What Will Be Your Divorce Story?
Roughly half of American marriages result in divorce. You have probably 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 that a divorce lawyer can completely answer for you. At their essence, these are very practical financial and parenting questions about how you and your family will create and live your future lives—all in addition to working through the emotional changes.
Because most of the salient questions in divorce are based on the 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 divorce professionals who can help with both the practical and the legal, they 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.
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 with skilled assistance, divorce can become manageable: it becomes a series of questions to address, information to exchange and assimilate, and puzzles to solve. Recognizing that, despite the best of intentions, emotions may at times feel overwhelming and could even lead to impulsive decisions, these couples seek the help of divorce professionals who can work at their side to educate them about the impacts of their choices, and guide them through the rough times to get back on track.
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 tell that you made wise and thoughtful decisions, tailored to your own priorities and values for yourself and your children? Do you want to be able to tell that your divorce decisions made possible a positive future? Do you want to be able to tell that you 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 Family Law and Divorce
The Collaborative Divorce and the Mediation processes 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 or with your neutral mediator, you and your spouse then systematically address all issues by solving them together. Typically, the big questions fall into the categories of property division, child support, spousal maintenance, and parenting plan. 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 both Collaborative Divorce and 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 healthy future for yourself and 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 offer Collaborative Divorce and, if so, what their training and experience is. Then make your choice.