For many couples, the arrival of a new year is accompanied by feelings of hope, fresh starts, new goals and more. For some couples, the new year doesn’t bring fresh, good feelings. During the previous year (2020) as the Covid-19 pandemic became a worldwide reality, the stresses on a marriage were many. Many people noted that strong marriages became stronger while troubled marriages became even more flawed and troubled, leading some couples to considering a divorce.
Are you considering a divorce in the new year?
Getting divorced is a big decision and one that should be carefully considered before being pursued. It’s true that my office phone rings more in January than in any other month of the year. People feel the need to take action when they are unhappy, frustrated and angry.
But if you are considering a divorce, before a couple files, here are a few things to keep in mind. Dissolving a marriage is seldom easy.
1. Have you considered couples counseling? Seasoned marriage therapists practice discernment counseling which is designed to assist a couple struggling to determine if divorce is the right path for them. Effective counseling can greatly help couples talk to each other and sometimes can give them the tools they need to remain married and build toward a better relationship. Give counseling a chance to be of value you to before you decide to divorce.
2. Have you educated yourself as to the ways in which you might divorce? It is important to know the types of approaches you might choose. Most people are familiar with a litigated divorce approach and what that looks like in a court of law.
But there is also Mediation. And there is Collaborative Divorce. Each have benefits and should be contemplated before taking any substantive action.
3. Have you considered the types of professionals you would like to represent you in the divorce process? Special consideration should be given to the impact the strategy and the professional you choose will have on your minor children.
I began my career practicing traditional litigated divorces and focused on that approach solely for many years. I’ve always wanted to serve my clients in the best way, so early in my practice as a lawyer, I became much more familiar with Mediation and Collaborative Divorce as strategies, and right then I knew I had found ways I could offer even more assistance to my clients.
Most people envision a courtroom with arguing sides when they imagine a traditional litigated divorce. Sometimes this is the only approach that will work for a couple. Couples who are open to mediation quickly see the greatest benefit is that they can feel empowered to divorce versus having a judge make decisions for them in a courtroom.
And during a Collaborative Divorce a couple forms two teams consisting of collaboratively trained lawyers, financial specialists, behavioral health specialists and sometimes a divorce coach. The focus is always first on the well-being of the minor children. The two teams meet in a meeting room, not a courtroom and work through the decisions that need to be made and always with privacy versus a court where information is public. The only time the couple interacts with the court is when their divorce papers are filed with a judge.
I’ve worked on many Collaborative Divorce cases and know this option is an excellent one that couples should consider if they can agree this is a process that they would benefit from them. Obviously each case is different but at least there are good options that offer many benefits to a family well beyond high-conflict proceedings that can truly hurt a family.
In this new year, I invite couples considering a divorce to give careful thought to how they might imagine approaching their divorce. Litigation is still an option, especially when two parties can’t see eye-to-eye. Mediation is effective when a couple has the ability to communicate productively and wants to work together to come up with an agreement which both parties feel is fair and effective.
Consider the benefits of Mediation I shared in a this article. Also, there are tremendous opportunities in choosing Collaborative Divorce, in which couples truly design their divorce with the best interests of their minor children first and foremost in the process.
They proceed with privacy outside of courtrooms, accompanied by their respective Collaboratively trained professionals. This approach is powerful and often leads to better communication between the spouses, along with creative and family specific outcomes. There is also a support system in place if the case involves substance abuse or mental health issues present in the family.
If you are considering a divorce, remember that divorce is a process; one in which the professionals you select to guide you will be present in your life for a while. Careful attention should be paid to finding the right people and each spouse should look for a good fit with his or her professionals.
The good news is that as a process, divorce has a beginning and it has an end. The goal should always be to move through the process with as little damage to self and family as possible. I wish every reader a good start to the new year and if I may be of help to anyone, feel free to reach out to me.
Anna Krolikowska is an attorney in private practice in the metro-Chicago and North Suburban Chicago areas. She is a collaboratively trained attorney and Fellow of Collaborative Divorce Illinois. Within her law practice Anna works with clients using mediation, collaborative divorce process, or the litigated approach. To learn more about which strategy might be best for you contact Anna at email@example.com, or (847) 715-9328 to schedule a consultation. In June 2021 Anna will be installed as the President of The Illinois State Bar Association. Follow Anna on Facebook.com/AttyKrolikowska