Deciding to Divorce in Arizona
I am going to tell you that divorce sucks. Plain and simple. We will get into that a little later. The question I would ask any good friend thinking about going through a divorce is what sucks less – staying together or getting a divorce because let’s face it; both options suck.
The key is deciding which sucks less and, believe it or not, you begin to see room for improvement in your life. The second important question to ask yourself is who will this also suck for. The obvious answer is your children, but other family and friends will also be affected by the divorce.
It will inevitably suck for them as well. Lastly, add some “how much this sucks” values to everyone who will be affected by the divorce and assign a “this sucks value” to each person to the extent you believe it will affect them. Now create your “Super Sucky Divorce Matrix” (yes, I did just say Super Sucky Divorce Matrix) and step back and think about all the different people who will be affected and the extent they will be affected and ask yourself if you should file for divorce.
Now, I am not a psychologist or counselor, but I am a divorce attorney and have had these conversations with hundreds and hundreds of people who were not sure whether divorce was the right decision. I have also gone through a divorce as well, so I know how much it sucks. The truth is that everything is going to suck for some period of time.
It is inevitable for whatever decision you make to become a problem for everyone involved. Not making a decision to divorce, which is a decision in and of itself, will have its own problems. Disagreements between spouses will continue to be a problem and you will have to deal with those consequences if you stay married.
So will your children and everyone else that is privy to witnessing the problems in a marriage. If you get divorced, you will have a whole new set of problems, including having to co-parent, helping your children adjust to the divorce, dividing all your stuff up (of which you now have 50% less stuff – that sucks!), and paying attorneys to get you through the divorce.
So, here it is. Life will suck whether you stay married or get divorced. I know that sounds very pessimistic but hear me out before you start firing comments and emails telling me I am the most depressing divorce attorney who ever lived. It is a simple fact of life that every decision we make has consequences. That is a law of nature.
Every good decision and bad decision you make, including whether to get a divorce, will have positive consequences and negative consequences. Let me digress. Ok, let’s say you have always wanted a bright red Ferrari and you finally have the money to buy that Ferrari. That doesn’t sound sucky at all – right?
Sure, you will enjoy driving down the street and having everyone looking at you like you are a baller. But, you will also have problems with that Ferrari. Maybe a few speeding tickets, some idiot that wants to drag a key down the side of it because they think you are a tool, a pretty hefty car and insurance payment and likely some expensive repairs down the road. See, any decision we make, whether it is buying a fancy red Ferrari or getting a divorce has benefits and problems. Let’s see what sucks less.
Divorce and Decision Paralysis
So, we have created our “Sucky Divorce Matrix” and are sitting back and staring at it with no idea what to do. In fact, you may be more confused and likely a bit more upset as you focus on all the problems you face whether you divorce or choose not to divorce. This can result in decision paralysis and is something we all do in all aspects of our life. Some are quicker at making decisions than others, but we all do it to some extent.
Buy the Ferrari or drive my Camry to work every day? If only there was some magical solution or a crystal ball to make sure you make the right decisions in life, including whether to file for divorce or stay married. Let me offer a suggestion that is going to make you dig deeper than you likely ever have before. The problem is you and we are going to fix that problem. Well, that was a little arrogant. Better stated, you are going to fix you and the answer whether to divorce or not will become more clear.
Defining Our Core Values in a Marriage
So, here it is. We all form certain values that define our personalities and define what works for us and what does not work for us. We do this in our subconscious. Our spouses and children have their own distinct values that define their personalities and what works for them and what does not work for them. In an unhealthy family structure, those values are either nurtured or attacked. As a defense, the spouses and the children all begin to assert specific roles to protect their values and personalities.
Let me give you an example. Bob and Mary have been married fifteen years. They have two children, Emma, age 15, and Jack, age 10. From the outside, the family looks idyllic. Bob earns a good living and Mary takes care of all the children’s needs. However, Bob drinks too much and belittles his wife in front of the kids and is sometimes physically abusive. Bob even demeans his own children for not being good enough.
In this scenario, what typically occurs is someone is the antagonist (Bob), someone becomes the protector (Mary), someone begins acting out with negative social behaviors such as drugs or alcohol abuse (Emma), and someone acts as if nothing is wrong at all and becomes the proverbial recluse of the family (Jack). These roles can change depending on the family. Maybe Emma steps up and becomes the protector by mitigating the terrible things her father does and Mother becomes the recluse or the person in the family acting out. The truth is that people change roles in families to defend their delicate set of values.
Physical abuse alone is a definite reason to get a divorce and I would suggest that no further analysis needs to occur if your spouse is physically abusive to you or your children. I would rank emotional abuse as high as it damages children during their formative years and is not, by definition, a healthy relationship.
I want to first address the mental health community’s reliance on Positive Psychology. The idea that you can change your problems by focusing on how great things are in your life, well, sucks. It doesn’t work. Not to say that marriage counseling is not a good thing. Quite the opposite, marriage counseling with a qualified counselor can save a marriage, but only if that counselor focuses on what sucks about the marriage and fixing those issues with a real change from everyone involved.
I would suggest you set the “Sucky Divorce Matrix” aside for a moment and begin exploring your core values. Because it is these core values that are being disrupted enough to cause you to ask the question about whether you should get a divorce or stay married. There is a lot of material available in books and online about discovering your core values. It turns out there are four main key core value sets.
These four key core value sets have been categorized as (1) red personalities (2) blue personalities (3) white personalities and (4) yellow personalities. None of us are completely one color of a personality, but your core personality will predominately be one of these four colors. Before you read about the characteristics of these personality types, you should first take a personality test to see what personality is your dominant type.
Once you discover your personality type, start reading about your core values and the values you don’t have but the other personality types do have. Do this for yourself and then try to determine the personality types of your spouse and children. Think about the interactions of the family and how each person interacts on a daily basis. Now, pull out your “Sucky Divorce Matrix”. It is time to do some deep digging.
Is Your Marriage Fulfilling Your Core Values or Attacking Them
Let’s start with you. Is your marriage meeting your core values? Are your social interactions meeting your core values? Is your work meeting your core values? Are the people you work with meeting your core values? You may be wondering why I am mentioning social interactions and workplace interactions.
You are the sum total of all the interactions you have. However, some interactions, such as your marriage, should be one of the most rewarding aspects of your life. If you determine your marriage not only fails to support your core values or, worse, is attacking your core values you will not find true happiness in your relationship, with your social interactions, or in your work.
Now I want you to look at the “Sucky Divorce Matrix” from a different perspective and reconstruct that matrix according to your core values. Think about your spouse meeting those core values, Think about your children, your friends, and your co-workers meeting your core values. Looks pretty good, huh. Well, it is not realistic because you will always have problems.
You get a new job and you will have new problems. You get divorced and you will have problems associated with that decision . . . and the list goes on and on and on. But, here is the key, some problems are good problems to have while some problems are bad problems to have in your life. Getting divorced from someone who is abusing you is a good problem. Sure, you will have to divide all of your property and may have less overall income to support your new household, but I would rather have those good problems to solve for my own mental health than being abused by someone who is supposed to love, support and protect me.
I have Decided to Get Divorced | What’s Next
So, you have put in the work and decided if divorce is your best option. Time to file for divorce? Nope. We still have some work to put in before we run down to the courthouse. We now need to turn our focus on everything that is going to happen in the divorce, so we are not taken by surprise.
You should consult a qualified divorce attorney to discuss what will happen with the children, the payment of child support and alimony, the division of your assets, and the transition from a one family household to a two family household. Once you have your action plan, you can then file for divorce and get through the process as quickly and effectively as possible.
I want you to know why I wrote this article. It was not to encourage anyone to get a divorce. That would suck and that would make me a very sucky person and out of alignment with my own core values. My intention is never to get someone divorced because I am a divorce lawyer. Nope, not at all. My intention is to save marriages whenever the situation suits the preservation of a marriage but to help people achieve a more fulfilling life if divorce is the alternative necessary to protect you and your children.
Chris Hildebrand is a divorce and family law attorney at Hildebrand Law, PC. He believes the policies and procedures he uses to get his clients through a divorce should all be guided by the principles of honesty, integrity, and, quite frankly, actually caring about what his clients are going through in a divorce. In short, his practice is defined as not sucking when he represents someone in a divorce in Arizona. He also manages all of the other attorneys at his firm to make sure they don’t suck either. Call us at (480)305-8300 to schedule your personalized consultation with one of our experienced Phoenix and Scottsdale Arizona divorce attorneys today.