A good divorce settlement offers resolution and is an arrangement you can live with into the future. I encourage my clients to focus on solutions and evaluate whether or not a proposed solution is workable and “livable”. If the answer is, “Yes, but it doesn’t feel fair and I don’t like it,” it’s probably a keeper.
As a mediator I have facilitated many divorce settlements. Although every case and family is unique, there are some common behaviors which show up during divorce negotiations. These common behaviors are most often tied to each party’s position or beliefs about how property should be divided, how financial support should be determined and how parenting time should be allocated and these beliefs become the basis of how the parties negotiate – each trying to convince the other that his/her position or belief is the most “fair” or most “reasonable.” Ironically both parties often present seemingly fair and reasonable arguments. Unfortunately, in the context of divorce mediation, neither will likely be effective in convincing the other to agree based on his/her definition of “fair” and “reasonable.”
Remember that the concept of what is “fair” is subjective and varies greatly from person to person. If you are seeking fairness, vindication or punitive outcomes the court cannot deliver. A therapist can help you work through feelings of unfairness, betrayal and rejection – a judge cannot. A mediated divorce settlement is rarely based entirely on the law and rarely feels fair to either party but it does provide resolution and resolution brings healing. The settlement will seem more and more reasonable and maybe even “fair” as time passes.
Written by: Amber M. Serwat, MA
Amber is a divorce and parenting specialist in private practice in Burnsville, MN. She is also a divorced parent and step-parent of three children, ages 16-12.
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