Tuesday, May 20, 2014
Taking the High Road
The Unsettling of Settlement
People will often advise those divorcing that if they can work out the details amicably, that is the best way to go. By negotiating with one another and coming to agreements, court time and attorney fees can be avoided, along with the animosity that can often arise through such processes. I have known some individuals who accomplished that in exemplary fashion. Others I have known were able to work out many of the details, but have points of disagreement that ultimately have to be decided by a judge. And still others have seemingly battled every single detail in the courtroom.
I have also noticed that sometimes it is not merely the divorcing individuals who create these difficult situations, sometimes the attorneys can foster animosity in one fashion or another, though the truly professional ones adhere to a code of ethics that lifts them above the petty fray. But not all of them operate with that kind of integrity.
In all of these difficult discussions, one of the most troublesome things that happens is the reneging on an agreement by one or the other of the parties involved. Sometimes, (whether done individually, with a mediator, or through attorneys) a discussion can result in agreement, only to have somebody change their mind once the meeting is over. Binding mediation seeks to limit this risk, but it cannot preserve everything. I have always believed that, until the final settlement is approved by the judge, the participant remains in a state of limbo. And unfortunately, far too many times even when the final court settlement issues orders, one individual or the other will choose to ignore them by neglecting an agreed upon visitation schedule, or pursuing bankruptcy just to avoid having to make court ordered payments. You would think that such action wouldn’t be legal, and sometimes it isn’t, but the cost and uselessness of filing contempt of court charges means that individuals too often get away with very shabby behavior.
If this is how it is in your case, I encourage you to take responsibility only for yourself.
Regardless of how others may behave in the negotiation and settlement process, choose to take the high road yourself, adhere to noble principles and act in such a way that you can look yourself and anyone else squarely in the eye with your head held high, free from the shame and guilt that comes through dishonesty and cutting corners.
Then, as you experience the uncertainty of so many facets of your life, dependent on decisions made by a judge you may not know and a process that treats you in cookie cutter fashion, remind yourself that there is only one consistently faithful and certain being in life, and that is God. I challenge you to make God the rock that keeps you steady and strong, as the very earth shifts daily under your feet.