article was published in Rochester Woman Magazine, July 2002
First Of Many Decisions
By Carolyn T. Bryson, Family Mediator
and Bill have been married for 15 years. Both in their late thirties,
they are parents to three children ages 13, 9 and 5. Julie is
a high school teacher and Bill is an engineer. Both have been
in marriage counseling for several months. Each describes the
home environment as very stressful and express concern about how
their anger and frustration toward one another is affecting their
children. Both state that the marriage is over and that they have
put off the inevitable long enough. They are concerned about costs
and express uncertainty about what to do next. Their therapist
suggests divorce mediation.
are many decisions to be made during divorce, such as how the
children will adjust, how to parent when the two of you are no
longer together, and how to survive financially as a single person,
now and down the road. Making decisions during an emotionally
traumatic time in your life can be confusing, overwhelming, frightening.
But know that you have choices and that you need not be alone
during this vulnerable time. The key is to empower yourself with
good information, choose to make informed decisions, and utilize
resources to help guide and support you along the way. This is
why divorce mediation works for so many people; it respects and
nurtures your decision-making process.
Two Divorces Are Alike
you are considering a divorce, or know of someone who is, the
experience does not have to be an ugly, painful and overly expensive
ordeal. Don't allow horror stories about people losing their home
or paying outrageous legal fees, or about parents losing their
parental rights fuel your fear and cloud your judgement. Rather,
choose to do your research and think things through so that your
decisions accurately reflect you and your spouses' intentions,
while addressing your needs and interests.
with a divorce mediator, you are encouraged to consult with financial
planners, bankers, attorneys and other professionals to help you
understand your options. There are numerous web sites, books and
presentations available about grounds for divorce, joint and sole
custody, requirements for a legal separation, financial considerations,
tax consequences and budget preparation. Collecting facts about
the process and acquiring the information that you need not only
boosts your self-confidence about how to deal with the present
circumstances, but it will secure a higher level of self-esteem
as you map out your future. Remember, the objective to divorce
is to survive it well, and prepare yourself and your children
to live and sufficiently support yourself as an independent individual.
Realize that people do survive divorce, and so will you.
your decisions is to determine how much control you and your spouse
want to maintain during your divorce process. The question is,
do you want to make the ultimate decisions or do you want someone
a professional divorce mediator will help you and your spouse
discuss and decide about child custody and residency, the parenting
plan, asset and debt distribution, spousal maintenance and child
support. When the line of communication is open, decisions can
be made in an expeditious and inexpensive manner, because they
are made by you and not someone else.