By attorney Wendy Newman Glantz, Special to THELAW.TV
Being proactive during your challenging divorce can minimize the emotional chaos in your life and family. By following these 10 proactive steps, you will achieve a more harmonious disengagement. The benefits are less stress, financially and emotionally, as well as the creation of a healthier emotional environment for you and your children.
PROACTIVE STEP 1: TAKE RESPONSIBILITY
Take responsibility for the situation that is happening in your life. Realize that somewhere, somehow, you are responsible for the divorce. Do NOT become a victim. Becoming a victim means you are blaming someone or something other than yourself. When you accept responsibility, you become empowered and realize that you are now in control. Your negative thoughts are removed and your emotions are not driving your decisions. You think logically and you begin to make better choices regarding your finances, children, and future. Emotional revenge is a costly pursuit and negatively impacts your children and finances. By taking responsibility, you are in charge of your future destiny.
PROACTIVE STEP 2: FORGIVENESS
Forgive yourself now! This is simpler than it sounds. Many times, we get married with unrealistic expectations. We believe that our spouse will enhance our lives and bring endless happiness and self-fulfillment. There are many reasons one chooses to disentangle from one's spouse. If you are the initiator of the divorce or the recipient, just forgive. By forgiving yourself, you will release all emotional guilt. By forgiving your spouse, you allow the healing process to begin. You become emotionally stronger and move forward in your life. The emotional havoc will lessen and your decision making is based on logic and proactive thought.
PROACTIVE STEP 3: APPRECIATE
Recognize and appreciate the positive attributes of your spouse. Realize that if you are asking for spousal and/or child support, your spouse will be responsible for continuing to provide for you and the family. Having appreciation will attract positivity to your challenging process. If you are sharing time with your children, having appreciation for your spouse has a positive effect. They will be more emotionally healthy before, during, and after the process.
PROACTIVE STEP 4: THINK POSITIVELY
You are what you think! Maintaining a positive, healthy attitude will help guide you through this challenging process. Each day, focus your attention on positive aspects of your life. The more you appreciate the positive in your life, the less the potential emotional impact of the divorce process will affect you.
PROACTIVE STEP 5: SPEAK POSITIVELY
Speaking positively about your spouse and family creates a harmonious environment. If you have personal challenges with your soon to be ex-spouse, do NOT discuss them with your children, especially if they are minors. Be careful to whom you speak about the intimate details of your divorce as those people can easily repeat them and even be called as potential witnesses. Speak positively about yourself and your spouse to friends and family. Remember, word of mouth travels quickly.
PROACTIVE STEP 6: FINANCIALLY EDUCATE YOURSELF
It is important that you are familiar with the financial affairs of your marriage. Having an understanding and knowledge of your financial situation is critical. Educate yourself regarding your assets and liabilities. Gather financial information and maintain it in a place of safekeeping. Also, educate yourself on your personal expenses and how much it costs you to maintain your lifestyle. Financial knowledge provides a strong advantage in your divorce.
PROACTIVE STEP 7: CONSULT WITH A MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONAL
If you or your children are having emotional challenges, then seek the help of a professional. A mental health professional can assist you and your children to maintain a healthier perspective while going through this process. If you are feeling emotionally overwhelmed, seeking assistance can help you. Your attorney is there to provide legal advice and advocate for you. A mental health professional is there to help you deal with your emotions and uncertainty.
PROACTIVE STEP 8: FIND A COACH
A coach can assist you during your transition to being single. First, find out if the coach is certified and has formal training. A coach does NOT provide legal advice. A coach assists in guiding you through the transitional process. The coach can assist you with achieving goals, decision making, and transitioning into single life. Further, a coach can help you handle and prioritize your personal and financial challenges you are facing now.
PROACTIVE STEP 9: EXPLORE ALTERNATIVE METHODS
There are different pathways for you to obtain a divorce. One path is mediation. There are certified mediators who are trained professionals that can facilitate settlement of your divorce. Exploring mediation can reduce emotional and financial costs. It is important to obtain legal advice and be fully aware of your legal rights before proceeding with mediation. It is also wise to have your attorney present during mediation. Another path is collaborative lawyering. This process requires the parties to agree not to have their legal matters heard in court with the attorney they retained. This encourages the process in many instances to be more courteous, causing less emotional drama.
PROACTIVE STEP 10: FIND THE ATTORNEY FOR YOU
Choosing the right attorney is paramount in minimizing the emotional challenges of your divorce. It is best to meet with more than one attorney before retaining. Educate yourself about the law and the style your attorney practices. Is your attorney an aggressive litigator or negotiator? Does your attorney primarily handle family law cases? Developing a positive rapport with your attorney is important. Find out if they are in favor of mediation and/or collaborative lawyering. Explore with them your options and what is most favorable in your situation.
The author, Wendy Newman Glantz, is a Plantation, Fla., family lawyer.