Emotion plays a huge role in divorce. You don’t need me to tell you that. But as a family lawyer who helps people through divorces every day, it can help to hear from me how it can negatively impact a divorce, and why it’s so important to me that people try to keep emotion out of divorce as much as possible.
People might think that anger is the driving emotion in a divorce, but most often, it’s a related emotion: Fear. There’s fear of the unknown, fear of instability, fear of having to be a single parent, fear of being overwhelmed. These are perfectly understandable. Many find that their post-divorce lives are free of what they feared during the divorce, but not knowing what the future holds can have a powerful effect.
The number one piece of advice I give to clients is to take care of themselves. I think everyone going through a divorce should consider seeing a therapist during the divorce and maybe even beyond. It affects everyone differently, but when people go through divorce, they experience one or more stages of grief at different times. There might be anger, sadness, or grief as well as fear. Having someone to help you work through those emotions, who is professionally trained to do so, is important to your journey through the divorce. (As we’ve said in a prior blog article, your lawyer is not your therapist, and there are very good reasons to have both a lawyer and a therapist guide you through your divorce.)
It’s important to know at the outset of your divorce case if your therapist will or won’t be willing to testify should your case go to court. In many cases, it won’t be necessary, but if your case involves allegations of abuse, this could be a factor, and it’s something you’d want to discuss with your lawyer. But more often than not, the therapist is there solely for you and coming to terms with what is happening.
And if you don’t think you can afford a therapist, know that your medical insurance may cover the cost of a therapist. There are also affordable, sliding scale options for people who might not have the resources available to pay for a therapist’s standard rates. Our office works with a number of therapists, and we’re happy to help clients connect with them.
If you are in an ongoing parental relationship with your soon-to-be-ex-spouse, you also want to avail yourself of resources to help manage that. Technology exists to help you keep schedules straight, including an app called Our Family Wizard, which I find works quite well for many people. You can also work with a parenting facilitator, a person who specifically helps divorcing couples work through their issues and keep focused on the child.
It’s also important to keep the focus on the decree in a divorce. While a divorce entails a lot of emotions, it’s a legal process that produces a document that ends a marriage, distributes that couple’s assets and debts, and if they have children together, spells out when the children are with each parent. It has implications for your post-divorce life, and you owe it to yourself to be mindful of that throughout your divorce. Especially if you have children, you want to make sure it’s forward-looking and addresses situations that might come up as your children move toward high school and graduation.
We know divorce is emotional. We keep a lot of tissues in our office for just that reason! While divorce can take people to places they’ve never quite been emotionally, divorce also invariably takes people to a decree and a post-divorce life. All of us at the Law Office of Lisa Vance want to see you get there successfully.