People seem to want to know if I advocate for divorce. I don’t, anymore than I advocate for cancer. But both of them happen. When divorce happens families need to learn to treat each other with kindness, dignity and respect. They need help making decisions for their lives and their families. They don’t need to spend thousands of dollars paying an attorney to make decisions that leave a winner and a looser and breed life long contempt. This article is by John Kennedy of PE News.
Diminishing the Sting of Divorce
Mediation service is designed to keep couples talking through the process, rather than raising the stakes through courts.
By John W. Kennedy
Christian marriage counselor Linda Miller-deBerard http://counselingtexas.com/about-linda-miller-deberard/ of Colleyville, Texas, never advocates that couples, including Assemblies of God adherents, divorce. Yet, in her more than 25 years of practice, Miller-deBerard has witnessed many husbands and wives who are unable to resolve their differences hire attorneys to initiate proceedings.
And when that happens, Miller-deBerard says, partners who might have been able to settle matters amicably often turn nasty. The bitter sentiments can last a lifetime, and when children are involved, Miller-deBerard says families can be damaged beyond the already turbulent upheaval of divorce itself.
The traditional route of hiring a lawyer to develop a legal case against a spouse can quickly turn antagonistic, according to Miller-deBerard, especially once the attorney files temporary divorce orders. These legally binding decrees typically invoke terms ranging from forbidding the other partner from moving funds in joint bank accounts to not associating with child sex abusers.
“It looks as though the spouse is being accused of stealing money and child molestation,” says Miller-deBerard, who has been married for three decades. Customarily attorneys charge $3,000 to $6,000 to file such orders, but Miller-deBerard contends such an expense is unnecessary in most cases.
Certainly when spousal abuse, neglect, or drug addiction is involved, a judge needs to make decisions for the safety of the victim. But those constitute a minority of cases, and in the past decade various therapists and attorneys have noticed that the litigation system can be unhealthy for families. Besides the cost, Miller-deBerard says unexpectedly being served with legal documents can wound and offend the other party — and start a mudslinging exchange as a husband and wife become entrenched in trying to finagle a better financial settlement from courts.
Miller-deBerard believes she and an attorney friend, Stacey H. Langenbahn, have devised a better path. Under their Détente Family Mediation http://www.divorcemediationtexas.com/ plan, couples are invited to sit down together and discuss what their lives — and the lives of their children — will look like after the split. What will be the related expenses for the spouse who retains ownership of the home? How will the daughter’s braces be paid? Who will keep attending the home church? Will the family still be able to gather for holidays?
“Our goal isn’t to get them divorced, but to get the couple to continue talking in ways where they can co-parent and the child doesn’t have to choose sides,” Miller-deBerard says.
Langenbahn, newly elected president of the Academy of Professional Family Mediators https://apfmnet.org/, cites the apostle Paul’s admonition in 1 Corinthians 6:1-8 as a reason for believers to use neutral mediators rather than the government judges in an effort to work out marital strife.
“It’s important to go to another Christian to try to resolve differences instead of the court system,” says Langenbahn, who has been married 27 years.
Since the early model settlement service http://www.divorcemediationtexas.com/about-us started 6½ years ago, 95 percent of the more than 100 couples involved have settled out of court. The process leaves the door open for a future reconciliation much more than an expensive court battle does, Miller-deBerard says.
“If a couple keeps fighting through attorneys, children will suffer the consequences,” Miller-deBerard says. “Divorce is a horrible thing that I don’t advocate as a Christian, but this way families can live peacefully in the aftermath.”
The Assemblies of God has a lengthy position paper http://ag.org/top/Beliefs/Position_Papers/pp_downloads/pp_4189_divorce_remarriage.pdf about the damage caused by divorce.
In recent years, various ministries in the Fellowship http://penews.org/news/preparing-for-the-long-haul
have started and efforts made http://penews.org/news/stopping-divorce-before-it-happens to strengthen marriage before relationships reach the breaking point. And many couples who have gone their separate ways http://www.pe.ag.org/articles/index_2012.cfm?targetBay=f5f8225a-e34d-4383-8e42-e3b9d80d8a4d&ModID=2&Process=DisplayArticle&RSS_RSSContentID=24318&RSS_OriginatingChannelID=1321&RSS_OriginatingRSSFeedID=4907&RSS_Source= later regret the decision.
The divorce rate in the U.S. peaked http://www.randalolson.com/2015/06/15/144-years-of-marriage-and-divorce-in-1-chart/ in the late 1970s and early 1980s, falling gradually but significantly https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/marriage_divorce_tables.htm since then. However, that is partly because more couples are now cohabitating rather than marrying. The number of weddings in this nation topped out at 2,482,137 in 1984. Although there now are 75 million more Americans now compared to 30 years ago, the number of annual weddings is down by 341,865.
TAGS: Divorce, Divorce Temporary Orders, Détente Family Mediation, Academy of Professional Family Mediators