Peaceful Divorce

what convinces an attorney to move away from adversarial model?

Dear new friends and colleagues,
I am writing to ask for your help in presenting a concept.
I am a parenting coordinator, mediator, mental health professional. I have an interest in helping high conflict families consider and implement peaceful conflict resolution. I believe the principles can even be applied to families experiencing domestic violence. I will soon have an opportunity to present these views to attorneys and court staff. Please share your ideas about would be appealing to a lawyer brain to facilitate the consideration of what's wrong with using an adversarial approach to marital dissolution ? I understand our legal system is founded on the notion that a dispute can be " fairly resolved " through the use of an adversarial system. However, we know that 25 % of adult children of high conflict divorces will choose not to have children as a result of the trauma they have experienced through the divorce. thanks for your help.

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What a great question! It really hits the nail on the head. Since the attorneys have a huge piece of the puzzle when it comes to Peaceful Divorce, or not, it behooves us to figure out what it will take to get them on board with this concept.

I actually have given this question a lot of thought, as I am also planning to present the concept of Peaceful Divorce to divorce attorneys in seminars for CLE credit. Here are a few reasons why I think attorneys will move away from the adversarial approach to divorce, and toward a peaceful resolution:

1. MONEY. In our county (Palm Beach), 65% of all divorce cases filed last year were "pro se" - without lawyers. Our contacts at the courthouse tell us that this is not because they can't afford it, but because divorcing couples are afraid to hire lawyers as they feel they will make a war out of it. This is a valid fear as divorce lawyers are paid by the hour - do the math!

This is a lot of money that the divorce attorneys are leaving on the table because of their negative reputation. They are only getting 35% of the divorce cases being filed! Getting the word out that they are on board with a peaceful divorce can help them to capture this growing share of the market that is choosing to have no lawyers (often times when they would benefit from legal advice.)

2. THEIR SANITY. Almost every divorce lawyer I know hates what they are doing, to some degree. The constant fighting eats away at them until they either numb out or make themselves sick from getting up and doing a job they can't stand every day.

3. GETTING PAID. Every divorce lawyer knows that the longer the case goes on, the greater risk they run of getting completely paid - especially those last bills. Then they become the enemy of their clients instead of their client's spouses.

4. KARMA. Okay, maybe I've got a case of wishful thinking here, but I believe that at some level divorce lawyers want to do the right thing, and they know that the right thing is not waging a battle in a family and then leaving them to pick up the pieces, if they can. They know the irreversible damage it does, especially to the children.

What do the rest of you think?

Cynthia Tiano, Esq.
"The Mediator"
I would think that all attorneys who have been in practice for at least a year or so would know by now that the system does NOT support a co-parenting relationship and that for the sake of future generations of kids we really need to create win/win solutions which will NEVER come out of an adversarial fight. I think that lawyers should have a similar oath to doctors that we can do no harm. I just couldn't participate in a system that hurt so many people and after 8 years walked away and have done nothing but mediation since. There is a tremendous feeling of satisfaction knowing I am doing the right thing and helping other couples do the right thing. Unfortunately a lot of aggressive people are drawn to becoming a trail attorney and they will not see the benefit to themselves and others by keeping out of court since that is their first inclination but you can't win everyone over. I didn't know that statistic about 25% of kids of high conflict divorces not having kids. I guess that is me. I never had my own kids, I just raised other people's. I had a son for 10 years (I found him when I was teaching Jr. High) but he died of AIDS at 22. I loved him like a son. But I never wanted to have any kids. I can't say for sure it was related to my parent's divorce but I would love to see the study that statistic came from!
Okay, but what do you think would move the divorce attorneys away from the adversarial system and toward a peaceful divorce resolution?
Assume the sale...
"I know most of you are bothered by being part of a system you know is hurting the parents ability to work together when the case is done. If you have been doing this for at least a year or so, you have seen the damage done when couples fight or are even encouraged to fight when some of the more aggressive attorneys encourage the fight so they can benefit by the continued litigation. I know there are a lot of good people who condemn this type of thing and would love to make a living really helping people instead of hurting them. How many of you were children of divorce? Raise your hands. That wasn't fun was it. If you would like to make a good living while protecting the next generation of kids, if you would like to go to sleep at night knowing you are doing the right thing, I would like to encourage you to join me in the peaceful divorce revolution. Now this message is not going to appeal to everyone but I know some of you are open to this message and so it is directed at you. Divorce is a very simple process when everyone has the intention to avoid court. Most of the couples in our county are filing pro per because they are afraid of their case getting ugly by having attorneys involved. Do you know how much money we are leaving on the table? And these people really need the life changing information that you have to give them. But you can deliver it in a way that helps them make informed decisions instead of manipulating emotionally vulnerable people so you can pad your own bill by giving them unrealistic expectations which only forces expensive and unneeded litigation. How would you like to work 3 days a week with no support staff overhead and make $30,000 a month? That is exactly what you can do if you charge a flat fee of $2,500 per case and work with just 3 couples a week. A good mediator will do the whole case in a day or perhaps 2 half days. Mediation is the only logical way for 85% of couples who want a divorce. You are always going to have a small % of the population that is high conflict and won't work together but that leaves everyone else. All you need is a powerful intention to get out of court and a powerful intention to help couples find their bottom line and miracles will happen. If this sounds good to you, let's talk about getting you started."
Good Work!!!
I am appreciating these comments. I actually believe that divorce attorneys may believe they are doing the right thing by giving their client aggressive advocacy. Everyone has a right to fair trial...I don't know enough about the basics of law to try to demonstrate how that is flawed in family law...
I believe the researcher who found the 25% of adults effected by divorce choosing childlessness was Judith Wallerstein. she is known for the best quality longitudinal study ( spanning 25 years, i believe) Don't quote me, I am not checking my research files... :)
please keep the comments coming.
When a client is trained in the 6 Part Conversation that I devleoped using Compassionate Communication skills, the client motivates and inspires the attorney to meet his/her own needs as well as the client's need for financial security and peace. As a certified mediator, doing worldwide mediations, I find that this training can also allow clients ot mediate for themselves in the presence of less skilled mediators~I hope you will enjoy learning more about this and i owuld be delighted to email you the White Paper on it
It is obvious that you have really been through the meat grinder. There is nothing more unfair than the court system and mediation is NOT for everyone. When you have a high conflict personality type who won't be reasonable, then mediation is not possible and you are stuck with the court fight type of divorce. But I have done over 200 mediated divorces and there IS such a thing as a good divorce. Take a look at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PWPa58QtqOo
This couple is the perfect example of how you can have a peaceful divorce. Then compare that story to this one
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7EXS2AEW5p4
Her husband is a drunkard and bum who has caused her nothing but pain. She is a close friend of mine so I get the trauma that losers can cause in someone's life! The thing is, you need to do the best with what you have got and move on. To define who you are as "Abused Mom" that becomes your very identity and you are his victim every moment of the day. Do NOT let that happen to you!!!! You are free of him. At least he is not your husband anymore. You may want to check out Oprah's free class on A New Earth. You can read the book and listen to the class at your own speed. It will give you a lot of new ideas on how to think about yourself, him and your situation because you have power girl! You have way more power than you know. You just haven't tapped into it yet. So how in the world did you find your way to this site?

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