Who Is Making the Decisions in Your Divorce?
When you’re going through a divorce, it’s understandable to be concerned, even afraid, about the many unknowns on the road ahead . . . But should you rely on a lawyer, judge or other “expert” to make decisions about your divorce?
What does the law say about divorce? – Well, that depends on the state that you live in. If you believe that the law provides the best outcomes for families in a divorce, then why is one thing best in one state, but a completely different thing is best in another state?
And what if the state statutes don’t say anything about an issue you care about? That happens all the time. For example, the law doesn’t mandate alimony or dictate where your child may go to school. You can hire lawyers to argue these points and see if that resolves the issues, but if it doesn’t, then a judge will decide. Yes, a judge who knows nothing about you or your children, would make the important and personal decisions about how much money you need or where your child will go to school.
Let’s go back to the scary unknowns for a minute. Actually, unknowns in life are pretty familiar territory, right? When you made the big investment in a college education, did you know that you would like your major and have a job when you graduated? When you bought your house, did you know how much the value would appreciate, how much you would spend on utilities and home improvements over the years, and whether your child would thrive in the local school?
Did you ask an expert to tell you what to major in, which house to buy or what to budget? Chances are that you did not. Instead you probably thought about these choices and talked to people who could give you advice. Most likely, you considered the advice but weighed it along with other values that mattered to you. Ultimately, your decisions flowed from your conversations and your own good thinking. So, why would you do anything different in your divorce? Sure, you may consult with an attorney, a financial planner, a friend, but would you let them make the decisions for you?
You and your spouse really are the people who are best able to make decisions about what happens to your family.
“But,” you say, “it seems impossible that my spouse and I could make agreements together when we disagree on everything!”
Believe it or not, it is possible to make decisions together with your spouse by working with a mediator. A skilled mediator can help guide you and your spouse through difficult conversations and show you how, with help, you can make decisions that work for both of you. Most of my mediation clients don’t agree on much of anything when they begin the process. But usually by the end of the process, they have a divorce in which they controlled the outcome, saved a lot of money, and opened the door to having a divorce that works better than their marriage did.
Who can make the best decisions in your divorce? You!
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