Margie Ellisor: It was the divorce selfie that went viral, a Canadian couple smiling after ending their marriage. Why? Because they plan on putting their kids first, and their anger and emotions aside. Family law attorney Jonathan Marks with the Marks Law Firm here with us this morning to talk about strategies that divorcing couples can do to make their departure as peaceful and stress-free as possible. Good morning to you.
Jonathan Marks: Good morning, Margie.
ME: Yeah. And the first thing that you say is that couples need to focus on dealing with the emotional aspect of that breakup.
JM: Sure. So you’re, every divorce is a loss of a family, it’s a loss of a situation you have become accustomed to. And a a result of it, it’s really important that you understand at the beginning what that loss is. Some people are able to cope with it on their own, but others really need to focus on having someone such as a counselor that they can go to and have that discussion with, and really move through the emotional loss that they are going through.
ME: Another thing to focus on is, aim to see the positive side to dealing with lawyers and the courts.
JM: It’s a strange thing, most people don’t think that way. But the reality of the situation is, you can only talk to your friends and your coworkers so much about the situation. There has to be an individual that you have to trust, and understand that they’re going to assist you through this process. So, you need to really have a lawyer that you can communicate with, focus on those communications, become knowledgeable in the process, and in so doing, you have the ability to have an outlet that you can really talk to on those really specific issues within your case.
ME: Yeah. I think this next one can be tough, but avoid bitterness when assets have to be divided.
JM: Very difficult.
JM: The reality of the situation is overall you want to focus on where you’re going to be next so that you have the focus on the main issues and the main assets that have to be concluded and divided up within the divorce. You want to try to leave yourself with as little debt as possible, and not get tied up in the situation where people do on, you know, how they’re dividing up the household goods. Either, you know, if you can’t reach an agreement on these things understand it’s costing you more to go through it, maybe you need to just flip a coin to figure out who’s getting that sofa in the living room as opposed to paying your attorney’s’ hourly rates to be able to divide the furniture.
ME: Yeah. Flip a coin and move on. The next thing, and this is very important, decide on how family life should be organized when the children are involved.
JM: Absolutely the most important thing on this list. The reality of the situation is, you’re probably going to have a schedule for your kids where you’re going to be alternating weekends. So those friday to monday mornings you know you’re going to have them every other weekend, but what’s going to happen during the school week? Focusing in on what the children’s activities are, what your work schedule is, and how the two parents need to work together to make sure that the children’s interests are taken first, is really a key aspect in coming up with what we call a “proper parenting plan” that focuses on those children.
ME: Alright. Deal appropriately with adjustment in the community.
JM: Yeah. It’s kind of a strange way to phrase it, but the reality is, you had a circle of friends within the community, and they’re going to take sides. And at the end of it, you can’t take that personally. Understand that your friends are just going to move on with one of you, don’t put them in the middle of it, and hopefully they can maintain a positive relationship with both of you down the road.
ME: Alright. Learn to regain your sense of you as an individual.
JM: Yeah. So, it’s part of that loss situation. Not so much that you need to focus on the counseling, although a counselor can be of assistance, but empowering yourself as the individual as opposed to working together as a team with your spouse is very important. So the more you can focus on your situation, where you’re going to be after this case is over, and how you’re going to be handling those things, especially as a single parent are very important.
ME: And the final strategy, distance yourself from all aspects of the broken relationship.
JM: More of the trying to focus in on the kids situation. So, when you move on and you have to have communications with your former spouse, make sure they are in a professional manner. Try to take the emotion out of the situation. You never want to get into that thing where you’re at the kid’s soccer game and you’re having a shouting match with your former spouse. And sometimes the best way to do that is to be doing communications where they may be through email or through one of the custody exchange programs like “our family wizard,” because when you text message sometimes it can be very emotional, and by taking that extra step when you think, hey a court may look at this down the road, will allow you to really take the emotion out of that situation.
ME: Some great strategies. Family law attorney Jonathan Marks, thank you so much, we appreciate it.
JM: My pleasure.
ME: For more information on the Marks Law Firm, head to stlmoms.com