Relationships Podcast Post

Amicable Divorce with AJ Grossman

George Grombacher August 22, 2022

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Amicable Divorce with AJ Grossman

LifeBlood: We talked about how to have an amicable divorce and why it’s a good option whenever possible, the different options we have for divorcing, the negative consequences on children, and how to get started, with AJ Grossman, attorney and CEO of Leap Frog Divorce. 

Listen to learn how to approach conflict productively!

You can learn more about AJ at, Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn.

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Our Guests

George Grombacher

AJ Grossman

Episode Transcript

Unknown Speaker 0:00
Come on

Unknown Speaker 0:11
what level this is George G and the time is right. welcome today’s guest strong Apollo for AJ Grossman. Hey, Jay, are you ready to do this? I am. I’m so happy to be here. I’m excited to have you on. AJ is an attorney. He is the founder and owner and CEO of leap frog divorce. He’s working to solve problems provide solutions that protect the interests of those who seek amicable resolutions, dispute resolutions and collaborative divorce. AJ, tell us a little about your personal life’s more about your work, why you do what you do. Okay, gosh, I love those questions. All right. So I’m in Orlando, Florida, and happily married, love to travel. My wife and I just got back from a fantastic trip over to the UK. We were over there for I think about three weeks. That was fantastic. I’ve been a guitar player for over 40 years, music has been a huge part of my life. And when I was a kid, I ran track and field and actually held the national record for the one mile race walk. So that was that was exciting.

Unknown Speaker 1:16
What else?

Unknown Speaker 1:18
I guess that that covers it? Oh, work? Yes. So I’m a divorce lawyer.

Unknown Speaker 1:23
I’m also a Florida Supreme Court certified family mediator. And I am a dispute resolution specialist. And 100% of my practice is focused solely on divorce and paternity matters. That’s all I’ve ever done. That’s all I will continue to do. And the question I think I love the most the why question, why do I do what I do. So really, I boil it down to being the positive change that I want to see in the world by helping people divorce while minimizing harm and trauma. One person, one child and one family at a time.

Unknown Speaker 2:01
Nice. I appreciate that.

Unknown Speaker 2:04
Is divorce good or bad?

Unknown Speaker 2:08
Oh, I hate labels. So I think I think it’s it’s neither good nor bad.

Unknown Speaker 2:17
I think that it is the right option for some people.

Unknown Speaker 2:22
Possibly the wrong option, or maybe the wrong timing for others. So I think it really depends, you know, as human beings, we’re all unique. There’s nobody in the world just like us. And so really that’s a that’s a personal decision that’s based upon a lot of factors. So I would not judge it and consider it either good or bad. Yeah, it just it just kind of is right. Yeah. Right. For somebody, it’s the worst thing that’s ever happened. And for the other person potentially in the same relationship, it could be the best thing that’s ever happened. So it just kind of separately. Yes, yes.

Unknown Speaker 3:02
amicable resolutions? Now, how how? How often is that taking place? Tell me a little bit more about that. Okay. So I’ll start by defining it so that people understand what it means. an amicable divorce, in my opinion, is one where a married couple has been able to continue to communicate through their conflict, and resolve most or many or all of the issues that they have in their divorce, whether it deals with the kids, or property or debts or what have you, they both realize that, you know, especially if they’re parents, that they’re going to be parents for the rest of their lives. And so if the children are small, they’re going to have to co parent together to make sure that their child or children are loved and supported by two loving co parents. And so with an amicable, amicable divorce with parents, usually those those parents recognize their future role and the importance of their future role. And so they don’t want to use the divorce process to harm their spouse, they don’t want to use the children as pawns, or negotiating tools in the divorce and so so each person wants their ideal divorce process where where nobody gets harm or the harm is minimized, the trauma is minimized. And they can simply split from one type of family into a different type of family. And so for single people with it, where are married people without children, that would be you know, I just I just want to pursue my life and I want you know, my, my wife, my husband, whatever happens to be to pursue his or her life as well and we just need to part ways and go about our business so to speak. So it happens quite regularly. I do

Unknown Speaker 5:00
get quite a few inquiries about, can I have an amicable divorce? How much does an amicable divorce cost? What does it look like? Where can where are the potholes? Where can things go wrong? So it’s, it’s definitely a possibility. Yeah.

Unknown Speaker 5:20
What is what is the purpose of of of mediation? From a marriage standpoint? Great question. So the sole purpose? Well, I won’t say the sole purpose, one of the big purposes is to meet with what I would call a neutral third party, a neutral professional, who can help the spouses communicate in a way that helps resolve the issues that they’re having. Oftentimes, people in conflict find it incredibly challenging and difficult to communicate in a way that actually advances the conflict advances that dispute towards the resolution. So working with a mediator, who’s trained in working with people to help them communicate can often really help.

Unknown Speaker 6:08
So it’s not necessarily to to divorce, it could be working through a problem and staying together.

Unknown Speaker 6:16
Absolutely, absolutely. So there are there are mediators who mediate all times types of cases and cases that have yet to be filed. I remember as part of my Master of Laws education out at Pepperdine University in Malibu, I used to mediate this neighbor disputes, you know, and and sometimes those cases were filed, and sometimes they weren’t, or a customer that had a dispute with a retailer. You know, sometimes those were filed, sometimes they weren’t. So yes, a mediator can be very helpful whether a case is filed or not. Yeah, I, I can’t help but draw, try to draw parallels between people’s interests. So you’ve been playing guitar for for a really long time. And when your guitar gets out of tune, I don’t imagine that you just break the power and throw it away. You attempt to, I am just kind of getting back to, you know, and it’s kind of like a relationship, right? Just because something’s on a tune, or it’s not working great. You can potentially replace the strings or tune the guitar instead of just getting a new guitar. What do you think? Right? Right. Oh, I love that analogy. I think it’s fantastic. Absolutely. So over the years, I’ve built several, if not, maybe half a dozen to a dozen of my own guitars. And so tweaking things and tuning things, maybe changing one component for another component can really help accomplish whatever goal it is you’re trying to accomplish. So with a guitar, I’m trying to get it to feel good to be relatively easy to play, and to sound good. And with a marriage. That would that might be changing a communication style, maybe changing the environment in which you typically communicate with your spouse. It could be transitioning from, you know, kind of accusation, defend accusation, defend, to entering a conflict with your with your spouse, or significant other or fellow employee or boss, with more of a learning mindset, I need to learn more about the other person’s perspective before I get on my own soapbox, and start defending my own position. So just a little, some little tweaks here and there can work wonders. Yeah. And I, I, when when when people come to you

Unknown Speaker 8:46
the the, when you go to a surgeon and you say, Hey, I’ve got this this pain, you expect that the surgeon is going to tell you to have surgery, when I come to you? Do you have conversations and just we’re we’re getting divorced, we’re we’re not going to talk about, you know, fixing the marriage.

Unknown Speaker 9:06
So I have what I would call a very, very open ended conversation with people. So I asked a lot of questions, a lot of interest, a lot of questions that people find interesting. For example, I’ll ask people, so tell me what’s keeping you up at night? What’s causing you to lose sleep? And if your relationship could be different, how would it be different? And how would that work better for you? How would that work better for your spouse? How might that work better for your children?

Unknown Speaker 9:38
If you continue going the way that you have been going, how do you see your future? How do you see your children’s future? And so by trying to learn as much as I can about people, it really gives me a pretty good idea. What have they tried? What have they not tried? Is divorce really the last?

Unknown Speaker 10:00
Stop option for this person, or is it the first option? And I never want to be the type of divorce lawyer that just like, you know, Ram somebody into a divorce process. And so I might ask, you know, have you tried counseling in the past? Well, no, we haven’t. Well, why is that helped me understand why you’ve decided not to? Do you think it might be helpful? How do you think it might be helpful? Do you need a referral to a therapist? I know a lot of them. Would you prefer a man? Would you prefer a woman? So So yeah, I have those kinds of conversations. They’re important. Yeah, it seems uh, just just just must be fascinating.

Unknown Speaker 10:40
Over time that you’ve been practicing? Have, have you seen that more people? Are the people are turning to the divorce option or exploring the divorce option? faster, slower? Has it always been the same? That’s enough? That’s a really interesting question. So you know, it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s unique and different for each person, I talk with some people who say, you know, we’ve been separated for four years. And my spouse, I’ve been asking for a divorce for for three years. And they just they refuse to do what I need them to do so that this can get moving. And then others will say, I’m thinking about divorce, I’m not ready to pull the trigger yet. But I just wanted to gather some information. So I know what it’s all about. And then other people who will call and say, I just got served with divorce papers. And I know, I have to respond in 20 days, and I need a lawyer ASAP. So it really runs the gamut. Yeah, yeah, I imagine. And hopefully, that’s hopefully that’s the case. Hopefully, everybody’s approaching their situation thoughtfully and not just grabbing the yellow pages as of Monday.

Unknown Speaker 11:52
I suppose that all depends. So

Unknown Speaker 11:58
in I guess the answer to my next question is probably all depends too. But there are all these different ways for people to to separate. And certainly the more amicable and open people can be to exploring this together, it’s going to be better for everybody else involved for especially if there’s kids in laws. And just from my personal experience, my folks put up when I was five, and it’s been nothing but a pain in the neck for the next 40 years of my life, because now I’ve got kids and my folks don’t get along and everything else. So there’s just so many second berry things that are happening. Right, right. And that’s one of the things I just I love to do, I love to educate people on the various options, because most people are only familiar with the one that you see in films and TV, what I call the divorce court, you know, scorched earth battle to the to the end. But there are so many options for people who can still communicate and get along and can sit down at a kitchen table, so to speak with a pad of paper and a pen, they can resolve a lot. And they might just need a divorce attorney to say here’s our agreement, we just need the paperwork, drafted the settlement agreements, and whatever else we need. There are other people who will try that. And maybe they can’t resolve all of the issues. And so maybe they need to go to a mediator. And then a mediator can work and hopefully resolve the rest of the issues. And then again, it’s a simple matter of, okay, we’ve come to an agreement, we just need to formalize it and file it with a court and be done with this. There is collaborative divorce, which I think is a wonderful option for many families, not all families, but many families. That is more of what I would call a civil, transparent, healthy, more healthy way to divorce where everybody’s voice has value. Everybody’s voice will be heard and considered. It’s a safe space, where people don’t have to feel that they’ll be attacked. If they are verbally attacked. There’s a whole team of professionals to help wrangle in this situation. So that that’s a wonderful option.

Unknown Speaker 14:18
And then, of course, you have your your traditional litigated divorce through the courts, and that can go in a lot of ways as well. Somebody could initially think that’s the way I think my divorce needs to go. We need to have a battle and then lo and behold, the other spouse says, You know what, I don’t know why I don’t want to fight. Let’s just get this resolved. So maybe they go to mediation, they work everything out and then you know, they’re done.

Unknown Speaker 14:43

Unknown Speaker 14:46
It seems. I think it’s it’s terrifying and sad when you hear about stories like that, where just it’s over and I want to pummel the other person and then destroy them through this through this process.

Unknown Speaker 15:00
In scorched earth at the expense of of everything.

Unknown Speaker 15:06
Do you mean how do you how do you handle that? So I am, I am an interesting mix of personalities. So like everybody, I have a what I call a light side and a dark side. And my life side is is the nice collaborative, cooperative person who likes to negotiate settlements and work in a civil manner like, like the collaborative divorce process. And then my dark side comes out when it’s appropriate. And my dark side is more of like the the aggressive litigator who’s going to use the rules to help protect my client, get my client where he or she needs, we’re going to resort to hearings and a trial if necessary, because we’ve tried everything else and it just can’t work out. So I’m capable in the courtroom, and I’m capable outside of the courtroom. And unfortunately, I think the lawyers tend to fall on one side or the other. Rather than kind of walk that that fine line between the two. And, you know, divorce, I can trial work hearing work, I consider the last resort. Because you know, today we have enough information out there from from psychologists and sociologists about children, and the effects of divorce, the harm that they suffer the trauma that they suffer. And as a matter of fact, divorces listed on the ACE score, you know, adverse childhood experiences as as one of the factors. And so we only go there when necessary. Yeah, I certainly appreciate that. So, but you need to be able to do all of it. AJ, Anita, yes. As you do do the right tool for the job, so to speak, that it’s probably I don’t know if it’s possible to sort of give us a range. But just if there’s people out there for people who out there who are listening, who divorced spin on their mind, but they’ve never really priced it out.

Unknown Speaker 17:02
You know, the low end is maybe a mediation or doing it yourself. And then the high end is, yeah, the high end is, is unlimited, unfortunately. So I’ve handled divorces anywhere from say, $3,000, where a couple could work together and resolve most things all the way up to a quarter of a million dollars. And they couldn’t get things resolved. And that particular case that I have in mind, I handled. Gosh, it’s been about seven or eight years ago now. And unfortunately, it’s still going on after after they received what’s called their final judgment. They were officially divorced. They, they continue to fight. So the costs just keep going up and up and up and up. I would say on average, divorce probably cost somewhere between 15 and $20,000 per per spouse. Got it?

Unknown Speaker 18:01
Well, there you go. Beautiful.

Unknown Speaker 18:04
AJ, people are ready for the difference making tip. What do you have? Oh, all right. All right. So my difference making tip goes to communication. And I briefly touched on it earlier. And that is, when you’re in conflict with somebody approach a conversation as a learning conversation, you really want to learn more about where the other person is coming from. And it might look something like this.

Unknown Speaker 18:30
Hey, Joe, you know, I don’t know how you feel. But it seems like we’ve we’ve got this conflict between us, we have some disagreement about you know, ABC. And I know from my own experience, what I what I’m feeling and what I’m thinking, but I’d really like to invite you to have a conversation with me because I want to learn more about how you’re perceiving this. So that maybe we can come together and work this out so that we can, you know, continue to work together for a better result. What do you think? And I think just doing that is is a great step forward to having more positive communications in conflict. Well, I think that is great stuff that definitely gets come up. AJ, thank you so much for coming on. Where can people learn more about you? How can they engage with you and leapfrog divorce? All right, best place would be my website. That’s www dot leapfrogged. My phone number is there contact forms are there. Just reach out I’m happy to help love it. And is that exclusive to Florida is that in more areas. So I am licensed as a lawyer in Florida however, I have had quite a few clients over the years who reside in other states with a spouse here in Florida so I can still help them as well. Got it. If you enjoyed as much as I did, show AJ your appreciation and share today’s show with a friend who also appreciates good ideas go to leap frog.

Unknown Speaker 20:00
Ugh and check out the great resources that AJ has been talking about today and see if it’s a good fit thanks good AJ Thank you George it’s been a pleasure and until next time keep fighting the good fight we’re all in this together

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