Regardless of your role in a divorce - the initiator or the recipient, it will never be a walk in the park. Divorce is difficult and can sometimes be convoluted. And it is certainly painful.
Because divorce is such an emotionally charged experience, actions can be dictated by hurt feelings and decisions can be clouded by the need to assert rights and principles.
Finally finding the voice to stand up for yourself in a marriage where you might have been suppressed and oppressed is truly awesome. However, in a divorce, you may have to strike a balance between wanting to firmly stand your ground and making decisions that will be better for you down the line - even if it means compromising.
To compromise during divorce or not - that is the question. Certainly, there are occasions for both. But in this battleground called divorce, being more flexible in order to survive and thrive in the future might be the best strategy.
Why Compromise in Divorce?
A compromise may sound like giving up on issues you feel strongly about. It may even look like you are condoning unacceptable behavior. However, what is truly important is how you come out at the other end, when the divorce decisions are over, and you go your separate ways.
Making the right decisions on which fights to pick can be difficult. You may have to “lose some battles in order to win the war.”
Ultimately, your goal should be to produce results that are acceptable for both you and your ex spouse, and results that help your own life after divorce go more smoothly. What you end up with may not be what you wanted when you first started out, but it may be the best you can get, all things considered.
What are the consequences of being unyielding and uncompromising?
Added ill feelings with your ex. Even if you parted civilly, taking a hard stance can lead to a downward spiral towards acrimony. When this happens, you may find yourself facing a long uphill battle.
Higher legal fees. Divorce is expensive and an impasse can make it even more so. The sooner you resolve your issues, the sooner you are able to rebuild your life and your finances.
Stress on yourself and your children. This time is trying enough as it is. Being inflexible on an issue or issues that may not be as important in the future can be added stress.
Sun Tzu’s The Art of War offers a brilliant view on managing conflict and purposely influencing events. This can likewise apply to assessing the value of compromise in divorce.
Quoting from Sun Tzu’s masterpiece, he wrote “Build your opponent a golden bridge to retreat across.”
It simply means offering a compromise so that your “opponent” (in this case, your ex spouse) is given an attractive escape route while also allowing you to achieve your goals.
To Compromise Or Not - Important Questions To Ask
It is estimated that 95% of divorces are settled out of court. Although an out of court settlement may be less complicated than litigation, the process still involves a lot of steps.
Some couples may have relatively simple cases that result in reasonable settlements in a shorter amount of time.
However, in complicated cases, it can take months to even years of work by teams of professionals including lawyers, divorce financial advisers, CPAS, and other specialists to come up with a settlement that is acceptable to both parties.
What if a compromise in divorce is not reached? What happens next? Here are questions to carefully ask yourself before taking your battle to the next level.
Do you have all your facts straight? Before taking a stand, be sure that you are not just acting on suspicions. It is important to be armed with cold, hard facts and evidence before embarking on your battle.
What role do your emotions play? Save for some exceptional cases, any divorce will always be emotionally charged. While this may be the case, you should also ensure that emotions do not rule over your decisions. Letting your emotions take over can likely lead to financial disaster.
Ask yourself these questions:
✓ Is your position aimed for a truly positive outcome or are you just being vengeful or angry? Letting anger fuel your actions rarely leads to anything good or productive.
✓ Do you just want yourself heard after years of being suppressed?
✓ Is what you’re asking for really something you want or is it just to make yourself feel better about some other issue?
✓ Will it be as important to you in the future as it is now? You may, upon introspection, find that taking a stand on something may not be as necessary or even appropriate. Assess if it’s just emotions distorting your perspective.
✓ Will you regret it? You’ve heard this before …. “Be careful what you wish for”
Are there better options? You may feel frustrated with how things are going. However, you may be just looking at things with a narrower perspective. Step back and take stock of your options. There may be things you can work out on your own without going to court.
Can you afford it? As already mentioned above, a long, drawn out divorce can get expensive. It’s not only a drain on your finances, it can take a toll on the emotional health of the family.
Do you have your bases covered? Taking a hard stance may backfire on you. Before beginning anything, make sure that you are not left vulnerable. If you have some weak spots or certain behaviors that you would rather not make public, make sure that you have your bases covered. Otherwise, you may want to consider compromising.
Will taking a stand make a difference? It’s also important to be realistic about your situation. Will being assertive really get you the result you need and is your goal truly achievable? For instance, if your spouse is currently out of a job and has no money, will asking for a substantial alimony or child support be realistic?
There will be cases when there is no recourse but to stand your ground during divorce. If there is domestic abuse or other extreme extenuating circumstances, then a compromise in divorce may not be an option you have.
Compromise In Divorce - In Conclusion
The process of divorce is hard and painful. However, it is also a learning process. Many women who go through divorce also find themselves finally having the voice they never had while in the marriage. And this will surely help as you build your life after divorce.
However, it is important to be careful that this assertiveness does not turn to aggressive behavior during divorce. Ask for the things you feel you’re entitled to. But also be aware of your motives and manage your expectations.
Take Control of Your Future
When you consider divorce, or if you know someone who is contemplating divorce, one of the biggest realities for those in the divorce process is the financial settlement and financial analysis post-divorce. Get the assistance of Kimberly Surber and Leslie Valant, both Certified Divorce Financial Analyst® at Leeward Divorce Financial Planning.
Both Kimberly and Leslie provide step-by-step guidance on matters related to divorce. With a wide range of experience and expertise related to divorce issues, our team will simplify the process and provide much-needed clarity in areas such as long-term tax consequences, asset, and debt analysis, dividing pension plans, continued health care coverage, stock option elections, protecting support with life insurance, and much more.
This information is not intended to be a substitute for seeking legal advice from an attorney. For legal or tax advice please seek the services of a qualified attorney and/or qualified tax professional.