As individuals, partners, employees, and parents, we often put pressure on ourselves to perform, to succeed, to “do things well.” When beginning the process of divorce, the decision itself may seem like a failure, a proverbial “throwing in the towel,” or a negative reflection on your ability to maintain a relationship. We are taught not to be quitters, to keep pushing until we make the grade, to persevere. Any decision to the contrary speaks negatively to our strength of character. In relationships, however, this mind set simply does not apply. With the ever-evolving nature of life, our ability to adapt to changing circumstances, as a unit or as an individual, is essential to our ability to grow. As a result, divorce can sometimes represent a change of course, an expansion of possibilities, and ultimately, an opportunity to more fully embrace our potential. After making this choice, the question becomes: how can I make the most of this experience? Well, believe it or not, you can in fact “do divorce well.” Read on for some of the best tips for handling your divorce. Implementing these can help you to navigate through this often stressful transition in a way that allows you to move forward with peace, prepared to prosper.
Tips for Your Most Successful Divorce
Approach Disagreements as Opportunities
With so many decisions to make and issues to resolve during the divorce process, disagreements between you and your spouse are inevitable. Significant decisions involving division of assets, what to do with your marital home, how to arrive at an amicable child custody arrangement, whether or not spousal support is applicable, and if so, in what amount, for how long? The questions to be answered are seemingly endless. Understanding that this is just a part of the process, and that every divorcing couple faces these challenges, can help you to “stay in the game.” In other words, just because an immediate solution does not appear, does not mean that there isn’t one. Seeing these disagreements as opportunities for creativity can help you to avoid becoming discouraged. By committing to working with your attorney and your spouse, you can more often than not arrive at a mutually-agreeable resolution.
With Your Attorney, Be an Open Book
You may feel exposed during the divorce process, as your personal life becomes open discussion among attorneys and perfect strangers. It is natural to react by trying to protect yourself and your privacy. However, it is essential to show your attorney all of your cards. Similar to a therapist, your legal counsel can only help you to the extent that he or she is provided with all of the information. We all make choices that we regret, particularly in relationships, but hiding such things from your attorney only makes you more vulnerable to unanticipated affronts from the other side. It is always best to assume that your spouse has informed his or her attorney of your shared history. By preparing your attorney with the information in advance, he or she can proactively address potential issues that may reflect negatively on you during negotiations or court proceedings.
Document, Document, Document!
It may sound slightly obvious, but concessions and agreements during discussions with your spouse will only serve you if they are in written form. For example, a conversation about a family heirloom, a rental property, or another item of value may lead to some agreement outside of divorce negotiations. If your spouse says, “You can keep the antique chandelier that your grandmother gave us as a wedding present,” it is critical to get it in writing! Divorce can be a stressful process, as feelings change and emotions run high. What may have been agreed upon in one conversation can be taken off the table in the next. As a result, it is essential to document any agreements made between you and your spouse. Remember, verbal agreements simply will not stand up in court.
Co-Parenting is Best for EVERYONE
Children are the most important parts of our lives and as such, disagreements over child custody, visitation, and approaches to parenting can become highly contentious during the divorce process. Your initial protective parenting response may be to go to battle, but consider the results. More often than not, some form of joint or shared custody is included in the marital settlement agreement. These arrangements will require you and your spouse to maintain marginal engagement until your children reach adulthood. By working toward cooperation and a level of civility, you and your spouse can avoid the drama that will inevitably make both of your lives more difficult in the future. Moreover, children are incredibly perceptive, and if they sense a level of discord, this instability can negatively impact their development and emotional well-being. You would likely do anything for your children. Consider this the ultimate gift, as they will benefit from the mutual respect between you and your spouse now and for years to come.
If you are considering or have recently made the decision to divorce, contact the highly experienced New Jersey divorce attorneys at Townsend, Tomaio & Newmark for a cost- free consultation. Our Morris County offices can be reached anytime at 973-828-0829 and we are happy to answer all of your questions.