Lisa Sirlin, Family Lawyer and Mediator at the Deer Lake Law Group shares her thoughts on divorce:
While no one can walk in the shoes of another person, having personally gone through the journey of divorce -- with 3 young children, I possess a heightened sense of empathy that I pass along to my clients.
Separation and divorce are life-altering events; emotional highs and lows are most always unavoidable. It is crucial, at this time, to have faith in the lawyer that you chosen. You must trust your lawyer and let him or her navigate you through these turbulent times.
Every family situation is unique and every party is unique. As a Family Lawyer and Mediator, it is imperative that the path chosen for each client is well thoughtout, having regard to not only for the adults, but the children, too. It is important to evaluate the pros and cons of mediating or negotiating prior to choosing a course of action.
For me, seeing clients work through their differences and reach resolution is extremely rewarding, especially if such resolution can be reached without resorting to the Courts.
Many clients face a dilemma – do they engage with their spouse in front of a neutral third party to try to work things through – or, do they retain a lawyer to commence proceedings in order to safeguard their legal position? Clients wonder – will I be perceived as weak if I suggest mediation to my spouse?
The idea of the pit bull lawyer mauling the other side to pieces is not far from our memory. The practise of "He said / She said" Affidavits, slinging mud at the other side, are far from long gone.
Yet, there is a reason why more British Columbians are resorting to mediation in resolving their family disputes. There is a reason the new Family Law Act encourages mediation and alternate dispute resolutions, and that reason is simple: lawyers and judges do not know your family as well as you do. Only you can create, with the assistance of a mediator, an agreement that makes sense for your family.
We are moving away from the view that only the tough lawyer approach will ultimately serve you best, but mediation may not be appropriate in all circumstances. If there has been a history of violence or of serious power imbalances, either physical, emotional, or financial, mediation may not be appropriate. If you fall into this category, a lawyer may be required in order to assert your legal rights and preserve your legal position.
There are situations where the parties' relationship has deteriorated to the point where engaging in on-going negotiating, even with a mediator, is simply impracticable.
Mediation is voluntary and it takes two willing and cooperative people in order for the process work.
Almost all other times, mediation ought to be looked at as a viable option.
An experienced mediator should be able to sit the two parties down and identify the numerous issues to be resolved. Through respectful communication and by giving each party the opportunity to be heard, resolution, in time, should follow. It is crucial to keep your eye on the target – that being an expeditious, less costly, interest - based and child- centered agreement.
Lisa Sirlin, Lawyer and Mediator at Deer Lake Law Group encourages those going through the process of separation or divorce to contact her so that she can work together with both spouse to create a working interim plan and a long-term solution for your unique family situation.
My experience has been that there are three big interrupters of relationship success:
Most of our waking time is spent at work. Many of us bring work home either in a brief case or in our minds. The work and life balance between spouses can only be achieved through great effort and at a cost. Many of us must pick between more income or a happy relationship at home.
When the work day is done, what little time is left is often dedicated to parenting. Lost in the equation is the relationship between partners. Like the choices we must make about work, we need to make the same choice about our children. In order for the relationship between partners to survive and prosper, each partner must choose to allocate time to the partnership. Relationship time will always be limited and should be treated as a precious.
3. Other People:
In-laws, family and friends all have opinions about each partner in a relationship. These opinions can be very disruptive to the relationship. Frankly, these opinions are often very disruptive to the restructuring that must take place after a relationship has broken-up. When in-laws, family and friends start to distract us from our relationship goals it is important to put a stop to this. We live with the severe consequences of a relationship failure while the in-laws, family and friends simply have another thing to opinion about.