For so many, divorce turns out to be one of the most defining and difficult seasons they’ll ever experience. It has a way of shifting the ground beneath our feet, toppling our expectations and reshaping the life we came to believe would always be there.
It’s not only we who are affected, but our kids are thrown into the mayhem with us, as they scramble to make sense of split parents, a divided home, a different lifestyle, sometimes even relocation, estrangement from friends, and judgemental attitudes from their peers. So, the question here is, “While I know divorce is difficult, what can I do to minimize the damage to me, my kids, and others I care about?” Continue reading as we give you some important tips on how to get through a divorce unscathed.
Preparation is Everything
Okay, it may not be everything. There is certainly more to divorce, but making sure you approach your divorce fully informed and equipped with every necessary tool is paramount to your success and your family’s well-being.
Take time to discuss every detail with your attorney. Read up on the ins and outs of divorce trials. Understand your finances and your plans for the future. Get all paperwork done thoroughly and early on. Read a few good books on the subject, and work with your lawyer to prepare for different contingencies.
Don’t go into such a monumental passage of life unprepared. You will end up losing too much control. Your relationship with your children will suffer. You may lose time with them and you could miss out on a better settlement. Do your homework and get the counsel you need.
Give Yourself Time
We want things fast, right now, and get frustrated or even angry when we aren’t able to arrange life just the way we want it. We also get angry with ourselves if heavier emotions stick around longer than we’d expected.
Divorce is a massive life event. It will touch just about everything in your world for a time. Losing such a deep relationship, along with all the plans and dreams you shared, really hurts. Hearts, minds, and lives take time to heal, oftentimes a lot of it. Don’t put demands on yourself for how long it should take to mend. Let yourself heal at whatever pace you need and let it happen naturally. Allow yourself to feel what you need to feel, whether it be anger, sadness, joy, hope, fatigue, or gratitude.
Work with a counselor to gain perspective and direction. Spend time with those you love. Exercise. Get out and travel, and never forget that even if it takes a while, your emotional wounds will heal, financial matters resolve with a good plan, and kids have a way of bouncing back.
Talk to Your Kids Early and Keep Open Channels
Divorce often brings up feelings of shame or embarrassment. We may feel as if we’ve failed our kids somehow or that the whole thing is simply too ugly or complicated for them and that we should only share with them as little as possible. Interestingly, this usually works against us. Parents who remain open with their kids fare better in the end.
If possible, you and your ex should talk with your kids early in the process. This will allow them to see that you are still working together for their betterment and support. Be open to answering their questions as they arise in the weeks and months that follow. No, this doesn’t mean sharing every rough detail. But it does mean treating them with the same respect you would want to be treated with.
Take their fears and concerns seriously. Listen a lot. Listen more than you speak. Put yourself in their shoes and imagine what this is all like for them. Kids already feel a great lack of control over many things. Divorcing parents only amplifies this feeling. And it’s not just a feeling. Everything in their life is destabilizing and being rebuilt. They need all the support, open-mindedness, love, and assurance you can give.
Untangle and Prepare Your Finances
Often, in marriage, several portions of our finances are tied together. Do yourself a big favor and work on your own and with your ex to put all money matters in order.
Get all your paperwork together for every account. Decide which accounts belong to whom. Close joint accounts. Talk to each other and then change passwords and other access information to anything shared, like bank accounts, club memberships, credit cards, and subscriptions. Know exactly where every bit of money, assets, and investments are located. Organize as much of it as you can so that by the time you dig into the heavier parts of the divorce process, your attorneys can make quick use of your preparation and the two of you will have a pretty good view of where things lie.
Of course, in some relationships, there are simply too many tensions for you and your ex to work together successfully. If this is the case, it’s just as important, if not more, to make sense of your finances, get your records straight and your account access updated, and be able to offer a complete and accurate picture to your attorney.
Lastly, don’t ever forget that hiding assets will always get you in trouble. Be completely transparent with your finances. Don’t attempt to hide, move, or gift money or other assets with the hope of keeping it from your ex and their attorney.
Retain an Excellent Divorce Lawyer
This may seem like an obvious one, but there are many individuals who attempt to walk through the process of divorce with no professional legal counsel. Most of the time, this is an unwise and dangerous choice.
Divorce lawyers help you protect your future and your family. They will do their very best to make sure things are fair, that you get the best settlement possible, and that your time with your children is protected. They also provide you with invaluable advice on the entire process, how to communicate effectively with your ex and what to do at each step of your journey.
Now that you and your ex are separated, make a plan to create healthy boundaries with one another. Neither party should be going in and out of each other’s homes unannounced.
Work with each other regarding kid hand-offs and schedules, and communicate regularly to ensure your children’s wellbeing and to make sure you understand the unique requests and individual boundaries each of you have.
Partner With a Good Counselor
Since we already hinted at it, it seemed like a fitting time to bring it up. Please, definitely spend lots of time with close friends, family members, and trusted mentors, for rest, laughter, advice, support and perspective. Beyond these relationships, though, it is often the right move to find an experienced family counselor to help you navigate this time with greater clarity and confidence.
Counselors have insight into the many psychological and emotional layers within you and the complex dynamics involved in separation, divorce, healing, and raising children. They will help you uncover hidden troubles, free yourself from anxieties, gain more understanding about your life and choices, and help you move decisively toward your new plans.
It’s worth it to get a counselor and better to do it right now. Most people that finally do so down the road admit that they wished they’d have started years before.
While it’s not possible for divorce to be conflict free, or seamless all the time, you can take steps to minimize confusion and certain types of conflict. Do your best to study and prepare for divorce, keep open lines of communication going, get a great lawyer, give yourself a break and allow yourself time to rest and heal, and surround yourself with people you love.
Torrone Law helps both individuals and families navigate divorce, custody, and adoption with ease and confidence. To learn more about Torrone Law or to schedule a consultation with us, reach out today.
For more information on divorce, see our frequently asked questions below.
Is it possible to get through divorce unscathed?
Well, not quite. But you can make things a lot easier on yourself. With the right preparation, a good lawyer, experienced family counselor, good organization, and lots of support from those you love, you can make it through this difficult season with grace and confidence.
How important is counseling during this process?
Not everyone chooses to get counseling, but it’s often a very smart idea, both for you and your kids. Counselors help you work through pain and disappointment and help you develop habits and tools to move you toward the next phase of life. They can be an invaluable asset and support during this time.
Should I be worried about how long it’s taking me to heal and move on?
Definitely not! Separation and divorce are huge events. It’s normal for you to need several months to adjust to some changes, and for some types of deeper healing, it may take years. Still, each day can be an improvement, especially with the help of experienced counselors and those who care about you.