By Jack Hojnar and Cathy Reilly, Enata Homes
I recently spoke at a conference where attendees lined up at the microphone to ask questions about my presentation when someone asked, "What is the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome?"
Without hesitation, I replied, "my divorce." This response caught the audience off guard with many showing confusion. However, my divorce was undeniably the most significant challenge I had ever faced.
My business and life partner, Cathy Reilly, had a similar experience with her divorce, which was one of her most profound life challenges. Regardless of how amicable or tumultuous divorce proceedings can be, transitioning from a shared life to an unknown future is incredibly daunting. You're left wondering, "now what?"
Divorce raises numerous questions: What about the children? Who can you confide in? How will you manage finances? What will your dating life look like? Perhaps the most pressing question is: Where will you live?
Cathy and I had to grapple with these very questions in our own lives. Before we found each other, we had been in long marriages, raised children, gone through divorces, and were left to start anew. Recognizing that the process of selling and buying a home during such a transition can be profoundly emotional, we established Enata Homes to move away from a purely transactional approach.
We believe that our business is built on the relationships we forge and the unique experiences we bring to the table, not just in real estate but also in dealing with divorce. This is why we proudly sponsor and collaborate with Family Mediation Center and Hansen & Hildebrand's mediation practice, a decision that was not coincidental but based on personal experience. We firmly support the joint process of mediation, making it a natural choice to be part of this remarkable network.
For those embarking on a similar journey, our combined expertise in real estate and divorce has led us to develop a checklist for divorced home sellers and buyers:
The journey through divorce can be unnerving and daunting. Selecting the right business partners, whether they're mediation lawyers, accountants, or real estate professionals, is crucial. Surround yourself with those who are both experts in their fields and empathetic to the life-altering impact of divorce.
Cathy and I are here to assist you in transitioning from your current living situation to a fresh start, even though it may seem challenging. Please know that we've traversed a similar path in some way and are here to support you.
In the intricate landscape of divorce mediation, the primary objective is always to ensure the welfare of the children involved. As Family Law Practitioners who work jointly with couples as a Lawyer Mediator, our dedication to creating environments of stability and security is unwavering. One pressing issue we often encounter in such cases is alcohol misuse, which, if not addressed, can impact decision-making, parenting capabilities, and overall child well-being.
Within this framework, the role of a child specialist becomes indispensable. They not only act as a voice for the children but also work closely with parents to address alcohol-related issues. Their unique skills allow them to emphasize the safety and well-being of the child to support child-centered parental choices and behaviors. Child specialists collaborate with parents to craft a family plan tailored to the children's best interests, which is then incorporated into the final divorce agreement. This plan often considers aspects like placement schedules, decision-making, daily routines, and, when necessary, alcohol monitoring.
The Need for Alcohol Monitoring in Mediation
Recent studies have indicated the prominence of alcohol misuse as a significant factor in marital discord and eventual dissolution. When alcohol concerns arise, child specialists can help address alcohol monitoring in mediation to ensure the child's well-being isn't compromised.
By incorporating alcohol monitoring, divorce professionals can:
Soberlink: A Path to Assurance
Soberlink stands out as a trusted ally in this space. Their state-of-the-art, remote alcohol monitoring system offers accuracy, user-friendliness, and real-time reporting. Using Soberlink in mediation not only assures parents and professionals alike of the objective verification of sobriety but also allows for swift intervention in the case of a drinking event. Its advancements, such as facial recognition and tamper detection technology, also work to ensure authenticity while maintaining user privacy.
Steps to Integrate Alcohol Monitoring
Prioritizing Children in Divorce Mediation
At the heart of divorce mediation is the child's well-being. Alcohol misuse can muddy the waters of this process. However, with tools like alcohol monitoring and the invaluable role of child specialists, a clearer, child-centric path to resolution emerges. By focusing on the best interests of the children and ensuring their safety, we pave the way for healthier post-divorce family dynamics.
By: Susan Hansen, Co-founder of Family Mediation Center
If you are considering divorce, you are understandably concerned about your children. As you consider options, remember that you and your spouse will co-create a divorce legacy for your family. Every decision you make and every action you take will impact your children.
Will your divorce be high-conflict and destructive to your family, or will the two of you focus on restructuring your family with integrity and shared love for your children?
Imagine your now-grown child and a college roommate are talking about families, and your child says, “my parents are divorced”. The roommate asks, “what was that like for you?” What will your child say?
One way to create a positive divorce story is to work with a child specialist who can help both parents stay child-centered, provide insight about what will help or hurt children, and give input about how to have a good co-parenting relationship post-divorce. You can find a list of experienced child and family specialists who serve the Greater Milwaukee area on our Professional Resources page.
Your choice of lawyer and divorce process—do-it-yourself, mediation a joint process with one neutral lawyer, collaborative where you each have a lawyer solely focused on an out-of-court agreement, or traditional court-based representation—will profoundly affect your children. It is important to get education to make the best choice possible for you and your family.
The Family Mediation Center provides education, legal support, and referrals to help you and your children have the most positive family legacy possible. Call us at 414-939-6707 for a free phone consultation.
By: Casey Holtz, PhD, Child and Family Specialist
Parents often dread telling their children about family changes such as divorce or separation. Many parents fear how upsetting the discussion will be for their children and ultimately do not want to hurt their children. It is important, however, for parents to let children know what is coming before it happens. It is also essential that children hear it from their parents.
Here are a few of the important things to consider as you decide how to manage this challenging situation.
What to Remember During the Talk
Reach Out for More Help
If you would like more input or planning about telling your children, how to co-parent, or discuss options for restructuring your family and creating a parenting plan, consider reaching out to a child specialist or family therapist in your area. You may also contact Family Mediation Center for more information about divorce mediation to jointly navigate the legal process.
Casey A. Holtz, Ph.D.
Licensed Psychologist and Child Specialist
When couples decide to separate, they often imagine navigating a maze of complex legalities, family and financial restructuring, and emotional turbulence. At the Family Mediation Center, we believe divorce doesn't need to be a daunting or damaging process. It can be an opportunity for a fresh start and a chance to foster healthy transitions.
To make your journey smoother, we provide a comprehensive network of professionals across multiple disciplines on our Professional Resources page. These experts offer services that divorcing couples might need or find beneficial throughout the divorce process.
Here's an overview of the various professional resources we've curated and why they are essential.
Child and Family Specialists
Divorce inevitably comes with changes to your family’s structure, and these changes can significantly impact children. Child and family specialists provide strategies to manage the emotional aspects of divorce for children, minimize conflicts, and offer communication strategies to support your co-parenting and your child's future well-being.
Read more: How a Child Specialist Can Help You and Your Child
Divorce often brings significant changes to a family's financial landscape. A financial planner can help develop a post-divorce budget, create financial goals, provide investment advice, and ensure you're on a secure path for the future.
Property division can be one of the most complicated aspects of divorce. Engaging a realtor who is experienced in divorce scenarios can help ensure that property sales or acquisitions are made efficiently, equitably, and with minimal stress.
A divorce might require you to refinance a mortgage or purchase a new home. Mortgage lenders can guide you through this process, helping you understand your options and secure the best possible terms.
For couples who own businesses, your divorce may involve the division of those assets. Business advisors can provide valuation, assess tax implications, and guide you through the process of separating business assets equitably.
Divorce requires a review of your estate plan. Estate planning attorneys can ensure that wills, trusts, beneficiaries, and power of attorney designations align with your wishes and proper implementation post-divorce.
Alcohol Monitoring Services
In cases where substance abuse is an issue, alcohol monitoring services can provide verification of sobriety, which can be critical to assure safety and appropriate decisions involving child custody and placement.
Divorce Financial Specialists
Finances are one of the primary concerns in the majority of divorce cases. Divorce financial specialists can help facilitate collaborative solutions to these concerns. They can provide insight into the division of assets, retirement accounts, taxes, alimony, child support, long-term financial planning, and more.
Family Mediation Center is Here to Help
The Family Mediation Center is dedicated to helping you navigate divorce with a holistic, integrated approach. Our Professional Resources page supports our commitment by offering access to a wide range of professionals to support you at every stage of the process.
Remember, you're not alone in this journey. The right professional guidance can help transform what is often viewed as a stressful and complicated process into an empowering experience. Visit our Professional Resources page to learn more about these invaluable services and start laying the groundwork for your future today.
By: Serena Clardie, MSW, LCSW, Child Specialist
The impact of divorce on children is largely a reflection of how parents handle the restructuring of their family. Children can face long-term negative mental health impact from divorce when there is ongoing conflict between parents. Mediation helps parents discuss current challenges and anticipate future issues in co-parenting to minimize harm and stress on their children.
Working with a child specialist provides you with the expertise of a mental health professional trained in mediation and experienced in helping families navigate separation and divorce. A child specialist can offer guidance on the unique circumstances of the developmental stage your child is in when the divorce is first occurring as you are working to support them through the process and develop afamily plan. Child specialists can also help you consider how to shift your co-parenting strategies as your children grow and their needs change. Here are some developmental considerations:
Infant/Toddler (0-2 years)
Early Childhood (2-6 years)
Middle Childhood (6-12 years)
Adolescence (13-18 years)
Emerging adulthood (18-25 years)
Child specialists can help parents understand and prepare for these stages in their children's lives as everyone continues to grow and change through the divorce. The input and positive communication support of a child specialist at the outset can help parents create a healthy foundation for family transitions and a positive future for their children.
Contact the Family Mediation Center
The Family Mediation Center will help begin the child-focused process of mediation with the help of a Child Specialist.
Contact us today to schedule a free initial phone call with one of our experienced lawyers who can help you weigh options for next steps. For more information to help you make a decision that is right for you and your family call (414) 273-2422.
Serena Clardie, MSW, LCSW owns a private psychotherapy practice in Milwaukee. She works as a Child Specialist with divorcing families and specializes in work with adolescents and young adults and treatment for mood and anxiety disorders. She can be reached at email@example.com.
By: Maureen Goldblatt, LPC, CSAC, Child Specialist & Therapist
As parents navigating a separation or divorce, you want to do what is best for your children. However, it is not easy to work together or know what to do or say. Divorce can bring upset and uncertainty at a time when your children need to depend on your stability.
If you want to lessen the risks to your children and keep them at the forefront of your thoughts and actions during your divorce, then I challenge you to make these 5 promises to your children:
1. I promise to stop the fighting
Parental conflict is the major contributor to harmful effects of divorce on children. Never have a disagreement when your children are present; instead go for a walk or schedule a time to discuss. Your children are listening – I promise. They are what I call “super-spies”. They want to know what is going on but do not have the emotional capacity to handle the tension or content. This applies to text messages as well. Children will search or accidentally see your messages. Be mindful of your phone and where you leave it. Better yet, use email or a phone call to avoid inadvertently putting your children in the middle of your argument.
Be aware of your expressions and body tension too – remember 90% of what we communicate is in body language, not words. Keep sarcasm, digs, and eye-rolling out of the relationship. You are modeling for your children how to have healthy family relationships.
2. I promise to treat my co-parent with respect
Speak kindly about each other and eliminate the negativity towards each other. Your children won’t love you more if they are mad at the other parent, instead, they just have more negative emotions to handle.
How we address a person is also a form of respect. Did you switch from calling your co-parent “mom” to now “your mom” or “dad” to “your dad”? Yes, it is semantics, but it is more than that, it is decreasing your respect for the family as well as dividing up the family structure into an “us vs them”.
Children need to see you model positive, respectful behaviors. For example, greet each other at transitions, in the stands at the game or other events. Do not be the parents who cannot even sit near one another at child events. Ask the same of your extended family. Keep the children out of conflict and out of the middle.
3. I promise to encourage my children to have a strong relationship with both parents and all extended family members
It takes a village to raise healthy children and having a quality relationship with both parents and extended family is part of that equation. Your job as a parent is to nurture each of these relationships. This can be done by protecting your children from feeling guilty for enjoying time with each parent. Human nature wants to focus on the negative but I challenge each of you to look at your co-parents' strengths as a parent and as an individual. Push yourselves. Share in your children’s excitement at both homes. Both parents have an important role, and it adds up to more than divvying up time. Your children are not a math equation nor an object that can be divided. Stop fighting over 50/50, instead focus on quality vs quantity. Children cherish moments and memories, not a specific % of time.
Meanwhile, strengthen your skills as a parent. Work on being engaged when your children are with you, stay in the moment vs in the past or future. Balance your work and family time.
4. I promise to continue to learn and grow as a parent and co-parent
Co-parenting is about making child-centered decisions together. Do you have similar expectations, routines, bedtimes, use of electronics or phone time, effort in school, and behavioral expectations? The younger your children, the more similar your parenting needs to be however all children benefit greatly from routines and expectations no matter what their age. Parenting is all about consistency and follow-through. Don’t change the rules just to look better as a parent. You are not doing your children any long-term favors.
5. I promise to plan for the future now and not kick the can down the road
Over these past 20 years, I have seen first-hand the consequences to children when parents fail to discuss the future and create a joint family plan at the time of their divorce. Parents often want to avoid details and say we can make that decision later. However, kicking the can down the road does not avert conflict, instead, it usually creates more conflict. Decisions only get more complicated as children get older, not simpler.
Working with a Child Specialist can help you develop a child-focused plan based on your children’s development and your family dynamics and avoid potential future conflicts.
Families looking for more specific support and input individually tailored to your family and your children's needs should consult with a Child Specialist.
Contact Family Mediation Center
Contact us today to schedule a free initial phone call with one of our experienced lawyers who can help you weigh options for next steps. For more information to help you make a decision that is right for you and your family call (414) 273-2422.
By: Attorney Susan Hansen, Co-founder of Family Mediation Center
Cost is an important question for couples considering divorce or other family law issues. Costs are directly determined by what process you choose and whether you and your spouse can cooperate in providing information and reaching agreements. Be certain you understand the various divorce process options available to you before you begin.
In this guide, we’ll provide clear, detailed information about the different divorce process options available in Wisconsin and their costs. We'll discuss everything from self-representation to mediation, and the potential costs associated with each, to help you make an informed decision.
The Cost of Self-Representation/Pro Se Divorce
In a self-represented/pro se divorce, you do all drafting, filing, and legal steps yourself. Do-it-yourself divorce can avoid legal fees, but making mistakes or ending up in conflict after filing can result in returns to court and higher fees in the long run. If you do not reach an agreement, you may be court-ordered to mediation. Regardless of the outcome, you will be responsible for the filing fee.
Limited Scope Representation/Consulting Lawyer Costs
With limited scope representation, you hire a lawyer only for out-of-court advising and assistance. You only pay for the services you need. Hourly rates at different law firms vary from anywhere between $275-$500/hour per party.
Mediation: A Cost-Effective Divorce Solution
In divorce mediation, you and your spouse jointly retain one neutral lawyer to provide legal education, negotiation assistance, drafting documents, and help navigate the court system. This effectively lowers your costs because you are working with one lawyer rather than each hiring your own. You also have the option of working with child or financial specialists to obtain specialized professional assistance. Fees for lawyer mediators vary significantly with hourly rates from $250-$450/hour and $2,500-$10,000 flat fee. A key difference is that with one neutral lawyer, mediation costs are shared by both parties. Family Mediation Center offers high quality services at a low cost; check out specific cost options here.
Collaborative Divorce Costs
In a collaborative divorce, you each hire your own lawyer and you, your spouse, and your spouse’s lawyer work together in a team approach to reach out-of-court agreements. Specialists may be involved as needed. Though you have the cost of two lawyers to advise and assist with negotiations, the process is less expensive than using adversarial lawyers and courts to make family and financial decisions for you. Total costs vary based on conflict, complexity, and efficiency of the process. An approximate range could be between $5,000 to $15,000 per party.
Lawyer Negotiation/Litigation: Traditional Divorce Costs
The traditional divorce process in which one or both of you hire a lawyer to advocate for your positions in negotiations and court hearings is likely to be the most expensive. Though most cases end up resolved by agreement, this process can include numerous contested court hearings, separately retained experts, a Guardian ad Litem for children, and even a trial. Traditional litigation is usually the most expensive process with highly variable costs that can range from $10,000 to $50,000 or more for each party.
If you are offered a “flat fee” payment approach, be certain you understand what is included for any fee you pay. Some flat fees cover only part of the legal services you will need, and total costs are likely to be significantly higher than your initial payment. Also, understand the difference between a fee deposit that is used to pay hourly fees per monthly invoices with any remaining balance returned to you vs. a non-refundable fee deposit.
Please note that the ranges above are only estimates and the largest factor of cost is the amount of conflict or cooperation between the parties.
Family Mediation Center Is Here to Help
Family Mediation Center was created to provide affordable mediation services to help couples reach agreements and navigate the legal process with minimal conflict and cost. If you can both safely communicate and cooperate, mediation can be an effective and cost-efficient option to obtain legal education and guidance without escalating expenses. Mediation also helps ensure you make well-informed decisions to avoid future court conflicts.
To schedule a consultation or to receive more information about your process options and cost, contact the Family Mediation Center or call us at 414-939-6707.
All inquiries are confidential.
You have decided to divorce; now what? The first question to ask yourself is, “What process is the best fit for you and your family?”
The process you choose will impact cost, conflict, and timing as well as your family and financial future. To make the best decision, you need professional education to be certain you understand all of your options before you begin. Here, we’ll go over the most common types of divorce and why the mediation process might be the best option for you.
What Are the Different Divorce Options?
The family transition in separation or divorce can challenge you emotionally and financially. The first question to ask yourself is “What process is the best fit for you and your family?”
What Is a Pro Se Divorce?
In a pro se divorce, the parties are self-represented and do not hire lawyers. This means that parties must make decisions, draft, and file all the required legal documents and financial disclosures on their own behalf.
Although a pro se divorce may initially seem like a more affordable option, navigating the divorce process without any legal input can result in mistakes and uninformed decisions, court rejection of an agreement, or future disputes and returns to court. Because of this, a pro se divorce can actually become more expensive and complicated than other divorce options.
What Is a Collaborative Divorce?
Collaborative divorce is the process in which each party hires a lawyer and all four work together in a cooperative, non-adversarial, out-of-court process with the mutual goal of reaching an agreement. A team approach with direct client participation is used for educating, negotiating, and reaching agreements; the team may also include child or financial specialists. Each party commits not to go to court for decisions, and collaborative lawyers are disqualified from participating in contested court hearings.
What Is Divorce Litigation?
Divorce litigation, or lawyer negotiation, is the traditional adversarial divorce process in which one or
both parties hire an attorney who advocates for that client’s position. Attorneys negotiate, but if an agreement on all issues is not reached, the judge conducts a court trial and makes final decisions. Divorce arbitration is similar to litigation except decisions are made by a hired arbitrator rather than a judge.
Even though most litigated divorces are ultimately resolved by a settlement between the parties, it can be a lengthy process that is emotionally and financially expensive.
What Is Limited Scope Representation?
Limited scope representation, also referred to as consulting services, is an option for a party to hire a lawyer to provide advice, document review, drafting, or other specified services. This allows a party to pay only for limited legal assistance rather than full representation.
Consulting and limited scope representation help lower costs while also avoiding the risks that come with a pro se or self-represented divorce. When considering limited scope representation, it is essential for parties to discuss and agree upon the specific tasks to be performed with their attorneys before beginning services.
What Is Divorce Mediation?
Divorce mediation is a process in which parties hire a neutral lawyer who works with the couple jointly but does not represent or advocate for either party. The lawyer mediator educates the parties about the law, guides discussions to help them resolve issues, and drafts and files legal documents. The goal of mediation is to help parties reach durable agreements that meet the needs of their family. Mediation may include child and financial specialists if needed to assist the parties in making well-informed family and financial decisions.
Why Choose Divorce Mediation?
Divorce is more than a legal problem; it affects every aspect of your life. Too many families spend time and money in courtrooms fighting. At Family Mediation Center, we will help you choose a healthy path to address your financial, emotional, and legal concerns as you create the necessary legal documents and move forward.
To help better illustrate the benefits of the divorce mediation process, here is a side-by-side comparison of mediation and traditional litigation.
Contact the Family Mediation Center Today
The Family Mediation Center's process is designed to minimize cost and conflict. To schedule a no-charge phone consultation with a lawyer mediator or to receive more information about our mediation process, please call us at 414-939-6707 or contact us online. All inquiries are confidential.
By Grant Zielinski, Divorce Financial Solutions
Divorce requires complete restructuring of your family and your finances. As you consider divorce, here are some financial mistakes you can avoid by getting professional input and making well-informed financial decisions.
When you’re in the midst of a divorce, it is easy to get caught up in emotions and the desire to be done. Poorly informed financial decisions may cause problems long into the future—don’t just get it done, get it done right! Consult with a neutral professional at the Family Mediation Center to understand your options.
Grant G. Zielinski is a certified divorce financial analyst (CDFA) at Divorce Financial Solutions, LLC in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Grant works as a neutral financial specialist in mediation and collaborative cases to educate clients on financial matters such as tax issues, maintenance, child support, and property division incident to divorce.