“Mom, why won’t this piece fit here like it should?” My son is trying to build a Lego kit, and has made a mistake in the previous steps while trying to follow the directions. He keeps fitting the pieces together, but isn’t getting any closer to making the design on the cover of the box. I tell him he needs to go back a few steps and figure out where the pieces aren’t put together correctly. He does, and soon he is on his way.
As a collaborative divorce lawyer, working with my clients towards their ideal divorce is similar to building a Lego creation. It is not a collector’s edition kit that is pre-designed. The clients actively design this project themselves.
At the beginning of the process, we sit down and identify what an ideal divorce would look like for their family. This becomes our own design on the box that we aspire to build. To build it, the client brings the crucial information regarding their life, financially and otherwise, that we have to work with. These are the Lego pieces that we must fit together to replicate the design on the box. As a lawyer, I come to the table with knowledge of the instructions, which in this case are the statutes. The statues give us acceptable methods for fitting the Lego pieces together. Working as a team, the client and I look at the pieces we have to work with and build a divorce agreement that both fits their desired outcome and the statutes’ requirements.
Sometimes we run into the same dilemma as my son – what we are making isn’t quite turning out like we wanted. Through years of practice, I know the solution is this: go back a few steps, look again at the building blocks, review the directions, and rearrange the pieces. Before you know it, we have built what we wanted to build.
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