The other day I heard a radio commercial that targets male clients for divorce cases. The voice sternly warned men that during divorce, the unfair court system jeopardizes everything... including life with their children.
This message is meant to instill fear and motivate men to treat divorce like a battle ground where they are outgunned and outnumbered. It’s easy to be swayed by the viewpoints of these men’s rights groups. When thrust into divorce, we begin to see life through a different lens... Family is no longer the comfortable environment in which we make and weigh our decisions. Our confusion leads us to believe whatever the divorce experts say about divorce.
But the facts don’t support the “divorce is a battle” narrative of these radio commercials. Most marriages that end in divorce do not have high levels of conflict.
Research done at Penn State University indicates that 55 percent to 60 percent of divorces occur in low-conflict marriages. In spite of this, the radio voices continue to offers men one solution to divorce – battle in court over your rights. Considering how vulnerable divorce makes us feel, many will believe that they have no choice but to trust this voice.
This single minded approach reminds me of something Wendell Berry once said: “In the face of conflict, the peaceable person may find several solutions, the violent person only one.”
Those who choose the combative approach will lose the benefits offered by more peaceable solutions, like mediation and collaborative practice. Both mediation and collaborative practice offer benefits like lower costs, lower stress and better outcomes. For parents, the benefits also include perhaps the greatest gift divorcing parents can give their children: making the needs of children paramount during divorce, and increasing your chances of becoming cooperative co-parents afterward.
My advice to anyone who is considering or facing a divorce is to do your research before you hire anyone. Make sure you fully explore different viewpoints about divorce from people who understand it and learn about the various options available to get divorced. An experienced divorce professional should listen to your story and help you to find a solution that best suits your specific circumstances.
The importance of pre-divorce research is why Cleland Collaborative Solutions offers interested people a free one hour consultation. No matter what type of approach you choose, our goal remains the same: to guide you through divorce in the least expensive and stressful way possible, while keeping your children and your post-divorce family our primary focus.