This article is a special feature written by Paul Sweatman, a divorce mediator practice in the Vancouver-area. Paul offers clients an alternative to using a lawyer for the entire process, creating a space for dignity and respect. We’re happy to feature Paul’s article and recommend his services to our clients going through a divorce.
I once traveled to Toronto on the ‘red-eye’, real cheap, 4 am flight. Big rock concert to attend. My buddy and I were all of 20 years old and living the weekend hippie life. As we approached Pearson International, the Captain announced that the light indicating the landing gear was secured would not come on. He said we couldn’t be sure if the wheels would hold once we landed. The procedures for an emergency crash landing were given: fasten seat belts, false teeth/ pens/ glasses away, cross your arms and lower your head to the pillow on your lap. A flight attendant told me she needed strong, young arms for something special. No problem of course. My job was to sit by the back emergency door and push it open in the event of a crash landing. People were crying, some praying. Myself? I thought I should be paying extra for the thrill of it all! We cruised over the tower several times while the controllers used binoculars to see if the big bolt securing the landing gear was in place. The tarmac was filled with fire trucks and ambulances. The landing went just fine. Apparently, it was only a faulty light.
Ah youth! Those carefree pre-marriage days before serious responsibility and commitment came knocking at our doors.
To my mind, a marriage is much like an airline flight to a vacation destination. In marriage first, we get engaged and then plan the wedding much like deciding to go on a vacation and then booking the flight. Once on board, we find our seats and settle in. In a marriage, there is a period of settling in too – kids, careers, parenting. There’s a bit of turbulence during those years for sure but a safe and soft landing at your dream destination is expected.
However on some flights the turbulence become so severe that the warning lights flash, the captain comes over the loudspeaker and asks passengers to fasten their seatbelts and emergency masks fall from the consul above. In a marriage too, there are signals that announce the pending failure of the marriage.
At this time in your marriage, as in your flight, your first instinct is to protect your children. But take heed of this caution:
“If the cabin loses pressure during flight, you will need to put on an oxygen mask or risk losing consciousness. Put on your own mask before assisting other passengers, such as a young child. If you are incapacitated, you will be unable to assist anybody else.”
When travelling through a divorce it is essential that you take care of yourself emotionally and financially so that you are able to protect your children. We at Dignified Divorce offer you that opportunity.
A common mistake of divorcing couples is to panic, to put that oxygen mask on their kids first, a mistake often facilitated by traditional divorce processes. The main issues in divorce are money and kids, and the best approach is in that order. Yes, the kids are your most precious asset, but get the money figured out first: what is everything worth, what is the total debt, how will we split it, how much and for how long will spousal support will be paid, what about child support? Once these issues are resolved, you’ll be able to breathe and focus on the kids and your co-parenting plan.
~ Paul Sweatman of Dignified Divorce
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