Divorce - Three Essential Lessons To Help You Through The Process

Proud to have my article Divorce - Three Essential Lessons To Help You Through The Process included in the latest issue of The Reporter, the official newspaper of the Hauppauge Industrial Association of Long Island…

Do you want the truth? Divorce is painful- there is no way around that. From the lost relationship with your partner to the fear of estrangement with the children to the financial uncertainties; divorce can be emotionally draining and financially devastating. Yet, this does not have to be the case for your family. While statistics can be as diverse as each individual family, divorce rates still hover at about 50% for first time marriages and even higher for second and third marriages.  Knowing this, when I speak with people about my experiences as a divorce attorney, I emphasize the three main struggles that I see every single day in my practice. Divorce is much more expensive than people realize, it takes far longer than expected and there is a much better alternative to the traditional court-driven, divorce model.

In my experience divorce actions can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000 per person; some far exceeding these amounts. Naturally the costs vary depending on the individual’s situation, the court calendar and the attorney they hire but there is no way to avoid the fact that no one gets divorced for free. We attorneys must be paid for the time, expertise and experience that we bring to each case. I would never argue against this. Yet, the costs do not have to be as exorbitant as they often are. I once had a three-year litigated divorce that ultimately totaled four times the client’s annual salary- and that was only the costs for my client. The spouse paid a similar amount for the same action. This is money that could no longer be put into a retirement account for the couple or a college savings account for the couple’s children. After coming to a resolution that was nearly identical to the one initially proposed in the case, I view that ultimate outcome as a sad waste of resources.

Not only was there a significant amount of money expended on that case but a large quantity of time was squandered on repeatedly adjourned court appearances, useless motions and extensive travel time for my client. There are certainly times the legal protections that the court provides are necessary to properly defend a case but, more often than not, these practices can be eliminated and the wasted time can be avoided. When engaging in motion practice, holding depositions, or seeking extensive discovery, you often have to wait months or even years before you advance the case or see any relief. The court dockets are overloaded and they do not have the resources to be there for every case at a moment’s notice. Even the time between routine status conferences can be several months. The system is merely not designed to handle the number of cases it has nor the complexities of the family’s needs.   

Do you want to hear another truth? There is a much better way to resolve martial issues, completely outside of the court system. While most people have heard of mediation, which is certainly an invaluable alternative to litigation, I know very few who have heard of Collaborative Divorce. Yet more and more couples are turning to this method for the unique benefits Collaborative can provide. If mediation does not sound like the right process for you and you need your own legal representation throughout the process, then consider how Collaborative might help your family. This model offers a cost effective and time saving alternative to traditional divorce litigation while providing the family with a supportive and confidential environment that assists them in resolving their issues. Using a team approach, with family support specialists, financial experts, and an attorney for each party, the family develops a plan that will work for their unique situation, not only during the time of the divorce but well into their future. There is no wasted money or time- only result driven meetings that offer an opportunity to be heard and to be creative. As I stated, divorce is hard. I will not tell you that divorcing within the Collaborative process will change that entirely but I can promise you that the care and guidance you receive from your Collaborative team will afford you a new way of looking at your future and this cannot be found in the court system.

If you want to learn more about this non-adversarial and dignified approach to divorce and family dispute settlement, please contact a Collaboratively trained professional in your area and explore other options for your family’s future.

Elizabeth Vaz, Esq., of Vaz Law, PLLC, is a Collaborative Divorce Attorney and Family Mediator, located in Hauppauge, NY. She has taken her own childhood trauma, associated with her parents’ bitter divorce, and has transformed it into her passion to find a better way for Long Island families. Liz is the founder and president of the Long Island Collaborative Divorce Professionals, an organization dedicated to promoting alternative and supportive ways families can resolve conflict. She graduated from SUNY Stony Brook with a BA in Psychology and from Hofstra University School of Law with her J.D. She can be reached at 516-340-0282 or by email at E.Vaz@vazlaw.com

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Elizabeth Vaz