By Alan Freed
I see lots of different kinds of people coming into my office to talk about divorce. Although sometimes they are injured and angry and want revenge, more often they are frightened about what their future will look like. Maybe a woman has been going through marriage counseling with her husband for the last year but now realizes the marriage is simply not going to work. Maybe a man recognizes that he and his wife have gone in different directions and won’t be able to reconstruct their intimate partnership.
Even where only one of the spouses wants the divorce, both husband and wife often realize that they are still going to have to work together to raise their children and they don’t want to destroy their relationship now when they know they will have to cooperate later.
Many divorcing people aren’t aware that they don’t have to say bad things about their soon-to-be former spouse in order to get a divorce. I often tell my clients that divorce is not just an end to their marriage; it is also a transition into a future relationship–one that is different from the marriage they are leaving, but one that can work very well for them and their children.
Once these clients begin to focus on the future instead of the past, they start to understand the advantages of engaging in problem-solving instead of fault-finding. Many of these clients decide that they would like to sit down, face-to-face with their spouse and work through their divorce issues, in the hope that they will be able to help their children better if they are working together.
Some of these clients decide to try mediation, in which a professional assists the husband and wife in defining and then resolving the issues they need to address. Others consider a collaborative divorce, in which both sides have lawyers assisting them, but the collaborative divorce lawyers pledge to adopting a problem-solving, future-focused approach, and to resolving all issues outside the courthouse.
It’s important that anyone going through a divorce becomes aware of all of the options for getting through this difficult and highly emotionally charged process. It’s also important to understand that divorce, as painful as it may be, can also open new opportunities. Once the yelling stops, the listening can start.