In a recent post, I addressed the notion of “winning” at divorce. There are many lawyers who claim they can do just that, and they will be happy to take your hard-earned money while they fight your war for you. The reality is, in the vast majority of cases, you’ll wind up no better off than if you’d negotiated to begin with while funding your lawyer’s kids’ college education instead of your own.
Winning might instead be viewed as getting through this divorce transition with integrity, keeping more of your own money, and maintaining your and your children’s emotional health throughout. Ideally, you’ll do this without ever stepping foot into a courthouse or even speaking to an attorney.
So, how do you get better outcomes, at a lower cost and without judges, courts, or even lawyers? If you have minor children and marital assets, don’t attempt a do-it-yourself divorce unless you want to risk costly mistakes that cannot later be reversed. If you want an easy, affordable, and legal solution, seek a qualified divorce mediator.
You will want to find a mediator who has the knowledge, skills, and experience to guide you and your spouse to a financially optimized settlement agreement and, if applicable, with a parenting plan that preserves the integrity of your family. A mediator with the divorce financial expertise of a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA®) is ideal.
How, though, to address the legal piece of your divorce? You will find that legal agreements and divorce papers are straightforward in a mediated case. These can be easily facilitated by your mediator so that you never even have to work directly with an attorney to process your divorce. (It’s never a bad idea, though, to have an attorney review your agreements before they are finalized, and this can be done at a minimal cost.)
Rationally approaching your divorce, along with a dose of grace, can result in a lower-cost and faster process while addressing your financial needs and preserving your family’s emotional well-being. Now, wouldn’t you agree this would be a “win” at divorce?
Divorce is a truly hard and difficult process that impacts many facets of life including our social circles, finances, and even our sense of identity. To adapt to this transition, it’s essential to schedule time for self-care. I say schedule because that’s just how intentional doing self-care during your divorce is. In order to have the stamina to find a new living situation, research affordable childcare, or land a new job, you’ve got to carve out time that’s just for you.
How to Make Time for Yourself
Move your body! Movement provides an outlet for stress and anxiety and gives a safe place for these (valid) emotions to go. In addition, regular exercise promotes healthy sleep and improves your mood. Divorce is a long-distance sport, so keep your strength by pumping your heart rate up for at least 15 minutes, three times per week. Most importantly, let go of any predetermined notion of how your body should be looking right now, and exercise for the lasting health benefits and confidence it builds.
While it may feel daunting at first, introducing a meditation practice into your routine is a core self-care tool. Meditation can take many forms, including walking meditations, repeating a mantra, or guided breathing exercises, so don’t feel like you have to look or dress a certain way to practice. Ultimately, meditation encourages our awareness of the present moment, helping us to safely feel our bodies and provide refuge in a sea of emotions without judgement.
Therapeutic activities like journaling is another great grounding technique to keep you rooted in the present. Gurus and scientists alike agree that writing a list of what we are grateful for — especially first thing in the morning — can instill a sense of optimism and sustain us through the hurdles of the day. Keeping a journal during your divorce can also provide catharsis in the future, a testimony to what you accomplished; your hard won freedom.
Give your brain a break from the divorce lingo and the parade of emails. Having a solid fiction book to dive into is a readily accessible form of relaxation, even for the busiest of minds. A reading ritual is just as much about the material as it is the setting, so use this time as an intentional space set aside where you can find some quiet, free of distractions.
Relaxing Bath or Shower
When depression looms, self-grooming can go out the window. Scheduling time for a luxurious bubble bath might seem ridiculous, but not if you’re serious about staying sane. Combine this time with your recreational reading, or don’t! It’s your self-care ritual, relaxation is the only requirement. Incorporating essential oil blends like spearmint, eucalyptus, and lavender are a perfect addition to soothe your sinuses. Candles make things feel official and can transform just about any space into a sanctuary.
A Balanced Diet
Stress can deeply affect your appetite, especially when facing separation. It’s important to create systems in your home that will help you eat regular meals to maintain your blood sugar level and a stable mood. A diet full of leafy greens and energy-packed fats like avocado and ghee is the most nutritious, but can be challenging to sustain. This means maintaining a healthy diet might require setting aside an afternoon for meal prep or making batches of comfort foods like lasagna that can be easily heated up when you don’t feel like cooking. Whatever your optimal diet is, try to focus on the idea of nourishment while eating instead of distracting yourself with devices and screens.
A Divorce-Free Zone
Spending social time without dominating the discussion with your divorce is not only essential for your well-being, but your friends’ as well. Divorce doesn’t need to define you, and playing the broken record of how crappy your ex is, well, crappy to listen to. Protect your social circle and make a point to be present with your friends. Using this transition as an opportunity to check out some local activities you’d normally slough off can be a great way to stay socially active; I’m talking Zumba, farmer’s markets, that Persian restaurant you haven’t tried, all of it. You’re discovering the new you after all!
Hopefully this list not only offers advice after a breakup but gives you some blueprints on how to design your own divorce self-care routine. These rituals will serve you best if you approach them with a sense of curiosity; these practices should not be punishments. If you’d like to check out other guides on how to survive your divorce, download my free ebook here.
Once you’ve made the decision to go ahead and move forward with a divorce, the next step is deciding how you want to pursue a divorce settlement agreement. One of the questions that you might ask yourself is whether divorce mediation is the right choice for you here in Maryland.
If you’re getting a divorce in the state of Maryland, the first step is to explore the options that are available to you locally. Did you know that most modern divorces don’t go to court? It’s true. Unless there are issues present that are complicating your divorce and barring you from reaching any kind of reasonable mutual agreement, you probably won’t be needing to hire a family law lawyer to handle your divorce proceedings.
1. Why divorce mediation is a great alternative to hiring a lawyer
If you’re seeking divorce mediation in Montgomery County, you might know that it’s a great alternative to hiring a divorce attorney to handle the proceedings. Why? For starters, divorce isn’t cheap. While the rates charged by divorce mediators and family law lawyers vary by location and different professionals bring with them a different level of expertise, divorce mediation is generally more affordable. Divorce mediators in the US charge anywhere between $100 and $1000 an hour, and the average cost of mediation varies between $3,500 to $7,500 (this is dependent on the nature of mediation services and on how long it takes to reach an agreement).
2. Mediators are out-of-court settlement negotiation experts
Another reason that many divorcing couples choose to work with divorce mediators over hiring attorneys is that it’s not always necessary for a divorce to go to court. Court is costly in terms of dollars and time spent for all parties involved—you, your soon-to-be-ex, your lawyer, court officials, etc. The fact of the matter is that unless your divorce is hopelessly contested, you will be settling it outside of the courtroom.
The court plays a very small role in uncontested divorces in terms of filing paperwork and submitting fees. Your divorce settlement agreement won’t be legally presided over by a judge but will be recognized and upheld by the court as legally binding. Professional mediators have the expertise and know-how to handle the ins-and-outs of out of court settlements with the same ease that a divorce lawyer can. Both specialize in handling divorce negotiations. Lawyers only provide an edge when the court is involved because they know the court system and can better navigate contested divorces.
3. How to go about choosing a divorce mediator
If you choose to seek out the services of a local mediator, it’s important to do your homework. Ask questions about their mediation process and about the professional expertise that they bring to the table. This will not only help you gauge expectations when it comes to the mediation process, it will provide you with a clear picture of the services you’re paying for.
Looking to explore your options for divorce mediation in the Towson, Maryland area? TruNorth Divorce Solutions can provide divorce mediation packages tailored to fit your needs. Visit our Maryland office or schedule a free strategy session to learn more.