It’s obviously been a stressful week no matter how you voted in the presidential election — to add to a stressful year dominated by concerns over the pandemic and the economy. Not having the results on election night itself breaks with tradition, and with the way we’ve been conditioned to observe that big shared national moment.

Those of us old enough to remember the 2000 election know it can be challenging to sort out if it needs to go through legal channels. And it’s hard to be patient about something when you’re emotionally invested in the outcome. But learning that patience, and minimizing the stress you might experience while moving toward the outcome, is a good lesson to learn—whether you’re in an election or a divorce.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t be diligent and set yourself up for getting what you want in a divorce. When we work with clients at the Law Office of Lisa A. Vance, we create a strategy based around what’s most important to you. And then we determine the best route to get there, be it litigation or an alternate dispute resolution method like collaborative law or mediation.

But as we’ve learned over our many years of practicing family law, it can take time and patience to arrive at a final decree. With litigation, you might have to deal with delay tactics from the other side. Even if that’s not happening, you may get assigned a court date later than you’d ideally like — especially this year, with the pandemic affecting court schedules.

With negotiation, you’re not bound by a court schedule, and that can give you more flexibility in when you work with your lawyer and when you meet with the other side. But that can be both a blessing and a curse, depending on how quickly you’d like your divorce to go and what you want your divorce to look like.

It’s possible, in negotiations, that something you want in the decree won’t be accepted by your soon-to-be-ex right away. But that’s where patience comes in. We’ve seen it before in cases: Someone might be resistant to an idea initially, but might come around to it in the interest of getting the divorce settled and moving on to the next phase of life. Sometimes, it can be in your best interest to let your soon-to-be-ex mull over something you’ve proposed for a few days or even a few weeks, rather than trying to force the issue.

The good thing about divorce, as opposed to an election, is you have a lot more say over the outcome. Elections allow people to have a voice, but you’re one person among many contributing to a larger conversation about the direction the country should go. In a divorce, you, your soon-to-be-ex, your lawyers, and the judge are the principal architects of how life will be for you (and your children) following your divorce. And with something that important, it’s ultimately best to do it right rather than do it quickly.