Mis-adventures and making your best choices in divorce

I decided to exercise at home one evening instead of hitting the trails. So I pulled out my mountain bike and indoor trainer and attempted to put them together.

Placing the mountain bike into the trainer normally is a very simple process, but not this time. I couldn’t get the back wheel into position so it would be locked in place. I loosened the tension; changed the bike angle; rotated the lever that locks the tire in place; changed the bike angle again, all to no avail.

Ten minutes later nothing working and I was frustrated. I thought about surrendering to the sofa then it occurred to me.

“Why don’t I use my road bike instead of my mountain bike?”

I had chosen my mountain bike because it allows me to sit more upright and is a bit easier on the back, shoulder, and tush, but of course, getting a workout was my desired outcome. So, I pulled out the road bike and wa-la! In less than a minute, it slipped right into the trainer, I jumped on, and started riding.

“What does a bike mishap have to do with getting divorced” you ask?

Well, it holds two very important lessons that can be used to make your divorce easier.

Lesson Number One: Some divorce solutions may be difficult to implement while others are a breeze. If your desired outcome can be achieved in a more timely and less frustrating way, why not choose the breezy solution?

Here’s an example of Lesson Number One at work in a divorce.

Paula was getting divorced and her ideal outcome was to continue living in her home after the divorce and until her children left for college, then she would downsize to a condominium.

The first solution Paula considered was buying-out her husband’s interest in the home then selling it a few years late after her children were at college. But she didn’t have enough cash on hand to seal the deal. Paula began applying for mortgages (a slow and difficult process in this economy). She also started researching the real estate market in an attempt to determine (predict) what the housing market might look like in four years when she anticipated selling her home. Paula concluded that owning then selling the house could take a lot of time and had a high degree of financial risk, which made her feel uncomfortable.

The second solution Paula considered was selling her interest in the house to her husband but remaining in the home as her husband’s tenant until the children were in college. According to her husband’s accountant, he could receive tax benefits as her “landlord” and as a homeowner when he moved back into the home in a few years. Paula concluded that this solution, which her husband also preferred, would be quick and easy. She loved the fact that she wouldn’t have to go through the mortgage underwriting process, tie up her cash, carry a mortgage, pay property taxes and insurance, maintain it then try and sell it in a few years.

In Paula’s mind, both solutions could have led to her desired outcome, but the first was difficult and the second, a breeze. She chose the easy option and twelve years later, she raves about how it worked out perfectly.

Paula’s solution may seem unconventional, but it is often the unconventional solutions that work best in divorce. These solutions can be crafted jointly with your spouse or presented to and adopted by a judge.

The key to making unconventional solutions work is finding them. You can do this by brainstorming with a lawyer, accountant, your spouse, a therapist or a trusted friend.

In my opinion the power of brainstorming is one of the greatest tools you can use when making your best choices in divorce.

Lesson Number Two: If at first you don’t succeed, try something else.

Now, I’m not suggesting that you give something a quick try and chuck it if it doesn’t work instantly. A lot of divorce solutions take time to finesse and finalize. I am suggesting that if you have repeatedly tried and failed to make a particular solution work, don’t give up on the prospect of finding a workable solution. Keep brainstorming until you have considered all of the options you can imagine and then some.

Here is an example of Lesson Number Two at work in a divorce.

Cathy and Bill wanted to negotiate a divorce settlement without going to court. They were both educated and successful professionals who saw eye-to-eye on most things, so it seemed like a reasonable proposition. But whenever they sat down together Cathy’s buttons got pushed and in her heightened emotional state, she would say things she didn’t mean and storm out of the room. Once she had calmed down, Cathy and Bill would continue trying to negotiate an agreement, but Cathy’s issues kept thwarting their efforts.

Cathy came to me in search of a solution to her problem. When she and I met we reviewed her options together and the one she selected turned out to be the perfect solution she needed.

Cathy and Bill hired a neutral mediator who was both a family lawyer and psychologist. During the mediation sessions and with the mediator’s help, Cathy was able to remain grounded and negotiate an agreement even though a few buttons were pushed in the process.

Cathy achieved her desired outcome and felt empowered by the tools the mediator provided during the process, which she continues to use while co-parenting with Bill. Her buttons don’t get pushed as often and when they do, she is better equipped to respond.

So, if you feel stuck in the divorce process or can’t seem to find a solution that works (like trying to put a square peg into a round hole), step back and see if you can find a different and perhaps, even unconventional solution that will work.

If you would like my help finding solutions to your divorce related problems that I am seen and helped clients solve thousands of times, please complete the confidential form below to see how I may serve you.

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