It takes two people to agree to marry and only one to decide to divorce. Regardless of how you’ve come to divorce and who made that decision, it likely wasn’t something taken lightly and the underlying causes didn’t occur overnight.

Conflict and emotions, often elevated during a divorce, tend to cloud our judgment. You may feel hurt, scared, angry, even betrayed. You may even have conscious (or subconscious) desire to punish your soon-to-be-ex. It’s important not to inappropriately act on these feelings, as they may lead you to make decisions that feel good at the moment—but, in the end, hurt your children.

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It’s long been said: “you may win a fight, but lose a relationship.” In fact, it may have played a role in your arriving at this place. However, like it or not, when a couple has children together (regardless of their age), their family still exists after the marriage ends. Your parental relationship doesn’t end along with the dissolution of your union. Therefore, consider whom a loss of your coParent relationship harms most. When children are involved, you can’t “win” a divorce or aspects of a divorce, regardless of how you believe such a “win” may feel. That feeling is typically short-lived, and the win-lose paradigm in a divorce tends not serve your or your children’s best interests in the long run.

A divorce doesn’t end the chronic conflict between two people who will be tied together for life through their children. For the benefit of your kids, doesn’t it make more sense to resolve or otherwise manage conflict with your ex, than to exacerbate it?


About Mark Baer & Jeremy Kossen

Mark BaerMark Baer is a lawyer, mediator and conflict resolution consultant. He has decades of experience in family law and has crafted a reputation within the industry for his psychologically-minded and child-centered approach.

Mark is also a well-known writer and columnist for a number of publications on the interplay between psychology and conflict resolution within the field of family law, as well as familial and interpersonal relationships in general. He has had a regular “Psychology and Family Law” column in the San Gabriel Valley Psychological Association’s award-winning bimonthly newsletter since 2008. A member of Psychology Today’s expert community, Mark also has a blog column titled “Empathy and Relationships: Fostering Genuine Open-Mindedness.” He is also a HuffPost Blogger and a number of those blog articles have been referenced in books, law review articles, by evidence-based public policy think tanks, and elsewhere. Mark has written extensively for a number of other publications, as well. His material has been used and shared by law school professors, and by some of the highest ranked dispute resolution organizations in the country, such as the Straus Institute of Dispute Resolution at Pepperdine University School of Law and the Harvard Negotiation & Mediation Clinical Program at Harvard Law School.

He has also presented on several occasions at the California Psychological Association Convention, the American Bar Association Section of Family Law CLE Conference, and the Southern California Mediation Association Conference, among other such organizations.