Shefali O'Hara below makes a good case for the best way through a divorce. She points to the undeirability of involving lawyers in the process. I agree with her. I have had 4 marriages and 4 divorces and none of the divorces involved lawyers.
So what is the secret of that? How can one avoid lawyering up? I think the key is not to be angry. I am almost incapable of anger so I found that easy -- but others may not. In my case I had an understanding of the woman's motivations and did not attack or abuse her over them. And because of that anger absence I was able to have civil discussions with the lady concerned and was ready to be geneous with her. And that was reciprocated. Because I was prepared to be generous and accepting the lady was too. There were no unresolved issues between us.
But being angry would be very destructive to acceptance and generosity. Being able to bypass anger is the key to a good divorce
We can read plenty of stories about messy celebrity divorces, such as that between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard. While their divorce was finalized back in 2017, the drama between them still makes headlines.
Celebrity divorces aren't the only ones that can destroy lives.
I have heard some horror stories from friends about divorce. Either their own, or that of one of their children.
An expensive mess of a divorce
One friend of mine told me about her daughter's experience. The daughter's husband repeatedly cheated on her. She tried counseling with him to try to salvage the marriage, but after several years of him continuing to cheat, she finally filed for divorce.
He became vindictive and vengeful.
The couple had two children. Instead of considering what impact the divorce was having on them, he hired an expensive lawyer and quit his job to avoid paying child support. She hired an expensive lawyer to counteract his tactics.
Between the two of them, they spent so much on the divorce that they both walked away deeply in debt. They spent over $60,000 apiece. That ate up all the equity they'd had in their house and then some.
My friend helped her daughter out so at least she is not in debt, but she and her children were left with nothing. The former son-in-law works jobs on the side for cash to avoid paying child support.
Yet divorces don't have to be so messy.
Another friend tried mediation
A friend of mine who was an Air Force pilot is an example.
He and his wife had three children. When the wife filed for divorce, at first he was very angry and was thinking of going down the toxic route. But his mother talked him out of it.
"Think of your children," she said.
The wife had already lawyered up, so he needed to get a lawyer as well, but he asked if they could first try mediation. They ended up using their lawyers to hammer out the final deal, but because most of their issues were resolved during mediation, the total cost of the divorce was only about $10,000.
My friend told me that he'd had to give up on a few things. He felt that overall, the settlement favored his wife, butâ€¦ it also allowed him regular access to his children and ensured a good working relationship with his ex.
"I gave up part of my retirement account, which was fair, since we both agreed she would stay home with the kids. However, she also got to keep the house, which meant she ended up with about 60% of our assets, and she also gets a good amount of child support due to my salary," he groused.
Yet he also admits that she bends over backwards to make sure his children are available to him, and he gets to spend a lot of time with them because of that. She also does not criticize him in front of their children. By showing generosity towards her, he's received it in return.
Of course, this only worked out because she is not a vindictive person. Aside from trying to assure a secure environment for herself and her children, she has tried to make sure he gets what is important to him.
The two don't fight and the children spend time with both parents. My friend has traveled with his children, had them for birthday parties and at least half the holidays and in general has maintained close bonds with his kids.
My own divorce
With my own divorce, we were lucky that neither of us prioritized revenge. We both tried to treat each other fairly.
We ended up not even hiring any lawyers. We wrote up our own divorce decree, had a lawyer friend look it over, and then filed it in court.
Total cost? Less than $200.
My lawyer friend told me that if we'd gone to court, I might have gotten a larger settlement. But the cost of paying a lawyer would have eaten up any money I might have gained and then some.
By negotiating in an amicable fashion, we both came out ahead.
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