Culture / Newsy

Beware Of Shadow Figures In Your Divorce

Calabrese Budner Helps Navigate The Delicate Waters of Divorce and Reveal Obstacles

BY // 04.18.23

Divorce is a highly emotional experience. Often, people turn to their family and friends for advice. While these can be invaluable sources of support, parties to a divorce should proceed with caution. As well intended as they may be, family and friends often do not understand the full complexity of the divorce process — or the law. Worse, sometimes “shadow figures” — people on the periphery of a divorce — can exert influence that ends up being more harmful than helpful. Welcome their support, but the key to an optimal outcome is identifying and trusting well-experienced divorce counsel. Effective counsel, while deeply invested in the outcome of your case, stay calm and do not become enmeshed in the ways a shadow figure might.

To navigate the delicate waters of divorce and reveal obstacles that may be lurking in the shadows, PaperCity turns to legal experts, Carla Calabrese and Lee Budner, partners at the law firm of Calabrese Budner. Calabrese and Budner are among Dallas’ top divorce attorneys, they work timelessly to set clients up to maintain and execute a solution- oriented mindset. Calabrese says, “When you let friends or family keep you in an angry or resentful state, you don’t have any space left for the creative problem solving that often provides a foundation for your desired outcome.”

That’s where Calabrese Budner comes in. With the firm’s guidance, clients are able to use their energy, time, and resources to think through problems and their solutions more clearly — whether it be in the settlement process or in litigation.

Divorce isn’t one-size-fits-all.

Friends and family often want vindication for you. They will go to great lengths to devise grand plans to achieve that vindication. Mirroring what they see on TV and the movies, shadow figures often promote the endgame of the legal process as one that identifies a winner and a loser—a good guy and a bad guy. Budner cautions, “The courtroom is rarely the place for interpersonal vindication. When the divorce process becomes about punishment, shaming, or having your so-called day in court, you may be sacrificing your objectives in favor of a costly, drawn-out process and an uncertain outcome.” Instead, “at Calabrese Budner, we recognize all cases and clients are unique. We devise legal strategies that prioritize our client’s needs and goals over emotional warfare.”

Solid professional advice is paramount.

This seems like a no-brainer, but it’s not always followed when emotions run high. Calabrese Budner emphasizes the importance of securing other highly skilled professionals in your divorce, such as mental health professionals or financial consultants. These professionals bring specific expertise to the process and approach the situation from a rational, professional headspace. For example, a mental health professional can guide you through the difficult task of telling your children about a divorce. A financial expert helps clients build a financial plan for their future based on their share of the estate. Calabrese urges, “Lean on the expertise of professionals to cultivate the most solution-oriented and creative mindset.”

Your kids aren’t getting divorced. You are.

Divorce impacts children. Often, shadow figures take hardline approaches when it comes to kids. Calabrese says, “It is not uncommon to overhear a family member tell my client that they shouldn’t let their spouse ever see their kids ever again — regardless of what that parent has done.” Shadow figures can be too emotionally attached and think they are truly helping by offering advice on what should happen with custody, when they are actually fanning the flames. Their advice may be neither reasonable nor realistic under the law. Because high-conflict divorce inevitably impacts children, Calabrese says, “Taking extreme positions in your divorce can spill over and negatively impact your child’s emotional well-being.”

Forget the past. Focus on the future

Focusing on the future means staying in a solution-oriented space, rather than bickering over insignificant disputes that don’t advance your interests.

“It’s easy for parties to get stuck arguing over the little things,” Budner says. “We enable our clients to focus on the big picture. This involves centering our clients around their main objectives and setting aside the minor arguments that only result in a more drawn out, expensive process.” Calabrese Budner believes this strategy gives their clients the best opportunity to reach solutions that meet their goals and interests. Calabrese says, “We want our clients to leave our office feeling ready and empowered for their next chapter.

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