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Listen to Your Heart, Not Your Friends & Family

The divorce settlement will always reflect the tone of the marriage when done out of court in a mediation or through opposing attorneys as the voice of the parties, even more than the law.  
Getting legal counsel before mediation is imperative so that you know where the go-to place can be as you venture into the shadow of the law.
The law is there to put a framework & starting point to a marital settlement if the couple is not able to negotiate.
If the couple cannot agree to accept the law as their defining point, then the Court & Judge are there to end the negotiation with a ruling.  In the cases of assets & debts, the Judge has to work within the framework of the law.  The law can be fuzzy and grey, but never emotional.
Emotions may unintentionally seep into a Judge’s decision in the area of child custody, as can preconceived ideas from personal experiences or individual thinking and preconditioning, evoking a decision that may seem unfathomable to the parties, while thinking that his/her decisions were resting within the framework of the law.
Friends and family should be with you, and surround you, but for emotional support.  Nobody, not even your closest confidante, can make decisions for you because they weren’t part of the dialogue, the interchanges, that occurred with your spouse, and with everything you have told them, it really is only one side of a two-sided relationship.
If you have difficulty with speaking up and staying your ground when you become nervous, then an attorney should be your guide in the negotiation, but let your attorney know how and why you want to be flexible with your spouse because your attorney only knows the law, not how you really think and feel about how you want to take advantage of what the law has to offer, i.e. child custody & visitation, spousal support, division of the house, inheritances viewed as retirement money, etc.
The people who seem to negotiate a settlement that feels right to both of them are quite frequently the couple who are self-aware enough to want to negotiate equal to their part of the marriage ending.  (Story about Lewis & Calvert, and the Moyers)  And your family and friends may never agree, but they don’t have to agree because it’s not their marriage.
When you negotiate from the heart, and you’re making the right decisions and the appropriate compromises, you’ll fell it in your stomach.  You’ll feel calm and settled.  You’ll have a positive ‘gut feeling’.  Likewise, if you’re not making the right decision, you’ll feel that, too; you’ll feel uneasy and nervous.
To recap:
1. Learn the Law
2. Self-reflect and look at your part in the transition of the marriage
3. Forgive yourself, and your spouse, for not continuing in the marriage
4. Ask for what you would like in the settlement terms that comport with the tone of the marriage
5. Make sure your gut feels good about the overall settlement, not just what you received

Judith Weigle

Judith M. Weigle is a Mediator, Mediation Coach, Legal Document Assistant and Paralegal at Divorce Resource, Inc. MORE >

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