For many of us, the New Year means a fresh start. Whether it’s improving eating habits, changing jobs or moving to a new place – we seem to have more courage and energy to eliminate the situations or activities that made us stagnant or downright miserable.
If divorce is at the top of your list, it is important to organize yourself and your team so that you can use this process as a catalyst for healing transformation.
Here are 5 ways to reduce the stress associated with your divorce and turn it into an opportunity to become the very best version of yourself.
1. Find a therapist and/or divorce coach.
Including a divorce coach or therapist on your team will not only make your divorce process easier and healthier, it will also keep you from paying legal fees to address emotional issues that would be better addressed by working with a specialist in this area. Your lawyer is an expert in managing the legal side of your case. If you rely on your divorce attorney for emotional support, or to chat through every issue that comes up, the fees will quickly add up.
So what is the difference between a therapist and a divorce coach?
A therapist will help you examine your past and the events that led to your decision to end your marriage. Perspective and understanding your triggers are valuable to keep you from repeating past mistakes and processing hurt and trauma. Improving communication skills and the way you manage emotions are also valuable tools that will serve you well during your divorce process.
A divorce coach helps define the vision for your future – post divorce and create goals and strategies for your new “best” life. Focusing on the future not only fuels excitement, but it will also help you understand exactly what you and your family will need to thrive. Your divorce coach can be an excellent sounding board and help you get clear about what you want. When you are clear on what you want, your lawyer is in a better position to get you there.
After practicing family law for over 15 years, I’ve seen the value of a team approach and it’s why I’ve carefully selected compassionate experts to help guide my clients through their divorce. You can learn more about my curated community here along with helpful and inspiring resources in my blog.
2. Establish your support network.
Asking for help can be difficult. But the isolation many people feel when they are going through a divorce is one of the leading stressors. The support of a few trusted friends and/or family members during this time is key. You may find yourself emotionally drained and need a friendly voice or a last-minute babysitter for meetings with your divorce team.
Leaning on those who love you and letting them know what they can do may feel awkward at first, but will ultimately provide a tremendous release. You will be surprised how much it can lift your spirits when a friend drops off a home-cooked meal. Give others the opportunity to take care of you as you would do the same for them.
3. Ask for referrals for a divorce lawyer.
A good lawyer can take any set of facts and apply it in a way that is the most beneficial to their client, but when you are going through a divorce you need more than just a good lawyer. You need a trusted advisor who can help you clarify your goals and interests so you know where to place your focus. You need a lawyer who is empathetic and sympathetic to your situation. You need a divorce lawyer who reflects your core values – the principles you use to guide your life. Selecting your lawyer is a critical part of the process and a decision that will impact you and your family for years to come. Asking those closest to you for recommendations is a great start.
Once you have a few names, I always suggest interviewing a few attorneys so you can decide who you trust the most and is the best fit.
Here are my top 6 interview questions:
• How long have you practiced?
• How much of your practice is devoted to family law?
• What is your philosophy on divorce?
• What are the options for resolving my case?
• What other professionals should we add to my team?
• How can we approach my case in a way that protects my children?
4. Know your options.
Educating yourself on the divorce options available to you is key! You don’t have to your parents’ (or your neighbors’) divorce. When people hear the word “divorce” most immediately envision some version of The Marriage Story or War of the Roses, but the reality is that most cases (most states average 95% of more) settle without ever seeing the inside of the courtroom. And that can be your reality too! When you know your options, you can select a non-adversarial path that allows you to make decisions from a place of strength versus a place of fear and anger.
When you choose litigation, the collateral damage to those you love (most importantly, to your children) is unavoidable. Mediation and other forms of alternative dispute resolution protects your loved ones and keeps your focus on the long-term resolutions that will support the health and well-being of your family.
Bottom line, when you avoid the Courthouse, you get what I call the “5 C’s”:
● Cost Containment
Learn more about mediation and how to prepare with this guide.
5. Mentally prepare by thinking through how you want to approach your divorce.
We all have the power to choose to see things differently or to choose again. Even a tiny shift in your perspective can create a miracle. What if you could experience your divorce through the lens of love versus a lens of fear? What if your divorce could open the door to a healthier path and life – for you and for your family?
As you think about ending your marriage, consider shifting your focus from what was to what will be. This reframing will allow you to make strategic decisions and design the life you want.
If dissolving your marriage is one of your New Year’s resolutions, you can choose a path that is the healthiest and most peaceful for you and your family. Support from loved ones and highly skilled and compassionate professionals as well as knowing your options gives you the freedom to reorganize, restructure, and redefine your family with dignity and grace. This allows your divorce to be the springboard for a more beautiful life – a holistic approach I call A Becoming Divorce.
Claire Samuels has been practicing family law in Charlotte, North Carolina for the past 14 years. After years of litigating high conflict cases, Claire has seen just how toxic the “scorched earth” approach to divorce can be for everyone involved, particularly children. It has been her experience that even high conflict couples can divorce in an amicable way with the proper guidance. Claire is committed to supporting and educating her clients about alternative resolutions that will empower them to resolve their legal disputes while preserving the civility that allows them to raise healthy and well-adjusted children. Claire is also a certified Family Financial Mediator and recently completed Susan and Woody’s (or Mosten Guthrie) 40-Hour Mediation Certification training.