Guest Contributor Belinda Etezad Rachman talks about how couples can minimize divorce conflict and create better outcomes by making a conscious effort to step out of emotional decision-making.
When a marriage ends, it is usually accompanied by intense emotions that too often result in terrible choices being made that end up hurting the couple and the children. You don’t have to be Gandhi, Buddha or any other kind of evolved spirit to have a “Peaceful Divorce,” but you do need to have the intention to do so.
Reality begins with language.
What we tell ourselves, what we believe IS our reality. You can have any kind of divorce you want to have. You can tell yourself that he or she is a rat, pig, etc. who would never be reasonable enough to sit down peacefully and work out fair terms and that will be your reality.
As an alternative, you can have an inner dialog that will produce another result. It might sound something like this…
I am faced with a situation and I have a choice.
- I can let my emotions run this thing, look for the most cut throat lawyer in town and go in for the kill or I can save my time, money and soul by avoiding court.
- What options do I have that will make this process as pain free as possible?
- How can I protect my rights and be fair to the other person?
- I know everyone wants to get the best deal they can, so how can we set up a win/win?
The conversation you have with yourself and the informed choices you make determine what kind of life and experience you will have. You may be devastated by the news your spouse wants out. Maybe you are furious at what you perceive to be unreasonableness on the part of your spouse. You might be in a lot of different emotional places right now.
I know from many years of working in the divorce field that this is one of the hardest life transitions people face. The two of you are probably not getting along. Does it make sense to increase the conflict by hiring separate lawyers and spending precious time fighting when there is an alternative?
Think before you react.
What will serve you and the children (if you have any) best? The more money you can save, the better off you will be. The more you protect your co-parenting relationship, the easier your future life will be.
When divorce lawyers get involved in your life, things tend to get worse and not better. They bill by the hour. They have no incentive to calm you down and help you resolve your case quickly and inexpensively.
The more you fight, the more they get paid.
The end result is already pretty well known. Every state has support guidelines. Most experienced divorce lawyers can predict how property will be divided and when it comes to custody issues, who loves the children more than the parents? Why would you even want strangers making decisions on how and who should raise your children?
Imagine the resistance that would arise in you if your spouse said,”I am going to do everything in my power to take the children away from you.”
Now imagine what your response would be if they said,
We have a job ahead of us. We need to work together to raise these kids. The children need to be with the two of us as much as possible. We need to make decisions that are in their best interest.
Doesn’t that create a whole other reaction? Remember, reality begins with language. How you discuss divorce issues with yourself and your spouse will determine the outcome.
Couples need help in navigating their way through the maze of divorce issues.
- You need to know what the law is and what your rights are.
- You need help doing all the many forms.
- You need someone to help you negotiate the terms of the agreement but that does NOT mean you each need to hire your own attorneys.
In most cases they will create more problems than they will solve. The better answer is to find an attorney/mediator in your area who can calmly and peacefully work with both of you. There is nothing to fight about. Millions of couples have already litigated all the issues in your state. There are no legal mysteries that need solving. A lawyer/mediator can explain things to you and you can make informed decisions in a reasonable manner that saves you time, money and protects the children from being caught in the crossfire.
When both spouses are focused on getting out as gracefully as possible and have an intention to be fair and honest, miracles can happen. I do it for a living, so I know what is possible.
Peaceful divorce is NOT for everyone.
There are some people who are “high conflict personality types” but that is only about 15% of the population. That means 85% of the people are rational enough to see that they are better off avoiding the drama of court by working together. It is all a matter of taking a deep breath, calming down and analyzing the situation.
- What is needed here?
- What is the best way to do that?
- What results am I trying to create?
- How do I get there from here.
Once you start down the adversarial road by hiring separate lawyers and fighting in court, it is hard to turn things around. You only get one chance to have a peaceful divorce. Get informed about your choices.
I highly suggest you read Ed Sherman’s “Make Any Divorce Better!: Specific Steps to Make Things Smoother, Faster, Less Painful, and Save You a Lot of Money (Make Any Divorce Better!)” before you do anything. He has an amazing way of breaking down all the options so you can clearly see where you are and what to do next. If you have children it is so important to protect them from a nasty divorce if you can avoid it and I believe most people can. If you believe that too, you are already on the right road.
Belinda Etezad Rachman, Esq. is a family law attorney in Southern California. Ms. Rachman has done nothing but divorce mediation for the past 6 years with 100% success rate with over 250 couples. For more information to see if divorce mediation is an option in your case contact her here. This article was originally published on The Huffington Post.
For more information and tools for filing divorce, or to find a family lawyer in your area, visit the Rocket Lawyer Divorce Legal Center.