There’s something to be said for the “drama-free” divorce. Well, maybe not drama-free, since getting a divorce tends to be a very emotional chapter in the lives of most couples. But in my opinion, a divorce with minimal drama ought to be a goal.
It’s not that I don’t like drama. Drama has its place. A lot of my favorite TV shows, films and books are drama-filled and can be quite engaging. I just don’t see a benefit to bringing all that drama to the table in a divorce. Drama-filled divorces are the stuff dreams are made of. Unfortunately for you, these are not your dreams; they are the dreams of litigation attorneys who are more than willing to turn your contention into billable hours. While you’re burning through your children’s college funds to pay for your bitter divorce, the litigation attorneys are now able to afford to send their kids to college without taking out student loans. So, unless you’re expecting your divorce story to get picked up by a Hollywood producer as the remake of War of the Roses, and you’re getting big bucks for the movie rights, it may be in your best interest to keep the drama to a minimum.
I understand that when things go South in our lives, marriage-inclusive, our tendency is to look around for someone to blame. It’s the American way. The first response of most human beings facing the break-up of a relationship is anger- at our partner, at the way things have turned out, maybe even anger at ourselves for making a bad choice of a mate. When you walk into a divorce attorney’s office loaded for bear and wanting to get even for the pain and disappointment your spouse has caused you, some attorneys will take you at your word and get your case filed in court before the ink is dry on your contract. A client motivated by anger may be oblivious to the high cost of litigating a divorce. At the onset, you may think it’s worth it, just to punish your spouse for hurting you. But most people come to their senses relatively soon, and many realize that they are now stuck in a process that moves rather slowly and inefficiently but costs a lot of money. For the most part, clients in litigation feel like they have very little control over what happens in that process. There are a lot of hoops to jump through, and clients seldom understand why all those things are necessary. The court system takes a rather “one size fits all” approach to cases, by necessity, based on the sheer volume of cases that are filed, so once you are in that system, you are forced to move along with the herd.
The good news is, there are other processes, like mediation or collaborative divorce, that can offer you a more personalized approach to getting a divorce. Even though you are dealing with the same issues, in the same situation, these processes are designed to help you let go of your anger and to take a more reasonable, problem-solving approach to untangling the finances and the child-related issues and to craft a future for you and your spouse that allows both of you to survive, and even thrive in your future as co-parents.
If you are facing a divorce or legal separation, you owe it to yourself to explore divorce process options, such as mediation, collaborative divorce, or kitchen table negotiation, to find the process that best suits your needs.
About the author:
Marjorie Carter is a collaboratively-trained family law attorney, mediator and former member of CFLA. Marjorie is committed to guiding her clients through the legal process by taking a reasonable, peacemaking approach, helping them to find creative solutions that respect their own values and integrity.