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Hold Onto Your Hat

photo by RaidersLight via PhotoRee

This article by J. Richard Kulerski, a Chicago based divorce lawyer, is brilliant. What he says in this article we’ve been saying for years. Hallelujah, Mr. Kulerski.

From Hold Onto Your Hat: Introducing the New Way to Divorce:

The public is displeased with the divorce legal system, and sees it as too complicated, lengthy, and costly. The argument is that the system should satisfy society’s needs, not frustrate them. Heck, many soon-to-be exes are now spending more on their divorce than they did on their wedding. We need to change how we divorce, but the problem lies in figuring out what to change it to.

This is not as impossible as it sounds, but it does require our doing the last thing on earth that we want to do: treat our soon-to-be ex and their settlement position with respect and understanding. This does not mean being weak; it means being smart. Listening to their side of the story is the cheapest concession we can make.

This is the civilized approach to divorce. It calls for us to behave at our best, at a time in our lives when we are inclined to act at our worst. Up to now, we have felt entitled to act at our worst, and the result has been disastrous.

Read the full article…

What kind of divorce is right for you?

Early in my family law practice I discovered that the easiest divorce to handle was the one in which the couple had been separated for two to three years, were working together collaboratively to parent their children, had divided most or all of their assets, and were coming in to see me simply to have a concise agreement drafted.  Typically they’d be friendly and respectful of each other.

These couples knew what worked for them and stuck to their deal. I was unfailingly impressed by their unanimity with regard to a genial, civilized conclusion to their marriage.  In these cases it was usually only necessary to counsel them about possible opportunities to save taxes, or to divide property in a way that might be more equitable.

It is rare to meet newly separated couples who are masters of communication and collaborative parenting.  It is usually quite the contrary.  In most cases, the couple is so caught up in rage that they fail to consider the needs of their children.  They confuse differences in parenting style with who is right or who is wrong.  The right way to parent is with consensus and agreement.  Children do not grow up and do what their parents tell them.  Children watch their parents and grow up to do what their parents did.  Parents that model rational, mature, adult behavior will produce children who act pretty much the same.  One challenge in our multi-cultural community is the variety of parenting strategies that abound.  Parents in harmony may have difficulty reaching agreement on which strategy is most effective.  Parents in conflict find that task impossible to achieve.

Dr. Bruce Derman and I have created a tool that can help you determine whether or not you are a candidate for collaborative divorce.  It’s the Pre-Divorce Survey.  You can find it on our website at TheLawCollaborative.com/lawsurvey. The Pre-Divorce Survey will assist you in finding out how many issues there are, and where you are on the anger management scale. We have learned that if you and your spouse can answer every question on that survey in the affirmative, it may be possible for the two of you to simply sit down with a paralegal and write up a deal.

The Pre-Divorce Survey is not an end unto itself.  It is a point of departure on the journey of divorce.  It may act as a signpost.  If the conflict quotient is high, the couple will need extra help.  If it is low, the case may be relatively simple to complete.  Typically, when a case is impeded by psychological and emotional issues, these issues will cause great pain and drive costs excruciatingly high.  The good news is that emotional interventions are available.  Today there are alternatives that may give even the most conflicted individual an opportunity to find an effective intervention, provided the parties involved enter into the process with honesty and integrity.

If you would like to take the Pre-Divorce Survey, click HERE.