The Four Options Offered When Divorcing
Host Stacy Francis welcomes attorney and social worker, Kristen Lyndaker to this week’s show. Kristen holds a Master’s degree in Social Work and has worked in the foster care and adoption field. She is also a practicing matrimonial attorney who specializes in Collaborative Family Law and Mediation. This area, she says, is a niche in law where she could combine her social work skills and family and child knowledge with the legal system to help people.
- Stacy asks Kristen how her experience with social work as well as mediation changes the way she looks at the divorce process. She responds that she looks at what’s best for the family as a whole instead of advocating for one client. She empowers her clients by showing them all the options at their disposal. An adversarial approach is rarely necessary, she says, as it does not serve most couples’ and families’ needs. [4:24]
- Kristen explains the difference between mediation and collaboration and why collaboration is being used more and more these days. [6:19]
- Mediation and collaboration is voluntary, Kristen says. Even if you do litigate, most likely your case will end up in settlement, usually 18 months and thousands of dollars later. You can have the same result, plus save time and money, by choosing alternative dispute resolution. You also walk away feeling empowered, knowing that you made meaningful decisions for your children and your future. [10:13]
- Kristen shares some practical tips she uses to keep couples from falling into litigation, including looping and taking notes. [13:32]
- You can take five routes to divorce, and for each route, you give up a certain amount of control:
- Litigation – you give up total control because the court decides your future.
- Collaboration – you work through an attorney who looks to you for guidance about what’s best for you.
- Mediation – you have more control but less legal guidance and structure.
- Do It Yourself – all the control but no guidance. [17:42]
- Kristen advises you to align yourself with a professional who has your best interest at heart, and who you feel comfortable working with. [19:35]
- Going to court might be the best option if there is distrust and a lack of transparency. It’s also the right choice in cases of abuse and domestic violence. [20:37]
- Stacy asks how children can be protected through the divorce process. Kristen says parents should remember that their children love them both. She urges listeners to follow the Children’s Bill of Rights as well as the Parents’ Bill of Rights, to protect children during and beyond this scary period. When children are older and they start asking questions, answer them in an age-appropriate manner without disparaging the other parent. Always let them know that they are safe, loved and protected. She recommends speaking with a mental health professional and praises the work of the Ackerman Institute. [22:27]
- Children love routine and consistency, so try to maintain the status quo as much as possible. However, things might have to change and it may not be ideal, but do the best you can in your situation and move forward. [29:32]
- If your relationship is looking like it will end in divorce, don’t let fear and anger take over. This is just a temporary situation and you’re going to move past it, Krista reminds listeners. Take care of yourself. Treat yourself like you would treat your best friend. [32:33]
- We’re all trying to do the best we can. As we get older and have more experience, we grow and learn more about ourselves. [36:53]
New York Association of Collaborative Professionals
Find out more about the Second Opinion program
Stacy Francis: Stacy@Stacyfrancis.com
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