The Future of Divorce Is Not in Court

The Future of Divorce Is Not in Court

If the Covid pandemic taught us anything, it’s that the way we always thought we had to do things may not be the only way. In fact, when it comes to the legal system, and in particular, family law, the old way of divorcing may not be the best way at all. The future of divorce will look very different from the past.

I believe the future of divorce is not in court. We’ve already seen a shift to Zoom hearings, and while at the start of the pandemic, it felt difficult and strange and not ideal, this necessary switch taught us that we can, in fact, find better ways to serve couples seeking to dissolve their marriages.

The future of divorce will happen outside the court room – photo by Headway on Unsplash

I don’t want to say that I’ve known this for a long time, but I have. Since I started practicing Collaborative Divorce, and as long as I’ve been a Mediator, I’ve seen firsthand that when a couple breaks up, the court system can’t look out for what’s best for them or their families.

By definition, a system needs to move people through quickly, and not necessarily efficiently or with an eye toward individual needs and circumstances. But a good attorney or legal team can.

Driven by the Insight Approach to Conflict Resolution, I approach Mediation with curiosity. This approach makes me more effective when there is conflict between divorcing parties. But instead of giving direction, I have learned to ask questions.

The Insight Approach helps me educate and empower clients to help them evolve through the course of their divorce. It’s a more holistic approach, which might sound touchy-feely and hard to understand, but now I have tools to make it way more concrete.

The more I get involved in this approach, the more I see how different it is from how typical family law practitioners do divorce. From the beginning with a client, I talk to them from a place of curiosity, so their experience is going to be different from the start all the way through the completion of their divorce.

Another tool that my Transitions Legal team employs with our clients is the Our Family in Two Homes workbook, which we give to every client before they begin their divorce to help them articulate their values and goals.

If you start with their values and concerns and ask questions that help reflect on their partner’s values and concerns, you can help divorcing clients change the narrative of their past, skip the arguing part and move on to their future. Doing the work beforehand helps me guide clients to the outcome they’re happy with.

Once you know how to do divorce with these thoughtful approaches, you can’t help but use it everywhere. It’s already built into Collaborative Divorce, which by definition seeks to divorce through a team approach that brings not only the spouses to the table with their attorneys, but also with the support of a team that includes mental health professionals, certified divorce financial advisors and more when needed.

I approach each divorce case with curiosity – photo by Hasse Lossius on Unsplash

The idea of Insight is not to tell people what to do. In the moment, when they’re going through their divorce, they might want to be told, but ultimately, it’s up to the client. I know how overwhelming and futile it can feel to be going through the end of a marriage you didn’t expect to end. No one does! But that doesn’t mean it’s OK for a lawyer to make decisions for their clients.

I can make suggestions or recommendations, but if the ideas come from the clients themselves, then they’re more likely to be happy with the outcome.

There are so many stories of court-based divorces where a client agrees to settle and then comes back to the lawyer months or even years later, unhappy with the settlement. The lawyers say, “But you agreed to this.” And that may be true. Or maybe they felt exhausted and pressured to just finish the darn thing or agree in the moment, but ultimately it never aligned with what they’re most concerned about and what they value.

A court is designed to make decisions for people. To put people in positions of power to apply the law as objectively as possible.

But a divorce is anything but objective. Which is why I don’t see the future of divorce remaining in the courts.

If we want families and individuals to thrive, we must approach each divorce with curiosity and questions to guide the people involved to their ultimate best destination. Every single client is unique, with their own interests, desires and challenges. A court can’t see that, but you we can. And that’s the only way to achieve the dissolution of a marriage with concern, care and compassion for the people most affected by it.

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.

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