By: Alan E. Freed
After months, maybe years, of relationship challenges, therapist sessions, screaming matches, crying jags, pep talks from well-meaning friends, prayers, and soul-searching, you’ve made the heart-wrenching decision to go forward with a divorce. Suddenly, your support system switches from hugs to messages tinged with anger and hatred: “Hire the most aggressive lawyer you can find!” “Take him for everything he’s worth!” “Don’t let her take advantage of you!” “Fight hard to win custody of your children!”
What’s wrong with this picture?
It’s easy to see how we end up with frightening images of impending doom. We live in a world riddled with conflict. Where we used to applaud a gracious winner and criticize the sore loser, we routinely see professional and even amateur athletes aggressively pounding their chests over the smallest victories. Reality shows encourage “in-your-face” confrontation. Our national politics have devolved from compromise to overt hostility.
When the metaphors describing divorce focus on conflict (“custody battles,” “divorce wars”), we create a picture in our mind’s eye of combat with someone previously referred to a lover, partner, and friend. Changing that picture requires thinking of divorce in a fundamentally different way.
If you have children, you are looking at a lifetime of co-parenting. If you can think of your soon-to-be former spouse as your future business partner, sharing the job of raising your children, you will quickly recognize you have a stake in creating a partnership that functions smoothly and with minimal conflict, because the reduction of friction between you and the other parent makes life better for you and for your children.
It may be useful to think of divorce as a surgical procedure, making necessary and painful changes to your family, but preserving the health of the “patient.” Surgery must be performed with careful planning, and the incisions and manipulations involved must be handled with delicacy and care. Lobbing grenades at your spouse leads to destruction, often requiring years to repair. Engaging in thoughtful negotiations with an eye towards your future relationship can protect your family from harm and save you money in the process.
Peaceful resolution of divorce comes in multiple forms. If the issues are extremely simple, a conversation across the kitchen table may get the job done. For most people, however, professional assistance is required, which may involve mediation, collaborative divorce, or negotiations conducted with the assistance of experienced and skilled attorneys.
No matter which route you select, always remember you have your family’s healthy future in your hands. Finding a peaceful resolution of your divorce issues may be the best gift you can provide for your children.
Talk to an experienced family law attorney at Paule, Camazine & Blumenthal, P.C. about peaceful options for resolving your divorce issues.