Is there such a thing as a ‘good’ divorce? One that’s conducted amicably with fairness to all parties? Or is a divorce doomed to be a difficult and distressing experience, characterised by anger, anxiety, regret (and great expense), so the only sensible course is to look out for number one?
It’s easy to be get caught up in a battle of wills so that the divorce ends up just another step in the marital dispute. And as a family lawyer, I’d be the first to admit there is unfortunately a legal fraternity and a battery of other advisers, eager to help couples spend their money in pursuit of illusive and unattainable goals and frequently at the expense of their personal happiness and the welfare of their families.
Handling a divorce well is one of life’s great challenges. A recent major survey put divorce/separation as third on the list of life’s most stressful events (after the death of a child or spouse.)
Nevertheless most people do manage it successfully. But bear in the mind the following points.
You are not alone. At least a third of marriages will end in separation and divorce. Usually neither party is really at fault; rather, the relationship has simply run its course. To blame yourself or your partner is unproductive. Better to spend your time and energy on working on a successful resolution, and make an effort to learn from the experience.
Your decisions at this time will have consequences. So choose carefully the people you rely on for support, advice and information and make sure they are on the same wavelength and share the values and intentions you have.
When they look back on their lives, most people realise they learnt and benefitted far more from their failures and personal crises than from their successes. This applies to chronic health problems, loss of employment and other major life crises. In retrospect they realise they achieved independence and learned resilience and in fact, while one set of doors closed, new doors opened for them.
Of course at the time this may not be obvious. Separation and divorce does give rise to major challenges which are painful to confront. Sometimes it is necessary to stand up for the safety, rights and entitlements of yourself and your children, which can take courage and resolve.
Divorce and separation is not about winners and losers. It’s about preserving relationships and ensuring that all the parties come through the experience feeling positive about the future.
Enlisting the help of a sympathetic and experienced family lawyer to help with finances, property and parenting arrangements can help you to get on with your life in a positive and practical way and this can help you re-establish your sense of pride and achievement.
You may even emerge from the experience as a wiser, kinder and more effective person than you were before.