Going through a divorce is one of the most stressful life events. If you’re thinking about filing for a divorce or you’re in the early stages, this guide contains practical advice to help you navigate the process.
Seek expert advice
Nobody goes into marriage thinking that they are going to end up going through divorce proceedings. Although divorce is relatively common, most people don’t know the ins and outs of the processes involved when they break up with their partner. Many of us have friends or relatives who have been through a divorce but it’s still possible to enter into proceedings with very little knowledge of what the weeks and months ahead will entail. It’s hugely beneficial to seek expert advice about the divorce process and the steps you have to take to finalise your divorce. Speaking to people who have been in the same boat, getting advice from legal experts and talking to counsellors can help you manage your expectations, gather information and find the answers to questions and concerns you may have.
Find a good law firm
Divorce is a legal process and you will need to hire a lawyer to represent you. Going through a divorce can be distressing and the legal steps can be complicated and convoluted. For these reasons, it’s incredibly important to take your time to find the right law firm. It’s wise to search for a firm that has an excellent track record and a team of experienced divorce lawyers but it’s also crucial to ensure that you have a good relationship with your lawyer. Before you make any decisions about which firm to hire, take the time to carry out research, ask around for recommendations and read testimonials. Use phone calls and consultations to learn more about the practice and get to know the team.
Most people enter into divorce proceedings with questions and queries. You should feel comfortable contacting your lawyer, asking questions and seeking advice. You should be confident in their abilities and feel that they are willing to go the extra mile to fight your corner. Look for firms that have excellent reviews based on customer support and service and relationships with clients as well as outstanding results. It’s always useful to talk to representatives from different practices before you make a decision. It can be hard to get a feel for a firm and to establish what kind of rapport you would have with your lawyer based on reading a homepage or a ‘meet the team’ page. You can gain a lot by talking to people on the phone or meeting in person.
It’s also a good idea to research prices and costs before you decide which divorce lawyer to hire. At what is likely to be a difficult time, you don’t want to be worrying about unexpected fees or bills that are higher than anticipated.
Communicate with your ex
In some cases, it’s not possible for there to be any form of communication between spouses that are separating but if you are on good terms or there is a chance of building bridges to make the process less stressful, try to keep communication channels open. If you are able to talk without arguing, it can be helpful to have constructive discussions about issues such as child custody and how to split assets. If you are amicable, this can also help children to get through the process and it might also help to reduce stress and anxiety as you move through the phases. It’s important to note that you shouldn’t feel pressured to speak to an ex if you don’t feel comfortable doing so, they are putting pressure on you or your conversations are making you feel more anxious. In this scenario, it’s best to let your legal team handle everything and to cut ties temporarily.
Getting divorced can be stressful enough but when you throw in everyday worries, life can seem overwhelming. Try to take steps to avoid and minimise additional stress while you’re navigating the divorce process. Look after yourself. It can be easier said than done but try to ensure you eat well, get enough rest and devote time to things that make you feel happy and relaxed. Spend time with friends if you feel like you want company, use hobbies and interests to protect your mental health, get into a sleep routine and try to exercise frequently. Physical activity is beneficial for your body but it’s also an incredible natural tonic for psychological wellbeing. Being active can clear your mind, lower stress levels, make you feel more alert and energised and help you channel and express your emotions.
Many people experience work-related stress. If your workload is getting on top of you, you feel stressed at work or you’re finding it hard to focus while you’re going through legal proceedings, talk to your boss and be open with colleagues you are close to. It can be a relief to offload or to tell people what you’re going through and it may be possible to lighten your workload or make changes to help you tackle stress.
Don’t try to go it alone
Many of us are programmed to soldier on and keep our chins up. The truth is that even the strongest people experience difficult times. There is no shame in feeling upset, scared, angry, frustrated or lonely if you’re going through a divorce. It’s essential to remember that you don’t have to go through the process alone. Lean on friends and family, try to be honest with them and make use of organisations, charities and experts who are there to provide practical advice or emotional support.
It’s not easy to navigate divorce proceedings. If you’re filing for divorce or you’re in the early stages of the process, seek expert advice, find an excellent lawyer and try to communicate with your ex if you feel comfortable doing so. Manage stress, look after yourself and speak to your employer, your colleagues and your friends and family. You don’t have to go it alone and you shouldn’t put pressure on yourself to act like you’re coping if you’re finding life tough. There is help and support available.
* contributed post