by Sheila Brennan~
Verb: be successful or victorious in (a contest or conflict)
Noun: a successful result in a contest, conflict, bet, or other endeavor; a victory
There is definitely the notion of “winning” when it comes to divorce. It’s a position arrived at quickly based on what we know about divorce. It’s the War of the Roses mentality. It’s the good guy/bad guy perspective.
In divorce, we think one person will come out with everything and most likely, the opposing party will come out with nothing. We think of divorce court and what’s “fair” and are intent on getting justice. Unfortunately, divorce court is not like TV or the movies. In divorce, it’s important to be thoughtful about winning and what it means to you.
Three things to consider when you’re facing divorce and set on “winning”:
What does winning really mean? To be victorious has different definitions to different people. Some people would spend all of their money on legal fees before they’d be willing to write a check to their partner. Someone else might consider giving the other person everything because they simply want it done and handing over everything will certainly get it done. Another person might opt out of the conversation and potential negotiation in an effort to avoid conflict or a fight. You have to define winning for you and what’s best in your situation.
If you both lose, does that mean you both won? This is often the case in divorce. It isn’t often that people walk away from divorce court feeling victorious. It’s a challenging transition and it often takes considerable time and effort to reach an agreement that you’re both comfortable signing or at least as close as you can come to reaching a mutual agreement. Or did you go before the courts and have someone there make the decision about your situation, life, kids, assets, debt?
It’s best to know in advance what you’re positioned to protect and what you’re willing to walk away from. This will help you to clearly identify how you see winning in this transaction. Divorce is like making a significant purchase, e.g., a house or a car. If you feel like you spent more but got less than you had anticipated, you feel like you’ve been ripped off. This is also true in a divorce agreement. Know what you have. Know what you owe. Know what you want. Know what that number is. Approach negotiations like you would approach any other business transaction. This is what divorce is, the ending of your partnership.
Does “winning” change over time? As the journey takes hold and you have a better understanding of the process, it’s best to review “winning”. You become a better consumer as you learn more about the process, about the importance of negotiating, and identify your expectations clearly. Rethink your position before each conversation with your attorney and/or your spouse. Can you better define winning to yourself and then to someone else?
Does winning mean:
- Walking away with your fair share?
- Share in parenting the kids?
- Keeping the baby grand piano that you bought with your first bonus check?
- Walking away and having the freedom to start a new life?
- Being able to maintain a comparable life style?
- Taking the kids on a week’s vacation at the beach?
- Keeping your sanity during this insane time?
Only you can define winning for you and in your situation. Take the time to focus on determining what’s best for you. You’ll be happy you did.