Going through a traditional divorce is highly emotional, extremely stressful and ridiculously expensive. It is a major life transition for the entire family. And, like any transformative event, it isn’t easy. During these times of transition, humans are emotionally fragile. People of divorce don’t need to be injected into an adversarial battlefield. They need support and guidance.
Our traditional family law system is, by definition, adversarial. It is invasive, expensive and filled with pitfalls. There is a much healthier way to approach a divorce. It begins with the way we understand it. We need to stop seeing divorce as a battle, but rather as a family in crisis and transition. We need understanding and awareness that individuals and families are emotionally vulnerable during this transition. We are susceptible to friends, family, television and attorneys advising us to fight for our rights. While this advice may seem right, it only encourages a mindset of a victim looking for vengeance or sympathy. This mindset must change from conflict to resolving issues from a heart-centered approach. Being upset and angry is natural, but those emotions can help us recognize where we need to let go of misunderstandings. They are not there to justify the fight.
Divorce is not about wrong. There is no right and wrong, just different perspectives. Two spouses see things differently, and that’s why they are getting a divorce. When considering a divorce, good advice should sound more like this:
- Seek peaceful alternatives to disagreements with solutions that are aligned with both perspectives. Release attachments to limited ideas of blame and punishment. Keep the ego in check. Practice listening. The answers we seek already exist and will present themselves once we let go of our old way of thinking and open ourselves to higher possibilities.
- Visualize and focus on positive outcomes and solutions. Let go of ideas of morality and justice. This is about us as individuals, our families and our future, not proving a point. Trust inner knowing and be committed to peaceful resolutions. Be generous as the more we give, the more we will receive. Be kind to ourselves and others. Practice every day to let go of conflict and the peace we achieve will be reflected around us.
- Focus on the redefinition of the family and the division of the major responsibilities, such as raising children. Remove the idea of “sole custody” and understand that the best interest of a child includes all family members. A legal battle over custody is very expensive and exposes each spouse and, more importantly, the children to the microscope of the court. The quantity of time with children is far less important than the quality of the time we spend with them. Sometimes accepting the situation, letting go of the fight, and making the most out of the limited time to create memories and simply love them is the healthiest solution.
- Time away from children should be embraced as time to heal and re-create ourselves. Taking care of us as individuals is one of the best ways to care for our children.
When we battle over children, we place their future in the hands of the court. The parents know what is best for them, not complete strangers. Find respect for a spouse as a parent of the children, even if they think differently. Set an example of integrity by not bad mouthing a spouse. If we can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all. Or we can challenge ourselves by replacing negative thoughts or statements with positive ones. Teach empathy and compassion to children by example. Redirect the money saved by not going to court to a good therapist for everyone in the family to help through the transition, begin healing and create a new life.
Practically speaking, placing a divorce in the hands of our legal system will not serve our best interests. Private, emotional family issues are not meant to be decided by a public adversarial system. Attorneys are trained to be adversarial and to be counselors of law, not counselors at law. If issues cannot be solved without help, seek support from a therapist and a mediator as a legal guide. The mediator should be a seasoned family lawyer. Trust that an experienced family law attorney can generally predict the outcome of a case. Use that educated advice as a guideline for solving differences. If representation is ultimately needed or decided upon, seek an attorney that provides information, different perspectives and alternative solutions. Leave the lawyer’s office feeling educated, empowered and more focused on resolution.
Divorce doesn’t have to be a nasty word or process. It is a challenging time of major change in the lives of a couple and family. Ultimately, the choice is ours. Peaceful resolution as the result can be the most advantageous for the family.