Divorce and legal separation can be an extraordinarily difficult time in a person’s life. Clearly, divorce is not just a legal process; it’s a human experience. Although there are legal and financial questions to address, the transitioning of the family is not without a good deal of stress. Here are some ideas to help manage the stress that a lot of attorneys will never share with you:
Consider a No-court Option. If you ever want to get depressed, spend a day at the family court observing the poor folks being shuffled through adversarial litigation. At court, the lawyers make a lot of money and the parties cede the control of their futures to attorneys and strangers in black robes. While some cases require court, most do not. There are many consensual dispute resolution options available such as mediation or Collaborative Practice that can keep you and your family out of court. Ask your attorney if she offers no-court divorce options and if she doesn’t, look elsewhere.
Consider Hiring a Divorce Coach. Resist the temptation to use your attorney as a therapist. In Collaborative Practice, mental health professionals assist as members of a team hand-in-glove with attorneys and financial professionals. While not doing therapy, coaches help the parties in a divorce situation deal with the emotions and stress of the divorce. EVERYONE can benefit from time with a divorce coach. Even clients, who think they are handling the stress of their transition without a coach, are often surprised with how much a mental health professional makes things go more smoothly. If nothing else, learning how to interact with you now estranged spouse and your kids during this difficult time is of huge benefit and can significant reduce your stress. While divorce coaches are most typically used in Collaborative Practice, I have had a great deal of success incorporating coaches in mediation or even adversarial litigation.
Consider Hiring a Divorce Financial Specialist. Finances can be one of the biggest causes of stress during a divorce transition. Resist the temptation to use your attorney as a financial planner. I can tell you, most attorneys went to law school so they wouldn’t have to do math. This is not the person to ask for financial advice. Hiring a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst is a great way to get good financial advice and to find clarity regarding money—even if you were not the spouse who handled the money. There is no reason to suffer in financial ignorance. Financial knowledge is empowering!
Take care of your body. Most people when they are stressed out first neglect taking care of themselves. When folks get scared or depressed, the temptation is to forget your health. Don’t do that! Besides, exercise is a great way to blow off steam. Join a kick boxing class. Lift weights. Put a punching bag in your bedroom. Also, make sure you are eating well. Eating too little or too much can exacerbate your stress. You need good fuel for your body, mind and spirit.Get into the Spirit of Things. Prayer and mediation can be great ways to center yourself to deal with stress. No matter what your religious background, taking time to be mindful through meditation or prayer can significantly strengthen you. Talk to clergy or a spiritual advisor to find the best way for you to fuel your soul.
Forgive your Ex. This is a tough one for many people. But hate can do more to damage the hater than anyone else. Look for ways to let go of your anger and forgive. Maybe the marriage is over, but holding on to hurt and resentment does little to help you move on. Look forward. Don’t look back! You will find that your load is much lighter.
These are only a few ideas to reduce your stress during a divorce or legal separation. But if you take even just these tips to heart and implement them in your life, you will find that you will be strong as you go through this difficult time in transition your family. Don’t fret. There is a light to the end of the tunnel!