My brilliant marketing guru Lynne Golodner pitched the idea to coincide with Valentine’s Day because media outlets are always looking for new ways to tell old stories. Forget flowers and chocolates – let’s invite a divorce attorney on the air to discuss how to show love to your ex.
Here is the very first “Loving Divorce” TV interview that I did, in 2013!
The idea was crazy enough to work, and we repeated it several times over the past decade, with great success. It’s not as crazy an idea as you might think. While at first blush, it seems like love is the last thing you might have for someone who broke your heart or whom you left, but hear me out.
Love can be preferential attachment – I choose you! – like we see in movies and romance novels. Or it can be something deeper, different and lasting. Love as universal identification – I see the humanness in you, and hope you see it in me.
When you’ve lived life with someone, whether for two years or twenty, there was good. You can’t deny it. Something drew you together, something kept you going, there were happy times and passionate moments and true partnership, even if it was brief.
Photo by Courtney Clayton on Unsplash
When we break up, though, we forget all the good and linger in the bad. We belabor the bad, frankly. We change the narrative so that the bad is the ONLY narrative of this love story, forever more.
That’s not fair to your history, and it’s certainly not fair to your partner. Yes, blocking out happy memories makes it easier to leave and easier to move on. But we must allow ourselves to embrace the whole story of our relationships in order to make peace with them and to learn how to do it better the next time around.
And, if you have children together, learning this way of loving your ex – your co-parent – is super important!! It’s not healthy for the children, nor for either of you, to stay mad at each other for years on end. To be bitter and resentful, to lash out every time you face a decision, an issue or an event where you both have to show up to shepherd your children through.
Accepting a different definition of LOVE for your ex-spouse, for the other parent of your children, for the person whose blood also runs through your children’s veins, well, it’s an act of generosity. Humility. Courage. And one that I encourage all my clients to consider.
Just as it’s a choice to remain married and devoted to a partner, it is a choice to look at an ex with fondness, with respect, or with disdain. You get to choose. Every single day. Just make the right choice.
Recently, I was reviewing some of the values and principles I shared when I sat down with Lynne Golodner of Your People LLC in 2013 to brand my new law firm. I said things like…
I have a very personal approach in law.
I do a lot of listening to get a feeling for the person and their issues.
The word compassion keeps coming to mind.
Mediation and collaboration have always been my thing.
It’s more than just a way to practice. It’s a way to work things out, outside of court, not be acrimonious.
a referral partner dinner in 2014
I did a happy dance when I read over these notes because it shows how consistent I’ve been in my legal career from the very beginning until today and beyond!!
For 10 years, these are the values which have driven the growth and expansion of Transitions Legal. The values on which the firm was built and continues to thrive and grow.
When I named my law firm, I knew I was choosing a non-traditional moniker, but I was fine with it because it expresses exactly what we do. We help clients through the legal aspects of important life transitions.
That word transitions has been important to me because it espouses my view on divorce: neither good nor bad, just a transition from one phase of life to the next. I don’t judge my clients. I help them emerge strong and with a clear focus on what can lie ahead.
I am thrilled to be celebrating ten years in business. We have grown again and again in the past decade, moved offices to fill more space, welcomed new team members, expanded our affiliations and certifications, and I am excited about what comes next.
Thank you to all of our clients for taking a risk on a non-traditional firm. They knew from the start that we heard them, we saw them, we understood what they needed, and we were dedicated to supporting their transitions fully and completely.
January has been dubbed “Divorce Month” in some circles because of the surge in divorce filings that happen after the new year. If you’re going to call it quits in 2023, here’s what you need to know and do to be prepared!
Decide HOW you want to divorce.
Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unspla
From Mediation to Collaborative Divorce to duking it out in Court, there are many ways to end a marriage. I prefer the first two options for my clients rather than Litigation because of the responsiveness, flexibility and respect Mediation and Collaborative Divorce can offer to couples. Yes, you’re splitting – but that doesn’t mean you have to do it viciously. Mediation and Collaborative Divorce offer more peace-focused, work-together ways to break up than appearing before a judge in a cold courtroom, virtually, and waiting for her to make decisions about you and your family. How you divorce can determine how you move forward after your divorce – especially if you have children.
Find an attorney.
Do your research online, ask friends for recommendations, check out attorney websites and make a short list of practitioners who seem to match your vibe and desired approach. Then email or call to set up introductory meetings to determine if the chemistry will work for you!
Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash
Not only the dollars you’ll lay out for representation, but the cost to your mental health if you choose a less responsive, more cantankerous approach. Identifying your priorities and values will help guide you to the right way to divorce, and if you choose a less combative path, you’ll likely pay less – not only in fees to experts, but in your time and well-being.
Get your house in order.
Before you divorce, you should have a sense of the assets in your marriage – including values, deeds and documentation for your house and other collective property. Gather documents for investments, businesses, tax returns, and other assets in advance. Come to the table prepared with information!
Learn the laws.
It never hurts to do a little online surfing to find out what the laws are in your state regarding divorce, custody, parenting time and marital assets. And of course, talk to your attorney about the laws. That way, you walk into the divorce process with realistic expectations for how your life might look after the split.
Do some career planning.
Whether you’ve worked the whole time or stayed at home raising kids, it’s wise to build a post-divorce budget, establish your own credit and financial accounts, and look for the type of work that will allow you to live on your own once your marriage ends. Don’t worry or be afraid – planning and researching can erase anxiety and concerns, and help you create a workable plan for your future. You may have to change your lifestyle, but at least you’ll know what you’re walking into!
You may want the divorce, or you may be hurt and angry that your spouse initiated the split – either way, do your best to get along, be kind and do not lash out. A divorce ignites lots of emotions – good people are often at their worst when going through a divorce. Keep your eye on the ball – a happy and livable outcome for you and your children, yes, even your adult children – and choose behaviors and words that will get you there.
The holiday season is upon us, and holidays can be a difficult time for divorced families!!
That’s because more and more people are feeling so possessive over their children and their time with their children that they have difficulty seeing a broader picture. If you alternate holidays – which is common in divorce – don’t lament that you won’t have your children with you on what was formerly a special day.
Instead, accept that it’s just a fact of life of divorce that you have to recreate some traditions — or create new traditions – to weather this major change. Things are not going to be the same. And people have to accept that it’s just part of the divorce.
A divorce is a change in family and marital status – for everyone involved. That means your way of living life will inevitably change – and not always to your liking.
But part of getting divorced is creating new ways to celebrate – not only holidays, but everything good in your life. And a lot of good remains.
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
So this season, ask family members to have your Christmas gathering at a different time if your kids won’t be with you on December 25th. Or plan a special celebration with you when your kids will be around.
Whatever traditions you can hold on to, do so, but if you can’t, create new traditions. And involve your children in coming up with ideas and observances, so that you can own them together!
If you have an amicable divorce, you can always try to celebrate together as a family. For some divorced couples, that will work.
If it doesn’t though, don’t lash out, lament or otherwise focus on what you’ve lost. Anxiety will ease when you accept the parameters of your Parenting Time Agreement, and communicate openly and well in advance of the holidays with your ex to create ease and understanding with your children.
Photo by menachem weinreb on Unsplash
When parents are ok with the situation, the kids will be too. So make sure to articulate as early as you can what can be expected for this season, so there are no surprises.
And if you don’t have your children for a special day, do something good and fun for yourself. Make a Thanksgiving meal with friends. Pour bubbly and bake appetizers for New Year’s Eve. See a play on Christmas, or go ice skating for Chanukah.
Figure out ways to make it all OK rather than compete for time and attention. That way, everyone wins and you can move forward with grace.
Divorce mediation is a true first love of mine, and that love informs all the other approaches to family law.
I have always loved mediating cases, even as I continued to practice in other ways. Litigation. Collaborative Divorce.
Mediation is different from the act of practicing law in that the Mediator is a neutral third party, whose role is to help divorcing couples discuss and resolve their disputes. This happens outside of court.
One method I use for Divorce Mediation is the Insight Approach. It comes pretty naturally to me because I’ve always been more curious when asking questions.
The idea of insight is to not have judgment, to ask questions to get at what really matters to the clients. To help them make decisions and get to a resolution that they’re both happy with.
Let’s say a mother and father are at an impasse, and very angry at each other. I can take them into separate rooms and ask a simple question such as, what do you hope will be different if you are able to engage in an active conversation with the other person. Just asking the question gives them pause to reflect.
Many mediators just want to get the job done. This is true in any profession! But such an approach is at odds with the very nature of mediation.
You can succeed in mediation by telling people what they must do. But you haven’t really mediated their case. You’ve just finished it for them.
What about when you can’t get people to find a way to work things out, and you all agree going to trial is not a good idea?
That’s why I look at Divorce Mediation as a process that needs to involve the engagement of both parties.
I ask four questions from the Insight Approach, which I keep on my desktop at all times. They are a really good way to start a conversation with clients to get them thinking about what’s important to them.
I’ve used the Insight method during a Collaborative Divorce meeting, too, by asking a question instead of making an assumption.
It’s imperative to not make assumptions. We often ask questions with assumption as part of the question. A lot of us are problem-solvers, especially attorneys, and we come with good intentions. But if we don’t provide all the ideas or feel like it’s our responsibility to solve all the problems, it opens us up to creative solutions that fit that particular situation.
Because I love Mediation so much, the mission and vision of my law firm guide us to provide a different approach when we must litigate. Someone who is not litigious can end up in court, and they need someone who shares their values and understands why we’re doing what we’re doing and can handle it with compassion. A lot of litigation attorneys are missing compassion.
But at Transitions Legal, we are dedicated to bringing compassion, insight, and listening to every case. And that comes from my expertise in Mediation.