It’s often said that in a divorce, there are no winners. There’s more than a grain of truth in that pearl of wisdom, but the reality is that divorces happen, people adapt, and life goes on.
Once you’ve decided to proceed with a divorce, you have various options. Which way you go depends on your circumstances because every case is different. But it might surprise you to learn that winning shouldn’t necessarily be your aim when contemplating divorce.
Rather than engaging in conflict and litigation, it may be better for you and your spouse to settle without going to court. By keeping your expectations real and reasonable, there may not be any big winners - but at least you ensure that you, your partner, and your children, aren’t big losers. Read on to find out more.
It’s nearly impossible to put a glossy finish on divorce: it’s typically a painful, messy, and emotionally challenging time. And, on balance, divorce is unfair. One or both partners may lose the family home, be worse off financially, or spend less time with the children.
But there are things you can do to make divorce easier. Although it might not feel that way at the time, divorce can ultimately have a positive, beneficial impact on your life. Also, taking a collaborative approach offers a range of benefits over going to court. It’s generally cheaper and faster; plus, it avoids any bad blood associated with lengthy litigation. For couples with children, remember your kids have to live with the consequences of your animosity.
As the wronged party in a divorce, you may believe that you've got every right to be angry and that you’re entitled to the lion’s share of the assets. In reality, you’re probably looking at a 50/50 split regardless of who’s ‘guilty.’
Instead of focusing on your anger and trying to make sure your spouse loses, you’re better off devoting your energy to letting go of the past and concentrating on your future.
Children are often the biggest losers in a divorce. You might be losing a partner, but they’re losing a parent. It’s not always easy to accept, but your cheating spouse is still a much-loved mother or father. A “win-at-all-costs” approach may bring some perceived short-term advantages, but your children might turn against you because you were so hard on the other parent. It might make your ex inflexible if you ever need some temporary help.
Remember two things: the courts in a divorce work on the basis that, as far as possible, children should have a strong relationship with both parents. And family law in the area is driven by what’s best for the children, not what’s best for the parents.
Imagine all the papers in your court case have been signed, you’ve been awarded alimony, custody, and a significant financial settlement. Still, have you won? There’s enduring bitterness on both sides, and that’s directly affected your children. The judge’s ruling in certain areas doesn’t suit you, but your only option is to accept it.
Perhaps your settlement would have been bigger without the hefty legal bills. Even if you receive a generous settlement - say 60/40 - both you and your former spouse are left with substantially less than the 100% you previously shared. Ultimately, no one wins.
If you engage in drawn-out litigation, a few things can happen. First, you may still not get what you want. Second, you may reach a point where the cost of both sides’ litigation exceeds the value of the assets you’re fighting over. Third, while you “win” one part of the divorce, your partner may decide to fight you harder in other areas.
In some respects, meeting your ex halfway can be more complex than the divorce process itself. But experience shows that compromise and conciliation are almost always better than conflict.
Many spouses go into a divorce with unrealistic or unachievable expectations. What you think is right and what the law says are very different things. With mediation, you can explore the reality of your situation in a safe, neutral environment.
In a divorce, engaging with your spouse may be the last thing you want to do. But equally, it may be the single best move you ever make. As an example, if your children can see you behaving civilly to each other, it can help immensely during the separation.
A professional mediator may be an appropriate alternative to a divorce attorney, but many people choose to use a lawyer for mediation because of their specific legal knowledge.
When you divorce, it’s likely the first time you’ve been through the process. Even if you’ve been divorced before, this separation might be completely different from your previous experience. Regardless, any divorce is a time of great stress and high emotion, and it can be challenging to keep a sense of perspective.
At such times, you may turn to a lawyer specifically for their legal knowledge. But a trusted family attorney has a lot more to offer than just that. With their practical experience, a lawyer can also help you with some of the “softer” aspects of divorce: how to come to a compromise, strategies to deal with an uncooperative ex, and how to behave in court. They’ll also help ensure you reach the best possible settlement with the minimum of fuss.
Some people enter a divorce process intending to take their spouse for every last penny. But such an approach can cause lasting bitterness and anger on both sides. This is never a good thing, especially if there are children caught in the middle. A better solution is negotiating a fair and equitable settlement, preferably outside of the courts, and a trusted family lawyer can help you do just that.