Keeping Your Divorce Friendly
When we go through a divorce our emotions are inevitably going to be a little raw. Keeping focused on what is truly important to both sides can help reduce conflict now and later if you have kids together. Here are some tips for keeping the conflict levels low.
When Kids are Involved, Make Them the Focus
People always say that they make decisions that are best for their kids, but in a divorce you really have to think about it. You should try to think how your actions or demands will effect your former spouse, and in turn how that will affect your kids. If you try to wring every penny out of your ex how will he/she be able to care for your kids when they have visitation? If you try to keep your ex away from your kids, how will that effect how your kids grow up? It is important to remember that what is best for a kid, is to have both of their parents involved in their lives and for both of their parents to be health, happy, and financially stable.
Pick and Choose Your Battles
There is a high likelihood that your soon to be ex is not your favorite person on the planet. However, you need to focus on what you need to accomplish to disentangle your life from theirs and move on with your new life without them. If you focus on trying to make them pay for all of the grief you have sustained over however long you have been together, you will end up in a never ending battle. Decide what is really important to you and be willing to compromise on what is not.
Don’t be Greedy (Or Vindictive)
When you are dividing up your belongings, don’t be so quick as to try and keep the best things for yourself. You are both going to be filling up a new home, and you will both need things. Here again, compromise is the best solution. Decide what you believe you want the most, and let your ex have some of what they want most. If you have several items you both want, alternate picking what you are going to keep and what they are going to keep. The golden rule is to be fair! That way you will both get to keep some of the things you want, but you can’t have it all.
Understand Your Finances
Understanding your financial situation can help you understand why you believe you are paying so much, or why you believe you are getting so little. Where you used to share all of your financial resources, you now have to support two homes with the same amount, and most of your expenses are now redundant. Both of you should have a budget so you know how much you are spending now and how much you will need to spend after your divorce. If you don’t understand your financial situation now, how can you possibly know how much you are going to need in the future? If you can agree to sharing your budgets, you might get a much better picture of why you are getting/keeping what you do each month, but you have to be honest in what you need which could mean you have to cut back on some things.
Forget About Winning
I always tell my clients that a divorce is not about winning or losing. It’s about damage control. Once you get to the point of filing for a divorce you have already lost. You no longer have an intact family or a partner to share your life with. Regardless of how much you dislike your ex now, at one point you loved them enough to marry them, so you have lost something. Divorce is about damage control because it is about finding a way to start a new life without that other person and with the resources you need to be happy. It isn’t about leaving with more than the other person has, or making sure they are sorry they ever met you. Focus on what you need to move on, and then do just that. Move on! You aren’t going to be better off after the divorce than you were when you were married, at least not from a financial perspective.
Forgive and Forget
Regardless of what bad blood has gone between you, part of moving on is forgiving and forgetting. If you spend the rest of your life hating and seething over your ex you are wasting your life not theirs. They are more likely to have moved on and have started to enjoy their new life without you. Don’t waste yours worrying about them. This is especially true if you have children, as you are going to have to hear about your ex and likely see them on a fairly regular basis as they are still part of your child’s life. Holding on to your animosity will only make your ex happy that 1) they got rid of you; 2) that they rarely have to see you; and most importantly 3) that they can still get to you. Focus on starting your new life and making yourself happy, because you know your ex couldn’t care less now.
Scott Watanabe, Attorney