How not to become another tragic casualty in your own dirty divorce war.

The weaponry in this particular conflict is purposely designed to cause maximum psychological, financial and emotional damage to it’s intended target.

The initial salvo of legal weapons, consisting of a Writ of Summons, Statement of Claim and various Demands usually begins late in the afternoon, in order to catch you off-guard, and create general shock and havoc. It works. But before you have any chance to regain your composure and dignity you find yourself a moving target for the dreaded bombardment of the heavier caliber legal weapons, consisting of Affidavits packed with accusations and allegations of all sorts, and Notice of Motions, targeting custody, property and everything else you hold dear.

In case there is any doubt in your mind, you have just become a new and unwilling recruit in a dirty war, otherwise known as divorce.

You immediately seek the advice and counsel of your own top commander, who recommends immediate evasive manoeuvres, combined with a vigorous counterattack. You launch your Statement of Defence, Counterclaim, cross application and other materials in the direction of your adversary in the hopes of stalling the attack and gaining the upper hand.

After all, as you’ve been told, the best defence is a good offence.

Months pass, punctuated by short, expensive and frustrating legal skirmishes. You assess the progress of the conflict. Your financial and emotional resources are stretched to breaking, personal relationships with children, family and friends have been destroyed or damaged beyond repair, and it doesn’t appear that any substantive gains have been made on the legal battlefield to achieve your objectives. In fact, you may not be clear or certain what are your objectives.

Then comes the final battle, and considering everything that you have suffered through, it is aptly named, it is called a trial. When the smoke clears and the final judgement is made, by someone who is a total stranger, you survey the carnage and ask yourself whether this was all really necessary.

The answer, my friends, is absolutely not.

Before firing your guns in your own divorce war, or anytime after hostilities have begun, you can make some smart choices. You can decide to call a truce, to give yourself and your “adversary” the time and opportunity to consider your options such as collaborative divorce.

In a collaborative divorce there is a team of professionals made up of divorce counsellors, collaborative family lawyers and child and property specialists, who all work together for the common good of the parties and the children.

One important feature of this process is that the parties and their lawyers agree that any and all discussions cannot be used for any future legal actions. This alone can often enhance more effective dialogue and the potential for resolution. It’s also far less costly than litigation, but most of all it’s a non-adversarial process which can create a lasting foundation for a family friendly future.

Don’t risk becoming another tragic casualty in your own dirty divorce war. My best advice to you, if you’re considering going on the legal attack or responding in kind, is to take the time to give peace a chance.