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Spring is here.  This is traditionally a time for renewal and looking into the future towards brighter days.  People who feel trapped in their relationships use this time  to search for ways to change their lives.  If that is where you find yourself, you may be asking where to start if you want to end a marriage or long-term relationship.  A good way to start is to talk to your counselor or therapist, or a trusted friend, about taking this step.

Oftentimes it helps clarify in your mind why it is that you want a divorce (or to end the relationship if you aren’t married), and what is important to you in getting a divorce.  We often fantasize that life will be “all good” once we have left a relationship, but that is seldom the case.  Being clear in your mind that you want a divorce, and about the reasons why you want a divorce, can help you stay clear-headed and make good decisions.

Then, once you are clear that you want to end the relationship, you need to start gathering information.  That is when it can be helpful to talk to a divorce attorney about the divorce process.  I offer free consultations for the first half-hour of meeting with anyone interested in learning about divorce, and so do many other divorce attorneys.  This is a good way to find out the basic information about what to expect during the divorce process.  You can also contact the King County Bar Association and set up a 20 minute consultation with a divorce attorney at a neighborhood legal clinic .

Another option is to attend a divorce workshop.  I am a presenter at the 2nd Saturday Divorce Workshops held at Highline Community College in Des Moines, Washington, every second Saturday of the month.  At this workshop, you will spend three to four hours with a divorce attorney, a financial planner, and a mental health professional discussing all three aspects of the divorce process.  This is cost-effective and time-efficient way to get many of your questions answered.

If you are particularly concerned about the financial impact of a divorce, you might want to meet with a financial planner who specializes in helping people through a divorce.  If you are worried about the impact of a divorce on your children, you might want to set up an appointment to meet with a therapist who specializes in helping children through divorces.  If you are worried about how your partner will react, you may want to find a counselor of your own to help you plan out how you are going to address ending the relationship with your spouse.

The main thing to remember is that there is no need to jump into anything just because you feel ready to “spring forward”.  This is a time for planting seeds:  learning about your options; carefully planning how you will proceed; and laying the groundwork for moving forward in a positive direction.  When you work carefully on this  phase of planning your divorce, it can save a lot of grief in actually executing your plan later on.

Starting a New Year for me always involves looking back at the last year and thinking about new ways to move forward.  Lately, I have been working with a number of couples who are taking very positive steps in their lives to end their marriage.  Talk about a different way of looking forward!

How can anyone think a divorce is “positive”?  Isn’t that an oxymoron?  Well, no.  Sometimes people wake up and realize they are just in the wrong relationship when they look at each other.  Or one person decides they want to leave a relationship, and the other realizes that they need to let go.  Rather than getting angry and doing everything possible to destroy each other, such people decide to divorce in a way that helps them both move forward with as little trauma as possible.

Even with the decision to divorce with dignity, it may be difficult to figure out just how to do that.  You both may be committed to getting a divorce without a huge fight.  Yet there are big issues that you have to address before the marriage can end.  Maybe you have all of your retirement wrapped up in the wife’s 401(k) account and need to divide that between the two of you.  Or maybe you own a home together that is underwater.  Maybe there are special issues regarding your children that have to be addressed before you are comfortable with having them spend significant time with the other parent.  Sometimes it seems that, even if you want to work together, the only way to resolve anything is for one of you to get the short end of the stick.  That results in a fight starting even when neither person wants to fight.

That is where working with an attorney can help you out.  Whether the attorney is acting as a mediator – a third party neutral who is there to help you negotiate – or as a legal counselor – an attorney working for both of you and explaining the legal impact of your decisions as well as options you may not have thought about – or as a legal consultant – someone who can provide information about specific issues as they arise – an attorney can help you reach agreements that involve win-win solutions rather than I win and you lose scenarios.

I would love to work with couples who are committed to a divorcing with dignity and moving forward in a positive direction through divorce.  Contact me today about a free 1/2 hour consultation to discuss what options are available to help you obtain a divorce with dignity.

Divorce 101

Do you live in the Seattle area?  Are you thinking of getting a divorce?  Do you get scared or discouraged when you start looking at all of the court forms involved with getting a divorce in King County?  Are you afraid of going to an attorney because of the cost?

Getting a divorce in King County is not easy.  You have to know where to get divorce forms, how to fill them out, where to file them with the court, what needs to be served on the other party, etc., etc., etc.  A person could get very discouraged and decide it is just not worth it.

That is why I created my Divorce Classes.  They are designed to walk you through the process, with just enough direction and support to make sure you are able to reach the end goal of actually getting a divorce, but without the huge cost of hiring an attorney to help you do it. 

So, don’t let the process discourage you.  And please don’t move forward with your own divorce without at least some advice from an attorney.  The end product of a divorce is a binding legal dcoument that is very difficult to undo once a judge or commissioner has signed it. 

So sign up for a class and learn what you need to do to move forward with your divorce today.  Or, contact me for a free thirty minute consultation and I can help you through the maze that is the King County divorce process.

When I first graduated from law school I worked as a bailiff for a Superior Court Judge.   She was very much against my decision to practice divorce law (what we call “family law” in Washington State), and did her best to dissuade me.  While I was working in her courtroom, I saw several divorce trials and grew to understand her aversion to this area of practice.  The issues were messy; the parties were bent on taking as much time as allowed to say the worst about each other; and there were no good answers for solving anyone’s problems.  For instance, how can a judge who has never met the children decide an appropriate parenting schedule for them?  Her task as judge was impossible. 

The judge did not succeed in her campaign to change my mind, however, and I landed a position in a law firm practicing family law after I left Superior Court.  My first family law mentor had a poster in his office that was a black and white photograph of a large building with the words “Divorce with Dignity” carved above the doorway.  Certainly, what I had seen as a bailiff in court had not been “divorce with dignity”, and I have spent the last fifteen years of my career trying to figure out what that means.

I have come to the conclusion that “Divorce with Dignity” is when both people in a divorce can stop their headlong pursuit of blaming the other person for everything.   There is enough blame to go around in any divorce for both people to be found guilty of undermining the relationship.  But a divorce is not about what happened in the past.  It is about the future and how both spouses will be able to move forward with their lives after the divorce is finished.

This shift in thinking is really hard for people going through a divorce.  It means both spouses have to take responsibility for the end of the marriage.  It means each of them has to care about what happens to the other person.  It means they have to let go of all of that anger and frustration and pain that has built up over time.  And, at the same time, they have to decide together how to create a life without the other person in it:   how to split the resources that used to be “ours”; how to parent children when they don’t live in the same household; and how each party will support himself without the other’s income. 

Sometimes people just cannot make this shift.  That is when you end up with those ugly divorces that most people want to avoid.  But when you can shift from “past” to “future” thinking, you can find a way to divorce with dignity.  And even when only one party succeeds in shedding the past, divorce with dignity is possible.

This blog is about the shift – about letting go of the past and looking into the future during a divorce.  It is hard work, but it is worth it.

Most people don’t wish to turn broken marriages into contentious courtroom battles. They don’t think it is worth spending a lifetime of savings on a long, needlessly protracted divorce. They want to know how they can end the marriage while maintaining a relationship so they can raise children together.

Many people are asking, “can we divorce in a manner that does not destroy us both?” 

The answer is yes. A sustainable divorce is possible. The sustainable divorce option you choose will depend upon how much help you need to reach acceptable agreements about ending your relationship.

The fact that divorces are handled through the courts does not mean divorces have to go to trial or even be contentious for the parties to reach resolution of their issues.

Collaborative divorce, mediation, the use of an attorney consultant and even the option of doing your own divorce are the topics of discussion in my blog. Please join the conversation!

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