A Problem to Solve, Not a War to Win

problem to solve

Too often divorce is seen as a war (remember “War of the Roses”?). When we see it as a war, then “winning” becomes the primary objective. But how often does one really win in a divorce? Certainly a hard fought divorce comes with many costs — money, time, energy, etc. Both parties emerge emotionally bruised and battered. The relationship may well end up far worse than when the divorce started, which makes co-parenting or even dealing with mutual friends that much more difficult. On the other hand, divorce is not really a win/lose proposition. The courts, and the law, favor being as fair to both sides as possible, so results will generally come down somewhere in the middle between the opposing positions.

I believe that divorce is better seen as a problem to solve, or better yet, a series of problems to be solved. Property and debts have to be divided, there are support obligations to determine, and parenting arrangements need to be worked out. The overall issue is crafting a plan for both parties to move forward in their new separated lives as successfully as possible.

A great deal of money, drama, and energy can be saved if the focus from the start is simply on finding resolution to those issues rather than beating up on each other and jockeying for position. This means that rather than running into court, the parties try to find a way to work with each other to explore solutions and mutual interests. Working with a Mediator or a Collaborative team are two ways of keeping that kind of focus up front. Another option is to both hire attorneys who prefer to cooperate rather than fight, to work with rather than against each other. Attorneys who are trained in Mediation or Collaboration may be good choices in that regard.