Making decisions in divorce fueled by hurt and anger may feel temporarily satisfying — but in the long run only sets the stage for an expensive, antagonistic, and psychologically damaging process that will leave you drained and your co-parenting relationship ruined before it even starts. Avoid disaster! Read on for tips on how to keep your divorce on a more even keel.
- End it gracefully. If you’re planning to end your marriage, try to do so in the least confrontational way possible. Is it really necessary to serve your spouse divorce papers at the workplace, where he’ll be humiliated in front of co-workers and clients? Initiating a public smack down will not encourage your STBX to cooperate with you. Consider breaking the news in a therapist’s office, where a trained professional can help both of you process the decision and decide how and what to tell your children. If the choice to divorce was made for you, you will likely feel angry, hurt, and betrayed. Although your feelings are valid, try not to seek revenge by taking a scorched-earth approach to legal proceedings.
- Be decisive. Don’t file until you’re confident that you’ve done everything you could to make your marriage work. This doesn’t mean you won’t be afraid of the unknown, but it should give you the clarity and resolve you need to move forward. If you’re still waffling, try to figure out why. Afraid of hurting the children? They’ll still be hurt growing up in an unhappy marriage. Not sure you can make it on your own? It’s time to learn self-reliance and not depend on your spouse to make you happy. Worried you’ll be alone the rest of your life? Being single is not the same as being alone, and is better than feeling alone when you’re married.
- Choose your attorney wisely. Most divorces can and should be settled outside the courtroom. Choosing a “shark attorney” can turn a divorce into an unnecessarily explosive – and expensive — one. On the flip side, some financial and child custody issues cannot be resolved in mediation or negotiation and do require an attorney who’s skilled at litigation. Make sure you understand what kind of lawyer you’re hiring: does he or she most commonly mediate or litigate? Will you be dealing mostly with your attorney or with an associate? Give your attorney an idea of what you have to spend and make a plan for how to stay within your budget.
- Educate yourself on the emotional aspects of divorce. The developmental task of divorce is to accept that one phase of your life is over and work towards building a life that suits you. You are likely to experience divorce as you would a death, moving through anger, sadness, denial, shock, and bargaining during the grief process. You must accept that your marriage is over, even if you didn’t choose to end it. If you’re so overwhelmed that you’re having trouble sleeping, eating, functioning at work, and/or caring for your children, it’s time to get professional help. See a divorce therapist who can support you and consider consulting with a physician or psychiatrist about a possible trial of medication to help you sleep and stabilize your mood.
- Be a good co-parent (even if your ex is not). You and your ex have a business relationship; you are co-CEOs of a start-up company called Our Children. As much as you may loathe your ex, you need to develop a functional co-parenting relationship for the sake of the kids. This means that you respect his or her boundaries, practice appropriate communication skills (brief, polite, fact-based electronic and in-person conversations), and follow the court order. Don’t bad-mouth your ex, don’t offer parenting tips, and make sure you support his or her relationship with your children. You’re a role model, so make sure you act like one!
Although you can’t control how your spouse behaves during the divorce, you still need to do your part to minimize conflict and bad feelings. Don’t let hurt and anger dictate your actions. Shift your focus from what you’ve lost to what you have and what you need to do to create a meaningful life for yourself and your children.
Have questions about your divorce? We can help you resolve your matter and move on with your life. Secure your future — and your peace of mind. Contact us today for an initial consultation with one of our skilled family law attorneys.