Marriage affords people certain benefits. There are compromises and pay-offs that married people balance and weigh all of the time. It might actually be impossible to spend decades living with another fully-functioning adult and never get on each others nerves. We are talking about marriage between human beings, after all.
Divorce happens when those compromises no longer make sense. When the cost/benefit analysis suddenly looks like all costs and no benefits to one or both of the parties. If it is both parties, the divorce can go pretty smoothly. If only one partner’s scale has tipped to one side, it can be a much more difficult time.
When one spouse has spent years feeling over-used and under-appreciated, the other partner probably has no idea – whether or not they have been told. It is a very rare person who would intentionally take his or her spouse for granted with no thought of repercussion. So, we frequently see one partner who is anxious to get out, and one who is completely blind-sided and dumb-founded. Let’s call them “Ready,” and “Hesitant.”
Ready will frequently try to make any compromise imaginable, just to make the divorce happen sooner. Whereas Hesitant might feel self-deluded into thinking that with enough time and effort Ready’s mind will change and things can go back to “normal.” Hesitant might ask to try couple’s counseling, vacations together, or a temporary separation. And, while any of these suggestions just feel like a waste of time to Ready, Ready might agree in the hopes that it will lead to an eventual divorce.
An angry Hesitant might use the opposite approach. In an effort to stay locked into each others lives, Hesitant might want to find every reason in the world to fight. People can fight over kids, custody, money, pets, assets, debts, and even whose fault it is that we are getting a divorce in the first place.
Hesitant tends to rack-up attorneys’ fees in an effort to prolong the process. Ready tends to give away his or her rights in the hopes of getting it over and done quickly. Neither approach results in the best possible outcome, because they are both making decisions with their emotions when logic would be a better guide.
So, how can Hesitant and Ready put their feelings aside and make the best decisions for themselves and their families? There are many possible solutions. Using a trusted advisor, such as a neutral mediator, a second-opinion attorney (also sometimes called “Review Counsel” because it is an attorney who reviews another lawyer’s work), a financial advisor or a therapist can help bring an objective opinion to the process. Ambitious parties can do some of their own legal research on line and try to get a sense of what Judges in their jurisdiction typically order in cases like theirs. Or, waiting a few months after the mandatory waiting period, just to make sure that everyone’s jets have cooled can sometimes have the surprise effect of turning Hesitant into Ready.
What We Love: There is no state that mandates a time in which you must divorce. Once you know where you are headed you can take as much time as necessary to make sure that everyone is making the most rational decisions they can make.