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Family Law Attorney, Mediator, Certified Divorce Specialist ‒ Interview With Debra Whitson

Debra Whitson is the CEO/Owner of WhitsonLaw, PLLC. as well as the CEO/Owner of Mediated Online Solutions, LLC. She spent the first half of her career as a prosecutor and has spent the last 28 years specializing in Matrimonial and Family Law. She is an experienced mediator and collaborative divorce practitioner as well as a recognized expert in working with victims of domestic violence.

For years, divorce attorneys have been encouraging litigation as the only way to resolve the divorce process. This has cost clients thousands of dollars, sleepless nights and subjected their children to becoming collateral damage in their divorce. Many people who are on the brink of divorcing, fear financial ruin and how it will disrupt their lives.

That's why she recently decided to publish her new Divorce Book "Divorce Like A Pro: A Better Way To Break Up", actively promoting and educating people from all walks of life about the different options you have when it comes to divorcing.

Her new book revolutionizes divorce, providing people with an amicable resolution to their divorce process and ensuring a peaceful transition to their post-divorce lives, saving them time, money and giving them peace of mind.

Debra Whitson, Attorney, Mediator, Certified Divorce Specialist™

What Prompted the Decision to Specialize in Family Law?

When I was a freshman in high school, my brother’s good friend was murdered. In the criminal case that ensued, various legal technicalities excluded compelling evidence of guilt from being used in court, and the confessed murderer very nearly escaped being held accountable for the heinous crime. This opened my eyes to the idea that the system must be broken, and I was determined to fix it. From that point forward—at the age of just 14—I had my sights on becoming an attorney and a prosecutor.

And I did; my first job out of law school was as a prosecutor working on domestic violence and child sex abuse cases. I became a recognized expert in dealing with and responding to domestic violence and sexual assault and began to champion community efforts toward raising awareness about and trying to eradicate domestic violence. I trained judges, prosecutors, law enforcement officers, first responders, and community advocates.

When it came time to wind down my career in public service, it seemed natural to slide into matrimonial and family law. I felt an affinity for serving families, many of which face the same types of issues I saw as a prosecutor (e.g., family violence, child neglect or abuse).

In the community where I practice, and where I have spent all 28 years of my legal career, litigation has been the primary mode of family law. While I have carried over a strong litigator’s mindset from my years as a prosecutor, I see the value in helping people avoid the additional trauma and financial burden of protracted litigation through other means like mediation and collaboration.

Why Write a Book?

I firmly believe that any modality that couples can use to stay out of court or minimize their involvement with the court can be of benefit. This is one of the main messages I would like to relay throughout the book, that there are easier, healthier, and more economical alternatives to litigation.

I want people to understand that there are better options ‒ like mediation and collaboration. The more people are informed of and made to understand other options, the more likely they are to consider them seriously. This book is designed to help people do just that. Everyone can benefit from finding self-directed, peaceful ways to resolve family disputes without resorting to court.

What Would You Tell Clients to Consider Before Getting Divorced?

It is vital to consider how prepared you are mentally, physically, and financially before concluding your marriage. In most cases, the income that once supported a single household may need to cover two while in the process of divorce.

Going through a divorce is without a doubt a life-altering decision. It can be liberating depending on the circumstances, but, in any case, you will still be needing a strong support network. Everyone going through a separation or divorce NEEDS an experienced mental health counsellor to help them process the complex emotions of divorce.

At WhitsonLaw, we provide free resource guides to help those considering divorce, or who are in the process of divorcing, to make (more) informed decisions. While nothing can truly prepare you for discontinuing a part of your life that you built with someone, there are ways to minimize the emotional and financial devastation it may entail, and that is what we are here for.

Why Do You Often Suggest Mediation to Your Clients Instead of Litigation?

With mediation, the parties engage a mediator who serves as a neutral facilitator in maintaining civil and respectful communications and ensuring open disclosure of all information. An attorney mediator would inform both parties of their rights to child support, spousal support, and other matters in their jurisdiction. In the State of New York, a successful mediation will save you from appearing in court.

The mediation process comes at a low cost and allows the parties to maintain a high level of control over the decision-making process. Having a good mediator will also facilitate good communication between you and your spouse to foster a space where your needs and expectations are regarded. With mediation, children are also kept far from the conflict and stress of dealing with the courts.

What Makes WhitsonLaw, PLLC. Different From Other Family Law Firms?

At my law firm, WhitsonLaw, PLLC, I have surrounded myself with equally passionate people that share my vision and mission. Everyone has taken Certified Divorce Specialist training and I want to ensure that our clients receive level best each step of the way. Our core values at WhitsonLaw are to constantly improve ourselves so that we can improve how we deliver services to our clients to improve their lives.

People need to rely on the advice given by people who have expertise in what they are dealing with, and who can truly help them navigate the emotional waters of the divorce process in a way that is sensible and keeps their dignity intact. At WhitsonLaw, we provide legal services primarily and coaching and co-parent coaching as an ancillary service to offer well-rounded options to clients. We also strongly believe that someone who is going through a divorce really needs a therapist in their corner.

Anyone who chooses the team at WhitsonLaw can rely on our advice and expertise when it comes to

achieving their goals. We help our clients understand their options and choose the path of their divorce that best aligns with their goals, their values, their budget and their tolerance for stress and drama. We know clients are real people who are going through a very stressful life transition that impacts every aspect of their life.

That is why we support our clients in ways that traditional law firms who focus narrowly just on the clients’ legal issues do not. We view our clients as important members of the team that will help them achieve their goals and make them an integral part of the overall process of resolving their legal matters. We work WITH our clients, not just FOR them.

Be sure to check out all the information and resources on our law firm website, and the website of our sister company, Mediated Online Solutions, LLC.

Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and visit my website for more info!

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