The modern divorce - amicable or acrimonious?
Intro by Mindey Elgart, Esquire
Everyone who faces divorce should know that they have options. Our divorce mediation process provides support from a neutral perspective so that the process doesn’t add to the problem. We were featured this past Sunday in the in the article, “The Modern Divorce-- Amicable or Acrimonious?” by Debra Wallace in the Bucks County Courier Times, The Intelligencer and the Burlington County Times.
I must clarify one of the facts referenced in the article, that a one year separation is not necessary in order to get divorced in either Pennsylvania or New Jersey and both states allow for divorce based on irreconcilable differences. Pennsylvania has a 90-day waiting period for consensual divorces when both spouses participate which is the process we use in mediation.
Divorcing couples may choose to proceed through mediation or litigation. Our consultation is complimentary if you want to find out more about our divorce mediation process.
Article as published in the Bucks County Courier Times :
By Debra Wallace, correspondent / Sep 2, 2017
When Elizabeth was married 20 years ago, she intended for the relationship to last a lifetime, believing that her commitment to her husband, and her faith, was unbreakable. Even when the relationship became extremely volatile, she refused to call it quits.
“I made this commitment to my husband, and to God, and through thick or thin, I felt that you just make it work out,” said Elizabeth, 48, a Doylestown massage therapist. She was stunned when her husband ended the marriage, filing for divorce on Memorial Day 2014. She received divorce papers in July of the same year, and has been divorced for two years.
During those two years, she has been rebuilding her life, and the lives of her 11-year-old son and 13-year-old daughter, and is pleased to report that she has a current amiable relationship with her ex-husband.
With as many as one in two marriages ending in divorce, (an estimated 40 to 50 percent of US marriages end in divorce), according to recent statistics from the American Psychological Association and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, there are generations of couples, parents, and children — as well as numerous attorneys, mediators and family therapists — picking up the pieces and trying to find a positive new normal.
Many experts say that even the most amicable mediation or divorce process can be extremely complicated, because it can involve the same five stages of grief as a major loss like the death of a loved one: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.
In addition to the grief that some women and men experience during a divorce proceeding, there is so much more to consider: intertwined finances, property, pensions, health insurance, taxes, friendships, extended family members and, of course, continuing to co-parent their children.
There are those who consider filing for divorce but back down because of the financial ramifications, or fears over having to start over or of being alone.
While many people consider a divorce to be “a failure” that ends the fairy tale they envisioned for their life, it can also mark a new beginning.
Elizabeth (not her real name) has a more positive attitude now. "For me this experience was finding a sense of freedom and discovering my true self and all of the things I had to put aside to please someone else,” she said.
“I am discovering all of the beauty our world has to offer; it has been a tremendous time of growth and learning,” she said. “I learned about boundaries, forgiveness and unconditional love, and I have learned not to put limits on myself and my abilities.”
After all of the ups and downs in her life, Elizabeth said she and her ex-husband have a great deal of mutual respect and concern since their divorce. “I want my ex-husband to be happy and feel good about himself. I still care about him, and I always will.”
Would she remarry one day? “I definitely want someone who loves, adores and is committed to me, and is also my best friend. I want someone who understands me and gives me freedom and space. But sharing my home again, that’s still a big question mark.”
Mediator Mindey Elgart, an attorney, has for nine years been exclusively practicing mediation in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, as part of her firm, New Hope Mediation.
“I had an amicable divorce and that has created an amicable relationship for parenting our children, now ages 21 and 24,” she said. “That’s the way I thought it should be. I feel that all of my clients should work together with mediation, rather than litigation, because they once loved this person, and he or she is the parents of their children. I wish that more people knew that mediation is an option when they are approaching divorce.”
Elgart said that during mediation she is the neutral party who works with the couple all the way through the divorce process.
“I am working to create two financially independent households when there was one. When we arrive at a sticking point, we look at which party cares more about one element of the marital estate and who prioritizes another element, in order to find an amicable resolution that both parties can live with.”
Typically, with litigation, she said, there is a retainer and an hourly rate. With the way she handles mediation, she uses a set fee in order to provide a distinctly different process from litigation. She said she provides “clarity and education” about the relevant laws, so that informed decision-making is comfortable to all participants in the mediation.
So after seeing all of the broken marriages and distressed couples and families, does Elgart believe some couples still live happily ever after?
“Yes, in fact I named my practice New Hope Mediation because I wanted people to have new hope for their future,” she said. “I absolutely feel that people don’t ever give up on the dream of a genuine love affair.”
While clients may sit in her office and say they are never getting married again, Elgart believes it is because of the hurt feelings they are experiencing during the divorce.
“It’s more of a transition than a failure,” she said. “I see divorce as the first step in finding the strength to do things your own way, and to find a path to start a happy and healthy new life.”