Monday, November 23, 2009

Gay and Lesbian Couples - Splitting Up

What options are available to gay and lesbian couples who are splitting up?  If they've been legally married but live in a state that doesn't recognize same-sex marriage, getting divorced may not be an option.  If they are not legally married but have kids, they may have to go to civil court to divide up their property, and to family court to get an order about their children.

It is much easier to do collaborative process or mediation, where the couple themselves can make decisions.  I've done both for same-sex couples, and they both work well, because you can be very creative in making agreements, and come up with decisions that fit your real needs.

The New York Times ran two good articles about this topic last week:

'Traditional' Divorce isn't always an Option for Gay Couples

7 Tips for Dissolving gay unions 

Saturday, November 21, 2009

How to Pick a Divorce Lawyer

The New York Times has been running a fantastic series about Divorce and Money.
 Tonight they asked people to comment on the best way to pick a divorce lawyer.  Here is my answer:
The best way to pick a divorce lawyer is to find someone who will try to optimize the situation for everyone involved (particularly the kids), not just for you. Think about the emotional and psychic costs as well as the financial costs.
I am an attorney who only does divorce mediation and collaborative law for this very reason. Lawyers are taught that they have to provide their clients with "zealous advocacy." That may work fine in business deals, but it doesn't work when it comes to families.
Mediation and collaborative process work for most families, even if you're furious at each other. They allow you and your spouse to make decisions specifically tailored to the needs of your family, they're usually cheaper and faster than litigation. Whose kids do you want to send to college - yours or your lawyer's?