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Monday, June 19, 2017

Integrity: Why You Should Preserve and Not Spend It (During Your Divorce)

At the risk of starting this post like a middle-school paper, I want to first define integrity...

Integrity is "the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles and moral uprightness". Great. But what is "moral"? Another peek at a dictionary shows that morality is "principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong and good and bad behavior".

Fine. So, integrity is about being honest and maintaining one's principles regarding good and bad behavior. Now that THAT'S solved...

In a divorce (or even post-divorce), it can be really difficult for some people to maintain their integrity. They may be so psychically injured that they resort to name-calling, rumor-spreading, underhanded financial scheming, turning kids against a parent, and any number of other questionable behaviors.

Those partners/ex-partners spend their integrity like they have an unlimited supply of it. They spend their integrity as if it's a currency that can re-grow on trees. The problem is that integrity doesn't grow on trees and can't be reclaimed without a great deal of reparation and humility.

Think about anyone you've known who has had a habit of (or even just one significant period of) lying, manipulating, wiggling out of trouble, disparaging someone else, spreading gossip... Then think about what your impression of that person is. Do you trust them? Do you want to work with them? Or are you wary and not interested in spending much time with them at all?

When one or both partners in a breakup spend their integrity, they lose the chance to work together authentically for the sake of their children (if there are any) or themselves. How can one parent trust the intentions of the other parent when all indications are that his or her integrity has been all used up? The reality is, they can't. That loss of trust then permeates all interactions.

However, preserving your integrity just so you can work with your ex isn't the only reason to hold on to it. You need to preserve your integrity for yourself -- so you can, quite frankly, live with yourself and sleep well at night. You may also want to be a positive role model for your kids or others who will look at how you handled yourself.

When I work with individuals or couples who are in relationship crisis, one of the first things I tell them is that we will work together to help them maintain their integrity through the process. It's critical for one's self-respect to at least try to do that. It's also critical to have a safe place to vent when your ex is spending their own integrity faster than seems possible--mostly so you can process it, but also so you don't spend some of your own trying to defend yourself.

If you'd like more information on how to maintain your integrity (or even get it back!) during a breakup, let me know--I'd be happy to help. Email me at or check out my website at

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Do I Need an Attorney? Guest Post by Amanda Porter, Porter Law Office

Divorce is an emotional, confusing, and messy process. Not knowing what to expect can be one of the most terrifying aspects for many people. Here are some answers to important, but common, questions: Do you need to have an attorney? If so, what kind of attorney do you want? What’s a collaborative divorce?

First things first...

The first decision someone getting divorced will need to make is whether to hire an attorney or not. The pros of hiring an attorney are pretty obvious – having someone who will handle all the paperwork for you, someone to guide you through the process, someone who knows the law and can explain it to you, etc. The drawbacks to hiring an attorney are also fairly obvious – we’re not cheap! Furthermore, hiring the wrong attorney can make things more awkward and actually further complicate things, while still costing a lot of money.

Do I need an attorney?

So how do you know if you need an attorney? No one is required to have an attorney, but the more complicated a case is, the more helpful it is to have an attorney. A couple that was married for two years, has no children, has no debt and has few assets probably doesn’t need an attorney. A couple that was married for fifteen years, has minor children, has retirement assets, has a house, has debt and has had domestic violence, could probably use an attorney. The more complicating issues there are, the more helpful (and possibly necessary) an attorney is. 

We all like to save money, but many things in a divorce are irreversible once a judge signs and doing it incorrectly can cause more problems and cost more money than hiring an attorney in the first place. If you’re not sure if you need an attorney, talk to one. Ask questions about how complicated your case is. You also may be able to hire an attorney to just review your paperwork and make sure there are no major red flags or to help you draft your paperwork.

What kind of attorney is right for me?

If you’ve decided you need or want an attorney, the next step is finding the right attorney. Price is an important part of the decision, but should not be the only factor. I encourage everyone to meet with multiple attorneys to find the right fit. Keep in mind that you’ll need to share some fairly intimate information (money, kids, possibly sex/drugs/violence depending on the circumstances) with your attorney – if you’re not comfortable doing that, that person is not the right attorney for you. Some attorneys are more blunt, some do more hand-holding. What would you prefer?

Should I look into a "collaborative" divorce?

Also complicating the issue is deciding what kind of attorney you need. Attorneys that handle divorce are generally called “family law attorneys” but there are some specializations within family law. A popular and often effective subset is “collaborative divorce.” The goal of collaborative divorce is for the parties to work collaboratively and reach agreements on all the issues in their dissolution, without having a judge. (This should almost always be the initial goal of any family law attorney absent extenuating circumstances). Collaborative family law attorneys work with the parties to attempt to resolve all the issues. 

The main difference between collaborative law and non-collaborative is that in collaborative law if the parties fail to reach an agreement, the parties have to start over with new (non-collaborative) attorneys. This is done to incentivize parties to reach an agreement (it does often work) but if parties are not able to reach an agreement it can be much more expensive. The collaborative process is a great tool, but may not be appropriate in cases where there has been domestic violence. If you have experienced domestic violence in your relationship but are still interested in the collaborative process, speak to professionals in the process to determine if it’s appropriate.

If you have other questions for Amanda, you can reach her through her website, email, or phone:


Porter Law Office offers a free one-hour consultation either in-person or by phone, whichever is more convenient for you. Hiring an attorney is a big investment and a free consultation permits you to ask questions about your case, the experience level of the attorney and to make sure it is a good fit for you. Call 651-797-0990 or e-mail today to set up your free one-hour consultation.