How Cooperation Can Lead to Champagne..


If you had to have a champagne toast with just one person at the end of your divorce, who would it be?

My opinion is that if you have done it right, that person would be your ex-spouse.  Picture two glass flutes, filled 2/3s of the way up with golden hued liquid, bubbles rising to the surface bringing effervescence and sweetness, clinking gently together as two people smile above the rims.  “Congratulations, team mate,” they say to each other – “it has been a tough game, but we won!”

What game, exactly, did they win?  Isn’t one of them the loser, and therefore the other the winner?  Or aren’t they both losers, since they apparently “failed” at their marriage?

I guess that depends on what game they were playing.  In my opinion, the rules of the game go something like this:

1. You must become legally divorced from your spouse, but neither one of you know the marriage and family laws and procedures in your state.

2.  You have a limited amount of finances available to you both, the remainder of which must be divided between you when the game ends.

3. You have accumulated certain amount of children, friends, belongings, and debts; all of which must somehow be divided between you.

4.  The qualified experts in you state pay their bills – put food on their tables – by getting paid an hourly rate to advise you in your divorce.

Ready? Set. Go!!

If the parties work against each other they will end up with the bulk of their assets in the hands of the lawyers.  If they work together a little bit they may be able to salvage most of their assets without increasing their debts. 

The more they work together, the more they will be able to keep solid relationships with their children and friends. 

There is also an aspect of the old puzzle “The Prisoners’ Dilemma:”

“Two members of a criminal gang are arrested and imprisoned. Each prisoner is in solitary confinement with no means of speaking to or exchanging messages with the other. The police admit they don’t have enough evidence to convict the pair on the principal charge. They plan to sentence both to a year in prison on a lesser charge. Simultaneously, the police offer each prisoner a deal. If he testifies against his partner, he will go free while the partner will get three years in prison on the main charge. Oh, yes, there is a catch … If both prisoners testify against each other both will be sentenced to two years in jail.” (Quoted from Wikipedia)

Not mentioned here but implied, if neither prisoner testifies against the other, then both go free.

The parties benefit by cooperating, and play a risky game between having it all or losing it all by working against each other. Just like in a divorce proceeding.  As long as the parties refuse to work against each other; they keep control of most of their assets.  But, if one spouse intends to proceed amicably while the other is ruthless, there may be a clear winner and a clear loser.

What is the most major advantage that the divorcing spouses have over the gang members described above? The divorcing spouses have the right to communicate with each other if they so choose.  And, if they are able to maintain a few open and honest lines of communication just for long enough to get through the divorce—they win!

And the champagne flows.

What We Love:  The person who got you into this siutation os the one who can get you out – so long as you are willing to work together.


Published by Sharon Oberst DeFala

Sharon Oberst DeFala has practiced low-impact safe divorce since 1992.

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