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Sound Decision Making and Divorce

by | May 31, 2023 | Divorce, Mediation

I spent my coffee time this morning pondering how some seemingly insignificant decisions I have made over the course of my lifetime have altered my path and left me sitting in a halo of lamplight in this comfy leather chair in a home filled with a sleeping wife, children, cats and dogs.  Wouldn’t it be interesting to have a peek into where we would be today if we had done one thing differently that could have changed the entire course of our lives?   We might not even recognize the person we have become.  There could be an entirely different cast of characters in our lives including spouses, children, friends and so on.  

This blog is not about looking back and questioning any of the decisions that we have made that have delivered us to this place where we stand today.  It is not about regret or resentment or longing or questioning.  It is a simple recognition that all of our yesterdays have delivered us to this very place that we are and the decisions we make today will place us where we stand tomorrow.  This is a simple acknowledgment that each decision we make today is an important one and will shape who we are and what we become tomorrow.  It is easy to get to a place where we feel our lives have a momentum of their own and our decisions don’t have much of an impact on the trajectory of our course through life.  That couldn’t be further from the truth.

So what does all this have to do with divorce and sound decision making?  To answer this I will address two underlying questions.  The first is, “What goes into making good decisions?” and the second is “What process best supports sound decision making?”  When couples decide to divorce, getting to the root of these two questions is essential in helping to choose the best way to tackle the divorce.  The way you choose to divorce will shape the path that will stretch out before you once your divorce is completed.  It will also impact how long it takes you to get there and what shape you will be in as you move onto the next chapter.

What goes into making good decisionsThere are many things to consider when seeking to make good decisions.  The first is getting educated.  For divorce, that means understanding the issues that need to be addressed through the divorce and understanding the applicable law that applies so that you understand your rights and responsibilities.  Another consideration is guidance by someone with experience.  Most people getting divorced are tackling something new.  Bringing in a professional who has experience dealing with the challenges can go a long way in helping with accomplishing thoughtful decisions.  It is nice when we can count on the guidance of others to steer us in the right direction.  Fairness is another consideration for sound decision making.  You should make sure that you treat yourself fairly.  You are also more apt to be treated fairly when you consider treating the other person fairly as well.   Gathering and Exploring options is another valuable part of decision making.  Knowing what options there are and having the ability to think outside the box and develop a variety of options can be invaluable in having the best options to choose from.  Finally, a very important part of decision making is having a mechanism for making timely decisions.  Spending too much time getting to the solutions can create strain and can sometimes even take options off the table.

What Process best supports sound decision makingSo what divorce process works to educate the couple, provides guidance from someone with experience, explores fair resolution, explores creative options and provides a mechanism for timely decision making?  

The Mediation Process Divorce mediation checks all of these boxes.  A big part of mediation involves educating the couple on the law and the issues.  The mediator does not provide legal advice but does take part of the process to provide detailed information about the law to the couple so they are in a well informed place to make decisions when it is time to do so.  Mediation has been around awhile so it should be pretty easy to find an experienced, reputable mediator to assist with your matter.  There are also a number of mediators providing virtual mediation so you can select a mediator outside of your area if there is not a good local option to select from.  In mediation the conversation typically includes a discussion of fairness.  Fairness from the perspective of the law as well as what each spouse might feel is fair given their specific circumstances.  Couples aren’t forced to follow the law if they can agree that something else makes more sense.  In mediation couples can make decisions “by the book” or they can also consider creative options that best meet the needs for the couple.  The mediator can typically help you explore a wide variety of options to fashion the best solution.  Finally, with mediation there is no waiting on the Court’s busy docket to have issues addressed.  Couples can typically sit right down to have issues addressed as they arise.

The Litigation Process  The litigation process will also eventually get you to the finish line, but it takes a different route.  Each spouse hires an attorney and rather than learning everything so they can make their own decisions, they lean on the input and experience of the attorney to advise them on making decisions.  Any contested issue will be decided by the Judge and their decisions will lean heavily on the law and the arguments made by each spouse through their attorneys.  Each spouse has their own attorney with each attorney seeking to accomplish the best outcome for their own client.  While mediation explores the couple working together for a mutually acceptable outcome, litigation pits the good of one against the good of the other.  In the end it is the Judge who decides what the fair outcome should be.  Litigated cases can settle and in doing so can explore creative options to get there somewhat like mediation.  Otherwise the law dictates outcomes that a Judge is required to follow when making decisions.  The Court is pretty limited in their ability to make creative decisions that might make more sense to the family than the outcome dictated by the law.  Finally, litigation does not provide a timely mechanism for decision making.  A couple cannot sit right down with the Judge to have decisions made.  The Court’s availability creates a long delay between issues arising and decisions being made.

Divorce Decisions are Important  Divorcing couples have very important decisions to make.  These decisions impact relationships between children and parents, management of finances, and fair division of assets and obligations.  It is invaluable to find a process to address these issues that assures well educated decisions are made, that the decisions reflect consideration of the best options available, that they treat each spouse fairly and that allow for timely resolution of any conflict.  Your decision today on how you will divorce will impact what tomorrow will look like.  Prepare yourself for making these decisions wisely and choose a guide and process that best serves your needs.