Compassionate Expertise. That’s what Transitions Legal stands for. That’s what we do.

How to Achieve Civility in Divorce

How to Achieve Civility in Divorce

How to Achieve Civility in Divorce

Recently, I coordinated a program for collaborative practitioners with the Great Lakes Civility Project. It was a 90-minute virtual Civility Session, where we explored what civility is, why we need it in these trying times for our country, and how each of us can begin to build civility into our existing relationships. (Watch the session here.)Civility Project Logo

I had participated in Civility Sessions before, which is why I felt it was important to bring it to my colleagues in the Collaborative Practice sphere. By definition, collaborative practitioners seek ways to compromise, to find common ground, to create solutions that serve all involved. And yet, even we at times have trouble always being civil.

Frankly, don’t all people?

In the situation of a divorce, emotions run high and vulnerabilities do, too. My clients and their soon-to-be ex-spouses both have things to lose and things to gain as the marriage ends, and sometimes winning feels like redemption if we are sad and feel rejected by the breakup. But winning is not always the best outcome.

What Stephen Henderson and Nolan Finley of the Civility Project teach is that all good people want the same outcomes – they just differ in how they will get there. I believe that’s true in divorce, too. Even when we are hurt by a marriage ending, possibly initiated by the other person, we want happiness, prosperity, security and to know that we are worthy of love. In the temporary fog of divorce, we can forget that the relationship might be over but both people’s lives (and the lives of their children) are ongoing and meaningful.

When people divorce, they can’t possibly agree on everything. Frankly, during the marriage, it’s unlikely that they agreed on everything! We all have different perspectives on everything from money to parenting, and I tell my clients that they didn’t agree while married, after the divorce, they’ll agree even less and have less control over the decisions their spouse is making.

The principles of civil discourse, as presented by Nolan and Stephen, are as follows:

  • A conversation is not a competition. Nor is it intended to convert the other person to your way of thinking.
  • Set honest goals for a conversation.
  • Learn to listen fully – which means not jumping in with a retort when the other person stops speaking. It means, asking follow-up questions and regurgitating what they said after they said it, so you know you’ve truly heard it.
  • See the person behind their politics. In a divorce setting, I’d say, see the person behind the breakup. See them as human if you can. It’s the only way to have fair and easy interactions.

Taking it one step further from just a civil conversation, in a co-parenting situation, you have to be more accepting of your ex-spouse’s different beliefs or values. All people come to their beliefs on the basis of experiences and values and all people make decisions that they think are going to serve them, their family, their community. So when your ex makes a decision for the kids that you wouldn’t, it doesn’t mean they’re evil or out to get you. It means they parent differently from you.

Whether in the professional sphere, or in our relationships, we could all stand to become more civil. If civility were the goal, how different would our lives be?

Introducing Our Family in Two Homes – a divorce resource now offered by Transitions Legal!

Introducing Our Family in Two Homes – a divorce resource now offered by Transitions Legal!

Introducing Our Family in Two Homes – a divorce resource now offered by Transitions Legal!

If I had a resource like Our Family in Two Homes (OFTH) when I was getting married and raising children, I would have been so supported!

It never occurred to me way back when, nor does it to most people, to think through and articulate my values, my perspectives, and my beliefs on parenting, partnership, finances and more – and if I had, I bet I could have avoided many marital arguments or parenting disconnects.

Most people don’t really think through these things when it comes to the most important relationships of our lives because it’s just not embedded in our culture to do so. Think about all the romantic movies you’ve enjoyed in your life, which painted a picture of relationships as easy, automatic and synergistic. That rarely happens in real life.

Of course, I see couples when things have gone so wrong, they’ve given up hope that they can stay together. Nonetheless, I am excited to offer OFTH as a unique resource to help couples who are contemplating divorce, already decided to split or going through mediation.

They begin by going through pages 1-13 of the workbook, where they’ll find questions to help them get in touch with what is important to them for the divorce process. These pages cover communication, trust, emotions, values, expression tendencies and more.

It goes so much deeper than the kids or the house. What I love about this resource is how it helps clients discover their personal and collective core values and decision-making preferences. There is a lot of work people can do on their own before they come to an attorney, and this work helps them be more efficient with their attorney, which can sometimes reduce overall legal costs and time spent negotiating.

An example of this is when a client comes to me and insists they want to keep the house, but they’re not sure they can afford to do so, I have to dig deep with them to determine first what is important to them about the house. Then we explore the feelings behind it. That can take a lot of time at billable rates! I enjoy doing this kind of work with my clients. I am also aware that some clients are watching their money. This can save them on fees that might be needed further down the road, or better yet for their kids’ college education.

But if the same client worked through this on their own with the workbook, they would save time spent with me, their attorney, and get moving on the actions required to facilitate their breakup.

I use OFTH in Collaborative Divorce cases and also in Mediation. Individuals can purchase the workbook directly from Transitions Legal, and in doing so, they also get three consulting hours with me as they work through it.

The goal is for people to understand themselves better and understand the divorce process more. Also, they gain insights in how they interact and communicate, which helps an attorney know what they are dealing with in the case. They can draw out an introverted spouse or respectfully ask an extroverted spouse to give the other person some time to speak.

There are, of course, instances where using this workbook might help a couple to identify some of their nagging problems and decide to work on resolving them in an effort to stay together. That’s a lovely outcome when it happens!!

Regardless of the situation, anyone who uses this resource will gain clarity. They’ll understand elements of divorce like parenting time and custody, and know how these are established in the state of Michigan, where I practice. They’ll also know the background of the law to help them reach their decisions.

People often say, “I don’t know what I don’t know.” This resource gives you what you want to know.

To learn more about Our Family in Two Homes or to purchase the workbook-consulting package, click here.

Resolutions From a Family Law Attorney

Resolutions From a Family Law Attorney

It’s that time again, time to think about what went well this year, what went wrong, and what you want from the year to come.

2022 starts in a mere 11 days!! What are you going to do differently in 2022? What did you do well in 2021, that you want to carry forward into the year ahead?

I am going to enjoy the next few weeks because so many people decide to file for divorce when a new year begins. I know I’m going to hit the ground running as soon as I’m back in the office after new year’s.

So I thought I’d offer a little insight here for those who are resolving to start over, end a relationship, and embark on a next phase of their life in 2022. For those seeking to split in the year ahead, here are some things you can resolve to do:

Explore Your Options

There are many ways to divorce, and I help people through them all. If you know me at all, you know my preference is always Collaborative Divorce, whenever possible. That’s because Collaborative Divorce compiles a team of dedicated professionals who are committed to being on the same page and helping a couple end their marriage with dignity, agreement and mutual respect.

But if a Collaborative Divorce is not in your realm of possibility, consider Mediation or Litigation. In Mediation, I facilitate a conversation between divorcing parties, so that they can come to agreement on the principles of their split.

As I recently added the Our Family in Two Homes workbook to our offerings, this is a resource that I will give to each Mediation client to help them prepare to be effective in the conference room, to navigate difficult conversations and achieve acceptable outcomes. This workbook is part of a resource package I offer to people considering divorce – they pay a fee to get the workbook and three consulting hours with me, so we can walk through their values and priorities and help them identify if divorce is right for them and how to go about it.

In Litigation, we build our best case with an eye toward the courthouse. There is often research, discovery, and lots of negotiation (well, this is true in all modes of divorce), but ultimately in Litigation, when negotiations fail, a judge decides the way forward.

Whichever path you choose, know that you have options! Explore the different approaches to divorce on my website or let’s set up a call to explore together.

Educate Yourself About Your Finances

In many couples, one person manages the money, which can be nice when you’re in sync. But when you decide to split, the person who knew nothing about the numbers is often left feeling vulnerable and unaware – and that’s not good!

If you are the person who allowed your spouse to take care of the finances, you’d be wise to get up to speed on what you have, what you owe, and what your monthly obligations are. Speak to your financial professional – be it an accountant, financial planner or advisor, or investment consultant – and make sure you have all the documents, access to your accounts, and a clear picture of your financial situation.

Crucial to this conversation, of course, is a sense of your earning potential. If you’re working, that’s easy to figure out, but if you have been the primary homemaker, you’ll want to start thinking about how you can bring in money once you’re on your own. Don’t be afraid of finances!! Knowledge is power.

Take a Deep Look into What You Value and What’s Important to You

Now is a great time to consider what you’ll want when you divvy things up with your partner. If you have children together, how will you want to manage parenting time? Will there be any sticky points, and if so, what are you willing to give up to get your top priorities?

Businesses often articulate their corporate values as part of their mission and vision. It helps clarify their work, and communicate to customers what they stand for. It’s a good idea for everyday individuals to do this, too. Once you know what you value (which the Our Family in Two Homes workbook can help identify), you can make conscious decisions about your next steps.

Think About How You Respond in Stressful Situations

Are you a yeller? The strong, silent type? Do you avoid conflict? Create it? Will you be tied in knots when the negotiation gets tricky? Will you lose your appetite and want to take to your bed rather than confront the discomfort of a divorce?

Knowing how you handle stress is super important as even the most amicable divorces come with built-in hardship and challenge! One client was constantly tied in knots during the six months of her divorce and ended up dropping two dress sizes. She even developed migraines for the first time in her life during the divorce as the stress overtook her rational mind and seeped into her body. Fortunately, she had a good support system of family and friends and also sought counseling to help her through the tough times.

Have an honest conversation with yourself before you embark on a divorce, so that you can be prepared and realistic about what lies ahead – and know how you’ll manage all the emotions that are likely to arise.

Commit to Dignity

No matter what happens next, dedicate yourself to being dignified every step of the way. Divorce can get ugly because people feel hurt and angry and all sorts of uncomfortable emotions. Knowing that the road may be rocky is the first step toward navigating it with ease. When you promise yourself, and the memory of your marriage, that you will remain dignified and respectful, both to your soon-to-be-ex and to yourself, you have a good chance of sticking with dignity the whole way through. And you’ll be so happy you did!

Trends in Gray Divorce

Trends in Gray Divorce

Trends in Gray Divorce

grey divorce

I’ve written before about how rates of divorce among couples age 50 and older are on the rise, and in fact they are continuing to increase!

Even as divorce rates across America are on the decline generally, this category of Gray Divorce, which is a specialty of our firm, is exploding.

It used to be that once you married and stayed with someone over several decades, it felt like you had to stick it out for the duration of your life. Not so anymore. It is becoming acceptable to divorce at any age, and people of advanced ages are finding that they have a lot of life left to live – and they want to do it the way they want it now.

The kids are grown. The parents are still young enough to do things, to travel, to have a new chapter to their lives, and so they are choosing to do so solo, if their partner is not at the same place of realization.

Even more so, in couples where one spouse battles mental illness, or even a physical illness, the going can get even tougher later in life. And, for couples who have endured an unhappy marriage, there may be a sense of obligation to take care of the ailing partner, but there may also be resentment for the idea of caring for someone who never really cared for them when they were in good health.

At Transitions Legal, we do not judge the reasons that a client comes to us wanting a divorce. We welcome them in and look at their case and if it is a fit for our practice, we take it on, without judgment. Our purpose is to support our clients to the fullest extent of our ability and help them transition from one stage of life to the next with ease and grace.

This trend of increasing cases in the Gray Divorce niche makes me wonder about how we look at marriage in America.

After a certain point, should we just stay together, even if the marriage has been disappointing, or lonely? Should we stay together despite bad behavior? Why do we put up with unhealthy situations?

Does the definition of marriage paralyze us from living meaningful and healthy lives? Even illness is not an excuse to stay and be treated poorly.

Later in life, it can be even harder for a person to make the decision to leave a marriage. They often take more time than younger people, but they may feel more secure in doing so because they have already been living on a retirement income and may feel confident about their financial future and dividing everything 50/50.

gray divorce
In younger divorces, the financials can be a great concern. In Gray Divorce, it’s more the emotional stuff that holds people up; the years of marriage weighs on people.

They often feel guilt for leaving after so many years. They wonder what their children will think, or how the split will affect their family.

It can be as contentious and complicated later in life as it is early on. There is really no easy time to end a marriage, but if you’ve decided it’s the right thing to do, the only way to go is forward.

Read more Collaborative Divorce Posts