Divorce is often the best of times and the worst of times - all at the same time. The decision to move on in life from a worn-out relationship is hard-to-impossible to make, particularly where there are children involved. The “unknowns” and “uncertainty” are what hold many people back. On the other hand, life is short and taking steps to move to a new future when a marriage cannot be repaired is at the same time, liberating to exciting for many litigants. This blog post provides three practical, common-sense tips most litigants never think of in this context, but which can make the divorce process much less stressful and expedient. Think about them.
First, the breakdown of the marriage is often wrought with emotion and finger-pointing of who did what wrong and when. This focus, or the blame game, misdirects what you should be considering instead: What you need and why to move on. Most people focus on the actual or perceived wrongs and justify or rationalize what they want—everyone “wants” everything in the divorce. By instead focusing on what you need, you will leave space for what your spouse needs and provide a clearer path on how to operate two independent lifestyles within each of your means, resources, education, and social desires. So “what do you need to move on?” is the question you should ask yourself, not what do I want? By viewing the divorce in “what I want terms” it is sure to create impossible scenarios that will be decided—eventually—by costly litigation and maybe a trial. The bottom line is to give to the point it “hurts” as you cannot recapture the time or litigation costs on “winning”. Seek what you need, not what you want.
Second, much of what litigants expect and create their expectations on for divorce come from urban myth, a friend-of-a-friend’s bad divorce advice, or a google search. Relying on this to inform what you want or what you need is a recipe for disaster—the divorce that goes on forever and costs a fortune; everyone has heard that story or knows someone who has lived it. Instead, know the law has certain, and these should frame your expectations, and, when considered, help you get to the core of what you need. Centrally, the law presumes the parties divide the marital assets (what you have minus what you owe) equally. The law presumes one parent will have physical custody but the other parent will have very liberal parenting time. While a party might get a slightly different deviation of the marital assets and/or custody/parenting time more near equal, wild deviations from these presumptions rarely occur outside of unique situations. However, they are rare and are usually associated with protracted litigation.
Third, every divorce has a story or a theme or sticking points that led to the erosion of the marriage and divorce filing in the first place. These range from growing apart as the children have aged and each parent lives a different life outside their involvement with the children to an affair to addiction. You name it, and it has probably led to a divorce. However, most litigants never stop to think about this or seriously discuss it with their attorney. Without carefully identifying the dynamics that led to the breakdown in the marriage and the divorce filing, the divorce process itself often becomes the mechanism to punish or try to correct the past. . . . What is lost is at the same time it is punishing the punisher in terms of lost time in moving on in life, the stress of living under litigation, and the money. Identifying the divorce dynamic(s) and navigating around it(them) to the extent possible is the key to a smoother, faster and less costly divorce.
Again, and although obvious, these common-sense matters are often completely overshadowed or downright lost by the divorce process. It is substituted with the mindset of “I want him (or her) to pay”. Make no mistake, this means both litigants pay. Forget or fail to consider these tips at your peril--and pay the price. This blog is written by attorneys at Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. who handle divorce and paternity cases of all types in all Indiana counties. This blog is written for general educational purposes. It is not intended as legal advice or a solicitation for services. It is an advertisement.