As an Arizona State Bar Certified Specialist in family law matters in Arizona, I have been asked by many people what my prediction is for divorce and family law cases this unusual year, with the Covid-19 quarantine and social distancing.
My response is that for the next week or two, new intakes will go down as people stay home and avoid venturing out. However, I also predict that total divorce cases by the end of the year 2020 will exceed those filed in 2019. Unfortunately, I believe that having parents and children locked up in houses together during stressful times may lead to an increased rate of divorce.
While I am certainly open for business and willing to help with your case (or your friend’s case – send over the referral), please allow me to discuss a few ways you can keep peace at home and in your relationships.
- SHARE CHOCOLATE CAKE: In my book, Amazing Intentions, available on Amazon (link below) I tell the story of children being asked to cut a chocolate cake. When informed that they will have to cut the cake, and then ensure that their siblings get to choose their pieces first, children quickly learn to cut cake very evenly (knowing that they will receive the last piece). Such an exercise helps us to practice seeing things from the perspective of others. As we are cooped up together in quarantine, we may get on each other’s nerves. Having compassion and sympathy for the other people quarantined with us, and trying to see disagreements from their perspective will help us maintain good relationships during difficult times.
- JUDGE OTHERS BY THEIR INTENTIONS: We tend to judge ourselves by our intentions (which we usually believe to be amazing) and we tend to judge others by their actions (because we cannot read their mind and understand their amazing intentions). The problem is that our intentions are usually amazing, even though our actions fall far short of amazement. When your spouse, children, or others with whom you are quarantined with do something that perturbs you, before you criticize or chastise them, think for a moment about their motivation for doing whatever it was they did. Give them the same benefit of the doubt as you would give yourself. If you cannot think of any good reason, before getting frustrated nicely ask why they did whatever they did. Give others a chance to explain what they were thinking.
- JUDGE YOURSELF BY YOUR ACTIONS: You just ate the last doughnut. Your intentions were amazing. You had intended to share the last doughnut. You really had planned to share the doughnut. However, while you were mindlessly browsing your social media page, you picked up and ate the last doughnut. When you are confronted with having eaten the last doughnut, you will feel inclined to push back and explain your amazing intentions. You will feel a desire to make everyone understand that you did not intend to eat the last doughnut. Hopefully they will have some understanding of your amazing intentions (see rule #2 above). However, if you refuse to take some accountability for your actions, no matter how good your intentions, it will be difficult for you to see eye to eye with those around you, who no matter how hard they try, will be seeing your actions much louder than your amazing intentions (remember, they cannot read your mind, but they can see your actions).
- COMMUNICATE YOUR EXPECTATIONS: Most conflict arises from unmet expectations. Second, most expectations are unmet because they were not properly communicated in the first place. Third, resolving conflicts through proper communication strengthens marriages and other relationships, but proper communication takes effort on both sides. In other words, if you are not gentle communicating with your spouse and children what you are expecting, it will be most difficult for them to meet your expectations. If you expect that the kitchen will remain perfectly clean all the time with the entire family at home all day, you may want to adjust your expectations and make them more realistic. If you expect that the kitchen will be cleaned up after breakfast by 9:00 a.m. each morning, you will likely be disappointed unless you communicate this message to your spouse, children, and others in your home. They cannot rise to the occasion if they do not know what you expect of them. Have reasonable expectations, and communicate these expectations to your family. Working together towards these reasonable expectations will build stronger relationships.
- READ TOGETHER: While reading any good book together may be a benefit, let me recommend that you read the book, “Amazing Intentions,” which is available on Amazon.com. This book addresses the chocolate cake and other stories that can help improve your relationships. Get it here:
I wish you the greatest of luck and success in your relationships. However, if you are involved in a divorce, legal separation, or annulment case or other family law case, and if you have determined that you need experienced legal representation, please call 480 733-6800 and ask to speak with Douglas C. Gardner, or visit our website at: