What Do I Need to Know Now?

Do I Have to Give Up Control of My Life?

  • Things will change, but you can guide your future life. You and your spouse know your family best.
  • You can choose professionals to educate you about the law, family dynamics, emotional and financial concerns, and anything else that you need to know, as you move through this phase of your life.
  • You can seek out professionals who are expert in negotiating acceptable resolutions and work efficiently as measured in time and money.
  • No matter how much money one has, it is best spent on your family. You can keep control over your family decisions rather than give up control to a Court system.

How Do I Resolve Marital Concerns?

  • Most people reach agreement with some level of professional help and there are a number of choices.
  • Kitchen table You may have had a good working relationship with your spouse and although times are difficult right now, you may still be able to reach agreement on your own and obtain the targeted help to complete state requirements and forms. (graphic)
  • Mediation You may have more challenges in reaching agreement and you may benefit by working with a mediator and lawyers in a mediation process. Mediation involves sitting with a neutral who guides settlement negations. You are essentially self-represented and obtain legal advice primarily outside mediation. Divorce is a legal process and mediators are not permitted to give legal advice nor serve as attorneys for either party. Once you reach an understanding in mediation, attorneys complete the legal work. (graphic)
  • Collaborative Process Many are benefited by a collaborative process. Collaboration is a team model. Collaborative professionals offer you and your spouse the support, protection and guidance to create the best possible agreement for you and your family. They sit down with you and help work it out. The work takes place in a series of meetings and you are assisted by caring professionals who provide advocacy and understanding. It provides the benefit of child and financial specialists, divorce and communication coaches, working together to help you. It enables you to negotiate a mutually acceptable settlement without having the court decide sensitive family issues. It acknowledges the highest priority of all by maintaining open communication and information sharing in a private and confidential setting. (graphic)
  • Litigation Litigation involves a third party decision maker Judge and typically parties each have litigation lawyers who advocate for positions.
  • What will work best for you?

What is the Role of the Law?

A lawyer can explain how the law applies to your situation. You can make an appointment with a lawyer at any stage of a process and learn the basics. You need to know:

  • Equitable distribution of marital assets and debt
  • Child support guidelines
  • Spousal support guidelines
  • Tax impact of your decisions

The law provides guidance and standards. It does not provide answers to your specific marital concerns. How the law applies to your circumstances can be interpreted in various ways leading to different outcomes. The law may provide an answer; it may not be the answer that works for you and your family. You need to know more than the law to be successful. The law provides a legal framework for settlement and it is critical that your concerns be considered in crafting solutions that work for you and your family.

What if Your Friends and Family Want You to Choose a Different Path?

If you could plan for the best outcome, what would that look like? You are the expert about you and your family. Collaborative professionals are experts in the law, family dynamics, financial issues and navigating emotional currents that sometimes swirl around divorcing couples. There is a difference between advice and support:

  • Advice comes from competent professionals who you trust
  • Support can come from emotional and personal support that you receive from family and friends. You need both!

In the end, you have to live with the consequences of your decisions; choose wisely.