Risa Ennis Family Mediation and Counselling Services
Taming Your Ego

Yes! If one or both spouses cannot properly let go of all the grief issues associated with ending the emotional, financial, spiritual and physical ties that bind them. Sometimes not letting go is not evident to us on a conscious level. We may truly believe we are going to tackle this mountain called divorce, but subconsciously we may still have feelings for the other person, submerged guilt, regret, fear or other hidden agendas.

These complex and normal feelings may find their way into a lawyers office who may offer a legal remedy to these non-legal and normal grieving patterns. These non-legal issues, once in the legal system, cause undue and long term financial and emotional hardships. Using the legal system is costly and it is not equipped to deal with the especially raw initial emotions.

Does Divorce Have to be so Costly? Yes and No!

No! When two spouses do their own individual and joint work through skilled mental health intervention, so that most of the anger is dissolved, the resulting legal bills will be minimized drastically.

The emotional divorce is far more complex, long-standing and covert. It is handled differently by all persons because it involves a cleansing not just of a breakdown of the marriage, but what lead each person to the breakdown, which involves understanding of the family of origin issues, that persons perceptions, ways of behaviours, attitudes, level of self-esteem and any other unresolved grief issues that may be clouding the divorce grief. Unless the emotional divorce work is skillfully managed, the legal divorce will become unnecessarily painful, costly and non child-focused. The legal arena may take on a life of its own where after many years, the ex-spouses cannot figure out why they still cannot exit the nightmare.

Since those going through divorce must tackle both the emotional and legal divorce criteria in order to move forward in their lives, the most cost-efficient method is to deal with the anger and other complex emotions first. Therapeutic mediation and counselling to take the wind out of their emotional sail will allow people to work with their lawyers, who can only work efficiently with assertive and rational thinking clients. This is how to keep legal costs (which are hefty) in check.

Conversely, fighting because grief work has not been achieved, results in both parties spending exorbitant amounts of money while only spinning their wheels. The emotional piece needs to be dealt with differently than the legal piece. The two pieces can be done concurrently but hopefully with a team approach of professionals who are like-minded that both divorce processes are different and need respectful treatment of where the clients needs, wants and priorities lie.

What takes skill, patience and wisdom is helping the clients journey through their complex and sometimes overwhelming grief. This is best handled by competent divorce professionals trained to assist those through their grief, and then to further assist the clients while completing the legal requirements for divorce.

Divorce cannot be totally devoid of emotion, even when clients do valiant work toward managing them.

What is intended by this article, is to heighten awareness for the reader that high emotions, unchecked, without mechanisms to assist in coping well, can lead to irrational decisions, unnecessary use of an exorbitant amount of funds and faulty solutions that do not serve anyone well long-term.

There are too many people walking around wounded in this way. They believed they should listen to whomever gave advice about how to divorce and in the process, bemoan how their children are miserable, they are miserable, dysfunction is higher now than in the marriage, sickness occurs, and there is little chance in recouping investments and property that went to legal fees.

When two ex-spouses can rid themselves of toxic anger, and deal with as many issues on their own as possible, this is the most healing because a couple begins their lives determining how they will manage their joint lives, and when the union comes to an end, it is fitting that the couple find the mechanism to also determine how best to divide their assets, property and share time with children. Obviously there will be some situations where abuse will not allow for a collaborative approach.

Whether one likes it or not, ex-spouses are always going to be in the lives of joint children they share, meaning there is never really a complete break from each other. Therefore, learning civility earlier than later encourages acceptance of this reality, leading to healing, forgiveness and well-being for everyone in the family.

Clients need to research, talk to those who have had positive experiences with different divorce professionals and not feel bound by any mechanism that does not feel right. This is part of the emotional healing learning how to trust your intuition again and believe in yourself. When this is achieved, dealing with legal professionals is much more pleasant for everyone.


In Summary

To think that grieving the death of a relationship, which is difficult emotional work, while going through the legal system can work, has only led countless people to much regret, misery, delayed grief, physical and emotional illness and lack of resolution. True grieving of the breakdown of the marriage lies outside the office of the lawyer. It lies within each client’s spirit, with the aid of other professionals.

The legal system must be used to finalize a legal divorce but the emotional divorce is achieved through other professionals and should take precedence. “Closur of grief happens on these two levels. Receiving a final certificate of divorce can be extremely cleansing but internally finding closure through tenacious inner spiritual work is another process and both are needed for persons going through divorce, if they are to move forward well in the next phases of their lives.

Divorce does not have to bankrupt anyone, unless some of the players have a vindictive or misguided motive to do so.

Ethical lawyers will agree and give their clients clear boundaries for doing both the legal and emotional work needed to end a marriage. Divorce lawyers, mediators and mental health professionals can be used effectively in that each can serve a role to minimize an elongated and painful financial and emotionally draining exercise in obtaining a divorce.

The law states that a couple must be separated at least 12 months with no chance of reconciliation in order to go forward in requesting a certificate of divorce. When a couple find their mutually agreed upon date of separation, they can use this date as an incentive to complete a separation agreement well before the 12 month period, which is when the most challenging work should be done, so at this 12 month period, the granting of a divorce is merely a formality. With independent legal advice and appropriate child advocates, mediators, and mental health professionals involved in drafting a final separation agreement, family law judges have the confidence that the separation agreement has validity, that the parties will be protected in the future and the children’s best interests have been secured.

At the conclusion of every divorce, the fundamental pieces of division of property, assets, determination of child/spousal support and designing a parenting plan are really not rocket science in most cases.

In short, if one does one's emotinal work, one does not have to be afraid of the legal system.

One does have to get wise advice as to how to use it properly or people can become victims of this system, becoming embittered, both in disillusionment with justice and with the loss of tremendous sums of money.


Risa Ennis Family Mediation and Counselling Services

Telephone: (416) 636-2946


Email:  risasmediation@rogers.com

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