Divorce is a painful process. Often both spouses are disappointed with the marriage. One or both may feel betrayed.  The time when spouses decide to divorce is the time when they likely feel at their lowest – about one another and perhaps about themselves. And yet, this is the time spouses are called upon to make decisions that will affect them and their children for the rest of their lives. A natural instinct in this circumstance is for self-preservation. One thinks of oneself and one’s own needs – something by the way which is vitally important to do.  You want to continue parenting your children effectively, be able to live the lifestyle you became accustomed to, and have long term financial security.   It is common at such a time to fear that if your spouse’s needs are met, your own needs suffer. And so one fights – fight in hopes that this in turn will enable one’s own needs to be met and prevail. But this is where one can go wrong.  Listening to your spouse, really listening and simply acknowledging his or her needs  is powerful.  Recall the last time you felt heard, and how that affected you.  By hearing your spouse, you increase the opportunity for your spouse to hear you. Solutions to issues emerge in such an environment which could not surface when one is in fighting mode. Do not sacrifice your goals and interests. Instead, clearly and deeply identify them, and at the same time listen deeply to those expressed by your spouse. You will open doors to solutions that  were previously closed. The Collaborative Law process fosters such an approach for divorcing spouses. I encourage you to consider learning more about the Collaborative process if you are contemplating divorce.
Rainbow roadIn my family law practice, I have seen well over 1,000 people divorce. Without a doubt, divorce is a difficult and painful process. However, I have been deeply enriched as a family law attorney by working with many spouses who have used this difficult process to set themselves on a new life path. Frequently a spouse will first enter my office full of emotion and fear. How will the children fare? Will there be sufficient money to pay the necessary expenses? For stay – at -home spouses who must now begin working, can they succeed in the work place? Can they even find meaningful work that will pay a decent wage? Often I work most closely with such spouses in the collaborative law process. We start from the ground and work our way up. What do they know about their finances? What is the family budget? What is their earning ability? How does earning a living intersect with raising children? Can one do both and if so how? Often with the assistance of a financial professional, we build budgets, spread sheets and cash flow analysis. Those who have little interest in finances or previous experience with finances begin to get their sea legs under them as to what their financial situation is, will be after the divorce and what they can do for themselves to maximize their well-being following the divorce. Spouses also learn that they do not need to continue with the same troublesome patterns of relating to their spouse, particularly regarding children. Instead, time is spent focusing on constructive, but firm communications. The intent is for a spouse again to develop confidence that she or he can hold his or her own following the divorce, in a health and constructive way. I have seen countless times, a spouse who first came to my office small and scared, leave the marriage with strength and confidence, and even excitement about starting the next leg of their amazing life journey.