The Changing Legal Landscape

The Changing Legal Landscape

The Changing Legal Landscape

During this time of pandemic shutdowns, legal process and procedure were forced to change.

Suddenly, we had no choice but to practice differently, and the court system had to accept drastic changes to legal processes. The way we always knew to practice law simply does not work in a pandemic.

Is Change Good?

I’ve pondered whether this change prompted all of us in the legal field to become more creative. Or did it just bring us into the 21st century? Are we finally embracing a new face of law that was inevitable, but which we resisted until we had no choice?

This happened in a lot of industries and fields. Companies that did not embrace work-from-home did so quickly and completely to protect the health of employees and clients.

Surprisingly, they found productivity did not wane! In many cases, productivity improved because people were trusted to get work done and do it well.

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How Divorce Law Happens

The legal field is an interesting mix of independent and communal work. A lot of my work happens in my office, on my computer, pulling research and precedent and templates to create motions, judgments, and other written pieces of legal process.

There is also work I cannot do alone. For litigation cases, I must appear in court, beside my client.

Their spouse must appear as well, with his or her attorney. We appear in a court room, before a judge, with the courtroom clerk, Friend of the Court representatives and witnesses, too.

That’s a lot of people in a small space. In normal times, there are also other people awaiting their turn before the judge

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Photo by Headway on Unsplash

We all show up in a closed room without windows, waiting for our turn to be heard.

That’s just one example of how divorce law can be a very in-person process. But in a pandemic, all that had to change to keep people safe.

We’ve discovered that cases get done anyway, even in totally unprecedented conditions.

I wonder, will divorce law remain a distance activity?

The court has started live streaming legal proceedings out of necessity. Might we continue once it’s safe to gather again?

A New Approach to Family Law

Or, are we finding new efficiencies that we want to keep going forward, independent of public health mandates?

People are historically resistant to change. We know what we know, and we are comfortable in familiar routines.

But change is the only constant, and when something changes, we end up better for it.

There is no question that something is lost when we cannot gather together. But perhaps something is gained, too.

Read more about the Legal Process

Emotionally Unavailable

Emotionally Unavailable

Emotionally Unavailable

People divorce for all sorts of reasons.

Some are in truly intolerable situations, like abuse, addiction, or infidelity. Others feel a disconnect between the relationship they have today and the one they entered into many years ago.

That could be because the relationship ran its course and both people evolved into individuals who are no longer compatible, or it could be because they were never truly compatible in the first place.

When a client tells me their partner was “emotionally unavailable,” chances are good that he or she always was like that; they just may not have recognized it early on. Being emotionally unavailable is a real thing and it’s common.
emotionally unavailable
It’s the kind relationship where you feel empty and alone, even though your partner is right there. It’s where you go to therapy, alone or together, to try to come closer, to try to understand the disconnects, to try to repair the rifts between you, and nothing seems to work.

Many couples stay together out of stubbornness – a desire to make this thing work, no matter what. Others stay because they want to keep their family unit together. And still others decide to end the relationship and move on to brighter horizons.

Emotional unavailability is not a lack in you. It’s that your partner simply cannot get as close or open as you would like. They just can’t do it. And then you have to decide what your next step is.

Being with an emotionally unavailable partner often feels like being alone. You can decide to accept your partner’s nature and find that emotional connection with a friend. That works for some.

Relationships, especially ones that last for years and decades, evolve and change, as do the people in them. I believe marriage is a commitment every single day to stay with the person you’re married to – with all of their faults and oddities.

Many people in relationships like these simply need to find different ways to communicate. Scratch the accusatory tone and adopt a way to speak your truth in a loving and non-confrontational way.

Some emotionally unavailable people have spent their lives being attacked and told their ideas or essence are not worthy. Why, then, would they open up? Showing the love you have for them in a way that is safe and welcoming can be just what your partner needs to change the habit.

I’m not saying it’s always possible. But it’s worth a try.

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Navigating Divorce During the Coronavirus Crisis

Navigating Divorce During the Coronavirus Crisis

Navigating Divorce During the Coronavirus Crisis

coronavirus crisis

When people go through a divorce, their lives turn upside down temporarily, and it can seem like it will never end. Now, all people around the world are experiencing an unprecedented time of uncertainty due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Already-divorced families may wonder how to navigate parenting time or other related court orders during the current shutdowns and stay-at-home initiatives. We wrote this letter for our clients to offer some guidance at this time. We look forward to connecting soon when the situation resolves!

Dear Transitions Legal clients,

During these unprecedented times, due to the COVID19 situation, you may be wondering how shutdowns, social distancing, and new initiatives every day may impact your ongoing family law case, or your existing parenting time situation. Please be assured that we at Transitions Legal are continuing to work on your case during this unsettling time, following state and federal precautions to slow the spread of the virus and maintain health.

On March 16th, we received a statement from the Michigan Supreme Court on matters concerning children in family law situations followed by Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Order issued on March 23rd. In short, parenting time and child support orders are to continue unencumbered during this time as much as possible.

The Stay Home, Stay Safe Order does not prohibit parents from transporting their children to the other parent’s residence to comply with custody and parenting time orders and agreements.

Coronavirus Crisis

Photo by Mesut Kaya on Unsplash

Should situations arise that make the typical parenting time challenging, or should there be a concern for the health of either parent or any of the children, there are next steps mapped out in the Supreme Court’s letter.

It is our hope that during these times especially, co-parents will come together for the health and safety of their children and reach an agreement.

coronavirus crisis
We encourage you to increase telephone and video communication where the child is not able to continue the regular parenting time. Additionally, assure each other that there will be make-up parenting time once health and medical concerns resolve.

At this time of uncertainty, it is easy to feel fearful and anxious. None of us knows how this situation will unfold or when it will resolve.

But it will resolve, and we will come through this together. If you need to talk or release any of these fears, we at Transitions Legal are here for you. Please email or call to let us know how you’re doing. In the meantime, stay well.

Read more Family Law posts

Letting Go of Perfection

Letting Go of Perfection

Letting Go of Perfection

No marriage is perfect. That’s the honest truth. And so, by transitive deduction, we must admit that no divorce is perfect, either.

So if you’re trying to decide whether to divorce or stay together, don’t base it on the fact that your marriage isn’t perfect.

Marriage – or any relationship, really – is about deciding to choose this person today, tomorrow and the next day. It’s a choice you make every morning when you wake up.

It’s wanting to be married to this person as they are today, and not hoping for them to improve or reach their potential.

This is so important to remember!

Any relationship is about the work and the process and the journey. Ups and downs, highs and lows, happinesses and disappointments. If you do decide to divorce, know going in that every divorce is different, and yours likely won’t go entirely the way you want it to.

A divorce that is perfect for you is going to be different for someone else. The process, the outcome, all those things will unfold differently.

It will help you if, going through the process, you can let go of what you thought might be the perfect divorce, or how you envisioned splitting up, co-parenting, or other future states once you part ways.

Especially never having gone through it before, at least not with this mate, these children, at this time, accept that what is best for everybody might look different than what you envisioned.

I’ve found that in every part of life, it’s important to let go of some imagined ideal – unless we want to live in a state of perpetual disappointment.

Most people divorcing want to settle as amicably as possible rather than beat it out in court during a long and winding trial. If you let go of expectations, engage in reasonable negotiations, and try to forgive – yourself and your partner – you have a good chance of achieving that. Aim for the reasonable resolution, not a perfect one.

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Collaborative or Litigation?

Collaborative or Litigation?

Collaborative or Litigation?

Wondering which approach to divorce is right for you? Let me help.

While I practice both and have been an attorney for more than 30 years, I always prefer Collaborative Divorce if it’s a possibility, and I’ll tell you why.

Collaborative Divorce

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First, Collaborative Divorce is a more humane approach to dissolving a marriage. Both parties and their attorneys agree to a team approach to divorce. There will also be divorce financial planners, therapists, divorce coaches or someone just looking out for the kids present, and we all work together toward the common, shared outcome of the entire family. It’s not easy, but it is definitely satisfying and less stressful for all involved.

However, I realize not every divorcing family is cut out for a Collaborative process. If one person is playing dirty, wants to pull a fast one and take all the money or property, or is otherwise dishonest, untrustworthy, or downright abusive, Collaborative Law is not the answer.

For it to work, both clients have to be completely transparent and trust the process. 

We ask our Collaborative Divorce clients to put hurt feelings and bitterness aside in favor of the bigger picture and best interests of their family. Many people are just not ready, or not able, to be this forward thinking when the idea of divorce is so fresh.


In those cases, and in cases where someone is mean, dishonest, or abusive, litigation may be the preferred path. That’s a hard-lined, no-nonsense approach to family law that argues your case relentlessly until the clients agree to an outcome usually through mediation or a judge in court decides on the outcome following a trial.

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Trial is the last step in the litigation, it is the process we go through when the parties cannot resolve the issues through any other means – be it mediation, arbitration, negotiation, or settlement reached in their attorneys’ offices.

There are many couples who don’t get along and don’t play fair who are still able to agree on a settlement, guided by well-meaning, sharp attorneys. Trial, as part of the litigation process, is not always necessary.
Litigation is a valuable tool in the right situations.

Regardless of which path you choose for your divorce, remember to take the high road and truly listen to your lawyer’s recommendations. We’ve seen so many cases in the family law arena, and we know what is needed to arrive at a livable, workable settlement that will benefit you and your family.

Read more Collaborative Divorce posts