How Childhood Lessons Are Relevant in a Divorce Case
Oct 11, 2017 | Written by: | Share
Anyone who has a child (or once was a child) knows the values and virtues that parents try to instill in their children. These common values and virtues are typically reinforced by schools, teachers, and religious educators. Many of these same teachings that we learn in our childhood are applicable for people going through a divorce. Here are a few examples (in no particular order), based on my experience handling numerous divorce cases:
- Be Patient. Patience is important in divorce cases. The divorce process is not quick unless the parties are able to resolve all of their issues quickly. As a result, it is important for an individual who is getting divorced to be patient with the process. Those who do not show patience through the process typically end up in a situation where they either: 1) experience extreme stress because of the length of the process; or 2) make hasty emotional decisions in order to bring a swift resolution to the case, but ultimately regret those hasty decisions.
- Be Respectful. Parties should be respectful during the divorce process. Granted, that is often difficult in divorce cases, as emotions run high. However, parties should make every effort to be respectful to spouses, children, other attorneys (as well as their own attorneys), judges and court personnel. Attorneys, judges and court personnel all have a job to do. An individual getting divorced will not benefit from faulting these people for doing their jobs or disrespecting them simply because of differences of opinion. Being respectful to a spouse through the process will help bring about a resolution by keeping emotions in check. With regard to children, remember that they are the true victims of divorce. They did not ask for the divorce, yet they are impacted the most. Parents should be respectful of this when dealing with their children, and try to put their children’s needs and best interests ahead of their own.
- Persevere. This goes hand-in-hand with patience in a divorce case. A divorce can be a difficult and lengthy process. By demonstrating perseverance and being emotionally strong through the process, an individual can make appropriate decisions rather than simply “throwing in the towel” because it is stressful. It is important to realize that it will get better once the divorce is over and to be strong and persevere through the process.
- Be Responsible. Divorcing couples often blame each other. People make mistakes. They make mistakes in their marriages, they make mistakes as parents and they make mistakes in the divorce process. It is always important to accept responsibility for one’s own actions, particularly in a divorce case. Whether it is accepting responsibility for mistakes made during the marriage, mistakes made in parenting, or mistakes made while the divorce is pending, an individual is better served by accepting responsibility rather than denying, trying to deflect, or blaming others. When someone accepts responsibility, it defuses the issue and deflates the ability of the other side to use the “mistake” as a weapon in a divorce action.
- Be Honest. Typically, there is a lack of trust in divorce cases. However, the more honest and forthright the parties are with each other, the easier the case becomes, as parties can be assured that they are being supplied all of the relevant information and neither party has a “secret agenda”. This is particularly important as it relates to parenting the children. It is never in a parent’s interest to withhold information from the other parent, to misrepresent facts, or to try to manufacture a situation for his/her own benefit. By being honest, the fear is reduced and the case is less emotional.
- Be Kind. Unfortunately, kindness is rarely seen in divorce cases. However, acts of kindness can go a long way during a divorce in helping the parties relax and feel assured that things will be okay after the divorce. This is especially important if the parties have children together. The parents will set a great example for their children if they can be kind to each other even in the face of a divorce.
- Do the Right Thing. Do things because they are the “right” things to do, not because you will receive a direct benefit from them. While this is something we do not see enough of in society, it is very rare when we see it in divorce cases. Each party typically will only “give” if they are getting something in return. Unfortunately, attorneys can perpetuate this problem, as it is typically part of the negotiation process. Not “giving” without getting something in return is essentially the art of negotiating and compromising. However, sometimes the best thing divorcing parties can do is to simply take a course of action because it is the “right” thing to do, not because they are getting some other benefit. Occasionally I do see parties do this, whether it relates to something that will benefit the children, or something that will benefit their former spouse. They agree to do it simply because they know it is the “right” thing to do. It may not be a legal obligation, but they simply decide to do it because it is fair, it is reasonable and it is what should be done. By doing the “right” thing, an individual can reduce the level of tension and help to bring about a resolution in the case.
Many of these virtues/values are more commonly practiced in mediation and collaborative divorce matters, and are less commonly seen in litigation matters. By its nature, litigation often makes it difficult for divorcing individuals to adhere to these practices. While I encourage people who are divorcing to consider mediation or collaborative divorce, if they choose litigation, they still should try to focus on these virtues/values. It will not only make the case much easier, less stressful and more efficient, but it will also make them feel good about themselves knowing that they did things the right way during the divorce. We should not only teach our children these virtues and values, we should all practice them in our own lives, even during a divorce.
For a free consultation pertaining to divorce, please contact me at 908-735-5161 or via email.
William J. Rudnik, Esq. is certified by the NJ Supreme Court as a Matrimonial Law Attorney. In addition to handling divorce litigation, he is qualified as a Mediator in the field of Family Law under the New Jersey Court rules, and he is trained in Collaborative Divorce. Contact Mr. Rudnik at 908-735-5161 or via email.