If you’ve ever seen the movie Princess Bride, my belief is that the “Quick, Painless, Fair, and Inexpensive Divorce” is like the belief about the existence of an R.O.U.S. – I don’t think they exist. (If you haven’t seen the movie, I’ll let you look that one up.) Of course, our hero in that movie found that the R.O.U.S. did exist, but living in the shadows of the hazard-filled fire swamp. I’m still looking for the “Quick, Painless, Fair, and Inexpensive Divorce,” because if I could find it, I’d show that path to my clients every time.
Of course, “quick” means many things to many people. In Texas, the law requires that you wait at least 60 days from filing for divorce before you can have the final order signed by the judge. But even that rarely happens. The length of your divorce process often depends on the length of your marriage. If it took 10 or 15 or 20 years to build your marriage and family to the place it is today, it is worth examining why you feel that dissolving all of that complexity should be a process that takes only 60 or 90 days.
For most people in divorce, the reason they want a quick divorce is to avoid as much pain as possible – rip the band aid off. Divorce is never easy for anyone, whether you are the spouse who filed for divorce or the spouse who feels they are being forced to divorce. There are many complex emotions that both spouses experience in the divorce process. Thinking you are going to have a painless process is avoiding the reality of divorce. However, there are ways to minimize that pain or start healing from it. A Collaborative Divorce addresses this very issue head on, which can reduce the time it takes to divorce by separating emotion from the decision-making process.
Like the word quick, the word “fair” also means many things to many people. It is the “f” word of divorce settlement discussions. What seems fair to you may not seem fair to me. And I cannot almost guarantee you that what seems fair to you does not seem fair to your children when the two of you are in disagreement about almost anything. Fair is incredibly subjective and personal. So if you want to get past divorce, I encourage you to find a different word to replace “fair” in your divorce vocabulary.
This is another word that means different things to different people. The reality is that divorce is not cheap. Compare this event to others in your life. How much do people typically spend on a wedding that lasts for less than a day? Consider your net worth on the day you married and think about how much you have built together as a couple over the course of your marriage that you now have to divide. And don’t forget your children. It’s worth spending the time to develop a parenting plan that works best for your children. That doesn’t mean that you can’t be smart and efficient when it comes to your divorce expenses, but it’s highly unlikely that you will find a cheap divorce that you and your family will be satisfied with.
The bottom line is this… Your life is not simple. It has become complex with the addition of children and all that comes with the wonder of parenthood, as well as years of contributions into retirement plans, a house, cars, and all that you and your spouse have built together. So with a complex life, it is unlikely that your divorce will be simple. But with the right divorce attorney, all of these concerns – time, emotion, money – can be managed to find an efficient and less painful divorce that you can move forward from.
Rhonda Cleaves is a Credentialed Collaborative Divorce Attorney in Plano, Texas, with clients in Collin, Dallas, Denton, and Tarrant Counties.