What do you do when your spouse hires an aggressive attorney?

There is probably nothing worse for your divorce process than when one of you hires an aggressive attorney.

And, it amazes me that there are attorneys out there that actually advertise as just that.  ”Aggressive Family Attorney” “Aggressive representation in family cases.”

Do you really want aggressive?  Please tell me how you can put the word “aggressive” and “family” in the same description.   But I digress…

It happens.  Sometimes the fear and insecurity gets the best of someone and they feel that what they need more than anything is an “aggressive” attorney to take care of them and their case.  For the other spouse and the kids (and the client too) this usually turns into months and sometimes years of a nightmare.

The consequence of one spouse hiring an aggressive divorce attorney is usually that the other spouse will in turn feel compelled to also hire an aggressive divorce attorney.  Then, the two sides begin the heated journey along an high conflict, adversarial divorce.  The family gets lost in the process.  It is no longer about the whole but about the parts of the whole.  Sometimes in these high conflict situations, the children are even appointed their own attorney.

Here are five tips for what you can do when your spouse hires the aggressive attorney :

  1. Propose mediation now before the process gets out of control.  Ask that you handle the mediation without attorneys.
  2. Find an attorney that comes with a positive recommendation.  Hire an attorney that is not aggressive but speaks to how they deal with aggressive attorneys on the other side.
  3. Ask your spouse if he or she would consider involving a family counselor to help you with the emotions of the process.
  4. Have a discussion with your spouse about what he or she needs most and how the two of you might settle outside of court and huge attorneys’ fees.
  5. Remember to not react to everything your spouse throws at you, but at the same time, protect yourself.  Find an attorney who gets this.  Talk to at least three.

Self-care is always the most important component of going through the divorce and grief process.  Without that you will find it very difficult to think clearly and to be the best mom or dad you can be. When one spouse takes the process to an aggressive place, you have no control over what she or he does.  You only have responsibility and control over your actions.  And, I have said this many times :

It only takes one to change the course of the divorce process.  It only takes one to create a more amicable process.    (Click on the link to tweet this.)

And, there is no greater reason to do this than the kids. I met a woman last week who connected me with this documentary opening in San Francisco on June 6.  (I am working on bringing it to Washington, DC.)  Watch this clip :

Split : Children’s Journeys Through Divorce

Tell me what you think.  Have you found yourself in this situation and what did you do right what do you feel went wrong?  I would love to hear your thoughts.  Email me candace@candacesmyth.com.

Warmly and with love,

P.S. Don’t forget to ask about the new support group starting in DC this month.  Contact me (202) 587-2772.

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How Mediation Helps You File for Divorce on Your Own + Heal.

Good morning!  Ahhhh, Spring!  We have so many different birds out and about now.  There is one that has the most beautiful song — three notes — dum, dum dummmmmm.  I have to find out what kind of bird this is — its tune is so beautiful and different.  This weekend, I also got into my flower bed out front and did some excavating of my poor tulips so that they can peak above the surface.  I am ashamed to say that I have been neglectful with them this past year, so taking care of them made me really happy.  Here are the beautiful colors out my front door.  Please share your’s with me!

 

Divorce can be as easy or difficult as you want to make it.  I often feel like we self-sabotage the process — I know I did — by assuming that the process is going to be terrible, that our soon-to-be former spouse is going to be a nightmare. In fact, there are so many conversations that I have experienced among women where it is expected to be supportive of others as they rant about how terrible their ex is — how vile and evil.  No doubt there are some ex spouses that just don’t know how to behave, but we are being just as negative in our behavior when we tear them down with our words.  Worse.  As we tear our ex down — so too do we tear down that other half of our children.  No matter how difficult it is at times to take in, our children are not just of ourselves, they are of two people.  And, as we tear down our ex, we tear down them and ourselves.  We are truly all one.

“Fear-based ego is nothing more than the belief that we are separate beings, . . .  Only love is real.  And when we’are not thinking with love, since only love is real, then we’re actually not thinking at all.”  – Marianne Williamson

Today, I thought I would talk a little about how mediation can really help you file for divorce pro se, self-file, file for divorce with the assistance of attorneys.

Here’s the usual way things go down :

A husband and wife may try to work things out on their own.  Things come to a stand still or worse — things get ugly.  Each of them goes out and throws down thousands of dollars in retainers to hire attorneys.  They spend months each paying for their individual attorneys who are trained to fight for the respective client’s rights and interests.  (Note:  the children don’t usually have attorneys fighting for what is best for them.)  At the end of it all, maybe the attorneys will help the couple negotiate a settlement so that they do not find themselves in litigation, but usually the couple is truly bitter at one another in the end even if they are able to settle it out of court.

The problem with the family legal system is that it views everyone as very separate with independent right and interests.  It automatically pits two people who once loved one another (and really still do on some level) against each other.

What if, however, when a couple decides settling the issues is not possible on their own, they go straight to a mediator?

In mediation, it is most often about the whole picture and working out the details as amicably as possible.  Mediation is about listening to one another respectfully even when it is difficult to hear.  It is about working out the anger and fears by looking behind them to the triggers there.  With the help of a mediator,  a couple can actually come to an agreement on their own and file the divorce paperwork with the court themselves — saving time, worry, and money.  Each party may (and is encouraged to) have an attorney review the final settlement document, but comes to a self-made agreement, hopefully and commonly more stable emotionally and financially at the end of it.

Consider these statistics taken from a study by Dr. David Emery.  Dr. Emery’s studies at the University of Virginia’s Center for Children, Families and the Law used random assignment to ensure that both divorce mediation and litigation groups included the full spectrum of couples — determined by their ways of relating to one another. Divorce or custody dispute couples evaluated as “cooperative” “distant” and “angry” were randomly distributed to both groups.

Dr. Emery’s results found that twelve (12) years later after an average of only five (5) hours of mediation at the time of the parties’ divorce 

  • 28 percent of the nonresidential parents who mediated saw their children at least once a week, in comparison with 9 percent of parents who were assigned by the study to resolve their divorce or custody dispute by litigation.
  • 36 percent of nonresidential parents who litigated had not seen their children in the last year, in comparison with 16 percent of divorcing parents who were assigned to mediation.
  • Among divorce families who mediated, fully 59 percent of nonresidential parents talked to their children weekly or more often, compared with just 14 percent of nonresidential parents who litigated.
  • Finally, in comparison with families who went to court, the residential parent of divorcing couples who mediated, consistently reported that the nonresidential parent discussed problems with them more and participated more in the children’s discipline, grooming, religious training, errands, special events, school and church functions, recreational activities, holidays and vacations.
See more of the details from Dr. Emery’s study here.  

If you are having difficulty in your process, why not contact a mediator and just see if she or he thinks it might be helpful right now?  Call a few — see what they say.  Every mediator has his or her own style.  Make sure you find the right fit because it is an important relationship, much like a couples counselor in my view.  The more information you have, the better you are going to feel.

Going through any divorce process is difficult work and most find they do not take care of themselves through the process.  This week’s interview is about giving you simple ways to stay as physically healthy as possible through difficult times.

Linda Tabach :: Easy Care of Your Body Through Divorce.

 

 

Linda Taback is a holistic health coach, blogger, writer, running coach, half marathoner, mom of two grown children.  Linda received her health coaching certification fro the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and works mainly with women going through midlife transitions.  Linda has been featured in the Huffington Post and the book Health Tipping Point.  You can find her and more information about nutrition, healing, and running at http://lindatabach.com.

 

 

Click here to listen to the recording.   With love and light,

 

P.S.      If you are struggling to find a way through this process, call me to discuss my family mediation services.  I also provide skype mediation sessions for those outside of the DC metro area.  (202) 587-2772.

P.S.S.  If you are looking for a coach to help you divorce different and do it less expensively (much less!) and with a huge reduction in conflict, contact me by replying to this email now or call me (202) 587-2772.

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Meditation in Meditation

I have the windows in my office raised this morning. Okay, it is still a little chilly, but I am loving being connected to the outdoors while I am inside again. I feel so cooped up in the winter time. I like the burrowed-in feel for a little while and then I think my body and mind go a little crazy for sun and fresh air. This winter has been WAY TOO long for me. Do you feel that way? How have the last few days been for you?

I have a couple of things happening this week that I thought I would share with you.

First, my birthday! It is on Thursday. I turn 40. I wanted to do something in honor of it, for you, so I have decided to do something really special that day. I will let you know as soon as it is ready.

The second thing is that I have opened up my office in another location two days a week. I will be holding workshops and office hours at the Insight Meditation Community of Washington’s Center for Mindful Living. This is a dream come true for me as it provides a space that truly fits what my practice is all about. With the new space, I will be opening two local 6-week group sessions in May. One for individuals going through divorce and the other for those struggling with co-parenting either in or post-divorce. I will send more details on the groups in the next week.

I say and type the word mediation so many times throughout the day. I notice that I often say meditation or type it instead of mediation. Even when I google mediation, meditation sites pop up in answer to my search. I had not really thought much about that connection, those synchronicities until right now.

The truth is, when you are mindful about your life and how you show up in the divorce process, you are in a sense meditating. We work to keep our flight or flight – amygdala or limbic brains — centered, in a calm place so that we can think and communicate rationally about the issues before us, while using our breath, and reminding ourselves that we are okay. It is not easy. In mediation sessions, I see the rise and fall of fight or flight so often throughout, but what is clear, is that when couples are given tools to use, recognize the importance of them, and want to end the divorce in a loving way — we are using meditation in mediation.

To combine the energy of a meditation center with the heart of my mediation practice is perfect. I will post photos later in the week!

I highly recommend turning to spiritual exercise when faced with divorce. Whether meditation or prayer, the centering and calming effect of spiritual practice is unmet by any other. It is not just a band-aid.

Here are some resources that I love ::

Insight Meditation Community of Washington

Tiny Buddha

Brene Brown

Danielle LaPorte

Eckhart Tolle

Email me now :: candace@candacesmyth.com for a free guided meditation centered on awakening and being centered through the divorce process.

And, what better time to listen to an interview about vulnerability, shame and what it means to dare greatly in divorce?  This week’s North Star Sessions interview is with Amy Tatsumi.  And, here’s the link to the other North Star interviews in case you missed them.

Amy Tatsumi

Amy is a licensed professional counselor, psychotherapist, and board certified art therapist in Washington, DC.  She specializes in working with women who are depressed, anxious, stressed, in transition, or who feel stuck to help them live a more balanced life with meaningful connections.  Amy is currently working with Brene Brown to Connections Certification .  To learn more about Amy and her work, go to her website : http://tatsumiandjones.com.

Click here to listen to the recording.

With love and light,

P.S. If you are looking for a coach to help you divorce different and do it less expensively (much less!) and with a huge reduction in conflict, contact me by replying to this email now or call me (202) 587-2772.

P.S.S. If you are struggling to find a way through this process, call me to discuss my family mediation services.  I also provide skype mediation sessions for those outside of the DC metro area.  (202) 587-2772.

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How to Know You Have Hired the Wrong Attorney in Your Divorce.

I woke up this morning needing to tell you something that shines a light on what is most important in hiring an attorney for your divorce.  You see, one of the reasons I started this business (being an attorney myself) and feel so passionate about it is because I have seen family law attorneys (and attorneys in other areas of the law) become part of the process in a not so positive way.  Some attorneys thrive on conflict, and others thrive on the power it gives them to advocate on behalf someone who cannot advocate for themselves as well.  Being a public defender, immigration attorney and GLBT advocate, I know latter syndrome really well.  It makes the attorney feel better that they are able to take the burden off the client and some become almost a caretaker.

What often happens, though, is the client is disempowered by the relationship.  The client relies and looks so up to the attorney representing him or her that the attorney becomes the client.  The client is silenced.  The client is not part of the process anymore.  In family law, this is especially detrimental, in my view, to the process because the attorney-client relationship essentially ends and one of the key people in the family is not talking for him or her anymore.  The compassion, love, memory of the relationship from that perspective no longer speaks.  Once the divorce process is over then, that client is left to his or her own abilities to co-parent successfully, to communicate with his or her ex, and be an adult in life and in another (hopefully) healthy relationship.

 

Here are three very unique ways you know you have hired the wrong attorney to handle your divorce : 

 

  1. Your attorney begins to say in negotiations or in discussions with you, “well, I could never sign something that says that” or “I would never agree to that.”  If your attorneys stops remembering that you are the one that must decide (with his or her advice, of course) whether it makes sense for you and your family to sign something, you have a red flag.  If you begin looking to your attorney for every answer and have difficulty going inside yourself, you may need to seek counsel elsewhere to break the cycle.  I don’t care how much you want to bow out of the divorce process, when you do, you are not being an adult in the process.  I will save this for a future blog post because I was there one time and can speak to the feeling very well.  But, to avoid all now only makes it worse later.
  2. Your attorney never gives you an understanding of where the other side is coming from.  There are always two sides to any case, and if you are in litigation, a court may be asked to decide.  If your attorney accepts your story wholeheartedly and goes after the other side without thinking, asking or talking with you about your spouse’s emotions and triggers and the positives of his or her case or what a court might do in this situation, you have another red flag.  This is when you end up in court having spent tens of thousands of dollars and then get surprised by the result.  (and, usually you realize that you could have had that result in the beginning just trying to work it out.)
  3. Your attorney communicates with your spouse or spouse’s attorney on something important to you without discussing it or showing you the communication.  Talk about how miscommunication happens and how it escalates conflict.  Attorney-Client communication is key to having a healthy relationship and a divorce process with the least amount of conflict and drama.  When you already have more than two people in the mix, the telephone game is bound to start.  But, if you have an attorney who clears the communications with you, you ask yourself the three questions : is this true, is this an attack or retaliation move, is this really how I want things to look in the future?, and you still feel like the communication should go out, then you are good to go.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remember, you are wise.  You know what is right when you are quiet, still and listen to your higher self.  Love is truly the only answer here.  Only you, not your attorney, can speak to that truth.

 

 “When we turn on light, the darkness disappears; and when we turn on love, the ego disappears.” — Marianne Williamson

 

I hope this is helpful to you.  Please let me know what you think by replying to this email, leaving a comment on the blog http://www.candacesmyth.com/blog/ or on the facebook page.

 

I hope you have a blessed day today.
With love and light,

 

 

 

 

 

 

P.S. If you are looking for a coach to help you divorce different and do it less expensively (much less!) and with a huge reduction in conflict, contact me by replying to this email now or call me (202) 587-2772.

 

P.S.S. If you are struggling to find a way through this process and you live in Washington, DC or Maryland, call me to discuss my family mediation services.  (202) 587-2772.

 

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