images-3Despite best efforts and best intentions, couples may find themselves facing separation and divorce. Sometimes the decision is mutual, sometimes unilateral. It is always difficult.

Because marriage is such a central relationship in our culture, divorce requires a complete personal, social, emotional and financial reorganization. It is in the midst of this upheaval, that the couple confronts the legal process of divorce.

It is important to realize at this very difficult time, that the couple has a number of common interests:

  • the well-being of their children,
  • the preservation of their finances, and
  • the benefits of an amicable future relationship.

In an adversarial process, these common concerns can be lost in the effort to “win”. While there are good reasons to have attorneys represent the interests of each party, it is important to realize the value of working cooperatively if at all possible to resolve the issues.

Especially with respect to the children, conflict between the parents is absolutely toxic to children. It is important that the parents get assistance right away to make agreements about

  • when, how and what to tell the children,
  • how to manage the separation with the least impact on the children,
  • how to share time with the children during the initial transition, and
  • how to communicate with each other about their and the children’s ongoing needs.

There are numerous ways of working through the legal issues in the divorce. Determining how to proceed for your own circumstances may be one of the more important decisions you make.  From doing it yourself, to mediation with a neutral professional, collaborative practice, to attorney negotiation and litigation, each process has certain advantages and disadvantages.  Taking time to find the right process and the appropriate professionals to assist you can save time and money and unnecessary emotional distress.

The Divorce Continuum:

  • Do-It-Yourself
    • Mediation
      • Attorney-Assisted Mediation
        • Collaborative Practice
          • Attorney Negotiation and Settlement
            • Private Judge Appointment
              • Litigation

I would not recommend either end of the continuum.  Although there are books, websites and other resources to assist you in handling the divorce yourself, this is a complex area, a legal process, a huge life transition and potentially a significant financial transaction.  It behooves you to get some level of professional advice.  But at the other end of the spectrum is full litigation of the issues which means turning the process over to attorneys to argue and a judge to decide, which is rarely the best solution for anyone.  With the middle-ground approaches, you can determine the level of professional support that you need and the extent of your ability to work together cooperatively to build on your common interests of the well-being of your children, the preservation of your finances, and an amicable future relationship.

(The Divorce Primer videos and Smart Divorce DVD walk you through the initial decisions of the dissolution process, describe each of the available processes and provide helpful information about selecting attorneys, mediators, and counselors.)

Sherry Cassedy is an experienced and skilled lawyer-mediator. After 20 years of experience in litigating, negotiating and mediating family law cases, she has devoted her practice for the past 10 years to working as a neutral in family law matters whether as a mediator or a private judge. Her experience with complex financial issues in family law cases contributes to her ability to help craft creative solutions to various family law problems. She takes a pragmatic, professional and compassionate approach to resolving problems in the family law cases she handles.



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