Can you see the forest?


After practicing law for over twenty years, I have seen it more times than I can count. People get caught up in the details and lose the ability to see the big picture. In the words of the old saying, "they can't see the forest for the trees."

In a divorce, it is easy to get caught up in the details. From one spouse: "You just want that mixer to hurt me because you know I love to cook." From the other spouse: "You just don't want me to have the kids on Christmas because you always hated my mother." And so it goes. Months, even years go by in the litigation process. Thousands upon thousands of dollars are spent. All of this in pursuit of the goal of proving you are right.

But that is not the goal of a divorce. The goal is to be rid of your spouse and move on with your new and better life. The goal is to find a new normal that is better than the old. The goal is to go in search of happiness in a new way. I can tell you I have rarely encountered a client who is happy in the divorce process. Most often they want to know when it's going to be over. Like a child in the car, the question is, over and over "are we there yet?"

Here is the thing: In the divorce process, it takes two people to drive the car. A divorce can only go as fast as the slowest person. Each client has to make the decision they are not going to be the slowest person. My advice on not being the slowest person is this:

1. Have a clear view of WHAT you want. I am talking details here. The couch, the retirement, a particular parenting schedule. WHAT do you want? WRITE. IT. DOWN.

2. Whatever it is, WHY do you want it? If it is a physical item, the answer may be "because I have such fond memories of using that mixer to make the cookies my kids love." If the answer is "because I want it," that is not a good answer.

3. Is not having that thing going to prevent you from living a happy and fulfilling life? Maybe yes, and maybe no. If every time you visit your shop you will be filled with rage because the drill isn't there, then maybe it's a deal breaker and it's worth having a judge decide who gets the power drill, or mixer, or whatever. I can tell you judges have a very different view of what is important than most people involved in the divorce process.

The point is to pick your battles. A judge will not look kindly upon the person who wants to argue about every utensil, bed sheet, or extension cord you over owned. They WILL understand fighting over the retirement account. Spend your energy in the divorce process wisely. Choose wisely the trees over which you wish to fight. It is a process, you will get through it, but you must make the decision on how you are going to get through it.

Thank you.


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