When I got divorced, my lawyer was a terrible fit, so I consider myself an expert on this subject. Here’s how it’s done:
- Don’t think over what you need in the long term. Let your lawyer work on the assumption that you hate your ex, and they have nothing to offer as a parent. Find yourself nodding as your lawyer explains that your spouse (whom they’ve never met) is a cheating liar, and that it is possible for you to “win” at divorce. Don’t ask your lawyer how it is possible for anyone to “win” in a divorce.
- When you tell your lawyer that your child’s well-being is the most important thing, don’t notice that your lawyer keeps talking about money, and that having time with your child is treated as a competitive sport. Don’t think about how children need to have both parents and need to see their parents modeling good communication and conflict resolution.
- Follow your attorney’s advice to give your spouse as little information as possible about your earnings, how your child is doing, and what you think you will need to build a life post-divorce. When your spouse, following the same advice, shares very little, assume it’s because they are dishonest and greedy. Nothing should surprise you at this point.
And, of course, we find the seeds for how to create a settlement that will work for you in the long term. Many lawyers understand that families and marriages are complex. Creating a divorce settlement is a significant and final project of a marriage. Divorce professionals who assist spouses to look at the divorce as a joint project leave room for each spouse to articulate what they need post-divorce, to share information about what is important to each, and to generate possibilities to efficiently use resources to meet the needs of the family.
It is too common that unfinished business in the divorce is inherited by the children. There are usually tough choices in divorce, and it is possible to make those choices in a way that optimizes the outcome for the family and balances the burdens on the spouses. When parents are confident that they have treated themselves and each other fairly, their children can be similarly confident.