If you and your spouse are getting a dissolution or a divorce and are one of the many couples who may have issues — such as co-parenting children or co-ownership of assets — which will require the two of you to be able to communicate and make joint decisions in the future, you have a choice between these two approaches:
- Get the divorce over as soon as possible and deal with communication issues at some point in the future; or,
- Work during the dissolution process on the issues that have been impeding communication so that, when the dissolution action is finalized, you are prepared to communicate and better capable of communicating on issues that will require joint decisions.
Our experience is that option A detrimentally impacts children, both during and after the divorce, and is also detrimental to the ability of the parties, in the short and long term, to communicate on issues requiring joint decisions.
Option B, while perhaps more challenging for everyone involved, produces better results for children and improved long-term communication between the parties in the vast majority of cases.
When a divorce begins, the most important decision that will be made is what process will be used to reach resolution – will it be litigation or will it be a different legal process that might be less adversarial and more constructive? The client, as opposed to the lawyer, is in charge of the choice of legal process. Do not delegate that decision to your attorney or to anyone else.
Do not be afraid to ask your attorney to identify the advantages and disadvantages of the various process alternatives to litigation. Litigation is seldom the best first choice. It is a process that all too often destroys all remaining threads of communication, damages the children, takes up to a year or longer to conclude, and exacts the greatest toll on both the marital estate and the family relationships. Be leery if you feel as though the attorney is pushing you to choose litigation as the best alternative.
If your attorney is not able to answer your questions or seems unwilling to fully address your questions, consider looking for a different attorney — one who is interested in what is important to you and important for your children.