I just read an article in our local Bar magazine, NWLawyer, by attorney Roger B. Ley on Compassionate Divorce. Basically, Roger’s thesis is that kindness gets better results than vindictiveness.
I agree wholeheartedly!
Roger points out that when one side to a divorce makes room for thinking about the welfare of the other party in addition to their own, that opens the door to creative thinking. With creative, compassionate, cooperative thinking comes the ability to maximize the outcome for the benefit of all involved, including any children.
It means including tax planning in the asset division, considering who can make best use of a given asset, and looking at how the children will be positively or negatively impacted by specific decisions. For instance, it could mean making sure that both parties will have reasonable and stable housing post divorce, so that the children can be safe and comfortable with both parents.
Besides maximizing the assets the parties have acquired and looking out for the best interests of the children, other benefits of this approach include preserving the best possible relationship with the other party (which is invaluable when it comes to co-parenting, but also might help preserve other adult friendships), avoiding an ongoing fight for years to come (a huge emotional drain), and simply the happiness that comes from knowing one has been kind to another.
Roger B. Ley suggests starting out by considering the question “Where do I want to be when the divorce is over?” First, this helps you identify your priorities, so you can focus on what matters most. Second, it should include some thought as to what is behind your priorities – why do you want that, and are there other ways that need could be met?
Finally, it should go beyond the basic outcome to include questions such as: what do I want my relationship with my spouse to be like, what is the best possible outcome for our children’s relationship with both parents, how do I want to feel about our divorce after it is over, and are there any gifts (tangible or emotional) I would like to give my spouse in this divorce?
Approaching a divorce in this way can help transform the process from one of the worst experiences of your life to a positive change in your life going forward.