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Conscious Uncoupling: Making a Deliberate Decision about the Tone of Your Divorce

on May 5, 2017 in Divorce

Setting the Tone for Your Divorce

Divorce is a complicated time, and it is not uncommon for parties to feel emotions ranging from anger to grief to elation to relief – sometimes in rapid succession.  When it comes to the emotional roller coaster, everyone has their own divorce, in their own way, with their own feelings – however conflicted or nonsensical they may appear at the time.

By and large, you can’t control the facts and circumstances that have led you to the point of considering a divorce – or, depending on your case, the facts and circumstances that led your spouse to decide to pursue a divorce.  You do, however, have a certain amount of control in deciding the tone you choose to take while the divorce is pending.  In the ideal divorce, both parties make a conscious decision to work together whenever possible to peaceably resolve the issues presented in their individual divorce case.  Where the focus is on the children’s best interests, as well as a fair and equitable division of property and debt, many divorces proceed through the system quickly and peacefully.  Many couples find a discussion about this approach with your soon to be ex spouse.

When One Party Does Not Cooperate

Obviously, you only have control over your own behavior.  As much as you may like to think you have the ability to control the behavior of others, this is simply not the case.  Ideally, your spouse will follow your lead, but if they do not, you still have control over your choices.  While it is a good ideal to cooperate and compromise where possible,conceding every point is rarely in either party’s best interests.  Consequently, it is essential to have a qualified, experienced attorney well versed in family law to advise you about when your best interests (and the best interests of your children, where applicable) include litigating an issue.

The Public Nature of Divorce

Court filings in divorce cases, as in most cases, are public record.  A court reporter memorializes hearings involving testimony, including ugly allegations of bad behavior.  A record of both the filings of the attorneys, as well as any testimony taken in the matter, are public record.  This means your children, your friends, and your family members could access this information if they were so inclined.  Careful thought should be given to tempering an impulsive urge to lash out at the other party publicly.

The Financial Cost of a “Scorched Earth” Policy

As you might imagine, a “scorched earth” approach to divorce, where every fact is contested, and every issue is litigated, costs more than a divorce settled by agreement.  Each time the parties appear in court, meet with a child custody evaluator, or hire experts, such as a forensic accountant, the financial cost of the divorce increases for the parties.  Typically, identifying and limiting litigation to the most important issues that cannot be settled is a more economical approach.

The Emotional Cost of Divorce

Coming to the decision to divorce is emotionally exhausting.  Many couples have struggled with the idea of divorce over the course of several years.  In other cases, one party unilaterally decides they want a divorce, leaving the other party stunned and surprised.  In any case, the emotional cost of coming to terms with the idea of the divorce is separate than the potential emotional cost of actually going through divorce proceedings.  Even in cases where couples agree on almost everything, divorce frequently comes with an emotional cost.  Litigation adds to stress levels for most people unaccustomed to court proceedings.  This stress increases when coupled with the uncertainty associated with leaving an important decision such as this up to a judge.  This stress is frequently overlooked in the calculation of whether or not to litigate issues.

If You Have Children of the Marriage

If there are children, except in the rarest of circumstances, you will still be obligated to work with your ex-spouse.  This can include such matters as determining which course of care is best for an illness, to making education decisions.  In the long term, your relationship may extend to planning a child’s wedding, or negotiating grandparent time years from now.  Making conscious decisions about how you treat each other during the divorce can affect subsequent interactions.

Additionally, studies show children suffer the most harm from parents who are constantly fighting.  The fact you are divorcing won’t have nearly the negative impact a nasty, drawn out, litigious divorce will have.

Attorneys as Advocates

Your lawyer is your advocate.  It is essential you trust your attorney to evaluate the specific facts and circumstances of your particular case.  This allows your attorney to determine various best options for you and your family.  For example, you may decide you want no part of your soon to be ex husband’s pension.  This, despite the fact legally you may lay claim to a portion of it.  However, in order to make that decision, you must first be aware of your legal rights.  Similarly, there are some things, such as child support, that can’t simply be negotiated away.  In this circumstance, your lawyer, not you, steps in, ensuring your child’s legal rights are protected.  This allows you to maintain a civil relationship.

If You Are Considering Divorce

If you are considering a divorce, you need an experienced family law attorney on your side.  At Fait & DiLima, we have over 50 years of combined family law experience.  We pride ourselves in working hard on our clients’ behalf.  Contact us to discuss the specific facts and circumstances of your case today.  We help you return to what matters to you most – your life, your family, and your work.