To say that divorce is stressful is an understatement. Many factors conspire to make the process filled with tension and distress. But keeping in mind a few basic rules can make a significant difference in how you and your family navigate the seemingly difficult path ahead:
- Identify your goals. Prior to consulting any divorce professional, including an attorney, make a list of objectives you hope to achieve in your divorce. From keeping costs down to maximizing time with your children, these should be goals that are realistic and which can be easily articulated. Write them down and use them as a guide going forward. Review them often and revise as necessary. Most of all, make sure that any steps you take are consistent with making your goals a reality.
- Work with your spouse as much as possible. Communication, or lack thereof, is often at the heart of most conflict. The uncertainty of the divorce process can further increase tension. As difficult as it may be, any actions that demonstrate your intention of working together with your spouse can go a long way toward reducing stress. For couples with children, actions taken during the divorce process can often set the stage for post-divorce communication, for better or worse.
- Choose professionals who represent your interests. When contacting an attorney or other divorce professional, share your list of goals and inquire as to how he or she would approach them. Pay attention to how a professional speaks but, even more importantly, how they listen. Ask yourself the question, “Is this someone who will put my interests, and those of my family, first?” Lastly, be sure to ask about fees, including estimated costs.
- Be open. Sharing your challenge of divorce with others can be very helpful in reducing tension for you and your family. Most people understand that divorce is a stressful experience and reaching out to those you trust can be a source of counsel and understanding.
- Imagine life post-divorce. Picture your life after divorce and plan accordingly. In other words, consider how your present words and actions will impact you and your family in the future. Whether it is working with professionals who reduce conflict, or taking steps to improve communication with your spouse, taking control in the present will shape the future.