Divorce: “The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.” ― Leo Tolstoy
What relevance do these words have in the world of divorce?
Rightly or wrongly many people going through a divorce or separation tend to blame their ex for all that’s gone wrong. However, the most damaging thing that can happen to us post-divorce has nothing to do with the ex. We do it to ourselves.
I am a divorce solicitor with 20 years’ experience; and whilst I am not a psychologist or therapist, I can see that marriages are difficult to end and everyone goes through a period of emotional change.
When court proceedings start the other party is often blamed for the past, present and future problems of their life. People can be hurt easily, become angry, depressed and often have low energy levels. Friends and relatives will often describe the individual as “very upset”. There can be other emotions such as guilt and fear. It is normal to experience big emotions at a time like this, and that is all the more reason to have competent help on your side.
Parties in a divorce will often draw up battle lines and use lawyers for this end. A lot of people often want “revenge” and a divorce lawyer can lack the emotional intelligence to step back from the situation to see what is actually in the client’s best interests; and perhaps knowing that from a business perspective it is all good for fees. This is wrong.
I rely very much on recommendations and word of mouth referrals. Sometimes the advice is unpalatable to give but for a person going through a divorce the basic and initial legal and non-legal options can be straightforward:
- To create a sense of self control
- Defuse the fear of the separation/divorce process
- Add structure in terms of obtaining information and a timetable
- To look at living expenses and how everyone is to keep their head above water until there is an agreement
- Working at parenting skills
No-one has a magic wand and all of this can take time. There are other professionals such as family therapists who can help and coping with the loss of a relationship and how this affects any children.
The reality is that there may well be a divorce and it is coping with that reality which can be very difficult; and this often needs a re-focus on the “poor me” attitude which is often prevalent on both sides.
For me communication is the key: for all my most difficult cases year on year it is the absence of communication between the parties which fuels the litigation and often results in an expensive final hearing.
Yes, there will be anger and it can be helpful to direct that energy into specific tasks instead and to focus on the long term goals.
Mediation can be used at any time during a divorce; and for some, collaborative law, is an alternative option (which is seen as a more conciliatory approach).
But in whichever way people wish to proceed, it is important to realise that this is a process; whatever type of lawyer is used it is important to help provide a framework for discussion and information gathering that respects the client and one that will help create a fair agreement.
Without a doubt for most people this is the most difficult experience of their lives. The emotions that are only natural can, if left unattended, derail the whole process and also serve to increase the stress and anxiety which can only flow from this; and not to mention the legal costs which can seriously impact on someone’s ability to rehouse themselves and any children.
There are tactics but ones driven by emotion are often short term ones and self-defeating.
More relevant are the words of Leo Tolstoy: “The two most powerful warriors are patience and time” I don’t think I need to say any more.