What do you want your family to look like after the divorce?

Families are more diverse today with less focus on their structure and more emphasis on function and purpose. The prime role of the family is to take care of and love each other. The saying goes, "There's no tougher job than being a parent." According to the Pew Research Center, parents find caring for their children more exhausting than the work they do for pay. At the same time, parents find this time more rewarding.

If you're thinking of making a change in your family dynamic with a divorce or separation, below are a few things to keep in mind.

Your future family...If you have children from the relationship, the family will still exist after the relationship ends. How you end the relationship, to a large part, determines whether your family will be functional or dysfunctional in the future. What parents do, say, and how they act toward the other parent has long-term consequences.

Your family law attorney...The selection of an attorney is one of the most significant factors in determining how your case will proceed. Look for competency, the attorney's personality, overall philosophy, and accessibility. Who you retain as your attorney and the method or process of divorce is paramount in easing the transition.

Your divorce process...When people think of divorce, they typically think of litigation, but this should be used as the last resort. Other available processes are: negotiation, mediation, collaborative divorce, arbitration and a combination depending upon the issues involved. There is no "one-size-fits-all" solution and each situation is unique. Before are some processes to consider.

· Negotiating a reasonable and equitable settlement via a family law attorney--The vast majority of clients would like to avoid an emotionally and financially expensive trial. This is an understandable goal. It is not an enjoyable experience to have to testify in court or see family members and loved ones testify. Most parties would also prefer not to spend hard-earned money on litigation. Try to resolve family matters in a process that is designed to reduce the level of conflict and rebuild trust.

· Litigation is an adversarial process in which both parties play to "win." An unfortunate byproduct of litigation is that it intensifies the level of conflict and increases distrust. Your attorney should prepare to go to court (it helps to negotiate a settlement), but try to reach an agreement first.

· Mediation involves a "mediator" or neutral third party that tries to help you resolve the issues in your divorce. You and your spouse make the decisions with the aid of a mediator, who assists with your communication with each other, in an effort to reach an agreement.

· Collaborative divorce is an interdisciplinary team approach. In addition to the parties themselves, the team may consist of an attorney plus other professionals.

· In arbitration, you and your spouse agree that you'll hire an "arbitrator" to make the same decisions that a judge could make, and that you will honor the arbitrator's decisions as if a judge had made them.

Ultimately, only you and your spouse will make the decisions that will determine what you and your family will look like after the divorce. The family will still exist after the relationship ends and how you end the relationship counts!

Stange Law Firm, PC is a firm that focuses exclusively on family law in the areas of divorce, child custody, child support, paternity and other domestic relations issues. As a family law firm, we have an interest in families. We strive to bring peace and stability back to parents who need help.

Source: 3 Things to Think About Before Filing For Divorce, by Mark Baer/ Maria Shriver Blog, February 12, 2014