The best way to transition to Shared Parenting after separation or divorce is to have been sharing parenting and housework all along – from the day the kids were born. When we establish a new cultural norm that both parents are involved in caring for the children, then the courts have no problem dividing time equally. Some of my clients have been married 2-5 years, some 10-20 years, some never married, and some same sex couples. What they have in common is they share kids whom they love.

When parents split up, the most important thing is that they shift their relationship from an intimate, romantic one to a more business-like relationship with the common goal of raising whole, healthy, happy children. Studies show that it is the intensity and duration of the conflict that is so harmful to children of divorce.

Parents are taking a more active role these days in deciding their parenting plans. Did you know there are many ways to slice’n’dice 50/50 and still call it equal?

Some parenting time schedules are more prone to conflict than others. One day ‘ping pongs’ such as in a typical non-custodial schedule of one night a week and every other weekend are particularly hard on children. Kids need some time to settle in when they go back and forth between one parent’s home and the other.

No one ever said it’s easy for kids to have two homes. Let’s not make it harder with these one day transitions in the schedule. Some parents split the school week with Mon/Tues for one parent and Wed/Thurs for the other and then alternate weekends.

We can learn from what other states are doing. I think Arizona has one of the best guides to appropriate parenting time schedules for different ages and stages of child development.

Toddlers and preschoolers do better with transitions every few days, school age kids may do well with a 5-2-2-5 schedule, while teens often prefer as few transitions as possible – preferably week on / week off if the parents live close enough to the child’s school to make that possible.

Even a simple change in dropoff time – like Sunday 4pm instead of 6pm can make things go a little easier. With a 6pm dropoff right in the middle of dinner, if the parent dropping off is late, that can create stress all around. 4pm allows a ‘cushion’ so that the transition can go more smoothly. It also gives the child time to settle in so meal time can be a more welcoming, less stressed time.

Some things to consider when deciding on a parenting plan:

1) Can the parents communicate with each other about the kids’ needs without conflict?
2) How close do the parents live to each other – within 5 miles, less than 20 miles, in another city or state?
3) How old are the kids? Toddlers may need different schedules than teens.
4) Where is the children’s school? Are all the children at the same school?
5) Do the parents work outside the home – days/nights/weekends? Does their work involve overnight travel to other cities or states?
6) Do any of the kids have special needs – behavior, learning, dietary, frequent medical care?

Here are some parenting time schedules to consider and some of the pros & cons.


It’s good to include some language in your decree that says you will revisit your parenting time schedule every 3-5 years as circumstances change – people move, change jobs, get into new relationships, and their kids mature so the schedule they agreed upon years ago may need some updating.

EHTC offers monthly co-parenting workshops. In these workshops we cover communication and conflict resolution skills and there’s plenty of time for talking about real-life co-parenting scenarios with other parents. These groups are ONLINE via Zoom so people can log in from anywhere!

For those who need more support than what is offered in these monthly workshops, parents can purchase individual coaching sessions (packages of 6, 12, or 20 sessions which expire one year from date of purchase).

Hopefully in the classes and coachings, parents gain the communication, conflict resolution, and stress management skills they need for resolving day to day challenges. When facing a bigger issue such as    re-arranging a parenting schedule due to a move or job change, finding a care provider to address a child’s health challenge, or seeking help for a child struggling in school, consider mediation – a safe space where the parties are empowered to express what is deep in their hearts, really listen to what the other side is saying, and be open to considering options with a focus on what’s best for the child.

Adina Lebowitz, MA is a family mediator, parenting educator, and wellness coach.
Adina’s primary goal is to help families find less stress and more peace in their co-parenting. She supports parents as they are adjusting to a new separation or divorce, and continues to support them as co-parents whether they are facing day to day parenting challenges, or dealing with the impacts of stress on their lives. She is available to mediate bigger issues that impact their parenting plans like a move, job change, new relationship, or a child’s health challenge.

In partnership with the Minnesota Shared Parenting Action Group #MNSPAG she encourages schools, worship congregations, doctors/dentists/therapists, and youth activity & sports directors to communicate schedules & appointments to BOTH parents. Sharing information goes a long way towards reducing conflict and enabling co-parents to find less stress and more peace. #kidsneedboth #doit4MNkids

Elan Health Twin Cities LLC (Minnetonka, MN)

Thirty years ago, in 1990, a family lawyer in Minneapolis named Stu Webb had an idea.  He thought the idea was good enough to share with the Minnesota Supreme Court Justice at the time, “Sandy” Keith.  Stu’s letter of February 14, 1990, to Chief Justice Keith starts out:

Dear Sandy,
I met you at a party . . . several years ago.

Stu did not even know Sandy Keith!  But undaunted, Stu plows ahead:

I think I’ve come up with a new wrinkle that I’d like to share with you.  One of the aspects of mediation that I feel is a weakness is that it basically leaves out input by the lawyer at the early stages [of the mediation process]. . ..  By that I don’t mean adversarial, contentious lawyering, but the analytical, reasoned ability to solve problems and generate creative alternatives and create a positive context for settlement. 

…[Y]ou and I have both experienced, I’m sure, those occasional times, occurring usually by accident, when in the course of attempting to negotiate a family law settlement, we find ourselves in a conference with the opposing counsel, and perhaps the respective clients, where the dynamics were such that in a climate of positive energy, creative alternatives were presented.  In that context, everyone contributed to a final settlement that satisfied all concerned—and everyone left the conference feeling high energy, good feelings and satisfaction. More than likely, the possibility for a change in the way the parties related to each other in the future may have greatly increased.  As a result, the lawyers may also develop a degree of trust between them that might make future dealings more productive.

So, my premise has been:  Why not create this settlement climate deliberately?  . . . I would do this by creating a coterie of lawyers who would agree to take cases . . . for settlement only.  . . . I call the attorney in this settlement model a collaborative attorney, practicing in that case collaborative law. 

This little history might end here but Chief Justice Sandy Keith did respond to Stu’s letter(!!):

Dear Stu,
Many thanks for one of the most thoughtful letters I have received these past months.  Congratulations .  . . on the model you are setting up in the family law area.  . . . I know it will be successful.   . . . I think you have thought it through better than most attorneys and I think it is a very valid model in the family law area.

Both Stu Webb and Sandy Keith were pioneers in family law practice.  Sandy was a pioneer in using a mediation process in family law; Stu was a pioneer in creating a collaborative process in family law.  Thanks to them, out-of-court processes—mediation and collaboration—are benefiting clients all over the world.  Sandy Keith—former Minnesota Supreme Court Justice, former Lieutenant Governor, former State Senator, and former family law attorney—died October 3, 2020.  His support of the Collaborative process is not forgotten.

Footnote from Stu Webb, 10/6/20:
Here is the link to the Star Tribune Obituary of Sandy Keith, who died last Saturday, October 3 at 91!  I could say that Sandy is responsible for releasing Collaborative Law to the world!  In 1990, when I self-questioned the credibility of the concept, I wrote him a letter describing the process and, essentially, highlighting some potential advantages of it over mediation (which was his former practice specialty!)  Instead of defensively ‘shooting it down’, he Immediately sent a short note back, basically saying ‘wonderful, go for it’!  And years later, I had the honor of participating in a Collaborative Law case with him in my home office!  WHAT A GUY!!
Star Tribune Obituary \Sandy Keith:

About The Author
Tonda Mattie, has been a Family Law attorney for over 40 years and has practiced exclusively Collaborative Family Law since 2006.  She has been involved in the Collaborative Law movement since 1992.  She has been past President and past Co-President of the Collaborative Law Institute (CLI) of Minnesota.  She has headed the CLI Training Committee as chair or co-chair since 2004.  She is engaged in the practice of her dreams using a collaborative process that 1) allows good people to be their best despite the crisis they are in; 2) is centered on the well-being of the children; 3) creates a safe environment for difficult conversations; 4) focuses on the future rather than on blame and past grievances; 5) identifies and meets the needs and interests of all family members; 6) empowers parties to control and create their own mutual settlement; and 7) creates a climate in which healing can begin to occur. Visit her website at

woman reminiscing There has been some buzz about the new film on Netflix called Marriage Story about a couple, Charlie and Nicole, with a son, Henry, going through divorce. I decided to watch it since this is my area of practice and a prospective client referenced it last week in a consultation.  It started with the couple stating all these things they loved about the other person with pleasant images of life together.  I was ready for an uplifting movie, until about 8 minutes in, when I learn that the couple is in a divorce meditation session and Nicole refuses to read her list out loud of what she loves about Charlie.The mediator says he likes to start mediation with a “note of positivity” to set the stage for working together.   Noble idea, but is that the best way to start? I don’t know any mediators that start that way.  I wondered if people now think that is how all mediations start.  While I too try to start from a more positive place, I start by asking clients to identify the goals they each have for the process and outcomes so we can see if they have any common visions for the future in separate homes.  I am amazed how often people have common goals around their kids and other outcomes and many times support goals that are specific to one person.  But I don’t think I would start by asking them to share a written list of qualities they love about their soon to be former spouse.  That is more appropriate for marriage counseling. What a different dynamic that sets in mediation.  When one person wants the divorce and the other one doesn’t, it starts the process from a place of internal conflict.  It was visible in the movie.  I just don’t think mediators do that and it paints an inaccurate picture of the process. But, I appreciated how Charlie and Nicole were trying to work together in mediation.  Unfortunately, the film spent very little time on the topic of mediation. Instead, at the 20 minute mark, the story moved in the direction of the Nicole, played by Scarlett Johansson, hiring the LA attorney Nora Fanshaw, played by Laura Dern, a sexy, savvy attorney that you want to trust, but your gut tells you, “Not too fast.”  When Charlie, played by Adam Driver, goes to find his own attorney, feeling distraught that Nicole suddenly switched directions and hired an attorney, the first attorney he talks to recognizes that Nora is on the other side, clearly knowing how she operates, and says his rate is $900/hr, he needs a retainer of $25,000 and they will need to do forensic accounting for $10,000-$20,000.  Everything indicates an expensive, high stakes fight.  He then starts asking all these questions to elicit information so he can immediately start strategizing about all these angles to take and “Win!” Charlie realizes what he is walking into, leaves and eventually lands on hiring Bert Spitz at $400/hr, played by Alan Alda, after there is no one else to hire because Nicole has met with all the other “good attorneys” in order to get them disqualified from being able to meet with Charlie.  But in the end, reasonable sounding Bert isn’t tough enough against Nora so, Charlie decides to go with the $900/hr attorney afterall. Well, the whole thing devolves into a knock down drag out court battle over money, custody (including a custody evaluation), and the attorneys revealing every dark secret about the other parent and “slinging mud,” in order to convince the judge to rule in their favor.  Your heart breaks for Charlie and Nicole, but especially for Henry, caught in the middle. And then I heard my own voice say, “That is exactly why I am a Collaborative attorney, instead!”  It is clear that neither Nicole nor Charlie ever thought they would go down that vicious road but what is clear, is that the divorce took on a life of its own.  Nicole left everything to Nora to handle and decided not to question how she operated. What was also clear to me was who they each chose to represent them had everything to do with how things went.  Charlie and Nicole were not asked what was important to each of them or what they wanted for Henry.  From the moment they met the attorneys, the attorneys were building their case, setting up the chessboard and thinking about what moves to make to win the game despite the casualties. Why does that matter?  When an attorney can only think in the win-lose mind frame, that they have all the answers and that everything has to follow what they think is the right path, you are giving up all power over your family and your life. Most people I meet with want to be in charge of these major decisions that will impact their life and family.  It is important to stop and think about what is important for you, your kids, and your family.  You are still part of a family system, even when you are getting a divorce.  You are just changing the family configuration, setting new boundaries and expectations, and figuring out how to divide the assets and manage cash flow living separately.  Working with attorneys who understand this, who are focused on problem-solving and reaching a win-win outcome out of court, makes all the difference for clients and their family.  And if you have two attorneys who trust each other professionally, that is an asset to you and your spouse.  The Collaborative Divorce process offers just that: a respectful, transparent, child-focused, problem-solving out-of-court approach for divorce.  Ask yourself what story you want your children to say about their parents’ divorce when they are 25? Choose wisely.
525444317-studio-shot-of-females-hands-holding-broken-gettyimagesMarried, separated, or divorced alike, it’s hard not to feel anxious about the upcoming holiday season. Whether you love it or are dreading it, the 2015 holiday season is just around the corner. Maybe you are feeling that there is no way you are going to get through this year with your emotions in check. You are not alone. Whether you are feeling anger, sadness, grief, frustration, anxiety, etc. it is important to feel balance this time of year. How do you do that, especially if you are still grieving from your divorce? We can’t (and shouldn’t) try to banish these emotions. However, we can be intentional and generate positive emotions to help redistribute the weight of these negative emotions. So how can you do that even if you are feeling completely down this time of year? We’ve blogged previously about ways of helping others and paying it forward as ways to help ourselves emotionally, and ‘tis the season of a vast array of opportunities to help others, but here are some additional ideas for creating positive emotions in your world: Finding Nature: Nature has an amazing way of soothing us without words. Sit down and make a list of places nearby to visit nature. Maybe some are as easy as stepping out your front door and others maybe involve a little bit of a drive. Even that drive to get their can prove to be therapeutic. Nature heals and being in nature, or even viewing scenes of nature, has been shown to reduces anger, fear, and stress. Exercise: It’s no secret that exercise can help to balance your emotions – whether it’s running, walking, yoga, or even a team sport, find what you love and carve time out of your schedule to do it! When you exercise, the body releases endorphins that minimize the sensation of pain. These endorphins elevate your mood and reduce feelings of anxiety. You will also feel better when you exercise and because you are healthier, you will have more energy, and feel more balanced. Distractions: Distractions can be a positive solution for balancing emotions. Although you might be thinking that distractions will just bury your feelings to come out later on, healthy distractions provide positive emotions that will help you to release some of the negative feelings. Make a list of both healthy and unhealthy distractions that you tend to gravitate towards. While an unhealthy distraction like having drinks with friends seems like a good idea in the moment, a healthy distraction like Saturday morning coffee with a friend will prove to be better for your emotions. Focus on the Positive: Right now you might be thinking, “what positive?” At Daisy Camp we love the quote, “There is always, ALWAYS, something to be thankful for.” Maybe you’ve found journaling a helpful process for you through your divorce, which is great, but if you read through it, it may bring on raw and deep negative emotions, so start a separate gratitude journal. Make lists of what you are thankful for (past, present, and future), and try to add to that list daily. When you are feeling down – read that journal. Wishing you strength and positivity as you balance your emotions this holiday season. Remember that, “Nothing can dim the light that shines from within.” Maya Angelou. You will make it through this.
494322995-business-people-shaking-hands-in-meeting-gettyimagesIf you are facing the possibility of a divorce, choosing a divorce lawyer could be one of the most important decisions in your life. Divorce is unfair. It forces you to make some of the most difficult decisions in your life at a time when you might be least able to do so. Having someone you trust to advise you is important. There are hundreds of lawyers in the Twin Cities with significant experience handling divorce cases.  Regardless of what you may think of lawyers (and surveys would suggest that may not be overly positive) lawyers are, for the most part, like the rest of our society. They come in all shapes and sizes, and have varying degrees of skill, honesty and effectiveness. If you work hard and do your homework, you can find one of the really good ones. Perhaps more importantly, you want to the best attorney for you. The key is to know how to investigate and interview so that you find the right fit. Investigating Lawyers to Interview. The first step is to find attorneys to interview. The best way to start is to talk with people you know who have had a positive experience with their divorce attorney and find out what it is about their attorney that they liked. The other option is to research the internet carefully, at least to make sure you understand all of the process options available. While it would be reckless to choose an attorney from online information alone, the internet can be an effective way to find someone to interview. It is also a good way to learn about the main process choices that exist in our community; namely traditional representation; mediation and Collaborative Practice. Once you have found an attorney to interview (or ideally several attorneys), you should contact each attorney (by phone or email) and find out if they charge for the initial consultation. Many family law attorneys will provide consultations for free, or at little charge, in order to give you the opportunity to meet them and learn how they work. When you do interview the attorneys, do not be afraid to ask them difficult questions to help you determine if they are a good fit for you. Many books include guidance on questions to ask your attorney including, The Collaborative Way to Divorce. Make sure that each attorney that you interview provides a description of the main process choices described above and make sure they describe their experience and training in each of these areas. Attorneys, like most people, have preferences and biases and their description of the three basic options can be filtered by their own preferences, rather than being based upon actual experience. If, for example, your attorney has not had significant experience in mediation or Collaborative Law, their recommendation may be based on third hand accounts of information or bias, rather than actual expertise. To find attorneys who have experience or expertise in Collaborative Law and mediation, go to or
157282282Divorce court should be your LAST resort. After all, do you want a complete stranger in a black robe deciding the fate of your future? You do not want a judge to decide where your children will live, how much time you get to spend with them, or deciding your financial future. Once you go to court you lose the control. There are ways to stay out of the courtroom. Sitting down with your ex to work out as many issues as possible will help facilitate a settlement. Sound too easy (or maybe too difficult, if coming to agreements with your ex seems to be a difficult feat), enlist in the help of a Collaborative attorney. As part of the Collaborative law method, both parties retain separate attorneys whose job it is to help them settle the dispute. In the Collaborative process most of the formal steps are waived or postponed so that you and your spouse can focus on your divorce issues. The collaborative attorneys, along with you and your spouse, sign a contract that commits you to reach a settlement with your spouse. No one may go to court. If that should occur, the collaborative law process terminates and both attorneys are disqualified from any further involvement in the case. Having a good attorney who is a problem solver, rather than someone who creates problems, is important. You want an attorney who works with and for you, and not someone who will create unnecessary battles. Another good approach to avoiding divorce court is mediation. Mediation is used as a means of resolving cases without the need to go to trial. Mediation allows for you, your soon-to-be-ex spouse and respective attorneys to resolve issues using a third party, the mediator. A good mediator will work with the parties to settle everything with input from you as well as your attorneys. A mediator can help work out agreements on distribution of property and assets, child custody, child Support/maintenance, retirement, and taxes. Sometimes agreements come easy, sometimes they take time and a lot of work. When agreements are hard to reach, that is when the mediator intervenes. As said previously, the last thing anyone wants is to go to trial, however sometimes going to trial is simply unavoidable. What if you still find yourself in a divorce trial? Be sure to read Daisy Camp’s next blog post on, “What it Means to go to Trial in a Divorce.” Also, a wonderful book to read on the subject is the book, “The Collaborative Way to Divorce: The Revolutionary Method that Results in Less Stress, Lower Costs, and Happier Kids – Without Having to go to Court.” by Collaborative Attorneys, Stuart Webb and Ron Ousky.
I just finished watching the documentary, Divorce Corp, and I have to admit that I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, as someone who has devoted his career to helping people understand that divorce should not occur in court, or even in the shadow of the courthouse, this movie may be a powerful tool in raising awareness of this very serious issue. On the other hand, as someone who feels dedicated to the truth and who feels a deep commitment to helping people fully understand their options in a fair and honorable manner, I bristled at some of the sensationalism and the broad generalizations made from some extreme examples. To the extent that the movie attempts to show that the problem with our family law system is that it is inundated with corrupt judges, greedy lawyers and dishonest custody evaluators, I need to state very clearly that I do not believe that to be true. Having worked in the family law system in Minnesota for more than 30 years, including two decades in court, I have found that the majority of judges, divorce lawyers and custody evaluators are honest people who care about children. Indeed, one of the reasons I strongly believe that the adversarial system does not work in resolving family issues, is that operating in the shadow of an adversarial system often damages families even when you have good people involved. There is much need for reform of our system and there is a strong need to raise awareness about the alternatives to court.  I had hoped that the movie would help people understand the existing alternatives to court rather than focusing almost exclusively on proposing legislative changes. To the credit of the movie makers, they did feature excellent commentary from two very credible peacemakers that I have come to know quite well. Woody Mosten and David Hoffman, two law professors who are worldwide leaders in mediation and Collaborative Practice, gave the movie producers valuable insights on how we can help families find a better way. While very few of those insights made it into the movie, the producers did release a trailer that discussed the benefits of mediation and Collaborative Practice as alternatives to court. An article by David Hoffman also does a good job summarizing many of the shortcomings of the film. As for the rest of the movie, I am recommending that people see the movie and draw their own conclusions. Even if you disagree with some of the exaggerations and proposed solutions, as I clearly did, it will at least get us all thinking and talking about this important issue. If you happen to be someone who is facing divorce, you should not emerge from this moving believing you will have found any answers or even a real grip on the truth of our family law system. Rather, my hope is that the movie will cause you to respect the important question about how to proceed with divorce so that you will seek out reliable information about all of your options. To learn more about Collaborative Law and other options that I believe are not clearly understood, go to and
Telling your spouse you want to get a divorce may be the most difficult conversation you will ever have. The decisions you make during this critical time will affect you and your family for the rest of your life. While there are many things to consider, my view after working with divorcing families for 30 years, is that these three considerations are the most important. 1. Make sure you are doing the right thing. If you are unsure about whether divorce is your best option, make sure that you have fully explored all options. If you think counseling might work, take the time to find a counselor with experience and expertise in marriage saving. In addition, make sure you are aware that other divorce saving options, apart from counseling, that have been found to work, including programs like Retrouvaille, or programs offered through local churches and synagogues. 2. Make sure you understand all of your options before you move forward with the divorce. Divorce is no longer a “one-size fits all” process. Today there are many divorce process options and you owe it to yourself to find the option that will work best for your family.   Simply going to a traditional divorce attorney and starting a traditional divorce can be like going to a surgeon before you explore whether surgery is necessary. If possible, speak with professionals with knowledge and experience in all of the primary options, such as mediation and Collaborative Law, to make sure that you are getting accurate information about the choices available. To find professionals who can competently explain all options, go to and 3. Take some time to determine your most important goals.  One of the biggest mistakes people make when they are starting the divorce is to get locked into short-term thinking and ignore their real priorities. The sense of urgency in their current situation causes all of their attention to focus on putting out fires rather than achieving their most important goals. As a result, they look back on their divorce many years later wondering why things did not work out the way they had planned. To avoid that problem, take some time to really think about what will matter the most to you in your future life and make sure all of your divorce decisions focus on these important long term goals. It is never easy to think about ending a marriage. However, if you can focus on preserving what is most important in your life, you can make your future less difficult. Divorce is about the end of an important relationship and the beginning of a new life.  The decisions you make at the beginning will make a tremendous difference in the quality of that new life.
New YearAfter the magic of the holidays dies down it can be hard to pick up the pieces. This holds true even if your holidays didn’t seem magical. The hustle and bustle of shopping, cooking, traveling, holiday parties, etc., can create a pretty good distraction and may have you wondering, “now what?” The stress of the holidays can send couples on the brink of divorce over the edge, and likewise, people set on divorce tend to try to get through one last holiday season together “for the kids” or “for the family.” More people file for divorce in the month of January than any other time of the year. Typically the day most common for filing for divorce is the first day of the first full work week of the year, which for 2014, would be Monday, January 6. We all know New Years is as good of a time as any to start setting goals. What do you want 2014 to look like for you? Finalizing your divorce, fine-tuning your parenting plan or saving up for a much needed vacation? Fill in the post-holiday gaps by working on your goals. Maybe that vacation won’t be a reality for a long time, but planning is half the fun. Start a board on Pinterest, take a stay-cation and discover all the amazing things your city has to offer, start journaling, pick up an old hobby that maybe you haven’t done since before marriage or before kids. This painful time is a growing point in your life and there are lessons to be learned during dark times, lessons that Daisy Camp can help walk you through. Daisy Camp is a one of a kind retreat that provides financial, legal and experienced advice from qualified professionals that can help women that are going through a divorce transition. Coupled with the business seminars, many inspirational and self-care sessions help enable women to navigate the business and emotional realities that come from a divorce proceeding. Daisy Camp will be offering its first retreat of 2014 on January 25th. If you or a friend find yourself amongst the post-holiday divorce statistics please remember Daisy Camp is here to offer divorce education and support. Find more info at
In Part I of this series titled “Getting Unmarried” (my story), I wrote about making the decision to get divorced as being the most important and most difficult step for me.  I will tell you that after finally deciding to end my marriage, it was as if the weight of the world had been lifted from me.  This didn’t necessarily make the rest of the process any easier, but it did change the focus of my efforts to getting from point A to point B. Now that I had made the decision to end my 30-year marriage, my next step was to figure out how to do this.  At this point I had not discussed any of this with my spouse, although we both realized our marriage was under tremendous stress once again.  I didn’t have a clue where to begin.  I had no prior experience myself, nor had my parents been divorced.  I knew that listening to friends and family was not necessarily the best, as they naturally would find it difficult to be impartial.  I knew I didn’t want a costly or high conflict divorce. What I did want was an open, respectful, type of process that considered both of our needs and the contributions we both made to our family during our 30-year marriage.  I wanted to as much as possible be able to make decisions with my spouse about the outcomes rather than someone else making those decisions for us.  I assumed that if I ran straight to an attorney, I might run the risk of the process getting out of control.  At the time I didn’t personally know any family law attorneys.  What I chose to do was to find out about the different alternative processes to divorce, choose the one I felt most suitable for my circumstances, discuss with my spouse with the hope we could agree to a process, and then find the attorneys who could help us achieve these goals. While I knew, or I should say thought I knew, about the more traditional type of divorce process, this largely attorney driven (my opinion as a result of my divorce experience) method seemed too adversarial, too costly both financially and emotionally, and would not help me accomplish the goals I wanted to achieve.  Although this process did not seem suitable for me, in some cases depending upon circumstances, it may be the best and sometimes the only alternative available.  I would encourage anyone considering the traditional litigation type divorce process to thoroughly learn about all the process alternatives before embarking down this path. I had heard about mediation.  From my research I learned that a mediator is an independent, neutral third party who attempts to help divorcing couples resolve their differences and come to mutual agreements.  The mediator may or may not be an attorney. Regardless, the mediator is not able to advocate for either spouse, provide legal advice, nor draft any legal documents for filing with the court.  Each spouse may have his or her own attorney during the mediation process.  The attorneys, if any, may or may not participate in mediation sessions depending upon the couple’s desires. At the conclusion of mediation, the mediator typically drafts a memorandum of understanding outlining any agreements reached.  An attorney would be hired by one of the spouses to draft the necessary paperwork, using the mediator’s memorandum of understanding as a foundation for agreements, and submit the paperwork to the court. The drafting attorney is only able to represent one spouse.  The other spouse may find another attorney to review the draft decree on behalf of their interests. I always recommend that each spouse has their own attorney to make sure that each has an opportunity to ask about the law and that each fully understands the implications of their agreement.  There is nothing that requires the couple to complete the mediation process, which can be withdrawn from by either spouse at any time. While mediation seemed a better alternative to me than the traditional litigation type divorce, it still was not quite what I was looking for.  I felt as though there had to be some other way.  I started scouring the web for more information on how to get divorced or “unmarried.” Oh sure, the do it yourself options are often mentioned, but our circumstances were too complicated—long-term 30-year marriage, property, etc.—for a do-it-yourself kind of approach. A do-it-yourself divorce might possibly be used in a short-term marriage when there are no children and little property.  Furthermore, I am a believer that you get what you pay for and a do-it-yourself divorce never crossed my mind given our circumstances. In my next post I will continue with how to get divorced by sharing with you what I learned about something I had never heard of before, a collaborative divorce.  You owe it to yourself to learn about this alternative process so please stay tuned for the next session of “Getting Unmarried.” What is a collaborative divorce? Read the continued series here.