What is the first thing you want to be told when you are complaining about a person or a situation? ‘You’re right’. Right? Divorce is no different.
At a time when you feel scared and angry, the hardest thing to do is to pause. The easiest thing to do is to rush headlong into battle; you are wounded, your spouse is ‘wrong’, you are ‘right’, he/she needs to ‘pay’ or be punished. Naturally you want all of this to be proven, and the fantasy is that there is a lawyer, a judge or a court out there who can do that for you. The reality is far, far different.
There is no day when you get to stand in front of a judge and tell it like it is. There is no lawyer who can make you ‘right’. The truth of divorce-as-a-contest is that it is ninety nine percent likely to be a series of frustrations, compromises, wins and losses, and one hundred percent likely to be more expensive than you ever feared.
Separation is probably the most personal life crisis that you will ever talk about to a lawyer. It is a time of intense emotions. Whether you are the person who left, or the person who was left, you are likely to feel very strongly about right and wrong. The entire court system is set up to decide questions of right and wrong, so going to see a lawyer about being proved right seems like a natural step.
It is exceptionally lucky for traditional lawyers that most of us place a lot of importance on right and wrong, because what most people want is for their lawyer to prove they are right. Cases about right and wrong is where litigation lawyers make their money. In many cases, lots of money. In the beginning, most people are prepared to pay for a fight about right and wrong, when they ‘know’ they are right. As time goes on in any legal negotiation or court case, the cost of seeking ‘You’re right’ becomes very scary and the idea that ‘right’ might not be a knock-out blow becomes obvious.
Warnings and good advice are not always easy to hear, but here goes.
Warning: However much of a (insert your own adjective) your ex is, they will still be the same (adjective), but worse, after litigation. If you have children together, no matter what age they are, if you want to restore peace in your life, get on with your life or be financially secure, going to court or to warfaring lawyers will be a great and expensive disappointment. More than that, it is going to increase your stress and anger, and the same goes for your spouse. Court and adversarial negotiation is a kick boxing ring, and nobody gets out of there unscathed.
It is really important to know you can be right about all manner of things that happened or did not happen in your marriage or relationship, but it might not help you. The Family Law Act is built on a no-fault approach, so the final insult can be that you are indeed right about facts and the history, but not be any better off because of it.
Good Advice: Think about your situation as though it is a few years in the past. What do you want to feel like then? How do you want your children to feel about their parent’s separation? These are big questions. If you need help to find out how you can take care of your own wellbeing, protect your children, and at the same time get a fair settlement, make sure your first step is to engage with a team who can give you that. Then you will be ‘right’.