I came across a thought-provoking article by Pamela Cytrynbaum on psychologytoday.com, entitled Top 10 Tips for a Great Divorce. It gives her suggestions on how to turn an amicable separation into an amicable divorce. I mostly agree with what she suggests, although I have different thoughts on a few of the issues. I encourage you to check out the article. Here are my thoughts on some of her tips that I took issue with:
Her Tip #2 – Lawyers Prepare for the Worst. Mediators Bring out Your Best.
The author encourages people to not hire lawyers but instead go to a neutral mediator to settle their case. This is an issue that I have been asked about from time to time. The motivation behind this idea is a good one, that is to try and resolve the divorce without ugliness. The problem is that the issues are simply too complicated to address without legal advice. If you are the spouse who has less information about the finances (or simply are missing financial information about accounts and your spouse’s name), then following this advice could lead to a disastrous result for you.
MY ADVICE – Hire a good lawyer with the instruction that they try to resolve the case fairly but in the early stages if at all possible.
Her Tips #5 – Agree on How to Disagree and #6 – Timeouts: Outline Clear and Effective Consequences
On these two tips the author recommends that the agreement be clear on how to handle issues that might arise in the future (she gives as examples if one party relocates or remarries) and what the consequences are for violating the agreement. Again, in principle these are great ideas. However, unless you have the experience of a good family law attorney in your jurisdiction who knows the law on these particular issues and can draft the language so that it is enforceable, it is very unlikely you’re going to be able to effectively deal with these issues.
MY ADVICE – Again, you need a good attorney to assist you with the key issues in the case and to put the agreement in a language that courts will enforce later if necessary.
Most of the rest of Ms.Cytrynbaum’s tips are great and people would do well to follow them. For example, she encourages the parties to occasionally get together with the children and have dinner as a family. I think this is a wonderful idea and when this is possible it would be a very positive thing for your children to experience.
She also discourages people from introducing any new boyfriends or girlfriends to the children until long after the divorce is final. I agree that this can be a damaging and traumatic thing for children if it happens too soon after the divorce.
Overall, it was a very interesting read and I think a lot of people could benefit from following her advice, except for the tips described above that I have issue with. Take a look at the article and let me know your thoughts in the comments section below. I’ll be interested to hear your thoughts.