One only needs to look at the daily headlines to see that our society has reached a level of polarization and conflict that have not been witnessed for a very long time. Left unchecked, these pervading feelings of tension and anger can ultimately seep into our daily lives at home and negatively impact the way in which we relate to those closest to us. Unfortunately, one of the places where these stresses can feed and be particularly disruptive is in the divorce process.
In a recent survey of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), 41% of the attorneys have noted that the current political climate has worsened the tone of divorces. In all, 54% of the members cite an increase in the number of contentious divorce cases during the past three years, while 52% find that divorcing spouses are becoming more hostile.
Compounding this worrying trend is the use of social media. All too often, individuals involved in a divorce find themselves ruled more by their emotions than their intellect, and social media posts and texting unfortunately can unleash a harsh tirade in the blink of an eye. In the days before the internet, spouses would have had more time to properly cool down and come to grips with how damaging this kind of instantaneous reaction could be. Without a buffer of time, once these insults are unleashed, they often only serve to make bad situations much worse and can prevent much needed cooperation from taking place.
In order to work towards a more constructive divorce that is capable of blocking out some of the toxicity of our very polarized society, spouses should:
- Make detailed preparations and hire an attorney that they feel is a good fit. If the advice doesn’t sound right, get a second opinion.
- Try to avoid automatically assuming that the other side has improper motives. It is best to focus on the facts and the numbers rather than suspecting that your estranged spouse is always out to get you.
- Keep a steady focus on the end goals and walk away from some of the small stuff during negotiations.
- Pay close attention to your lawyer and try to follow their advice. Remember the attorney is focused on the big picture of the divorce and can help you to take a step back, while preventing you from getting wrapped up in the day-to-day challenges, confrontations, and aggravations.
- Aspire to be able to look at yourself in the mirror at the end of the divorce with the knowledge that you behaved with dignity and integrity.
The divorce process is one of the most emotionally stressful and grueling experiences that someone can go through. It is certainly becoming even more challenging with the current toxicity constantly on display in our national political and social climate. Even many of our daily interactions seem to be increasingly losing a sense of courteousness and decorum. While the impact can prove far worse in a divorce, where all too often, estranged spouses will only focus on their differences and points of contention, we should all try to prevent negative emotions from overriding intellect and harming the greater good. By actively choosing to set a more positive example and pursuing a path that values cooperation, the way in which we conduct ourselves can contribute to a ripple effect that reverberates far beyond our immediate situations and impacts society for the better.