If you are exploring this site, you are probably in a life crisis or you are on the edge of a life crisis. Take comfort! You will have the strength to get through whatever the future holds for you and your relationships — with your children and with your current partner. What follows is a guide for how to manage a major transition in your life with dignity, in a way that is healthy and with processes that minimize the transaction costs while honoring your core interests. This is finding the ‘bridge over troubled waters.
SHANNON FAMILY LAW is here to help you navigate this high stress transition in your life. This page gives you some over-view of your situation and how to move through to the next stage in your life. Following pages will give details on the many aspect of the law of uncoupling and transitioning.
Every person is part of some family. You were born into a family that raised you into adult life. Some of you got “wounded” in the process because your nuclear family has some degree of dysfunction; the same is true for your partner. Whatever “wounds” you got and “ego defenses” you and your partner formed are carried forward into future relationships.
Most people find a partner — usually opposite sex, but sometime same sex –early in their adult life. Forming a family is frequently driven by highly charged emotions — the “falling in love” phase. The power of sex hormones on decision-making in selection of a partner is not to be under-estimated. The couple forms their relationship based on “agreements” — some are conscious and many may be subconscious expectations. Ego boundaries mostly disappear and egoistic defenses are lowered during the “falling in love” phase. Most humans have a deep need for a profound connection with another human — another person who loves you and unconditionally accepts you as you are.
You — like most people — soon discover that “love is blind” no matter how your relationship was formed. A partnership in life is based on mutual needs fulfillment. You take care of my needs, I take care of yours. Then, reality breaks through. Your partner disappoints your expectations. The blame game begins. Communications deteriorate; negative hostile feels replace the warm and fuzzy feelings you had in the beginning. You wonder how this could have happened to you and your partner.
Now you may have children. You are worried about how the conflict with your partner — and a possible break-up — will harm them. Trust turns into distrust. Suspicions abound. Fear fills the mind of you and your partner.
Now you realize: Where Love is present, Fear is not. Where Fear is present, Love is not.
Now is the time to realize that CONFLICT is a normal part of life in every family. The magic wand — if there is one — is to learn how to handle conflict in ways that are healthy rather than ways that are destructive. It is never too late to learn this important lesson — so that you may have a healthy and productive life going forward.
The LAW now rears its ugly head. Yes, When discord in a couple-ship reaches the break-up point. you are likely to be thrust into “litigation”. If you do not know this, you will soon be finding out. If litigation is around the corner or has arrived at your door step, then it would be best to hire a “problem solving” attorney to help plan a way to resolve your conflicts with dignity, in a way that is healthy and with processes that minimize the transaction costs while honoring your core interests.
If you are “married” — formal or informal (common-law) — then that legal status may be changed only when a judge signs a Decree of Divorce. If you are not married, but have children together, then if either parent requests it, a court will need to sign a Custody Order (in a Suit Affecting a Parent-Child Relationship).
Now you are in a thorny legal thicket. If either party forces litigation, you are looking at the prospect of enormous cost (making lawyers richer) in processes that encourage a “blame game” of competing narratives.
“Litigation” attorneys have the opportunity to be part of the problem rather than part of the solution; “litigation” attorneys may use the legal system — without violation of their cannon of legal ethics — to make moves that feel like “dirty tricks”. Each side is suspicious and distrustful. There are too many cases pending in courts for a judge to devote any substantial time to learn about the family dynamics that drive the legal issues in your case. What is the consequence? High risk that a judge — though well intended and fair-minded — will render a decision that harms the children and is not workable financially going forward. Why? Because the judge does not have the time or the proper foundation of information to make an informed, intelligent decisions.
The big question you and your partner face is: How do we get through the thorny thicket of “the law” with dignity, without financial ruin, and without becoming enemies?
The first choice you and your partner must make — assuming your couple-ship has or is about to break-up — is: Will we choose “war-fare” or “peace-fare”. Will we choose to resolve our conflicts in a way that is “adversarial” or in a “non-adversarial — problem solving” manner? There are two pathways to get through the thorny thicket of “the law” — “litigation” which is “adversarial” or one or a combination of the many “non-adversarial — problem solving” approaches.
Freedom is the opportunity to make choices. It is best to make conscious choices. The present court system is a default for “adversarial-litigation”. It will be easy for you and your partner to be drawn into “adversarial-litigation”. The court system is set-up to be “adversarial”; law schools train lawyers to be “adversarial”. You and your partner will become “enemies” if you allow yourselves to be drawn into the “adversarial” court system.
You do not have to become “enemies” even if tensions between you and your partner are high, even if you have broken off communications due to hostile feelings. Choosing “warfare” will be harmful to your children and your physical and emotion health and could send you into bankruptcy.
It takes courage and maturity to choose a “non-adversarial — problem solving” approach to resolve you conflicts. But, you do not need to sacrifice your core “interests” — your most important needs — by choosing the “non-adversarial — problem solving” approach. In fact, the “non-adversarial — problem solving” approach is the best approach for protecting your “core interests”.
Click the links to learn more about the differences between “adversarial-litigation” and “non-adversarial — problem solving” approaches — including: “collaborative divorce“, “mediation“, ” arbitration-mediation“, “integrative family law“, “negotiation“, “kitchen table negotiations” “informal settlement conferences“, “coaching“, and “adversarial-litigation“.