Three Steps to Achieving a Better Divorce/M. Marcy Jones, Esq.

Posted on November 21, 2010


You’ve heard it before – change your thinking, change your life. It’s true. Many of us don’t realize how much the way we think about things impacts the way our life goes. Sometimes just small tweaks in our thought processes can make big differences in the choices we make. These experiences are those wonderful “Ah-Ha!” moments, when the light bulb goes on and we realize there just might be another way of doing something.

I am on a mission to bring an “Ah-Ha!” moment to people who are thinking about divorcing or who are already in the divorce process. I’m writing about this because there is a gigantic (yes, huge!) need to get better information to people about the divorce process and options. Sadly, I have found that people in this situation are too often not getting the information they need when they need it. The consequences of this can be devastating for families.

Of course, there are a number of logical reasons for this. The biggest one is simply that the legal system is confusing and scary to people. They don’t know what to expect, who to ask, or even what questions to ask to get good information. And, unfortunately (and sadly), lawyers can be part of the problem. Finding the right lawyer to help you navigate this process can be challenging, but it will make all the difference for you.

As a practicing attorney for 15 years, I am incredibly clear on how necessary change is in our legal system and in the way people divorce. I went to law school after my own divorce and with two young children at home, with the thought that maybe I could help people through their divorce with integrity and dignity, and in a way that protected their relationships and their children as much as possible. What I have come to learn now that I am on the other side of the process, is that helping the individual through the legalities of divorce is just a piece of the puzzle and not the whole enchilada (so to speak!).

There are a number of other pieces of the puzzle that need to be considered in order to reach the best resolution in any particular case. Stay tuned for more discussion on these in future Blog posts. Suffice it to say for the moment that divorce is complex and requires not just legal expertise, but also an emotional and psychological savvy which is too often absent in the conventional divorce process and the usual divorce lawyer. (Sorry to have to say this, but it’s true!) For a thorough discussion of this, be sure to snag a copy of my Special Report called The Four Divorces.

I know you’ve heard horror stories about divorce. Everyone has, and this is part of what contributes to the huge fear factor when people are thinking about divorcing. Where will I live? How will I be able to afford to live? How will I support myself and take care of my children? Where will the children live?

With nearly half of all first marriages ending in divorce, isn’t it time we figured out how to do it without destroying ourselves, our children (especially our children!), our spouses, or our bank accounts?

The answer is a resounding “Yes!” It is time for change. Divorce is a normal life transition. It happens frequently. What I want you to know is that it’s possible to divorce and still have a relationship with your former spouse. It’s possible to divorce and still be good co-parents for your children. It’s possible to divorce and still have well-adjusted and emotionally healthy children. And it’s even possible to divorce and not empty out your bank account, cash in your 401(k), or spend all the equity in your home on lawyers and litigation.

And now you say, “That sounds great, but how do I do it?” Excellent question. And you may not like the answer. “It’s not easy and it takes effort.” It’s as simple as that. Having a good divorce, or at least a better divorce, takes effort. It takes conscious thinking and deliberate actions.

I advocate a three-step process to achieving a better divorce:
Decide what you want your life to look like a year from now and then five years from now. Write it out in detail. I call this the “Big Picture” view.
Become informed about your process choices and how they work, and decide which one is best for your situation and circumstances.
Choose the most skilled professionals who can advise you and support you through the process you choose and help you achieve your overall goals.

This is the formula that will help you to change the way you think about divorce, and, therefore, change the way your divorce goes for the better. You see, this is an emotionally vulnerable time for people. You know this to be true if you are thinking about divorcing, going through a divorce now, or have been divorced. It’s hard to think at all sometimes, right? That’s why I say that in order to divorce better, you need to focus your attention on “conscious thinking and deliberate actions.” And, as I said before, it takes effort to do this. But you can definitely do it!

If you follow the formula set out above, you can do it differently, with integrity, and your recovery after divorce will be a lot less painful. It’s definitely not easy, but you won’t regret the effort. I promise. Think of it like getting yourself in shape before a major surgery, by exercising and maybe losing some weight, so that your recovery from the surgery will be quicker and less painful. It makes just as much sense to prepare for your divorce as it does to prepare for surgery. Neither one is easy and both take effort, and both are well worth it.