After 14 years of marriage, Lauren and her husband separated in November, 2018, but continued to co-habit for some months while they discussed terms and the best interests of their children, aged six and eight. They finally divorced in March, 2021.
They consulted attorneys separately about their individual rights, and then went into mediation in order to arrive at a mutually acceptable agreement. Although it was difficult, often emotional and heated, they focused on achieving the best possible outcome for their family and have now settled into a solid, amicable, co-parenting relationship. The children are secure, spending alternate weeks with each parent and with an au pair to bridge the gap between the households. Both parents look forward to time with the children, and value having time off to recharge.
‘Divorce throws a family into something for which it is unprepared,’ says Lauren. ‘There aren’t many resources to guide us, especially in terms of the goal of a positive outcome for all. Ours was not a high-drama situation, so there was no big rush; we stalled many times around how to do things, and Covid added a level of complication, but I’m glad now that we took our time to reach a point that we agreed was fair.
‘We go into marriage without knowing enough about our own baggage, without discussing our expectations upfront, and then we fall into prescribed roles. This was the first relationship for both of us, so we had no experience. More listening and understanding was needed; also, space to prioritise personal growth.’
Lauren’s advice to others would be for both partners to maintain individual interests to bring freshness to the relationship; to have financial independence and, if divorce is being considered, to seek counselling for support and to define desired outcomes. Making some sacrifices along the way to ensure a fair outcome is essential. Tell yourself that it can be okay if you maintain respect for each other and for what you have shared. Finally, opt for mediation rather than litigation.
‘Divorce is painful but not necessarily a failure. I see it as the end of a season; a stage of life that had good times, with better times in store for both of us, as well as the possibility to be friends.’