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Are You Above Average?

Are you Above Average?  You might think so, but you’re probably not when it comes to divorce. Becoming Above Average is not nearly as hard as it sounds.  When it comes to family law matters, you don’t have to have a low percent of body fat, high IQ, big bank account or a lot of letters behind your name to be Above Average.  All you need is a little bit of knowledge and the will to use it.  In this blog series, I’ve introduced you to Tim and Kathy, a fictional couple who represent the Average Divorce.  They spent more than half their net worth and two and a half years of their lives litigating their divorce.  They depleted their savings, their available credit, and their health.  Their kids went through a traumatic custody evaluation and the family business is facing bankruptcy.  They are the poster couple for the Average Divorce.  If you don’t believe me, just ask around! So how do you avoid falling into the Average Divorce trap?  How do you become Above Average?  Here are a few ideas: Know Yourself:  Investing in some therapy will help you know yourself better, learn what your weaknesses are, and understand how to  communicate with your spouse around issues of co-parenting and finances. Know Your Money:  Engaging an independent divorce financial planner can save you and your spouse hundreds (even thousands) of dollars in legal fees, lost opportunity, and taxes. Know Your Kids:  Hiring a child specialist to help you understand your children’s developmental needs is less expensive and invasive than a custody evaluation, but can provide valuable insight into what’s best for the...

Create a new tradition!

Create a New Tradition for Your New Family Dynamic This may be your first holiday season wearing your New Family suit, and it might  not feel as comfortable as you would like, so here are some ideas to help you find the joy in the season: New Family. You, your children, your coparent, and extended family on both sides are now part of a New Family. Treat each other with the care and compassion that you would treat your own family members (would you be snippy or sarcastic to your favorite aunt or beloved sibling?). Try to remember to approach all of your interactions while silently saying the words Compassion, Gratitude, and Harmony. It will help you focus on what’s important. Kids first. If you and your co-parent (notice, we don’t use the word “ex”) are focused on what will make the holidays best for the children, you will almost certainly do the right thing. That doesn’t mean competing to see who can out-spend or one-up the other. In fact, the best way to show your love may be to discuss and agree with your co-parent on what gifts the children will receive and then present them from both of you. You can also agree to alternate favorite activities, or attend together. For example, if a “sparkle tour” is a favorite Christmas Eve activity, rent a van and take along another family. It creates a sense of adventure for the children and gives you, as co-parents, a buffer zone of other people to interact with just in case things are tense. New Traditions. Memories of Christmas (or Thanksgiving, Hanukkah,...

Are You Average?

How much is your case expected to contribute to a firm’s cash flow?  In a previous blog, Financial Bedlam, I introduced you to Tim and Kathy, an average couple with ordinary problems, who got an ordinary divorce.  It was just “average.” It wasn’t the best divorce or the worst, not the cheapest nor most expensive, not the longest or shortest — just average.  And that “average” divorce cost them over half of their net worth.  They were “average” consumers of legal services.  They went blindly into a lawyer’s office, wearing their emotional divorce on their sleeve and with no financial strategy in mind. Tim prided himself on being a good business man, but his impatience got the better of him and he hired his attorney based on the advice of a friend of a friend.  Tim didn’t find out until later that the attorney had no actual business experience and he failed to provide her with incentives to resolve the divorce quickly.  Tim’s attorney provided a list of the recent trials she had participated in, but didn’t give Tim any information about alternative dispute resolution.  The attorney proudly walked Tim around the law firm, pointing out original works of art, beautifully decorated offices and conference rooms with “million dollar views” of the city, state of the art technology, staff lounge, and an army of legal assistants.  The question Tim might have well asked is, “How much of this overhead cost do you want from me?” Kathy was an emotional wreck when she first met with her attorney, a man reputed to be a real “junk yard dog”  who could bring Tim into line.   They didn’t discuss fees except in abstract terms, but...

Financial Bedlam

Financial Bedlam.  That’s how one client described his divorce. Like many people seeking a divorce, “Tim” just wanted a short and simple divorce without a lot of fighting over “things.”  (No, it’s not really Tim. See Disclaimer.)  Tim, a small business owner, has the “entrepreneurial temperament,” which means that he is used to getting what he wants, when he wants it.  Divorce was no different, so Tim did a lot of pushing.  After all, he was being “fair” and his wife just needed to see his side of things. For “Kathy” (see Disclaimer), Tim’s wife of 17 years, divorce was not at all simple or easy.  At first, Kathy was devastated and in denial.  She was terrified of being on her own, grief-stricken that Tim would break up their family, and outraged that Tim had announced the divorce to her “out of the blue.”  Kathy felt that she was at battle with an unseen force (maybe another woman?), so she gathered the “troops” — her girlfriends, family, teachers at the children’s school, hair stylist, and anyone else who would listen — to let them know how Tim had failed the family.  Kathy got the validation she was seeking and many of those “troops” advised her to take Tim to the cleaners to teach him a lesson.  Their advice was well-intentioned, but the worst possible thing they could have said. So Kathy and Tim engaged the “best” lawyers they could afford.  Tim’s attorney made settlement offers, demands, threats, and filed motions, pushing Kathy and her lawyer to accept Tim’s offers “within 24 hours or else.”  Kathy dug in her heels and her attorney,...

Welcome!

As part of my mission to change the world one divorce at a time, I’ve enthusiastically embraced the concept of blogging in particular and social media in general.  As I begin this journey, I am holding the concept in my mind as an opportunity to share knowledge, enlighten non-lawyers, and inspire other family law professionals to jump on board the Peace Train. There might also be the occasional rant, for which I will apologize in advance because it’s bound to happen, given some of the crazy things that go on in family court. I welcome your comments and hope we can create a dialogue that sends out the first ripple of change in a very dysfunctional system so that we can develop a sustainable way to serve the real needs of families and children in transition. If you’ve been invited to subscribe, I hope you will join me (see the widget below or to the left) either by: RSS Feed Email Subscription Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Disclaimer: No matter what I write about, it’s not specifically about you — I’ve worked with literally hundreds of clients, most of them in very similar circumstances, so there may be a familiar ring to my stories. Also, I take poetic license with case stories, weaving in my own experiences with those of my colleagues, so each story will be an amalgamation of different people, situations, and outcomes. No matter what I write about, it’s not legal advice directed at you — in order to provide legal advice, I am ethically bound to determine conflicts, get background information, and gather the facts specific to your case. A blog is not legal advice, so please don’t...