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NOT EVERYONE who visits an attorney to discuss divorce is ready to pull the trigger. Sometimes, one spouse may have just discovered the other spouse has had an affair, and in a highly emotionally charged state, he or she makes an appointment with an attorney to get more information about divorce. Other clients may have been contemplating dissolving their marriage for some time, perhaps even years. Still others have made the decision together.
Regardless of the nature or the length of the marriage, or the circumstances that led to the path of dissolving the marriage, the decision rarely is an easy one. It may be particularly difficult if the couple has been married for a long time, one spouse is financially dependent on the other, or there are minor children involved.
One of the most common misconceptions about divorce, though, is that it is a solution to all one’s life problems. A divorce is simple a legal resolution, a way to end a marriage contract between two parties.
Many people think ending a marriage will improve their financial situation, resolve their emotional issues, or fix their problems with their children. While that may be true in some cases, generally speaking, we are who we are and our problems most likely will continue, and in many cases, worsen after divorce.
Finances may be come more difficult by dividing a household and incomes. Children may be resentful about the divorce. And, though we may move, either just out of the marital home or far across the country, as the saying goes: “Wherever you go, there you are.”
The mistakes so many divorcing couples make is they get so caught up in the divorce itself, they don’t take time to consider what their lives will look like after divorce—a realistic view, not the fantasy they imagine. Then, after “judgment day,” they go into shock, or even depression.
If you are contemplating divorce, here are some tips to help you get through the process and begin re-building your life:
1 ASK FOR SUPPORT. Reach out to a therapist or counselor to help you process the emotional trauma. Divorce ranks as one of the top ten stressors (second only to death of a spouse). Many times, after a divorce, even the spouse who initiated the legal process is left with feelings of inadequacy, grief and anger. If it has been a long time since you were single, you may be confused about your identity. Who are you now that you are not a part of a couple? A good therapist can help you process your feelings and support you in a way friends and family (who may be biased or busy with their own lives) cannot.
2 GET YOUR FINANCES IN ORDER. Now is the time to re-think retirement, estate planning and career goals. Make appointments with a financial advisor, an accountant and an estate planning attorney to evaluate your new circumstances. Also, if necessary, consult with a career coach to help guide you regarding increasing your income or taking steps toward greater financial security and independence.
3 FOCUS ON YOUR CHILDREN. If you have minor children, take extra time to be together as a family, to listen to their concerns and to create new traditions. If they seem to be struggling to adjust to new living arrangements, or new people (perhaps you or your spouse are already dating or developing new friendships), consider taking them to a therapist to help them process their feelings, particularly if they seem to be lashing out at you, your spouse or other family members. If appropriate (particularly with teenagers), ask for their opinions and ideas about new living arrangements, or how to handle their relationships with you, your spouse or other family members. It can be difficult to help them process their emotions when you are struggling to process your own. Children today seem so sophisticated. In reality, though, their brains are not as developed as an adult brain, and while they may appear to be handling all the changes with aplomb, children simply do not have the same coping tools and skills as adults. Whatever you do, never talk negatively about their other parent. It’s unfair to them, and destructive. When your ex-spouse is being a jerk, just take a deep breath and remember: Once you loved him or her enough to have a child together, and now, you both love your children deeply, even if you differ in how you relate to them.
No doubt, divorce and its aftermath is difficult for most people. Attorney Sandy Ambrose has almost three decades experience in helping people resolve their legal issues as they dissolve their marriages and begin a new life.
If you are considering divorce and need counsel, we are standing by to help you. Call today to schedule a consultation.