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
Tag Archives: Law
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
People often reach out to me with questions about their divorce lawyers and what is currently happening with their case. They often ask things like whether a fee is reasonable, how to tell if the lawyer is paying attention, or whether they should look for a new attorney. The one question I get most often is with regard to how quickly a client’s call is returned. I will respond to this one today, and future posts will address some of the other questions I receive.
Post divorce issues can be just as confusing to manage as those that come up during the divorce negotiation, and support may not always be easy to find. For this reason I am writing a weekly column at Parents Space to discuss issues I hear about frequently in my practice.
My latest article is on How to Manage Different Parenting Styles After the Divorce. Read it here.
I am always available for consultation to help work through any conflicts you and your ex-spouse may be having.
Sam Margulies, Ph.D., J.D.
Sam Margulies, Ph.D., J.D., is one of the most experienced mediators in the United States. Since 1980, he has mediated hundreds of civil disputes and approximately four thousand divorces including many complex multi-million dollar matters.
Author of several books on divorce, Sam Margulies is an empathetic and knowledgeable guide through the difficult journey of divorce. Residing in North Carolina but helping clients all over the world, contact Sam with your questions and to talk about your divorce.
About half of divorcing people report that they are unhappy with their lawyers. Some are so unhappy that they fire their lawyer and hire another one. And some of those people find that they are just as unhappy with the new lawyer. There are even a few poor souls who go through numerous lawyers before the divorce is over and invariably, they are still unhappy with the last lawyer. Early in my career when I was practicing conventional divorce law I developed a rule for myself, after a few unfortunate experiences, that I would never be anyone’s third lawyer. If the first two lawyers were unable to satisfy, why would I be able to do it. I suspect my rule saved me from some very miserable clients. Continue reading
Divorce is one of life’s most stressful experiences. In bad divorces acute stress can last for years and follow long the official divorce is over. It has serious implications for both mental health and all stress related illnesses and the stress can extend beyond the divorcing couple to injure their children as well. So it is reasonable to ask whether all this stress is necessary and whether there are steps that divorcing people can take that can reduce the stress associated with their divorces. The answer is an unqualified YES. Divorcing people can dramatically reduce divorce related stress by choosing the way they divorce with care and forethought.
After more than thirty years as a divorce lawyer and mediator, I have worked with over four thousand couples. I have a good sense of how the system works, and a multitude of additional resources for anyone potentially facing divorce.
The advice divorcing people receive early in the process greatly influences what kind of divorce they will have. Bad advice plays on ignorance, fear and mistrust, while misinformation emphasizes conflict and struggle as inevitable. In other words, bad advice produces bad divorce. Good advice is harder to come by. Few people understand that divorce need not be a war of attrition and bitterness. In fact, most couples can achieve a “good divorce” if they acquire crucial information very early on.
To understand the differences between good divorce and bad divorce requires a distinction between the two things: the fact of the divorce and the way of the divorce. The first refers to the losses that usually accompany the end of a marriage. There are inevitable dislocations as some or all of the family have to adapt to new homes, changed economic circumstances, new parent-child arrangements and all the feelings that come with major change, feelings of loss, anger, humiliation, failure, insecurity and fear for the future of oneself and one’s children. At its best, divorce is a painful and stressful experience for all whether done well or poorly. The second factor is the way or the how of divorce. This refers to the manner in which the couple gets divorced. Do they negotiate a settlement of child-related and financial issues that both regard as fair or is it a war of attrition to see who can bludgeon the other into submission? Do they retain the capacity for civil and cooperative communication around the children or do they forfeit this to bitterness and recrimination? Do they retain control over the negotiation process or do they give that control up to contending lawyers and the judicial system?
The fact that some couples have ugly divorces and others have decent divorces is not explained by chance alone. We know that there are steps that couples can take that dramatically reduce the level of conflict in divorce. And we know that reducing that level of conflict also reduces the impact of the divorce on both the couple and their children. For the past twenty years mental health counselors have been encouraging divorcing clients to use mediation rather than adversarial divorce as a way to negotiate settlement agreements. We know that most couples who mediate do so successfully. About 80% of those who try, succeed. We also know that those couples conclude their agreements in much less time, at far lower cost and have a much higher rate of compliance with agreements than do couples who settle their divorces through traditional methods.
In mediation the focus is on keeping the divorcing couple in control of the process. A mediator helps the couple to have discussions and negotiations that they are unable to have on their own because of the deteriorated state of their relationship. Issues related to parenting, support and division of property are all explored and resolved by the couple facilitated by the mediator. The role of lawyers is changed, in this system, from surrogates to advisors and consultants.
Contact me anytime you have any questions about North Carolina divorce law, custody issues, or separation and settlement agreements. You are under no obligation and it would be my pleasure to answer your questions.
- You can achieve a “good” divorce (sammargulies.com)
- How you manage the beginning shapes the entire divorce (sammargulies.com)
- Divorce Doesn’t Have to Mean Going Broke (sammargulies.com)