Peaceful Divorce

The mega-divorce site, Divorce 360, has reviewed founding member Cynthia Tiano's book and audio program, "Happily Divorced! Secrets of the Win-Win Formula". Here is what they had to say:

"Cynthia Tiano was once considered a "killer" as a divorce attorney. She was respected by fellow attorneys and feared by their clients, who worried what they'd lose when they faced her in divorce court. It wasn't until her own divorce that she began to wonder about her tactics.

"I was well aware of the pitfalls and landmines of divorce litigation. I understood the lasting impact that battling someone you once loved and trusted, someone who once was your best friend, had on a person for years to come," she said.

After years as a trial divorce attorney, she had seen first-hand what happened to the children, whose parents ended up in court. "...Their world crumbled around them and neither mom nor dad, caught up in the divorce war, could provide a safe emotional place for them," she said.

Determined not to let this happen to her own family, she resolved her divorce amicably. "My own divorce experience changed who I was as a person and as a lawyer. I could no longer ignore the voice inside of me reminding me that these were families with their children and their lives’ savings at stake," she said.

So she closed the doors of her law practice 12 years ago, becoming a Supreme Court-certified family mediator for couples seeking to uncouple. "I decided that I would no longer be a part of the problem, but would become a part of the solution," she said,

Inspired to reach out and help as many divorcing couples as possible, she collaborated with Dr. Max Vogt, a bestselling author and renowned marriage and family psychologist. The two created our book and audio series, “Happily Divorced! Secrets of the Win-Win Formula”. This program gives divorcing couples a step-by-step plan to divorce without fighting and without huge legal bills. It also provides tools and resources to resolve divorce peacefully, "even if (couples) believe their situation is hopeless," Tiano said.

The book, six audios and a digital download costs $49.95. You can find out more about it by going to http://www.happilydivorced.org.


1. How can you get divorced without making your spouse your enemy?

You need to first make the decision to avoid a divorce war. Your actions dictate which way your divorce is going to go. If you treat your spouse unfairly, refuse to negotiate, and fail to control your emotions, you will see your spouse turn spiteful and nasty and a war will ensue. If your spouse is the one who is acting cruel and unfair during the divorce, you can still take back control by taking the high road, controlling your emotions, and not becoming vicious and nasty in return. That only escalates the war and can turn your spouse into your worst enemy.

The key is to get off judgment and be quick to forgive, both your spouse and yourself. This is a necessary ingredient, especially if you have children together and will need to co-parent with your ex. Your forgiveness will have an immediate and direct positive impact on your relationship with your spouse or ex-spouse, your emotional and physical health, your future relationships and your children’s well-being.

And, do NOT hire a “killer” divorce attorney!



2. Your book has awareness steps? What is their purpose?

The awareness steps are amazingly powerful yet extremely simple actions of "mental ju-jitsu" that can change your consciousness in the direction of being "Happily Divorced,” sometimes in a matter of only minutes and will keep you on that path if you do them as described. They are that powerful.

When we feel stressed and overwhelmed - which is the state many people find themselves in during the process of a divorce - it is very easy to get distracted and influenced by all kinds of things going on in the world around you... and lose your focus on the things that are most important in your life. The purpose of the awareness steps is to keep you focused and help you to gain control of your emotions and actions during your divorce so that you can continue on the path to creating a positive, win-win divorce experience.


3. Why did you write this book?

For the first 10 years of my 26 years as a licensed attorney, I was a “killer” divorce lawyer, equally respected, feared and hated by most of my fellow lawyers, and certainly by my client’s spouses. I gave my practice my all, going for the throat, believing that was what I had to do to zealously represent my clients.

But when I went through my own divorce, all of that began to change. I was well aware of the pitfalls and landmines of divorce litigation. I understood the lasting impact that battling someone you once loved and trusted, someone who once was your best friend, had on a person for years to come.

As a trial divorce lawyer, I had seen first hand how children were torn apart when their world crumbled around them and neither Mom nor Dad, caught up in the divorce war, could provide a safe emotional place for them. I knew all too well how families including brothers and sisters, in-laws and cousins, and mothers and fathers, could get caught in the middle of a no-win situation when a couple's divorce turns into a courtroom battle.

Determined not to let this happen to me and my family, I created a peaceful divorce and resolved my divorce amicably. My own divorce experience changed who I was as a person and as a lawyer. I could no longer ignore the voice inside of me reminding me that these were families with their children and their lives’ savings at stake.

Unwilling to practice divorce law the way I used to, I closed my practice 12 years ago and became a mediator. I decided that I would no longer be a part of the problem, but would become a part of the solution. I have been a Supreme Court Certified Family Mediator ever since, helping families to create peaceful divorces for themselves, even when they did not believe it was possible to do so.

Inspired to reach out and help as many divorcing couples as possible, I collaborated with Dr. Max Vogt, a bestselling author and renowned marriage and family psychologist, and together we created our book and audio series, “Happily Divorced! Secrets of the Win-Win Formula”. This program gives divorcing couples a step-by-step plan to divorce without fighting, conflict, and huge legal expenses, and provides the tools and resources a couple needs to resolve their divorce amicably and peacefully, even if they believe their situation is hopeless.


4. What three things do you want readers to take away from the book?


1. Focus on what you want, not on what you don’t want, and don’t give up.

It is possible to resolve your divorce amicably and peacefully. Many people do not believe this and say “but you don’t know my ex!” or “it’s not possible to have a peaceful divorce in my situation.” Take a look at what you are you focusing on. Is it what is right with your spouse or ex, or what is wrong? Are you making a concerted effort to remember the qualities you respected and admired when you married this person and perhaps had children with them? Remember, what you focus on expands. Focus on what you want, not what you don’t want.

Going through divorce is like driving a car. Are you looking through the windshield, toward where you are going, or through the rear view mirror, stuck in the past? Be proactive in creating the vision of what you want it all to look like and consistently hold that vision. What vision are you holding? Is it of a peaceful divorce? Is it of a respectful, effective co-parenting relationship with your spouse or ex? Is it of healthy, happy children and meaningful future relationships for you?

Don’t give up! Hold the vision of what you want, not what you don’t want! You will move in the direction you are looking, and before you know it, you will have created a peaceful divorce and the pathway to being happily divorced.

2. Take the “high road” in your divorce.

You can take the “high road” in your divorce. This means, first and foremost, educating yourself about the process and the options available for you to create a peaceful result. It also means clearly communicating this desire to your lawyer and to your spouse to minimize the trauma to you and your family.

It may feel scary at first to take control of your life and stand up for what you believe in, but it will empower you, and the payoff for you and your family will be well worth it in the long run. Choosing the "high road” means choosing the path that keeps you in your integrity and ultimately promises to provide you with what really means the most to you. This is the road that does not require you to compromise your highest values and provides very deep and satisfying long-term rewards.

3. Avoid a divorce battle, no matter what.

A nasty divorce can cause deep emotional wounds to you, your spouse, and, most importantly, your children. The effects of a divorce battle can last for years after the ink has dried on your divorce papers. Very few divorcing couples understand the impact of hostile divorce litigation and what damage it will inflict on their lives.

Think about the future. Can you imagine what it will be like at your children’s important life events, like graduations, birthday parties and weddings, if you cannot resolve your issues with your ex? Do you understand the painful position you will put your child in having to choose between parents or plan seating arrangements on their special day so that their parents do not have to look at one another?

Even if you don’t have children together, anger and resentment will definitely have a negative impact on your future relationships, especially romantic ones. Who wants to be with someone who is bitter and holding onto the past? If you don’t find a way to make peace with yourself and your ex, you’ll drag that baggage with you into the future.

That is the cold, hard reality of a divorce battle -- it never ends.


5. What is a tragic flaw and why do you think it's important for someone to understand their tragic flaw?

In dramatic theory, there is a human characteristic known as the "tragic flaw.” The "hero of the story" in classical Greek drama has one obsession, which is his downfall and which "eats him alive." It is important to understand our tragic flaws, especially during a divorce, because what keeps us shortsighted and stuck can be our downfall. We see this over and over again in divorce cases where stubbornness and a need for revenge are a couple’s tragic flaws and they are unable to settle their divorce, opting to destroy each other instead.


6. What tips do you have for parents going through a divorce?

Everyone is aware that they should keep the kids out of their divorce and not badmouth their spouse in front of their children, yet divorcing parents continue to make this mistake. Why? Because during a divorce our emotions can get the best of us and when we are not in control we say and do things that can be hurtful to others, especially our children.

It is important to give yourself a “time out” when you are feeling angry with your ex and cool down. This may mean taking a short walk or writing a letter to your ex that you later destroy. Anything you can do to let off steam and calm down is helpful. It is important to take care of yourself both physically and emotionally.

You need to be informed and educated, and develop the communication skills necessary to be a successful co-parent. There are resources out there to help you – including our book and audio program, Happily Divorced! Secrets of the Win-Win Formula.

Have the courage to ask for help when you need it. There are professionals who can help you, including divorce coaches and parenting coordinators. Take advantage of this help.

Remember to stay close to your children and to allow them to be close to their other parent. It is necessary to separate your adult issues with your ex from your children’s right to have a meaningful relationship with both of their parents.

Be patient. It will take time and considerable effort to create a new, effective and respectful co-parenting relationship with your ex. Think long term, it will be well worth it.


7. How can I avoid becoming a victim of divorce and still have a win-win divorce?

You can avoid becoming a victim of divorce by accepting responsibility for yourself and letting go of blame. It is very easy during a divorce to pin the blame on our ex, especially if your ex is the one who had the affair, asked for the divorce, or did something else that you feel caused you pain. By not acknowledging your part in the breakup of your marriage, you are putting yourself in the role of the victim.

This is not saying that you give in to unreasonable demands. You become empowered by educating yourself enough to become clear on what you want, whether your expectations are reasonable, and how to communicate those desires effectively so you can create a win-win situation.

It is empowering to accept responsibility for your life and realize that we all create our own destiny and everything does happen for a reason. Instead of feeling like a victim, look at your divorce as a learning experience and a chance for growth and new beginnings. By taking back your power and not placing all of the blame on your spouse, you can create a win-win divorce for all involved.

8. Explain what you mean by peaceful divorce?

A peaceful divorce is one where a divorcing couple is able to resolve their conflicts in a proactive and positive manner. In a traditional adversarial divorce, it is the Judge and the lawyers who make the decisions and dictate the direction of the divorce. In a peaceful divorce, the couple fashions their own divorce with the assistance of professionals who are educated in and committed to the peaceful divorce process.

In a peaceful divorce, the divorcing couple is actively involved in working towards a resolution that they both can live with after the divorce. In doing so, they are better able to move on with their lives in a healthier manner. This is critical in cases where the couple must co-parent after the divorce, and for those who want to have healthy future relationships.

A peaceful divorce provides an opportunity for a family going through divorce to heal and grow, and costs far less than a traditional adversarial divorce, both emotionally and financially.


9. Is divorce ever over?

For divorcing parties with children there is no “over.” You will have to deal with and communicate with your ex-partner for the rest of your lives. There will be graduations, weddings, births and other important events in your children’s lives. It is your responsibility to figure out early in your divorce process how to at least be civil with your ex, or your kids will pay the price.

From a legal perspective, sometimes the divorce can be just the beginning. Appeals, post-judgment motions and modifications can keep the divorce fires, not to mention the legal fees, burning for many years to come after the divorce itself is final.

And, as we have said before, it is necessary to have the right perspective and do the emotional work required during your divorce to process your feelings and move forward if you want to have healthy relationships in the future. If you don’t, your divorce will really never be over.


10. What's so important about mediation in a divorce?


Mediation is a process of dispute resolution where the parties meet with a mediator, who is a neutral third party, and work together to resolve all of the issues that exist between them. The goal of mediation is to come up with an agreement that is created by the divorcing parties, and to provide the parties with tools to resolve disputes that may arise between them in the future.

Mediation is very different than litigation. In mediation, the parties are given the opportunity to create an agreement regarding their money and their children rather than having the judge, a total stranger, make these important decisions for them. It has been proven that the risk of further litigation after reaching an agreement is lower than if the judge makes the decisions.

Mediation can be a very empowering process, whereas divorce litigation almost always leaves one of the parties, if not both, feeling like victims. Mediation is an opportunity to create a win-win situation in a system (the adversarial system) that is based upon a classically win-lose situation.

Here are five tips on how to make the most of your mediation experience:

1. Realize that mediation is your opportunity to create a peaceful divorce and to focus on the future you want. So, be open-minded, proactive, creative and solution-oriented.

2. Know that you can have as many mediations as it takes to settle your case. You don't have to give up on the process after just one try. Each mediation can take you closer to a settlement.

3. Understand that the mediation room is not a courtroom. This is not the time or place to cast blame or be a victim. The only thing that matters in mediation is creating a resolution of the issues so you don't have to go through the trauma and expense of divorce litigation.

4. Utilize the mediation process to work through your hard feelings and to help you create a new co-parenting relationship with your spouse.

5. Be quick to forgive both yourself and your spouse each time tempers flare in the mediation - and they will. This will keep you on track toward resolution, and is good advice for life in general.


11. How do I become "the expert" of my own life?


Becoming the expert of your own life means taking responsibility. When you are under the strain of a life-changing circumstance like a divorce, sometimes you may feel like “if only someone would come along and take care of this for me I could feel such a deep relief and get on with my life.”

That's a natural thought and feeling, but, unfortunately, it's a fairy tale. Worse than a fairy tale, it can provide an opportunity for somewhat unscrupulous and predatory professional people to take advantage of vulnerable people. Most are well meaning, but there are those professionals who are willing to feed on your misfortune. This can be avoided by becoming educated and taking personal responsibility.

Additionally, your brain and body and soul follow the instructions and beliefs you feed them. If you say "I am just a weak, needy person who needs to be saved" then that's the instruction you are giving yourself about how to handle life, and your whole being will organize itself around that principle.

Much better is this: "I am a strong and competent person becoming stronger and more competent every single day... especially with all I am learning and how I am growing during this divorce process. My divorce is a great chance for me to know myself better and understand things I've never understood before... and to exercise compassion in perhaps the most challenging situation I'll ever face."

With this attitude, when and if you hire professionals to help you out (whether attorneys, mental health professionals, financial experts, divorce coaches, etc.) you can now see them as part of your TEAM! You are the expert on your own life, and it's okay for even the greatest experts to hire others to help them achieve their goals.

When you are the expert of your own life, this doesn't mean that you reject input or feedback! To the contrary, true experts in every field recognize and invite feedback as a valuable part of their success.


12. What three tips can you offer anyone who wants to be a successful co-parent?

In order to successfully co-parent with your ex, you must be able to let go of the past and set a clear intention to create a positive relationship with your ex for the sake of your children. Develop the ability to separate your feelings about your ex from the child-focused work you must do with them. This may not be easy, but it is well worth the effort.

Here are three tips for successful co-parenting:

1. Do not discuss the details of the divorce with your children. They do not need to know about child support, alimony or any other particulars.


2. Keep your children out of the middle of your relationship with your co-parent. It is your responsibility to create effective communication methods to deal with the many issues all parents face. Especially, be civil to one another when communicating in the presence of the children. Do not argue or bicker. If you are upset with your ex, cool down, and then clear the air with them. Keep the kids out of it.


3. Have the courage to ask for help as you transition from husband and wife to co-parents, or even if you are already divorced and still experiencing conflict with your ex. Co-parents can work with a divorce coach or parenting coordinator at any point in the process to develop communication skills and problem-solving techniques. Also, educate yourself about this important topic through the many resources that are available to you.


13. Should I hire "a shark" for a divorce attorney?


Many people facing a divorce are under the mistaken assumption that they need to hire the most ruthless, vicious divorce lawyer they can find so they can “win” their divorce.

Ask yourself this before you hire that “shark” divorce attorney: Are you ready to spend the money you’ve scrimped and saved for that new house, exotic trip, or your kids’ college education on your divorce lawyer? By all means, if your desire is to blow your hard-earned money so that your lawyer can spend it on their new house, exotic trip or kids’ college education, go ahead and hire the most ruthless divorce attorney you can find!

When you hire a vicious, killer lawyer, they are going to fight over every single issue, at a rate of several hundred dollars an hour! Are you ready for your divorce will take on a life of its own, and not stop until you and your family are completely exhausted – both emotionally and financially? If the answer is yes, go ahead and hire a “shark” or “killer” divorce attorney.

The sad reality is that couples who “go for the throat” and hire killer divorce lawyers will spend lots of the family’s money on the divorce, and they often end up broke, broken, and in debt. Don’t let this happen to you! Do NOT hire a “shark” divorce attorney. Hire a lawyer who is on board with a peaceful divorce process.


14. Will family court treat me fairly?


Many well intentioned divorcing parties embark on the litigation process believing that justice will prevail and the family court system will help them get what they feel they deserve.

But remember, this is the adversarial system you are dealing with here. By definition, one person wins and one person loses. Because these are families, if everybody doesn’t win, then everybody loses. It is a very rare couple indeed that can keep from getting caught up in the battle of divorce court. Without exception, it damages the already fragile relationship between the parties and hurts their children.

People going through this litigation process often feel that others are running their lives and that they have lost their own way. They feel helpless, confused, and completely out of control. Ironically, the system that most seems to indicate that you can win and be in the driver's seat turns out to take the driver's seat away from both spouses and leave them helpless and hopeless.

The legal system is not set up to handle all of the intricacies that family matters, including divorce, present. Time constraints, overburdened judges, (even the most well-meaning) and congested court dockets more often than not leave the parties feeling even more victimized than they did before they stepped foot in the courtroom.

And because the divorce itself is sometimes just the beginning, even if you “win” you can very well lose – with appeals, motions filed after the divorce, and modifications, the divorce itself may seem to never end. What a perfect system to keep the rage and hatred going!


15. How can I make sure the divorce doesn't take over my life?


When you are going through a divorce it can feel like your every waking moment is consumed with thoughts about your divorce. How can it not be? A divorce is a major life event that can be compared to the death of a loved one. It is, in essence, the death of your marriage, and the death of a dream, and your emotions run the gamut from shock, anger, and disbelief to profound sadness and loss.

The key to not allowing the divorce to take over your life is to give yourself permission to go through the process of grieving and not try and suppress your feelings. You will need a healthy outlet to express these emotions, and perhaps the help of a professional such as a divorce coach. Many people get stuck in anger and vengefulness and never move past these emotions to letting go and acceptance.

The other way to make sure your life does not revolve around your divorce is to gain knowledge about the divorce process and make a conscious choice to resolve your divorce in an amicable and peaceful manner. Happily Divorced! Secrets of the Win-Win Formula was written to give you the tools and knowledge you need to create a divorce where there are no losers and everybody, including your children, wins.

To see the review on Divorce 360, click here.

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