Streamline Divorce

A Better Way Forward in a Challenging Time: Humanity and expertise, not drama and expense.

Public Seminar – May 27, 2015

The semi-annual free public seminar, “Divorce & Family Law: Your Roadmap to Better Options,” will be held on Wednesday, May 27, 2015 at 6:30 PM at the Brighton District Library. 

This semi-annual public seminar event is presented by the Livingston Interdisciplinary Professional Association (“LIPA”), a local community organization comprised of Livingston County judges and court officials as well as local attorneys, mediators, counselors, therapists and financial and other professionals.  LIPA’s goal is to inform and guide Livingston county couples and families in order to reach smarter, less costly and more forward-looking outcomes in divorce and family law situations through court and non-court processes. 

The seminar will feature a broad range of panelists and is intended to address questions from members of the general public as well as from professionals who are interested in information about both traditional family law as well as the growing list of alternatives to traditional court-based divorce litigation.

Space is limited and registration is required.  To register, please call (734) 998-0746 or e-mail at least two business days before the date of the seminar.   For more information about LIPA, including a brief video clip from prior seminars, please visit:

A Better Way Forward

A client contacted me last week regarding a minor post-judgment question. Her divorce had been finalized about two years earlier. It was wonderful to hear that she and her former husband were doing an excellent job of cooperating on their children’s issue. She specifically expressed gratitude that their divorce was handled in a respectful way that had led to a better outcome than reported by her friends and family members who had “terrible” divorce experiences. That is why I do what I do. If a marriage can’t be saved, there is still an opportunity for couples to move forward in a way which models a good example of cooperation and respect for their children and one another. Parties don’t necessarily need to be truly “amicable” to be mindful that heightening their conflicts makes no sense.

The process the client and her ex-husband chose to use was a combination of mediation and “streamline” divorce. Basically they received assistance in formulating a settlement. Then, once the parenting and property issues were resolved (and reviewed by their attorneys), the court phase was handled very efficiently on a streamlined basis– minimizing both the expense and the family disruption that prolonged conflict brings. Studies have suggested that divorce settled prior to filing have a much higher probability of better outcomes — the parties report better satisfaction and are less likely to return to court in the future. From my experience, I am certain this is true.

So Junior’s Activity Costs How Much?

Children and parents vary widely in talents and resources. One child may be academically gifted and a private school may best serve their intellectual gifts. Another person’s child may have a real shot at an Olympic sports team …. or have aspirations to pursue classical music activities through top-notch programs. Cultivating our children’s gifts and interests takes work … and often money. When a divorce separates the parents, what happens to the costly extra-curricular activity? Child support alone plainly won’t scratch the surface of covering the costs for many extra curricular activities.

Intact families and divorce families face similar challenges in determining their budgets for extra-curricular activities and specialized educational opportunities for their children. It often takes sacrifice, and the coordinated efforts, of both parents to help children blossom and develop into successful adults. Divorce, however, often brings with it the additional financial challenges of maintaining two households.

There is no cookie-cutter answer but, in my experience, one principle rings trues. Where parents can unite to find ways to support their children, their children know they are loved and they thrive. If there is a way to make the financial sacrifice for a child’s travel hockey or expensive equestrian activities, parents who can remain focused on the children’s best interests — married or not — can find a way. Even where the financial resources are not available, collaborative and creative brainstorming by the parents often produces results — a Steinway may be out of the question but a decent grand piano may be found second hand. (I know this first-hand.) Maybe travel soccer may be out of the question for now, but if Dad can volunteer to coach the school team, the bonding opportunity may be priceless. I am a firm believer in the saying, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Even in midst of very difficult divorces, I have witnessed parents come together to support activities their children enjoy — and which may provide their children the joy and continuity needed to help the children successfully and positively move forward in life, even though their parents are separating. Parties who can agree to work together for the sake of their children can be proud of that effort.

My clients in Streamline divorce cases and in mediated and collaborative settlements often inspire me with the creative ideas and the selflessness they demonstrate in uniting to raise their children well, despite the fact their marriage can’t be preserved. The Guideline’s minimum standards for child support under Michigan law may never cover the costs of raising a child with costly interests but loving parents, married or divorced, aren’t looking at the floor — the are looking at best possible outcomes.

If you are struggling with issues of divorce and with the costs of educating and advancing your children’s activities and interests, I always encourage the open-dialog associated with out-of-court divorce options rather than a court-based approach in which a judge may simply not have the power to devise a way forward that is best for your children.

Friends with Your Ex?

Ali Wentworth 2012 Shankbone.JPG

It is fairly rare for spouses to be actually “friendly” at the time of their decision to divorce. However, as this video interview by Ali Wentworth illustrates, divorced parents can work together and re-establish friendship for the sake of raising healthy, happy children. It is not only possible, if a divorce cannot be avoided — positive parenting relationships for the long term should be the goal.