October 22, 2015

Surviving Divorce

76510119-sad-woman-hugging-pillow-gettyimagesI have had the opportunity to witness divorce through the eyes of my clients for more than three decades. This is an incredible experience when I stop to consider what it has entailed. For one thing, I have grown up in the process, which has shaped me in many profound ways.

Just as we come into the world as innocent and naïve children, most of us enter our professional careers in much the same way. There is no way to gain experience except by experiencing it.

Like many of my colleagues, I have experienced divorce both through my clients, and I have experienced divorce personally. Both sets of experience are significant in becoming familiar with the challenges and pitfalls. For example, it is one thing to experience the pain of a client, and quite another to experience those emotions personally. Yes, it is easier to counsel someone else through the process!

Now that I have been writing blog articles on divorce I have seen all manner of articles professing to provide helpful and cogent information for consumption by those going through the process. We make predictable mistakes in trying to do this.

The essence of the article is to condense every situation down to somewhere between five and ten cogent points. What this fails to accomplish is recognizing the diversion of circumstances any particular client may be experiencing, and targeting something instead for general consumption.

Divorce affects people of all ages, incomes, nationalities and health. Every individual divorce may occur as the singular most devastating event in that person’s life. With all of this in mind, here are some thoughts that may or may not be helpful.

  1. There is a reason why divorce is always listed in the top two or three most stressful events in anyone’s lifetime. There are so many things that can go wrong, and so many consequences of having things go wrong. Therefore, the very first piece of advice I have to offer is to find a professional counselor and start talking with them as soon as possible. This is the best qualified person to help you assess the situation, and help point you in the right direction for getting help.
  2. If you have small children you will want to obtain advice of a child specialist to help you assess their needs and develop a plan. A child specialist can talk with you about age specific issues that children often experience.
  3. It is very important to be able to establish a foundation for talking with your spouse. If there has been drug or alcohol abuse, or physical abuse this must be addressed immediately. The sooner you can establish a foundation for knowing things will be handled responsibly the better off you will be.
  4. Once these most pressing concerns are met you can begin looking at options. It is invaluable to have both parties aligned on working together during these difficult times. This is one of the major problems caused by the traditional adversarial approach to divorce. Once attorneys are controlling the agenda you have lost the ability to work together.

For most people going through divorce, things eventually resolve, and you can go on with your life. It is hard to appreciate at a time when your world is collapsing, but there actually are some very beneficial things that can come from going through divorce, even a contentious one. If you are fairly young, you have an excellent possibility of moving beyond a bad experience and finding a better relationship. Obviously, this is no guarantee, but the fact that it is a quite common reality should provide some sense of comfort.

Something I heard at such a time that was quite helpful was a quotation on a brochure for a support group that said: We can never really know who we are until we have faced a genuine crisis. Many of us go through life thinking we are strong, when we have only been safe.

Life is a challenge, and once we have learned what our strengths are we become better able to deal with other adversities. After all, calm seas never made a good sailor.
Talk with any collaborative professional for help in finding your choices.

Bruce Peck

Bruce is one of the founding members of the Collaborative Law Institute.
Back in the Wonder Years, this small group was trying to figure out what a new way of practicing family law might look like. Today the collaborative law concept has exploded, not just throughout the United States, but also internationally. For over thirty years Bruce has continued to hone his skills to provide the highest quality of services to family law clients. He helps good people make tough choices during difficult times.

Bruce is a laid back and easy going person who listens well to others. He is a shameless optimist who can always see possibility and opportunity. Being very curious by nature, he is a voracious reader. His love for words has drawn him into being an avid poet.

Bruce’s skills supports clients interests without alienating their spouse. When the parties reach agreement, it is not under duress. They have the time to discuss all decisions with their attorneys before signing the agreement. Once completed, the stipulated divorce is filed with the court for a default hearing in which neither party, nor their attorneys, ever have to set foot inside a courthouse. Learn more at www.BrucePeckLawOffice.com

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