I received a message from a former client recently that reinforced and clarified for me why I focus my practice on helping people handle their divorce outside of an adversarial model.
She indicated that now a year after their divorce her ex-husband comes to her home and brings dinner and sits down with her and their son to have dinner on a weekly basis. (For context, this was not a couple that was trying to destroy each other, but there was plenty of difficult issues, hard feelings, hurt, and disagreements to make this a difficult case.)
Hearing that struck a very important chord for me. That got me to thinking about why that outcome meant so much to me. I realized that what meant the most to me in these outcomes is that people are not broken as a result of their divorce. It is hard to define what broken is, but we’ve all seen it. Some people are never the same after a divorce, they never get past it, they never find peace or love or satisfaction in life again. They cannot fully commit to their new life or next relationship because their thoughts are dominated by ruminations on their divorce. They cannot relate to their children (including adult children and even grandchildren) without mentioning their divorce. Their divorce becomes the central event in their life and they never get past it. It is that brokenness that I and my brethren work so hard to avoid.
This is not to blame these people. No one can blame someone for being devastated by a difficult event in their life.
But, a difficult life event does not have to be traumatic. Divorce is without question one of life’s most difficult events. But what I seek to do, and what others who are truly committed to collaborative divorce and non-adversarial divorce processes seek to do, is to prevent a difficult divorce from becoming a traumatic divorce.
Anyone who has litigated divorces for any real period of time knows that even the “winners” in court are often traumatized and broken by the experience. “Winning” takes its own toll. So, winning a divorce war is no protection from the trauma of the war. There are plenty of broken winners walking out of family courts.
And, importantly, my client’s son was not broken by his parents’ divorce. His life changed, but it was not broken.
The point is that is that while divorce will always be difficult, the reason that I do what I do, and the reason that you should look into handling your divorce in a non-adversarial process, is that you can be divorced without being broken.