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Civility, Compromise and Integrity Go a Long Way in a Divorce

The average divorce for a middle class family costs $30,000, according to Judge Michele Lowrance's new book, The Good Karma Divorce. In an article and video outlining the book you can see here , many points are in alignment with ideas McAdams Law sets forth in its Special Reports on divorce and child custody.

Specifically, Judge Lawrence warns against letting bitterness and vengefulness escalate a divorce into expensive litigation, which ultimately damages your finances and harms your children. Particularly interesting is her point about how as a Judge she notices the individual who is willing to forgive, to apologize, to negotiate, to make concessions, and who behaves in a civil manner...and the spouse who does not.

This doesn't mean you should give up on what you're entitled to. The idea is to be careful in how you pursue you goals.

Another key admonition that's emphasized is how lying and deception ruin your credibility, and can irreparably damage your case.


A Powerful Strategy: Be Nice

 What's the key take-away point from this? Simply: be nice. You may not find it easy at first, but it is far preferable to the alternative, which usually involves an exorbitant amount of money, time and pain. You are better off coaxing your soon-to-be ex-spouse into a divorce settlement, if at all possible.

This means persuading him or her to agree to do things amicably, so that the two of you don't end up leaving the decisions to a judge. As Judge Lowrence makes clear, at trial you turn over control of your future to the court. Then, a third party will be making critical choices for you that will have a long-term impact.

In an excellent article that echoes similar viewpoints, Sane Divorce is about Salesmanship, not War , Chicago matrimonial attorney Richard Kulerski says the following:

"Anyone who has ever transacted business knows you must be nice to a customer if you wish to make a sale. Being nasty to a customer is bad for business...When you're in court, the judge is your customer -- the one you must sell. Unless you are new to this planet, you will do everything you can to be nice to the judge...When you want an out-of-court settlement, your spouse is the customer -- the one you must sell to. It follows, therefore, that you should act nicely toward your spouse."

So, as you can see, being nice is not about acquiescing. Instead, it is finding a way to fight in a civil manner that is still effective in obtaining your outcome.


What it actually takes...

It all boils down to a precise set of behaviors. The essential components of being nice are these: avoid arguments, stop doing things that irritate your spouse, listen to what he or she has to say, make compromises, and be pleasant. Yes, it's difficult when you're angry, but you have a choice: either be nice now and settle on financially advantageous terms, or fight. Doing battle will very likely subject you and your kids to a lifetime of emotional bitterness and unnecessary economic losses.

While no strategy works 100% of the time, being nice is often overlooked in its simplicity, and has more power than most people realize, even when your ex is mentally unstable or spiteful. These essential truths apply in every jurisdiction in the country, because divorce is as much about people as it is the law.

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