A Holistic Approach To Divorce

By Yvonne Homeyer, J.D.


Lawyers as problem-solvers, peace-makers, and conflict-resolution specialists? Have you ever thought of a lawyer in this way?

Actually, many lawyers, especially those practicing family law, are transforming their legal practices by working with clients in a holistic model, rather than an adversarial model in which clients are pitted against each other in a contested court “battle” designed to have a winner and a loser. A holistic approach to divorce looks at the family and helps the divorcing couple resolve their issues on all levels – legally, financially, and emotionally. In a holistic divorce, support is offered to the couple which allows them to resolve conflict rather than papering over it. Holistic lawyers see their clients as whole people and not just a bundle of legal issues.

Family law attorneys who practice holistically understand that divorce is not just a legal matter but also involves conflict resolution and family restructuring. Holistic lawyers often work in teams with other divorce professionals such as coaches, child specialists, and financial experts to make sure that all issues can be addressed.

Couples working with holistic lawyers usually do their work out of court. It is only after all the legal agreements have been signed that the lawyers file a non-contested dissolution of marriage proceeding. Yes, all divorces end up in court, but how they get there can be vastly different. When couples have everything agreed to before they file, the judge is being asked to approve their agreements and add them to the Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage. This is different from a traditional contested divorce where the judge will hear evidence at a trial and make decisions for the couple.

Collaborative Law and Mediation are two models that offer divorcing couples an opportunity to resolve their legal matters in a non-adversarial way. In a collaborative divorce, each spouse is represented by a collaboratively-trained attorney and both attorneys work together to help their clients resolve their issues. In mediation, the couple meet with a neutral mediator to discuss their issues. In mediation, each spouse may have a lawyer but usually the lawyers do not come to the mediation sessions.

There are non-adversarial, out-of-court options available for resolving conflict and there are peace-making lawyers who work with clients in a holistic setting. While these models are often discussed in the context of divorce, they can be used to resolve a wide variety of conflict apart from family law matters.

Yvonne Homeyer is a family law attorney in Richmond Heights who works with clients to resolve their disputes holistically through collaborative law and mediation.

For more information, visit her web site at www.stlouisfamilylaw.com or call her at 314.863.3321.