Coaching For Divorced Women: What is the first thing a woman should do if her husband leaves and states he wants a divorce?
Neil M Colman: Do not panic. Seek the support of family, friends, and professionals. Include a family law attorney and a therapist/counselor to answer questions relating to this sudden upheaval in her life.
What should a woman consider when choosing a divorce attorney?
A woman should seek the assistance of a knowledgeable and experienced family law attorney. Don’t select an attorney based on the fact that he/she tells the woman what she wants to hear. She needs to know the reality she is potentially facing. The client and attorney need to establish a comfort zone and a working relationship. So, the interview process is very important. The client needs an environment of trust and confidence in the attorney chosen to represent her.
What is collaborative law and how is it different from mediation?
Collaborative law is not greatly utilized in Michigan courts. Collaborative law is not an adversarial proceeding, but rather a less confrontational manner in resolving divorce cases. It also utilizes services of other disciplinaries. Mediation is somewhat adversarial. Divorce attorneys for each side of the divorce case are involved during mediation. Each attorney tries to put forth their respective client’s position/agenda.
How do you handle couples that are involved in a high-conflict divorce?
It depends upon the nature of the conflict. In high conflict divorce cases, there must be rational discussions with a client. A case often hinges on the nature of the advice the attorney gives the client.
What would you say to a woman that was insisting on having her day in court?
First, we want discuss what could be accomplished by going to trial. Could all of her issues be resolved without the stress and tension created by a day in divorce court? If the client wanted “her day in court” for the mere desire of venting and/or having her side heard, I would advise her that it would not be financially advantageous and would not do anything to improve her position. In fact, the court might perceive her to be the source of problems if she merely wants to vent her anger or frustration. When there are truly contested areas of a case, it becomes necessary to encourage the client to have “her/his day in court” in order for the court to properly resolves those issues.
What advice would you give clients who want to get a divorce with the least possible conflict and pain for all of those involved?
I advise my clients that there will be brighter days ahead, and they will survive the present crisis in which they find themselves. Continued fighting over insignificant issues can be costly, both emotionally and monetarily. If the issue relates to children, I try to convey the fact that more harm could befall the children who are the innocent victims of the process and adult problems.
Under what circumstances would a judge grant sole physical and legal custody to a parent?
In Michigan, sole legal and physical custody is not often the case. The parent not awarded any form of custody has to be a pretty bad, uninvolved, and uncooperative parent or one that presents a danger to the child/children. Certain criminal types could also be denied any form of custody.
If a woman’s husband and his attorney are lying about her or marital property to the courts, what should she do?
Present the facts to her attorney. Also, she will need to devise a plan by which the court is correctly informed about the misleading statements of her opposition. Especially relevant, she must present evidence to support her position, not mere contradictory statements resulting in a “he said, she said” situation.
How often do you see cases of Manimony?
Not often at all. In my 42 years of practice, I have sought support for the male client on only 3 or 4 occasions. Consequently, the men in each of these cases elected not to receive spousal support.
What advice would you give a woman regarding social media and texting during the divorce process?
Stay away. Put nothing on social media. Text messages are also retrievable. Social media can be devastating to one’s case. Social media and texting are not harmless. It could come back to bite them.
Is there any other advice you would like to give women who are just beginning the divorce process?
You want to make sure that you are represented in court by an attorney with whom you are at ease with. You also want someone with whom you can comfortably converse. Seek counseling for yourself, so you can understand the emotional turmoil being experienced. Consulting with a professional can be a cathartic experience. There will be ups and downs throughout the divorce process. But, in the end, you will survive and rise above it all, and your life will be enriched and more fulfilling.
Neil M Colman
12900 Hall Road, Ste. 180, Sterling Heights, MI 48313
Years in Practice: 42 years
Is there anything else that you would like potential clients to know about you?
I devote 90% of my practice to family law. Moreover, I have represented clients in every facet of family law. I am a divorce mediator and facilitator. Our firm represents clients throughout Southeastern Michigan. I also served 11 years on the State Bar of Michigan Family Law Council (Family Law Section). I have always believed that the practice of family law is the most important area of a legal practice because it affects the lives of so many people, including the innocent victims of divorce…the children. ~ Neil M Colman