How to Overcome a Midlife Divorce and Embrace Your Next Chapter

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Kelly Coleman

Divorcing later in life is far from uncommon. In fact, Everyday Health reports that more than 1 in 4 people getting divorced are over the age of 50. Over half of these divorces occur after 20 years of marriage. If you were feeling unfulfilled and unsatisfied by your marriage, divorce could set you on the path to a better, brighter future. Of course, navigating the midlife slump and coming to terms with a recent divorce is no easy task. Here are some tips from Love Your Divorce to help you overcome this difficult transition and emerge stronger on the other side!

Move for a Fresh Start

After going through a period of upheaval like a divorce, moving can be just the change of scenery you need. Starting over in a new city where you don’t know anyone is an exhilarating and life-changing experience! Think about a place you love to visit and consider whether it makes sense to live there full-time. You can use online tools to research local home prices and determine the affordability of the area.

If you decide to pack up and move, make a plan for getting settled and acclimated in your new city. For example, you can make friends more easily if you say yes to everything, get out of your comfort zone, and become a regular at nearby coffee shops. And don’t be afraid to walk around like a tourist in your new city!

Invest in Healthy Household Products

Midlife is an excellent opportunity to refocus on what matters, including your health. Embrace healthy habits like eating nutritious meals and exercising often as you work to build your new life after divorce. You could even treat yourself to some new healthy household products like kitchen gadgets, workout equipment, and other health-focused items that encourage you to maintain healthy behaviors. Before buying products for your home, take the time to read in-depth product reviews to ensure your purchases are safe and healthy.

Build Your Own Business

If you’ve been living in a dual-income household for many years, becoming the sole earner can be stressful. Financial planning and cost-cutting are key! You could even start your own business to bring in some extra cash and overcome your income ceiling. Becoming an entrepreneur is also a great way to embrace your personal values and passions after a divorce, and can invigorate your midlife with a new sense of meaning and fulfillment!

As you work on your new business, consider forming an LLC to shield yourself from personal liability. Forming an LLC will legally separate you from your business, offering you invaluable peace of mind and taking some of the risks out of entrepreneurship. And with the help of online formation services, forming an LLC is easy and approachable for entrepreneurs of any experience level.

Embrace New Experiences

Sas For Women explains that life after divorce can be exciting and freeing. Use this newfound freedom to try new things, have new experiences, and make memories that will last a lifetime. This is your chance to live for yourself and try things you’ve always wanted to do, free from judgment or criticism. Whether it’s something as simple as booking a massage at a local spa or a larger adventure like taking a solo trip abroad, doing what you want is incredibly empowering, especially after going through a divorce.

While divorcing in midlife is bound to be tricky, it’s also an opportunity to grow and start a new chapter in your life. You could start your own business, move somewhere new, travel solo, or pour your time and energy into the pursuit of good health. Whatever you do, don’t forget to have fun! Embrace this period of uncertainty and have faith in your ability to heal and thrive.

Kelly Coleman is the co-creator of Consumer Health Labs, which aims to help consumers make healthy choices. They explore some of the most compelling and meaningful data so that consumers can make healthy choices when it matters the most.

For more tips, resources, and articles to help you find the silver lining in your divorce, check out Love Your Divorce!


Wealth & Wellness: Managing Financial Stress in the Wake of a Divorce

By Laura Pearson

With a shrinking economy and gloomy forecasts, many of us are already feeling financial stress, and these stressors can be exacerbated even further if you’re going through a divorce. It’s important, then, to take measures for self-care and set the foundations for a healthier, thriftier bottom line.


During times of financial hardship, it’s important not to neglect your own health and well-being. The first step towards better wealth and wellness is to set some time aside to work on yourself.

  • Meditation: Learning one (or multiple techniques) of meditation can help you to gain a new perspective on your divorce, build skills to manage stress, improve your sense of focus, reduce negativity and spark fresh inspiration. Take some time to learn about the different forms and see which of these suits you best.
  • Diet & Fitness: It’s easy to overlook your physical health as you undergo emotional and financial hardship, but you’re likely to find the road to recovery twice as easy if your body is in good nick. Start by overhauling your diet with fresh ingredients and take a few early steps to restore your exercise regime (such as going for long walks or cycling to work).
  • Therapy: In times of trauma, extreme stress, and overwhelming pressure, having someone to talk to and help guide you through your emotions can prove invaluable. If you opt-in for therapy, make sure you research the different types and find a provider with plenty of reviews and an approach you feel comfortable with.


When you’re trying to stem the financial tide, it’s important to deal with the problem at its root. That means writing a clear plan, finding ways to cut costs, and developing saving habits.

  • Financial planning: Developing a clear financial plan won’t just help you to feel better, it will allow you to mathematically calculate a viable route forward. This is especially relevant if you’re currently struggling with debt. Start by tracking current outgoings, developing a budget, and separating finances from your spouse.
  • Cost cutting: Reducing expenses is going to be crucial if you want to reduce financial stress and start working towards a more sustainable lifestyle. Take a close look at your recurring costs (such as gym memberships, utility bills, and digital subscriptions) and see where adjustments can be made or renegotiated. You may also want to start buying food & household essentials in bulk and taking advantage of the various personal finance apps.
  • Retirement funds: With all the chaos of a divorce and financial pressure, be sure not to neglect your long-term saving schemes, including retirement. This is relevant even for young persons as Social Security benefits are unlikely to completely replace income in your later years.


If your divorce is proving expensive, it may be a good idea to offset costs with supplementary income streams.

  • Side hustles: When your full-time employment is failing to uphold the expenditure of daily living, it could be time to seek an additional part-time job. Ideally, this is something that can be spread out across your week to reduce the chance of burnout – make sure to look online for ideas.
  • Career change: When we spend over 40 hours of the week doing one thing, it’s necessary for the sake of our mental health and wallets that we enjoy this thing and are compensated adequately for doing it. Fortunately, if you’re unhappy with your current circumstances, switching roles is easier now than ever. Start by developing your portfolio, revamping your CV, and looking into solutions for upskilling.

Divorces can leave us in financial hot water, but if you’re able to overcome the stress, it’s often possible to rebuild your life for a healthier, happier, and more lucrative long-term future.

Love Your Divorce is a blog and resource hub for those undergoing tribulations whilst splitting from their partners. Learn more about our work at: www.love-your-divorce.com

Laura Pearson believes that every student has great potential and aims to help as many as possible unlock it. Ms. Pearson and Edutude strive to find unique, creative ways for parents and educators to encourage students to be challenged, motivated and excited by learning.

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Money as Medicine: Seven Steps to Healing

Indigenous author Edgar Villanueva explains how money can be used to heal trauma and restore harmony.

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By Edgar Villanueva

(This is an excerpt from Mr. Villanueva’s full article published by the Omega Institute (eomega.org)  and available here: Money as Medicine: Seven Steps to Healing | eomega.org)

For most people, medicine is something used to treat or cure a disease; it is often a human-made drug, or sometimes an herb. In Native traditions, however, medicine is a way of achieving balance. An Indigenous medicine person doesn’t just heal illnesses—he or she can restore harmony or establish a state of being, such as peacefulness. And the practice of medicine is not just limited to the hands of medicine people; everyone is welcome to participate. Traditionally, Indigenous people don’t wait to be out of balance before they turn to medicine.

In the Indigenous worldview, many kinds of things can be medicine: a place, a word, a stone, an animal, a natural phenomenon, a dream, a life event like a coffee date with a friend, or even something that seems bad in the moment, such as the loss of a job. Have you ever looked back at your life and thought, That was the best thing that could have ever happened to me? That was medicine. 

In order for something or someone to serve as medicine, it only needs to be filled with or granted a kind of mystical or spiritual power. Anyone can find and use medicine, just by allowing intuition and feelings to determine whether something can serve as medicine. You listen for its sacred power; you don’t force it.

You don’t choose the medicine, the elders say—it chooses you.

We Gave Money Its Meaning & Power

It has taken me a long, long time (patience is a virtue in Indian country) to accept that the medicine that has chosen me is money. Because, I mean: money? Come on. Money corrupts. Money is dirty, even filthy. Money is the root of all evil, doesn’t the Bible say that?

But what is money but a way to measure value, to facilitate exchange? And what is exchange but a type of relationship between people? Money is a proxy for the sweat we spent on growing food, sewing clothes, assembling electronics, coding apps, creating entertainment, researching and developing innovations, and so on. It’s just a stand-in for the materials we used, the services granted, the responsibility shouldered. Money is a tool to reflect the obligations people develop toward each other as they interact.

Materially, it’s a bit of nickel, zinc, copper. It’s a little linen, mostly cotton, some ink. Actually, today mostly it’s a series of zeros and ones. Bytes, data on screens. Imaginary. Harmless.

And in fact, the Bible doesn’t say money’s the root of all evil. It says the love of money is the root of all evil—in other words, it leads to evil when we let it be more important than life, relationships, and humanity. 

I’m not saying there aren’t problems with money when it’s hoarded, controlled, used to divide people, to oppress and dominate. But that’s not the money’s fault. Inherently, money is value neutral. Humans have used money wrongfully. We’ve made money more important than human life. We’ve allowed it to divide us. We forget that we humans made money up out of thin air, as a concept, a tool for a complex society. We forget that we gave money its meaning and its power. 

Money is like water. Water can be a precious life-giving resource. But what happens when water is dammed, or when a water cannon is fired on protesters in subzero temperatures? Money should be a tool of love, to facilitate relationships, to help us thrive, rather than to hurt and divide us. If it’s used for sacred, life-giving, restorative purposes, it can be medicine.

If infidelity ruins a marriage, it does not have to ruin a family.

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There is a common misconception that the only people who can have mediated divorces are people with a “clean record.” Meaning, no fighting, no substance abuse, no cheating, and more. If you think about it, this doesn’t really make any sense. If the only people who chose amicable divorces were people with spotless relationships, then why would they be getting a divorce in the first place?

Every state in America has a version of the no-fault divorce. This means simply that the reasons for your marriage ending are no one’s business but your own. What the state cares about is that the children be treated fairly, that assets and debts be handled responsibly, and that everyone is able to pay their bills in a reasonable manner.

Many judges have gone so far as to describe infidelity in a marriage as a symptom, not a cause, of the breakdown of the marriage. This allows the parties to step back from blame and focus instead on the aspects of their lives that they wish to preserve.

Engaging in a legal battle focuses a lot of resources – money, time, energy, emotion – down an irreparable hole. Resources that might be better spent on healing the parties most severely impacted by the breakdown of the relationship.

step back from blame and focus instead on the aspects of your life that they wish to preserve

Money is one thing that genuinely helps people start to feel better after a dramatic loss. It may sound counter-intuitive, but it is true. Think of some other areas of legal practice: personal injury, products liability, breach of contract, fraud, etc. These are typically people who cannot be brought back to before the injury occurred but find an amount of comfort and healing in the financial settlement they receive.

The same is true in family law. Knowing that you are walking away with the ability to take care of yourself and your children goes a long way in the healing process. The more money a divorcing couple spends on a legal battle, the less they have available for what matters to them: housing, college, recreation, and all of the other components which make for a happier life.

Refocusing away from the fight and the pain that caused a divorce and spending that time and emotional energy on physical and emotional regrowth also goes a long way towards resolving the damage caused by a bad break-up.

Infidelity may be the signal that it is time for a couple to dissolve their marriage, but it does not necessarily mean they have to dissolve everything else they have created together. Bank accounts can be split, not drained. Relationships with children, in-laws, friends and neighbors can be preserved by setting a unified example.

And, primarily, each party’s own respect for his or herself and for the other party does not have to be dragged through a series of depositions, hearings, and trials in order for the couple to shake hands and move forward.

WHAT WE LOVE: Infidelity in a marriage may cause damage. But you can control how much damage it does.

Holidays and Starting the New Year

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As we wrap up the holidays, are you wandering from room to room wondering how you have survived so long with your spouse? Do you catch yourself forcing a smile for so long that your jaw starts to clench? Sometimes we spend the holidays with family and friends, thinking we are shielding them from our own unhappy relationships, while with each passing day we grow more and more tired of the charade.

We think that we are protecting our spouse, our children, our parents from the unhappy truth that the relationship is no longer working. We tell ourselves that it is wrong to break up over the holidays and it can wait until next year. We do our best to swallow the feelings of annoyance, anger, and resentment, for the big picture of family togetherness.

But have you ever stopped to think that maybe the only other person in the room who feels the same way is your own spouse? Maybe every time you smile through gritted teeth at a story you have heard a million times before, the person sitting next to you is biting back the words, “stop gritting your teeth!” Maybe our desire to hide the truth is also a desire to hide *from* the truth.

The first time I ever had to fire anyone was my best friend at the time. I had just graduated from law school, and was working in my parents’ firm. The office clerk was a dear friend of mine from high school (we’ll call him Chris) who had started working there while I was away.  Chris & I were both single at the time, both recently relocated back to our home town, and each other’s closest confidant and constant companion.

Chris is a smart guy. He is neat in his work habits and physical appearance. He gets along well with almost everyone. In total, a really great guy.

But, for some reason, he made dumb mistakes at work. The clerk job was pretty mindless, well below his intellectual capabilities. Yet, he would make silly mistakes, like putting papers in the copier upside down, so we got blanks instead of the intended information; putting documents into the wrong client’s file; forgetting to write down telephone messages, etc.

My parents gave me the task of letting him go, thinking it would be easier coming from a peer than from one of them. I dreaded the conversation. I didn’t want to hurt his feelings. And selfishly, I didn’t want to jeopardize the friendship.

Each time I resolved to talk to Chris about looking for different work, something would interfere. I couldn’t fire him on his birthday. I didn’t want to ruin his planned vacation. I couldn’t tell him on his first day back from vacation. Etc., Etc.

Until, eventually, the day came when the excuses were gone. His work had continued to deteriorate, and I needed to face the music. I might lose him as a friend, but I needed to fire him as an office clerk. If he needed help finding a new job, I would do what I could to help him, but that was the best I could do for him.

We sat on either side of my desk, and I said the job was not working out. He clearly did not have his heart and mind in the game and it was effecting his performance. I said how much I  valued him as a friend, but that it could not overrule what I needed to do for the law firm. It was honestly heart breaking for me. I felt like I was dumping a great boyfriend because someone else said I should.

When I finished speaking, Chris got up from his side of the desk, walked over, and gave me a big hug. He said, “I know this must be difficult for you.” Then he told me that he knew it was the wrong job for him. He confessed that he found it difficult to focus on the mundane tasks and that he really wanted to go back to school and get a master’s degree, but he felt it would be a mistake to leave a paying job. Now that the job was over,  the sudden sense of freedom made him feel exhilarated, like he was finally free to pursue what he wanted to do with his life.

The truth is, he probably would have been happier, and better off, if I had not waited all those months to let him go. The whole time that I thought I was protecting him, I was actually keeping him in the wrong situation.

As I think about the New Year and the people who are grappling with difficult decisions, I am reminded of my dear friend Chris, and how his life turned in the right direction just as I thought I was doing the worst thing I would ever do to a friend.  You never know what someone else is thinking.

As a post script, I should tell you that Chris wound up getting 3 more degrees and is happily working in publishing as an acquisitions editor, traveling the world.

WHAT WE LOVE: Sometimes the truth hurts, but sometimes it opens the door to infinite possibilities.

Hunker Down – Here Come the Holidays!

D-ThanksgivingAs we all know, the end of the year brings with it all of the joys and excitement of the holiday season.  Unless you are going through a divorce.  Then it brings all of the “joys” and “excitement” of the holiday season.

Here is an excerpt from an email I just sent a client of mine who is embroiled in a nasty bit of drama with his (soon to be ex-) wife right now.

Let me just give a background note.  She is literally certifiable.  Her therapist told me so.   They have a high level of drama in their home on a frequent basis, with three young kids in the house seeing a lot of it.

Okay, now here is what I told him to get through the long holiday weekend…

The kids do not benefit from having two sources of drama and tension in their lives. One is more than enough.  There is nothing anyone else should be able to do that creates craziness within you.  You be the calm stable force that they need.

If you will not be with your children at any point over the holiday weekend, I recommend that you have a written accounting, in the mom’s own writing and signed by the mom, detailing where the children will be every day and night.

Where will they be on Thursday?  From what time until what time?  When should you expect them to be home?

Since the children will be with the mom’s family on Thursday, it is fair that they be with your family on Friday, and you need to be willing to give an exact timeline.  If she refuses, she needs to write down that she refuses to let the children see your family on Friday, and why.

Same thing for Saturday and Sunday – where will your children be?  What are the hours? When should you expect them to be home?

As much of this as she will write down for you, the better.  Give her plenty of space within which to write down her intentions and plans.

Please remember, whatever happens, you are both in this situation for the long haul.  Try to avoid pressing any buttons or escalating any drama.  And, as it is Thanksgiving, remember to take a moment to yourself for counting your blessings.

What We Love:  “Wise men count their blessings, fools count their problems.” – Michael Franti

Being the Best You in a Divorce

I met a policeman last week.  He has been divorced 8 years and his youngest child just turned 18 after graduating high school.  His child support orders are through, over!

He spent a little time discussing the divorce process with me.  He and his wife each had their own lawyers, and they each spent quite a lot of money going through the paces that their lawyers advised. He’s a cop and she’s a teacher, so a lot of money to them has long-term implications.  It doesn’t get replaced in the next bonus cycle.  But, neither of them knew anything about divorce, so they did what they were told to do, and fought when they were told to fight, and let the Judges rule about how they would divide their parenting time and their retirement accounts, and their personal belongings.   Even talking about it this many years after the fact, he seemed sad and remorseful about the way he and his wife had spent that year of their lives.

But, not bitter. Not angry.  Just like someone who had gone down the wrong road in a maze, and was now out the maze and on with his life.  We talked a little about his kids, where they go to college; what they study, how often he sees them.

On the topic of visiting days and holidays, there was a lot of the word “we.”  As in, “we have them all home every year for Thanksgiving.”   I imagined his new wife or current girlfriend was the other half of that “we” and that she was probably a good person to embrace, and be embraced by this man’s children from a former relationship.  But, as he kept talking, it became apparent that the “we” with whom these kids spend their school vacations are their parents.   Both of them, Mom and Dad; long divorced Mom and Dad.

“Oh,” he assured me, “we don’t see each other every day, or anything like that.  We each gotta’ have our own lives.”

“Every week,” I asked.  He stopped and thought. No, probably not.

“Every month?”  He did not have to stop and think. He just said “Of course.”

I had to ask, “Why do you ‘of course’ see each other every month?”

Then he got a little sheepish, as he admitted that he still goes by her place on the first week of the month and pays her child support.  There are no children and the court order had ended, but he knows that she relies on that money to pay her bills and make ends meet.  And he couldn’t face himself if he cut her off just because the last kid was out of the house. “What kind of dad, what kind of man, would I be?” he asked me.

I told him he is a good man.  He knows he is.  I don’t know how long he intends to go on giving his ex-wife money.  Maybe she knows enough to be saving some of it for when he no longer has the ability just to help her because he wants to.  All I know is this: for now, he gets to be part of the Mom and Dad who spend every holiday and visiting day with his kids, he is welcomed in his ex-wife’s house whenever they feel like seeing each other, and – the most important part of all – he can look himself in the mirror and like what kind of man he is.

What We Love:  Bad marriages and bad divorces all end, one way or another, but good people are always good people.

Getting to the Negotiation Table

Two lawyers stood before a judge and argued whether financial affidavits should be exchanged by the 15th or the 30th of October.   They stood in a crowded courtroom and with straight faces told the judge that they were too far apart to decide which date the documents should be complete.  Neither of them made a cogent argument as to why one date mattered more than the other.  Luckily, the judge was able to have a sense of perspective and split the difference between them.   This case was billed as one hour.  15 minutes to drive to court; 30 minutes to wait their turn; 15 minutes to say their piece, get a ruling, and walk out of the courthouse; and fifteen minutes to drive back to the office.  One hour of billing for each lawyer.

The next case was called.  One lawyer stood up and asked for sanctions against another attorney for refusing to return phone calls.  This was a 45 minute bill:  time to and from court, plus the 15 minutes in front of the judge.

On the next case, 5 lawyers stood up — one for the wife, two for the husband, an attorney for the children, and a guardian-ad-litem — all unable to reach consensus as to when they should have a settlement conference.  If they can’t even find their own way to the table, I shudder to think how much they will argue once the judge finally orders them to sit down together.  This case was probably 2 hours of billing per lawyer:  30 minutes of travel; 30 minutes waiting for everyone to get there; half hour of bickering before they saw the judge; and the half hour it took for each to get a turn to speak on the record.

Every time two attorneys stand up to argue a motion they are both billing the same family for their time.   So, if one attorney costs $350/per hour; two are $700 per hour. And if it takes one lawyer one hour to drive to court, ask the judge for a ruling and leave.  It takes two lawyers all of that time, plus the time arguing their points to the judge.  One hour can quickly become two.  So, what could have cost a family $350 now costs $1400.

And that doesn’t even include the cases in which there are attorneys for the minor children, guardians ad litem, and expert witnesses.

The clients who are paying these attorneys likely each think that it is the others who are being unreasonable, certainly not their own lawyers.  Maybe the clients would prefer to pay their lawyers to stretch out the proceedings, rather than let their spouses have a single victory.  I can imagine a conversation between a lawyer and her client going something like this:

Attorney:  They want to see your financial affidavit by October 15th. Can you do it, or would you prefer I fight it?

Client:  I could do it by the 15th, but then they will win their motion.  I won’t turn it over until the 30th. Go to court!

Attorney:  You understand if both lawyers go to court for the 2 hours it will take us to get heard, at $250 per hour per lawyer, that’s $1000 for an argument you might not win.

Client:  I know, I know. It’s crazy, but I would rather spend our family’s assets on lawyers than hand in my discovery two weeks early.

It is likely more emotional than rational.  Maybe the client is tired of feeling bullied by the other spouse.  Maybe the client does not feel ready to be divorced and hopes that making each step take longer will give them more of a chance at reconciliation.

Sometimes it is the client who says,  “This is too crazy.  How do we get to the negotiating table?” Sometimes it is a lawyer who refuses to be petty and would rather just spend the billing time on substance instead of form.  Sometimes, this happens before the family runs out of money.  Too often, it does not.

What We Love: Sometimes it is the client, who says, “get me to the negotiating table.”

Weekly Glass of Wine

Why would anyone in his right mind babysit for his own kid on his free weekend while their mom, who collects alimony and child support, goes out on a date?

There are, it turns out, several reasons. When my friend Ned was newly divorced his ex-wife and he decided to stay on friendly terms. This meant that they could have a glass of wine together during pickup and drop off of their 5 year old daughter CeCe without it creating problems. Truth be told, they could not have two glasses of wine without getting into arguments, hence the divorce, but one glass was fine and dandy. So they would have an occasional fine and dandy glass of wine, wish each other the best, and go on with their lives.

One Friday afternoon, Ned stopped by his old apartment to pick up CeCe for the weekend and had a few minutes to spare, so he and his Ex poured a glass of wine and talked about their plans for the upcoming weekend. Ned was taking CeCe skating, to a movie, and some other father-daughter bonding moments. The mom, Agatha, had a date scheduled with a guy she knew from work. She was nervous and excited to begin dating again. But, this was a guy she had known for a few years, so she thought it would be okay.

Ned encouraged her to relax, have fun, and make the best of the weekend. He coached her not to expect the first date to be perfect, but it was great for her to be dating–good for herself-esteem. If anything, Ned sounded more like a supportive girlfriend than an ex-Husband.

One week later when Ned brought his daughter back to Agatha’s house for the regular visitation rotation, he asked her how the date went. Sparing you the details, it did not go well. The new guy was a reminder to Agatha of all the things that she still respected and admired about Ned. Not the “I made a mistake; I still want you” respect; but the “I am so lucky this is the guy who is raising my daughter” kind of way.

They had a laugh about it and moved onto other topics. But the lingering feeling of having a team-mate when all else looks bleak stayed with each of them. It makes the other decisions of their day-to-day balancing act that much easier. Like so many exes, they are better friends than they were spouses.

Here is the kicker. Ned confided in me that he is grateful he is there to help smooth the rough edges of Agatha’s dating life. It not only keeps them more civil with each other; but he also protects his daughter, an only child, from the hazards of a single mom’s dating life. He feels he is being both a good ex-husband and a great forever-dad in one stroke.

I think Agatha and CeCe would agree.

And THAT is why, although it is easier to miss a visitation weekend, or skip the occasional glass of wine that goes with it; the “hard work” of showing up is almost always worth it.

What We Love: People who place their self-respect on who they are for others; not just for themselves.

A COVID Silver Lining in the Judicial System

One weakness that covid exposed in many state judicial systems was the back log of family law cases which could not be addressed while courthouses were being shut down. Each state handled matters in their own way, but many adapted a new set of protocols based upon the multi-state triage and pathways model.

I was fortunate to give an introduction to this new model last week via zoom for some local family therapists so we could talk about the advantages that families may receive from this new system. Some of the complaints that we have heard from clients over the years are that it seems impossible to move a divorce matter forward without having to spend countless hours stuck in courthouse hallways waiting to be seen by a judge. Sometimes it will take more than one visit to the courthouse before a judge ever really gets to learn about the case. Many times, the case goes to various family relations officers several times before a hearing is even scheduled.

Under the new rules, states are finding ways to get the most dire cases before a judge as quickly as possible. In a manner similar to medical triage in an emergency room, this reserves court resources for the matters which need them most; and creates a path for the less severe cases to work together to resolve their own questions.

The new model is designed to limit the necessity of courthouse attendance and focus on the clients and professionals identifying what information they will need in order to resolve their differences, and then getting that information without protracted court time. One benefit of this approach is that clients become central actors in their own divorce process. Instead of waiting for lawyers and judges to tell them what to do next, the clients are responsible directly to court family relations officers in accomplishing certain basic tasks.

This makes divorces more case-specific and results in better outcomes for the family–financially and emotionally.

Another surprise outcome of courthouses being shut down is that judges are now more likely to hold online meetings and to rule on matters by reviewing paperwork without having to have attorneys and clients present in the courthouse. This saves everyone the time and aggravation of getting to and from courthouses and being part of a cattle call while they are there.

Last week I was involved in an online status conference for a courthouse over an hour form my office. In the old days (16 months ago!); I would have driven the two hours round trip, spent an hour in the courthouse waiting my turn to see the judge, and then had 5–10 minutes in front of a judge who was likely distracted by a courtroom full of people waiting their turns. That is more than 3 hours of my time.If another attorney is on the case, the family would be paying for 6 hours of legal fees.

Instead, I tuned into my allotted online platform at 9:15 a.m. and had a non-distracted 6-minute conversation with the judge.I left the call and sent specific instructions to clients, who are only being charged 15 minutes for the entire interaction.

What We Love: Better outcome for less money–now that’s a silver lining!

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