Submitted by Divorce Mediator David D. Stein
Nowhere is that more true than in the area of divorce advice.
Yogi also said, “90% of this game is half mental.” Also true if you are contemplating, or involved in, a divorce.
Almost always, the mindset of the people involved in the divorce is what will eventually dictate the length, complexity and difficulty of the action.
If you want to end your marriage as cheaply and as painlessly as possible, do yourself a favor and heed well this advice.
1. DO NOT THINK OF DIVORCE AS A WAR!
You are not involved in combat, you are engaged in negotiation. In negotiation you gain more by being reasonable and thoughtful. If you consider the other side’s positions carefully and respond in a measured manner you will find that you achieve much more than by being contentious.
2. DO NOT DEMONIZE YOUR SPOUSE!
True you are no longer getting along as you once did, but that does not mean that your wife or husband of all these years is now “that bitch” or “that bastard”. Such a mindset does nothing to advance your goal of ending your marriage with the least heartache or expense possible. Really, try not to think that way.
3. DO NOT FAIL TO MAKE CONCESSIONS!
Some people think they are going to get everything they want and that they are not going to give an inch on any issue, or concede any property. Life doesn’t work that way, nor should it. You are involved in a negotiation. You must be mentally prepared to give some to get some. In negotiation a party who gives easily will often find that they get more in return. We see it happen all the time.
4. DO NOT THINK YOU ARE ABOVE THE GUIDELINES!
The State of California has guidelines concerning the amount of support an earner will have to pay for the support of children. The Family Code also sets forth all the elements a judge must consider before ordering spousal support. The child support is a function of income. Spousal support requires the careful weighing of 14 various elements. You will be well served to get it in your head that these considerations are there for good reason and they apply to you. I get this all the time in mediation. The chief earner is somehow under the impression that there is some sort of giant “loophole” through which they can avoid paying any support to their former spouse. There is room to negotiate, but do not imagine that somehow these guidelines are for everybody else and not for you.
5. DO NOT THINK THAT “WORDS DON’T COUNT”!
It is amazing how people can say truly hurtful things to each other and not consider the consequences. Bad words delivered in a way calculated to cause pain are a form of abuse. You may think that you can say anything you want to each other with impunity, but the fact is that you will always pay for inflicting pain. What is more, the person delivering such abuse does damage to themselves
and diminishes their own humanity. But that is the subject of another article. Trust me; hold your tongue lashing and you will get through the process with a lot less pain.
6. DO NOT FAIL TO GET THE HELP YOU NEED!
With the possible exceptions of death or serious illness, there is no more stressful time in life than going through a divorce. People tend to do all the wrong things at this time. Internalize their feelings. Self-medicate. Withdraw from life in general. Alienate their friends. It all happens during a divorce. We at Liaise do not practice therapy, but we are great believers in the benefits of therapy. Most health insurance policies provide for some mental health counseling. Get some. It is usually pretty calming to sit with a professional who has been there before and get some sound advice on how to handle the feelings and sorrows you may be facing.
7. DO NOT THINK YOU WILL GET A “FREE RIDE”!
It is distressing the number of times I have assisted couples in a dissolution where the hardest part was shaking one side from the misconception that because they had been married for over 10 years their former spouse was some kind of indentured
servant who had to take care of them until death! That is not the case.
A Judgment of Dissolution in California has the following words printed right on it:
NOTICE: It is the goal of this state that each party will make reasonable good faith efforts to become self supporting as provided for in Family Code section 4320. The failure to make reasonable good faith efforts may be one of the factors considered by the court as a basis for modifying or terminating spousal or partner support.
This is an EXPRESS public policy and it means just what it says. California wants everyone to stand on their own two feet. This means that if you need training to re-enter the work force, have some support earmarked to get training and start doing what you can to get employed. It is good for you and it is your duty under the law. Of course there are sad situations where one party cannot reasonably become employed, but that is a rare situation. The fact is that happiness and self-satisfaction are often the by-products of good work and one way to be fully engaged in life is to be purposely striving towards a worthy goal.
8. DO NOT LET YOURSELF THINK THAT THINGS WONT GET BETTER!
Absolutely this is one of the worst periods of your life. Without a doubt things look as gloomy and foreboding as you could imagine. As bad as things may be, you have to believe that your life is going to get better! Just as in any disaster, a common trait amongst those that survive divorce well is a Positive Mental Attitude. You need to adopt such an attitude and there is good reason to do so. We at Liaise see it time after time. A spouse going through the divorce process is initially, and understandably, miserable. Those who strive to keep a PMA soon realize that previously they had been living in a toxic environment and they are now taking purposeful steps to move forward in their lives. Upward advancement is enlightening and it seeps into your psyche, improving your outlook and brightening your future. Keep your head up and your feet moving forward. Things do get better.
9. DO NOT LITIGATE! BE SMART, CHOOSE MEDIATION.
Lastly, and most importantly, don’t make the mistake of suing your spouse to end your marriage! If you think about it, the very concept is absurd. If you were
ending, for example, a 12 year business partnership, 99 times out of 100, all you would have to do is sit down with your partner – divide up the assets – divide up the liabilities – shake hands and part ways. Ending a marriage can be done the same way. It is a bit more complicated because there can be issues of child and spousal support, but the important point is that it doesn’t have to be a battle! The expert mediators at Liaise can help you and your spouse navigate through the complexities and arrive at an agreement that is the negotiated blueprint for ending your marriage. That agreement is presented to the Court and becomes the Judgment ending your marriage. You never have to appear in Court. You save 10s of thousands of dollars. You don’t ruin your family by engaging in a huge fight and you are better able to get on with your life.
So like Yogi Berra says, don’t make the wrong mistake and don’t forget that the mental part is half the battle.
Do yourself, your family, and your financial well being a favor and choose Liaise Mediated Solutions, LLC to help you navigate the treacherous waters of managing the expensive and painful situations of dissolution.
David D. Stein has been an attorney for over 20 years and is the founder of Liaise® Mediated Solutions. He is a trained mediator, dispute resolution specialist and lecturer on non-violent conflict management techniques and tools.