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The Successful Divorce

By Brian Don Levy, Esquire

Experience and academic studies have helped us identify the basic elements of a successful divorce. 'Successful,' as used here, means completing the process of emotional separation, reaching a new center of balance as a single person, maintaining the welfare of your children, and establishing healthy attitudes toward yourself, your ex-spouse, and your past marriage.

Absence of conflict is not necessarily a part of the ideal divorce. Some degree of anger or conflict is natural, useful, and can even serve a constructive purpose. These emotions can help break the bonds of attachment and the old relationship patterns; it causes one to think and reflect; it facilitates change. Excessive or destructive conflict, however, requires special treatment. Apart from peace of mind, growth, and other human values, there are very practical advantages to struggling as hard as possible to create a Successful divorce. Here are a few:
  • Ease familial tensions and conflict
  • Save thousands of dollars in legal costs
  • Greatly improve parenting skills and cooperation
  • Make agreements with which to more easily comply
The closer one gets to the ideals discussed below, the more successful the divorce, the healthier the family. Some of the elements of a successful divorce include:

Mutuality: Lack of mutuality in making the decision to divorce is a primary cause of conflict in the divorce and post-divorce periods of time. In an ideal divorce, the decision is arrived at together. This means that both spouses come to accept the divorce as the logical choice given their respective circumstances. It does not mean that both parties are equally 'in favor,' of divorce, but that the more reluctant spouse will accept the inevitability of the divorce as something over which he or she has no control. One does not need agreement to get a divorce, but one needs agreement to achieve a healthier, less damaging divorce.

Attitude: Each spouse will attempt to keep a balanced view of the other, and of the marriage experience. Especially if children are involved, the parties will work to cooperate with and support the other spouse, realizing that every child needs both of his or her parents and should not have to choose between them. Lawyers and other professionals who help those involved in divorce have a common saying: "Snow White never marries Hitler" That phrase directly relates to how one spouse may paint the other, to lawyers or counselors or the court.

Action: The most stable divorces occur when spouses, in the interest of family well being, both emotional and economic, take an active role. How? By enlisting attorneys who know family law, yet believe that the collaborative process is not only practical but preferred. By working to stay out of court and using counselors who will encourage cooperation and co-parenting.

Brian Don Levy has been practicing family law since 1973. He believes that divorcing families sometimes do not know that they can 'opt out' of the traditional judicial process and take advantage of the collaborative divorce, which provides parties with an opportunity to restructure their approach to divorce in a way that reduces conflict, psychological injury to parents and their children and the economic hardships often caused by the use and abuse of the judicial process. He is a certified mediator and arbitrator for the Los Angeles County Superior Court, has provided mediation services since 1986, represented divorcing parties in their litigation needs since 1973 and has served as a Judge Pro Tem in various Southern California counties in California since 1978.

He can be contacted by phone at (800) 330-8216 or
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