If you are divorcing, undoubtedly you have had frustrations during your marriage. You might see divorce as a way to break free from those difficulties. And if there has been a power struggle between you and your spouse, you might be hoping that you finally can “win” the battle. You might be hoping that this time, you will be able to hold the line, keep from folding, finally be heard, finally be vindicated.
But is trying to “win” worth it in the end? Too frequently in litigation, everyone loses, especially the children, who internalize the strife between their parents. And the battle will likely bring out the worst in both you and your spouse, recreating those very dynamics that you are trying to get away from.
And when it’s over, what then? What will happen when you and your ex-spouse need to get back on the same team to deal with something in the lives of your children? Will you be able to do it? Can you be effective co-parents — providing the love, nurturance, stability and consistency your kids need – if you’re at each other’s throats?
So, what to do?
There is a school of thought that ascribes to mediation and to Collaborative Law the potential to guide former spouses to a place better than the one they inhabited during marriage. The hope is that a dispute resolution process facilitated by one or more skillful, empathic professionals has transformative power. Maybe it does. I hope so. I hope that a well-done divorce (a compassionate, dignified one as opposed to a contentious, disrespectful one) can help a couple disentangle in such a way that two healthy individuals emerge with much of their respect and affection for each other intact, so that, if they have children, they are able to create a new parenting partnership that enables their kids to thrive.
Even if this hopeful view is too rosy, there is still reason to commit to mediation or Collaborative Law. If the two of you cannot do it alone (and if you could, would you be divorcing?), then would you rather do it with the professional support that helps you stay positive and productive, or would you prefer to dig in and fight it out? Neither approach is easy. A divorce is difficult, any way you do it. When you are beginning the process, take the opportunity to choose your process wisely.