A good divorce?

25th February 2015

By Lisa Wagner

A good divorce, is there such a thing?

If you are thinking about separating or have recently separated you are probably trying to work out what to do next so that you don’t make your situation any worse than you feel it already is.

We often hear about the guy who “got taken to the cleaners by his ex-wife” or the former husband who declared himself bankrupt so that he wouldn’t have to pay half his salary in child support. However, for every bad story there are countless other stories of parties separating amicably and remaining civil to one another throughout the process. Occasionally we see separating couples ending up as friends after it is all done and dusted.

If you are wanting your separation to go as smoothly as possible and come out the other side financially and emotionally strong there are sensible guidelines you can follow to protect your financial security and your children’s wellbeing.

There are many lessons that can be learned from those couples who manage to separate well.

Four of the best lessons to survive your separation and have a good divorce are:

Lesson 1 – Compromise

… and then think about compromising some more! This may be a really hard lesson for many of you reading this to believe but, trust me, if you cannot get the hang of compromising, at least a bit, then you are probably going to have a very long and drawn out family law matter. Put simply no one is a true “winner” in family law matters. There is only one pool of matrimonial assets to divide and so each of you are going to end up with less of it than you had before. If children are involved it is unlikely that they are going to be with you every minute of every day. However before compromising you must get specialist advice. Don’t compromise on anything that is a must to stay strong about, understand what you are giving away and “trading off” before any negotiations begin. Adjusting to a new reality can be extremely painful and feel really unfair but it is critical to do your best with the situation you are now facing so that you don’t end up losing even more money to the lawyer and more time (your life!) to the process.

Lesson 2 – Reflect

All significant life changes provide us with an opportunity to rethink our priorities, and if we are brave enough, reinvent ourselves. Separation can be the start of a better life. We often see people steering in a completely different direction as a result of their separation. Stay at home mums sometimes undertake study, return to the work force and truly enjoy the new sense of freedom and independence that it brings. Fathers that have been working tirelessly in the office can now “lean out” a bit and enjoy collecting their children from school one or two afternoons each week. Being able to have some insight into your current circumstances can help you work out where you want to go from here. However this transition, like any other, takes a lot of time and a great deal of support and guidance. Don’t make any decisions on the hop. Undertake a thorough analysis and stay strong to what you truly want to achieve. It is understandable that many people talk about “broken promises” and “failed dreams” however separation can also be the start of creating new dreams for both you and your family.

Lesson 3 – Ask Questions

We live in an age of information – it is everywhere… you can Google anything… at anytime however it is important not to mistake all of this information for knowledge, experience and expertise.

How many DIY jobs do you hear of going wrong? Ask any hospital registrar what fills up the emergency department of their hospital on the weekend and the resounding answer is “failed DIY jobs” … people falling off unsecured ladders, slicing through their fingers and suffering injury at the hands of an out of control nail gun are regularly seen. It is one thing to make a mistake with a home paint job or back step renovation but a very different story with your own children or your financial security. With issues as important as your children and your financial future you should leave it to the experts or at least heavily lean on them along the way.

Lesson 4 – Brainstorm

We are all taught to do it at school and some of us continue to be good at it in our adult lives, even finessing the art. Many of you might write copious “pros and cons” lists or Venn diagrams or mind maps. Whatever strategy you use just make sure it works for you and by this I mean make sure it helps you identify what you want to achieve. You need to have goals in your separation so that you can have a good divorce. You may decide that keeping the house is essential to your stability and wellbeing. If that is the case insist that your legal team devise their strategy around your goals. Think about your goals like a lighthouse on the coastline that steers the ships away from the treacherous shore and navigates the safest path.

These 4 lessons to a good divorce are by no means an exhaustive list. Many other lessons spring to mind. I have written elsewhere about flexible thinking in family law matters for example and also about the importance of being realistic.

Don’t think for a moment that your separation will be easy or pain-free or even quick. It is likely to be tough, confusing and at times you will feel downright wretched. However it will get better and you will secure an outcome and eventually it will become part of your story. Believe it or not many of you will go on to re-partner and a number of you will remarry – don’t scoff at this suggestion. This is what the statistics show and statistics (I am told) don’t lie!

If you would like to talk more about your separation and ensure that you have a good divorce we are only a phone call away. Call me, Lisa Wagner, on 9437 0010 to discuss your family law matter, or email me on enquiries@familylawyersdw.com.au. Doolan Wagner Family Lawyers offer Accredited Family Law Specialists and registered Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners who can help you achieve a good divorce.

These posts are only intended as an overview or comment on current issues that may interest you and are not legal advice. If there are any matters that you would like us to advise you on, then please contact us.

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