Who wins in a divorce?

We are sometimes asked, “Who usually wins in a divorce case?” The feeling we get is that the winner is whichever side has the most aggressive lawyer, in the shiniest suit.

Sorry to say this, but in our opinion divorce isn’t something people “win.” For most, it is the biggest failure they ever experience in life – whether they get the house or not. Having your life assets divided down the middle, and your children having to accommodate this rupture in their world, is not something to kick up your heels over.

Having said that …

We do have an answer to the question “Who wins?”

The winner, in our experience, is the person who goes through the divorce focused on the future, and not the past.

This is a question not just of attitude, but of legal strategy. The truth is that contentious divorces often bog down in the intense emotion people are feeling. In a bad divorce, both sides listen to the other, alert to statements and accounts that illustrate how insensitive irresponsible or hypocritical the other side sounds.

People in this mindset may direct their lawyers to go after their soon-to-be exes like a chainsaw massacre. They want to use the legal process to inflict pain, to settle scores. Of course, this tends to make the other side dig in harder and try to return the favor.

A better approach

But imagine a contest between someone who’s caught up in feelings of bitterness and revenge, and the other side is thinking about the new life waiting at the end of this process.

This person has put the divorce in their lawyer’s hands. The lawyer insulates them against the pain and argumentativeness of the divorce process. While one side seeks to score points about the years gone by, this side is thinking about how to live in the next phase of life.

Some people can’t do this – they have been hurt too badly, and they can’t control their feelings. If I could have one wish, it would be that these unhappy people could take a breath and think about the opportunities awaiting them.

As their counselor, I do advise them to leave the arguing to me. Think about the second chance at life that is coming your way. When you can do that, you are already the winner.