Divorce is the legal dissolution of a marriage by a court. It signifies the end of a couple’s intimate relationship but it does not dissolve the family relationship; instead it defines it for good or for ill. All too often, a party’s efforts to “win” at divorce ultimately erode the health of the ongoing family relationship.
On a timeline, divorce, or the process of divorce, only occupies a small amount of ‘real estate’ in comparison to the continuation of the family. Why then does it seem that more energy and resources are spent in achieving the event of the divorce than investing in the foundation of the family that will exist long after the event?
Like any war, in a typical divorce lines are drawn, troops are enlisted and battle ensues. The parties fight for custody of children, possession of property, access to money and ultimately power. In reality, they end up alienating their children’s affections, exhaust their property, spend their money and feel powerless. There must be a way to end a marriage and save a family.
If people truly understood the unintended consequence of an “ugly” divorce on the family, they might make better decisions. If they saw the other party as a person with feelings, rather than an object to crush, perhaps the atmosphere of the “battle” would wither away and true negotiation and family planning would rise to the forefront.
There is a scene in a popular movie with a newlywed couple standing on a mountain of the bodies of their loved ones that died to satisfy their own selfish thirsts. While the image is graphic, the take away is invaluable; what good is winning if it means losing everyone you care about?
Consider this, if Mr. and Mrs. Jones fight to the bitter end to achieve their divorce, how likely is it that they will work together to foster a loving and respectful relationship for their children with the other party?
Family attorneys have the opportunity to counsel with clients, with parties, with people to help them not only achieve dissolution of their marriage but to lay a foundation for family life after the divorce. Understanding this unique approach can avoid generation wounds, save precious resources and allow a family to positively re-invent itself and re-build after the dissolution rather than continue to spiral into oblivion.