If you’ve ever considered separation or divorce, you’ve probably heard a lot of opinions about it and perhaps some negative experiences. The process of litigation certainly has a stigma and stereotype surrounding it; however, there are plenty of misunderstandings about divorce as well. I’m a divorce mediation and collaborative family law attorney who is passionate about helping spouses divorce in a non-adversarial manner.
I’d like to clear up some of the most common myths and misconceptions about divorce in a true and false format:
Divorce is a selfish decision: FALSE
This is absolutely false. When couples choose to divorce, they often choose it because it’s the least selfish option. When my ex-husband and I divorced over a decade ago, we made the decision because we felt that being in an unhappy marriage was not fair to either one of us or our children. Choosing divorce isn’t selfish when you and your spouse know that you’ll be better people if you end your marriage. Oftentimes, spouses who are in an unhappy marriage are stressed, hopeless, sad, and frustrated. These feelings can have a big impact on conflict resolution. Frustrations may, unfortunately, be taken out on innocent bystanders like children, family members, friends, and co-workers.
Divorce is always contentious: FALSE
While some divorce processes are contentious, there are many healthier ways to divorce. When couples choose alternative dispute resolution proceedings, which keep them and their families out of the courtroom, divorce is far less combative. These alternative dispute resolution out-of-court methods include mediation and collaborative family law.
Divorce often means long battles in court: FALSE
False, again! While some traditional divorces handled in a litigious court setting can be long and drawn out, it’s not the case for all divorce proceedings. When divorcing couples choose an out-of-court settlement process like collaborative law and mediation, they save time, money, and unnecessary emotional turmoil. Oftentimes, divorces that are in litigation take many years to finalize because you are beholden to the court system and court calendar, and this is without considering the impact of COVID on the court. When spouses choose an alternative dispute resolution process, they are choosing to save time by agreeing to stay out of court. For collaborative divorces, prior to starting the process, each spouse and each of their attorneys sign a Participation Agreement. This contract shows that the couple and attorneys are committed to using the collaborative process and cooperation strategies during their divorce process. If agreement cannot be reached, the collaborative attorneys will be disqualified from representing the parties and the parties will then continue with family law court proceedings, using traditional divorce attorneys.
Divorce can be emotional: TRUE
For this one, I’m going to have to go with true. I agree that divorce absolutely can be emotional. For any couple that was once in love and built a life together, it’s often a difficult decision to call it quits. While the spouses may know it’s the best decision, it can be an emotional journey to get there. When it comes to the divorce process and dividing assets, this can also be an emotional experience. In collaborative family law, attorneys are able to utilize outside professionals who can help facilitate guidance. For my law firm, ROAD to RESOLUTION, this includes mental health experts and wellness coaches for those involved. It’s important for me as an attorney to make sure my clients are in a good place emotionally and mentally. If they need a break from our roundtable collaborative discussion or our mediation talks, then we stop and give everyone the space they need. While the process can be emotional, the team at ROAD to RESOLUTION treats all clients and situations with compassion and works hard to ensure our clients avoid any unnecessary emotional turmoil.
Divorce should be avoided when children are involved: FALSE
I’ve helped hundreds of families through divorce mediation and collaborative family law. Nearly all of the children I’ve met through this process agree that they’d rather have parents who are divorced and happy rather than parents who are married and unhappy. Choosing to divorce when you have children shouldn’t be met with guilt. I am an advocate for co-parenting where both parents have equal custodial rights. As a mother and stepmother, I know how well co-parenting can work if done properly and with respect for the other parenting partners. My husband and I have five children under two separate parenting agreements. You can read more about our experience with shared parenting by clicking here. Our children are healthy and happy because of our positive co-parenting relationships. This is often the case for many children, especially when their parents choose an out-of-court divorce process like mediation or collaborative law.
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Note: This blog is intended to be informational only and shall not be construed as legal advice.