As the 2017 World Series of Baseball is upon us, it makes me think that divorce would be easier if we played it like baseball.
There is the warm-up, the relationship between the pitcher and catcher along with the hitter and the first base coach, and finally the running of the bases.
Baseball’s a great game! 9 players on the team; 4 bases; one ball and easy scoring. The players know how to hit the ball, run and catch it. I’m aware of the strategy behind the game, the one we never notice while watching the game, sipping our cold beer, stretched out in the warm sun.
I couldn’t help but think that divorce would be easier if we played it like baseball.
In baseball, players warm up before the big game. That’s what couples need to do; envision themselves playing catch to warm up for a divorce. If couples could all warm up together, it’d be a different game.
What would it look like to “warm up together” before divorce?
- Fill out your financial statements and gather your financial disclosures together
- Go to mediation before hiring attorneys – to see what you are actually disputing
- See a family therapist before fighting over a parenting plan.
Couples come to a Divorce with ideas on how it “should” go, who “should” get what, who “should” pay what and take what, but no one knows the outcome of the game. A good way to look at this is as if you are the pitcher throwing your documents and information to your lawyer the catcher.
When you review the proposals and details for settlement of the divorce consider yourself at bat and your lawyer as the first base coach.
Couples need to choose their issues with the divorce just as a batter selects the best pitches to hit. As we all know, there are offers over the top and others too low. Just like the perfect pitch, negotiation happens somewhere in the middle.
Frequently couples are overwhelmed considering every single detail of their divorce. See your divorce as the lap around the bases.
In baseball, there are 4 bases the player needs to advance through to make it home. In a divorce, there are 4 major issues the players need to advance through before they make it home.
1st base is the financial disclosures.
Once a divorce is filed, there is usually a period of time for the parties to complete their financial disclosures – who owns what, how much debt is there, what is everyone’s monthly income and expense.
You want these as complete and accurate as possible. A detailed financial affidavit will help your lawyer better coach you through possible settlement strategies and ideally get the issues resolved sooner than later.
2nd base is your parenting plan.
There is rarely a more expensive part of a divorce than resolving parenting issues. Once people understand their finances, they need to figure out what is best for their children.
If there is disagreement, consult with a family therapist for ideas about the best parenting plans for your children and circumstances. Many states mandate the completion of a parenting class before entering parenting orders. Make completing your parenting class – preferably together – a priority in the divorce process. Remember, co-parenting is a must going forward in most circumstances and you need to do it to the best of your ability because your kids deserve it.
3rd base is the division of assets and debts.
Within 20 days of exchanging your financial disclosures, the party who filed the divorce, or the Petitioner, should offer a settlement proposal. It isn’t a “rule of the game” for the Petitioner to make the first offer, attorney’s usually, treat the party that filed as the home team. Once an offer is made, and counter offer received, and if things are settled at that point we are ready to head home, if not then get into mediation.
Home base is the finalizing and signing of the agreement.
Now, just like baseball, making it home does not mean your game is over. There’s at least 9 innings. Any family divorcing with children should know you may have a divorce decree, but the game of life and sharing your children is a lot longer than 9 innings.