Divorce Attorney Secrets to Thriving BEYOND Your Divorce with Susan Guthrie, Esq.

  August 20, 2021

In this episode of We Chat Divorce, we’re joined by Susan Guthrie to discuss the topic: Divorce Attorney Secrets to Thriving BEYOND Your Divorce. Here’s an overview of Susan’s experience:

Susan Guthrie, nationally recognized as one of the Top Family Law and Mediation Attorneys in the United States, has been helping individuals and families navigate separation and divorce for 30 years. Susan provides exclusively online divorce mediation and legal coaching services to select clients around the world through her business Divorce in a Better Way. Susan has also recently partnered with mediation legend, Forrest “Woody” Mosten, to create the Mosten Guthrie Academy to provide cutting edge gold-standard training for attorneys, mediators and other professionals. 

As a leading dispute resolution professional, Susan is honored to serve on the Executive Council of the American Bar Association’s (ABA) Section of Dispute Resolution as the Membership Officer and to be a Co Chair of the Mediation Committee and Annual Advanced Mediation Skills Institute. 

Susan is also an internationally well-regarded expert in online mediation and has been training colleagues and other professionals in the practical and ethical considerations of conducting their mediations online with her innovative programs and webinars and has helped more than 18,000 colleagues transition to an online practice. 

In addition to her other professional endeavors, Susan is an award-winning podcast host. Having reached a podcast listening audience of almost 4 million in the past two years, Susan is the creator and host of the hit podcast, The Divorce and Beyond Podcast with Susan Guthrie, Esq. which debuted on iTunes “Top Podcasts for Self-Help” List. She recently launched The Learn to Mediate Online Podcast with Susan Guthrie, Esq. to bring current information, updates and news on ODR to her thousands of followers. 

Susan has been featured in and on media outlets such as CNBC, Market Watch, Forbes, Eye on Chicago, WGN, the ABA’s Just Resolutions Magazine, Thrive Global, The Nook Online among others. 

Hosts, Karen, and Catherine sit down with Susan Guthrie to discuss Divorce Attorney Secrets to Thriving BEYOND Your Divorce.

 Learn More >> https://www.divorceandbeyondpod.com 

Connect with Susan on LinkedIn >> @Susan Guthrie

The We Chat Divorce podcast (hereinafter referred to as the “WCD”) represents the opinions of Catherine Shanahan, Karen Chellew, and their guests to the show. WCD should not be considered professional or legal advice. The content here is for informational purposes only. Views and opinions expressed on WCD are our own and do not represent that of our places of work.

WCD should not be used in any legal capacity whatsoever.  Listeners should contact their attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular legal matter. No listener should act or refrain from acting on the basis of information on WCD without first seeking legal advice from counsel in the relevant jurisdiction. No guarantee is given regarding the accuracy of any statements or opinions made on WCD.

Unless specifically stated otherwise, Catherine Shanahan and Karen Chellew do not endorse, approve, recommend, or certify any information, product, process, service, or organization presented or mentioned on WCD, and information from this podcast should not be referenced in any way to imply such approval or endorsement. The third-party materials or content of any third-party site referenced on WCD do not necessarily reflect the opinions, standards or policies of Catherine Shanahan or Karen Chellew.

WCD, CATHERINE SHANAHAN, AND KAREN CHELLEW EXPRESSLY DISCLAIM ANY AND ALL LIABILITY OR RESPONSIBILITY FOR ANY DIRECT, INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, SPECIAL, CONSEQUENTIAL, OR OTHER DAMAGES ARISING OUT OF ANY INDIVIDUAL’S USE OF, REFERENCE TO, RELIANCE ON, OR INABILITY TO USE, THIS PODCAST OR THE INFORMATION PRESENTED IN THIS PODCAST.

Karen Chellew:

Welcome to we chat divorce. Catherine and I are so happy to welcome family attorney and mediator, Susan Guthrie to our podcast today. In this episode, we’re going to discuss divorce attorney secrets to thriving beyond your divorce. But first, let me take just a couple of minutes to introduce Susan.

Karen Chellew:

Susan Guthrie, she’s a nationally recognized as one of the top family law and mediation attorneys in the United States. She’s been helping individuals and families navigate separation and divorce for 30 years. Susan provides exclusive online divorce mediation, and legal coaching services to select clients around the world, through her business, Divorce in a Better Way. She’s also recently partnered with mediation legend Forrest Woody Mosten… Did I say his name right?

Susan Guthrie:

Mosten.

Karen Chellew:

Mosten, to create the Mosten Guthrie Academy to provide cutting edge gold standard training for attorneys, mediators and other professionals. In addition to her other professional endeavors, Susan is an award winning podcast host having reached a podcast, listening audience of almost four million in the past two years. Susan is the creator and host of the hit podcast, the divorce and beyond podcast with the Susan Guthrie, which debuted on iTunes top podcasts for self-help lists. She recently launched the learn to mediate online podcast with Susan Guthrie Esquire to bring current information, updates, and news on ODR to her thousands of followers. And that’s just a small piece of all that Susan has done for us and our industry. Welcome, Susan.

Susan Guthrie:

Oh, thank you both for having me. I’m so happy to be here with you.

Catherine:

What I love about all that, I’m just going to call her Susan. That’s how easy she is to talk to.

Susan Guthrie:

Oh, please. The worst part about being interviewed is hearing all of that first part.

Karen Chellew:

If I could give my personal accolades, I often think about you as the forerunner and paving the path so that all of us behind you have really good exposure in the new way of technology, mediation and to your point, Divorce in a Better Way. Thank you for all the work that you do, not only for people going through divorce, but for all of us professionals who are trying to help families just do it a better way.

Susan Guthrie:

Thank you. That actually makes me so happy because I do think it’s a dual front approach. Let people know that they get divorced in a better way and let professionals know that people want that better way. There are people like both of you helping people to do that. I think it’s just so incredibly important that people hear that message. I really appreciate that. Thank you.

Catherine:

It’s really exciting that we’re seeing a shift in power to the couple actually going through divorce and they’re requiring a change. They need it. It’s nice to see the professionals coming around to provide that for them.

Susan Guthrie:

I think we are seeing more and more professionals. I will a little bit throw my profession under the bus, the lawyer side of me, they’re a little slower to come to the table. But I think it’s really important, Catherine, what you just said, the people who are going through the experience of divorce want the control back. They’re finally starting to understand something that’s actually been true all along. It’s like Dorothy, who always had the power to go back home if she just clicked those shoes. You never had to turn your power over to an attorney or a judge. But now I think it’s a much better known paradigm that you can sit down and still control your life, even if you’re going through the disruption of divorce.

Karen Chellew:

We’ve had the benefit of working with many attorneys who embrace the clients being informed and are trusting that more because I think also historically, maybe attorneys felt that only they knew how to do it, so they didn’t really trust another way. But I think their trust level is also expanding into that realm of helping people divorce a better way. That’s a good thing.

Susan Guthrie:

I think the more experienced the attorneys get with working with financial professionals like you and see just how much better the entire process is, for the attorneys included. We all know it’s a tough way to make the living, honestly, to be there in the, I don’t know what you want to call it, the sandbox of divorce day in and day out. When people are moving through the process in a more informed and supported fashion, I think everybody wins.

Catherine:

Oh, yeah. Otherwise you have one case for five years and who wants that?

Susan Guthrie:

[inaudible 00:05:33].

Catherine:

Everybody gets fed up at that point, and it’s never a good outcome.

Karen Chellew:

To our topic today, divorce attorney secrets to thriving beyond your divorce, Susan, I think you have some hacks, tips and secrets for us. Let’s go to the first one. What’s the first mistake most people make when they’re deciding to divorce?

Susan Guthrie:

I think that very first mistake is something along the lines of what we’ve just been talking about here. And that is that they automatically assume that it’s going to be a knock-down drag-out battle and they start preparing themselves for that both mentally, as well as with the team that they may be pulling around them. And as we just talked about, it does not have to be that way. You almost make it a preordained conclusion if you go into it with that mindset. The very first thing I always tell people to do is take a breath, take a moment and educate yourself, much as we’re talking about right here, about all the different ways and the different approaches there are these days to getting divorced, to going through the process and start thinking about what’s going to work best for your family. As you both know, there’s mediation, collaborative divorce, online processes. There’s so many different ways that you can go through this. I think it’s really important not to automatically assume that it’s going to be what I call, your mama’s divorce. Your mama’s is divorce is the old world. Have your divorce and you get to curate that the way you want it.

Catherine:

I feel like that needs to come from an informed perspective, which is why we work so hard to just financially educate anyone who’s going through a divorce process, because a lot of financial literacy really, [inaudible 00:07:40] in these divorce cases, which prompts people to take that jumpstart or leap into a battle in their head because they’re afraid they won’t understand the information that they need or will they get the information that they need. When they come to us first and we can do that, you really feel the temperature of everyone. They have a chance at mediation, because I feel like mediation should be the first step anyone takes to any part of negotiations. I don’t think you need to jump into this, we need two attorneys to fight something out. If you’re informed, you should be able to make smart decisions on your own.

Susan Guthrie:

You actually said, I think, the key word in all of this is education because face it, your average person going into divorce… One of the scary parts of it is it’s usually something you haven’t been through before. You may have been through it tangentially through family members or friends or something like that. But the biggest emotion people feel in the beginning of divorce is fear and it’s because they don’t know and don’t understand. Well, it is truly one of those areas in life where knowledge is power. It breaks down to certain areas that you need to know. You’ve already mentioned the one that you two are such experts at, financial. You need to educate yourself in the financial. You also need to educate yourself on the side of things if you have children on what’s going to actually work best for them. There’s a lot of information around that. And then frankly, you need to think about the process itself because that’s still that knee jerk thought, much as you just said, Catherine, about getting two attorneys to do all that negotiating for you.

Susan Guthrie:

You don’t need to hire someone to negotiate for you. You can strategize with an attorney. You can learn how to negotiate by educating yourself, if it’s not something that you’re well versed in. That educational step, hugely important, and finding the right people and the right resources to learn from. Because unfortunately, the flip side of the plethora of information that exists in our world at our literal fingertips, there’s a whole library in here, you don’t know who you’re getting information from always. You do need to vet your experts and make sure they’re like the two of you, people who actually are subject matter experts in your area before you get your information from them.

Catherine:

It’s hard when you have a lot of people chirping in your ear telling you what to do and what you shouldn’t do. It frustrates me sometimes when they’re trying to advise them to make decisions and they don’t even know what the overall agreement would look like. They’re one-off decisions that could really blow up your whole scenario. That’s always a frustrating thing, just too many people in your ear.

Susan Guthrie:

Well, and doing that thing you just mentioned right about, people will start to make piecemeal decisions before they have a full picture of what the actual, I always call it the marital pie. You two have a much better, much more financially technical term for it, your divorce solution and your-

Catherine:

Our financial portrait.

Susan Guthrie:

Portrait. But I call it the financial pie or the marital pie. But until you know exactly what’s in that pie, a big mistake people make is they start slicing their pie up and dividing it. Well, I’m going to keep the house, he’s going to keep this, we’re going to do this. Before they know whether can you afford the house? What’s the debt on the house? Can you refinance the house? I mention the house just because as we all know, that’s a big area and often one of the larger assets. But that is something that people jump into and start making those piecemeal decisions when really it should be made as a part of an entire whole.

Karen Chellew:

Oh, I’m so glad you said that, Susan, because it just seems like recently many of our clients who even have attorneys engaged, they’re having discussions about dividing one of the larger assets without taking the whole pie, as you say, into consideration. That’s red flags for us, to watch a client feel like they have to participate in those discussions when they don’t have a full understanding of the entire portrait.

Susan Guthrie:

It’s when mistakes get made. And honestly, the biggest issue when I see that happening, and maybe you two have seen this is, someone will say that they agree to one of these of the moment, piecemeal things, and then realize as things start to unfold, maybe that wasn’t the right decision. They walk it back and to the other party that feels like reneging. That feels like going back on your word and now what have you done? It may have been done innocently, but you have now created a tension and a lack of trust because you’ve now turned around on something. It actually can lead to huge mistakes. It all goes back to what we talked about just a moment ago about you wouldn’t make those mistakes if you took that time, before you jump into any of the dividing, to get educated, to understand what you have to get that financial portion.

Karen Chellew:

Absolutely.

Catherine:

Exactly. It’s that mistrust that you cannot get back when you’re going through divorce, because there’s already a break in trust which led you to divorce. But now that’s when that 10% or less cases end up in these litigation battles.

Susan Guthrie:

Sure.

Catherine:

If it would have just started differently… And I bet you, if we had about 100 people on here who are divorced and never knew any of us or anyone like us, they’re all probably saying, gosh, I wish I started it differently.

Susan Guthrie:

The start is really one of the key moments in time. I think it’s important for people to understand because as we all know, and I’ve been through it, you go through a long period of time where, am I going to stay? Am I going to go? Am I going to stay? It’s exhausting. And then you get to that and you build yourself up to either have the conversation with your spouse, that’s very stressful or you hear it and it’s a big pow because you maybe didn’t know it was coming. But everybody in that moment thinks, well, I’ve got to rush out and get an attorney. I’ve got to go get the meanest attorney I can find in town. They just jump into the process and put it all into the hands of that attorney. And instead, there are so many steps that are actually better steps to take such as engaging financial experts to start the financial education, getting a coach who’s going to help you with now all that emotional content that you have going on, doing your research, listening to podcasts, whatever your resources and then making decisions about, well, do we want to sit down and mediate?

Susan Guthrie:

Do we want to hire a collaborative professionals? Do we want to sit at the kitchen table and see what we can work out? There’s a million different ways to come out this, as opposed to that, jump in, hire an attorney, and you’re off to the races, or off to the war.

Karen Chellew:

And thinking that it’s just going to be handled for them. And they’re going to just arrive one day and get their share. I love that you-

Susan Guthrie:

My fair share. What I’m entitled to.

Catherine:

Yeah, what I’m entitled to.

Karen Chellew:

That’s so true.

Catherine:

[crosstalk 00:15:32] I’m going to throw some of your colleagues under the bus a little bit as well is that we’ve seen people that go for their consult with an attorney because it’s the meanest one or the sharkiest one, or what have you, who you have to have. And I have seen them promise things that really never play out in the long run and they don’t even look at all of their assets. And it’s all a depends type of scenario, but the person who’s so emotionally charged going through, they’re thinking that they’re the shark or the best attorney, leaves their believing that’s what they’re entitled to or what they can expect down the road. It’s really not the case. Again, I think going to an attorney consult can be very important, but it’s the timing of it and what knowledge do you bring to that consult so that you don’t get I call toxic positivity type of information. You get information based on data that you can process that later in a more reasonable way. That’s another important thing.

Susan Guthrie:

So important. So important what you just said that I hope all of your listeners are hearing this and I will throw those same attorneys under the bus. Let me be really clear about this. No attorney in a consultation can promise you anything. No attorney at any point in your divorce can promise you anything as a result in your divorce. You know why? We don’t wear the robe. We don’t make the decisions. We don’t have a crystal ball and we don’t have a magic wand. None of that comes with a law degree. If you go to an attorney, here’s another insider tip and that attorney promises you something, don’t go back to that attorney. Do not retain that attorney. You are not paying for, what did you just call it, Catherine? It was so great.

Catherine:

Toxic positivity.

Susan Guthrie:

Toxic positivity. If you’re going to pay for toxic positivity, what are you really paying for? Lies or untruths? It may feel good in that moment to hear what you want to hear. All an attorney can do is tell you a range of what we’ve seen in court or how we might see how south something might break down. But there is never an ability on the part of an attorney to promise you anything. A wonderful point for people to understand. And the other point that you made, I do think is also important for people to understand, if you’re going to go for that consult, it can be a great educational experience. The more information you can give the consulting attorney ahead of time, such as the financial portrait, home run if you have something like that, because then they’re able to give you insights, not promises, but insight about what’s in there. So important.

Karen Chellew:

It is so important and I also love what you say about getting a divorce coach because so many people approach divorce, looking for emotional justice and they don’t know the difference between divorce, division of assets, parenting plans, and support. I’ve just been through a really painful time in my life and I’m going through a painful time in my life and it’s really not going to factor in a lot in the actual divorce process, as it relates to getting your assets divided and things like that. I love that you said, one of the first things is also to get a coach involved to help you make those differentiations.

Susan Guthrie:

It’s probably one of my top tips. And again, some of my colleagues, at least in the legal sense, not my mediation colleagues as much, but my lawyer and attorney colleagues still haven’t entirely embraced the concept of coaching. But when I work with a client who is working with a coach and they are able to sit down, hear what we’re talking about, mull it over in their mind and then as we talked about in the beginning, make decisions for themselves, keep the power. They can do that so much more, in an easier fashion, also in a fashion that actually results in good decision-making. If you’re going to make a decision based on that emotional justice, which by the way, does not occur. Karma, she may be a witch, but she doesn’t really come along very often in a courtroom if ever, or in a divorce case it’s just not the forum. It’s not set up for that.

Susan Guthrie:

It is set up to divide your stuff and figure out how you’re going to co-parent your kids. That’s what it’s about. It’s not about he’s a jerk or she’s an over spender, or he did this, or she did that. It’s not about that at all. Truly an important… I am a huge fan. For me, the ideal team in a divorce would be a good collaborative or divorce attorney, a good mediator, financial professionals like the two of you and a coach and or therapist, if we need also mental health help assistance or issues with the children. That sounds like a lot, your divorce is going to go much faster and much better to divorce in a better way, if you have that kind of support.

Karen Chellew:

Right.

Catherine:

So true. And then you don’t live with regret of the decisions you made because to have that happily ever after divorce is prolonged when you’re harboring a lot of regret and decisions that you know are not really for your best interests now. Now that the clouds have gone away a little bit and the dust settles and you sit there and you say, this is what I’m stuck with. It’s harder for you to move on with your life because you constantly replay the divorce process in your head.

Susan Guthrie:

Yeah. How many clients can I count who have I’ve spoken to a year down the road after the divorce or more who said, I cannot believe I fought over the blah, blah, blah. Insert anything, because I can tell you, playing cards, television sets, sofa. You name it. 15 more minutes with my kids and I know, please don’t get upset with me parents, but 15 minutes and it costs you $25000 to litigate those 15 minutes and ramped up the animosity between you and your co-parent. Trust me, your kids would have been better off if you hadn’t fought over those 15 minutes for six months. Absolutely.

Karen Chellew:

Having that focused approach, I think it does take a team. And for so long divorce has had this stigma about it, that it’s embarrassing and something that is looked down on in our society. But if you liken it to the death of a loved one in your family, or even a surgery, a team is needed. It’s very similar why a team is needed because there’s a lot that you’re working through in the divorce process, not only to maintain the family unit, but to make sure everyone’s okay, for your own wellbeing, but also your financial wellbeing and to make really important legal decisions. There’s a lot of different complexities that I think people don’t realize. They look for the cheapest answer, not understanding how complex of a situation it is.

Susan Guthrie:

It’s extremely complex and the more you layer into it, if you have no children, it still can be extremely complex on the financial side. Layer in children and depending on their ages and what’s going on with them, you get an even more complex situation. And then you add the emotional contents on top of all of that. It’s one of those things. I always find it interesting because I do find that people have that perception of, well, it’s going to cost me a fortune to pull that team together. What they don’t realize is their divorce is actually going to go much more quickly and be resolved much more quickly when they’re informed and supported. When I say supported, I mean all those people.

Susan Guthrie:

I went to law school for three years, I’ve practiced for 30 plus years. I’ve learned a lot about finance. I’ve learned a lot about children over the years of my experience, but I’m not an expert in finance. I’m not an expert in children, despite being the stepmother to triplets. There are people who are trained in those areas and by the way, the way I’ve even learned what I do know is I’ve been lucky enough to work with fantastic professionals like you, where I’ve learned that information. They don’t teach us about [inaudible 00:24:41] and 401ks and all that in law school. Guess what folks? Nope, I’ve learned in for people like you. Getting that information, understanding what you’re work with, having your emotional control over or where you’re at, actually means that your divorce will go by much more smoothly and quickly. And you will pay all of those professionals less than you would pay the shark attorney to drag your case into a courtroom and try it, which can take a year or two. These days, even longer with COVID.

Karen Chellew:

I’ll agree with that.

Catherine:

I wanted to ask you a little bit about, and this [inaudible 00:25:19] to all of this. People don’t really understand that in divorce, you’re basically dealing with support, custody and equitable distribution. What we find really interesting and we’re really actually proud of is that since we just stay in our zone, because we know what we’re good at and we know what we’re not good at, or we know there’s other professionals good at, we like the team approach, but actually gathering the document and we’re assessing the data. Couple of times we have one of the parties, typically the person who is not really the caregiver of the children all the time, now is starting to feel a lot of angst and says, “I’m not giving you any more forms until she agrees to custody of X, Y, and Z.”

Catherine:

Our approach is, we collect your data. We assess it. We still need these documents. However, we’re going to refer you to a mediator at this time, or we’re going to refer you to a coach at this time and go talk about just the children thing, because they’re not really going to do your financial decisions. And neither of you should make a financial agreement between yourselves, because we don’t even have all the data for you to have all the knowledge you need. But really what happens is they then go off to who we refer them to and settle just their children. They’re not doing these one-off agreements because a lot of people feel really pressured into, oh my gosh, they’re going to take my kids if I don’t agree to him [inaudible 00:26:44], or if she wants to keep the house, she has to do this. And we’re going to deal with this all together. What is someone’s choice other than what we’re doing here? And is it somebody’s choice to stop, take pause and say, “No, we’re just going to go talk about the kids with a mediator or a coach and still gather those documents.” I feel like that’s how they keep their trust going, basically.

Susan Guthrie:

I think that’s a fantastic suggestion actually, because yes, you do not… When we talked earlier about it’s a puzzle and you need to put all the pieces together, taking the parenting plan outside of that is actually something that can be done and discussed at any time. Because what people need to understand, and I’m just going to speak about the law for a second, because I don’t really think the law should have much to do with your children, but in a divorce, it does. The issue of what’s in your children’s best interests, which is the legal standard is something that is subject to be changed at any time. Even if you were to go and decide today that you think this particular parenting plan is in your children’s best interests, if things were to change in the future, then that’s up in the air that that can be revisited. It can always be revisited.

Susan Guthrie:

What I say to people, what you described, I call it the hostage-taking approach to divorce negotiations. It is the, well, I’m not going to give you what you want, or I’m going to take what you want if you don’t give me what I want. I especially hate it when they do that with the children, but they will do it with other things that are important. I’ve seen them do it with the pets. I’ve seen them do it with the house. I’ve seen them do it with retirement. You name it, because that is a key thing that we all understand as professionals in this realm, spouses know how to push each other’s buttons and they know where the weaknesses are. They will use those in a negotiation, which may be great if you’re a cutthroat business deal guy.

Susan Guthrie:

But if you’re trying to negotiate a settlement with someone that you’re going to go forward and co-parent with, perhaps you don’t want to come at it from that approach. Yes, I think it’s a great approach. I think you can go to a mediator at any time in your divorce. And a good mediator is going to help you with the current issues, whatever those might be, as well as help you start working toward that final settlement. That’s what people don’t realize is they think they go to a mediation and it’s all about what the final settlement is going to be. Very often in the beginning of a mediation, we are going to talk about how the kids are going to get to school every day for the next month, until school’s out or how the bills are going to get paid while you’re figuring out how the divorce is going to work out, how the mortgage is going to continue to get paid, or who’s going to be responsible for doing this, that, or the other thing.

Susan Guthrie:

You can deal with immediate issues and you can always be working toward that final issue. But the key point is that you and Karen are working in the background to help continue pulling together the information that’s needed so that when you have worked out what your, at least, current parenting is going to look like, you can move on to those financial issues.

Karen Chellew:

Agreed.

Catherine:

Don’t you love when somebody comes to mediation, they say, well, we have an agreement. We just want to go over it with you.

Susan Guthrie:

Another situation that’s hardly ever happened. Yes. [inaudible 00:30:21] to their credit, I don’t want to deter anyone from talking to their spouse. One, I will say to everyone what I say to people in my opening week, we call it an opening statement in mediation, what the mediator says. It is perfectly acceptable to say, I hear what you’re saying. I understand it. If you’ve asked the questions that you need to ask, let me think about it. I’m open-minded but I want to think about it and not make a decision right now. Well, that is the trap that people fall into all the time. And I always say, sounds great. I hear you. I need to talk to my financial advisor. I need to talk to my attorney. Give me some time to think about it and let’s talk about it more with our mediator. Perfectly acceptable and actually a home run for everyone.

Susan Guthrie:

Because then when you come to mediation, you’re ready to talk about it but with someone who’s going to help you. That’s the other thing people need to know, is that your mediator… Somebody said to me the other day in a mediation, Susan, he did this when we were married and don’t you think that’s unfair? Can you believe he did that? Don’t you think that’s unfair? Is that right that he did that? It doesn’t matter what I think that’s not my role at all. I actually didn’t agree with her and I thought it wasn’t that bad, but am I going to say that in a mediation? No, it has no bearing on anything. It’s that she thinks that, so we need to deal with that in that context, but everybody thinks their mediator’s going to make decisions for them.

Susan Guthrie:

That’s absolutely not our role. Maybe he doesn’t know she thought that was unfair. Maybe he doesn’t know that she thinks he shouldn’t have done that and maybe we need to talk about that. There was value in what she was saying, but she was looking for me to be her, the emotional justice that you were talking about, Karen, and that’s not your mediator’s role. But your mediator is there to say, maybe you need to talk to Tom. Have you ever expressed this to Tom, Mary? Maybe we should have a conversation about that. Do you think it would be helpful?

Catherine:

Right, which is great. We do that with our financial portrait, not to mediate them but we’ll often hear, this was a premarital, I put 200 000 into our home. I want that back. Okay, well, how did you put the 200? Do you have a copy of the check that we can include in your portrait? Oh no, but I have a tax document and wife is unsure if it’s premarital not. Our notation to the mediator is exactly this, husband is claiming he has a premarital portion. We requested these documents. They were not received. We’re not telling him, even though we know it’s not going to be considered premarital, he has no proof, but she’s believing him because he’s bullying her into it. And we can’t say to her, it’s not premarital because we’re not going to meddle with what the mediator is going to do, or if they go to attorneys.

Catherine:

But we put enough in there that she’s questing that. She says, “I’m not agreeing with you. I’m not agreeing or disagreeing. I just need to see this document.” If we can’t get it, then the next professional has [inaudible 00:33:30] just asked for that document. But their emotions are being heard. He’s being heard. He realizes that it’s not going to be considered premarital before he gets to that mediation. That little bit of the fight goes down. It’s really, for us, rewarding to see them transform a little bit into, okay, maybe we will talk this out. And then the professional gets the document and knows exactly where they’re coming from because we’ve wound some of it. It really does make a better process for everyone. When again, you need the knowledge.

Susan Guthrie:

It’s critical. Part of that is two people having just misunderstandings about what the law is and flip of that, just because the law says it doesn’t mean you two can’t agree to do something different. Maybe in that particular case, the wife would say, well, I do remember you put in 20 000. I remember that really distinctly. I agree that it is absolutely fair that you get that 20 000 back. The other 180 is in the mix. I think we need to talk more about that. Now that may not be what a judge would do, but in mediation they get to be guided by their own moral compass and by their own definitions of fairness, within the context of, they have to come to an agreement. I get people all the time and I’m sure… Well, that’s not fair or that’s not what I’m entitled to. Who knows what’s fair and who knows what’s entitled to? What can you live with? What works for you and what works for your family as you move forward? Because I always say to people, yes, everything has a dollar sign, but always keep in mind, your peace of mind has a dollar sign attached too, and that you’re going to spend a lot of money arguing over that television set probably much more than your peace of mind was worth.

Karen Chellew:

I think that comes from a space of just having some control. But when you’re informed and you have a team, you won’t even be fighting over a television or a sofa, you’ll know the parameters of what’s going to benefit you most. And that’s where your focus will be. That’s great. Susan, what last word would you like to leave with people about their divorce experience?

Susan Guthrie:

You used the words earlier, Karen, and I think it’s important to say them again, divorce is so viewed as a shameful and stigmatized experience in our lives. I actually read a quote and I think it was a quote from Jennifer Aniston, she’s been married and divorced twice. And she said to a reporter, I consider both of my marriages very successful. They just didn’t last forever.

Karen Chellew:

That’s what I say.

Susan Guthrie:

I’ve been married twice and divorced once. One, I would love it if we can start twisting that or inserting that thought into our brains as we go into divorce. And the other aspect of this that I want people to just consider is that instead of being a horrible, terrible experience of life and a horrible thing to happen to you, consider that divorce is an opportunity.

Susan Guthrie:

It is an opportunity for a new beyond. That’s why my podcast is divorced and beyond. It’s your opportunity to create a whole new future and truly in life, you can count on one hand the times in your life where you have those opportunities to make major changes to fit in with what you truly want. And we change and evolve as we grow. If you can view divorce as an opportunity, as opposed to a terrible, horrible thing that is happening to you, I think that you will find that you can divorce in a better way.

Karen Chellew:

I agree. [crosstalk 00:37:34].

Catherine:

Amen to that.

Karen Chellew:

Thank you so much. This concludes this episode on divorce attorney secrets to thriving beyond your divorce. Thank you Susan, for a great conversation.

Susan Guthrie:

Thank you both for having me. I truly enjoyed this. Thank you.

Catherine:

Thank you.