It’s inevitable that towards the end of a year, we naturally turn to reflection and evaluation of the year gone by. Equally, we naturally think about what the New Year will bring for us as well. Sometimes we know that exciting and wonderful things are on the horizon, and other times we know that big choices and hard decisions are forthcoming.
In my 15 years as a courtroom family law lawyer, social worker and mediator, I learned that for many families, the start of a New Year often poignantly marks the time that extremely deep and personal decisions about leaving relationships begins.
For some it is a New Year resolution, for others it's the symbolism of not wanting another year passing with things the way they are, and still others are just deciding that they have to just do something more formal about the reality they have already been living.
Regardless of the motivation, it seems that choices and decisions about separating or divorcing often aggressively greet the New Year.
I witnessed, learned and became to know in my career that not only legal issues needed to be transitioned during relationship breakdown for parents, but spousal relationships also needed to start transitioning to co-parenting relationships and children’s relationships with their “together” parents needed to start transitioning to relationships with separated parents, often in two homes.
Only providing legal services to clients in my prior role as a family law lawyer wasn’t the most effective way for me to help clients with all of these transitions – and because I had observed that healthy separated and divorced families had the most success when these transitions happened together, I knew I needed to do more.
It was profoundly obvious to me that using only one tool – the legal system – to deal with a relationship problem, was woefully inadequate for most families.
Of most poignant concern to me was that many families who had such great intentions at the outset lacked access to tools so stave off their worst fears: that their separation and divorce would be full of drama, conflict and pain.
Of critical concern to me was that often one of the long term consequences of that pain was that the pattern would repeat itself: children who experienced their own parents’ high conflict separation or divorce attracted the exponentially larger likelihood that their adult relationships too would share the same fate.
Having three young children of my own and intimately understanding the day to day struggles that a family experiences without the exacerbating stress that a separation or divorce attracts, I felt compelled to respond to separation or divorce differently than the traditional system of “lawyering up and heading to court”.
While I am not so naïve as to believe that lawyers and courtrooms serve no purpose, it is my core belief that separating and divorcing people should be using those resources as the exception, and not the rule, and that with credible education and support, they can make choices that align with their goals and not be victim to unnecessary and inapplicable legal distractions.
So I abandoned my private practice and created services for separating and divorcing people that I truly believe clients want, value and need: a respectful, dignified and supported separation.
As a Separation Specialist, it is my goal to be able to educate, support and coach separating and divorcing people through the immensely isolating and consuming transition of relationship breakdown no matter where clients are in their separation story.
Part of what I offer as a Separation Specialist is a critically missing element of helping people navigate their separation – ideally, with coaching and supporting both separating parents right from the outset of their decision to separate, when possible. When working with both parents isn’t possible, I know that even providing education, support and coaching to even one of the parents will greatly increase the prospect of healthy parents at the end of this process, and then in turn, healthier children.
I provide separating and divorcing clients the harmony of my law, social work and mediation backgrounds to help them navigate their separation and divorce because I am deeply committed to our community raising healthier children. I firmly believe that our experiences as children critically and everlastingly impact our character, actions and choices as adults.
As you enter into the new year, if your future or someone you love and care about has a future that may include separation or divorce, it is a personal and professional mission to give them the gift of knowing that achieving a dignified separation with professional education, support and coaching that is not financially devastating is possible no matter where they are in their separation story.