by Jason Levoy
When you hear the word “Divorce” what is the first thing that comes to mind? Court, contentious, long, expensive? I bet your list could be much longer, but you get the point. Divorce is often accompanied by negative imagery and energy, but it doesn’t have to be this way. In this article, I will outline the steps to take during the process so you come out of your divorce emotionally healthy and ready to move forward with the next chapter in your life.
You can’t control what the other person does, only what you do.
A lot of people think of a divorce in terms of winning and losing, but this is a misguided approach to the process. The marriage didn’t work out and now it’s time to move on. Whether or not the other person is on the same page as you, you need to have your head on straight and stay the course.
Follow these 4 steps to succeed and emerge emotionally healthy from your divorce:
1. Get therapy from the beginning. Whether you believe in therapy or not, now is the time to get some. A divorce is stressful and overwhelming and getting help with an experienced therapist will help you stay focused on what matters and help you deal with how you react to certain events along the way.
2. Make sure your children are in therapy. If you have children, make sure they are in therapy during the process too. Your kids are not as sophisticated as you…if you are having difficulty dealing with your divorce, chances are your kids are dealing with it too, just in different ways.
3. Have reasonable expectations for what assets you will receive. In other words, remember what a divorce really is…it’s a business transaction. One marital household is being split into two separate ones. You both can’t have everything, so pick and choose wisely and have a reason for wanting something. Letting go of everything that doesn’t really matter will help you to move on.
4. Don’t let the emotional baggage get in the way. Of course this is easier said than done, but that’s why you need to be in therapy – to deal with it there. The court is not your psychologist and the court does not care if you’re happy or not. Same goes for your attorney if you have one. You’re a docket number on a crowded docket and the court wants you off it. This means you can’t get caught up in game playing and trying to “win.” Remember, it’s business.
What about the kids? Here are some parenting tips to keep in mind:
When it comes to divorce and children, the most important rule of thumb to keep in mind is to be mindful of what you say when you’re around your children. Don’t disparage the other parent in front of your kids.
Depending on the age of your children, you want to talk to them about what’s going on, but consult with their therapist on the best way to do this. Always tell them it’s not their fault that mommy and daddy are getting divorced. Kids internalize things even it we think there is no reason too.
When you are figuring out a parenting time schedule, be reasonable. Especially with the holidays. You can’t get all the major holidays since that’s not fair to the other parent. If you have a good reason for wanting a certain holiday, that’s one thing and try to negotiate it by giving an extra day somewhere else in the calendar. It’s typical to alternate holidays on an annual basis. That way, each parent gets to spend all the holidays with their children at some point.
When it comes to children’s activities, it’s always best if both parents can participate. Meaning, they both show up for the game or school concert, no matter what the parenting schedule is.
Remember, your children may not care what parenting time arrangement you have regarding the divorce… you’re their parent and they want you there to support them. Put on your big girl/boy hat and co-parent for the benefit of your kids. Just because you are divorced doesn’t mean you can’t learn to co-parent effectively together.
Jason Levoy, a/k/a The Divorce Resource Guy, is an attorney, divorce coach and consultant who teaches people who can’t afford an attorney how to represent themselves in their divorce or family law dispute. You can reach him through his web site by clicking HERE.