Many people recognize that if they “lawyer up” by hiring the most litigious attorneys that they are asking to have a very expensive adversarial divorce. Saving money is one of the reasons (but hopefully not the only reason) people often choose to do a collaborative or mediated divorce. Yet, even in these non-adversarial processes, the attitudes you adopt and the actions you take can make a modest-cost divorce into a much more expensive one.
Behaviors that increase costs:
- Being impatient with the process – because impatience actually slows the process down
- Trying to wrest control of the process from the professionals you have hired to help you
- Procrastinating on getting your homework done
- Cancelling appointments at the last minute
- Showing up at meetings without the information and documents you were asked to bring
- Refusing to get the emotional support you need, like using a divorce coach or therapist, to navigate this very emotional time in your life
- Listening to “street talk” from your friends and family rather than relying on your divorce professionals
- Breaking trust by taking unilateral action regarding your assets that will surprise and scare your spouse
- Withholding information after requests to produce it
Attitudes that increase costs:
- Focusing on the past and trying to even the score in your divorce
- Trying to get paid back for your past compromises in the relationship
- Diminishing and blaming your spouse repeatedly during the process
- Needing to be seen as being and doing things all “right” and your spouse as all “wrong”
- Refusing to acknowledge that you also contributed to the breakdown of the marriage
- Seeking revenge and wanting to punish your spouse
- Focusing on what you don’t want instead of getting clarity on what you do want
- Engaging in tit-for-tat – going low when your spouse goes low
- Refusing to see that your spouse has a legitimate perspective
- Thinking that if you see your spouse’s perspective that you have to give up your own
You always have a choice about what actions you take and the mindset you adopt. The choices you make will impact how long your divorce takes and the final cost. If you are feeling very reactive and overwhelmed, then seek out a divorce coach or therapist to support you through the emotional currents of the divorce process.
Nancy J. Foster, J.D. is an attorney-mediator, trainer and Exec. Director of the Northern California Mediation Center in San Rafael.
Photo credit: Ann Buscho, Ph.D.