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Specialty tag(s): Divorce, Collaborative Divorce
Facing Your Post-Divorce Future with Confidence
Kristen A. Algert | November 17, 2021
In the United States, about 50% of married couples divorce, the sixth-highest divorce rate in the world. Subsequent marriages have an even higher divorce rate: 60% of second marriages end in divorce, and 73% of all third marriages end in divorce. Amongst adults aged 50+, the national divorce rate has roughly doubled since 1990. For those aged 65+ the divorce rate has actually tripled, from 2 in 1,000 married persons to 6 in 1,000. Same-sex marriage divorce rates are broadly the same as the heterosexual marriage divorce rate. Even though a divorce is a rite of passage for many adults, it is common for one or both spouses to be amazed to find themselves facing the future without a spouse. It seems that most married couples genuinely believe they will be married “until death do us part.” And the longer your marriage, the harder it can be to reimagine the future. Over the last 30 years I have observed some common traits in clients who manage to face their post-divorce life with confidence. Here is what I have learned:
Hire the Right Lawyer for You
A common thought is you need a warrior or pit bull to aggressively pursue everything you want. Or you need the smartest lawyer and the lawyer who went to the highest-ranked law school. The lawyer you hire though is more than your advocate. Your lawyer is also an advisor, a counselor, a negotiator, a teacher, a truth teller, and a source of other professionals and resources depending on the issues in your case. Employing the right lawyer for you makes a difference in how you view your spouse, your co-parent, and your divorce, how you handle the divorce, and how you view your future. Consider the qualities that matter most to you in an attorney-client relationship–gender, age, hourly rate, reputation, board certification, specialty, personality, or something else. You will know you have the right lawyer for you if you feel comfortable, appropriately supported, and trusting. You are more likely to face your future with confidence if you have confidence in the attorney guiding you through the divorce and believe you have a trusted advocate who “always has your back.”
Learn Everything You Can
A confused mind always says “no.” In a divorce, there are times to say “no” but there are as many times to say “yes” or “here is another idea.” Clients find it difficult to say “yes” or to suggest ideas when they are uncertain. To feel more certain, ask questions, take notes, and read materials provided. Do the best that you can to understand the law and the issues in your case. And when you do not understand, ask questions. You will not always like what you learn, but you will feel more confident and more informed when presented with decisions. Refuse to make a decision until you feel fully informed. Think about when you decided to go to college or get your first job. You researched your options and made a decision. Once decided, you were filled with excitement about what is to come. Creating life after divorce can be just like this, a new chapter.
Studies show that individuals are much more satisfied with an outcome if they participate in the creation of the outcome. Exercising the freedom to make and affect decisions, especially decisions that affect our lives, is a core human need. I have seen clients unhappy, frustrated, and resentful about outcomes that objectively (per legal norms) are good because they viewed themselves as powerless, subjected to the decision of their spouse or “the law.” You always have a choice. Resist the temptation to adapt a passive role in your divorce and allowing your lawyer or your spouse to make all of the recommendations and decisions. Find your voice and participate. When you participate in decision-making about your future, you are investing in your future, creating hope for your future. You will feel more powerful, more in control of your life and more confident going forward if you participate in your divorce.
I have a client who wants to be right all the time, at all costs. He views the divorce as a competition and he wants to win. The direct result of this is his spouse is defensive and will not listen to him even when my client is offering a reasonable, beneficial solution. Someone focused on “winning” loses the ability to persuade and loses sight of what is most important. Quit competing and instead imagine that you and your spouse are walking toward the same finish line–you probably share similar goals and concerns and there are a variety of ways to address those goals and concerns. When the competition stops, defensiveness stops, communication and problem-solving can begin. Problem-solving with and not against your soon-to-be-former spouse builds confidence and allows the future to be reimagined.
My clients have taught me that almost everyone has the capacity to move forward with confidence if they choose to do so. Not everyone moved forward beautifully—sometimes forward progress was slow, or ungraceful, or bumpy. Sometimes they needed extra help and support from their lawyer, their therapist, their church, their friends, and their family. But they moved forward because they chose to focus on the future rather than the past. The talked about where they wanted to go instead of talking about where they had been. They stopped arguing about past grievances and talked about what they wanted to have happen in the future. You too can face your future with confidence if you choose and are willing to do the needed work.
There is pain in divorce and grief. I have never heard a client say that divorce was easy or that they would want to experience it again. But I have heard my clients say, “I am doing ok now” or “I have a great relationship with my co-parent and my kids are thriving” or “I have a wonderful job helping others and I never knew I could do this.” Divorce is not the end of life; it is the end of a marriage. And as painful as that is, there is a future. “The future depends on what you do today.” ― Mahatma Gandhi
Kris Algert is one of the most experienced Collaborative Family Lawyers in Austin and has been named Best Lawyers “Lawyer of the Year” for Collaborative Law in the Austin area in 2013, 2016, 2018, and 2020. She is a Master Credentialed Collaborative Professional by Collaborative Divorce Texas, is Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, and is known for her respectful, constructive problem-solving approach to helping clients move forward with confidence after divorce.
To learn if Collaborative Divorce is the right solution for you, please contact Kris Algert at 512-454-8791.