Coping strategies for separation and divorce

Going through a separation or divorce is never going to be easy as there is inevitably going to be a huge wave of emotion including but not limited to stress, grieving, potentially some guilt and in many cases anger that can lead to an acrimonious battle between the two parties.

Best practice would suggest that parties initially engage in mediation which not only offers a “softer” approach to the intensity of legal proceedings, but can lead to more tailored, interest based outcomes that both parties are satisfied with.

As you start separation or divorce proceedings consider the following:

  • Prepare an agenda – not in the sense of a personal agenda, but collaboratively with your divorce lawyer get to understand the divorce or separation process. Find out key dates, key requirements ahead of these and get a full grasp of the road ahead and an estimation of when you might expect to have matters finalised.
  • Put your children first – going through a separation or divorce is not easy, and if you are a parent you should always be considering the implications on your children. Continue to be a co-parent with your ex-partner as best you can, avoid over sharing the process with them and at all stages avoid emotionally embroiling your children with negative comments about your ex-partner.
  • Remain calm – as always, this easier said than done, but in a period that is laden with emotions and potentially feelings of anger or depression, remaining calm allows for better focus. One common danger is to stick your head in the sand and go through some denial about the process which by this stage is almost certainly inevitable. If at any stage you feel you cannot deal with certain aspects of the process, rely on your divorce lawyer for guidance and implementation or a referral to a counsellor or psychologist to asset you with the emotional side of things.
  • Look at the bigger picture – don’t get bogged down in the granular detail and minutia. In many cases, when it comes to dividing assets and possessions compare both the financial and emotional cost of arguing over household items or possessions verses replacing these items over time and/or once you have obtained a property settlement. Ask yourself: is the cost of a replacement coffee table worth delaying proceedings and stalling progress?
  • Be objective and realistic – the law – on the whole – usually gets it right and your divorce lawyer will have sufficient knowledge, experience and insight from legal precedent and their experience in the family law field to advise you of different options for settlement. Work within what is possible and do not seek the impossible, unrealistic or unreasonable. Negotiate where possible but do take the advice given by your legal team to ensure that you are not doing so to the long term detriment of yourself and/or your children in the long run.
  • Stay focused and informed – remain appraised of communications between your divorce lawyer and the legal team representing your ex-partner. A good family lawyer will keep you updated every step of the way.
  • Don’t go it alone –In line with being objective and realistic, look at the financial implications of using a divorce lawyer from the outside. Costs incurred will offset a lot of stress, anxiety and uncertainty.

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