There are countless individuals who have gone to an attorney for an uncontested divorce only to have it become contested overnight. Our society is adversarial, and this is how attorneys have been trained. Some believe the only way to take care of their clients is to fight for them. When attorneys look at divorce, sometimes they only recognize conflict. When they look at this condition, it seems obvious that people have to fight to protect themselves. They don’t notice that the condition they observe is their own creation. This warfare is created by their own adversariness... And we demand it. Unfortunately, this is the condition of our culture... But it is possible to find attorneys that are non-adversarial and are interested in the welfare of everyone. Usually, the attorneys that do divorce mediation are more inclined to be non-adversarial. If you can find an non-adversarial attorney, you will much be better off. If you can’t, you will have to do the best you can. Stay out of the legal system as much as you can.
Select an attorney. Have him or her file the petition and start the waiting period. Get all the legal advice and information that you can. Find out what questions need to be resolved. Then go home and resolve them. When you have an agreement that works for both of you, take it back to the attorney. Let him or her review it and do the paper work. To the extent you are able to resolve these issues by yourself, you will be able to avoid the usual legal nightmares. When you let adversarial attorneys resolve your issues, you are asking for trouble. Your case can go on forever and cost a fortune in legal fees, not to mention the cost in well being. If you are already deep in the legal process, it’s never too late to turn your situation around. Get in communication with the other person. Clean up your relationship and take responsibility for the mess. Start working together to resolve the issues. If your attorney makes your job more difficult, let him or her go. After all it’s your relationship and your life.
Sometimes you need an attorney. Sometimes the other person is so dishonest or uncooperative that an attorney is essential. Just be careful. Don’t let your attorney be too adversarial. When an attorney takes an aggressive action against someone, it’s like an attack. Sometimes the attack is like Pearl Harbor. He or she may have taken the action, but you are the one that gets the blame. You are the one that has to suffer the consequences. Like it or not, you are responsible for what your attorney does. You are the one that hired him or her and you are the one who pays the fees. Make sure your attorney knows that his or her job is to forward your relationship and to find solutions that work for everyone. Have your lawyer watch out for your interests. Remember, your attorney works for you. You don’t work for him or her. If he or she is unwilling to work with you in this way, find an attorney who will.
The type of relationship you have is determined by how you treat the other person and by how you resolve your differences. You can either keep your pride, draw sides, and go to town against each other;... or you can be committed to a relationship that works for everyone. Have it be more important to have peace of mind and to create an environment of cooperation....than to win, be right, and to get what you want.
What’s at stake is your life.
If you want to divorce as friends, your job is to end the cycle of conflict in your relationship and to restore the love, not necessarily as husband and wife, but as one human being to another.
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