Think before you speak…

what to sayDivorce is hard.  So hard that we often forget that our words are powerful and can shape the outcome in an unintended way.  Often we are hurt, angry or grieving, and it is difficult for us not to be hurtful when we speak to our spouse during the divorce process.  I have found that it is helpful to remember this saying, and to meditate on it for a bit before we speak.   We will often have a better outcome overall if we do this.

It is from the book “The Healing Garden: A Place of Peace” by Gwen Nyhus Stewart. The quote: “Eknath Easwarden wrote, “The Sufis advise us to speak only after our words have managed to pass through three gates.  At the first gate, we ask ourselves, Are these words true?  If so, we let them pass on; if not, back they go.  At the second gate we ask, Are they necessary?  If so, we let them pass on; if not, back thy go.  At the third gate, we ask, Are they kind?  If so, we let them pass on.  If not, back they go.”

The Dalai Lama says, “My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.”

The Damage Nasty Divorces Do to Children

In this article by Miles Morrison, LCSW we learn about how messy divorces where the parents are fighting to win the divorce cause severe damage to their children.

“Our caseload of messy divorce cases increases year after year, and after a number of years of seeing the remains of these cases, we are beginning to see these children become adults, and the dysfunctions of their own relationships. Like it or not, these children who are now adults and having relationships, have learned the unhealthy ways taught to them by their parents’ actions and words.”

“Quite often, these unnecessarily messy divorces are fueled by a parent or parents who demonstrate narcissistic tendencies, sociopathic behaviors, and vindictive anger. Their children often develop depression, anxiety, separation issues, substance and alcohol abuse, and personality disorders that may not be remedied.”

“Some of the more prevalent signs of the OBSESSED ALIENATORS:

  • They are absolutely obsessed with destroying the other parent’s relationship with the child.
  • They have instilled in the child to express the feelings of the parent instead of the child’s own, based on the alienators’ experiences, not the child’s.
  • They will show up in court with an entourage of family friends, quasi-political supporters and religious leaders to attempt to persuade the judge to be swayed.
  • They want the court to punish the other parent by blocking visitation with the child. They believe in a higher cause that is beyond the understanding of a judge.
  • The court’s authority does not intimidate them.

Recognizing SEVERELY ALIENATED CHILDREN:

  • They have an intense hatred toward the other parent.
  • They repeat word for word the words of the alienator.
  • They have unfounded and irrational beliefs toward the other parent.
  • They feel no guilt for how they treat the alienated parent, the parent’s family, or others who are supportive of that parent.
  • They can appear normal UNTIL THE SUBJECT OF THE ALIENATED PARENT COMES UP. Then, the hatred appears.”

Read the article to see what attorneys and therapists can do to help these kids.  But most importantly, be aware that your behavior as a divorcing parent in divorce can not only damage your financial security, but can also damage your children. Is it worth it?

Click here to read the entire article.

For Divorcing Women, Becoming Financially Knowledgeable Is Crucial

By Danielle Andrus in ThinkAdvisor.com

This article discusses the need for women seeking a divorce to make sure they get solid financial information before consulting with an attorney.

I think that this advise holds for men as well.

Whether you are the primary breadwinner or not (or the husband or wife), getting a solid handle on your financial situation (assets, debts, income and expenses), and understanding how this is likely to impact a financial settlement with your spouse, before you meet with an attorney, can save you a lot of time and unrealistic expectations of what the settlement might end up being.

Click here to read entire article

Divorce Confidential: Silver Linings in Divorce

by Caroline Choi, family law attorney, posted on Huffington Post

“If you’re going through a divorce, there may be many challenges ahead, but regardless of the challenges, there is always a silver lining in every difficult circumstance. ”  The author lists some challenges but also some of the opportunities that may present themselves during this difficult live transition.   She discusses grief, finances and co-parenting challenges.  With a read.

Click here to read full article

How much can a divorce cost?

Here is an interesting article in Huffington Post about the cost of divorce using different processes.  The authors do not quote any sources, so it is difficult to tell how reliable their numbers are.  However, from my experience their ranges seem about right in relative terms.  Committing to be non-adversarial is by far less expensive than the adversarial approach.  And, in many cases, you should be able to get a fair result, without spending a fortune, by using a non adversarial process.

Amazingly, people will spend a lot of money arguing about things to punish their spouse or “for principle”  – spending more money that the issue is really worth.  Sometimes using the litigation approach is necessary – because one (or both) of the parties is being unreasonable, they cannot communicate, trust has completely disappeared, mental health issues, hiding assets or income, abuse, etc.  But,  for many people, however, the adversarial/litigation approach is an unnecessary and expensive complication to an already difficult life transitional event, and often makes it much more difficult for the children because of the additional conflict it can generate for the parents.  I often recommend to people to try mediation first, consulting with attorneys as needed, to see how it goes.  If mediation is not successful, then you can escalate to collaborative, cooperative or litigation.  I think that most people would like to make their own decisions, rather than rely on a third party (Magistrate or Judge) to make life decisions for them.

I have had a number of clients who tried litigation and then came to me,  after spending $100,000  (really!) on legal fees, to resolve the remaining issues through mediation and help them complete their divorce. Sure, by then they were weary of the fight, fed up of the litigation process, and tired of the attorneys not getting things finished.  But they then had $100,000 less for themselves and their children.

Sadly, when people considering divorce talk to friends and family about their impending divorce, they rarely will hear about the success stories, but rather hear the horror stories about bad experiences others have had.  The divorce process does not have to be horrible.  The professionals you hire should be there to help you through the process,  and to make the process easier, not make an already challenging life event even worse.

If you both want to have a dignified divorce, you can.  First, you have to have a positive attitude about coming up with a fair agreement for each of you and most importantly, what is best for your children.  Second, you need to choose, and manage, any professional assistance you hire to make sure they follow your wishes to have a dignified and non adversarial divorce.  Third, you should agreed  some mutual goals about the process and what you want for each other and your children.  Fourth,  see it as a business transaction – not a way to remedy what went wrong in the marriage.  Fifth, getting educated on the law, your financial situation, the options, and the consequences of potential solutions is important.  This allows you to negotiate and make decisions from a basis of knowledge and strength.  Finally, don’t make agreements unless you fully understand them and believe that you making the optimal decisions for yourself, your spouse and your children.  If you need to consult with an attorney, or need help in negotiating your agreement, then, by all means, get the help you need.