The Toughest Divorce Cases

Special Challenges to Moving Through the Stages of Divorce

“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” – Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

With half of all marriages ending in divorce, it’s easy to think divorce cases are easy. So many people do it every day, there must be a set path, a series of steps one takes to do it successfully, before it becomes a tough case.

If only it were that easy.

Each of us has unique characteristics that conspire to complicate our splits meaning we may not be able to follow an established path. We may need to find our own way. We may need to improvise. And that’s a lot of work.

This month we’ve been taking a close look at the work of Liza Caldwell, cofounder and director of SAS For Women, graduate of Fordham University with an MA from Columbia Teachers College where she studied Gender and Leadership Development. She’s trained in transformational coaching and she’s a certified professional coach and recognized by the International Coach Federation.

We discussed some of the “special circumstances” that make the decision to separate or divorce complicated. Factors like having children or sharing a business can represent challenges when moving through the process of divorce.

The Biggie: Children

With 40-50% of marriages including children ending in divorce, it’s safe to say that it’s a common experience in our culture. Still, it makes coming to the conclusion that you need to end your marriage, more difficult. The key here, according to Caldwell is to remember that you are modeling for the children. The children may not play a conscious part in the realization that you need to get divorced (though thinking about them could absolutely be part of the trigger). But by stage two, or “Hitting the Trigger”, it’s time to have an action plan in place for the children. During stage two to stage four, Caldwell recommends marshalling support from therapists and other professionals to help you navigate the process of divorce with children—both for you and for them.

Working/Owning a Business Together

A shared business is another frequent “partnership within a partnership” that comes under threat when a marriage ends. This can be particularly complicated because all of your professional relationships may be touched or affected by your split.

As you moved through the four stages of divorce, you will need to do some work to preserve your professional life. In stage two, it’s important to establish ground rules. A recent Forbes article does a great job of describing some rules for navigating this tough situation:

  1. Write down some ground rules: what remains unsaid creates space for complications.
  2. Make sure you agree on the big vision: marital problems are different from business problems. But they can stem from the same issues. Be sure you’re on the same page professionally.
  3. You both have issues. Be bold—own yours. Shared business can actually be a great opportunity for openness that you may not have in your marriage!

If you’re considering divorce but would like to try an approach that might mean a brighter future, call my team to schedule a confidential consultation.

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