August 18, 2020

Divorcing, Don’t Skip the Goal Setting

Among the earliest and most important divorce decisions is deciding on goals – for the divorce and post-divorce life. Doing so without thorough consideration is likely to result in wasted money and time and an unsatisfactory divorce resolution. 

Digging deep and identifying goals is difficult, especially during stressful times.  Science actually supports this.  That’s why when first discussing goals, many clients ask me to tell them what they should want.  The problem with this is that I’m not them.  What is important to me isn’t necessarily important to them.  It explains why clients often respond emotionally with “make them pay” or “drag it out.” Or say what they think they are supposed to want – like lifetime alimony, the house or full custody.

A key part of a lawyer’s job is to build and implement an effective efficient legal strategy to achieve what the client wants.  The reality is that a lawyer can’t do this without knowing that person’s thoroughly considered and specific goals – what they want their divorce and post-divorce life to look like. 

My practice is to spend time and attention with each client early on to help them fully develop their unique goals.  With a prioritized goal list in hand, a lawyer can begin to build a successful strategy.  Then, throughout the case, re-visit, re-evaluate and adjust the strategy as needed.

Life doesn’t stop because a divorce has started.  With specific goals and a strategy designed to achieve these, a lawyer can assist their client evaluate life decisions during the case. For example, what would be the impact of accepting a job promotion or moving in with a significant other.

Developing goals is also critical for a person trying to decide whether to divorce in the first place.  So too for anyone returning to court after a divorce because the existing order isn’t being obeyed or their situation has changed.  The reasons are similar.

Short on time with an already endless to do list, the last thing a divorcing person may want to devote attention to is developing goals.  But working closely with a lawyer committed to a goal approach will almost certainly result in a more satisfactory divorce process and beneficial outcome.

Thank you to RJ Media, which first published this article in the August 13, 2020 edition of The Cheshire Citizen.

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