In the inaugural piece that launched the Divorce is Not for Sissies series of blogs, I shared with you that divorce is going to be a difficult and potentially traumatic event in your life, affecting every element of your being. So, how can you champion the divorce process to minimize its adverse consequences?
The first step is to build your divorce team.
You may think the most important professional for your divorce is your lawyer. WRONG. Your attorney is not going to provide emotional support, help you figure out how you got here, give you guidance on your financial future or help you determine the optimal settlement, provide information and assistance on being an effective parent to your children, help you sell your home or refinance your mortgage so you can keep your home. Your lawyer, should you choose to work with one, will charge you over $300 per hour and that will quickly add up to tens of thousands of dollars. Lawyers are trained in the law, period and most only focus on “winning” cases in court. Seeking an attorney’s guidance for anything other than filing paperwork through the court system or preparing for hearings or trial is just throwing money away needlessly. Even if your divorce isn’t ultimately resolved in the courts by a judge (or equivalent), represented negotiation involves your attorney talking to you, your spouse’s attorney talking to him or her and then for them to talk to each other to then come back to talk to you about what they talked about. No joke. And then you spent $50,000 or more so you could get to a settlement that could have been competently worked through for much, much less, resulting in an outcome that would have left you better off both financially and emotionally?
As you prepare for or respond to a request for divorce, think about the myriad of ways your life is going to be impacted.
Let’s start with emotionally and psychologically. If you can’t deal with your thoughts, feelings and emotions, how well do you think you’re going to do managing every other aspect of your divorce—legal, financial, social, parenting, and more? You may be anxious, confused, depressed, feel guilt and remorse, be conflicted, confused, overwhelmed, may question everything, including your own sanity and ability to function. You may be thinking—isn’t that what family and friends are for? They are, of course, a key component to getting you through all of this, but they will not be able to provide you with the objective and expert assistance that a trained therapist can provide. Also, your friends and family are going to get sick of your story and woes. Yes, they are concerned and want to support you, but If you want to maintain these relationships, don’t overly burden them with your misery.
A trained therapist who focuses on separation and divorce is your best resource for dealing with the pain of divorce.
She will understand what kind of support is needed during separation and divorce and bring to the surface the underlying fears and worries that are holding you back so you can effectively address them. A good therapist can help you process your grief, create strategies for maintaining your emotional heath, examine what led to the end of your marriage, and give you the confidence you need to find a new, healthier relationship. Part of the healing process is to create a new vision for your future and a therapist can help you explore the possibilities and create a plan to realize your goals.
How do you find a good a good therapist?
You can search the Psychology Today Directory, ask friends and family, your marriage counselor, or your primary care physician for recommendations, and attend divorce support groups and educational events. MeetUp and Eventbrite are great sources for these kinds of groups and events. Vesta Divorce can also be a great resource and their divorce concierge may have recommendations for you. Once you’ve identified a few potential therapists, meet with several before selecting the one you want to work with. Many will do a complimentary phone or Zoom consultation.
You won’t regret having sought the support of a trained therapist who specializes in separation and divorce but you may very well regret the pain and struggle that you endured without one.