Divorce is a dreadful experience. At worst, a divorce war is the most defining and unhappy time of your life. At best, it will disable you with its nastiness, sense of failure and stress you out for anything from six months to a couple of years. Of course, there are degrees of nastiness and degrees of unhappiness. No two relationships, or their break-ups, are quite the same. To simplify matters for the purpose of this discussion however, we’ll pretend that there are just two types of divorce – the ‘Big Battle’ and the ‘Dignified Divorce’.
The first, the BB, is characterised by anger, hatred and viciousness. It is usually driven more by one of the soon-to-be-ex spouses, or the other, via their hired hit-men – their lawyers. And lawyers come in a range of types, too. For simplicity, let’s just imagine that there are two types of lawyer – the nasty, money-grabbing type that cares only for your money; he or she will fan the flames of discontent until you, your spouse, children and others near and dear to you, are enveloped in a forest fire of anger, hatred, back-stabbing misery… and expense. The other type of lawyer is a skilled, caring, helpful person who understands the importance of dealing with a separation in such a way that the damage (both emotional and financial) is minimised and the unpleasant process is facilitated in the shortest possible time with a minimum of financial damage.
Why would anybody choose the Big Battle? It winds up in the hands of somebody who does not know you, or care what you think – he (or she) knows best, he hopes. That somebody, a judge or a magistrate, will decide what will happen at the end of your case – which usually comes along as your health, happiness and your wealth are running out and your children have turned against you. And you will not have achieved success, even if you have ‘won’ the divorce case. Decisions that are imposed by a judge, are rarely successful, comprehensive and sustainable solutions in family cases.
By contrast, those who choose to take the high road to a Dignified Divorce and smother the urge to wield the weapons of vengeance, have the greater chance of a real solution. And there’s more. Those who choose to accept that marriages end and that they should rescue their self-esteem and build a new life, get many other benefits, including the following:
Fairness. Because you get to participate in the decision-making in a Dignified Divorce, you have some control over the outcome.
Flexibility. Together with the person you are leaving (or being left by), you get to choose from a range of options with regard to every aspect of your past – and future – lives. It is a freedom that cannot be ignored, or sufficiently valued.
Less stress. There are bad times in everything, but those that are under your control, are far less stressful. Compare this with the seemingly endless wait for a trial, while you watch your financial and emotional reserves drain away, wondering if you will succeed in persuading a judge that the revenge you seek, is a good idea and an attainable one. Trust me. You’ll never be sure. Nor will you sleep well, for years. And if you do ‘win’ a measure of vengeance, do you know what? It has an empty feeling to it, because you can never recapture the magic you imagine has been taken from you. No, it is far better to have a new plan, one that you can work towards achieving. A dignified divorce.
Less expense. If you and your spouse resist the urge to enter into the adversarial court system of lawyer versus lawyer, you can save a fortune. Those of us who have extensive experience of family law, added to humanity and an understanding of the wide range of challenges that divorce presents, can help you use far less money on your divorce and instead, invest in a range of positive applications – one good lawyer, one superb child psychologist, one good financial planner, an accountant, a positive counsellor. This is the team we use to help you attain a dignified divorce.
Confidentiality. I hear people disclose events and experiences that they will regret having exposed to public opinion. A courtroom is a place of public record. Once said, there is too much that cannot be retracted. Society has access to your deepest, darkest thoughts and experiences and society is a harsh judge. Better by far to have your worries and doubts in the private mediation room, where nobody is recording it for public consumption. Nobody is permitted to discuss it outside that venue.
Speed. Every minute seems like an hour when you are suffering, so it is best to get them over quickly. A negotiated divorce not only empowers you to have a hand on the wheel, it gets things done remarkably quickly, freeing you from the fretting and uncertainty, the nervousness of not knowing. Free to escape the nightmare of marriage breakdown and to build a new life. And freedom too, for your children.
So, it’s up to you. Do you want to fight and maybe knock some teeth out, cause some pain to match your own – or do you want to take the wheel and steer the process towards your new life? If a dignified divorce is what you want, call me.
Roger Knowles – Attorney, Mediator, Divorce Coach
Durban, South Africa
16 January, 2017