For most people divorce is a scary and confusing process. Law, lawyers and courts seem intimidating. You worry if you and your children will be alright. You hear the horror stories as well-meaning but ill-advised friends and relatives vie to give you advice. But most of this advice is destructive as it eggs you on to fight. You’re encouraged to find an “aggressive lawyer” who will protect your “rights.” So if you are like most people you eventually hire a lawyer about whom you know very little. You pay a large retainer and become a client. Then you wait. The process crawls along with one adjournment and delay after another and you wait some more. Calls to your lawyer are often unanswered or returned days later. You begin to feel helpless and out of control.
This rather extreme picture doesn’t happen to everybody but it happens to many.
If you are caught up in this you wonder how it happened. What would you have had to do to obtain a better outcome? What would you have to do to grab control of your divorce now? If only you had a better understanding of how it all works. If only you had someone who understood the system who could advise you and help you feel more in control. So where to turn?
I believe that about 90% of divorcing couples, provided with adequate leadership, could achieve good divorces in which the parties wish each other well, negotiate an agreement they both think is fair and come out of the process able to cooperate around the children. And I also believe that most people who end up with angry, costly and destructive divorces could have had good divorces if they had better advice.
I mediate divorces and continue to write about divorce and I am turning increasingly to providing advice, coaching and consultation to people contemplating or involved in a divorce. I can provide expert, informed and wise counsel at any stage of a divorce when someone just needs a half hour or an hour of help to decide how to proceed. I can help you avoid the common mistakes very early in the process that sour a divorce before it even begins. I can help you decide whether you want conventional representation of mediation and help you choose the right professional. I can calm you down when you are fearful and excited and interpret legal events that appear scary because you don’t understand them. I can help you develop realistic expectations of your lawyer and hold your lawyer accountable to you. And if you have developed a bad relationship with your lawyer I can help you make a change.
Here are some questions I can answer for you.
Before the Divorce
- How do I know if I really want a divorce?
- What about a temporary separation?
- How do I know if my spouse is thinking divorce?
- Can we afford to divorce?
- How do I manage the guilt about the kids?
In the Beginning
- How do I tell my spouse I want a divorce?
- How do I deal with my anger?
- How do I deal with my spouse’s anger?
- How can we keep the divorce peaceful?
- How can we decide to avoid “dirty tricks?”
- How do we tell the children?
- When and what do we tell friends and family?
- What if my spouse doesn’t want the divorce?
- What if my spouse wants to divorce and I don’t?
- Should I take some money out of our accounts?
- What do I do if I think my spouse is having an affair?
- Should I tell my spouse if I am having and affair?
- Should we go to counseling together to deal with the divorce?
- Do I need to hire a lawyer?
- How do I find a good lawyer?
- How do I find a good mediator?
- What if one of us feels the other is at fault and is to blame for the failure of the marriage. How should that play out?
- How do we agree to keep the divorce peaceful?
- Is there such a thing as a good divorce and if so, how do we get one?
- How do we manage if both of us want to stay in the house?
- What if we don’t have money for a second dwelling?
- What is the process of divorce? Do I have grounds? Does it matter?
- Do most divorces settle before a trial?
Managing the Legal System
- How do I find out about my rights?
- What can I reasonably expect from my lawyer?
- How can I control the legal expenses of the divorce?
- Does divorce always mean a big fight?
- What are the advantages of mediation?
- How do we find a good mediator?
- What are the important legal issues?
- What if I don’t like my lawyer after a while?
- What do I do if it seems to be taking forever?
- My spouse wants us all to have Thanksgiving together. Is that a good idea?
Managing the Negotiation
- How do I know if I am getting a fair deal?
- What if I think my spouse is hiding assets?
- What if I worry that the kids don’t want to be with my spouse?
- What’s the best parenting schedule?
- My kids don’t want to go to my spouse’s house. What should I do?
- How do I know if my lawyer is a good negotiator?
- Am I better off just letting the judge decide?
After the Divorce
- My ex spouse is always late picking up and bringing home the children. What should I do?
- When I go to pick up the kids for my weekend, my ex often meets me at the door and tells me the kids have decided to have a sleepover at one of their friends. What should I do?
- My support check is always late. What should I do?
- My ex husband has been having his girlfriend over when the kids are there. Can I stop this?
- When I go to get the kids my ex always picks that time to start a fight in front of the kids which they find upsetting. What should I do?
After more than thirty years as a divorce lawyer and mediator and after working with thousands of couples, I have a good sense of how the system works. I understand how the emotional process of divorce interacts with the legal process of divorce and how a decision in one affects what happens in the other, and helps me identify the situations which destroy any chance of an amicable and constructive divorce.
I can answer questions when you have them. You can talk to me for fifteen minutes or two hours, whatever you need. And I can be available some evenings and weekends if that is the only time you have. You may find having someone to help you navigate these waters very useful and at times, critical. Pricing is very affordable. Call me with your questions.
Sam Margulies, Ph.D., J.D., is one of the most experienced divorce mediators in the United States. Since 1980, he has mediated approximately four thousand divorces including many complex multi-million dollar matters. Located in North Carolina but with clients all over the country, call or e-mail Sam for a free consultation to discuss your divorce. 336-669-3141 or firstname.lastname@example.org