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Four Things No One Tells You About Divorce (and What You Need to Know Now) Part 3 by Rachel Alexander

Four Things No One Tells You About Divorce (and What You Need to Know Now) Part 3

{4 minutes to read}  There are many things no one tells you about divorce. This article — part III of our article in four parts - concerns itself with another critical, often overlooked, issue in the divorce process. We hope this helps in adjusting expectations and preparing you to best manage this largely unmanageable time.

III. Attorneys

Attorneys have a crucial role in the divorce process and it is important to be supported by the appropriate level of expertise; however, people regularly report that their attorneys tend to ratchet things up rather than soothe the situation, particularly in the context of litigation. So, while attorneys provide important services and value to the process, they can also add to the mayhem — like having a lot of cooks in the kitchen, each an expert chef or even a cooking network guru. More people, more everything.

Traditional litigation attorneys, with their excellent training in litigation, are often commensurate with warriors. They are trained to fight and protect their client, and solely their client. In the context of divorce, often the whole family must be regarded as the client. If “winning” means so crippling the opponent as to incapacitate or alienate him, the same “him” upon whom the client must continue to rely and interact regularly, the client may be collaterally and seriously injured by the “win.” In other words, decimating the opponent, when the opponent is still integral to the life of the client (for co-parenting, paying support, and fostering the relationship between parent and child) is unwise; a Pyrrhic victory in the making.

Litigation-oriented attorneys can tend to intensify conflict and focus on violations, from the micro to macro, instead of continuing to prioritize resolving the conflict and finalizing the divorce. Attorneys, all of us, can use reminding that often the client is served by resolving the conflict as swiftly and with the least additional ruptures to the family as possible.

Lingering in a divorce is like spending extra time in a hospital -- the chances of contracting a Staphylococcus infection multiply. More people die from the consequences of long hospital stays than from the ailments that necessitated medical intervention in the first place. Lingering in the divorce process is unhealthy. 

What should you do?

  • Choose empathic professionals trained in Alternative Dispute Resolution. Many experienced litigators are also trained to work cooperatively in a mediation-friendly environment. Aim to work with professionals who have substantial experience (not merely training) in mediation. And, if possible, work with individuals who are sensitive to what it is to go through a divorce.

  • Remember that your attorney works for you. Even as you defer to their expertise on the law and strategy, remind them of your own needs and goals, the hills you are willing to die on and those you would like to bypass. If your goals change through the process, inform your attorney promptly.

  • If you are having doubts about the direction your attorney is taking, you need not abandon ship; you can have a consultation with another attorney to gain the benefit of their input, and to either assure yourself that you are on course, or have the option to evaluate alternatives.


Alexander Mediation Group

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If you missed Parts 1 and 2, check them out here and here, respectively.

Stay tuned for Part 4.