The Big Picture in Divorce

No one wants the short end of the stick, especially in a divorce. This goes for both you and your spouse. However, the reality is that no one is going to “win” – this isn’t a wrestling match. The only alternative is arriving at a split of assets, debt, income, and time with children. Whether or not the split will fit your particular situation is largely up to you and your spouse.

Your lawyer can tell you how he/she thinks a judge will rule, but the ruling may or may not fit either of your values or lifestyles. Besides, most cases are settled before they get to the court room. If yours is one of the rare cases that goes to trial, the judge will rule based on what he or she thinks is right based on the law and the judge's own perspective, which may be inconsistent with what you might consider most equitable or appropriate.

Take charge of your divorce. This doesn’t pushing for a bigger settlement. It means taking the time to do a careful review of what you really want out of life, acknowledging that your spouse has his/her own wants, and working towards an agreement that accommodates both of you. If your spouse's wants are not sufficiently addressed, he/she is much less likely to enter into an agreement with you.

Beware the tempest in a teapot that can be divorce. It’s far too easy to swirl around inside the teapot without looking at the big picture. Your life will take on a new form after your divorce. Decisions you make now will shape that form. To try to keep things in perspective, think about what what it might be like in the future when you look back on your divorce with the benefit of hindsight.

Good professional support to help you maintain a "big picture" perspective in your divorce can be very helpful. That help can be from a divorce lawyer, divorce mediator, and/or therapist. Certain dispute resolution processes, such as mediation and collaborative practice, often routinely include an element of keeping the big picture in mind in your divorce.
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The Impact of a Public Record in Divorce

When initial papers for divorce are filed with the court, the divorce becomes a public record. To the surprise of many divorcing couples, that public record can seriously interfere with the ability to get mortgage financing.

How? Any pending divorce will appear in the detailed credit report that is obtained when applying for mortgage. Because a pending divorce means that your future income and assets are uncertain due to the pending divorce process, most mortgage lenders hesitate lending money to divorcing couples. Prior to settlement, a mortgage will likely be unavailable; if one can be found, the interest rate will be much higher once your divorce is filed with the court.

Managing the timing of the filing of the divorce petition can allow you and your spouse to plan to qualify for mortgage financing/re-financing. There are, of course, other considerations in the decision to file for divorce, so consult with a qualified divorce lawyer if you are in doubt.

In the Collaborative Divorce process, it is common to strategically time the filing of the divorce petition with the court. Doing so keeps costs down and enhances the financial and mortgage planning to maximize the post-divorce financial circumstances of both spouses.
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Good Grief

Divorce involves several losses. There is, of course, the loss of the marriage and the couple relationship. There may also be other losses, which might include losses of status, of a projected future, of friends, among others. Whenever there is a loss, there is a natural grieving process. The grieving process is normal in divorce, no matter the divorce process chosen. Psychologist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross identified 5 stages to grieving:

1. Denial
2. Anger
3. Bargaining
4. Depression
5. Acceptance.

You may not go through all of these stages in a divorce – you may go back and forth between stages and you might even go through them several times and through various stages simultaneously.

Each party to a divorce will go through these grief stages on his or her own time schedule. Other emotions are also common, including shame and blame. At times, these very normal emotions can feel like they are intruding on your life, and feel overwhelming. Anxiety about a future that cannot be known for some time can also intrude. Fortunately, for most people these stages of grief are temporary and will eventually lead to acceptance. Recognize that you and your spouse will be going through a grief cycle. Anger, denial, or depression you or your spouse may feel today will likely change into something else.

The normal emotion of anger can be particularly corrosive if not viewed as part of a normal grieving process. Keep in mind that the anger you feel yourself, or the anger that might be coming towards you may well be temporary. When angry or responding to anger, it can be easy to over-react. Keeping that in perspective might allow you to avoid taking action you might later regret.

Choosing a Collaborative Divorce can be particularly helpful. The likelihood of over-reacting to a normal emotion is substantially reduced, because in a Collaborative Divorce both parties have committed to resolve conflict without using the courts, and many Collaborative Divorce professionals have training in helping you keep emotions that might otherwise overwhelm in perspective.
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