Here are some tips to keep in mind while going through your divorce. These tips are based on research and on my years of experience in divorce cases.
Do everything you can to keep the tension and conflict with your spouse to a minimum. Don’t look for things to be mad about. Be firm but reasonable. Be determined but amicable.
Do not put your child in the middle of any conflict with your spouse. Communicate directly with your spouse, not through your child. Do not fight through your child. Do not let your child hear verbal hostilities. Do not criticize your spouse in front of your child.
Interview several attorneys before you hire one. Pick an attorney who is simpatico with your needs and wishes. Ask a lot of tough questions. Be active, not passive. This is your choice.
Ask around for referrals for an attorney. Word of mouth is a great way to find experts. Don’t just select names randomly online.
Make sure your child feels loved, safe, and heard. Communicate with your child. Encourage your child to talk. The expression of feelings is healthy. Be a role model for open feelings.
A collaborative divorce is a good option. Mediation as part of divorce is a good option as well. Discuss these options with your attorney.
Do not sign a divorce agreement that you cannot live with happily. Once an agreement is in place, it is extremely difficult to change. Don’t let an attorney tell you otherwise. Don’t agree to something that you think you can change at a later date. That’s simply not true.
The divorce process can take many months, if not longer. If you avoid conflict and an adversarial situation, the process can go much faster. Don’t fight just to fight. Don’t let the attorneys fight just to fight.
Divorce can be expensive. But if the process is shorter, the cost will be less.
Ask around and find a good therapist for yourself. That will help you as you struggle with feelings of sadness, guilt, fear, anger, and frustration. Being in therapy is a strength, not a weakness.
Make sure grandparents, teachers ,and other adults do not stoke negative feelings and behaviors during the divorce process. Talk to them and help them maintain a caring but neutral stance.
Talk and then talk some more with family members and friends. Talking helps us feel better. It also helps us not to make rash decisions or engage in problem behaviors.
Have fun. Laugh. Smile. Don’t obsess about your divorce. Don’t make your divorce a full-time job. Enjoy life.
Do not start a new romantic relationship while your divorce is ongoing. It’s a bad idea on several levels. It will just complicate things.
It’s more likely your child will be happy if you are happy. Your child will respond to your positive vibes. Be optimistic. Look ahead. See a bright future. Share that with your child.
Co-parenting is a great arrangement but it takes reasonableness and commitment by both parents to make it work. It is the ideal parenting for kids if done right. It requires both parents talking and cooperating together.
Parallel parenting can work too. This is where each adult parents separately with little or no interaction with each other. This can be hard for a child if each household’s expectations and rules are vastly different from each other. If parents are similar, this parenting style can work just fine.
Do not be a selfish or jealous parent. Do not say or do things to put your ex on the defensive or offensive. Don’t make up allegations against your ex. Your child wants to love both parents. Encourage that to happen. Do not undermine it. When you try to hurt your ex, you are hurting your child at the same time.
Effective parenting takes patience and calmness and maturity. Another good reason to seek out therapy.
The divorce process will be over one day. Don’t say or do things that you will regret. Make the process as easy and reasonable as possible for you, your child, and your ex. The benefits will be huge.
Not all tips are relevant for every person. I think of these tips as rules of thumb. I offer them to you to help you think about your particular situation.
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