Divorce involves loss. That is an inescapable reality of the changes that come with the end of a marriage.
Human nature is to weigh losses heavier than gains. We have a natural psychological tendency to focus on what we may lose, as opposed to what we stand to gain.
But, when assessing your divorce options, it makes sense to not just think about losses that may be realized, but also think about losses that may be avoided.
When weighing and considering the outcome of your divorce, in addition to whatever you feel you may have gained or lost, the losses avoided must be given significant weight as well. The amount of loss in your divorce is largely up to you and your spouse. Some loss is unavoidable: the cost of two homes is higher than for one, future plans may change, a parent may have less overall time to spend with children when parents live in two homes. But, there are many losses that can be avoided if a divorce is handled well. Legal fees can be held in check, the familial relationships can be salvaged, disruptions to children’s lives can be minimized, time lost at work and the impact on careers can be minimized, church and community families can be maintained, homes can be saved, traditions maintained; the list goes on.
Another way of saying this is that whatever may be lost in a divorce, things are also saved. The question for anyone facing a divorce is what do you want to save and how can you save it? How can you save as many of the good things as possible?
If you find yourself facing the prospect of a separation and divorce, you will automatically think of the losses that you fear coming. But it is also wise to think of the losses that can be avoided, and how you can best avoid them. In my experience, perhaps the biggest difference between a “good” divorce and a “bad” divorce is that the good divorces avoid far more losses, and save more of the good things than the bad ones.
The best way that I know to avoid unnecessary losses in divorce is to manage conflict instead of fueling it, to refrain from emotional behaviors instead of giving in to the urge, to jointly problem solve instead of blaming, threatening and manipulating, to retain your decision making authority instead of handing it over to the government, and to jointly work to insulate and nurture your children instead of fighting over them like property.
That is not easy, and it may not be for every client and family. But it is possible, and in my practice, it is the rule instead of the exception. All it takes are two clients who are committed to avoiding unnecessary losses, attorneys who know how to help them, and a well-designed process.