Friday, August 24, 2018
Recently I caught up with an old client. Many years ago we had acted on his divorce. He and his wife had sorted out what they were going to do about their property settlement and, more importantly, how they were going to look after their kids.
My old client is an insightful professional whom I always considered to be wise and a direct speaker.
He told me:
“The number one lesson I learnt was this. When you are looking at splitting up – give your marriage your best go ever. You want to make sure that you have done everything possible to have your marriage work because if it ends then at least you don’t feel guilty about it ending and you can say: “At least I tried”.”
He said that since his marriage breakup, he had saved a couple of marriages by encouraging his friends to give it another go.
The second thing my old client learnt was that things change. “Kids grow up”. Arrangements have to be flexible to make sure that the kids are provided for.
The third thing he learnt was that: “We have to be consistent with our kids”. Sometimes his kids would be playing up and he would ask them whether they did so at mum’s place. He said: “Sometimes, in a moment of honesty, they would look down and say that they weren’t allowed to do that at mum’s place”. He would reply: “The same rules apply here as at mum’s place. If you’re not allowed to play up at mum’s place like this, then you’re not allowed to play up like that here”.
The fourth thing that he learnt was to value the other parent. He said that he had criticised the mother of his children to his children, which he realised after a short period was a mistake. One day when his kids ran from their mum’s home into the car, all excited to see him, he said: “Go out. Give your mum a hug. Tell her you love her. She would be hurt that you left without saying goodbye.”
The last thing that he learnt was that going through divorce is costly. “I’ve never worked any harder than I have on any other occasion”, he said. He said that it was important to get good legal advice and that: “You have to be realistic”. He was making the point about being realistic not in about cutting a deal with your former spouse but also making sure that reality reigned when you got on with your life after it was all over.