Taking the High Road: Preparing a Divorce Mission Statement
When divorcing clients first approach us with their divorce cases, most of them want to “take the high road” in the divorce. Nobody wants to be seen as the petty and unreasonable party in a divorce. We all aspire to be the better person and rise above unseemly conflicts that seem to plague so many other divorce cases. However, things may not go as one hopes. Divorce is unlike anything else we will experience in our lives. It is simultaneously a deeply emotional affair and a logistically complicated one. A divorcing spouse has to deal with the hurts and frustrations of the broken-down marriage, as well as negotiate through the details of the divorce arrangements – custody of the children, division of matrimonial assets, and maintenance. In such circumstances, people are prone to act out of insecurity and anger. They fear being taken advantage of by their ex-spouse, they are uncertain about their future, and they worry that they will lose their children. As the divorce proceedings continue, their earlier commitments to taking the high road may be forgotten and their case devolves into an acrimonious back-and-forth between parties. The relationship between parties deteriorate even further and many resources are wasted on fruitless squabbles over the smallest of issues. We know how these cases go and we know how to help our clients avoid them. When parties are able to resolve the divorce peacefully with minimal conflict, everyone wins – especially their children. When you take the high road, you can:
- Preserve your dignity, abide by your values, and not take actions that you will later regret or be ashamed of;
- Protect your children from the stresses and traumas of a high-conflict divorce;
- Maintain your relationship with your ex-spouse and make co-parenting less complicated;
- Spend less on your legal costs.
One incredibly powerful way to commit yourself to taking the high road is to prepare a divorce mission statement and to revisit it often. A divorce mission statement is a statement that you will create to act as your compass through the divorce process. Your mission statement will guide you away from making decisions from a place of fear and pettiness and help you remain true to your core values and beliefs. The mission statement will not be about the specifics of the divorce settlement – financial outcomes or custodial orders – but it is the opportunity for you to define the story of your divorce and how you want to look back on it. It would be best if your spouse would be willing to work on a joint divorce mission statement. If not, you should write it on your own and be willing to share it with your spouse. In your mission statement, you should write out:
- The goals you hope to achieve at the end of your divorce; and
- The approach and attitude you will adopt to realise these goals.
Write it as a personal letter to yourself, a declaration of your commitment to your hopes for the future. You might write: At the end of this divorce, I will do my best to see that the following are true:
- I was in control of my emotions and never acted out of anger or fear.
- The divorce proceeded very smoothly with minimal conflict.
- The divorce was settled out of court and legal costs were kept low, allowing us to preserve our assets for our children.
- I am on good terms with my ex-spouse and we are confident that we both love our children and want the best for them.
- I have moved on and I do not harbour any feelings of ill-will and bitterness towards my ex-spouse.
- Our children do not blame themselves for the divorce and are able to feel loved in both parents’ homes.
To achieve these goals, I will make sure to do the following:
- I will give myself time to grieve over the loss of the marriage.
- Whenever I felt alone and overwhelmed, I will reach out to people who are there to support me.
- I will always place my children’s interests before my own.
- I will make time for self-care and make sure my physical and emotional needs are being met.
- I will join a divorce support group and make meaningful connections there.
- I will review my divorce mission statement at least once a month and remind myself of what is truly important to me.
Divorce should not be viewed as an end in itself. It is only a transitory tunnel you will have to pass through as you head towards a brand new lease of life. Do not lose yourself in that journey, but begin with the end in mind and stay true to the course that you have charted for yourself.
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PKWA Family Lawyers have helped many clients through some of the most difficult experiences of their lives. At PKWA Law, our team of Family Lawyers are consistently named as leading Singapore family and divorce lawyers by respected legal publications such as Benchmark Litigation Asia Pacific, Straits Times, Asian Legal Business, Singapore Business Review and Doyle’s Guide.
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