Knowledge Base

Post-divorce Dilemmas Abound


December 1, 2005
Written by Staff at The Centre for Mediation & Dispute Resolution

Post-divorce Dilemmas Abound

The vast majority of individuals involved in divorce negotiations are eager for closure; even those who did not want the divorce come to yearn for finality of some kind. Yet, all too frequently, the issuance of a divorce decree does not bring closure; questions remain, and sometimes there are more than a few. The crucial question to be asked is how do former spouses deal with post-divorce conflicts? Over 50% of individuals with post-divorce issues return to court. Of the remaining 50%, some ignore the problem; some solve their own disputes; others seek help from any number of sources, including family and friends, therapists and mediators. In an effort to reduce the number of unresolved post-divorce conflicts, it is helpful to understand their commonalities, as well as to consider vehicles for dispute resolution. Let’s examine the most common post-divorce conflicts:

1. Parenting Issues

a.) Schedule Difficulties

b.) Relocation

c.) Other Parenting Issues

2. Payment for Weddings and Other Major Celebrations

a.) Difference in opinion on how to allocate costs between parents (e.g., 50/50 vs. proportionate to income or one parent pays)

b.) Difference in opinion on amount of money to be spent

c.) Difference in opinion on contributing to cost of wedding (to contribute or not)

3. Post-Secondary Education

a.) Difference in opinion on how much should be financed by parents and by children

b.) Difference in opinion on how much is affordable

4. Support Reductions/Increases

a.) Objective to reduce support due to custodial parent’s securing of employment

b.) Objective to reduce support due to payor’s decreased income

c.) Objective to reduce support due to alimony recipient’s living with a wealthy individual in his/her big house

d.) Objective to increase support due to payor’s increased income

e.) Objective to increase support due to recipient’s decreased income

f.) Objective to increase support due to recipient’s poor health

Interestingly, we are noticing an increase in the number of couples who enter mediation to resolve new issues and “dangling” old issues. What exactly is the appeal? The obvious answers center on efficiency: mediation is quicker, less expensive, and produces less stress. Then, too, mediation provides couples with a private, confidential forum, an environment far different than that of the court. But perhaps, most of all, a couple’s, even a former couple’s, decision to mediate represents a commitment to work together to resolve differences. This decision, in and of itself, launches participants in a new and different direction—one that focuses on problem solving in a pragmatic and collaborative forum. The need for future assistance may disappear, as individuals learn to resolve their own differences together without outside help. That is an achievement to be heralded.

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