How to Divorce: The value of your initial consultation

The decision to separate or divorce is never easy. It is often made after long and difficult conversations, many sleepless nights, and heightened emotions.  After over a quarter-century consulting couples considering divorce, I know it’s a heart-wrenching process.  Along with mixed feelings of sadness, anger, and yes, even love, you may be riddled with anxiety and fear. 

Fear of the unknown. Fear of the “What if’s?”

  • What if I don’t have enough money to live comfortably on my own?
  • What if I don’t get to keep our home?
  • What if I don’t get to see my children as often as I want to?

The most logical question then becomes:  “How do we even begin?”

The importance of obtaining an initial consultation with a trusted mediator or lawyer can never be overstated. When I provide initial consults, they generally start one of two ways:

  1. Couples who want to work, together, through divorce proceedings:  Those who generally agree about the generalities of separation and divorce usually consider hiring me as a mediator to proceed in a neutral role.  I do not advocate for either partner of the couple, personally.  These divorcing couples seek a professional to provide them balanced information and procedural guidance as they move forward in a low-key, cost-efficient, and hopefully, harmonious way.  Sometimes, they only need assistance with understanding the legal implications of their decisions and help with the divorce process. Often, they recognize the need for help working through differing opinions and conflict.  Mediation can be tailored to meet unique needs for a couple and their family.
  2. Singular representation:  Sometimes, one or both parties prefer to have their own individual advocate, so only one of the parties will meet with me for an initial consultation. These consultations are based on my role as an attorney and include discussing all of the various procedural options available to them.  I will also identify their immediate issues. These include tips for handling a reluctant or actively opposing spouse, paying bills, and maintaining stability for the children through this transition.  It’s important to note that these issues are also addressed in the mediation consultation.  However, that is a neutral conversation, with both parties present.

Seek first to understand

It’s wise to know where you are heading and what to expect.  With that in mind, sometimes divorcing or separating couples wish to understand the process of divorce and the steps to follow before beginning their proceedings. They want to know what to expect from a professional, perhaps the court, as well as estimated costs and timelines. Our discussions can also be a reality-check and dispel common myths and misconceptions about separation and divorce. This is when fact-vs-fiction is clarified and is especially helpful because well-meaning friends and family, along with the Internet, can fill your head with all sorts of contradicting information during such a vulnerable time.

Initial consultations can be held at any time during your thought process, from early stages of contemplating whether a separation may be in your future, to after the decision has been made and separation is imminent. It is not unusual for a client to consult with me a year or more before they make the final decision to end their marital relationship. Sometimes, clients may use my consultation services every few months as they put things in order, both financially and emotionally, before taking that final step to proceed with formal arrangements that “make it legal.”   

This also goes for couples engaging in mediation. There are times I will do an “assessment” session with a couple to provide information, conflict coaching, and help determine if mediation is a good fit for them. Those clients then take what they’ve learned and often return several weeks or months later, ready to commit to the process of moving forward together.

Your yield:  A bounty of reliable information

Regardless of the timing, I strive to provide a wealth of information during my initial consultation so you are better prepared to make well-informed decisions as you and your spouse consider next steps. As clients are leaving after a consultation, I often hear, “I feel so much better!” and “This gives me peace of mind.” Gathering of information, early, leads to better outcomes and avoids costly mistakes, later.  

If you are contemplating a separation or divorce and would like more information, feel free to schedule a consultation. I charge a reduced flat fee for my initial consultations, during which I hope to put your mind at ease, take away some of the “overwhelm” you may feel, and help you learn how best to manage this transition in your life as you move forward.

Divorce will always remain a significant life transition. The way you handle the ending of your marriage will influence the rest of your life. If you’ve reached a decision about separation or divorce, let’s achieve a resolution that fosters both a compassionate ending to your union and a healthy new beginning for you and your family—because that is what you care about, most.  My goal is to help you focus on moving on, rather than simply moving out.  

Family Law Resolutions can be reached at 253-853-6940. All consultations are strictly confidential.


Published on February 21, 2019