If you are like most of us, simply thinking about the divorce process can cause stress! Whether it is money, custody, visitation, providing for two households, or preparing for upcoming celebrations like birthdays and graduations, divorce generally means a new normal.
Luckily, there are some simple ways to decrease stress:
- Do your Pre-Divorce Work. We know you have not taken the decision to divorce lightly. Make sure you have clearly communicated your concerns and expectations to your spouse. If you have not already done so, consider individual and/or couples discernment counseling to ensure the decision to divorce is your best option. Once you exhausted all options, and decided that divorce is your best option, explore how you can have smoother transition during your divorce process.
- Educate Yourself about the Family Finances. During your divorce you will need to make a great number of financial decisions. Now is the time to educate yourself on your current financial situation regarding:
- Bank and retirement accounts
- Tax returns
- Partnership/business documents
Consider also consulting with a financial professional/planner to further educate yourself on your financial future.
- Research Your Divorce Process Options. Did you know there are variety of divorce process options? You may be familiar with litigation or do-it-yourself divorce, but do you know about mediation or collaborative family law? Familiarize yourself with the pros and cons of each option:
- Research divorce process options online
- Attend a divorce options workshop for more information how these processes work in your area.
- Talk with Your Spouse. Share your process option research and ideas with your spouse. There are a lot of issues that need to be addressed during a divorce process. The better you and your spouse communicate in this period, the better you are positioning yourself and your family for success during a divorce process.
If you have children, talk to each other and brainstorm about a unified message you would like to communicate to your children about your divorce.
Frankly put, as difficult as it may seem, you and your spouse are best suited to design a uniquely durable, workable agreement for your new future. Your divorce professional’s role should be to support your goals with objective information and resources.
- Prioritize the Factors to Consider During Your Divorce Process. There will be a good number of issues to resolve when restructuring your family for post-divorce success. By ranking these factors, you, your spouse, and your divorce professionals will remain focused on your end goals. Rank the following list from most important to least to help you focus on specific areas that you would need most help.
____ Control Over Final Decisions
____ Financial Asset/Debt Distribution
____ Child Visitation
____ Child Custody
____ Child Support
____ Spousal Support
____ Divorce Settlement Confidentiality/Privacy
____ Court Filing Timing
____ Attorney Fees
____ Other ______________________________________
- Consider a Non-Court, Consensual Dispute Resolution Divorce Process. Traditional litigation is an adversarial process where spouses are often pitted against each other while the court orders final financial and childcare decisions for you. Mediation and collaborative divorce processes are non-court, non-adversarial, where you make your own decisions with the guidance of your divorce professionals. This allows you to think ‘outside the box’ and design solutions that work best for your unique family situation. While your marriage is about to end soon, your co-parenting will likely never end. There will be graduations, birthdays, weddings, etc. Let your peaceful divorce be a blessing to your children.
- Resist listening to your ‘Greek Choir’. Despite what you may have seen on TV or heard from friends or family; having a judge determine your financial and custodial future often does not feel fair or in the best interest of your family. At times like this, well-meaning friends and family may have a lot of advice. Avoid listening to the chorus and do what is right for you.
- Look Forward, not Backward. Although it might feel far off, you will have life after divorce. Take time to consider what you want for your post-divorce life, including what example you want to set for your children. Imagine a future free of grudges and resentments. If this feels difficult right now, consider joining a divorce recovery group such as Divorce Care.
At Family Peacemaker, we can help you through the divorce process in collaborative, non-adversarial way. Contact us for a free one-hour case assessment consultation or a divorce education kit.