Kindness doesn’t mean weakness.

Kindness means being smart.

There is pain and negative emotion in divorce. Express it to your attorney, friends and family, or to a counselor. These people are your team. Don’t express it to your spouse or your children. The contention is unnecessary, and makes things worse. When I conduct settlement conferences as a divorce and custody attorney or as a mediator, I prevent both spouses from arguing. Instead, they each state their positions.

Your children will be happier if you and your spouse maintain kindness during your divorce.  Even if you don’t feel any kindness, just avoiding contention between you makes your children happier. That is smart. It is the opposite of parental alienation.

There is a better way: You can take a strong legal position without being contentious. You can take full legal action to have a fair legal decision over parenting time and property. You can take as strong a stance on fairness as you need to. The key is to stop arguing or attempting to express negative emotion to your spouse, and use the legal process to keep your case as strong as it can be.


There is no reason for you to argue with your spouse during divorce. Having an attorney properly assist you can avoid any and all argument between spouses. The marriage is over–that is the point. You don’t have to argue any more.

You will state your positions on each issue in your divorce. Your spouse will then state his or her positions. In other words, you make an offer to settle for what is fair. You will agree on many things. You’ll know where you stand on everything else.

We do lots of mediation and settlement conferences. I don’t let parties argue. Contention doesn’t lead to settlement, it leads to pain, and to breakdown of negotiations.


In a child custody case, there are few things to help you lose faster than convincing the judge that you hate your child’s father or mother, and you never want your child to see them again. There are rare exceptions–e.g., your spouse is in prison for 20 years for child molestation. The rest of the time, the smartest strategy is to work for healing.

My clients get themselves in more trouble over anger than just about anything else. If you spout off anger, and it gets tape recorded, it sounds horrible when played in court. It is far better not to talk to your spouse at all, than to cuss, yell, or make threats.

Help us keep your case strong. Don’t weaken it by unnecessary mistakes. Being violent or angry is a mistake.


Who is smarter, you or your spouse?

I don’t know, but the one who takes angry emotion out of things will certainly look smarter, and is more likely to get a fair result at trial. From the outset of your case, we will counsel you and guide you on how to make your case better by your own behavior. If your spouse can’t control his or her anger, it will help you and hurt him or her.

You should tell the truth, tell things the way they are, and do it at the right place and time, which is to your attorney, counselor, or other member of your team. Don’t harm your case by expressing negative emotions directly to your spouse.


We have the experience to help repair the damage and help you move forward. The first step is to never say another word in anger to your spouse. Mark Hawkins and Susan Hamblin Hawkins are both former prosecutors, with extensive experience in domestic violence matters.