On September 30, 2009 the Oakland Tribune ran a front page article entitled “The Anatomy of a Breakup” authored by Bruce Newman of their San Jose Mercury News affiliate.
The article does an excellent job of detailing the alienation and deterioration of a relationship between two people who may not have been that well suited for one another from the beginning, but who got married for what must have seemed like good ideas at the time. The couple had two daughters before their marriage ended.
Mr. Newman also spends a bit of time telling his readers that this couple of modest means has already spent over $25,000 in legal fees fighting over their savings.
What I want to say to Leslee and David is that when a marriage breaks up there is often anger and recrimination and an overriding desire to punish your former spouse. However, married couples with sufficient emotional intelligence know that during the very stressful period of marital dissolution they must have one abiding rule guiding their actions. That rule is that all of the decisions they make, or the actions they take, must be done in the best interests of the children.
Once a couple has adopted and embraced this guiding principle, common sense dictates that they must take all necessary steps to stop the fighting and sit down and negotiate a settlement to their dispute. They have a simple choice – keep fighting or send their daughters to college.
Fortunately, there is a well established, highly successful trend in the marital dissolution arena that can well serve David and Leslee and that is marital mediation. They can meet with a very well trained, deeply experienced mediator who can assist them in framing and managing all of the issues that arise in the dissolution process. At the end of the mediation they will emerge with a Marital Settlement Agreement that can be mailed to the Judge and incorporated into a Judgment of Dissolution. There is no need to ever appear in Court.
The cost of mediation is generally a tenth of the cost of litigation and the participants, as the architects of their own agreement, are more vested in the result. Leslee, David, do yourselves and your family a favor and hire a mediator to help you get through this mess.
The last thing I want to say to David and Leslee is that at my company when we help couples with children end their marriage we don’t call it a divorce or marital dissolution, we call it a marital reorganization. David, Leslee, in the very near future you will no longer be Husband and Wife, but you will always be Mommy and Daddy. Work together to construct a plan that will allow you to assure that the transition to your new family organization is, for the sake of your children, as smooth, painless and economical as possible.
David D. Stein
Liaise Mediated Solutions, LLC