By Lynn Seifert, Attorney at Phillips & Mille Co. L.P.A.
As someone who is a child of divorce, has been through a divorce, and deals with divorce on a daily basis, I know only too well, how hard it can be. A divorce is not only hard for the spouses, but for everyone involved, especially the children. The effect that their parent’s divorce has on a child can last a lifetime and can often affect the decisions that child makes regarding their own relationships in the future. Additionally, research has shown over and over that continued, ongoing, unresolved high conflict is harmful to children of divorce.
The choice that you make when choosing a divorce attorney is very important and will affect the experience you have through the termination of your marriage and the level of conflict. If you choose the wrong attorney, it can create more stress for you and more conflict through the process. The fact is, the more adversarial the divorce, the more conflict involved in the process, the more stressful and expensive it is for the parties. That may be good for the attorneys, but not for the families going through the divorce.
As with any profession, there are good lawyers and not so good lawyers. In today’s society, there are many different styles and approaches to dissolving a marriage. The type of attorney you pick depends on what you want from the divorce. There are some lawyers that are really good at making your spouse’s life miserable. So, if this is your goal (and you have the funds to bankroll it, because it is expensive), there are litigators sometimes referred to as “sharks.” They “play hard ball” and don’t want to talk settlement and prefer to go to trial. However, if you don’t want to spend a fortune to get divorced, I would avoid this kind of attorney.
In my opinion, the best approach to dissolving a marriage, and the one with the least harmful effect on everyone involved, is where the parties and their attorneys can work together to try and reach a resolution. In divorce, there are no winners or losers; it is about both coming out of the divorce with the least amount of damage and able to move forward.
So, if you are facing the termination of your marriage, consider looking into alternatives to traditional litigation such as Divorce Mediation or Collaborative Divorce, which are both non-adversarial processes for the dissolution of your marriage. Mediation is a process where you and your spouse work with a neutral third party (the mediator) who facilitates the negotiations between you and your spouse regarding the division of assets and the terms of your parenting plan when children are involved. A Collaborative Divorce is a structured process where the parties each have a collaborative attorney and the parties and the attorneys sign an agreement not to litigate the divorce. The Collaborative Process also utilizes other professionals, such as divorce coaches and financial neutrals, to assist the parties in reaching a fair agreement that meets both of their needs.
If you are considering the termination of your marriage and are interested in pursuing one of these alternative processes, there are local groups that endorse their use and have attorneys that utilize these processes in their practice. The Center for Principled Family Advocacy (www.famad.com) and The Cleveland Academy of Collaborative Professionals (www.collaborativepracticecleveland.com) both provide a list of attorneys who are trained in these alternative processes and can help bring a more peaceful end to your marriage.
If you or anyone you know would like more information regarding the termination of your marriage in a less stressful and costly manner, please give me a call at 440-243-2800.
Attorney P. Lynn Seifert received her undergraduate degree from Youngstown State University in 1993 with a major in Psychology and went on to earn her Law Degree from Akron University School of Law in May of 1999. She was admitted to the practice of law in the State of Ohio on November 8, 1999. Lynn has also received additional training and certications to serve as a Guardian Ad Litem, a Parenting Coordinator, a Family Law Mediator, and in the Collaborative Divorce Process. Lynn focuses her law practice exclusively in the area of Family Law and Special Education Law. Attorney Seifert is a member of the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association, Family Law Section, the Cleveland Academy of Collaborative Professionals, and the Center for Principled Family Advocacy, currently serving as co-chair for the Mediation Practice Group.