Valentine’s Day: The Family Lawyer’s Perspective

 

Jennifer Giles is a Domestic Lawyer in Alpharetta, Georgia.

It’s Valentine’s Day.  I’m a family law attorney, and it’s not such a romantic holiday for my clients.

In fact, another attorney and I ended up scheduling a meeting with the clients on Valentine’s Day. It was the only day that happened to work with our schedules. The case is a divorce but just about as amicable as they get.

It got me to thinking. These same people were probably sitting across the table from one another one of the past few years sipping champagne and celebrating Valentine’s Day.   Now, they are sitting across the table from one another dividing their belongings and deciding who gets the kids when. Probably not such a happy Valentine’s Day for them, but it could be much worse.

The clients to whom I am referring chose to handle their divorce through the collaborative process instead of having a pull-out-all-the-stops courtroom fight.  What does this mean?  It means that instead of sitting across the table from one another sipping champagne on Valentine’s Day, they are sitting across the table from one another sipping coffee while civilly talking about divorce.

This is a great situation to find yourself in during a divorce, especially if you have children.  Even after the Court officially declares you free of the other party in marriage (which might be a blessing for you both), you both still have your children, which means that you have to deal with each other for quite some time.

I find that one of the number one breakdowns in every relationship that comes through my office door is communication.  The clients have stopped talking to one another and at times it seems like they have completely forgotten how to speak with each other at all.  Not a good situation if there are children.  For one, children will continue down the path of being children, getting in trouble (sometimes worse than others), asking uncomfortable questions that you would rather have the other party answer… You get the picture. So, the question is if you can sit across the table from one another while discussing your divorce, can you sit across the table from one another while deciding how best to handle a kid issue?

The line between love and hate is indeed thin. A lot of times during divorce, that line is broken into tiny pieces that cannot be put back together. During a collaborative divorce, the line can be repaired at least to an extent where you can continue to communicate in the future without wanting to shred each other to pieces. Not every case is the right situation for collaborative divorce (a.k.a sitting around a table with attorneys, divorce coaches, a financial neutral, and a child specialist) but if you want to try to salvage what peace and civility that you can, perhaps it’s worth a shot. A few years after the divorce is over and your son asks about the birds and the bees, you’ll probably be glad you can call the other parent and ask for help.

Ms. Giles’s areas of practice include divorce, adoption, custody disputes, modifications, domestic violence, and other family law matters.   She speaks Spanish and has assisted Spanish-speaking clients through complex family law matters. Contact her at jgiles@atlanta-familylaw.com. 

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