Is your New Year resolution to get divorced? Lots of people will answer ‘Yes’ to this question if they are honest.
If your answer is ‘Yes’, because you can’t face another year of indecision, and staying in a marriage or relationship you feel is not working, here are some things you need to know.
You won’t make a decision to separate without taking a lot of time and experiencing all sorts of painful emotions about it. You might have sought out personal or couples counselling to save your relationship, but odds are that won’t work, according to the stats.
If you do decide to end your relationship, you know it is likely that your spouse will be at least upset, but may be devastated, as well as angry, blaming, scared and humiliated. ‘Normal’ people don’t want to be responsible for creating that sort of pain for someone they have been living with and with whom they may have children. ‘Normal’ people have real concerns about what divorce means for their children. ‘Normal’ people worry about the conflict that is so renowned as part of the ‘divorce package’. If you are ‘normal’, you will probably also be worried about money, about the legendary fees of divorce lawyers, about the chances of your spouse ‘going quietly’. You are scared too.
And of course, you know separation is not always the right decision. It is scary to think that down the track it will look like a huge mistake. For everyone. It is hard to unsay the decision. Ever. What looks like freedom to you now, can become a life mired in conflict, blame, regret and financial struggle. You know that, because you’ve heard the stories.
But who do you ask about how separation will be for you? It’s really only your spouse who can help you predict how your separation might play out isn’t it? About how angry and vengeful they might feel? And how long those feelings will last.
And then there is the huge tension between the fact that separation can be liberating for you as the decision-maker, but is unlikely to look that way for your spouse (at least in the beginning.)
It’s no wonder research tells us that it has probably taken between two and six years for you to come to the point of decision making. For many people it is years longer, and many people never make the decision, because it is so difficult, and because it is inevitable that people will be hurt.
You might be asking what this has got to do with ‘family law’.
Our family law system is a crazy one. You get into the system by separating. The system is like jail, easy enough to get into, hard to get out of.
The system doesn’t help you to decide what to do, you don’t get to ‘try before you buy’. Once you’re in the system, you’re supposed to settle your case and avoid conflict for the sake of your children. Your lawyer is supposed to know all about that, and tell you about it. And even tell you to try alternative ways of settlement. That is a most unlikely scenario, except when it comes to your kids, when your lawyer has to tell you that information.
But even crazier than all of that, is that one of the scariest things about separation, is the potential for conflict with your ex. And guess what? Neither the family law act nor your average lawyer nails the fact that relational conflict is behind most litigation. You won’t be helped with it. At all. Your lawyer might suggest personal counselling once you are obviously affected by conflict, but nobody is going to tell you how to avoid damaging conflict.
So now what has this got to do with family law?
There is an alternative system for divorce in this country, and not enough people know about it.
You do not need to go anywhere near the traditional family law system. You need never visit a typical family lawyer. Instead, you can opt for a civilised separation.
Civilised separation allows you to get help and advice about your decision to separate. It does not suppose that separation is the inevitable outcome of your enquiry. It respects your marriage or relationship, and it respects a decision to end or change that relationship.
Most importantly, civilised separation has compassion for both spouses, recognises when conflict is healthy and when it’s not, and has answers.
If you want to see everyone in your family survive and thrive, focus on the future not the past, and keep the majority of your wealth instead of paying it out in ‘the system’, look no further.