My Mother came from a generation where her motto, as a WWII veteran of the Pacific Theatre, was to “fight, fight ‘til the broad daylight.” She applied this to the entirety of her life after her military service. My mother’s marriage to my father lasted over forty years so her motto did not apply to her own marriage; rather she applied it to how she saw her place in the world. It reflected a certain mindset of her generation – that you had to fight for everything in life. Divorce back then was a long slog of an affair. In Virginia, until the 1980’s, there was a two year separation period in the case of a no-fault divorce. Fault grounds still exist today in Virginia pretty much as they did in my parents’ generation; on the basis of adultery, desertion or cruelty. My own generation, the so called “baby boomers,” were slow to adopt and incorporate alternative ways to more amicably settling divorce.
In the thirty plus years I have been in private practice I have met with clients with an initial mindset that because his or her spouse has hired a “pit-bull” lawyer, he or she has to retaliate with a “go for the kill” lawyer. Basically, “fight, fight, fight ‘till the broad daylight.” While this may be one way to resolve marital conflict; it comes at a high price in terms of future relations between the parties, the parties and any children they may have and their extended families on both sides. It is also possibly the worst way, and most expensive way, to resolve conflict. Finances can begin to get strained; two residences instead of one, two lawyer’s fees, paralegal fees, attorney support staff fees, expert fees on issues ranging from parenting to property valuation including business interests.
Let me suggest a more enlightened approach towards resolving marital conflict. The parties may select two lawyers who by temperament, background and training are more inclined to preserve the parties’ relationships post-divorce, minimize the financial impact on them, and their children, and work collaboratively to settle their disputes. While there are, of course, cases where compromise and settlement is nearly impossible (such as in domestic violence and assault of one spouse by the other or child abuse) the vast majority of cases, no matter how hotly contested, can be settled in a mature and reasoned manner where the parties are willing to look at the issues objectively and through the other party’s lens and point of view.
Written more than thirty years ago, Roger Fisher’s book “Getting to Yes” provides a model to negotiation and conflict resolution. Its concepts in resolving disputes applies as well to divorce as to business negotiations and settlement. So if you want to “fight, fight, fight ‘till the broad daylight” there are many attorneys who will go along with you. But you will be better served with negotiation, mediation, collaboration and ultimately, settlement where possible. If you’re inclined to the latter approach, consider an American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyer with the training, education and experience to litigate, where unavoidable, but willing to settle whenever possible.
If you have any questions about divorce or other family law matters, please contact Richard Gray at firstname.lastname@example.org or 703.745.1851
ABOUT RICHARD A. GRAY
Richard A. Gray focuses his practice on Family Law. Drawing on his undergraduate and graduate degrees in psychology, Richard is sensitive to how these feelings can affect important decisions that a client is trying to make. Knowing that divorce cannot change the past he directs his clients to the future and helps families rebuild their lives with dignity and emotional stability. Rather than spending unnecessary resources prolonging conflict, Richard works with clients to find solutions for moving forward and maintaining civility with each other, especially for the sake of children.
Richard is an experienced litigator, yet he always looks for ways of reaching an agreement outside the courtroom. By educating his clients on the full continuum of divorce options, including collaborative law, mediation and litigation, he enables them to be in control of their decisions. Clients appreciate his one-on-one involvement with their cases and the direct access he provides. Richard listens carefully to clients’ goals and strives to achieve them. As a voice of reason he will also advise his clients if their goals are unreasonable or will cause great harm to the parties’ relationship.
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