How can you assure that you have a healthy, positive divorce? That both partners can move forward as quickly as possible into their new and productive lives? The answer lies in your own self restraint and not doing the things that convince your spouse that you are going to play dirty — because if you are going to do it, then so is your spouse. The ten worst (and most common) ways to damage your divorce are related to this. Continue reading
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People faced with divorce tend to ask the same first question: What are my legal rights? Although at first glance this might seem the most important question, in reality it isn’t. Why not? Your rights, as established by law, are so vague as to be almost meaningless. Let’s review them.
Your rights concern three issues: children, income and division of marital assets. Continue reading
Divorce mediation has evolved as a way to help married couples who wish to divorce to negotiate satisfactory settlements in lieu of struggling with litigation. And because marriage is an institution in which laws establish obligations and entitlements the resolution of such legal constraints as a condition of divorce makes divorce mediation appear dominated by legal concerns. But, in fact, most divorcing couples do not have issues of complex legal doctrines. Rather most middle class people have a lot of practical problems to solve, namely all the issues around how to efficiently use the resources of the family to optimize the welfare of all members of the family. The slowly growing popularity of divorce mediation reflects a growing recognition that the adversarial legal system often gets in the way of expeditious problem solving. Continue reading
Over the past twenty .years three thousand couples have explained to me why they are ending their marriages. This large sample offers some window into why marriages fail Perhaps it also suggests some warning signs for couples to consider. Continue reading
Whether or not this story specifically resembles your divorce, the lessons within touch on the significance of how bad advice and divorce attorneys’ expensive maneuvering can leave you in dire financial distress.
Jeff Master and his wife Janet were living in North Carolina when Janet asked for a divorce. Jeff called to make an appointment with me, and three days later they were sitting in my office for our first meeting. Married nineteen years and with two children, ages 11 and 16, Jeff owned a building supply business that had been started by his grandfather and gifted to Jeff by his father who had run the store for forty years. Janet had not worked in fifteen years having chosen to be a stay at home mother. Jeff was 50 and Janet was 47. Both appeared fit and attractive. Like so many other couples they told me a story about a marriage that had gone stale so that both felt they had grown apart. There had been one short round of marriage counseling. Janet had finally told Jeff she didn’t want any more counseling and wanted a divorce. Jeff did not want a divorce and felt that they could fix the marriage with more counseling and a lot of prayer. But Janet had made up her mind and was clear that the marriage was over. Continue reading
Over the past fifteen years a movement called “collaborative law” has grown quickly in the American divorce system. As many people seem to confuse collaborative law with mediation I thought it would be useful to explore the differences. Continue reading
There is no doubt that divorce mediation has been a success and is slowly changing the landscape of divorce. But the legal profession has now fought back and created another version of mediation — but one that will not dislodge the lawyers from the center of the process. This is happening in North Carolina and states all around the country, in order to not only preserve legal fees but additionally create a new billing event for attorneys, while allowing them to pose as progressive. Continue reading
I have long thought that if I could get people to read one of my books on divorce
… I could change their minds about how divorce should be done and then change their approach to their own divorce. I frequently get e-mails or calls from people who have read one of my books, and they tell me that they have been persuaded and want to use mediation to resolve their divorce. Continue reading
What is the difference between a mediated divorce and conventional divorce?
In a conventional the divorce husband and wife each hire a lawyer to be in charge of the divorce. Usually the lawyers fight in court and prepare for a trial in which a judge decides all the issues related to children, support and division of property.. But less than one percent of divorces actually go to trial. In more than 99% of all divorces the lawyers negotiate a settlement on the eve of trial. So after paying many thousands of dollars to prepare for a trial the couple negotiates a settlement one to five years after the process begins. Divorce Mediation is a reform movement started in the late 1970′s by lawyers and therapists appalled by the unreasonable waste of emotional and economic resources in conventional divorce. The premise of mediation is that if the couple is going to settle the case anyhow why put them through the cost of preparing for a trial that is not going to happen in 99% of divorces? Why not help them retain control of the process and negotiate a settlement themselves with the help of a trained facilitator, the mediator? Continue reading
Many people believe that an adversary legal system means that lawyers must fight with each other. People also believe that lawyers must be aggressive in order to be effective. The swaggering, loud and pugnacious lawyer is assumed to have an advantage in that he/she is assumed to be able to intimidate quieter lawyers. In truth all of this is utter baloney. Continue reading