Avoiding the Divorce from HellAug 09, 2018
You’ve reached the point when you know your marriage is over. You want your divorce to be as easy as possible: amicable, with your children not caught in the middle of an ugly and expensive court battle.
You don’t know who can help. You have no experience with divorce, and you know you need help. You need advice.
Like most people, you turn to your mom, your sister, your best friend. Unless your confidant truly is exceptional, you’ve just started down the road to the divorce from hell.
That’s right, the road to divorce hell is paved by your family and friends.
They mean well. They want to support you. Their version of supporting you:
telling you your spouse is a jerk
telling you that you need to act fast to protect your rights, or your spouse is going to walk all over you, and you won’t be left with anything.
You go into panic mode, and find the toughest lawyer they recommend. Then you wonder why you and your spouse can’t even talk anymore about your children.
Before asking your friends for advice, remember they won’t be paying the bills from the lawyer for the court applications.
They won’t have to live with the stress every day for two years until the court battle is done. They won’t have to figure out how to rebuild when it is all over. They have no skin in the game, so likely their advice isn’t the best for you.
Your friends are like the family members who used to give me advice about a vintage car I owned.
It was a 1975 Mercedes Benz 240D. Essentially a yellow tank without any frills. It was quirky and handled like a dream. I named it “Cecil”. I loved it and felt fantastic every time I got behind the wheel.
Unfortunately, Cecil had not been well cared for by the time I bought it for a song. He’d been in an accident and had spent most of his life parked. I grew to learn that every time I would drive him for any amount of time, Cecil would break down. Old Mercedes cost a lot to fix. If I didn’t have money right then, I would park it in my garage until I could afford the repairs. I spent a lot of money on Cecil.
Finally, I decided enough was enough. I found a buyer for $300 when it needed $2,000 in repairs. I told my family I was selling it, and they thought I was crazy.
“It’s such a great car! It’s a member of the family! How can you think of selling Cecil?” They went on and on.
My response: “That’s easy for you to say, because you don’t have to pay the repair bills. I’m tired of spending money on Cecil. The time has come for him to go.”
Be like me.
The best thing you can do to have an amicable divorce: thank your friends and family members for their advice, and then walk the path you know is right for your family.
You are not crazy. You are giving your children and you a great gift!
Interview lawyers ( see my blog post on the questions to ask to make sure the lawyer you hire is committed to peaceful outcomes). Refuse to see yourself as a victim, or your spouse as a villain. Those are the roles your family members are creating for you.
You married your spouse and it hasn’t worked. If you hadn’t married your spouse, you wouldn’t have these beautiful children.
It is okay to act like an adult and to own your goal of wanting an amicable divorce. This is healthy!
See yourself as the CEO of your divorce.
After all, you live in your house, with your spouse and your children. Your friends and family members don’t. This means you know what you need to do to achieve the result you want – an amicable divorce.
Remember that children love their parents, no matter what. Knowing this transformed my own divorce.
If you understand this, you understand why you need to treat your soon to be former spouse with respect. Talk directly to him or her about what’s not working (and what is), instead of communicating through lawyers.
If at first you can only speak about the children, this is fine. If you need help, hire a mediator first, before involving lawyers. Keep the lines of communication open.
When you can talk to each other and treat each other with respect, you get a fair result!
You won’t wake up in the night, worrying about how to pay for your divorce. You’ll be able to sit with your former spouse at school concerts and attend family celebrations without angst. You’ll have energy to move forward into a positive future. You’ll be able to divide your property fairly. You’ll figure out how to co-parent effectively.
Most importantly, you’ll set a powerful example for your children.
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