Filing for Divorce: Where Do I Go From Here?

Tell me if this sounds familiar.  You have been contemplating divorce and have decided it is time to file, but you begin to wonder, “What is going to happen next?  Can I afford to live on my own?  What is going to happen with the kids? What about the debt?  Where do I go from here?”


Like many people I talk to, you are likely freaking out inside as you are very nervous about what the future entails for you.  You are likely reacting to the challenges that present themselves with a fight or flight response.    

When you are in fight or flight response mode, your body responds to the danger by speeding up, tensing up and becoming very alert.  Your react with all of these physical responses in order to survive a dangerous situation by either running for your life or fighting for your life (thus the term "fight or flight").  In this state,  no matter what, you’re going to take action -- and fast.


Unfortunately, the divorce process does not proceed at a fast pace – more accurately, the process works more at a snail’s pace.  But each day, you decide to try to resolve your case at the pace of a gazelle or stay busy by throwing jabs at your spouse like a professional heavyweight champion fighter.  Neither response is particularly useful in the land of divorce. 


Looking back, most of my clients who report having the most painful divorce experiences stayed in a constant state of fight or flight.  They never experienced a state of peace.  You may be thinking, “How do I have peace while I am getting a divorce?  I have knots in my stomach because I am so worried.  I need this process to hurry up.  I want what I deserve.”


Here is my tip: Stay Cool to Get What You Need. 


First, you must create a list of your needs and your wants.  Decide what you and your spouse are likely to agree on right now to lessen the amount of animosity between the parties.  As you find common ground on some of the smaller issues, the amount of tension and fighting will likely lessen over the stickier issues. 


Second, you must practice the art of patience.  Your divorce case will not be resolved in one month.  There is a lot of work to be done.  You have to value all of your assets, determine your debts, devise a schedule for your children, figure out how you will split costs, and many more issues.   Documents will need to be requested.  Information will need to be exchanged.  Compromises will need to be reached.  Or, a trial will need to be conducted.  The process will not happen in a short amount of time.  In fact, most states have waiting periods after filing for divorce.  Find ways to relieve your stress – take a deep breath, call a friend, exercise - anything that works for you. 


Third, remember that the purpose of a divorce is to detach yourself from your spouse.  Do not stay tangled up in ugly feelings and resentment.  Try to resolve the issues the best you can, and forgive your spouse for their shortcomings. 


If you are able to practice the three tips above, you will figure out exactly what you really need, get some of the things you want, and successfully move on from your ex-spouse.  


Yours truly,