We are somewhat tainted by the 'drama' of
divorce. Our bias is that somehow, divorce must be as acrimonious, gut wrenching
an experience as possible. Well, to be honest, I know only a handful of
divorces that were not gut wrenching. But I have seen some fairly amicable
ones. In fact, most divorces end amicably - where the two sides graciously
decide to continue life separately and make the process as easy as possible.
I sat down with my colleague attorneys recently over lunch and we came
up with four notable characteristics of the amicable divorce. And wouldn't
you know, the keywords for this list give us the acronym
PASS: Prepare, Accept, Seek Fairness, and Seek Help.
Prepare. Once the word has entered your mind as a possibility, prepare yourself
on multiple levels for decision that could have great impact on you and
your partner. Don't just suddenly announce that you want a divorce;
lay some ground work. Let your partner know that you are unhappy and why.
Seek counseling and make an effort to reconcile your differences Most
important, discuss options as a couple and explain why you feel that divorce
is the best option. Be gentle as you work your way through the process
and remember that there's more to any divorce than just one story.
Accept. Be accepting of feelings - yours and your partner's. There will be
a grieving process and emotions run the gamut: anger, regret, disbelief,
guilt, denial. Don't just react to the emotions - respond in a conciliatory
and constructive way. Look for ways to relate to your partner so that
you can both accept what has happened and prepare to move on with your lives.
Seek Fairness. There's an old saying that rules without relationships breeds contempt.
When taking a relationship through a divorce, it is wise to seek equal
acquisition, disposition of your assets - not necessarily by what it practicable,
but what seems fair to both side. Agree to help each other through the
transition. Work together and define your financial situation. Talk openly
and broadly about what your lives will look like after the divorce.
Seek Help. Once you have done all that can be done between you and your partner,
seek help from professionals: attorneys, marriage and family therapists,
and an accountant. Hopefully, you and your spouse can piece together a
clear picture of what you want from your divorce prior to speaking to
the professionals. This picture will help the pros move efficiently and
effectively; they'll be better able assist you through process. Learn
from the process and grow.