Choosing Battles: Knowing When to Fight and When to Concede
Most couples today get divorced because they no longer see eye-to-eye and argue frequently. When the reason for the divorce is marital conflict, the divorce process itself is likely to involve just as much arguing and disputing. It can be difficult in these times of stress, high-emotion, and anger to respond calmly. However, consciously choosing your battles and learning to respond calmly can save your sanity, your case, and your wallet. Here are some tips to help you learn when to fight back and when to concede in issues with your spouse.
Do not start drama, engage in conflict, or create problems where there needn't be any.
Keeping a level head will benefit you, your children, and even your spouse during the divorce. The more conflict you create, the more stressed you will be and your case can suffer because of it. If you work hard to communicate amiably with your spouse (through the assistance of a practiced family law attorney), you will incur fewer legal fees and the process will run much smoother.
It is especially important when children are involved to keep the parental conflict to a minimum. Children can feel the tension, even when they do not understand why it is there, and be adversely affected by it.
Always "fight" for your children
It is important to remember that children will almost always benefit from having both parents in their life (though there are exceptions when a parent is abusive or criminal). The best way to "fight" for your children is to suggest 50/50 joint custody up front, even if you desire full custody, or believe the other parent unfit to care for your children. It is still best to offer the other parent equal custody so they do not feel they are being attacked. If you immediately demand full custody, the other parent is likely to get defensive and try to get back at you in financial ways later on, thus causing more conflict. If your spouse is contending for full custody of the children, do not concede without a fight. Your children need you in their lives.
Choose your words carefully.
Do not respond to emails or verbal attacks from the other parent while you are upset. Allow yourself time to cool off to ensure you do not make a rash decision or further the conflict. Be careful not to say anything out loud that could be used against you in court.
Keep the big picture in mind.
In the long run, who gets the furniture and who gets the silverware is not worth spending extra money in legal fees until someone walks away a winner. Material things can be replaced.
Once child custody agreements and support decisions have been arranged, STICK TO THEM.
Even if it doesn't seem fair, the law is the law and making late payments or refusing to abide by court orders will only cause more problems for you, your children, and the courts.
Insist that everything be documented, even if your ex assures you they will cooperate without documentation. This is not only a matter of trust, but smart business practice. This will make potential fights down the road a lot easier.
You must be willing to compromise.
You will win some battles and lose some battles in a divorce settlement, and while it will be difficult, you must be willing to compromise and sometimes willing to concede. Being willing, rather than being forced, to compromise, will reduce conflict and make everyone's lives easier.