By Rosalind Sedacca, CDC
Choosing the best divorce lawyer for you is a major decision for anyone facing this life-altering reality. However, when you’re a parent, the decision is far more complex and significant.
In our culture divorce is looked upon as a legal battle between two parties with opposing sides. Legal battles are about “winning,” which means all effort goes toward not “losing.”
Sadly, parental divorce is more than the dissolution of a marital contract. It’s a highly emotional experience that deeply affects everyone in the family. Not all divorce attorneys approach divorce in the same manner. When you’re a parent you must not only protect yourself and your financial interests, but your children as well.
If you hire a divorce litigator, whose primary focus is “winning” through the courts, you are exposing yourself and your children to lengthy periods of stress, heightened conflict and the loss of power over important decisions that can affect your family for years to come.
That’s why so many divorce, parenting and mental health experts recommend choosing mediation instead of litigation. Many attorneys are divorce mediators who don’t approach divorce as a battle. Mediation is about finding a win-win resolution – a way for mom, dad and the children to have their needs met on a long-term basis. Collaborative divorce attorneys are another option for family-focused outcomes.
Mediators and Collaborative attorneys support their clients but they encourage communication between both parents. They address all issues related to the divorce in ways that focus on compromise and cooperation whenever possible. Working in this manner Mediators and Collaborative attorneys create a mutually acceptable Parenting Plan that addresses the unique needs of your family.
The process sets parents up for meeting the challenges of co-parenting together on behalf of the children you both love.
This is in sharp contrast to families coming out of lengthy, expensive, court litigation. That choice takes power out of your hands and sets parent up as adversaries. Ultimately judges, who know little about your family dynamic, make decisions that too often compound conflict, which can easily lead to anger, hostility and destructive parenting following the divorce.
Before choosing your divorce attorney, read the descriptions on their websites and interview them carefully. How do they refer to the divorce process for parents? Do they stress litigation, collaboration or mediation? Ask questions that focus on your family’s emotional needs when discussing their services and processes. Whenever possible, choose divorce attorneys who stress the desire to resolve your divorce in the most cooperative possible way, encouraging positive co-parenting for your children in the years and decades ahead.
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Rosalind Sedacca, CDC is a Divorce & Parenting Coach and founder of the Child-Centered Divorce Network which provides valuable resources for parents who are facing, moving through or transitioning after a divorce. She is also the author of How Do I Tell the Kids about the Divorce? For Rosalind’s free ebook on Post-Divorce Parenting and other valuable resources on divorce and parenting issues, visit: www.childcentereddivorce.com.