When considering divorce and and seeking out legal counsel, ask yourself - do you want an attorney who can bite the hardest or do you want an attorney who can help you build the most durable agreements which focus on your children's well-being both now and in the future while at the same time ensuring for your future financial security? What type of parent are you? What type of life do you want for your children? What type of life do you want for yourself? Are you ready to move on in healthy manner? Are you ready to be empowered to be the best you you can be?
I just spent the last 2 days (well, 1.5 days due to my own kids' schedules) focused on peacemaking in family law. I attended a conference by the world-renowned peacemaker, Woody Mosten - and Seattle's own, Kevin Scudder, (a fellow Lakeside parent as well). It was a very provocative conference challenging many attorneys' long held beliefs on how we can best help families.
Peacemaking is not only one of my strengths but is simply part of who I am. As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, I have been reading/studying personality types. I am an ENFJ who, according to Jessica Butts, author of Live Your Live from the Front Seat, can also be referred to as "The Giver." According to Butts, ENFJ's reach out to attach and interact with other living things, nurture relationships and connections, validate and value others, encourage, coach, educate and motivate, protect, help and take care of others while seeking harmony in personal relationships. This is why peacemaking seems not only natural to me but makes the most sense for families when the end goal is psychologically sound children who can move fluidly between two different yet loving and financially stable homes.
When thinking about peacemaking in terms of divorce, families and the law, many attorneys get stuck in the "win-lose" mindset rather than strategizing to accomplish a "win-win" with psychologically sound children as the beneficiaries of that "win-win" mentality. Some attorneys think of peacemaking as weak and revel in their reputations as "pit bulls" failing to see the objective damage they cause the very families they are serving. Litigation harms families, period. It is costly not only financially but emotionally as well. Helping clients to understand the end goal - psychologically sound children who live in two different yet loving and financially stable homes - can motivate a client to forego the "win-lose" mindset choosing instead to focus on a "win-win" mindset. This change of focus is critical for the children.
Meeting other attorneys who focus on peacemaking as a central part of their practice restores my hope in children's futures. It is up to attorneys to educate their clients on the various process options available (i.e. litigation, mediation, cooperative, collaborative) and the many collateral consequences of those options - not just the financial consequences. All attorneys know that there are profound psychological consequences to children who are part of a high-conflict divorce.
Choose your attorney and your divorce process carefully and wisely - your children's psychological health depends on it.