Having consulted with hundreds of clients over the years, I have learned that there are many popular misconceptions about divorce. Acting on misinformation can result in long-term, unintended consequences for your family. I’ll address three such myths here:Myth #1: “Serving papers on my spouse will give me a strategic advantage.” Contrary to popular belief, the serving of divorce papers has a very limited effect upon the legal proceeding itself. Doing so can, however, have a profound impact upon the tone of the negotiations to follow. In the Collaborative divorce process, we always use a joint petition, which is signed by both parties and their attorneys at the first joint meeting. Starting the process in this way reflects the parties’ mutual respect for one another and allows them to maintain control over the pace and content of settlement discussions. Myth #2: “Our kids have no idea we’re going to divorce.” As adults we often underestimate the wisdom of children. Even very young children pick up on body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice. They notice how mom and dad talk (or don’t talk) to each other. They have friends at school whose parents are divorced. Working with a child specialist to create a “we statement” is a thoughtful way to jointly inform your kids that you have decided to become unmarried. But don’t be surprised if they already have suspicions. Myth #3: “The sooner the divorce can be final, the better.” While no one wants to linger in the throes of divorce longer than necessary, moving too quickly can be dangerous. It may take some time for one spouse to “catch up” emotionally in order to meaningfully participate in settlement discussions. Creating a parenting plan focused on the children’s needs often requires some trial and error. It’s impossible to know whether a particular schedule will work until you’ve lived it, at least for a while. Financial decisions made in divorce have long-term consequences for the entire family and should not be finalized until thoughtful evaluation of all options has taken place. The best way to get accurate information about divorce process options is to consult with an experienced family law attorney. Feel free to contact me if you’d like to know more.
When parents think about divorce, thoughts often go to their children. How do we tell them? Will they adjust to having two homes instead of one? How will we pay their expenses? Will my ex and I be able to communicate well enough to co-parent effectively? This is unfamiliar territory, and thinking about these questions can feel overwhelming. Having a team of experienced professionals supporting you as you and your spouse move through the divorce process can make it less scary. In addition to having your own attorneys, the Collaborative Process uses neutral specialists who assist you in answering questions like these. How to tell our children about our divorce? A neutral child specialist helps you create a “we statement” for telling your children about your becoming unmarried. Your children will remember this moment for the rest of their lives, so you want to do it together, thoughtfully and with intention. The child specialist continues to work with you and your children in creating a parenting plan unique to your kids’ ages, needs and personalities. As part of your parenting plan, you and your spouse can agree to return to the child specialist for guidance if parenting issues arise in the future. How will we pay for our child’s expenses? A neutral financial specialist assists you in putting together a plan for sharing your children’s expenses. Rather than relying upon a generic child support calculator, you and your spouse openly discuss your children’s future expenses. For some couples, contributing to a joint children’s checking account makes the most sense. For others, having each parent take responsibility for certain expenses is more practical. By having a healthy discussion, you and your spouse can come up with a plan that fits your unique situation. Will we be able to communicate effectively for our future needs? A neutral coach helps you and your spouse understand and manage your emotions during the divorce process and can also guide you in methods to improve your post-divorce communications. Avoiding these conversations can leave you feeling angry and resentful, making it impossible to fully enjoy future events such as holidays, graduations, and weddings. By finding a way to move forward with your life with a positive attitude, you will make your children’s lives easier as well. If you are interested in learning more about the Collaborative Process, visit our website at www.colllaborativelaw.org to schedule a free consultation.