There is a common misconception that the only people who can have mediated divorces are people with a “clean record.” Meaning, no fighting, no substance abuse, no cheating, and more. If you think about it, this doesn’t really make any sense. If the only people who chose amicable divorces were people with spotless relationships, then why would they be getting a divorce in the first place?
Every state in America has a version of the no-fault divorce. This means simply that the reasons for your marriage ending are no one’s business but your own. What the state cares about is that the children be treated fairly, that assets and debts be handled responsibly, and that everyone is able to pay their bills in a reasonable manner.
Many judges have gone so far as to describe infidelity in a marriage as a symptom, not a cause, of the breakdown of the marriage. This allows the parties to step back from blame and focus instead on the aspects of their lives that they wish to preserve.
Engaging in a legal battle focuses a lot of resources – money, time, energy, emotion – down an irreparable hole. Resources that might be better spent on healing the parties most severely impacted by the breakdown of the relationship.
Money is one thing that genuinely helps people start to feel better after a dramatic loss. It may sound counter-intuitive, but it is true. Think of some other areas of legal practice: personal injury, products liability, breach of contract, fraud, etc. These are typically people who cannot be brought back to before the injury occurred but find an amount of comfort and healing in the financial settlement they receive.
The same is true in family law. Knowing that you are walking away with the ability to take care of yourself and your children goes a long way in the healing process. The more money a divorcing couple spends on a legal battle, the less they have available for what matters to them: housing, college, recreation, and all of the other components which make for a happier life.
Refocusing away from the fight and the pain that caused a divorce and spending that time and emotional energy on physical and emotional regrowth also goes a long way towards resolving the damage caused by a bad break-up.
Infidelity may be the signal that it is time for a couple to dissolve their marriage, but it does not necessarily mean they have to dissolve everything else they have created together. Bank accounts can be split, not drained. Relationships with children, in-laws, friends and neighbors can be preserved by setting a unified example.
And, primarily, each party’s own respect for his or herself and for the other party does not have to be dragged through a series of depositions, hearings, and trials in order for the couple to shake hands and move forward.
WHAT WE LOVE: Infidelity in a marriage may cause damage. But you can control how much damage it does.