Editor’s Note: During a divorce or separation, we often feel as though we have no control.  The stress of a divorce can be compounded with the lack of control we feel within our own lives, and with the people who matter most; our children.  The good news is that you do have many choices about how your divorce process looks and therefore, you do have some control over the outcome.  Are lawyers really the only way to go? You have choices and alternatives to the litigation process.  Would an alternative way work better for your situation? Know your options.

Below are excerpts written by Mark Baer.     The full version of his article can be found by clicking here.

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Every single thing we say and do are actions which we have chosen to make. What we don’t say and do are the result of our inactions, which are also choices. Whether those choices are conscious or unconscious, they are still choices.

When a parent operates from a position of anger or resentment, predictably, they disregard the indelible impact their decisions have on their children. No loving parent wants to inflict pain on their children, but they often unintentionally do just that. The satisfaction a parent may experience through short-sighted decisions is no more than instant gratification—choosing that immediate sensation over the long-term consequences. Instead, consider a long view of what you want your life to look like.

For quite some time, I’ve been saying, “You can only give what you have and teach what you know.” Generally speaking, it is a mistake to expect anything other than combat from a litigator because that’s both who they are and how they’re trained. Since the default process in the United States for the handling of divorce and family law is litigation, the typical attorneys involved are litigators.

Another thing I’ve said for a very long time is “Outcomes are typically determined by the way in which the ‘game’ is designed.” In fact, the introduction to Putting Kids First in Divorce: How to Reduce Conflict, Preserve Relationships and Protect Children During and After Divorce opened with that quote.

You always have a choice.  Of course, people can’t make wise choices when they don’t make the effort to learn about their various options.


About Mark Baer

Mark Baer is a lawyer, mediator and conflict resolution consultant. He has decades of experience in family law and has crafted a reputation within the industry for his psychologically-minded and child-centered approach.

Mark is also a well-known writer and columnist for a number of publications on the interplay between psychology and conflict resolution within the field of family law, as well as familial and interpersonal relationships in general. He has had a regular “Psychology and Family Law” column in the San Gabriel Valley Psychological Association’s award-winning bimonthly newsletter since 2008. A member of Psychology Today’s expert community, Mark also has a blog column titled “Empathy and Relationships: Fostering Genuine Open-Mindedness.” He is also a HuffPost Blogger and a number of those blog articles have been referenced in books, law review articles, by evidence-based public policy think tanks, and elsewhere. Mark has written extensively for a number of other publications, as well. His material has been used and shared by law school professors, and by some of the highest ranked dispute resolution organizations in the country, such as the Straus Institute of Dispute Resolution at Pepperdine University School of Law and the Harvard Negotiation & Mediation Clinical Program at Harvard Law School.

He has also presented on several occasions at the California Psychological Association Convention, the American Bar Association Section of Family Law CLE Conference, and the Southern California Mediation Association Conference, among other such organizations.

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