At first, glance, thinking about a positive divorce maybe a little bit oxymoronic. Like jumbo shrimp or airline service, the two terms are not usually ones that are put together. Ask anyone that you know who's been through a divorce, and it is unlikely that they will tell you that positives came out of the divorce before they list a litany of negative aspects. Search is the emotional drain the divorced puts on a person who otherwise needed to get the divorce. But that said, Someone Like You who is at the beginning part of a divorce probably doesn't need to or want to hear anything overly negative about the process.
You will have plenty of opportunities to find out the negative parts of divorce by going through it. Ask friends, family, or coworkers about divorce, and I'm sure they will have horror stories to tell you about divorces that they have experienced themselves or have seen others go through. There is something about exaggerating and embellishing even the worst aspects of a divorce bet I find to be particularly difficult for those who have not gone through the process. It can be extremely disheartening to hear this kind of story as you begin the process of filing for divorce. You have enough on your mind in don't necessarily need to hear hyperbole surrounding the negative aspects of divorce.
However, I am here to tell you that you can positively approach getting a divorce. Instead of focusing almost entirely on the negative aspects of divorce, you can approach your case as being an opportunity for you to get past troublesome aspects of your relationship and work towards a better life for you and your children after your case comes to a close. However, to do so, you need to change your mindset most likely. We've already seen how a negative mindset can infiltrate your life on significantly impact how you approach your case. Let's spend some time walking through seven steps to creating a positive divorce for you and your family.
Step 1: focus on your children.
This is a step, but you should follow only if you have kids. For those of you reading these blog posts which do not have children, I still think some of the advice in this section is applicable. Positively focusing on other people can benefit you in many areas of life. This includes areas of your life having to do with a divorce. On the whole, it is effortless to focus only on yourself and what you are going through in a divorce. However, I think you can accomplish a lot more in your case if you can focus tree energy and attention outward onto your children rather than on yourself.
If you can focus your attention on your children, you will most likely be able to produce better results for them and you. As a parent, you have worked hard to put your kids first in your life and to do what is best for them. I would not recommend deviating from that strategy now in your divorce. When it comes to child custody issues, you should remember that you are making decisions up and negotiating based on what you believe is best for your children and in their best interest. Nowhere in that discussion does your ego or your temporary wants or desires come into play. Or other, you should think about what is best for your kids now and into the future.
This may mean swallowing your pride and agreeing with your spouse on things having to do with child custody that your ego may not want you to. It may be better for your children, for example, if your spouse is named as the primary caretaker for your children rather than you. This isn't an admission that you're not a good parent, but it is an admission that what is best for the children may not be having you as her primary conservator if you work much more than your spouse and have a much less consistent schedule as far as that is concerned.
I will note, however, that focusing on your children does not necessarily mean doing whatever they want. If you have older children, you can talk to them about the divorce and how they see the divorce playing out in custody, possession, and conservatorships issues. That does not mean you should focus exclusively on them to the detriment of what you think is in their best interest. Allowing your children to control the case is not the same as doing what is in their best interests and focusing on their needs.
Step 2: think of the future when you're negotiating with you are a spouse.
Nobody would argue with you that a divorce is an unpleasant experience. I'm not sure if he uttered these words, but there is a quote attributed to Winston Churchill that goes something like this: if you find yourself going through hell, keep going. The quote means that if you are going through something unpleasant, the only way to get past it is to keep going. Don't stop. Keep your eyes on the prize and do what you have to do to motivate yourself to get past the pleasant experience.
I will often tell clients the best way to do this is to focus on the future, and the possibilities that your life has after your divorce is done and over with. It can become emotionally draining and challenging to consider the possibilities of real life when you are bogged down in a divorce. I almost think about it like I have the past few months in the pandemic. I think we've all gone through a time or two during the pandemic where I felt like the chaos, sadness another negative aspect of our lives would never come to an end. However, the pandemic was destined to come to an end just as your divorce will be destined to come to an end.
With that said, remember that your divorce is not going to be permanent and that you are planning for the rest of your life after the divorce. Hopefully, this will allow you to keep a more optimistic approach when it becomes easy to bark down or be saddened by any numerous instances involving your case. If you can remember that no divorce is forever in that, you have the opportunity to build a positive life for yourself after the divorce, and I believe you will stay more engaged and negotiate better throughout your case.
Step 3: negotiate with your spouse as you would in a business transaction.
In many ways, this piece of advice could be the most difficult to follow. No matter the length of your marriage, there is a great deal of emotion tied to negotiations on a divorce case. It is even more obvious that the emotions tied to a divorce are not going to be positive. I'm willing to bet that if you could muster some positive emotions with your spouse that you would be attempting to take advantage of those positive emotions by reconciling with them or attending counseling to do so.
Since you find yourself ankle-deep in a divorce, the likely emotions that you are experiencing surrounding the divorce in your spouse are probably negative. You may feel like your spouse is taking advantage of you and that you need to do everything you can 2 benefits yourself while hurting their position. It is only fair, you may think, to take your emotional pound of flesh from them while you can to benefit yourself as much as possible. However, the question you need to ask yourself is whether or not that is the best way for you to experience the best results in your divorce.
From my experience, I can almost always say that negotiating to right past wrongs and making them right through negotiation is not an effective way to accomplish goals in a positive sense. It may feel good at that moment to do something that could potentially hurt your spouse, but you will not end up gaining any long-term benefit from doing so, however. The best advice that I can give in this regard is to negotiate your case from an objective rather than a subjective mindset.
What are the best pieces of advice that I have ever heard about negotiating in a divorce is to act like it is a business transaction rather than the end of your marriage. If you can approach the case like this, then I think you will have better results than if you let your emotions get the better of you on a repeated basis. I am not unrealistic or naive enough to believe that you can completely separate your emotions from divorce negotiations. However, I believe that you can make every effort to approach issues from the other person's position as much as possible to see how they might approach the problem and be as fair as possible in dealing with the other person.
Step 4: communicate early with your attorney about setting the right tone for the case.
Attorneys approach a case in certain ways based on the needs of their clients. If your attorney perceives but they need to be aggressive in the negotiation because you are more timid or passive, they may do that. Likewise, if they believe that something can be gained from acting or proceeding in the case in a certain manner, you can rest assured that that will be done. Remember that you have engaged the attorney to provide you with advice and gain a favorable outcome for you in the case.
That does not mean that the attorney cannot do so skillfully and with civility. Now, I am not here to tell you that attorneys are nefarious or will act without scruples unless you rein them in. On the contrary, most family law attorneys that I've ever worked with are fair and civil at all times. However, you can still sit down with your attorney to make sure they are aware of how you want the case to proceed as far as your approach to your spouse and their lawyer. I would recommend having a conversation with your attorney early and often about how you want to promote negotiation over litigation and patience over hostility.
Again, I do not even have to believe that simply by saying these words to your attorney, you will be able to remove any degree of negativity or hostility from your divorce. I think a certain degree of negativity would remain in every single divorce, no matter how hard you worked to remove it. However, if you present a request to your attorney that they act and negotiate in such a way as to promote settlement rather than litigation, I believe the attorney will take that to heart. Another piece of advice in this regard is hiring an attorney based on their willingness to settle a case and their ability to do so efficiently and fairly.
Step 5: give your spouse the benefit of the doubt.
One of the things that I find people do in divorce cases always assumes the worst about their spouse. Two miss identify or misappropriate their motivation to do something during the divorce to be something in the most negative light possible. For example, if your spouse negotiates with you in some way that annoys or irks you, it will be relatively simple for you to think that they're doing so out of malice or anger. That is something that could stick with you for the rest of the case and color how you view them for the months to come.
However, I recommend not jumping to conclusions, giving them the benefit of the doubt more often than not, and assuming negligence matters rather than malice when it comes to particular aspects of your case. Rather than assuming the worst of your spouse, I would assume that they are making settlement negotiations or doing things out of ignorance of some issue rather than as a means to annoy or upset you. Do not allow a misunderstanding or a misplaced motivation to influence how you negotiate or approach your co-parent case.
Step 6: sometimes, you have to give a little to get a little
In a divorce, you need to identify those areas of the case that are most important to you. Once you have identified those areas of the most important case, I would recommend negotiating aggressively but fairly to accomplish those goals while being willing to give up a little bit in other areas to accomplish the things that are most important to you in your case. This means that you must be prepared to negotiate, intentional when it comes to accomplishing your goals, and fair when it comes to giving ground in other areas that are less important to you but more important to your Co-parent.
I am here to tell you that you can negotiate strongly but in a way that allows your spouse to protect those areas and the divorce that are most important to them while allowing you to do the same with your case. Most divorces in Texas come down to settlement negotiations. Once you conclude that you will not “win” on every issue, you will be better off. Focus your attention on the most important areas and be willing to give ground in other areas to accomplish your goals.
Step 7: do not blame yourself repeatedly for failures in your marriage.
Much of the time in a divorce, people can spend an inordinate amount of time rehashing past failures or episodes that led to the divorce case. Many people will then take the position that they caused the divorce or that their shortcomings directly led to the filing of this case. Even if there is some truth that unless you and your spouse are in a position to work to reconcile actively, then the divorce becomes a foregone conclusion at a certain point, and there is no benefit to you looking backward. Rather, I recommend approaching a new divorce is a new stage in your life and one that you can work to get past while accomplishing goals if you stay positive. Do not beat yourself up over past failures or actions. Rather, turn your attention toward your family and what you stand to accomplish in the present rather than what happened wrong in the past.
Questions about the material contained in today's blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
If you have any questions about the material contained in today's blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law and how your family's circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.