Scott Card, an attorney and partner at Fillmore Spencer in Provo, has practiced family law for 22 years. He’s navigated divorces for hundreds of clients and understands the challenges families face as they dissolve a marriage.
“When going through a divorce, it’s usually the hardest thing they’ve ever done,” Scott says.
While it’s never easy, Scott shares four tips for ending a marriage.
1. Hire an attorney.
A qualified, experienced family law attorney will go a long way in navigating the challenges of divorce proceedings. Attorneys offer an unemotional, pragmatic view to an emotionally volatile situation.
“The complexity in family law is in the severed relationships and strong emotions. Family law is pretty straight forward, legally. A good attorney will help a client work through a hurtful situation.”
Attorneys will also be able to speak straight with clients, adjust expectations according to the law and temper emotions.
2. Get rid of preconceived notions of “fair.”
“‘Fair’ in a divorce proceeding means one of two things,” Scott says. “One, it is whatever a judge says is, by definition, ‘fair.’ Two, ‘fair’ is what two people agree upon. If mom and dad don’t agree, then ‘fair’ will be decided by a judge.”
Couples who set aside emotions and work together to find solutions are more likely to avoid a judge’s decision, which is often not agreeable to either party.
3. Maximize mediation.
Before a divorce finds its way to the bench, couples are expected to attempt mediation. Mediators are typically experienced attorneys or former judges who operate between parties and offer an independent perspective.
“The process of mediation is a good one,” Scott says. “People agree on rules to play by, then the mediator goes from party to party in separate rooms and works through the negotiations. The experienced voice of a good mediator can usually bring parties to an agreement. Good mediators are active in the process.”
4. Consider the children.
“Throughout the entire process, you have to look at what is in the best interest of the children,” Scott says. “Those are the overriding, magic legal words every attorney and judge looks at.”
Often, parents can get caught up in petty power plays. Children aren’t involved in the mediation, but they are left to adjust their lives to what is agreed upon.