We meet a lot of new clients in January/February.

There’s something about this time of year that drives people to make that call and meet with a family lawyer.  For some, this step is part of a process they have been preparing for over time.  For others the separation is unforeseen.  Unexpected and unprocessed.

It’s important for lawyers, mediators and separating spouses to understand that where one party to a separation is taken by surprise (either by the events leading to the separation or the separation itself) that spouse needs time to accept the separation and make decisions about moving forward.  A process where a spouse feels rushed will not result in a quick, efficient agreement.  Quite the opposite, in fact.

We as lawyers and mediators are often the first stop and that makes it our responsibility to work with clients to help them determine whether they would benefit from other professionals – a counselor, a therapist, a minister, a support group – before taking certain steps in the legal process.

Spouses who want to move through negotiations quickly will benefit from allowing time for a spouse who still feels blindsided by the separation to work through things at their own pace.  A successful negotiation requires all parties to be in a place where they can make important decisions about their future.  The results: less time and money spent on the professionals and a reliable agreement.

Marian Gage is a Collaborative Family Lawyer, an Accredited Family / Intergenerational Mediator (OAFM) and a Certified Specialist in Family Law