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Agreeing to disagree in a divorce

Once you and your spouse have made the decision to divorce, you still have to find your way through the mire of the divorce process. This can be a minefield for some couples, while others manage to carry it off with aplomb.

How to get from Point A to Point B and remain civil

It is not always easy to put aside past hurts and work together with someone for the best mutual results. The problem is that some people use divorce and its issues as an opportunity to punish the other spouse. While this may be a natural reaction — given past hurtful actions by that spouse — it is certainly not productive.

At some point in your divorce, it may be time to realize that the two of you must agree to disagree on some matters between you. There are several reasons for this, including:

Agreeing to disagree doesn't mean giving up

You may never agree with your ex about certain things, and if you had a model relationship, you probably would not have wound up divorcing. Keep in mind that whenever minor children are involved and a case goes to court, the decisions are made in the best interest of the child.

While that can be reassuring on some levels, parents who wish to exercise some level of autonomy over their children's lives are often more comfortable making these decisions themselves. But it takes a willingness to compromise and patience to remain civil and hash it out.

Mediation can move the process along

Even if it seems that you and your spouse will never reach accord on one or two matters, by agreeing to mediate rather than litigate, you can save yourselves time and a great deal of money.

The money paid out to retain two attorneys and in court costs can cover a kid's private school tuition or a 5-star vacation after the divorce is over. Even if you mediate all but a couple of stubborn issues, heading to court over resolution of one or two matters will still cost far less than litigating an entire divorce.

Compromise is inevitable

Divorce is never a completely one-sided, black and white situation. Some matters are going to be more difficult to resolve (e.g. contested custody) than others, and it is then that one party may try to besmirch the other's name or reputation unfairly.

Refrain from this type of vindictiveness. Realize that the ultimate victim of attempts at parental alienation is the child who is denied a vital relationship with his or her other parent. Unless that parent has abused or neglected the child, preserving the relationship is usually better than cutting it off.

The two of you know the intricacies of each others' lifestyles and work schedules. Split custody might not be the best option for an engineer who works 60-hour weeks. Alternatively, longer, extended time with the kids on long weekends and vacations may provide quality time over quantity.

Mediation can bring sanity

If you are tired of acrimony and animosity, consider mediation. It can help return sanity to even the most fractured divorces processes.

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John T. Chamberlin, Attorney at Law
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