What Will Be Your Divorce Story?
Roughly half of American marriages result in divorce. You have heard stories about divorces and family law, and maybe even experienced one yourself as a child or adult. But have you asked yourself what you want the story of your own divorce to be?
Divorce is a life transition; it necessarily involves writing the next chapter in your story, whether or not you made the choice to divorce. Divorce includes making financial decisions, including dividing property and debt, and perhaps agreeing to spousal support to help cover expenses. If you have children, you will need to plan how to raise and financially support them into adulthood. While there are legal components to the answers to these decisions, at essence these are not legal questions. At their essence, these are very practical financial and co-parenting questions about how you and your family will restructure and live your future lives—in addition to working through the emotional changes.
Because most salient questions in divorce involve real-life considerations about how to make finances work and co-parenting smooth, more and more people are electing a more sophisticated alternative to old-style divorce. With the assistance of skilled divorce professionals who can help with both the practical and the legal, and who can facilitate difficult conversations, these people make their own decisions about how they wish to live their futures based on their own values and priorities. These people write their own stories for their divorce and their futures.
Most insightful people are well aware that the divorce process itself can create fresh wounds if not approached with the utmost of respect and integrity. By choosing a divorce in which all commit to constructively working towards solutions, divorce can become manageable: it becomes a series of questions to address, information to exchange and assimilate, and puzzles to solve. Because, despite the best of intentions, emotions may at times feel overwhelming and even lead to impulsive decisions, these couples seek the help of divorce professionals who can guide them through the rough spots towards a mutually acceptable agreement.
So ask yourself this: What is the story you want to be able to tell yourself and others about your divorce? Do you want to be able to share that you made wise and thoughtful decisions, consistent with your highest priorities and values for yourself and your children? Do you want to be able to explain how your divorce decisions made possible a positive future? Do you want to be able to speak to having acted authentically with the highest level of personal integrity possible in a process that was respectful to all? What is the story you wish to tell about your transition to the next chapter of your life? It’s yours to write.
What is the story you would like to tell about your divorce?
Alternatives to Old-Style Divorce
Collaborative Divorce and Mediation are each designed to allow you and your spouse to make the decisions about your post-divorce futures. You work from the very start to identify what uniquely needs to be addressed for you. Working with either your individual Collaborative Divorce attorneys (in case of Collaborative Divorce) or with your neutral mediator (in case of mediation), you and your spouse then systematically address all issues by solving them together. Typically, the big questions fall into the categories of property and debt division, child support, spousal maintenance, and parenting. The main difference between these processes is the level of support available to help keep you on track, make careful decisions, and implement those decisions.
Because the focus of either Collaborative Divorce or Mediation is to build agreements from the outset, you can focus on the real questions that need to be addressed and on the best solutions.
There’s another benefit. When you can preserve (or create) a working relationship with your children’s co-parent in your divorce, your children will do better. Children do much better when not exposed to parental acrimony. Mediation or Collaborative Divorce give you the opportunity to build a healthier future for your children.
Most family law attorneys are not mediators. Not all family law attorneys in Seattle has the training or experience to offer Collaborative Divorce as an option. If you’re interested in authoring the next chapter in your story instead of turning it over to a ghost-writer, consult a mediator or ask the divorce lawyers you’re interviewing whether they have training and experience in Collaborative Divorce. Then make your choice based on what’s best for you.