7 Rules for an Amicable Divorce
A Divorce Story
Divorce can be ugly, sometimes. Two people once in love, passionate about their life together, their family and future, reduced to quarreling, anger and resentment as a reflection of the pain and rejection they feel at the collapse of their marriage. No matter who is the one initiating the dissolution, splitting a life back into separate pieces is painful and never easy. Well, not for most, that is.
Tammy and Rick are an exception to the typical divorce story, mostly because Tammy is not your average divorcee.
Vibrant, youthful and successful, Tammy was a beloved Phys-Ed teacher, and girls field hockey coach nearing 20 years at her local high school when she met Rick, who was a school administrator in the same district. Their courtship was full of passion and excitement, both of them feeling as though they had found their true soul mate, the one whom made waiting so long, absolutely worth it. They were married less than a year later and since Tammy was already over 40, they didn’t waste any time having their two beautiful daughters, one right after the other.
While Rick stayed on in his role with the Department of Education, Tammy wanted nothing more than to raise her girls and enjoy every precious moment with them as they grew up. Tammy loved being a stay-at-home Mom and fortunately, she was able to retire from the school before she went on maternity leave. Rick continued to be the primary income provider for the family. As the years progressed and the girls matured with independence and the busy schedules that came along with high school, their marriage began to fall apart. Rick was promoted and took up new interests and Tammy invested herself into the role of assistant hockey coach/one-woman cheering squad for her girls, as they started on the school’s field hockey team.
Feeling the rejection from her husband, as if she somehow failed at being a wife, while she excelled at being a mother, Tammy struggled for two years, falling into a depression that was evident to everyone around them. Just after their last Christmas together, she decided it was time to initiate a divorce from Rick. She knew Rick would never do that to her and the girls, but she couldn’t continue living as she was, and certainly didn’t want her girls to be impacted any further by the unhappiness they both felt.
They agreed to keep things amicable and split their finances and assets 50/50. However, Rick had always taken care of their expenses, so Tammy really didn’t even know where to begin to ensure this was done fairly for everyone. It was especially important to both of them to ensure their girls had everything they would need for college, their weddings, and their future. They both had lawyers to help legalize any agreements they made together, but it was when Tammy came to CURO for help with the division of their assets, that she was able to regain a feeling of some control of what was happening in her life.
Tammy came up with a brilliant set of “rules” for keeping the meetings between her and her soon-to-be ex-husband productive, civil and equitable.
1. Begin with items already agreed to and DO NOT REVISIT unless there is a good reason to put them back on the table.
2. Listen without interruption; use active listening to ensure understanding before answering or switching topics.
3. Focus only on current and future finances – no past financial actions.
4. Positive tone of voice, facial expressions and body language.
5. Seek to understand each other’s point of view and situation rather than only defending own position.
6. Be flexible – settlement will range from 50/50 to 60/40 split.
7. Designate a note taker so no agreements or outstanding issues/questions are lost or misinterpreted.
Since custody wasn’t at stake in this case, Tammy and Rick only had their monetary agreement to settle. Rick would soon be retiring and each had their own pensions from the school district. Tammy had inherited stock from her father she wanted to protect for the girls and Rick had been the one investing from his salary for their empty nest years. We reviewed every detail of their finances with Tammy and provided her with insight into possible outcomes of each scenario.
With each time Tammy met with Rick, she was able to take the knowledge she gained in our time together and share it with Rick, explaining our advice calmly and thoroughly, so they could make the best decisions for their family. She felt empowered and informed as the process went along. Leaving behind the state of depression and returning to the charismatic woman she had been previously been, Tammy rebuilt her life with the strength and courage she regained.
As the process came to a close, the rules they kept throughout made closure come easier, and saved their family from enduring the heartache and anger that is more common in divorce.
Living on the other side of their split, both Rick and Tammy are happy and have found new direction for the passion in their lives. Rick is retired and is remodeling a small beach cottage for he and girls. Tammy has turned her healthy, active living into a new career as a yoga instructor at her local club. Their girls are thriving in college and enjoy seeing the new life each of their parents have built for themselves.
Tammy sent a beautiful note to Marianna, shortly after her divorce was settled. It read:
There are no words to fully express how you have helped me change my life. But I found this quote, which I absolutely love, and wanted to share it with you.
“An arrow can only be shot by pulling it backwards. When life is dragging you back with difficulties, it means it’s going to launch you into something great. So just focus, and keep aiming. “
You helped me stay focused and informed, so I could launch into that something great. Thank you!
We’re so proud to have been a part of this transition for Tammy and her family and love helping families come to a fair and equitable agreement that works for everyone.