The filing of the divorce case doesn’t provide instant relief from the toxicity of your marriage. Often, individuals early in the divorce process start to focus on the loss of perceived stability, identity, and security resulting in feelings of stress and anxiety.
Over the past twenty-five years, we have discussed several ways for our clients to stay calm during the divorce process and reduce the negative side effects of divorce in their life. We hope that one or more of these tips can help you come out of the divorce process a mentally healthier and stronger person.
Understand the Process of Divorce
One of the largest causes of anxiety when a divorce begins is to not understand the process. Even if your sibling or best friend is recently divorced, you probably were not privy to all the legal and emotional rollercoasters that were part of their process. To reduce the stress of not knowing what to expect, try to learn as much about the current stage of your case along with the next one or two stages of the divorce process. You will find that simply knowing what to expect over the next 30, 60, and 90 days in the divorce process can have a calming effect on the unknown. There are several books and online resources that you can research to learn the process; however, the best way to learn the process is to have a conversation with your attorney as s/he is the one who is guiding you through this process.
Realize the Divorce Will End
The thought of change is a great stressor on most of us, but the process of getting to that ultimate change can take the largest toll. To keep your sanity during this stressful time, take a deep breath and understand that the divorce will eventually end. In the beginning, all the meetings, finding of financial documents, reviewing pleadings, attending the first court date, and making the first decision in your case can be overwhelming. By understanding that it is all part of a process that will end with a divorce, you can relieve some of the stress of the unknown in your life.
It is OK to Grieve
No matter how angry you are at your spouse during the divorce, it is alright to grieve for the loss of your family. There is nothing wrong with accepting that a relationship has ended, and that one household is being divided into two. You invested time and energy over the years into this relationship and family and allowing yourself to grieve this loss is a natural part of the divorce process.
Don’t Expect Revenge
Do not try and exact revenge on your soon-to-be former spouse. Planning revenge may make you feel good in the short term but will probably lead to more problems for you down the road in the divorce process. Courts look down on this type of behavior, and you could suffer the consequences if any harm or pettiness is proven to a judge.
Set Reasonable Goals
Goals may seem a bit out of context when going through a divorce. The truth is you cannot have a successful relationship with your attorney unless you set goals (even small ones) for the divorce case. The simple process of setting goals will force your anxiety level to drop as you will be thinking through the process and establishing a focus which will give your mind something to do instead of worry.
List All Property and Debts
This process allows you to know that is financially at stake and gain control of any finances that can cause you stress. With so much going on to think about during a divorce, bills can slip by and cause damage to credit or you could forget to list an account that could be used against you at a hearing. To reduce stress over money and property, run a credit report to make sure all debt is known and discuss any property questions you may have when completing a draft Statement of Property with your attorney.
Be Careful from Who You Take Advice
So many people have an opinion they will want to share with you during your divorce. Most of them probably mean well, and some may even have the right advice. However, our advice to you is to be leery of these opinions on what you should do. No two people have the same circumstance, and every divorce is different. If you feel confident the advice a friend gives you is sound, then discuss it with your lawyer before you act on it. Be careful not to get swept up in the emotions of someone telling you how you can get even with your spouse or anything else that could hurt you and your family at the end of the divorce.
Make Sure You and Your Lawyer Have the Same Goals for the Case
Your attorney has been representing divorcees for many years and should have your best interest in mind. However, this does not mean they have the same goals as you. Communicate to your attorney the goals we mentioned in TIP 5 make sure s/he understands what you want out of the divorce proceedings. Without being clear, your attorney will follow his or her experience, which may not match what you want. This lack of clarity will make the divorce more stressful than it needs to be.
Stay Involved in the Process
Sometimes divorce clients just want to start the process and then the lawyer to take care of the entire divorce. Unfortunately, this is not realistic. Not knowing what is going on can be more stressful than knowing. This does not mean you must keep up with every little detail of what your lawyer addresses. It does mean that you need to stay involved in any decisions and know what the next step in the process is. By staying involved, you will feel as if you have more control over what is going on in your life. This will result in you being less stressed.
Make Decisions about Children Together
One of the most prominent causes of arguments and stress during divorce is created when parents do not agree on the decisions each makes for a child. To keep the peace and reduce the anxiety, make an agreement together that both of you will be involved in any decisions affecting your child. If both parties trust that each will abide by the agreement, it will make for a much smoother transition through the divorce process. This will also set a great foundation for coparenting since after the divorce, you will continue to have to live by the same rules which will be set forth in your parenting plan. It is easier to do it right from the beginning than try and start after the divorce.
Do Not Use Kids as Leverage
There are many parents who have a hard time understanding the concept of not using the kids as leverage or putting them in the middle during a divorce. Sometimes parents may not even notice what they are doing until it is brought to his or her attention by the Court. This can happen because the divorce process can become so stressful that parents don’t see the damage some decisions can have on their children. Since you and your spouse will be tied together through your child for the rest of your lives, make it a priority to not use the children to get what you want out of the divorce.
Make Smart Decisions
Even the best of us can become scatterbrained when s/he have a lot on their mind. This can lead to making poor decisions in a hurry to resolve things as fast as possible. There are many important decisions that need to be made during a divorce. When dealing with a decision that is not clear to you right away, write down the question until you have the time to weigh your options and understand the answer you want to provide.
Realize You Cannot Control Everything
Everyone has heard that you can only control yourself. During a divorce, we tend to forget good advice such as this. The next thing you know, you are trying to control every decision and outcome. No matter how hard you try to influence, every ruling in a divorce will not turn out the way you want them to. By realizing that you cannot control everything, you will be able to reduce much of the anxiety that goes along with trying to affect outcomes. If you focus on the goals mentioned in TIP 5, and your attorney tells you that a great result would be achieving only a few of them, you can let go of the expectation that the result should be exactly what you had wanted it to be when you decided to file for divorce.
Divorce can be a stressful situation for all involved. The process of divorce can take several months or even more than year. By following some of the practices above, you will find that you can handle the divorce with less anxiety. Should you need the advice of an experience divorce attorney or have questions or concerns about your situation, know that we are here to help and willing to discuss those issues with you.