I’m not appearing for a judicial pretrial this afternoon. And I am not spending hours preparing for a trial next week, either. Instead, I’ll be finishing up the agreement that my clients reached and preparing the forms that let the judge approve that agreement without the clients having to go to court.
The matter involved alcohol abuse, but we are not requiring supervised visitation because the clients were able to work out procedures that protect the kids and respect each other’s needs.
The husband got a job in a different state and relocated during the course of the divorce; but we are not having any choice-of-venue hearings to decide which state’s laws favor which party.
There is a marital residence that is not being liquidated for cash while the youngest child is still in high school. Instead, the parties are cooperating with each other to take out some equity now and wait to sell the house until it makes more sense for their situation.
The breakdown of the marriage may have been caused by infidelity (although that is frequently a chicken-or-egg question), but no one is sitting on a public witness stand crying through testimony about how she found out and how that felt. That work, and those emotions, are being reserved for the mental health professionals who are trained to process them.
This matter started out as a contested divorce. The wife’s attorney was a seasoned litigator, and I was representing the husband. After two or three zoom conferences amongst the four of us that seemed to lead nowhere, I received an email from my client. He told me that his wife had approached him asking if I would mediate their divorce.
I began by trying to salvage the relationship between the wife and her attorney, as a professional courtesy. But then she fired him and filed an appearance replacing him with herself. The next step of course was that everybody needed to sign waivers in order for me to change my representation.
Once all of that was done, the 3 of us were able to work together to craft an agreement that represents what they want for their future and their daughters’ futures. The agreement took a little while of back and forth, primarily because the husband has relocated out of the state.Nonetheless, when we got the notification from the court that we have a pretrial today and a trial scheduled for a week later I was so happy to be able to report to the court clerk that we are not going to trial on this matter.
The parties have worked together to come up with elegant solutions to the various thorny issues. Not only are they financially more sound because of their choices, but their children have learned first-hand that there are smarter ways out of a problem than just fighting their way through it. The parents have retained whatever amount of goodwill was left at the end of their marriage. And that goodwill should last them a long time. Now, the real healing begins.
It was brave for this woman to fire her attorney and hire her husband’s lawyer to get her through her divorce. But she saw within herself something that wasn’t being represented and she chose to honor that something within herself. She found her own way out of the trap she was in. Not only have the parents together taught their children how compassion works; she herself has taught her daughters what bravery looks like. I am enormously proud to be working with this family.
What We Love: She herself has taught her daughters what bravery looks like.