May 20, 2016 Audra Holbeck

Designing Divorces

lego builders “Mom, why won’t this piece fit here like it should?” My son is trying to build a dragon Lego kit, and, eager to get to the end, missed a couple steps in the instructions.  He keeps fitting the pieces together, but isn’t getting any closer to completing the dragon.  I tell him he needs to go back a few steps and figure out where the pieces aren’t put together correctly.  Interestingly, the pieces he missed are small and seem inconsequential; however, as he soon discovers, they allow the dragon’s wings to unfold.  Without those tiny pieces, the dramatic dragon simply could not be.

As a collaborative divorce lawyer, working with my clients towards their ideal divorce is similar to building a Lego creation.  The divorce, however, is not a collector’s edition kit that is pre-designed. The clients actively design this project themselves.  At the beginning of the process, we sit down and identify what an ideal divorce would look like for their family. This becomes our own design on the box that we aspire to build. To build it, the client brings the crucial information regarding their life, financially and otherwise, that we have to work with. These are the Lego pieces that we must fit together to replicate the design on the box.  As a lawyer, I come to the table with knowledge of the instructions, which in this case is not just the law, but the psychology of the family, as well as the order in which the process occurs.  Working as a team, the client and I look at the pieces we have to work with and build a divorce agreement that fits the desired outcome of both parties.  Sometimes we run into the same dilemma as my son and we get a little stuck.  Through years of experience, I know the solution is this: go back a few steps, look again at the building blocks, review the directions, determine if steps were skipped (the most likely culprit), and rearrange the pieces, if necessary. Before you know it, we have built what we wanted to build.

– Audra A. Holbeck

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