It’s Not About Winning – How to Lose the Ego for a Better Divorce Outcome


Scott Orr is a divorce lawyer, a mediator, and owner of his own law practice in New Jersey. He’s also the guy switching up the divorce game. For Scott, divorce is a process rooted in habits from the past that do more harm than good. When he works with his clients, Scott’s main goal is to get them to rise beyond the traditional divorce narrative and get to the outcome that is best for them.

Disrupting the game of divorce one divorce at a time.

Scott often asks his clients: “would you rather be happy, or would you rather be right?” If you’re going into divorce with an ego and trying to get everything you can, it’s not going to end well, especially, when there are kids involved. Whether it’s mediation or divorce, Scott keeps the kids above all else. If a couple is arguing, Scott will stop them and say, “let’s have the same conversation as if the kids are sitting there.” It’s important to keep your eye on the ultimate finish line and that is the outcome of your divorce. Changing the divorce game is about having people centered on what should be the end game years after the divorce, and not who wins.

Scott’s motivation to change the game comes from his real-life expertise.

Scott went through a difficult divorce and realized how hostile and antiquated the whole process was. He also noticed how lost and out of control he was during his divorce. He found himself trapped in a car that was being driven by somebody else.

Scott was doing corporate law while going through his divorce, when it occurred to him that he had to quickly change the game. He already had his law license, and he had the negotiation skills, so he thought why not figure this out. He realized that at the end of the day, your best bet is to try and take the emotion out of divorce because it ultimately comes down to a business transaction. Somewhere between here and here is your answer. You’re not going to get this, you’re not going to get that, and it doesn’t mean you have to settle with this, but it’s worth figuring it out. What’s urgent, and what’s important, you will get through it.

Keep your eye on the prize but be realistic about the prize.

Divorce is a tricky business negotiation, and you need a plan. On the one hand the process of divorce itself is cold and methodical, but on the other it’s an ending of a serious relationship where two people once loved each other. If you can separate your emotion from the process you can get through the transactional aspect of divorce more seamlessly. It’s important to have support systems, people like therapists and financial advisors, to help you feel internally organized for the external chaos that is divorce. Scott always advises his clients to seek help in the areas they need help. He never shies away from recommending therapists to his clients or financial advisors if you’re the spouse that wasn’t in control of the money never budgeted. He is all about getting people in touch with those who can assist them as they balance their new life. Helping people find specials to guide these areas of their life, whether it be emotional or financial, is important in removing the empty hostility in divorce. Scott sees this part of the divorce disrupting as a team effort: It’s an ability to focus on what he can do well for his client in collaboration with an expert he trusts.

If you keep divorce as a business transaction, you’re just mentally prepared to handle the terms of the agreement. You have to figure out what the urgent and important things are. What are the things that are in your field of vision? Scott’s job is to say, “look, I know you can only see this far, but I can see further than that.” Although someone might be fighting for this, it may not be that important in the long run. If his client wants to fight about something that doesn’t make sense, he’ll let them do it, but that’s their choice. His job is to inform them of it. In terms of the agreement, Scott tries to get rid of ambiguity surrounding it so that there isn’t a fight afterwards or a disagreement. Be as good as you can be. In many ways, the process can teach you how to re-communicate, how to co-parent, and it puts you in a different position.

By helping his clients keep their eyes on the prize, Scott can better manage his clients’ expectations and help them be better prepared for what’s to come.

Divorce disrupting is all about knowing the client and the client knowing their lawyer.

Every divorce is like a snowflake. There’s really no one-size-fits-all method for divorce. But, there are steps that’ll guide you away from nasty pitfalls. To be guided correctly, clients need to be understood. One of Scott’s taglines is: “owning your outcome.”  You are in control of your outcome. When it gets out of control, you can choose how to react. The more that you can negotiate and work out amicably, the better sense of control you’ll have.

The best thing that you can do is have a lawyer who can artfully explain to you your best case, your worst case, and where it will likely end up. The courts don’t want you to go to court either. Depending on your state, you can have mandatory mediation, early settlement panels, and early interventions. There are a myriad of different ways to go before it finally gets to courtroom drama. The key is to hire the attorney that you want, not the attorney that you think is going to be able to fight just as well or argue just as well.

It’s important to interview more than one lawyer so at least you can have a means of comparison. You need to feel comfortable with the person because you’re giving them the reins to navigate your divorce. You’ve got to understand how you are internally, and how you want your divorce to end up.

It may sound counterintuitive, but Scott’s goal isn’t necessarily always to win. Sometimes you can win a lot by just doing the right thing. Although it may feel like you gave in too much, things end up balancing themselves out.

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