Divorce can be a long, stressful, and uncertain experience for both you and your spouse. Of course, all proceedings are different, but even the most amicable divorces can come with their own branching anxieties.
However overwhelming, it’s important to slow down when you can and stay grounded. There are several things kept in mind when going through a divorce to avoid as much stress as possible.
You should not dwell on misconceptions about divorce that might cause extra and undue worry;
Take time for yourself and don’t let yourself get consumed by the process; and
Reflect on what’s working in the present and focus on the future.
Turning Misconceptions Around
No matter where you are in the process, there can still be a nag of what could happen if your divorce veers in a negative direction. It’s common to think of the worst-case scenario in difficult situations. Combat this by talking to a divorce lawyer about your needs, while also thinking through any worries about the process you might have.
The following are a few common misconceptions about divorce that might cause more harm than good when you should be decompressing.
1. "There’s no way this won’t go to court.”
You might dread the idea of your divorce going to court based on what you have seen and heard. Arguing a divorce case in front of a judge is usually an unfavorable option for all. Rather than both spouses, the judge determines what is equitable and fair based on the arguments and evidence presented by the attorneys.
Know, though, that there are other options out there that remove the need for court entirely. 90% of divorces in the US settle out of court through mediation; a process where a mediator helps you and your spouse agree to terms--usually with the help of a family divorce attorney--ahead of finalizing the divorce. Rather than let your case hang in the balance, mediation offers the opportunity to work directly with your spouse to plan for the future.
2. "I’m scared I won’t see my children again.”
Should your divorce proceed amicably and through mediation, custody is something you can discuss directly with your spouse. Yet, cases that go to court are left to the judge to decide--based on the evidence and testimonies presented by both sides.
Keep in mind: custody is not always as simple as a 50/50 split. In many cases, courts consider joint custody in the best interests of the child. Full custody, though, is a much more complex issue requiring proof before the court and thoughtful consideration from the petitioning parent.
In any case, talk to a family divorce lawyer about your ideal outcomes and ask questions about how custody arrangements might pan out.
3. “I think I’m going to lose all my money and property.”
Property distribution and alimony are two major parts of the settlement process; both are easier when settled out of court.
Similar to custody, distribution of property is not always a 50/50 split. Maryland law tends to operate under “equitable distribution” laws, which view property acquired during the marriage as “marital property.” In addition, the laws could also label any property acquired before or after the marriage as such; this opens the door for interpretation based on the length and nature of you and your spouse’s relationship.
When it comes to alimony, consider your own needs and talk to your lawyer. The courts, should it come to them, make the decision based on a number of considerations. There also exists legal avenues to contest alimony should you find it unfair; bring this up with your lawyer if you’re concerned about the fairness of your divorce.
It’s normal to worry about these parts of divorce because they concern your future. With any legal situation, though, having a lawyer who cares can make the difference between a restless night and some much-needed relaxation--which is important because…
You Need to Prioritize Yourself
Juggling a divorce, a job, and other stressors all at once? Letting those consume your free time would be the worst thing for you.
Listen: thinking about your divorce is inevitable. However, you should take the time to think about your future and focus on staying afloat.
In some cases, divorce can come down to assessing your home life and how you care for your child. It’s best for you to keep a level head and proceed as usual for your sake and the sake of your parenthood.
It’s healthy to let yourself feel the emotions that come with a divorce. Do not let yourself experience these alone, though. Reach out to friends, schedule an appointment with a therapist, organize plans that make life outside the divorce feel normal.
Of course, don’t let yourself have too much fun--likewise, don’t let “feeling the emotions” turn into unhealthy coping. Substance abuse, unhealthy eating habits, and a general lowering of standards can stem from depression or anxiety that comes with a divorce. Keep these in check. Talk to someone before they get too out-of-hand.
Above all, while taking time to relax…
Remind Yourself What’s Working
Chances are, you’ve gone through a lot of the hard parts already. Coming to the realization a divorce is necessary is never easy. With that, you need to recognize the importance of your own work up until this point.
Has the divorce been fairly amicable up until this point? Good--divorces that go to mediation and allow you and your spouse to talk things out are far less stressful. It’s also a sign you have been thinking about your family going forward, too. Not hiding assets. or shutting down communication with your spouse (unless otherwise advised) shows your commitment to a mature, equitable future for the both of you.
Are you getting used to splitting time with your spouse? Make the most of the time you have with your child. As mentioned above, try and live normally; do things you both like doing with each other. You can even talk about your divorce with your child, but do so with respect to your spouse. Keep in mind: your child will have to see them soon, and dealing with two parents complaining about the other can make an already-emotional environment that much more stressful.
Hiring a lawyer who wants to help you transition to the next part of your life is worth celebrating. Every issue we have talked about can be remedied with legal advice and counsel. Having someone in your corner to talk you through your goals and hopes for the future is a must for both your divorce and mental health.