This is part 2 of a 7 part interview with Massachusetts divorce mediator Tracy Fischer acknowledging that divorce can be challenging for women, our panel of experts offers practical tips on navigating financial concerns, keeping emotions in check and rediscovering themselves. [watch video]
Jenine G.: That’s great advice. We always talk about getting your team together, and your team of experts. So, Lori, what did that look like for you? What was your team?
Lori Hubbard: When you first start out, it’s emotionally overwhelming, and it can almost feel a little bit lonely. First and foremost, always think about this, don’t go at it alone, right? You’re going to need support, you’re going to need emotional support. Tap into your trusted family and friends to support you, but make sure that they’re the emotional support. There’s also going to be the financial aspect of your divorce that you’re going to have to consider, and you really should rely on experts to help you with that. So this is a good time to be reaching out to your financial advisor. If you don’t have a financial advisor, it’s also a great time to search for one and get to know one and partner with a financial advisor, because they can do a lot of great things for you. Even partnering with them, they can refer you to a divorce attorney, a mediator, a CPA, all of which can help with your financial future.
Jenine G.: Tracy, you had interesting words of wisdom about friends and sharing this with friends.
Tracy Fischer: Right. I would say that oftentimes, people will know someone that went through a divorce themselves, and they’ll have stories to share, which really can provoke higher anxiety. Every situation is different. Everybody’s divorce is unique. Everyone’s family is special. It’s really better to not be hearing about all those other stories and just stick to your own.
Jenine G.: I think we see that people tend to join teams, right? You were either team Jennifer Aniston or team Angelina Jolie, and it’s not the time to join a team. Tracy, it’s interesting, your background. You are an attorney, but as you said, you specialize in mediation. Can you talk a bit about the difference when someone’s looking? What is the difference between getting a divorce attorney and mediation?
Tracy Fischer: It’s a continuum. Having a divorce attorney is on one end of the continuum, going through mediation is on the other end of the continuum. And there’s all different types and ways that lawyers may assist throughout. I’m going to just describe mediation versus an adversarial attorney. I want to preface this with saying that divorce attorneys sometimes have a bad rap, and I don’t think it’s the attorneys. I think they try really hard to do their job. I think it’s the system, the court system, that makes it very difficult for divorce attorneys to do their job. When you hire a divorce attorney, they’re generally speaking with you, then they’re speaking to your spouse’s attorney who may be a very difficult person to get along with, and then that attorney is going back and speaking to your spouse.
Tracy Fischer: So it’s this three, four way conversation. The two attorneys and the couple are rarely meeting together and talking about it. And then after those conversations, there may be time in court, and then waiting for a judge to make a decision. It’s time consuming, and you really don’t have a lot of control once you get into that process. Versus mediation, the two people who know most about their situation, are assisted in talking about their family, their finances, their lives. They’re talking about it together and figuring out what the next steps will be. Mediation is generally better for couples and families. It’s certainly better for children to have parents make decisions about how they’re going to parent their children versus having a court make the decision for them. Mediation can be not only a better process, but as a positive and productive process, you can actually move from a really difficult conflictual situation to feeling okay about your ex-spouse.
Tracy Fischer: That you’re leaving this marriage and you feel like you were treated fairly and you treated the other person fairly, and I think that’s the most important thing.
Jenine G.: So, it makes me think of an analogy when describing getting a divorce attorney, kind of like the process when you buy and sell a home. If I’m correct in this, you kind of have your buyer’s agent, your seller’s agent, a lawyer, you’re not meeting the person who’s selling the house. They’re going through all the discussions, and you do it through those individuals. Is that fair to have that analogy?
Tracy Fischer: That is fair. The couple are really kept separated. It’s hard to come to good decisions and good agreements if no one ever gets a chance to talk directly.