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A Good Divorce

What is “a good divorce”?

A good divorce is one that is resolved prior to trial by a negotiated settlement agreement.

 

It’s how you divorce that has the greatest impact on the process and on future relationships. Be as mindful as possible as you go through the process. While each divorce is unique, there are some tools clients have used to transition through divorce with Dignity and Grace.

How to get a divorce with dignity?

Marriage takes two. No one spouse is entirely responsible for the marriage losing its functionality. Take responsibility for your part.

 

You can’t control your partner; you can only control what you do and how you act. The divorce process brings upset. Be aware of this. Observe your conduct. Be aware of your emotions. Refrain from reacting in an inappropriate manner to things that your spouse says or does. Listen to them without firing back. Wait until any emotional storms have passed and then think rationally about opportunities and consequences before determining what to do next.

 

Maintain your dignity and your children’s dignity. Besides observing your own thoughts and feelings, acting appropriately, and reacting appropriately, remember to preserve your children’s dignity. That means you don’t talk negatively about their other parent. The children come from both of you. If you insult the other parent in front of the children, you are insulting half of your own child. They will grow up to resent you, not the other parent. A dignified approach is much more productive than being nasty.

 

Deflect rude or invasive comments from other people about your spouse or your divorce. No need let other people fan the flames and add to the drama.

 

Take care of yourself. Get plenty of sleep. Exercise. Eat nutritiously. Meditate. Reinforce your spiritual connection. Maintain communication with your support network. Going through the divorce process distracts us from these healthy behaviors but this is the time you need to take care of yourself the most.

Answer your children’s questions and address their fears in age-appropriate ways.

 

  • Toddlers will be particularly sensitive to changes in their routines, so make every effort to try to maintain consistency even if it is between two homes. Their attachment to the primary historical parental caregiver may become more pronounced.
  • Pre-teens may be concerned about how a parent is doing, particularly if he or she moved out of the family home. Reassure them that the absent parent is taking good care of themselves and make sure there is an open line of communication.
  • Your teens may not be surprised by the split and may have seen it coming. They are more receptive to tension between parents. Given their age, their primary concern is likely to be themselves. Reassure them that you are okay and are handling things, and that proms, class trips and college visits will go on as planned.

 

Use Professionals. Lawyers can guide you through the legal process. Therapists can guide you through the emotional process. Consider co-parenting counseling. It is not designed to save the marriage, but rather, it is designed to promote the future flow of respectful, dignified communication. It’s all about the children.

How does a good divorce impact a child?

My parents were divorced when I was 13 years old. For several months leading up to the divorce, I witnessed my parents being angry with each other and arguing unlike anything I had seen before. My father was always busy working and I saw him when he had time for us.

 

After the divorce the relationship changed. Instead of them fighting, I witnessed them being respectful and cooperative co-parents. My father saw my brother and I on a regular basis and when he was with us, he was focused on being with us.

Both of them found new partners and had long, nurturing marriages. I saw them find their own paths to happiness and they became positive role models. All things considered, it was good for them and it was good for me.

Why do people stay married even though the relationship has been dysfunctional for years?

There are many reasons to stay married. People hope the situation will change. There is fear of the unknown and financial insecurity. It goes against their faith. They don’t want to feel the shame of a failed marriage in front of their family and friends. However, even successful marriages run their course.

Why do people file for divorce?

Sometimes divorce is the best solution to a serious problem. Some people live with the dysfunctional relationship for years before being ready to embrace transition and change. Families can evolve instead of dissolve. The divorce process can be uncomfortable, but you can proceed with grace.

How to proceed with a good divorce?

Instead of destroying what’s left of a former loving and respectful relationship by airing the differences in a courtroom, people can use a less formal process with the help of a third-party neutral, that is, a mediator. Mediation may be used before contesting a divorce or after a contested divorce is initiated.

Why do some people choose to go to trial instead of reaching a settlement?

Experienced attorneys are pretty good at advising their clients as to a range of reasonable outcomes at trial. Sometimes people are not open to that. Confusion and a desire for validation drive individuals to go to war in a courtroom. They don’t see that neither party is free from judgment.

 

When an offer made by one party at mediation or through negotiation is the other party’s worst-case scenario, there’s no incentive to settle. Some people refuse to negotiate reasonable outcomes. They don’t see or care about the cost and the risk of trying a case.

In the courtroom, a couple surrenders all power as paid strangers make life-altering decisions for parties and families in pain.

 

However, there is no alternative to trial when one or both of the party’s settlement positions are so far removed from likely outcomes at trial. In that scenario, a litigant is better off letting a judge decide the outcome rather than accept the other spouse’s unreasonable demands that have a small likelihood of success at trial.