Divorce without Destruction
Mar 31, 2016 08:00AM
by Barbara Mainhart
Sustainable energy, sustainable agriculture, sustainable development—all are designed to ensure the health and well-being of future generations. Just like a slash-and-burn mentality demolishes human and animal habitats and devastates economies, an adversarial divorce, with its “scorched Earth” attitude, can hold a family’s future hostage.
Consider the various “resources” at risk during divorce proceedings: time, money, energy, goodwill, equanimity and sometimes even health. All of these are vital to sustaining quality of life after divorce. As opposed to the “do-it-yourself” or “my-lawyer-versus-your-lawyer” models, an interdisciplinary, team-mediated approach to the divorce process can provide a blueprint for moving ahead that reduces stress in the now and conserves those resources that are critical to a healthy, imagined future.
How a couple divorces affects how they and their children move on. What if, instead of trying to get as much as they can for the present, they worked toward preserving as much as they could for their futures? What would that look like?
Sustainable Wellness: Reduce tension and stress. The most skilled attorney-mediators have years of experience in remaining neutral to assure that the needs and wants of both parties are carefully considered. They are trained in effective techniques for bringing about a settlement even when divorcing couples are highly conflicted and distrustful of each other.
Sustainable Relationships: Build bridges. A parenting mediator, who is a certified therapist, helps the couple create a healthy co-parenting agreement. This agreement gives them a guide for the transition process, including living arrangements, school situations and vacation schedules, so that both parents and children can move forward with their new lives.
Sustainable Finances: Preserve resources and maintain separate, affordable lifestyles. With accountant mediators and financial consultants as part of the mediation process, a couple’s income and expenses, tax strategies and detailed budgets are carefully studied to ensure that each person can reasonably meet their current financial obligations, as well as have a well-balanced financial structure in the future to cover their housing needs, cash reserves and retirement plans.
Most importantly, the choice to put a family’s future welfare above the individual’s present advantage will sustain peace of mind for all concerned for years to come.
Barbara Mainhart is outreach coordinator for the Alpha Center for Divorce Mediation, headquartered in Doylestown and offering its divorce mediation program in multiple locations and online. For more information, call 800-310-9085, email [email protected], or visit Alpha-Divorce.com and AlphaResourceCenter.com. See ad, page 47.