Ideally, you should be able to get what you want in your divorce, right? It’s a common belief, however, that you need a judge to decide how much alimony or child support you will pay or when you will spend time with your children.
What you might not realize is that there are particular things you can do during the divorce process to increase your chances that you will ultimately achieve what matters most to you. Here are 5 ways:
1. Get clear on what matters most.
It sounds simple but it takes some work on your part. Take the time to identify your most important values. These might include integrity, commitment, self-respect and respect for others, connectedness, community, compassion, making a difference, excellence, honesty, or security. The list is unlimited.
2. Set clear and specific goals.
You might start with identifying your most pressing concerns or what keeps you up at night. For instance, if you are worried about the amount of debt you have, you might consider finding a good certified financial planner who will help you define your short-term and long-term financial goals. Do you want financial security or to eliminate your debt? Or, if you value connectedness, a goal might be to become emotionally connected with your children. Some other examples:
- It is important that my spouse and I maintain an amicable relationship after the divorce.
- I want to protect my children from emotional harm associated with protracted and disputed litigation.
- I want our children to have meaningful and regular contact with both parents.
- I want to be able to own my own home after the divorce.
- I want to gain education or training to explore career opportunities.
3. Communication is key.
Using the steps above, tell your lawyer specifically what is most important for you to achieve in the divorce process. You have the right to insist that he or she find creative ways to make that happen. Remember to be flexible.
4. Listen to your spouse.
Ideally, you should continue to communicate with your spouse during the divorce process. In doing so, listen to him or her and really hear what he or she wants while listening for the underlying concerns. It should be easier for you to then get into a problem-solving mode because you have already examined what’s important to you.
Remember that your spouse’s reality is likely to be very different from yours. Reality typically differs from person to person based on filters that are in place. The issues to be resolved should be characterized as specific problems to be solved by both of you, rather than a dispute between two polarized positions.
5. Identify what decisions need to be made for your children.
For example, you might need to decide where your children will attend school, what the best parenting time schedule is, which of you will make decisions regarding doctors, tutors, or other specialists and how such decisions will be made. This list will often change as your children grow older and become more involved in school.
One particularly good tool to take advantage of is the “Our Family Wizard” website (www.ourfamilywizard.com), which includes a calendar to coordinate a shared parenting schedule online.
Please call me at (973) 292-9090 to schedule a consultation where together we can decide on a course of action based on what matters most to you!