It may seem like an oxymoron to use adjectives like “best” in association with divorce. Most people don’t factor in the possibility of divorce in life planning. They certainly don’t think about how to have their “best” divorce. Divorce is often an unexpected turn in the road, an unwelcome visitor at the door. A critical event.
You might ask, what is the point in thinking about a “best” divorce?
Like so many of life’s critical events, divorce has the potential to transform. Its effects are complete, no stone left unturned. Divorce touches lives socially, financially, legally, emotionally, and arguably, spiritually. Anyone who minimizes the potential impact of divorce is being less than honest.
Acknowledging that divorce is life changing, a human response must be considered in the quality of the experience – and its outcome. Using a cognitive behavioral model as a frame of reference, the event (divorce) equals A, a human response to it (you) equals B, and the outcome (future life) equals C.
Simply put, A+B=C. The human response to a critical event, like divorce, plays a significant part in the person’s experience of the event, and the outcome or result of that event.
This is good news! You may not have any control over the fact that you are going to get divorced (A). Even if you do not want a divorce, you do have control over your response to it (B). Your response shapes your experience of the divorce, and ultimately the outcome, or your future life after divorce (C).
Thinking about the various changes that accompany divorce, how can you respond in a way that elicits the BEST future life for you and your loved ones? This question might be your beacon during and after your divorce, to guide you along the way.
How can you respond to the social changes that happen? The posts on social media, the neighbors, the extended families? The financial uncertainties, and questions that arise, that affect your mood, your optimism about the future? Suddenly you feel doubtful where you once were confident.
You begin to question decisions about your parenting, spending, career choice, social activities, and communications with your spouse. You may feel exposed and vulnerable, legally, financially, as well as emotionally.
Research indicates the most significant adjustment to divorce happens within the first two years. This is a critical time for you, and your loved ones. Stress affects memory, focus, and mood. Children adjust to divorce optimally under certain conditions; most notably, when parental conflict is managed well, and kept to a minimum. When parents can be present.
Unfortunately, when parents are stressed and preoccupied, the capacity to manage conflict and focus on the children is diminished.
You might wonder, where to begin? The first step in responding well is choosing a divorce process which respects both you and your spouse and supports you in protecting your children.
Collaborative Divorce can be a highly effective process for divorce. It starts with the formation of an interdisciplinary team. Every team consists of attorneys for each of you. It is important to select an attorney who inspires confidence in you.
Depending on your needs, the team can also include communications coaches for each of you, a certified divorce financial specialist, and a child specialist. The professional team forms a safe container for divorcing couples to express their needs and interests, and often helps people learn new ways of communicating.
Costs are streamlined, as each professional is available to provide information and support specific to their training and experience. Each team member has training in mediation and collaborative divorce, and often years of experience helping couples successfully uncouple and move into their best future lives.
If you are considering a Collaborative Divorce, or have further questions, reach out to any of the members on this website for more information. You may also consider attending Divorce Options, a public service webinar offered by Collaborative Divorce California. Professionals from Collaborative Practice North Bay offer this live educational event the second Saturday of each month. Registration is necessary and can be accessed via this website’s landing page.
Ann Cerney is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor in Marin and Sonoma Counties. More information in her bio on the “Find A Professional” page.