Last month I was interviewed by Stewart Andrew Alexander for Impact Makers Radio on what advice I had for adults who were contemplating divorce, in the midst of divorce, or dealing with ex-spouses after the final judgement.
Stewart wanted to interview me for his “Let’s Talk Divorce!” radio series after reading several of the blogs that I posted here on family law and estate planning.
I told Stewart that while every situation is as unique as the individuals involved in them, many of the clients I have dealt with in my years of practice seem to share certain misconceptions or unreasonable expectations early in the process -- particularly with regard to how the courts handle issues involving children.
As I stated on the show’s podcast posted here: “One of the most common misconceptions is that every issue related to divorce -- or really any family law issue -- that all of those issues have to be decided by a judge. In fact, the law has several steps in the divorce process that helps people hopefully resolve some of those issues on their own.”
My point to Stewart was that some clients have inflated expectations that judges will hand down rulings on all aspects of their divorces, when in practice the parties, their attorneys and perhaps mediators do a significant amount of the work behind the scenes to build divorce agreements that are reviewed by the judges.
For instance, I said: “Most courts in Michigan will require the parties in a divorce to go through mediation, which is the process of meeting with a neutral third party who understands the law surrounding divorce, custody, and property division. Sometimes with their attorneys present, the parties will meet with a mediator with the hopes that some issues can be resolved without having to go in front of a judge and having to do battle.”
Another frequent misconception in divorces involving children is that the court will be primarily concerned with what is best for the parents, when in reality judges are primarily concerned with what is best for the children.
I mentioned to Stewart that: “In custody and parenting issues, the court will always focus on what is best for the children -- not necessarily what is best (or easiest) for the parents. That impacts such things as which parent will have the children during the week, which parent will have weekend parenting time, and how the holiday parenting time will work out. Part of my job is helping parents to understand that and possibly presenting that to a judge.”