Definition of sacrifice: the surrender of something prized or desirable for the sake of something else, maybe something considered as having a higher or more pressing claim; something you give up, usually for the sake of a better cause.
Divorce is like an onion. Peel back a layer and all you get is another layer, and one that will probably make you cry at some point. It’s not easy. As a legal process, if a judge is deciding your case, no one ever wins. With divorce in a courtroom, there are only losers. Even if you feel in the immediate moment of a courtroom verdict that you won, you will figure out pretty quickly that you didn’t. And your children will certainly suffer from any judge’s decision. That’s why most divorcing couples settle. They want to cut their losses and keep as much control over the outcome as they can. Settling requires compromise – and compromise means making sacrifices. Nowhere is that more evident than when making decisions in divorce that will affect your children for the rest of their lives.
Imagine two parents “fighting” over where the children will live and who will “have” them during which periods of time.
Before the divorce, the children saw both of their parents every day. Now that the parents are divorcing, one or maybe both parents think that the other should only see the children every other weekend. Go back and read that sentence again – really, go back and read it again. Now ask yourself – is someone making a sacrifice or is someone being sacrificed?
No parent wants to lose time with their children, which is why making decisions about the schedule with the children can be so difficult. (Notice, we’re not using the words “possession of” or “visitation with” the children.) By divorcing, it is highly unlikely that you will see your children every day like you did before the divorce. But if you can sit down with your soon to be ex-spouse, your future parenting partner, you can make decisions together that will best benefit your children. It will require sacrifice on both of your parts. It will require you to let go of certainly precious time with your children for the sake of something with a higher or more pressing claim. That pressing claim is not the time that your ex-spouse wants, but the higher cause of what your children need based on what the two of you can provide for them as parenting partners.
A Collaborative Divorce provides the right environment for you to make just these types of decisions.
It provides an avenue to explore and discuss what your children need without the threat of feeling like you are giving up a valuable position in your legal case. It allows both you and your spouse to win by focusing on the interests of your children, who you both inevitably feel should come first.
Rhonda Cleaves is a divorce attorney in Plano, Texas. She represents clients in Collin, Dallas, Denton, and Tarrant counties.