Pit bulls: when lawyers want to fight

There are lawyers and then there are lawyers. Which one is right for you depends on what type of legal issue you face and how you want to go about facing it. If you need an aggressive criminal defense attorney, hire a pit bull. But if you want a low-stress, amicable Florida divorce, hiring a golden retriever is a far better choice.

If you have ever owned a golden retriever, however, you know that just because (s)he smiles a lot and generally behaves in a laid-back manner does not mean that (s)he is a wimp. (S)he is, in fact, a strong powerful dog who can hold his or her own with anyone and anything and will protect you and your kids to the death. It is to your advantage if your divorce lawyer has similar characteristics.

Collaborative divorce

More and more divorcing couples nowadays seek to end their marriage in a reasonable, respectful and cooperative manner rather than in a stereotypical nasty drawn-out court battle. If you and your spouse share this desire, perhaps the most important thing you can do is hire attorneys who are completely on board with the purpose and goals of collaborative divorce.

What are the purpose and goals? To give you and your spouse the opportunity to maintain control over your own lives by resolving your own differences in a nonthreatening, respectful and cooperative out-of-court setting. The difference between mediation and collaborative divorce, however, is that in the latter, both you and your spouse hire your own attorney to attend the negotiation meetings with you and be right by your side to protect your interests.

Choosing the right attorney

Obviously, not only must you and your spouse cooperate with each other, your respective attorneys also must cooperate with each other. They must be part of the solution, not exacerbate the issues that you and your spouse are attempting to resolve. All four of you must work together.

Always remember that attorneys are people, too. As such, not every attorney is cut out to be a collaborative divorce lawyer. Zealously representing a client does not necessarily equate to militantly representing him or her. The attorney you choose to guide you through the collaborative divorce process should be well aware of the difference and act accordingly.

3 ways you can have a respectful divorce in Fort Myers

Divorce often conjures up images of nasty court battles and high-stress, high-conflict situations. However, the good news is that not all divorces have to be this way. There are ways to proceed through a divorce in a respectful and dignified manner, which can help reduce the overall conflict and emotional stress for everyone involved.

Learn three ways about how to proceed through your divorce in a way that minimizes conflict and maximizes the chance that both spouses will emerge from the process with respect and dignity.

1. Hire a certified mediator

Certified mediators help families work through a divorce in a collaborative way. Certified mediators in Fort Myers are specifically trained in problem-solving methods that can help divorcing couples find common ground and come to shared decisions that are in the best interest of both spouses and their entire family, especially if there are children. A mediator will work with clients in a negotiation process that takes their specific needs and wishes into account to develop an agreement that is suitable and satisfactory to both spouses.

2. Make protecting children a priority

Unfortunately, children are sometimes used like “pawns” in the divorce, as if it were a game where one spouse must ultimately win and the other must lose. This approach is inherently harmful to children, who are already facing a traumatic time in the separation of their parents. Through making children a priority and working actively to ensure their best interests, both spouses can focus on the matters pertaining to their divorce rather than using their children as tools for gaining power over each other.

3. Try to avoid blame

Spouses often blame each other in divorce, but couples who can find ways to avoid blaming are able to have more respectful divorces. If a couple can find ways to try to understand what led to the divorce without immediately seeking to blame each other, it can help pave the way for collaborative decision making.

You want a divorce, but how do you tell your husband?

For a while now, you have known that the relationship you have with your husband is not working for you. He seems content to let things drift along the way they are, though, and you may worry about all the negative emotions he will feel when you tell him you are done. 

How can you make it easier for him and improve your chances of an amicable divorce?

Choose the right time

The middle of an argument may seem like an easy moment to introduce the idea that you want to split up. Actually, it is better to choose a time when you can bring it up calmly and rationally. If possible, choose a weekend or another day off so he does not have to deal with his emotions while on the job. 

Choose the right words

Talking around the subject of divorce or trying to drop hints can cause more harm than good. Instead, state your intention and your feelings directly. Setting boundaries is also important. Let him know exactly where you stand. Before you compromise and agree to counseling or a trial separation, make sure that you are open to reviving the relationship; otherwise, you are just prolonging the inevitable and may be making things more difficult.

Expect a reaction

If he truly does not have a clue that you are about to end things, he may lash out in anger. As long as there is no threat to your safety, allow him to say what he needs to say, even if it is hurtful. Getting defensive is likely to lead to blaming and shaming, which will only escalate the hard feelings and reduce the chances that the two of you will be able to work things out amicably. 

Avoid litigation

Seeking the services of a mediator increases the likelihood of a peaceful divorce, as well. Having a neutral third party present to guide your negotiations for property division, alimony and child custody and support can keep your expectations reasonable and your discussions focused. 

What factors can make it easier to get an uncontested divorce?

There is hardly any divorce that does not have difficult emotions attached. After all, if you and your spouse got along all the time, you probably would not be seeking a divorce. Whether you both are divorcing on friendly terms or there is a sense of bitterness and contention, there are usually at least a couple of items of dispute at the end of a marriage. Even so, it could be beneficial for you and other Florida residents to consider an amicable divorce.

The main types of uncontested divorce – mediation and collaborative law – have numerous advantages over litigation. They may cost significantly less than going to court, as well as take much less time to resolve disagreements. Uncontested divorce is private, whereas the issues you bring up in court will become a matter of public record. A mediated or collaborative divorce is usually less stressful for all parties, especially children. The negotiation and communication skills you learn during the collaborative or mediation process may benefit you for the rest of your life.

How do you know if you and your spouse can get through an uncontested divorce when you are both barely able to stand each other? The following points may help you decide if either of these methods might work for you:

  • You both can temporarily forget your differences while meeting to discuss your issues.
  • You can speak to each other calmly and respectfully.
  • Both of you are able to empathize with each other and keep an open mind to different or creative solutions.
  • You are willing to compromise for the sake of your children or each other’s well-being.

If you both can commit to work together to resolve your disputes, you may feel a sense of peace and relief, rather than stress and anger, when your divorce is over with. Since each situation is different, it is important to seek experienced legal counsel about choosing the right method for you.

Social media use and collaborative divorce

One thing you may have noticed time and time again when researching do’s and don’ts for your divorce is that you should limit social media use or refrain from it altogether. This is due to the fact that all types of posts and photos, be they innocent, joking or emotional, could potentially be used against you in a divorce proceeding or provoke tensions.

But what if your divorce is collaborative? What if the separation is incredibly friendly and the two of you remain on good terms? In such cases, you may think you can proceed as always on social media. However, limiting your use is still a good idea.

Your spouse’s preferences

In collaborative divorces, parties work together to achieve outcomes that are good for both of them, and the process is often respectful. The actions you take should be made with the other person in mind. That is, you might have no problem posting on Facebook about your divorce and how glad you are to remain friends. However, maybe your ex is not ready yet for your family and friends to know about the divorce, or it is incredibly hurtful for your ex to see you “business as usual” on Facebook while he or she is grieving internally.

The two of you, early on, need to decide how to handle social media and how the divorce will be announced on social media and elsewhere. Interestingly, some couples find a way to make such posts funny.

Keeping the divorce collaborative

Even in the best situations, divorce is still divorce, and loss is involved. Thus, emotions are sometimes on a sort of roller coaster. You want to keep the divorce collaborative and not risk something being taken the wrong way by your spouse in a moment of emotional insecurity. Having a plan with your spouse and being conscious of your social media use can help prevent many problems. 

3 questions to ask before starting a divorce

In your anxiousness to be free of your spouse and make the process as quick as possible, you may want to jump right into a divorce. However, simply knowing you both want a divorce is not enough to begin the process.

The approach you take will set the tone not only for your divorce proceedings, but also for the years after. Therefore, it is wise to sit down and ask yourself, as well as your spouse, these three questions first.

1. Do you have hostile feelings?

Feelings of hostility and a desire for revenge only lead to pain and suffering for everyone involved, as well as for your wallet. If you harbor resentment toward your spouse, seek professional counseling to work through those feelings so you can approach your divorce from a more stable emotional state and cooperative attitude. Divorce does not have to entail ugly court battles.

2. What do you want from the divorce?

Understanding what you want from the divorce can help you decide on the right method and uncover any adversarial feelings you may have. If you want a quick and inexpensive divorce with the most benefit for your children, try mediation. This involves a third-party facilitator who helps you and your current spouse agree on the terms of your divorce. If you desire cooperation but also want to ensure your rights or have many complex issues to navigate, collaborative law is a better choice. Each of you and your lawyers will meet together to negotiate an agreement out of court. If you desire safety from an abusive spouse, then litigation is an appropriate choice.

3. Is your attorney on board with your wishes?

You and your spouse may be on the same page, but if either of you hires an aggressive lawyer, then your civilized divorce is unlikely. Make sure you find the right fit in the person who will represent you. Your attorney should understand, respect and work toward your goals.

3 tips for divorcing peacefully

Believe it or not, divorce does not need to be an all-out war. You may love the idea of divorcing amicably, but you probably think it is impossible. While a peaceful divorce may not be achievable for everyone, if you put in the effort and are committed to your family, you can make your divorce easier than you originally thought. 

But how do you actually split up with your spouse without nasty fights and never-ending bitterness? Here are some tips to divorce far more peacefully than you could imagine.

1. Put your kids first

According to Parenting.com, prioritizing your kids and co-parenting is one of the best ways to divorce peacefully. Instead of using your children as pawns or bad-mouthing the other parent to them constantly, think about what is best for them. If you focus on the happiness of your children, it will diffuse tension and help you make healthier decisions. 

2. Do not play the blame game

While one of you may have made a giant mistake recently, you both played roles to get to this place in your life. Do not place all of the blame on your soon-to-be ex-spouse. On the other hand, do not put all the fault on yourself, either. Focus on the future instead of what either of you did to get here.

3. Find healthy outlets for your emotions

Instead of taking out all your anger on your spouse or your kids, find a productive way to express your feelings. You may even consider talking to a therapist. Even just talking to a close friend who is not close to the other parent can help. Try taking up a new hobby or exercising regularly. 

If you think you are willing to follow these three tips, you can be on your way to a cooperative divorce. This will have a much better outcome for you and your family than turning your separation into a warzone. 

3 benefits of divorce mediation

A divorce is a stressful situation and can tear a family apart. However, many couples in Florida have discovered the benefits of mediation. Mediation is a collaborative effort where a couple works together to create their divorce settlement. It is a process of negotiation where each person can speak freely and where cooperation is highly coveted.

Divorce mediation can be used in any situation. Couples with high assets, children, complex financial situations and any other complication imaginable can use this approach. Each person still gets to work with an attorney, and the court can become involved at any point if the process stops working.

There are many benefits of choosing mediation as the way to conduct a divorce. Here are three of these mediation benefits as noted by the American Bar Association.

1. It is better for children

Typically, when a couple uses mediation, they are getting along and not fighting with each other. The process naturally encourages cooperation. It helps to ease tensions and makes parents more likely to avoid the common back and forth bickering. It also leads to better custody agreements because parents are working together instead of against each other.

2. It works for any case

No situation is too complex for this option. While it does work the best when a couple can sit down together and openly discuss issues, it can be used even when couples disagree. There are bound to be disagreements in a divorce, but mediation helps to work through those instead of just arguing over them.

3. It saves money

In most cases, mediating a divorce case saves money because there is less time spent on settling the marriage. In addition, because issues are discussed rather than fought over, outside specialists are often not required.

For those getting a divorce, it is always best to try to minimize the stress and strain of the process. Couples who can agree they want out of the marriage may find mediation to be the right way to go.

Considerations in choosing a divorce attorney

Navigating through a divorce is rarely easy, but you may find the process goes much more smoothly if you take time and care when selecting a family law attorney. Choosing the right attorney from the outset can help you save money, streamline the process and even salvage or improve the relationship between you and your soon-to-be-ex spouse. Therefore, it is important you take the task seriously and avoid making any hasty decisions.

To improve the chance you find the right attorney for your needs, consider taking the following steps:

Ask yourself what you really want

If you are looking for a relatively amicable split, or if you are a parent and you and your child’s other parent share the same sentiments about prioritizing the well-being of your children above all else, you may find that mediation is the right approach for you. You may also consider hiring someone who can assist you with a collaborative divorce, which seeks to maintain the co-parenting relationship between the two of you. Both options may prove more affordable and less emotionally taxing than traditional divorce litigation.

Shop around

Just as you would probably check out more than one property before buying a home, the same should be true in choosing a divorce attorney. In addition to finding someone who is highly capable, you want to select someone who has experience with the particular kind of divorce you seek. In other words, if you want to maintain a successful co-parenting relationship with your old partner, you may want to consider a legal professional with ample experience in collaborative divorce.

Ultimately, choosing a family law attorney is about finding someone who can accomplish your end goals, but it also about finding someone who shares your philosophy and general approach to divorce. Doing so improves the chances that you will feel satisfied with the final outcome, and it may also help you sleep better at night.


3 good choices to make for a more positive divorce

The phrase “positive divorce” may seem like an oxymoron. However, it is entirely possible to go through a divorce where both people ultimately end up being better off. 

According to a report by Florida Health, over 80,000 divorces took place in the state in 2015. That was an increase from the previous year, so dissolutions of marriage are not going anywhere. In the event a married couple decides to divorce, it is vital for both parties to make the right decisions. The right choices now will greatly impact the divorce, and both people will have a greater likelihood of getting what they want. 

1. Put any children first

When a couple has children, the divorce process gets a lot more tumultuous. Therefore, both parents need to set aside differences and do what is best for the children. This involves not arguing while any kids are present and trying to keep the school situation relatively normal. Divorce can greatly impact children psychologically, especially younger children, so it is best to limit exposure to it as much as possible. 

2. Practice responsible dating

Going out on dates is a tricky proposition while going through a divorce. Therefore, both spouses should have a discussion about what dating can entail. This can include agreements such as when to introduce new partners to the kids. It can also involve the spouses informing one another of when they are dating someone else. This prevents any awkwardness from one spouse finding out about a new relationship on Facebook. 

3. Only speak highly of former partner

Children need to be able to respect both parents even after a divorce. As such, neither parent should speak negatively about the other. This prevents children from taking sides or preferring to spend more time with one parent over another. Kids need positive influences, so if couples are able to show maturity during the divorce, then children have a better likelihood of developing positive perceptions of relationships later in life.