For most of us, the definition of “winning” is when you end the game with more points than your opponent. In family law – and especially in divorce – this definition does not apply. If you want to “win” then you must take a different approach and wipe away the points mentality. Read to learn how to actually come out on top during the divorce process.
Remove the “F-Word” from Your Vocabulary
There’s one four-letter “F-Word” that frustrates every attorney: fair. When you start trying to make things “fair,” you’re headed for trouble. Because here’s the truth – nothing about divorce is fair. It’s not fair that you have to dissolve your marriage. It’s not fair that your spouse is controlling or abusive. It’s not fair that you put your career on hold for your spouse to climb the corporate ladder. It’s not fair that your spouse no longer wishes to be married and you have to move on without them.
In divorce and family law, we have to stop thinking about what’s “fair” and start focusing on what is necessary. Don’t approach negotiations from a place of hurt or fixation on the past. Reframe fairness to be about what is best for the entire family moving forward – not getting back at your partner.
Speak Compliments Instead of Criticism
Many couples come to the negotiation table with a “me vs. you” mentality. This may have developed from years of fights and comments that created resentment. If you want to get this under control and have an amicable divorce, be nice when everything in your body wants to not be nice. One way to do this is by complimenting your partner. Try to notice when they are being reasonable, doing a great job with the kids, bringing up good points to consider, or being kind, even if it’s something small. This can completely change the tone of the discussion. Criticism, on the other hand, will only make your spouse want to fight. Not only does this reinforce the wrong perspective, but the more you fight, the more the process costs.
Know When to Hold Your Ground
In most divorce situations, you should try to be flexible. But every divorce is different, and there are exceptions. Sometimes you should refuse to compromise. This applies to situations where the law and the facts are on your side. For example, if you have been the primary, stay-at-home parent, yet the other side does not value that role and “lowballs” the offer, then Court may be justified. In a high net worth divorce, where a percentage point awarded to your spouse is worth thousands of dollars, it can be more important to stand firm. And of course, this also applies any time you are looking out for the best interests of your children. If the other side does not want to pay child support, or if you truly believe that your children are not safe, then you may need to move forward with the Court. The care and safety of your children is far more valuable than anything money can buy.
Remember What You Have to Lose
“Losing” isn’t about money or assets. When you employ the idea of “winning at all costs,” you put yourself at risk of losing things that are much more valuable – your mental health, your character, and your time with your children.
Is it worth it to say hateful words about the other parent in the presence of your children? Is it worth it to post things on social media that put your ex in an unfavorable light? Is it worth it to have lengthy battles over miniscule details, just to feel momentarily victorious? In these situations you may feel like you are “winning,” but you are not. There is a cost that comes with these actions, whether it be money, custody, or time. You may be winning in the short term, but this way of thinking will only hurt you in the end. Plus, this mindset shows your children that they are not the focus of your attention during a very tough time in their lives, and your actions may even backfire on you during negotiations.
Invest in Your Future
To win in divorce is to avoid getting trapped looking into the rearview mirror of life. Bitterness is not productive. If you hold on to your anger, you will wake up one day only to realize that you have wasted 5, 10, or 20 years of your life living in the past.
Looking forward and investing in yourself and your children is the real win. Take care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally. This will help you live a fulfilling life – plus it’s the secret to feeling confident and content when you see your ex-spouse at your child’s baseball game or class play. Breathe positivity into each of these areas in your life and you will realize that ending the divorce with more “points” than the other side means nothing. Divorce is a season of your life, not the definition of your life. Stay focused on your future and it will make all the difference.
If you need legal counsel or representation for divorce, child custody, or other family law issues, contact us to schedule a consultation. Our expert attorneys are ready to help.