True Story: One Fort Worth Family Survived a Complex Divorce with Children and High Assets
We survived a high-asset complex divorce with children. The divorce was also extremely high conflict. More importantly, my children survived the high-asset, complex, high-conflict divorce. How did we do it? We took charge of our destiny and we put our children first.
As a stay-at-home mom when I filed for divorce, I wanted to make sure I got what I deserved. As a powerful executive, my husband wanted to preserve his assets. The divorce was, at times, a battlefield. It was expensive, and it was exhausting. In the midst of the conflict, I stopped to think for just a moment, and that moment changed our lives forever.
Change Yourself, Change your Destiny, Save Your Children
First Came A Change Of Perspective
Changing yourself and changing your perspective, especially in a high-conflict situation like complex divorce with children, is not always an easy thing to do. I know for me it wasn’t, especially early on when it came to matters involving my ex-husband. However, it was probably the SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT thing I could have done. It changed all of our paths, especially that of our children.
Many people going through a divorce believe that it won’t matter if they change because the other party won’t. Well, I say, you never know unless you try, and more often than not, at least some good will come from it.
High Conflict In A High Asset Divorce Does Not Have To Be Your Child’s Biggest Childhood Memory
In my case, I had enough—enough of the tension, animosity, and every other negative emotion you can imagine. I saw what the complex divorce with children tug-of-war was doing to our children, and none of it was good or positive, and none of it was what I wanted to be the biggest thing our children remembered about their childhoods.
Take The First Step In The Battle
So, one day, in the midst of our chaotic legal battle, I reached out to my ex-husband. It was for one of our children’s birthdays. I told him what time cake would be and told him he was welcome to come over and watch that child open gifts, etc… As I expected, he was distrustful and skeptical, thinking it meant he could not have his court-allotted time. Instead of getting defensive, I assured him that not only would he still have his time, but that I wasn’t holding him to the small time frame given for “his turn” with the kids. I explained that since it was a school night, as long as he didn’t have the children out too late, I thought he should just go and do something fun with them without having to constantly watch the clock. Later that night, when he returned the kids home at a very reasonable hour, I got a sincere “thank you” for the first time in a long time.
Keep Moving Forward While Keeping An Eye On Your Desire For The Future
That was the beginning. Yes, it was awkward for all of us at first, kids included. It could be tense, but we slowly kept moving forward. Over time, it got better until it became the norm. Little by little, I noticed him reciprocating with small acts of thoughtfulness. When work schedules changed, kids’ schedules changed, etc., we adapted. We eventually threw the divorce schedule out the window and just did what worked for everyone, including celebrating holidays and special occasions together. We slowly fell into the routine of sitting together at school events. Some parents later told me that they had no idea we were a divorced couple. Good. That was my goal because we were so much more than that. We were parents to two children who loved, wanted, and needed BOTH of us. As survivors of a complex divorce with children, we achieved our goal and more.
Be Patient, It Takes Time To Build New Things
Gradually a comfort level returned, distrust lessened, and real communication began. In some ways, it was like getting to know each other again as people. It also helps that time has a way of healing old wounds—especially when you LET them heal. What’s done is done. We stopped rehashing the past and focused on the here and now, which I believe, was an important part of the healing process.
Then, at some point, an almost miraculous thing happened. We became friends. Also, we learned to rely on each other again in matters affecting the “family unit.” Trust was restored, and a new co-parenting relationship developed. We helped each other out, and truthfully, wanted the best for each other as people, realizing that our individual successes benefitted our kids, and so, we helped each other succeed as individuals.
Our Family Beat This Thing Called Complex Divorce
We won. We beat this thing called “complex divorce with children,” but the true “winners” were our kids. They learned that mom and dad may be divorced, but they actually learned to like each other again, and they could just say, “Hey, can dad come over and watch this football game with me,” or “I’m just going to hang at dad’s,” or “Dad just called. He’s taking us to dinner.” Our kids learned that they still DID have both of us, and we could still be a “family,” even if it was not in the traditional sense.
Trust Your Instincts
Sadly, my ex-husband unexpectedly passed away in February of 2016, at age 57. Do I have regrets? Of course, I do. But, I will always be thankful that I trusted my instinct and reached out to him. I’m thankful for those extra memories and moments the kids had with him, and with us as a family, especially my younger child, who was not quite five when his father moved out of the house. He doesn’t remember an “intact family,” and this was the closest we could give him.
This has been a hard and emotional year for all of us, to say the least. However, I do believe it gives our kids some peace and comfort to know that their parents were in such a good place at the time of his passing. Hopefully, it also allows them to know they can speak freely about him, and we can all share in the memories of the good, happy times. It won’t erase the bad times or memories, but it doesn’t have to be the main thing they will remember. I hope they know we tried to do better—and we did do better.
With all the stressful decisions I had to make in our high asset, complex, high conflict divorce, that one decision to make a change in myself and approach our situation with a new perspective, helped change so much.
You don’t have to sacrifice what you deserve financially in a high asset divorce. But, it can be an excellent decision to work on letting go of resentments if your divorce is a complex, high conflict, high asset divorce involving children.
High Asset Divorce Attorney Bob Leonard Is Board Certified In Family Law, An Experienced Negotiator And An Outstanding Litigator.