Tuesday, October 1, 2013

How to Prepare for a Peaceful Divorce

Often, people become hurt and angry when it becomes clear they are facing a divorce.  In most cases, the divorce should not be a surprise, but sometimes it is.  While some people can overcome their anger at the situation and their spouse, others can't.  Attorneys will tell the parties that if one person wants the divorce, it will happen eventually.  Many times angry people seem determined to make life difficult for themselves and their spouse as they go through a divorce.

On the other hand, there is a large number of people who have had time to process the emotional issues of their divorce and are more interested in having a peaceful divorce.

For the people wanting to have a peaceful and civilized divorce, here are some suggestions to follow:

1.  Try Collaborative Law. Ideally, if there are issues to be resolved, the parties should use Collaborative Law.  I have written many other posts in this blog and my Texas Collaborative Law blog about how Collaborative Law works and the advantages of it. If there's any way to get your spouse to agree to use Collaborative Law, you will both benefit.

2.  Think about, identify and define your goals.  Figure out what you would like to end up with after the divorce is finished. What would you want your life to look like? There's no automatic plan in the Texas Family Code for dividing property.  Even issues around the children have room for some variations. You will be much happier at the end if you are constantly thinking about your goals, needs and interests while you work on finding or creating solutions.

3.  Be realistic.  Don't ask for more than is even possible.  Consider that your spouse has needs also, even if you are angry at him or her.  If you are realistic and reasonable, you will have a greater chance of reaching agreement and avoiding an expensive battle in court.

4.  Get professional help.  It's no admission of weakness to talk with a counselor and get help with the stresses and emotions of a divorce.  It can make your life easier if you will get counseling and follow through with their advice.

5.  Pause and think before you speak.  You will have many occasions to speak to and about your spouse.  What you say can result in anger, hurt feelings and retaliation.  Holding your tongue and not responding to provocation can pay off in the end.  You don't need to escalate things.

6.  Avoid pushing your spouse's buttons.  You know what you can say and do that will trigger anger in your spouse.  You don't need to strike back like that.  Everything can escalate quickly and that's not good for either of you.

7.  Look for common ground.  It may seem hard, but you can find things you can agree on.  If you start with a few small agreements, it makes it easier to agree on bigger issues.  That's true for both sides.

8.  Gather and share information.  You can try to withhold information, but it will normally come out eventually.  Courts are geared up to enforce the production of information.  They aren't foolproof, but they can sure eat up a lot of cash as the attorneys fight over documents.  Save yourself time and money by being cooperative. It will also help generate goodwill.

9.  Think outside the box.  Don't limit yourself to mechanical, by-the-guidelines solutions.  Be open to completely new ways to work things out.  Get whatever help you need and be creative. A solution doesn't mean someone has to lose.

10. Leave your ego out of the picture.  You don't have to "win".  You can decide what would satisfy you and your needs.  There are always different ways of looking at things.  If your spouse feels like he/she "won" and you are satisfied with the result, that's great!

If you follow these tips, especially the one about choosing Collaborative Law, you will have a peaceful divorce. By the way, a peaceful divorce will be a lot cheaper than a hotly-contested one!