Benefits of Cooperating During a Divorce
If you want a divorce that is easier, less painful and more likely to set you and your family up positively for the future, you must understand that your marriage was a partnership. If you cooperatively dissolve the financial aspects of your marriage partnership, you will pave the way for becoming “parent partners” which I describe in more detail in my book “Collaborative Coparenting.”
You actually need to team up and cooperate with the person you are divorcing to get the divorce itself right. It’s an odd twist of fate, isn’t it? You now need to form a decent working relationship with the person who is leaving you or whom you are leaving. It’s not easy. But if you remain open and willing to dissolve the marriage partnership cooperatively, not only will the outcomes of your divorce be more thoughtful and mutually beneficial, you’ll find that releasing your old life and creating a solid future will come more naturally and quickly.
If you have children or ongoing financial business together, a cooperative dissolution of the marriage partnership will benefit you for many years. Even if you don’t have children or ongoing financial businesses together, a cooperative dissolution of the marriage partnership will benefit you emotionally. Whether long-term or short-term, the quality of the dissolution of the marriage partnership now will have significant impacts on your life going for- ward. No matter how resistant you feel to this idea — “Are you kidding me?!? I have to work cooperatively with him/her?!?” — trust me. The effort it takes will be well worth it in the long run.
And the truth is, it is hard to get to that level of cooperation by yourselves, but knowledgeable professionals can help get you there, as these two stories illustrate.
How Much?!?
An example of this was a case I had where a couple in their early forties with no children, had tried to be cooperative with one another as I led them through discussions of dividing up the assets—but they often got stuck. Part of this was due to their natural competitiveness but a large part was from the advice of well-meaning (and unknowledgeable) friends. We were in the final stretch when Wife put her foot down based on advice from a real estate buddy. “Husband took it upon himself to refinance the house, so he should be the one to cover all the fees for the new loan.” “I took it out for both of us,” the Husband argued. “I shouldn’t be stuck with paying 100% of the fees.” They argued for several minutes before I interrupted, asking, “Do either of you know how much money you’re arguing about?” They both shook their heads and I pointed out that the fees for the new loan on the refinance were minimal if they split it evenly. Wife was sheepish when she realized she was arguing about such a small amount and was willing to compromise. They both also realized that they had so much pain and history from ending their relationship that the issue was not the loan fees but their own emotional fears and frustrations.
By using a knowledgeable, professional mediator, they were more easily able to work together cooperatively.