Women Winning Divorce with Heather B. Quick, Esq.

Preparing Yourself for Mediation

Episode Summary

In this eighth episode of Women Winning Divorce, Florida Women's Law Group CEO, owner and attorney, Heather Quick talks about how to prepare for mediation. Does it matter how you present yourself? Who has the final say on the outcome of mediation? How important is client participation?

Episode Notes

"Women Winning Divorce" is a radio show and podcast hosted by Heather Quick, CEO and Owner of Florida Women's Law Group. Each week we focus on different aspects of family law to help guide women through the difficult and emotional legal challenges they are facing. Heather brings over 20 years of law experience that advocates and empowers women to achieve happier and healthier lives. Join Heather each week as she discusses family law issues including divorce, custody, alimony, paternity, narcissism, mediation and more.  

 

This program was created to provide tips and insight to women with family law issues. It is not intended to be legal advice because every situation is different.  

 

Visit us at https://www.womenwinningdivorce.com/ for more resources.

Text us at 904-944-6800 for a copy of Heather's Top 5 Divorce Tips.  

 

If you have questions or a topic you would like Heather to cover, email us at  marketing@4womenlaw.com

Episode Transcription

Women Winning Divorce
Episode 8
Preparing for Mediation

Julie Morgan:

Welcome to Women Winning Divorce with your host Heather Quick. Heather brings over 20 years of law experience that advocates and empowers women to achieve happier and healthier lives. Each week we provide knowledge and guidance on different aspects of family law, to help lead women through the difficult and emotional legal challenges that they are facing. Listen in as she discusses issues including divorce, custody, alimony, paternity, narcissism, mediation and other family law issues to provide insight on the journey of women winning divorce. Welcome to the show. I'm Julie Morgan and I'm joined by your host Heather Quick. Hi Heather, how are you today?

Heather Quick:

I am great. How are you, Julie?

Julie Morgan:

I'm doing quite well. Thank you. So today we're talking more about mediation.

Heather Quick:

Yes.

Julie Morgan:

Just in case they missed the last show, you can go to our website, womenwinningdivorce.com to download that episode. But today it's mediation, but it's getting ready for mediation. Preparing for mediation. Let's go back just a bit. Help us understand mediation. What is it?

Heather Quick:

Mediation is court ordered, so it can be voluntary, but in all divorces in Florida, it is required before a trial.  It is a process where a mediator that has been certified by the state of Florida, most of them are lawyers. I believe that the better ones are because they have had practice in family law, and they mediate.  Their job is to act as a neutral third-party. They don't represent either side, but help the parties reach a settlement, a resolution. What that does is that allows everything to be reduced to an agreement that is signed before they leave and really allows the parties to move on with their life without having to go to trial and a judge make all of the decisions.

Julie Morgan:

Okay. So it sounds like, well, having a judge make all the decisions, is that really something you try to avoid?

Heather Quick:

Oh, absolutely. If you can have a part in the decision making, I think that for the long term, that's better. It's not always possible, and it's certainly not the client's fault. Sometimes you're just in a situation and from our perspective, the husband just is not going to come to an agreement that is reasonable based on the law and the facts. Then you do have to go to trial, and you will be better off because, you're in such a situation where you can't have a reasonable agreement.  The judges are only going to be given the relevant facts and evidence, and they are bound by the law in making certain decisions. So, not really an opportunity to have creative solutions.

Julie Morgan:

Got you. So this actually, and we're going to get into this later, this really allows you to really take part in this process, mediation. 

Heather Quick:

It does. There is and also a part of it that is very therapeutic because in mediation it's much less formal, which we'll talk about but, you can speak freely. The laws of evidence don't apply. You can just speak freely and sometimes that's very cathartic. To be able to really explain your side of the story to the mediator in a way that will not be permissible or appropriate in a court setting.

Julie Morgan:

Permissible or appropriate. I like the way you put that. Would you say most cases are settled at mediation?

Heather Quick:

I would say 85 to 90%, yes, the majority of cases.  Sometimes they require more than one mediation, and we have done that in the past. But yes, a lot of them do resolve in mediation.

Julie Morgan:

Okay. You said more than one?

Heather Quick:

Yes, we've talked about the case, some cases do go on for a long time. Maybe you mediated within the first year and believe it or not, we've continued to litigate for the second year. Keep in mind, right now, we are in 2022, but having come off of 2020, which half the year the courts got bogged down with the pandemic. Some cases have drawn out further than maybe they would have been absent that interruption.Nevertheless, it's been a year since they mediated and maybe their positions have changed, their recognition of the reality of costs have changed. Maybe some facts changed. It's not always appropriate, but sometimes it very much is.

Julie Morgan:

That's interesting. Okay. So before you go to mediation, because we're talking about preparing for this next step, before you go to mediation, what do you go over with your attorney?

Heather Quick:

Well, there's a lot. What we go over with our clients, the basics of course, like what is mediation? What to expect. This is what's going to happen.  If you are fully being prepared during mediation, which often I would say the other side is not, because it goes on for so long, but if you're really prepared for mediation, we have gone over with you, number one, all the issues that we are going to attempt to settle, and that can be several issues. That can be time consuming. The way I explain it to clients is "Hey, what's your best day in court? What's your worst day in court?"  Where's that middle ground?

I want my clients, our clients at Florida Women's Law Group to work with their attorneys and to come to those decisions and say, okay, this is the high end of that, this is the low end. We'll advise them. I think this is where we might end up in trial. I think these are areas where we'll negotiate at mediation and it helps them because, Julie, you and I have been doing this for a while, this show and I'm sure you can appreciate, there's such an emotional component to the divorce that sometimes we're unable to a settle. Clients are unable to settle because emotionally they are not prepared to accept what they're hearing.

If we as their attorneys, can prepare them for, this is what I expect you to hear and these are the scenarios, then they're more prepared as we go into mediation for what they're going to hear and what the issues are going to be.

Julie Morgan:

You just brought up emotionally prepared. If it were in a different setting, as far as mediation versus a courtroom setting, mediation you're able to get some stuff out.

Heather Quick:

Exactly.

Julie Morgan:

In court you can't do that.

Heather Quick:

That is right. It's not advisable. Sometimes people may say something and they can't help themselves, but yeah, not usually advised and the judge is going to stop them so it's not really the proper venue.

Julie Morgan:

Then when you stop a person, it seems like it gets them fired up even more. So you just don't know what's going to happen afterwards. So one of the things that we talked about last weekend and want to go more in depth into this is, when you meet with your attorney, you're going over a lot. Financials, assets, debts and children. This also comes up in mediation. Really this seems to come up really every step of the way.

Heather Quick:

It does, it's a conversation all the time. What's our position on, if there are children involved on the time-sharing schedule?  Sometimes, cases may be, "Hey, the finances were pretty agreeable, but kids not so much." Or vice versa or everything's at issue. We just don't see eye-to-eye on either one. We try to tackle an issue at a time during mediation, however, we tend to go in an order because they do all intertwine. Everything is related to another, but we do try to go in a certain order most of the time to get to a resolution.

Julie Morgan:

Also it seems like ahead of time, you need to make sure that the client understands, as well as the attorney, what's most important to the client.

Heather Quick:

Exactly and that brings up a point. What we have always done in the past is ask the client, "All right you know the issues, we've been going through this process, write down your wish list. What do you wish? How do you wish this will end up on each of these issues." That's important because one, it allows the client not only to think it out, but then write it down. Really spend some time on this and then they can share it with their attorney. Now, another attorney might say, "Oh, well, they can't have their wish list." Well, you don't know that because you don't know what's on it.

Therefore, I want our clients to work through it, and then we talk about each issue and prior to mediation, again, allows them to hear it not for the first time, because trust me, you can be stuck on one issue for hours in mediation. If I can at least discuss it with a client and their wish list may be completely unreasonable, but maybe not. But if it's okay at least I know now, and then we can discuss it. Then we talk about, okay, this is what you want. I understand that, and we can go into mediation asking that, whether or not the other party will agree because that's what mediation is, it's a consensus, a give and take.

It's also important to say, okay, you want A, so badly. You're going to have to be willing to give up somewhere else. That's just human nature in negotiation. It's getting the clients to begin to think about that, which is also very important.

Julie Morgan:

Are there times when someone says, "I'm just not going to bend, I've done enough and it is not happening."

Heather Quick:

Yes, it seems as though you may have been in some of our mediations in the past. I just wonder about that, Julie, how did you guess that? Because that is human nature, you think I'm giving, I'm giving, I'm giving and where are they giving? Yes, and a very good mediator helps work them through that because, I'm not privy to what's going on in the other room, but they're feeling the same way. Everybody feels as though they're giving and the other side is not.

Julie Morgan:

Actually, let's touch on that point that you just mentioned, because last time we touched on this, and again, if you want to listen to this show and I definitely encourage you to do so, you can go to our website, womenwinningdivorce.com to download the podcast and also subscribe. The last show, I was shocked because I thought everyone was in a room together, and that is not the case.

Heather Quick:

That is correct. Again, because we're all in a room together in trial, and you don't just get to say what you want when you want. You can see there is a benefit to having that privacy and that opportunity to vent in a way that really is more constructive. If it goes beyond that, then we're like, "All right hey, we've gone beyond constructive venting, it's time to get back on track." Even as the attorney, I do sometimes say that I'm looking out for our client's best interest. Sometimes based on the facts and the law and where we are, I recognize that some of the things that the client wants, they won't get in court.

Therefore, the more we're willing to negotiate to get things that matter to them, that's a win.

Julie Morgan:

Something that I just wrote down. Patience. You need patience in this situation.

Heather Quick:

Indeed.

Julie Morgan:

Yeah. Somethings that you may have going on in your life may be a little bit embarrassing. So, is that something I should hold back from my attorney if it's to benefit me, even if it's embarrassing?

Heather Quick:

When you're with your attorney, and that is a trust relationship, it’s important that you have enough trust to share things.  The thing is, for most individuals going through a divorce, they don't know what they don't know. Will it matter? Is it something my attorney should know? What we tell our clients is, tell us. I'll let you know if it's relevant or not. Generally, they bring up the some things that they want us to know that I tell them, "You know that that is not going to affect the outcome of this case. From a perspective of telling the judge, I know it matters to you, you're hurt and very upset about what your spouse has done. That is not going to matter."

I don't mean it not going to matter, it's not relevant evidence that the court is going to consider. Therefore, given the amount of time we have in a courtroom setting, it's not helpful. It's not going to happen that that's going to be discussed. Now in mediation, there can be that discussion and points of that can come up, but there comes a point sometimes when you get diminishing returns, it's like you have to move on, which is very difficult. You have to move on beyond the hurt, if we are going to settle this case. As the advocate for my client in helping them, I try to say that, sometimes the mediator needs to say that it's like, it's time to move on.

Julie Morgan:

So, who has the final say when it comes to mediation? Who has the final say on the outcome of mediation?

Heather Quick:

It's actually both parties. You can get to the 13th hour of negotiation, everything's been written down and say, "I'm not signing it" and they can walk away. We don't advise that, that's a lot of time and money that has been spent to walk away and not sign it. But nobody's going to force you. My goal is to help our clients understand and appreciate their possibilities. This is potentially what's going to happen in court. This is what we've agreed to, this is the downside. Nobody's going to hold it against you if you don't settle, but it's just appreciating the consequences.

Julie Morgan:

So just to help everyone understand, mediation is legally binding.

Heather Quick:

Yes, if you sign the agreement. That's the ideal situation that we've spent this time and the negotiations have come to a result, it's all reduced to writing and we sign it.

Julie Morgan:

That's when it becomes legally binding. If you've signed it, you've agreed to it and that's what it is.

Heather Quick:

Yes.

Julie Morgan:

Oh, wow. All righty. You're listening to Women Winning Divorce with Florida Women's Law Group, owner and attorney Heather Quick. So Heather, when we went to break right there, we talked about the fact that we're going to come back and talk about the day of mediation and how you're presenting yourself on the day of mediation. All righty. Pajamas are no, no, because this is on Zoom, right?

Heather Quick:

Yes and no. Okay. I have my own personal bias because I have teenagers who, unless you're not aware or not watching, that's what they think is okay to wear everywhere, pajamas. I disagree. Now, even if you are on Zoom and we can talk about both, but I believe dress for success. If you want to have a good result and you want to be ready, then get ready for it. Wear appropriate clothes, shower, get dressed. You don't have to have formal clothes but something that makes you feel good. Personally I feel good with hair, makeup, shower, brush my teeth, all those things. We all have our own personal preferences.

Even if you and I are not in the same room, because we've talked about mediation there are different versions of that. But traditionally, mediation we were all in-person. Same location, but husband and his attorney in one room, wife and the attorney in a different room, the mediator going back and forth. Now, we do have full on in-person mediations happening. We have completely virtual, meaning everybody's in a different location and the Zoom rooms change and we are in one breakout room of Zoom, but I'm not in the same room with my client. Additionally, now we have a hybrid.

For some of our cases, we have had our client come to our office.  We're together, but the mediator is virtual and then the other side are in their space. That way I'm in-person with our client, their attorneys are in-person with their client, which it helps. It's a long day and it helps with communication. When we're able to do that and when it makes sense, we do it that way.

Julie Morgan:

Do you have a preference possibly?

Heather Quick:

I do, I think in-person with everybody is best. I will tell you that I have been surprised and pleasantly surprised that the Zoom has been very effective. I had a situation at the very beginning of the pandemic where every single person was separate. I was in front of my computer but the client was at home in front of her computer, and it was still effective, and it was a very long day and we were still able to stay engaged. You’re really on for that amount of time, but the personal aspect and sometimes I do think that it's helpful for our clients, as well as the other clients to have that personal interaction with the mediator.

I think we've all learned from Zoom, you really can still get that to some extent. I'm not going to tell you that they're not settling when we're doing it Zoom and virtually. They are, the cases are still settling, and I do not see a negative impact on that. Maybe it's a little slower in some cases, but I definitely like it when our client is present with me, because then you're just ... you get Zoom fatigue if you've not heard of it, and where you're just constantly staring at the screen all day. Then at least you can move away from that.

Julie Morgan:

Why do you believe it's important how a client presents before the mediator in the court. Why is that so important?

Heather Quick:

I will distinguish mediation from the court. In mediation, I think in regardless in mediation, it means you're there and you're taking this process seriously and you're there because it's going to be work and you're there to do it. You are showing up intentionally.  I think that conveys that message. It does. No matter what anybody says or believe, you are judged at least initially by your appearance, but then that's really your readiness. Because we do know, if you're really depressed and unable to make decisions, you're going to show that and that body language is going to affect your mind, it affects all of that and we are going to a day where a lot of important decisions need to be made.

It's like game day, you need your game face on, you need to be dressed and you need to be ready to go. When I say dressed, this is not revenge dressing, and we're showing off, looking so ... You can look great. Hey look good. Especially if we're all in-person, make him sorry he's been such a jerk, whatever. I'm okay with that, as long as it's appropriate, but it's game day, it's time to get to work and I do very much believe your dress and the way you have put yourself together affects that, without a doubt. The same, that goes for the judge. Now, a little bit more professional dressing is definitely what we encourage when we're in front of the court. You certainly don't have to wear a suit. We wear a suit.

But mediation, I tell our clients all the time, you can wear jeans, you can be comfortable, but not like workout clothes. A little bit more than that. We're working in our suits and things. Even when I was doing Zooms from home by myself, I still wear my high heels because that's what you have to do when you're working and to get you in the right frame of mind. That's really how I do think it affects our clients and their ability to be in their zone during that time.

Julie Morgan:

But Heather, yoga pants are so popular.

Heather Quick:

They are and hey, if you are at home and I'm not there, then that's fine. But if you're going to come to the office, if you talk to our client liaison, she's going to be like, "Where's your lipstick?" If you're on Zoom. So heaven forbid, she's going to get on you. She discusses that with every client. Everybody looks better with lipstick, even if you put no other makeup on. She's all about that with Zoom. But there is a psychological component to that, and I will subscribe to that and I do believe it's important and mediation is not about comfort, that's not what we're there to do. In fact, we want to be a little uncomfortable so that we get work done and you can move on.

Julie Morgan:

Move on. What about getting there late?

Heather Quick:

Well, that is obviously your basic traffic, that's one thing, but no, you should prepare to be early, especially nowadays if you haven't been used to commuting to work, if you've been out of practice of that, and likely if you have not been there before, most likely you haven't. Now, very often many of our women clients, they will have a good friend just drop them off. They're like, then my nerves aren't being frayed because it's subconscious a lot of times when you're late, because you're just so preoccupied and then you may go the wrong way. Many things could happen. That's a great thing is just to have somebody take you, a good friend or family member drop you off and then they come pick you up later. It just removes one more stressor.

Julie Morgan:

That also gives you a support before and after you're not getting in the car. What about jewelry?

Heather Quick:

Now this is an interesting thing because I was recently asked this, "Well, should I wear my jewelry?" Somebody's like, "Don't wear my jewelry because then they're going to see all this jewelry." I'm like, "Well, they ought to know about the jewelry." Nothing's really a surprise. Again you're not going to be in the room with your husband. Our mediator, he is not adversarial to you. He is a neutral or she is a neutral. I would be appalled if they would be like, "Well look at that big diamond ring." Or whatever, you could sell that. That would be extremely inappropriate. Dress in what's comfortable for you. Again, if it's all, hey, if your jewelry makes you feel better and stronger, than I say wear it.

What makes you feel stronger and ready to make decisions, and as long as that balance is with what would be appropriate dress, I think that's smart. That's good. Because really this is about you going into this and wanting to be the most successful. How do you feel good? Yeah, go get your hair and nails done that week. Feel good about yourself because you're about to embark hopefully on this next phase in your life. If you're coming there and you're depressed and feeling sorry for yourself and then we're probably not going to get very far and that's not a healthy place in your mind to be even making these very important decisions from.

Julie Morgan:

When you look good, you feel good, and then you're able to get things done. That's what I got out of all this.

Heather Quick:

Well, good. That's what I was hoping you'd get. Anybody listening because, there's a lot about it and I also ... like get up and exercise that morning. Get up early, get out a little of that extra nervous energy, eat something good. It's really all a part of taking care of yourself and taking this day seriously. Eat something smart, don't show up starving, I can't eat, I'm throwing up. Then you're not ready. Because then you don't feel good, and then you're going to second guess any decisions, and or I may as your attorney or any of our attorney say, "I don't think you're in the right mental space to be making these decisions."

Julie Morgan:

Tell me this. Have you ever had to reschedule a mediation because of that? Or is that possible?

Heather Quick:

It is possible. I am sure we have. Many times the other side will say, "Oh, that's an angle. You're trying to get away with something. They're delaying it." We really encourage our clients because we need to be there, and you could be held in contempt, if it were not true. I have never had an instance where maybe something didn’t legitimately happen that caused that mediation or delay, but you could be accused, "Oh, you're manipulating it. They are faking it." Because we're in family law and there's some mistrust there to begin with.

Julie Morgan:

So you can be held in contempt at mediation?

Heather Quick:

Not at mediation, but if you just don't even show up, then the other attorney would go to court and tell the judge.  Because it's ordered by the court, you go to mediation and they didn't show up, and now you're going to have to come tell the court why not. Now, that would be in an instance where nobody knew. If there are emergencies, there are things that happen. That's why getting yourself mentally, emotionally ready is going to prevent a lot of that, I do believe. Not that I would doubt you were truly sick, but I do believe that our brains are powerful, and you can, it can cause you to feel worse. If you're really ready, then that's not going to happen.

Let's say your child got sick really in a bad way, you had to go to the doctor, the emergency room, those would be valid reasons that we're in emergency and you could not control. There's no contempt when that's the truth. Given we have some proof of that, if the other side doesn't believe us. So yes, those things are very rare because it's so important and it's court ordered. I will tell you, because I know mediators, the really good ones are very busy and it takes three to six months to get on their calendar. Therefore, you have a day tomorrow for mediation and you guys blow it, it's going to be several months before you can get back in there in front of the mediator and then you've got to coordinate to attorney's schedule.  There's a lot to it when you have that availability.

Julie Morgan:

Okay. And then that could just drag the case on even longer. Longer and longer.

Heather Quick:

It does, which even if one of the parties doesn't want this to happen, it's not healthy. You know what I mean? The divorce process takes a toll on you financially and emotionally, and the longer it drags on, even for really valid reasons and things that need to happen, it doesn't help anybody psychologically. It's best when it's ready and time to move it forward that it moves forward.

Julie Morgan:

Another thing I thought about here was, get a good night's sleep as well. Because that just refreshes you.

Heather Quick:

Indeed. Be careful, don't for the first time take the sleeping pill the doctor prescribed you that. Yes, they've been prescribed things. Just don't ever do it because then you oversleep and then it's all disheveled. These are real things that you can imagine that, would seem very reasonable to do like, "Okay, well I'm going to go to sleep. I'm going to have a good night sleep." But then you don't hear your alarm. You don't want that.

Julie Morgan:

I didn't even think about that. You've been given the pills or you've been prescribed these pills in order to help you get a restful night's sleep. And you're like, "This is the perfect time to use it." But it's really not.

Heather Quick:

Right, if it's something you've used before and you know, but it's not the first time to be like, "Oh yeah, I'm going to take a couple Benadryl." Well, if you don't normally take Benadryl to me that knocks me out. Just be careful depending on what you can tolerate. You just want to, again, this is an important day and it's the same rule for court for sure. I think that's what is so important is that clients really do understand and they are treating this as important as if they were going to the courthouse in front of the judge. Even if they are at home on Zoom, they are treating it as important. It's a little harder when you don't have to go through those normal things, like get dressed, get ready drive somewhere and present yourself.

But if you can mentally get in that space, that’s important, you prepare yourself and position yourself in the right frame of mind to address the issues and make a lot of decisions. Most individuals aren't used to making a lot of decisions in a short period of time. That takes practice. Their biggest decision and this isn't a bad thing is, where am I going to go out to dinner tomorrow? Or am I going to go JTB or Beach Boulevard? Which way am I going to go? Things that they don't have to make like 20 decisions in one day, this is going to be a big day. It's a lot of decisions, very different from their normal day. So that's why the preparation should be different.

If I can help anybody just with their expectations and recognize, "Oh, that's why that's going to be exhausting." That's why that's going to be a big day. Even if they're all good decisions in your favor, it's a lot a decision. They're all like, "Oh, Hey, I'm happy with this decision. I'm happy with this decision." They're just a lot more than normally they would make on a daily basis.

Julie Morgan:

You're listening to Women Winning Divorce with Heather Quick, owner and attorney of Florida Women's Law Group. Heather, let's talk about how important it is for the client to participate in this process. We mentioned this again in the first show about mediation. Again, you can go to our website, womenwinningdivorce.com to listen to that episode. How important is that?

Heather Quick:

It is one of the most important things because, it is your life. These decisions are going to affect you. As your attorneys, our goal is to position you in the best possible way. But we're doing that based on what you've told us. And at the end of the day though, you have to make the decision. You have to sign the agreement, you have to understand, and therefore you need to participate. Because you need to take responsibility, and even if in the past you haven't had that much responsibility say in the marriage on finances or particular aspects of your marriage, now is the time because it is going to be up to you, and we really can't do it without 100% client participation.

Julie Morgan:

But this seems so scary. I know that this is life. This is a part of the process, but it seems like a scary thing or it can be.

Heather Quick:

I think that's true with anything that we build up and we don't know. Never done this. I don't know what it's going to be like. It's really more the reality. I don't want to be divorced or I do want to be re-divorced but I'm scared, and if I avoid this, it won't happen. That's just not true. There needs to be that dose of reality, and I think that most of us will find that some of the things that we have been most afraid of, once we take that first step and we go through it, it's not bad as our brains and our imaginations can create. It may not be all roses, but it's usually not as bad as we have created in our head.

Julie Morgan:

We just can't really bury our head in the sand and say, "This is not happening." We really need a reality check. Is that something that you help the client with? Give them that reality check?

Heather Quick:

Very much so. Even from the process of filing divorce or that conversation, "Oh, well maybe I just don't want to do this." It's like, please recognize if your spouse wants to file for divorce, it's happening.  Therefore, do you want to wait till he decides? Or obviously if something's unhappy and if the divorce process is ongoing, if you ignore it, the court can still make a decision. There's no way that decision is going to be in your best interest if you have not participated.

Julie Morgan:

Okay. You can tell by the look on my face that you just said something I didn't know. But let's go back to something else you said before we get to that part. The reality check. Does it come on the first conversation that you may have with a client or at that point maybe a potential client?

Heather Quick:

I think that it's a conversation that goes on and on, throughout the process. When you're going through something you've never gone through, you're growing through it and learning, but you might need to hear the same thing multiple times because you're in a different place and you will hear it differently. Just like all of us. If you're not ready to hear that on day one, you may not. But on day 30, on day 90, on day 120, day 365, it eventually I think your subconscious is going to be like, "All right, I can hear this now. I am ready." Most of our clients, most of the women, they say, "I wasn't ready to hear what you had to say when you told me the first time, but now I hear it and I understand." Because it is, it's a healing process. It's a process.

It is a major life change for anybody to go through a divorce. Therefore your body's only going to listen to so much that it can handle at the time.

Julie Morgan:

While we're on the topic of understanding that you need to participate in this process, there has to be deadlines set up by the court or even mediation about when you're supposed to do certain things at a certain time, right? So you need to understand when those deadlines happen in order to continue to participate in the process.

Heather Quick:

Yes, that's our job as your attorney. We're going to remind you and let you know and say there are sometimes where we can get extensions of time. We can get more time, however, if the other side is pushing and if the delay goes too long, that can cause the court in extreme circumstances to order attorney's fees say for financial discovery and them having to go to the judge to ask for something that should have been. There are reasons that as attorneys, we are going to tell you the deadlines and we are going to be on you and remind you for your benefit, because we don't want you in a situation where you have exposure for failing to do something that the rules require that you do. Because then a court could rule against you on that particular issue.

Julie Morgan:

So that means when I see your phone call, I shouldn't dodge it.

Heather Quick:

That is correct Julie, you should always pick up the phone when we are calling.

Julie Morgan:

Yeah. That makes sense. Totally. Back to the reason why I was shocked. So this process can go on without you.

Heather Quick:

Yes, okay so, I'm not going to get too in the weeds. Because of course sometimes I can start talking about rules and law and get off on a tangent. This is a lawsuit. In order to begin the lawsuit, you have to be served by a formal process server.  Now, once you've been served and that is in the court record, if you fail to participate, this action can still go on just like any other lawsuit, any criminal case, although they'll come pick you up in a criminal case. But, it will continue to go on. That is what is called a default judgment. The court can make a majority of the decisions based on what the other side says, and that can put you just in a terrible position.

Julie Morgan:

Because at that point you just have to live with it and you have to understand that you didn't get involved so, you know what, that's just the way it is.

Heather Quick:

Right, we've talked about issues in the past where, okay now you're in a situation where you're in a hole and there's a court order or decisions that are averse to you.  Then you come see us as your attorney and say, "Please help me." Okay, well we will look and see and tell you some of these things we can help you with but some of these things are permanent. Because you have failed to seek an attorney's advice in the beginning and participate, unfortunately some things can't be changed, which is never what we want to tell you. We never want to tell you we can't help you. Because you made a bad decision, you agreed to something or you just turned your head and let it happen, that is a really horrible situation for any person to be in.

As attorneys, we hate that to tell you, sorry, you've really messed this up and we can't get you out of everything. Maybe there's somethings we can go and get changed for you, but your inaction has put you in this situation.  Unfortunately, that inaction has consequences just like certain actions do and therefore there's only so much we can do. So yeah, that's how the process can go on without you, once you've been served.

Julie Morgan:

Tell me about the client liaison at Florida Women's Law Group?

Heather Quick:

Oh, you'd love Susan. Susan is our client liaison. You two would end up doing too much laughing and then talking, I can tell on your show. But, I'll bring her on one day. As long as I can monitor all that. Essentially she's the person she's not a lawyer, which is good because sometimes our view is from the lawyer's perspective, well not always. She's there to help buffer you with the lawyers. If you're emotionally upset, she's the person you can call and she can maybe talk you through it and help you through the process. Maybe something happens on the weekend and you don't know what to do. You can call her on the weekends, in the evening. She has certain after hours. You just need to talk to somebody and say, "I'm sad. This happened today." She's there for our clients, and she checks in on them and gives that official girlfriend-to-girlfriend advice.  Not legal advice but girl, brush your hair and put on some lipstick. You got to get up and get out the door. Sometimes you just need that.

Julie Morgan:

You need that from someone that you don't know really, someone that's not in your personal circle. Because people in your personal circle can lie to you.

Heather Quick:

Only because they love you and they're like, "You're okay hun, you look good." But it's really like, "No, you don't, no you don't. Go get those roots done or something, you can look better." Sometimes you need that and you do appreciate that.

Julie Morgan:

For sure.

Heather Quick:

Now do you have friends like that Julie that tell you that. If not, you call me I'll tell you.

Julie Morgan:

I'm actually that friend and I try to be that friend to myself, I don't always succeed. But yes, I do have friends like that. And you know what Heather, I'm going to take you up on that one. I'm going to call you and say, you be honest with me.

Heather Quick:

You be careful for what you ask. You ask me, I'm going to tell you.

Julie Morgan:

Yeah. You know what? I'm okay with that. But it feels like that's what more people need regardless of the situation. More people need that honesty, because that honesty is also a form of support.

Heather Quick:

It is, and it's really that we truly care for our clients and probably sometimes more than they care about it themselves. We really do care. We know from experience these types of things that do matter, and that your self-worth does matter and how you feel about yourself, it does matter when you're going through this. That's why we will tell you that and a lot of times tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear.

Julie Morgan:

Susan sounds like a good person. It sounds like also this is confidential because it's happening within this whole process. So it's not like she's going to tell anyone.

Heather Quick:

Correct. She works for the firm. It remains all confidential and it's within of course professional setting, but it's that added bonus because, so often, the call to talk to your attorney is not about legal advice. It is about how do I say this in a way or I feel this way. Therefore we provide our clients with somebody and they have the paralegals too, but all that is in the legal realm. That's not quite the therapist in the office, but the person who can just be a sound of reason and say, and tell them, no, that's a legal question. I'll get with the attorney, make sure that that gets answered, or if this is an emergency, we have protocol for that. But if it's just, I'm sad and this doesn't feel good and you need somebody to say, "You know what, don't go get that glass of wine, go for a walk and go work out and know that tomorrow it'll be better."  I'll call you a little later and let's get through it or, "Here, read this book, do this." Again, to help them personally, as they are going through this journey.

Julie Morgan:

If they do need something a little bit extra, can Susan also direct you to a therapist?

Heather Quick:

Absolutely.

Julie Morgan:

Okay. All right, good. I was thinking about this, not only therapy, but you have to go through so many other things with your finances or if you feel like you're just not feeling good and you feel like you need to change something to look good. Maybe direct me somewhere for that as well. It seems like-

Heather Quick:

Absolutely.

Julie Morgan:

... she is that all around person.

Heather Quick:

Yeah. Really, because we're here for our clients, all parts of them and all the issues. Not that we address everything, but we direct them to the people who can.

Julie Morgan:

All right Heather, anything else you want to add on this topic?

Heather Quick:

No. I think that we have really covered it. I hope in a lot of ways that gives a lot of good insight to women who are in this process and wondering, "What is this going to be like?" I'm hopeful that this has clarified a lot of those issues and potential questions.

Julie Morgan:

I believe it has. Thank you for listening to Women Winning Divorce. We hope you found information to help you navigate your divorce. If you like our show, please take the time to subscribe and provide a five star review. If you need more information, please visit our website at womenwinningdivorce.com, where will find previous episodes and other helpful content. Join us next week as we continue our journey of Women Winning Divorce.