Divorce lawyer deploys social work background
By Alex Gallagher Scottsdale Progress Staff Writer
Kristine Reich has been practicing law for almost a decade, focusing on mediation and collaborative divorce. But her interest in helping families goes back further.
Reich began her career as a social worker working in foster care licensing and child welfare.
After 15 years, Reich went back to school to study law at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University. She started her own firm, Restorative Law and Mediation, in 2014 and began working with Vesta Divorce, a firm dedicated to helping people through all parts of an often painful and complicated process.
Reich has incorporated into her work some of the practices she learned in social work, aiming for “mediation, collaborative divorce or just problem solving,” she said.
While problem-solving is a large part of Reich’s job, she also prides herself in her ability to help parents reconcile for the betterment of their children.
“When parents make this decision to end their relationship as spouses, it doesn’t end their relationship as co-parents,” she said. “The most helpful thing we can do is help guide them and remind them about how they can ensure their children’s wellbeing through the process.”
“The greatest message I give parents when I’m working with them is that ‘if parents are OK, kids will usually be OK,’” Reich said. Reich understands that the process of divorce is challenging for all parties, but her optimism often can lighten some of the stress that comes with divorce.
“When you get married, you believe your future is going to look one way,” she said, adding that when life takes an abruptly different course, “sometimes folks immediately think that’s going to be a worse outcome and that doesn’t necessarily have to be the case.
That doesn’t mean there is no stress at all, she noted.
“When parents are in despair, oftentimes children don’t know what to think about,” she said. “They worry about their parents, they want to take care of their parents. They feel unsettled and when parents are mindful of that and can speak to it, the anxiety begins to de-escalate.”
“When children are experiencing distress, that anxiety can manifest in different ways,” Reich said. “For younger children, they may have a difficult time sleeping or they may become clingy.”
That’s why choices in legal counsel are important, she said.
“When parents make the choice or are contemplating divorce, it is a great idea to reach out to the right professionals,” Reich said. “Vesta is almost a center for resources and because Vesta has taken the time to vet out the professionals and the resources to families divorcing, families can be assured that all of these folks are going to be problem-solving in nature.”
Reich said she and her colleagues at Vesta understand the flaws in the American divorce system.
“We happen to have a legal system that, unfortunately, creates parents into adversaries right from the very beginning,” she said. “That is why having the right professionals to guide people in a productive way that reduces conflict versus escalating conflict is important.”
Though there are many reasons why couples choose to divorce, Reich has noticed two things that weigh heavily on divorcing parents.
“The two greatest things that I see really weighing heavy on people who are moving forward with divorce are the well-being of their children and their financial security,” she said.
Reich said the pandemic has created new problems for families.
“We’re living through a historical time and when you add the pandemic, the political climate, and the historically heightened level of conflict, these are prevalent issues that manifest in different ways in these family systems,” she said.
“For example, may one parent believes in immunization and the other one is resistant. Or one parent wants the child to wear a mask in school or they don’t want them to go to a particular school so it’s creating a whole new set of disagreement and potential conflict.”
Throughout these new issues, however, Reich sees a glimmer of hope.
“We’re now seeing an attention to mental health, so maybe that’s the silver lining of all of this,” she said. “Instead of mental health having a stigma, we’re able to talk about it in a more frank and normalized way.”
Reich often finds herself reminding clients to be mindful of their mental health.
“One of the most important messages is to prioritize mental health, self-care, being mindful of the well-being of your children, and to acknowledge that your relationship with your spouse is not working but just because your relationship as spouses is not working does not mean that your relationship as co-parent can’t work,” she said.
“As difficult as this time in our history is, there is a real message of hope where people are becoming more educated about mental health and becoming more educated that the traditional way of doing divorce doesn’t have to be that,” she said. “The key is finding the right resources to help you navigate through that time.”
To contact Kristine Reich, Esq., MSW Tel: 480-329-6690 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Specializing in mediation, collaborative divorce, and family and juvenile law matters, Kristine has over two decades of experience working with families and children experiencing difficult transitional life events. Borne of a deep appreciation for holistic, solution-focused practice, Restorative Law and Mediation was organized in December 2014.
Kristine’s multi-disciplinary approach to practice is influenced by her legal education received from Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University (JD ’08), and Masters in Social work at Arizona State University (ASU) (MSW ’93). Having practiced family law since 2011, she has worked as a faculty associate or in legal education since 2008 and was a child welfare social worker and therapist for fifteen (15) years prior to law school. Kristine has consulted with Maricopa County Juvenile Court in professionalizing child welfare dispute resolution. She is formerly the statewide Director of Training for what is now the Child Welfare Training Institute at the Arizona Department of Child Safety and the Director of Adoptions for Aid to Adoption of Special Kids (AASK).
Kristine’s best days in the profession are being witness to the transformative process for those that start in despair and go on to create hopeful futures. Vesta provides an infrastructure for competent and compassionate professionals to leverage their strengths to serve divorcing spouses and their families. Kristine is a problem-solving attorney and social worker and can assist families as a collaborative attorney, mediator, collaborative communication coach, or parenting coordinator.
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For more information on Vesta, please explore our website www.VestaDivorce.com or call our Concierge service for support: 877-355-7649