Know Your Divorce Options

Know Your Divorce Options

Know Your Divorce Options

Clients often wonder which path to take when divorcing, as there are many routes to go – litigation, mediation, Collaborative Divorce, or a DIY online quickie. Here’s a way to understand each option and when you should opt for one over the other.

LITIGATION

If you and your spouse have agreed on the details of the divorce and are just ready to file and get it done, litigation may be the way to go.

Litigation is a court-based way to divorce, where the case goes before a judge, who has to sign off for it to be final. Litigation does not always mean a trial!

But sometimes it does. There are other reasons to go the litigation route, such as when one partner is narcissistic and there’s no agreeing to anything. The only choice in such a situation is to take it to court – get in, get out, and know there will be no compromises with such a person.

 Another reason couples opt for litigation is when they cannot agree on anything and they need a judge to make a decision for them. It’s definitely not the best thing for a family, but sometimes you have no other choice. In such situations, neither person will be happy, and a judge will never know your family the way you do. Litigation basically stops the bleeding.

COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE

This is my favorite way to practice because it’s out of the court system and driven by the needs and desires of the couple and the family.

 In Collaborative Divorce, you must listen to the other person and agree to a resolution. It’s a method that can be good for every type of case because it’s not a kumbaya situation, but it does take everyone and everything into account.

 Collaborative Divorce can be tough, but it’s always humane. Underlying problems would blow up in court, but in Collaborative Divorce, your team will guide you through emotions to the rational side for negotiation and resolution. The team makes a difference.

MEDIATION

Mediation requires compromise. This is a good format for two people who are comfortable communicating with each other and both have a good idea of the marital assets.

Michelle Sarao

Opt for mediation if neither of you is afraid to speak up. While you might not be that comfortable one-on-one, you’ll go through this in a room with a neutral trust third party who can say the things that need to be said.

Mediation is good for couples who understand themselves and will do individual work to bring back to the room with the mediator.

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Don’t Make the Same Mistake Twice

Don’t Make the Same Mistake Twice

Don’t Make the Same Mistake Twice

When people get out of a relationship, they vow to never make the same mistakes in the next relationship.

They think they have such clarity, such vision about what went wrong and what they won’t do or tolerate again. They vow to never divorce a second or third time, to not have similar fights, to choose a different kind of partner.

But let’s be honest – how often does that happen?

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The key to avoiding subsequent divorces and bad relationship choices is taking time to be alone before rushing into your next relationship. Give yourself time to know yourself after the first breakup, and really ponder what your part was in the dissolution of the marriage.

You are more likely to repeat the same mistakes, in your next relationship, if you don’t gain that clarity and insight. It takes time to really think about.

Plus, it takes relationship mistakes to understand what you need in a relationship. So, what do the mistakes of the past tell you about what you need in the future?

The other thing about new relationships post-divorce is that, once you’ve committed to someone and spent a good number of years together, your needs and desires change and evolve. You aren’t the same person at 25 as you are at 45.

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Photo by Mikhail Nilov from Pexels

In early adulthood, we look to build a future with someone. Later in life, we look for different things in a relationship – like companionship and understanding.

I help a lot of clients through what is known as Gray Divorce – ending a marriage after age 50. At that point, they’ve amassed property and assets, they’ve likely had kids and raised them, and so what they want in a new relationship is a sense of peace and stability – not complication or tumult.

Family might still be important in those relationships, but you’re not looking to build a family together the same way as when you’re younger. You do, however, want your kids and their kids to like each of you and each other. There are a lot of details in subsequent relationships and time is required to make sure you’re in the right one.

The only way to not make the same mistakes over and over is to know yourself and take your time. There is no way around it. After all, a relationship is a marathon, not a race – and you surely want to reach the finish line, don’t you?

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The Challenges of Virtual Lawyering

The Challenges of Virtual Lawyering

The Challenges of Virtual Lawyering

We are more than a year into pandemic protocols of varying levels, and one thing that seems here to stay is a reliance on Zoom and other virtual technologies that let us connect from a distance.

That’s a good thing, right? We can get our work done, see people’s smiling faces, move things forward without having to leave our homes or risk getting sick. Great.

But at what cost?

I’m not sure this is due to the pandemic, but I’ve noticed lately that nobody looks in each other’s eyes anymore. There is no real eye contact. Did this occur because of Zoom, where you’re forced to look up at your webcam to come across as looking directly at someone when really you’re not?

Or was it already a habit that predates this unusual time?

Regardless of its origins, when we lose eye contact, we lose human connection.

Personally, while I appreciate all the possibilities that Zoom brings us, I find it distracting – I never know where to look. The mechanics of the technology make me feel more distant from my client, the other attorney, the judge, whoever is on the other end of the conversation.

That does not happen in court or in a conference room.

In those settings, not only can I see whether the other people are looking my way or at something else, I can feel their energy and the chemistry between us.

And so I began to wonder what our relationships lose, and society in general, when we are together less often, and rarely peering into someone’s eyes.

Looking directly into someone’s eyes is an intense, human connection. When people are testing credibility, they question why another person is always looking down or just can’t look you in the eye. Does this indicate they have a hard time being honest or revealing the truth?

Because if you can be secretly multitasking during a virtual meeting, not only are you not looking into someone’s eyes, your mind is somewhere else. Everything is lost.

And there is a chance this won’t get better if companies and professionals continue to work at home.

I’ve spoken to young professionals who think it’s ridiculous to have everyone in one physical place. There is something great about the freedom to work from anywhere, but there is merit in going to the office and not sitting home alone every day. People got dogs during COVID because they didn’t want to be lonely.

A hybrid might work, if during the time we spend in company with others, we really focus on connecting.

As for me, I prefer to meet with my clients and settle cases in person. I believe it’s the best way to know my sincerity, to feel comfortable with the person you’re counting on to see this process through. I owe it to my clients to be front, center, and attentive. And it’s only fair that everyone else involved in their case – judge, opposing counsel, and anyone else – is, too.

It’s easier for clients to obscure details and hide truths when you meet at a distance. I can’t do the case justice if I don’t know everything. We all win when we can truly connect at a deep and honest level.

Good work comes from real connections. In real-time. On a foundation of trust.

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Co-Parenting vs. Parallel Parenting – Which Is Best?

Co-Parenting vs. Parallel Parenting – Which Is Best?

Co-Parenting vs. Parallel Parenting – Which Is Best?

I am really big on the idea of co-parenting and I use that word a lot as I’m sure other family law attorneys do.

But recently, a Friend Of The Court referee told me that not everyone can co-parent and it is fine to “parallel” parent. This got me thinking about my word choice and what it means to me.

When I use the word “co-parenting,” my intention is that parents can get along for the purpose of their children – not that they do everything the same. 

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There should be a level of cooperation between parents, whether that means flexibility so children can attend special events with the other parent on one parent’s parenting time, or agreeing on extracurricular activities.

Those are some examples of quality co-parenting. Others might include striving to have some of the same house rules – the same bedtime or the same ideas about food and snacks. Of course, it’s unlikely that divorced parents are going to do things together or even necessarily in the same way.

But similar overall structure for your kids is important because it sends a message of consistency. I know this is hard. In a divorce, obviously, you ended your marriage because it no longer worked. You did not want to be together. Perhaps you could not get along.

So how can anyone expect divorced parents to be in agreement on how to raise their children?

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The thing is, all of this is a choice. We choose to divorce, and we chose to become parents. We do not stop being parents when the marriage ends, and it is wholly unfair to the children – and sometimes even damaging – to throw innocent children into the chaos of emotional decisions and acting out by adults who are trying to start over. I really don’t think it’s asking too much to have some meeting of the minds of what children need.

Now I am going to contradict everything written above to acknowledge that there is also a school of thought that parents are never going to get along, even when they are married. They will always do different things with their children, even when they stay together and remain in a loving relationship.

They might teach their kids different things – one might do homework with them in the morning while one leans toward evening. Over the past year, I’ve seen parents who have different perspectives on COVID-related questions – one parent thinks it’s ok to have a pod of friends over or that the child plays with outside, but the other parent does not believe that’s wise.

Frankly, in neither situation might the children be harmed, but the risk may go beyond the children to the other parent, grandparents or other caregivers who also spend time with the children. It becomes complicated during these interesting times.

Generally, even when parents don’t agree, when they engage in what is called parallel parenting, they still do what they believe is in their children’s best interests. It is more difficult to look beyond their own inner circle.

I just believe the ideal to strive for is co-parenting. Then that “inner circle,” is more inclusive and encompassing, and does consider the effect their decision may have on the other parent and his ability to parent their children.

In the end, we must remember that even if you stayed married to the other parent, you would not have been in complete unison. We have different styles. A relationship is comprised of two individual people who bring different perspectives and inclinations to the partnership.

It can be as simple as how you give a child a bath. One parent lets the child wash his hair himself while the other parent sees it as great bonding time and massages the shampoo into the child’s hair. Either way, the child still gets clean; and each parent has their own individual experience building their own relationship with the child.

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An American administration overflowing with women

An American administration overflowing with women

An American administration overflowing with women

President Joe Biden has appointed more women to his Administration than any that came before him. And, with a female Vice President, he seems to be sending an important message to the American populace.

That message is that women matter, and women can and should lead. I wholeheartedly agree!!

As history has kept women in neat little boxes and domestic roles, what were we really afraid of? The time has come to reckon with this notion of gender divide and do away with it once and for all.

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Photo by Gayatri Malhotra on Unsplash

The right person for the job is the right person for the job, regardless of superficial details like gender, race, sexual orientation, politics or economic origin.

President Biden has nominated 12 women for Cabinet and Cabinet-level positions, including eight women of color. He also published The Biden Agenda for Women, which states as a priority, among other, full inclusion of and equality for women.

“Women — particularly women of color — have never had a fair shot to get ahead in this country,” says the President’s agenda. “Today, too many women are struggling to make ends meet and support their families, and are worried about the economic future for their children. This was true before the COVID-19 crisis, but the current global health crisis has exacerbated these realities for women.”

administration

Photo by Gayatri Malhotra on Unsplash

It goes on to explain:

“For Biden, it’s a simple proposition: his daughter is entitled to the same rights and opportunities as his sons. He believes every issue is a women’s issue — health care, the economy, education, national security — but women are also uniquely and disproportionately impacted by many policies. As President, Biden will pursue an aggressive and comprehensive plan to further women’s economic and physical security and ensure that women can fully exercise their civil rights.”

We must ask ourselves as Americans why we would oppose such basic ideas as equal access and full opportunity.

What, exactly, makes a woman incapable of something when compared with a man? What has been so threatening about women in leadership positions?

To answer these questions fully, we must finally do away with the notion that if one person ascends the ladder of success, that does not mean that another person is pushed further down the rungs. There can be success for all people, equally and simultaneously. Until men embrace that truth, we won’t emerge onto a new landscape that is fully equitable and inclusive. The time is now to change this once and for all!!

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Photo by René DeAnda on Unsplash

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