Problem or issue, Parent or Litigant?

Kids First Parents Second Presentation

Online Udemy course Understanding your choices:  A Better Divorce….

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A little education can go a long way in helping parents choose their best options when involved in the divorce process.

Parents have two choices, two doors to pick from so to speak.  Each door with different consequences and perhaps totally different outcomes.

Seeing Issues or Solving Problems

Litigant or Parent?

Before deciding remember you have a choice as to how you want your divorce handled.  First off, do you see problems or issues?  If you see your conflict as “problem based” you look for solutions to help you resolve your family law dispute.   Problem solvers typically look to attorneys and mental health professionals to SOLVE and not CREATE problems.

Other parents will look to their divorce as one filled with issues.  Issues require that you advocate in an adversarial atmosphere against your ex, and act as a litigant in a lawsuit.   Issues to be tried in front of an impartial family law judge who has the experience to address the parents concerns and make appropriate orders that are in the children’s best interest.

Civil Litigation vs. Collaborative Practices

Which path to take?   As a family law attorney of twenty three years I will tell you that most of my clients wanted their issues resolved in front of a judge.  When I was a younger attorney I would go down to the courthouse and present my clients issues before the family law court.  I would help my clients present their case through the “best facts” available. We would elicit the help of mental health professionals and obtain their opinion on what was in the best interest of the parties children.

As years went by I began to see the benefits of allowing parents to talk to one another prior to engaging each other in a courtroom.    Most of the parents truly did not want to be engaging one another at the courthouse.  The parents seemed to simply need a referee, someone who could intervene and provide an objective opinion. The problems the parents faced were not insurmountable, and typically with a few suggestions the parents reached agreements and moved on.

From time to time we needed the help of mental health professionals to help parents resolve the client’s problems.   The mhp brought objectivity to the problems facing the parents.  The mhp could give advice based upon the developmental needs of the child.  The mhp could also diffuse and provide therapeutic aid, as needed to a parent in need.

The parents may not have reached an agreement on all issues, but they went through a process of trying to work together.   Perhaps there was one sticking point that existed because a parent needed to be heard.  The process allowed the parents to understand the need to focus on the needs of the other parent.  The collaborative process we provided planted a seed that allowed parents to better understand and manage conflict in the future.  

A Necessary Evil

Conflict of course can a necessary evil.  There are of course cases that deal with endangerment to children, physical abuse between spouses.  Of course you may simply be dragged into conflict because of the actions of your spouse.  That too is a fact of life.  Many people “choose” a court based approach to resolving family law disputes simply because they do not understand their choices.

Why Should I Care which Path?

Litigants typically never have to interact with their opposing party ever again. Litigants typically share no relationship with one another.  Parents do not meet the characteristics of your typical litigant.  Many parents will most likely need to interact with their ex both during and after the divorce process.

Parents enter the civil litigation arena not understanding that 90% of these cases settle outside of the courtroom.   If civil litigation is high conflict, does it make sense to add more conflict help solve your problems? Is civil litigation the best choice for you in your divorce?

Problem solving requiring joint effort with both parents working towards finding solutions.   Problem solving helps parents to learn how to co parent and focus on the needs of their children.   Problem solving helps parents minimize future conflict.

Divorce does not hurt children in as much as CONFLICT hurts children.  Conflict hurts children both in the short and long term.  Conflict is the factor that affects a child’s ability to be happy, a child’s ability to feel safe and loved.

Time to choose.  Do you have an issue or a problem?  Are you a litigant or a parent?


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