Divorce Advice: Trust, Patterns and Expectations

Couples who have been together for a long time TRUST each other, and when secure, allow each partner a measure of freedom to act and do the things that need to be done for the family.  Because partners assume that every act by the other is for their mutual benefit, there is no perceived threat when one partner makes a decision, spends money, or makes plans and commitments for the couple or family.

Over time, couples also develop fairly predictable PATTERNS of behavior, which arise out of the day-to-day schedule, and lifestyle of the parties. Otherwise known as our daily routines, we all dance with and work around our family members to get chores done, keep the kids happy and healthy and keep the washer and dryer on 24/7 and of course, get our day jobs done successfully.

As a result of our trust and patterns, which we all rely on without really being aware of it, we have EXPECTATIONS of our partners and the family on how matters will be handled in our home.

For example during the week, in most homes Mom and Dad work, Dad takes care of the cars and the furnace, Mom cooks and carpools, both do laundry, kids go to school and sports and activities, the dog and cat sit around and watch everyone else. Each house is different in the details, but we all have to get the same stuff done.

But what happens to our trust, patterns and expectations when a couple divorces?

Sadly, trust is broken, patterns change and expectations are misplaced. Here is a common example I have seen many times.

Throughout the marriage, both partners deposit their respective paychecks into a joint account by direct deposit. Both people know how much the deposits are and when they hit the joint account. The mortgage, car payments, utilities, insurances, etc. are all paid monthly out of the joint account without incident. Both partners use their debit cards as necessary without much comment or incident from the other.  Over time, this repeated pattern creates an EXPECTATION in each partner that the other will continue his or her pattern.

Suddenly, one or both partners decide to divorce.

Soon after one partner stops the direct deposit into the joint account, without warning, and opens an individual checking account. Unknown to the other partner, the monthly bills won't be covered now and there is not enough money to make ends meet. Then making matters worse, the partners, sensing disaster, start to make unusual and frequent cash withdrawals from the account, thinking "just in case...”

These changes in the couples’ pattern breaches their status quo, which brings on suspicion and breaks down trust. Even innocent transactions raise questions and are scrutinized and judged. The expectation that the other partner will do “the right thing” is no longer an assumed certainty. Fear replaces confidence, anxiety replaces trust.

In litigation, immediate court action is recommended by counsel to avoid further improprieties. The sword is drawn, the complaint for divorce is filed and another family starts down the rabbit hole of a litigated case.

How does collaborative divorce help restore this breach?

This is done by opening the lines of communication and bringing the parties to the table for their first four-way (where the clients and two lawyers meet) as soon as it can be scheduled. Any and all misunderstandings, wrong assumptions and corrective actions can be tackled and redirected by the couple with the team’s guidance.

Understanding the frightening nature of a broken trust, a different pattern and the shaking up of one’s expectations helps clients take a step back, and face to face, work out a financial plan that is acceptable to everyone and protective of each party as well.

Rather than fueling the budding acrimony brought on by change, collaborative professionals work to corral the clients’ anger and worry, and hopefully, allow them to move ahead with the divorce process reasonably and knowledgably, not in fear.

About Joanne Nadell, Esquire

As a New Jersey divorce attorney who specialize in Mediation and Collaborative law, my goal is to assist you in taking control of your divorce and family matters by resolving your personal and financial disputes.

The best method for resolving these family disputes is to use self-determination, your own mind and goals to set the future for yourself, your soon-to-be-ex-spouse and your children. After twenty years of divorce and family litigation, I have had enough of litigation.

Mediation and Collaborative Law are truly the keys to resolving conflict and working out divorce and family issues without the delays and bureaucratic paperwork and deadlines associated with standard divorce litigation. 

Families that want to save months of time, thousands of dollars and have a solution that both people agree with are just plain smart.

For more information, please feel free to give me a call at (732) 741-7776 or visit my website at http://www.atlanticdivorcemediation.com


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