This is the second installment of my interview with Stewart Andrew Alexander for Impact Makers Radio regarding advice I give adults who were contemplating divorce, in the midst of divorce, or dealing with an ex-spouse after the final judgement.
My blog earlier in May cautioned people about a common misconception that every issue related to divorce -- or really any family law issue -- is decided by a judge. (See here)
This blog will address two other pitfalls that clients often encounter during divorce proceedings: underestimating the emotional drain, and assuming there are only win-lose situations.
Virtually all of my clients understand that divorce will take a toll on themselves and their children -- but few are truly prepared for the scale of the emotional drain caused by divorce. A critical part of my job is to prepare my clients for the reality that divorce is a major life-changing experience that requires them to stop dwelling on the past in order to protect themselves for the future.
Focusing on the future is particularly difficult when one party wants the divorce and the other party doesn’t. It takes constant reminders to individuals who want to “save the marriage” that there is no way to legally stop divorce proceedings in Michigan if one of the two parties wants out.
The other major pitfall for clients is to view divorce proceedings entirely as a win-lose situation. As I said during the interview: “Not every issue is going to be a who-wins-and-who loses issue, particularly in terms of property separation. As a starting point, any property that the couple owned as a married couple will be divided 50/50. There may be a few exceptions to that, but for the most part, you're going to be splitting property down the middle.”
The win-lose mentality is particularly evident when a parent tries to persuade children to take sides in the divorce, essentially “winning” them over to a parent’s viewpoint. As I said to Stewart: “Children really don't need to know all or any of the details that is going on between the two parents. Quite honestly, that will work against the parent who does try to drag the children into the middle of the divorce. Children only need to know that, ‘Yes, mom and dad are getting a divorce; mom and dad still love me; and; you as the children are not the cause of this divorce.”
As I said during the interview: “For parenting issues, it is not going to be: I want my soon-to-be ex-spouse to lose. Instead it is going to be what is best for our children, so that we can move on. What we find a lot on these issues is that they tend to be resolved somewhat down the middle. The court will always focus on what is best for the children -- not necessarily what is best for the parents.”
To hear my podcast in its entirety on iTunes Sharing Link, go here, and to hear it on YouTube, go here.