You know, many, many, many people are foregoing attorney driven divorces now for self-representation. It’s almost a movement. The unfortunate thing, I feel, is there’s not enough legitimate support and assistance for those people who really want to self represent, who really want to have control of the process, so that their actual needs get heard and expressed on the particular government forms, or declarations, or their request for orders. People have a right to take care of themselves in these circumstances, and they have every capacity and ability to do it. We do it every day, day in and day out. For years, we’ve done it through this clinic. It works. People do not need attorneys to get a divorce. They do not need mediators to get a divorce. They need someone to facilitate the process that has a skill set that can manage conflict if it arises, can manage emotions because there are profound emotions. It’s a very human process.
The movement of self-help, where people are fed up with the old paradigm of attorneys drawing out cases, and more paperwork and more filing and more drama, all of that. People are fed up with it. They truly are, and they’re trying to find a way to help themselves. Go Divorce Clinic is here to do just that. To help them control the process of their own dissolution, to help them control the outcome because they’re co-creating it, not lawyers and not a judge. Their alternatives without lawyers? A mediator, perhaps. But many times mediators are lawyers. And mediators aren’t really about, in my opinion, self-representation. Supporting and encouraging self-representation. Mediators are looking for the problem between two disputing parties that they can solve. But it’s still not what I feel people need that are moving through a divorce process.
What they need is to actually have what’s important to them listened to, understood and expressed in the appropriate legal paperwork that needs to be submitted to the court. And that’s what we are doing. We are helping couples who can cooperate self-represent themselves and come to an agreement without attorneys or mediators. They don’t ever have to go to hearing. They don’t ever have to go to court. That makes the family court system very happy because they’re plenty bogged down with people who are struggling with attorney-driven divorces. So, empowering the people to empower themselves is a big part of what Go Divorce Clinic is about and we assist them in that endeavor. We prefer working with couples who cooperate. It stream lines the process, it’s less expensive, it takes a lot less time, it preserves dignity.
If there’s a co-parenting relationship beyond the dissolution, it enhances for a more optimal relationship between mother and father after. That’s what we’re focused on at Go Divorce Clinic. Because we know that’s what’s best for the people that walk in our office, and it’s what’s best for the children who don’t come into the office, who don’t have a voice. This is what people need, and this is the kind of service and the spirit with which they get it at Go Divorce Clinic.
The court system is a very precarious place to put all of the things that are on the table in a divorce that matter to you: Your finances, your children, your emotional well-being, and the relationship that you’re going to have post-dissolution with your spouse. That’s a very precarious place to go. Because all the decisions are going to be made out of your hands by a judge, who’s going to be listening to two other people that are representing the two parties at hearing. If that isn’t a loss of control of the client, the client’s ability to say what they want, when they want, and how they want, I don’t know what it is. Because, by the time their needs get translated through an attorney, and through a judge who’s got stacks of papers he’s gotta read and files, and listening to hearsay, and he said/she said, and trying to make decisions based on that, and what evidence has been piled up, the cost and efficiency, the emotional toll and the outcomes rarely are satisfying for people.
What is the best way for somebody moving through a dissolution to control the process? The best way is for those two parties to cooperate. Because if they can cooperate, and I maintain that 95% of people can. The only ones that can’t are the ones that have an agenda to hurt somebody. They really have an agenda for that. And those are rare, they’re few and far between. Most people are confused, upset, disoriented, and scared… Absolutely. But if they go someplace that doesn’t polarize them, if they go someplace that understands the emotional context, if they go someplace that isn’t looking at these two individuals to see who can win, if they go someplace that can guide them through the legal questions, the asset and debt allocation, the rights and responsibilities, the support issues and structure, and has an experience with that, and is looking at it solution-based, not confrontational, not oppositional, but solution-based… We don’t have a problem here, we just have some issues that we need to find clear solutions to. It’s a different approach. That’s what Go Divorce Clinic is all about.
That’s what really meets the needs of people moving through a dissolution process, and it allows those clients to control the process by participating in it. The only thing they have to do is to cooperate. Which really isn’t as tall a order as most people think, because the family law industry has really spun this to believe that every divorce has to be in a War of the Roses, has to be this huge, ugly thing. “Oh my God, a divorce.” It doesn’t have to be that way, and the clients that move through my office don’t experience that ugliness. It’s difficult, sure. It’s absolutely, emotionally very hard to end a marriage. But it doesn’t have to be ugly hard. It doesn’t have to be bitter hard.
Our vision works, and has been working for years, is a vision where people can come, have a safe place, and be guided through the process and break things down equitably, reasonably, to decide over rights and responsibilities with a discussion that’s adult, that has respect and dignity to it, that cuts out the drama, that does what’s in the best interest of the children. This kind of venue never goes inside of a courtroom, never goes to hearing, never needs attorneys to argue about who’s right and wrong.
Go Divorce Clinic is the best choice for divorcing couples that have children. I’m just simply not aware of anywhere that I would even suggest or want people to go if they have children in a divorce than my office. I just had a couple last night that came in for a divorce. I always do a gut check with people that are on the threshold or believe they’re on a threshold to divorce when they have children because nobody’s going to speak up for the children because they can’t for themselves. So I do. The way that I do that is to make certain that, [A] the parties actually are on a threshold to divorce based on an irreconcilable circumstance.
Many people come into my office and believe there are irreconcilable circumstances, and it may not necessarily be that. It may be a communication issue. It may be just some dynamic that’s been going on that they haven’t been able to work out, even in counseling. I advocate for children and the whole space for them is to make certain first and foremost that their parents actually need to divorce. And we have a discussion about that, an honest discussion.
Secondly, if the divorce process has to go through, their needs are at the top of the list. I remind my clients always, we’re doing this for our children. We are making sure that each parent isn’t left out on the lurch, isn’t exploited, isn’t hurt, isn’t abandoned. That we’re going to try to take care of each other as best we can in this situation because ultimately when we care for each other, in the tearing down and the breaking down of the marriage, that if we care for each other, we’re caring for the children.
There is a theme that’s woven through the disillusion process that I translate to the clients that we’re doing what’s in the best interest for the children always. I know of no other place that does that, that will risk doing that, risk losing clients for standing up for what’s in the best interest for children. I absolutely will. I’ll risk whatever it takes to make sure that the kids are taken care of in these contexts.
The question of what separates me from other service providers in family law… It’s a big one, and let me just hit a few of the highlights.
One of the biggest things is “the space” that is created here for people to come as a couple and sit down together to… And dissolve their marriage. This is not an adversarial context which is the environment that they’re going to find in a family law office or even in a mediation office. It’s assumed that these are adversarial contestants, pitted against each other in those other spaces and in those other environments and those other service providers.
Go Divorce Clinic has changed all of that. This is a place where even if you’re not getting along, even if you feel like you don’t want to sit in the same room with the other person because you may be so hurt or bitter, one or the other or both, that you actually can. When you have facilitator that understands that, and that can hold a space for that, and can keep everybody safe and grounded, then you have an environment where those parties can work together and cooperate and dissolve their marriage in a way that’s not going to destroy them or their resources, or even more importantly, create a toxic environment around their relationship with each other that translates to their children, that they have to co-parent with in the long run.
What are the difference in costs between a Go Divorce client and the average divorce process where that’s lawyer assisted?
Average cost of divorce in the United States is well over $40,000. This is an average cost for lawyer-assisted. Average cost here in California even locally for a mediated divorce, is going to be somewhere between $6,000 and $15,000. That’s if everything goes really, really smooth.
Go Divorce Clinic, flat fee. That we know what you’re going to get, you know what you’re facing, and I think almost ironically, they’re getting a much better product. I’m actually offering what no other service provider in family law at a much less cost. The reason why I do it is because I can, and it’s about as simple as that. I really have no interest in exploiting an industry to that I can get rich. I get by, I do fine.
My vision and my goal and what really makes me excited, is changing the way a business is conducted, and in this case family law, and taking care of human beings that have needs in a way that is healthier, better, and is going to contribute to life. That’s my abundance. I don’t need to charge and exploit people to achieve that end.
How is the process at Go Divorce Clinic different than traditional divorce?
That’s a really good question. Many people are surprised when they come in to see how easy it is. I have clients all the time, and they’re walking out the door after a few weeks, and we’re done, and they’re saying, “I didn’t know this could be this easy”. Not that divorce is easy, and we both know that’s not what they’re talking about. It’s just they didn’t know that it could actually be handled and taken care of this quickly without so much work.
How does the process work? Basically clients come in initially for an intake where I answer all their questions – that’s a fee-free consultation. If they contract with me, they send me, through the email the intake information I need. I generate a marriage settlement agreement. Each party comes back one more time to sign the paperwork, and that’s it for them.
The rest is handled by our office in terms of filing it, the dates at the appropriate time, handling all the paperwork, and doing the service. Other than that, the client’s participation is done. So that’s what my clients mean when they say, “I didn’t know this could be so easy”.
My approach to family law in Santa Rosa is to try to find an innovative, creative solution to a process that I think has been… Well, it could use evolution. Let’s just put it mildly. Family law, the business of family law. I have a friend that’s a family law attorney that just got out of a firm that she’d been working with quite a while, took her case load with her. And she’s really struggling. She wants to go back to getting into real estate like she was before because she says she cannot close these cases because the opposing counsel will just not be reasonable, and it’s really frustrating for her. She wants to do the right thing. She said, “I could settle these cases so quick, but the opposing counsel just won’t… They’ll pick it apart. They’ll have a problem to drag the process out to make more money essentially”.
Not all divorce attorneys do this. There are good family law attorneys, and I’ve been fortunate enough to connect with several that I refer out to. However, the process needs evolution. The other process that’s left is the collaborative process, which I think is lovely. Bill’s part of the collaborative counsel at Redwood Empire. It’s the same spirit with which I do things. We move into the process working together collaboratively, we agree not to go into a contested posture. The difference between the collaborative counsel and me is pretty much one of the amount of people assisting the process and the expense. The collaborative process has two attorneys present working in a collaborative way.
However, my clients can’t afford that. They just can’t afford to put retainers down for one or two attorneys. The people that come to me, that’s the demographic that I deal with. When they go to my website, they see that I do a much more comprehensive approach to it than just mediation. You don’t have to just be entrenched in a problem to come to me. You can be just wanting to settle your estate and move on, not necessarily have a problem to mediate. You just need clarity, you need direction, and you need guidance, So, when I talk to those spouses that are apprehensive, a lot of times they get onboard.
Spousal support is designed to address an inequity in a marriage that has been built in over time, due to roles that have been assigned explicitly or implicitly. You can read that, and I often do cover those elements in the Family Code 4320, for spousal support. We talk about that in my office, and we clear up and dispel all of the myths and confusions, and look at what really spousal support is about. And we can have a reasonable discussion about that as adults. We can look at what spousal support is designed to do. Not look at it as winning, not look at it as sticking it to the other person, not looking at it as winning or prevailing, or having some way to get back for all those years of pain that one or the other had to go through. That’s not what spousal support’s about.
A divorce attorney may make you want to feel that way, and may even want you to pay them to go into court and argue that way. The judge is going to look for the elements that I’m going to share with the people in my office, of spousal support that are written in the Family Code. I take the drama out of the spousal support issue. I take the lies and the misinformation and things that get whispered in people’s ears and the stories that they have, and talk about what it’s really designed to do. And in that way, we find what the choice is that ought to be made when people are being reasonable and equitable and fair.
People often ask me who I think the best divorce lawyer in Santa Rosa, California is. It is a fair question, and I typically respond to it with a question of my own: ‘Why are you looking for a family law attorney in Sonoma County?’
“Well” they often reply, “I would really like to do an uncontested divorce like Go Divorce Clinic does, but I just think my spouse won’t cooperate, so I need to get a good divorce attorney to protect my rights”.
“What ‘rights’ are you concerned about?” I often inquire.
“Well I don’t know. I’m just worried that my spouse will get a divorce lawyer to go after me”.
Sound familiar? Of course it does, I hear it all the time. The unfortunate revelation here is that most of the time it isn’t necessarily their spouse, their rights, or even the divorce itself that is scaring them into feeling like they need a lawyer, it is the fear that a divorce lawyer will get involved on the other side that will attack them. Welcome to the dark reality of family law. This ugly and unfortunate pattern plays itself out in the field of family law over and over. People getting divorce attorneys because they are afraid of getting attacked by a divorce lawyer that their spouse might hire. This conventional divorce scenario often becomes a dangerous, costly and all too destructive process that in my estimation never ever yields a “winner”.
In such circumstances I encourage the individual that I am speaking with to have their spouse at least call our office to discuss their concerns with a neutral divorce facilitator at Go Divorce Clinic. What is there to lose? Honest information, helpful insights and genuine support are always a good thing. Informing people that there are safe options in Sonoma County to the traditional lawyer driven ‘war of the roses’ approach is a big part of our campaign to “put an end to the ugly divorce” here in Santa Rosa and all around the north counties. Providing insights to our clients that help them creatively sort out their estate and settle support and family planning issues is our main focus. Supporting our clients emotional journey by honoring whatever it is they are seeing and feeling about themselves is at the heart of our process.
Divorce is a critically important life transition, don’t leave it to the wolves to promote a safe passage to the next chapter of your life. Call us at Go Divorce Clinic today to book a fee free initial consultation to find out the better, more affordable way to dissolve your marriage that honors your dignity, preserves your resources and protects your children. Visit us at: www.GoDivorceClinic.com
Many people I come across in Sonoma County have no idea that they can successfully represent their own interests in a divorce proceeding. They feel they must have a Santa Rosa divorce lawyer to “stick up for their rights”. They are often surprised to learn that they can have court forms drafted for them by a registered legal document assistant that would allow them to conduct their own divorce proceeding exactly the way they want. Even in cases where their spouse has a family law attorney representing them, we have assisted many to move forward with the dissolution self-represented and in a way that they feel is exactly what they want. Many, many times, individuals come to my office frustrated because their family law lawyers won’t “do what I am asking them to do”. Instead they find that their divorce attorney is more like a hired gun “causing trouble” and “doing things that make my spouse really angry” – and the bills are mounting at the same time that nothing seems to be happening.
Go Divorce Clinic of Sonoma County invites you to switch gears and discover the ease and productivity of self-representation. Stopping the “ugly divorce” is our specialty at the Go Divorce Clinic. We feel that listening to and empowering our clients instead of telling them what they should do meets their needs much better. We see cases that have dragged on for months and even years come to a close once those individuals discovered that, with our assistance, they could represent their own interests and actually get things done – and at a far less cost than with attorneys. We understand that a divorcing person needs information, not antagonism.
Less expensive, more effective. Isn’t that worth learning about? Your hard earned money should stay in your bank account for you and your children. Call Go Divorce Clinic in Santa Rosa today, and find out how the mediation, paralegal, conflict resolution and child advocacy background of Robert Revel has created a divorce specialist like no other that can help you or someone you know who is stuck in the middle of an unnecessary and expensive war, put an end to the ugly divorce. www.GoDivorceClinic.com