Divorce Decoded is a digital resource for people going through a difficult divorce. The tools, techniques and strategies here are aimed at giving you the skills to manage your emotions and reactions, so you can make better decisions in the heat of stress and pressure.
Divorces are usually tried before a judge, not a jury.
Judges are human! Like you and me, they have their own biases and learning styles. In fact, you can try the exact same case before ten different judges and get that many different results.
Because of the arbitrariness of a trial, it’s essential to conserve your divorce budget, which includes time, emotion, energy, and money. A key way to do that is to look objectively and subjectively, as early as possible, at how the court will likely view the issues of your divorce. Taking seriously what you find out will help you steer clear of a budget-busting trial.
You can get a sense of what’s to come as soon as you learn which judge will preside over your divorce. Your attorney will most likely know if the judge is biased against stay-at-home parents of school-age children. The attorney will also know if the judge supports equal or almost equal parenting time or is more traditional in their...
How To Be Powerfully Persuasive In Your Divorce
When sensitive issues trigger them, people largely make decisions based on emotions, not logic. The problem: emotional decisions can derail your careful divorce strategies. The solution: connect with the emotional side of your brain to address out-of-control feelings before you react. That can be challenging, so I’ve outlined some strategies you can use to park (or process) your emotional reactions before engaging with your opponent, so when you respond, you can do it in a productive way. Putting these strategies into practice will increase the chances of settlement even in high-conflict divorces.
When your ex does something that upsets you, it’s easy to focus on the impact of her behavior and make negative assumptions about her intentions. When she drops the children off 20 minutes past the agreed-upon exchange time, you might assume that she is intentionally “gatekeeping” rather than being caught up...
Focus on What You Can Control in Your Divorce When You Feel Terrible
In your divorce, there will be times when you feel terrible. You may be at a loss because it is a surreal time, and wonder, “How did this happen to me?” You may feel shame over the loss of the marriage and be in denial. You may be in the grieving process. Whatever stage you are in, it is not pleasant—but what you’re feeling is normal and expected.
It is not normal, though, to act terribly in response to those feelings. You may feel quite certain that there is no way you will be the one to act out in your divorce. You did nothing wrong and do not deserve this heartache....
Is it Fairness?
Most people say they want a fair divorce.
The problem is that there is no objective definition of fair.
You can ask your lawyer what would be a fair outcome for your divorce, but the problem is lawyers are biased. They base fairness on what they’ve experienced the courts do in previous cases.
You can ask your friends and family, but they are likely biased as well. They are in their own experience and sharing what they believe is “fair.” “Fairness” is nebulous. It’s a fuzzy idea. So rather than focus on the idea of fairness, focus instead on achieving your needs.
What Do You Need?
Recently courts have established concrete formulas for child support and spousal support. These formulas, though, were not designed to achieve a just result for each party but rather to help courts process divorce cases more efficiently. A more favorable approach to resolve child support or spousal support, (also referred to as...
Time is a unique resource. Unlike other resources in your divorce budget, time is unique because it is the only resource you can’t renew. Money is renewable. Energy is renewable. But time is finite. And whether you are wealthy or poor, you only have 24 hours to spend in a day. However, even though all of us have the same set of minutes and hours to work with, we all have different relationships to time and value it differently.
Time becomes an item of value to trade in a divorce. This is where it gets interesting. Since most people value time differently, it becomes an item to trade in a divorce. Usually one person wants to move things faster than the other, and that can become a point of leverage for the other side. Each person will either become more aggressive or more accommodating depending on their divorce goals and budgets. There are many versions of this, but here are the two extremes:
Aggressive: I’ll make this so...
Introduction. A high-conflict divorce is more than a legal battle. It is a contest of wills, mental strength, and character. Tactics will be used against you to break down your mind. You and your opposing spouse will face many of the same triggers, and you may each have a tendency to react in different ways. To get what you want and need, you need to understand the mind games in play, and maintain the mental energy to win them, a day and a moment at a time.
The other side will try to make winning easier by dominating you mentally. Everything the other side does is set up to have a negative impact on your behavior. For example, suppose that in every communication with your side, they’re dismissive, rude, and obnoxious. What happens to your self-confidence? No matter how sure you were of your positions, your confidence plummets, right? You feel like a victim, stripped of your right to respect, and you may begin to wonder if you have a chance against their stonewalling...
A high-conflict divorce unfolds over time. You have to plan for the long game, and manage all your resources—energy, emotions, time and money—to achieve your divorce goals with the least amount of stress.
You don’t have infinite resources for the divorce, so playing the long game means you need to conserve those resources, build them, and target them at getting the results you want. That’s what I mean by budgeting. In this newsletter, I want to focus on how to budget your energy and especially your physical energy. Next time we’ll look at how to budget your mental energy. Followed by newsletters on other parts of The Budget: Emotion, Time and Money.
Creating a basic energy budget
The big idea of the energy budget is that you need to maintain a positive balance of physical and mental energy to sustain you through the divorce.
To make that happen, you’ll need to do three things:
Spend your energy wisely in the moment, staying focused on your...