Divorce Mediators of New Jersey

Basic guidelines for a successful divorce.

In a successful divorce, you both get most of what you need and perhaps even a Little of what you want. You conserve assets for both of your expanded needs and protect your children, making sure they continue to benefit from two parents. Finally, both of you wind up feeling that while the need to divorce was unfortunate, perhaps even tragic; you arrived at a fair settlement with some semblance of dignity. If you want that kind of outcome, there are rules everyone must follow and rules that are sex and role specific. Here are the guidelines that everyone should adhere to.

Rule 1. Keep the children out of it. This is the most important rule for most people. Don’t stop your spouse from seeing the children. Never say anything negative about your spouse where the children can hear or to anyone who will tell them or their friends what you said. Damaged children will occupy your life in horrendous ways and make it difficult or impossible for you to successfully create a new life. So you must protect them from your anger at their other parent no matter what you feel, no matter what the cost, for their sake and yours.

Rule 2. Don’t threaten legal procedures or start them unilaterally. The legal system will almost certainly worsen matters and use up even considerable assets if you let it. Threats always result in counter threats, action in counteraction, and a legal war is the last thing you need.

Rule 3. Don’t make preemptive changes in financial arrangements for fear your spouse will beat you to it. Don’t cut off the credit cards or go wild with them. Don’t grab the money in joint accounts or a safe deposit box, hide money in a bank or elsewhere, take out loans, change the beneficiary on your insurance, or change the title to assets. Whatever you gain, you will pay for at high interest in anger and legal fees.

Rule 4. Distrust the instinct to attack. Be aware of your emotions and talk about them, to a professional if need be, but don’t act out your fear, jealousy, rage, etc. The satisfaction from acting out your emotions will cost you dearly in a very little while.

Rule 5. Separate in as civilized a manner as possible. If you manage to separate without cruelty or acrimony and keep the lawyers out of it until negotiations are well under way, you will have gone a long way toward a successful divorce.

Rule 6. Cut down and cut back. Few couples have enough money to set up two households easily. Deficit finance with loans or savings only to increase income in the long term (with job training, for example), not to keep the old lifestyle going a little longer.

Rule 7. Be reasonable and strive to be fair. It is the only way to avoid making attorneys and mental health professionals rich and your family poor.

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