The Law Offices of Van A. Schwab
Skokie and Libertyville

Secrecy and divorce: working through it with mediation

Arnold Schwarzenegger's recent publication of his memoir and interview on "60 Minutes" highlights a very common feature of many marriages -- secrecy. Schwarzenegger's recent divorce has become public fodder, but the breakdown of his marriage was shrouded in lies and secrets, according to the former California governor. There is a lesson here for other couples divorcing due to secrets, adultery and other problems. When couples are struggling with the emotional issues surrounding divorces, divorce mediation is one option for couples to deal with the "dirty laundry" without a long and drawn-out court battle.

While not every divorce is acrimonious, the chances that the divorce will take an ugly turn rise significantly when one partner or the other has been cheating or significantly misled the spouse about financial and other important matters.

In the Schwarzenegger case, Arnold's long-time affair with a housekeeper and paternity of her child was a huge blow to the marriage, and his wife made the decision to dissolve the partnership. While not everyone's secrets are as dramatic as that, many marriages suffer from silence and non-sharing of important issues that can greatly damage or even end a relationship.

While it's not always easy to have calm discussions with a soon-to-be ex, divorce mediation allows the parties much more flexibility than a divorce court proceeding in working out their differences. Mediators understand that couples sometimes cannot work together to come to a compromise, so they often "go between" the partners to promote an amicable division of property and settlement of other issues. The other option is having a judge make the decisions for you.

Source: Chicago Tribune, "Secrecy a common thread in most divorces," Bonnie Miller Rubin, Oct. 10, 2012

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