The popular media makes a healthy profit on promoting disaster, and casting everything possible in the language of disaster.  “Shocking!” and “Horrifying!” are two words we see all too often. Regarding divorce, the popular media has created disaster myths around such topics as:   failure of children (depression, suicide, academic failure, juvenile delinquency), financial failure, higher divorce statistics, etc. What is the truth? To begin with, the United States divorce rate among the general population has been misinterpreted and exaggerated – it is not 50% and growing, and may in fact be 40% or less. Rates are even lower among college educated couples in the United States and may be less than 30%! This means that the chance for marital success in a second marriage may much higher than you think, especially if college education is factored in. Hollywood celebrities and other limited criteria skew the divorce statistics quoted by the media. With respect to children, there are few long-term studies about the impact of divorce (specifically, 3 studies in the United States), and they do not determine disaster for children. The most recent studies indicate that it is the level of marital conflict – NOT divorce – which spells failure for children. What are the factors which can impact children in a positive way? These studies seem to point to two major protective factors:
  1. Not using the children as message carriers between parents
  2. Giving the children permission to love both parents, wherever they go in life.
Modern psychological research indicates that children attach both to mothers and fathers, and in order to be whole people (not absorbing the irreconcilable conflict of their parents), they need to be free to love both parents whether they are in Mom’s house, Dad’s house, school or with extended family.   “Your Dad loves you so much – I’m so glad you had fun with him last week – tell me all about it!” or “You are the most important part of your Mom’s life – aren’t you looking forward to going camping with her next week?” are the kinds of protective statements parents can make to their children. What happens when parents can protect their children this way, even in the face of divorce?  The long-term studies report: even children who may be initially adversely affected by a separation can recover to meet their age-mates and peers in every category – including, they may not be any more likely to experience divorce in their own lives than the general population. What about financial ruin? With options such as Collaborative Divorce, qualified financial experts help couples devise the smartest financial plan possible, to create more net income (reducing taxes) than they had in an intact family, and to help pay debt or other items which can help build a more sustainable cash flow in future.  Couples can decide to be smart instead of reactive in a divorce, and get to a better place instead of ruining their futures. Readers who would like information on the studies cited should contact: or call: 952-405-2015.
Professionals who work with divorcing couples know that it is rare for couples to be at the same place in terms of deciding whether the marriage needs to end.  In almost every case, there is one spouse who has taken more time to think about the life of the marriage and how it may have become damaging to both parents and children. What are some tips for those who have given the subject a great deal of thought, and think the future could be brighter in two homes?
  1. Make sure your spouse knows that you have heard their own complaints.  On a consistent basis, when they start to complain about your behavior, let them know you understand they are unhappy also, and that you want them to be happy as much as you want to be happy.  Life is short, and going around in circles over what can’t be fixed is wasted time. It’s important to acknowledge with respect that you may not be able to meet each other’s needs, even if you were able to do so at one time.
  2. Do your research. Find ways to approach a potential divorce as positive as possible, and will not end in your family’s ruin. Collaborative Divorce is a professional team approach to solving family differences which focuses on creating the smartest solution possible – with an intentional financial plan, and parenting plan. Find a way to contain the amount of time you need to make decisions, to contain the cost and get the smartest solution possible for your family. Share the positive aspects of your research with your spouse.
  3. Find a safe place to talk. This may NOT be your kitchen table, or the local coffee shop. It may be in the office of a family specialist with the knowledge and skill to create a therapeutic setting for tough conversations. Talk with respected friends and colleagues who may know a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT), Licensed Social Worker (LICSW), Psychologist (LP) or other mental health professional who understands the dynamics of family systems and has a positive, proven approach.
The last thing couples facing the end of their marriage need to do is chew on each other.  Life is tough enough without that. Choose for yourself to find a better way, and start changing the conversation to a positive focus on the future.
The pending birth of Kim Kardashian’s first child is creating substantial media buzz.  The marriage of Kim to Kris Humphries was a well publicized television event, which ended in separation days later and is now being ended by a California court.   In the meantime, Kim has reputedly become pregnant by music star Kanye West., and will most likely give birth before her marriage to Kris is ended. Kim might be surprised to learn that most states in the US (including California) have adopted the Uniform Parentage Act, and could presume her baby is a child of her marriage to Kris Humphries. Under that law, children conceived during marriage and born within 300 days of a divorce can legally be presumed to be children of the husband.  Kanye could agree to submit to blood tests to prove his paternity of the child, but even then the baby could simply have two presumed fathers – not one — and the court would need to conclude which presumption prevails. Kim and Kris could have avoided this public and legal mess by agreeing to resolve their differences privately through Collaborative Divorce.   Collaborative Divorce is a completely private way to resolve family law disputes, through the use of inter-disciplinary professionals such as financial analysts, mental health professionals, and attorneys.   It is designed to contain the cost and length of legal proceedings, and to help couples create their own solutions – the smartest possible solutions – with the help of their Collaborative Team.  Good luck to Kim, Kris and Kanye!  Their dispute may languish in the court system for many months to come.