By Irving H. Zaroff, JD LMFT and Dana Schutz, MA LMFT

You make a choice in your life, and it affects your life in all ways, good and bad.
~John Mayer

Divorce is on the rise. What is a good divorce? There may be many definitions floating around, but after 20 plus years working with families of divorce, both as therapists and divorce mediators, our definition of a "good divorce," is one that recognizes the marriage may have ended but the relationship existed. Acceptance of the divorce promotes a feeling of understanding, potential opportunity for growth and hope for the future. Parents have the opportunity to teach their children lessons that will lead to a healthier view of marriage and relationships in their future.

Many experienced divorce professionals would say the bad and the ugly go hand in hand. When you get down to it, the bad and the ugly are the usual suspects that, in a nasty divorce, haunt the individuals, children and extended families for years. We too often see adults who have been divorced for some time who still have unresolved, hostile, leftover baggage from the divorce. These unresolved issues spill over into many areas of their lives and the lives of their children. These children are at risk of growing up and carrying around their parents' baggage.

The bad and ugly show up in issues of money, custody schedules, and the amount of support one person might pay to the other. In addition there are underlying emotional components which, often not recognized, significantly influence how these post-divorce issues are managed. The bad and ugly intensify and compound.

In an effort to move forward and direct your own divorce down the right road, it is helpful to ask yourself the question, "What kind of legacy do I want to leave?" When you look back on your life and ask yourself this question, you might want to give consideration to the Good, the Bad and the Ugly. What do you want to teach your children, what do you want to be remembered for with your friends, and how do you want to live your life day by day? The opportunity for change and growth is always there - and the choice is yours.

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