by Tara Eisenhard~
Throughout a marriage, couples make a multitude of decisions. They determine where and when to hold their commitment ceremony. They decide where to live and how to decorate their home. They make choices about meals, household chores, major purchases and the names of their children. The process isn’t always easy. Sometimes conclusions take months to reach. But, for the most part, couples make these important decisions together.
Yet, when it comes to divorce, many people are willing, and sometimes eager, to give up their power to determine the future of their families. With clenched fists or shrugging shoulders, they retain attorneys to speak for them. With open wallets, they march into courtrooms and allow a dark-robed stranger to make official rulings about the best interest of their children.
Why? Is it because angry and well-meaning friends and family urge divorcing individuals to fight with all their might? Is it because the idea of a divorce is too daunting to handle alone? Perhaps couples simply don’t want to deal with such unpleasantness by themselves, and they’d rather pay professionals to do the dirty work.
I’m guessing the answer is all of the above, and then some. Regardless of the reasons people place the fate of their families in another’s hands, they are rarely satisfied with the outcome. Not only is the process extremely costly, it renders families powerless in determining their fates
If you are facing the separation process, here are some ways to maintain personal power in your divorce. Think of your ex as your ally. I realize this might sound a bit absurd, given our cultural regard for the divorce process. In reality, and from a logical perspective, it’s not so crazy. You got married, acquired assets and created children as a team, and your divorce process should be approached in the same manner. Consider the final decree to be a goal that you both share.
Set more goals. Both personally and as a family. If you know ahead of time where you want to be at the end of the process, you can make better decisions along the path.
Use your professional team wisely. Throughout the divorce process, you may choose to obtain the assistance of a lawyer, therapist and financial planner, to name a few. Respect these figures for their individual specialties, and consult with them appropriately. Don’t call your lawyer to discuss the balance in your savings account, and don’t ask your therapist for advice about your legal proceedings. Most importantly, do not blindly follow the advice of anyone. Trained professionals can provide valuable guidance, but you and your partner should agree on the final decisions for your family.
Consider mediation. Mediators are neutral third parties dedicated to helping individuals resolve conflict. Unlike the litigation process, mediation empowers disputants to speak for themselves and determine solutions that will work best for their situation.
Keep your emotions in check. It’s been said, “He who angers you controls you.” The emotional roller coaster of divorce isn’t a fun ride. Thus it’s a common practice to latch onto anger because it masquerades as purpose and offers a sense of power. In truth, anger can be a wonderful teacher, but only when examined from a safe distance. Instead of allowing the ugliness to consume you, take a step back and consider all options before choosing an appropriate action.
In most cases, the quickest, easiest and most cost-effective divorce process involves soon-to-be exes cooperatively seeking solutions and making determinations as a team. Don’t surrender your wisdom and power to choose the best options for you and your family.