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The Successful Divorce, by Sam Margulies
Many people still believe that divorce is a war to be won or lost. It does not have to be adversarial. A note from Sam Margulies:
by Sam Margulies
I have long thought that if I could get people to read one of my books on divorce, that I could change their minds about how divorce should be done and then change their approach to their own divorce. I frequently get emails or calls from people who have read one of the books. They tell me that they have been persuaded and want to use mediation to resolve their divorce. Then they ask me to help them find a mediator. And I always try to help.
The obstacle to this event is that people first have to buy the book. But with the multitude if books written and available on divorce, most of them telling you how to fight, the message that divorce need not be a mess, is often drowned out by the noise. So I decided to overcome at least one obstacle by giving the book away at no charge. Now you don’t have to decide whether to buy it; all you have to do is download it.
The idea of good divorce may strike some as an oxymoron. After all, do not all divorces involve pain and dislocation? Aren’t all the changes and disruptions of divorce bad things for everyone? Don’t all divorcing couples hate each other and seek to do each other harm? How can the notion of good divorce make any sense?
It is the contention of this book that there is such a thing as a good divorce and that it is entirely possible for almost all divorcing couples. In my experience of mediating close to four thousand divorces, I have found that at the beginning of a divorce there is a surprising amount of residual goodwill between couples. This canbe either supportedor eroded by the divorce process. This book is designed to help you bolster and utilize the goodwill so that you end up with a good divorce.
Unfortunately, the multibillion dollar divorce industry depends on ignorance and myths to sustain itself. Consequently, if you are not a divorce professional most of what you probably think you know about divorce is wrong. And if you act on that information you are going to make some bad decisions that produce a lot of unnecessary unhappiness. Money that could have sent your child to college is going to send your lawyer’s kid to college. So in the beginning the book punctures the most abiding and destructive myths about divorce including: divorce is inevitably a war, you need to find an aggressive lawyer to protect your “rights,” your divorce is going to go to trial, divorce is always bitter and you are better off striking first before your mate gets there first.
Once we can disconnect you from these and similar myths, you can begin to learn some principles and facts that can help you divorce with a minimum of damage to you, your bank accounts and your kids. You will quickly learn some facts that will surprise you; facts such as less than one percent of divorces go to trial because the overwhelming norm is negotiated settlement. The problem is that your lawyers will let you believe you are going to trial while they spend tens of thousands of your dollars preparing for a trial only you don’t know isn’t going to happen. You will learn that the more time you spend with lawyers and courts, the worse will be your divorce and the worse will be your life. So you need to learn how to minimize your time with lawyers and courts. You will learn that your lawyer doesn’t know half of what s/he lets you believe s/he knows. S/he was probably never trained in negotiation, family psychology, child psychology or philosophy, all of which are critical to making wise decisions in divorce. You will be surprised to discover how much control you can maintain over the divorce process.
Once you understand how to avoid bitter and destructive divorce you can turn to learning how to create a good divorce. A good divorce is one that leaves both parties feeling that the settlement is fair, leaves them with the ability to communicate as colleagues and to resolve disagreements when they arise, to cooperate around the children and to wish each other well. In the book you will learn how to negotiate effectively with your spouse with the help of a skilled mediator and how to get your spouse to join in good faith negotiation. Negotiation is the central activity of divorce and the more you learn about how to do it well, the better will be your settlement and divorce.
Finally, you will learn about the subjects of the agreement. Learn what children need during divorce. Learn how to tell the children about the divorce and how to help them navigate the emotional transition of divorce. You will also get a crash course in divorce law and will be surprised that it is much less complicated than you think. You will also learn about a host of other issues including life and health insurance, how to manage college education for the children and how to manage tax issues. I promise that if you devote a few hours of serious reading to this book it will make the difference between destructive and cooperative divorce.
— Sam Margulies, Ph.D., J.D.