Yes, you most certainly can.
While it is neither common nor easy for couples to complete their California divorce in a way they can proudly recount, it is absolutely possible. In the 18 years I have worked as a San Jose divorce attorney I have seen plenty of ‘not-my-best-moment’ behaviors with couples treating one another as sworn enemies. It is normal to struggle through divorce — it’s a challenging time for anyone – but it doesn’t have to be that way.
The impact on families of a divorce in California is part of the reason I now work as a divorce attorney in consent dispute resolution divorces (CDR), sometimes confused with alternative dispute resolution (ADR). CDR divorces differ from ADR divorces because CDR focuses on couples co-creating their resolution. As a collaborative divorce lawyer and divorce mediator, the divorces I am involved in now are with couples who should all be proud of their behavior during their divorce.
CDR processes mean divorcing husbands and divorcing wives get legal and mental health support to guide them as they create the best outcome for their family who they know best.
With the guidance of CDR divorce lawyers, California couples resolve their conflict about child custody by agreement rather than a costly or ugly court battle focused on determining which parent is ‘better.’ Determining child support or spousal support, dividing property and retirement plans are all done with the legal advice of good California divorce attorneys including Certified Family Law Specialists, like myself.
However, CDR processes often have additional components to the divorce process that help couples grow. Recently, I and several colleagues, had the honor of assisting a family through a collaborative divorce. Although they experienced all of the usual highs and lows of divorce, they maintained laser-focused attention on creating a positive outcome for their children. That goal was their north star through the process. It helped them navigate difficult issues despite their struggles with trusting one another.
In addition to focusing on better outcomes for their children, they also committed to keep an open mind and assume the best of one another rather than the worst.
They co-created a joint parenting plan and developed tools to better talk with one another about how best to jointly parent their kids. Communication improved with help from who helped them develop tools for more effective, cooperative, and business-like discussions.
They used the same tools in the rest of their divorce. Guided by their divorce lawyers who advised about California law and creative solutions, they assumed the best of one another. Supported by the collaborative team, they calculated child support; determined spousal support; addressed real property in their divorce; divided RSUs, bank accounts, and retirement plans; all as part of the divorce settlement agreement that they designed.
They also personalized the process with their own divorce ritual.
A divorce ritual can be just as important to mark the end of the marriage as the wedding was to start the marriage. It can provide some much-needed closure for families.
This couple created their own divorce ritual. They had their ceremony in what was their marital home. Each family member shared a favorite memory from the home. They created a symbolic act whereby each spouse released the other into his or her new future. They also included the children in the ceremony during which, with another symbolic act, the parents reaffirmed their joint commitment to the children. This reinforced for the children that although the marriage was over, both parents were still devoted to them and could work cooperatively for the children’s benefit.
Divorce is difficult for all families but making an enemy of your spouse is not required.
You can choose to how to invest energy in this process. Does your energy investment help you be the person you want to be? Does it help your kids? Does it help your spouse, a person you used to love? You can be a person of integrity even in your divorce. Even if you are not ready at the beginning to behave cooperatively or magnanimously – and most people are not – you can start the process acting as if you feel that way. And as time passes, you will be better able to tap into that part that helps you, your spouse, and your children work through the process in a way that will allow all of you to be proud of your divorce.
If you know you are divorcing and at the same time want to do it respectfully, please visit my website www.CampbellFamilyLaw.com. I would be honored to help you through the process.