This week, I’m excited to bring you insights and wisdom from my friend and colleague, celebrity lawyer Laura Wasser on The Better Apart Blog.

Laura, Susan Guthrie and I are also looking forward to presenting together at the American Bar Association Dispute Resolution Conference this coming April in New Orleans, where Laura will be the featured keynote speaker!

Written by Laura A. Wasser, Esq.

Navigating child custody, support, and division of assets are things I know well. Over the years countless friends and clients have said to me, “If I only knew then what I know now…” long after their divorce was final, and they have gone on to relate how the wisdom of their experience could have saved them heartache, aggravation, and money.

I have been a practicing Family Law attorney for 25 years now. You’d think I’d be a bit tougher, or at least more jaded, but part of the reason I do what I do is for the realizations and reflections working with clients allows me to have regarding love – in all of its forms. 

I love my job. The problem solving, the conflict resolution, the new beginnings. Many people see the field in which my colleagues and I practice as depressing, frustrating, toxic. Not me. Beyond the sense of fulfillment that I feel (and I think I speak for many of us) helping families transition from a difficult time into their next chapters, Family Law is a fascinating study in human nature and relationships; loss, fear, pain, anger, healing, compassion, humor, hope – LOVE. 

The 16th Century proverb, “All’s fair in love and war.” speaks volumes about human relationships. So often, I counsel clients not to expect normal behavior.  During this time of transition and upheaval, everything is fair and frankly, nothing is fair. Divorce is the great equalizer and whoever you are and whatever your story you are anxious, to say the least, about what the future holds.

Why does it take having gone through the divorce experience to know that things could have been handled better? 

I truly believe that today, divorcing couples (or unmarried parents in custody disputes) are generally capable of working out many of their issues on their own. When navigating child custody and support, many are trying direct communication. Following the examples of celebrities; Paltrow and Martin’s conscious uncoupling, Aniston and Theroux’s gentle separation or Garner and Affleck’s use of a mediator to navigate their dissolution, divorcing couples are approaching their situation more reasonably and cost-effectively. Whether it is by virtue of dispute resolution, collaborative practice, counseling or some combination of legal guidance, they are doing their best trying to navigate an admittedly archaic and complicated system.  A shift is taking place which we call, The Evolution of Dissolution and it is for the better.

In 2013, I wrote a book called, It Doesn’t Have To Be That Way – How to Divorce Without Destroying Your Family or Bankrupting Yourself. The book gives some helpful hints on modern dissolution taking into account the hurdles faced by couples who want to separate their households and finances in a civil and cost-effective way. 

The next move was the creation of the online divorce service It’s Over Easy, which provides couples with an affordable, modern way to dissolve their marriages while becoming educated in the process.

In 2019 we launched the Divorce Sucks! podcast to educate people who were going through or about to go through the dissolution process. Whether navigating child custody, support, or general finances, it’s never easy. As a complement to the It’s Over Easy online divorce platform, the content on Divorce Sucks! helped begin a discussion about a situation which statistically will befall about half of the couples who marry in the United States and will have effects on nearly every family in the country. We interviewed professionals in the field of Family Law; attorneys from different states, financial experts, mental health practitioners. We spoke with celebrities and heard their stories of separating, co-parenting and navigating prenuptial agreements. During the process of compiling a catalog of interesting episodes, it occurred to me that our discussions were really going beyond divorce-related issues. Relationships between not just couples but friends and siblings and partners are rife with anecdotes and wisdom and laughter and tears.  In February of 2020, we relaunched the podcast as All’s Fair to embody the notion that today’s modern families and the current nature and evolution of romantic, platonic and sexual relationships are ripe for interesting discussions.

Looking back to when I first started working as a divorce lawyer, I came to work at my dad’s firm. He knew what he was doing; not only had he and my mom had the most respectful divorce ever, they resolved their financial issues, and worked effectively as co-parents to my brother and me. Our firm has always promoted settlement-oriented resolution no matter the circumstances. We believe agreements made between couples are much better than letting a Judge, who doesn’t know you or your children, make decisions about big-ticket life issues. 

Most of our clients are wealthy and/or famous, the number of zeros on their bank account balances may be different from the average American but the fear, anger and sadness incident to the transition from married to single are the same. One of the things I enjoy about the practice of Family Law is the opportunity to learn so much about so many. Because of the nature of the attorney-client relationship we are given a window into the psyche and soul of our clients which is more intimate and informative than you would immediately imagine. It starts with the surface – what is this person’s story? What do they do for a living? What is their sexual orientation, race, religion, culture, etc. I have had clients who are entertainers, athletes, executives, academics,  – homemakers, writers, directors, financial professionals, and mental health care providers. I make it a point to learn about what they do and what they believe so that I can understand where they are coming from. Some insist upon it, like the Scientologist client I had who, while completely acknowledging that I am Jewish with no plans to convert, wanted me to study a few books about “getting clear” in order that I could have a better understanding of why his belief in the church was essential to him. 

Many people ask me if after so many years of practice in this field, have I seen it all? I have sure seen a lot but I know I have not seen it all. Every case brings surprises; sometimes disappointment and sometimes delight as to how people conduct themselves. Navigating child custody, support and all the other issues is never simple. How the relationship has broken down to the point of being irremediable, and if it actually is, or whether reconciliation is possible. What motivates me is this, helping people find their path to a healthy next chapter.  Providing them with a more amicable, less expensive way to move on and empowering them with knowledge along the way. This is what the Evolution of Dissolution embodies.

 

Attorney Laura A. Wasser is an author, entrepreneur, and Family Law expert. She is the managing partner at Wasser Cooperman Mandles, LLP and the host of the podcast All’s Fair with Laura Wasser. She is also the founder & CEO of the online divorce platform, It’s Over Easy. Laura has made it her mission to remove the stigma associated with divorce and to disrupt the Family Law industry by changing the way we look at relationships in the twenty-first century. 

P.S. Want more tools and resources to stay positive during a divorce? Download my Free Divorce Survive & Thrive Kit below!

 

With support and strength,

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DISCLAIMER: The commentary, advice, and opinions from Gabrielle Hartley are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice or mental health services. You should contact an attorney and/or mental health professional in your state to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. 

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