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Common Concerns

I don’t want judges and lawyers deciding how to raise my children. Is there another way to work out our custody agreement that will respect my values and choices?

There are several ways. You are wise not to trust judges to parent your children. It is not what they are trained for, and they are unlikely to do a good job. One solution is to locate a therapist or counselor who specializes in helping parents work out a parenting plan by working together. A mental health professional can help you both better understand your children’s needs, and each other’s point of view. If you choose this option, it is best if you also consult with an attorney who can review your options with you, and who will review the agreement when it is worked out to make sure it will work. You could also choose collaborative divorce, which is explained elsewhere on this website. You can hire a private mediator to mediate your agreement, but you should be sure that the mediator understands all the practical issues in custody cases. Again, you should also consult with your own lawyer before and after mediation. A mediator cannot give legal advice to either side, so it is important to have someone tell you what your rights and legal options are. Finally, you can use your lawyer to try to work out an agreement with the other party and his or her lawyer. This may not be the best option, but it is certainly better than going to court. Colbert Family Law, LLC can help you navigate any of these options. We are committed to empowering parents to make custody agreements that reflect their values and needs.

I need a barracuda to represent me in my divorce. Can you do that?

This question makes no sense in the context of divorce. How would a barracuda improve divorce? You and your spouse have only one pile of assets, and one set of children. If you introduce a man-eating fish into the family, the fish will devour everything and nothing will be left for you. Is that what you want?

So if I don't need a barracuda, what do I need?

Ideally, you need Mary Poppins. Someone who won't make you more angry and depressed. Someone who is good at solving problems. Someone who is good at getting people to solve problems together rather than someone who likes to fight. That would be the ideal divorce lawyer.

We just want an amicable divorce. We agree about everything. Why would I need a lawyer?

Your story makes no sense. If you agree about everything, why do you need a divorce? There is hurt and distrust lurking under every divorce. If you could trust each other absolutely, you would not be divorcing. Spouses naturally want to take advice from each other and rely on each other. But once the fundamental glue in your relationship has dissolved, you can't trust your spouse's advice. You need someone neutral and knowledgeable, whose advice you can rely on. Maybe that is your mother; or it might be a lawyer.

I am well-educated. I can do my own divorce as well as a lawyer, can't I?

You should only fix your own car if you know something about auto mechanics. Otherwise, if you expect the car to run you should pay an expert. Your divorce is your whole future — you owe it at least as much as you owe your car. And even if you know a lot of law, you still can't be objective and calm about your own life hanging in the balance. You would be better off with a trained professional.

I have to be honest with the kids about why we are divorcing, don't I?

Your first mistake is asking your lawyer this question, rather than a mental health professional. But since most people do ask their lawyers, the answer is no.

Reason #1: how you feel about your spouse has nothing to do with how the kids feel about him. They don't care if he makes eyes at other women whenever you go out together, and there is no reason why they should.

Reason #2: the kids can't divorce him, and probably don't want to. The kids love both of you, and if you force them to take sides they will blame you sooner or later.