I am Pam Masters and I am a collaborative family lawyer, which is to say that I am a settlement specialist. I guide couples and families on the difficult journey of divorce without court involvement. I do this in ways that protect children, preserves financial assets, and creates healthy co-parenting relationships.
I talk to my clients a lot about the importance of making good decisions. The decision to be made in a divorce or custody case are important ones, ones that should be made well.
Good thinking makes the future easier, while poor thinking makes it harder. Good thinking means better decisions. Better decisions allow for more free time, less stress, and more opportunity. Poor thinking, on the other hand, leads to decisions that consume time, reduce options, and increase our stress.
So what does it take to make sound decisions? Well, first, to make good decisions, one must have accurate and complete information. That is something that your divorce lawyer or coach can help you figure out what is complete information and how do I know it is accurate?
The information side of the equation is the easier part, I think. Here is the more challenging part:
“Good thinkers understand a simple truth: you can’t make good decisions without good thinking and good thinking requires time. If you want to think better, schedule time to think and hone your understanding of the problem.”
I find for myself that my first thought is usually not my best thought. My first thought is usually someone else’s; it’s always what I’ve already heard about the subject, always the conventional wisdom. It’s only by concentrating, sticking to the question, being patient, letting all the parts of my mind come into play, that I arrive at an original idea or the idea that best suits me and my family. It does not matter how anyone else may have arranged their lives or their timesharing schedule or their finances—it only matters what arrangement works for you, your significant other, and your children.
Yes, I said your significant other—if a decision does not work for everyone, then it will work for no one—at least in the context of co-parenting.
By giving my brain a chance to make associations, draw connections, take me by surprise, I come up with more ideas. And often even that idea doesn’t turn out to be very good. I need time to think about it, too, to make mistakes and recognize them, to make false starts and correct them, to outlast my impulses, to defeat my desire to declare the job done and move on to the next thing.
One last thing that applies particularly to decisions around kids and divorce.
Your skill in decision-making is directly proportional to your quality of information acquisition. So, how good are you at making decisions? How good are you at acquiring information? I was mediating a case recently and every time I came into one of the rooms and started to speak, the Husband/Father interrupted me and told me why what I was saying was wrong. Knowing that we would get nowhere if this continued I explained to him that one of the advantages of mediation was an opportunity to hear what his Wife/Mother was going to want the judge to hear should we be unable to resolve the matter that day but that he was not going to have that benefit because he already knew everything and was right about all of it as well.
Good thinking is expensive but poor thinking costs a fortune.