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Divorce Presents Many With The Opportunity For Fresh Start

Divorce is, quite literally, a termination point. A union of two lives, whether over several years or just a few months, comes to an end with the strike of a judge’s gavel. At that moment, one road travelled together ends and two new roads must be built and navigated separately.

Before the union can be dissolved, though, its fruits…from children to lake cottages…must be accounted for and allocated between the parties. At the beginning of a divorce, husband and wife will do a lot of looking back taking stock of what they accumulated. But, for a divorce to deliver its full measure of liberation, it should also be a time for looking forward.

Minimally, the court will require both husband and wife to estimate what their individual income and living expenses will be so it can determine how child support expenses will be divided, and if one spouse will have a duty to support the other after the marriage.

From my perspective, though, the opportunity presented by divorce is far greater than that. It’s a chance to begin anew, to restructure one’s life. Helping my clients define who they want to be after divorce is an important part of my practice, which I call The ConstructiveDivorce®.

While sifting through old tax returns, brokerage statements, and property deeds, many clients have experienced a kind of epiphany—an immediate recognition that some part, or all, of where they’ve been is not where they want to spend the future.

  • “Susan”, even after 26 years departed, had always wanted to return to her native Colorado. She did, leaving St. Louis friends, a job, and even her 18-year-old daughter behind.
  • After divorcing a wife that did not want children, “Jonathon” was free to adopt. Within 15 months, two lives had a fresh start: Jonathon’s and his new baby girl.
  • For years, “Rachel” dreamed of becoming a nurse, but never felt the freedom to do so while married. By budgeting for a more modest lifestyle than the privileged one she had enjoyed while married, Rachel quit her job and entered nursing school. She paid her expenses with the income earned by the assets awarded her in the divorce as well as a limited 5-year term of spousal maintenance payments that we negotiated specifically to transition her through school and into her dream profession.

Not everyone changes directions so markedly. For some, the divorce is a chance to enjoy life in a different way, on their own terms, or to try new things. One woman gathered all her friends in her home for a séance, while another went off to Europe with a rail pass and list of youth hostels and pensions like a freshly-minted college grad, except she was in her early 50s.

To those readers seriously considering the possibility of divorce, take heart. It is both an end and a beginning and each should be planned for with care.


Cynthia M. Fox

Cynthia M. Fox is a Missouri attorney and mediator located in Clayton, MO. She has pioneered a new approach to divorce called The ConstructiveDivorce® as well as handling a wide variety of other family law matters in more than 25 years of practice.  Reading or following the information in this… MORE >

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