Divorce: The Devil is in the Details

We all know them; you might even be one of them. They’re the bitter divorced people who five years later are still seething with anger at their ex-spouse.

The question is, what causes the anger? The marriage, or the way they divorced?

It’s ironic; people often divorce in the hopes of creating a better life. Yet many emerge from the process bitter, broken and broke. Instead of reducing drama and angst, they just create more. The only thing they wind up with less of is money.

I’m not going to speculate as to why people divorce. What bothers me is the way they divorce.

I’ve seen couple after couple go into a divorce saying it was going to be “friendly.” Yet fighting over money and kids inflames every negative emotion they ever had about their spouse, and within weeks they’re spewing venom and vitriol.

Otherwise kind and normal people find themselves hurling hurtful words and actions that create such bad feelings the residual effects last for years. (If you’ve ever been to a graduation or wedding for a child of divorce you know exactly what I’m talking about. The parents may have divorced a decade ago, but the tension is still simmering.)

The traditional divorce process brings out the worst in everyone. Both parties typically hire an attorney and, because they’re both scared and angry, they instruct their attorneys to salvage what they can from the marriage, be it a home, boat, 401(k) or custody of the kids.

It’s almost like people going through a divorce have a devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other. Unfortunately, lawyers make more money by poking the devil.

In the traditional divorce process, there’s no one assigned to call upon the better angels.      

No one to ask, “What effect is it going to have on your children, and your relationship with your children, if you fight over every nickel and your kids wind up spending every other weekend in a crummy apartment with a person who hates you?”

Enter Karen Stewart, the founder & CEO of Fairway Divorce Solutions, Ltd. and the author of “Clean Break: How to Divorce With Dignity and Move On With your Life.”

Stewart was motivated to create an alternative divorce process after her own divorce became so contentious that she wound up spending half a million in legal fees and destroying the ability to co-parent with her now former spouse.

The Fairway Divorce process – – “is about saving your assets, not destroying them.” The step-by-step process uses “Independently Negotiated Solution, a paradigm shifting way to achieve a win-win outcome in all areas of divorce.”

Stewart says, “One of the biggest fallacies of divorce is that people think I need to take control, so they talk to family and friends, and they think the way to take control is to hire a lawyer.” However, she says, “People don’t realize that by hiring a lawyer, you are on a train wreck that you can’t get off.”

I know that there are plenty of nice attorneys out there; in fact, I come from a family of them. The problem in a divorce is that a win for the lawyers isn’t always a win for the couple, and it’s almost never a win for their kids.

Divorce is hard. But anger and venom only make it worse.

Don’t listen to the devil; he’ll only put you on the path to, well, you know.

Lisa Earle McLeod is an author, columnist, keynote speaker and business consultant. The founder and principal of McLeod & More, Inc, she specializes in sales and leadership training. Her newest book, The Triangle of Truth, has been cited as the blueprint for “how smart people can get better at everything.” Visit for a short video intro.   Copyright 2010 Lisa Earle McLeod.  All rights reserved.