There are so many things to think about if you’ve decided to get a divorce. It can get overwhelming, so we’ve put together three articles that cover what you will find helpful to know when embarking on the divorce process. We’ll look at the practical things to consider and how to stay organised, how to develop a strategy, and how to stay positive during divorce. First up, our tips for keeping a positive mindset through this challenging period of your life.
(Strategies to stay positive during divorce…continued)
Gearing up for the journey of separation and divorce? Even when you know a divorce is the right way forward for you and your family, it’s inevitably still a massive shakeup of your life. When you think about all the practical and emotional difficulties involved in extricating yourself from a marriage, it’s not surprising that divorce can lead to feeling anxious and depressed. This can impact your decision-making process, preventing you from being able to properly appraise your true situation and options.
However, it is possible to reduce your stress levels and feel more in control of the whole process with the right strategies. Here are some that we find helpful.
1. Focus on the stable areas of your life
Divorce can make you feel you are rapidly losing control of your life, mainly because things are changing so fast. At this time, it’s a good idea to hold onto the more stable parts of your life, as anchors. There is usually no huge need to rush anything, and familiarity is usually comforting, especially for kids. And you can conserve your energy for the divorce process, rather than implementing other changes.
So if you have to move, try to stay in the same area for familiarity. If you can stay in the family home, resist the urge to redecorate or renovate immediately. Try not to change jobs at the same time as you are going through a separation. And take new relationships slowly…
2. Get and stay organised
One of the easiest ways to stay positive is to get yourself organised for your divorce. Clutter and mess and disorganisation are guaranteed to increase your stress during this time. And divorce and other family law processes involve a lot of paperwork and actions to retrieve relevant information for your case. Dealing with paperwork is going to be a big part of your life, so it’s important to get organised from the start. It might mean setting up a filing system (or even just a single ring binder), making lots of lists, and designating time for various tasks in your calendar. (Stay tuned as next week on our blog we will explore more detail about the practical things you should consider as you prepare for divorce, including how to stay organised.)
3. Be determined to build a healthy co-parent relationship
Building a solid co-parenting relationship with open lines of communication takes work. And it can be virtually impossible if the divorce is high conflict. But there are strategies for improving most co-parenting relationships. For example, looking for common ground to begin with as a base. If you start with the common ground or things both parents want to prioritise, this can help with building consensus for more contentious issues.
4. Set and maintain boundaries
Setting boundaries is also important. While your life is in a state of upheaval, you need to be clear about boundaries because sometimes others will take advantage of your turmoil or distraction to push their own agenda. Be sure about your boundaries and how you will communicate them civilly and in a positive way. For example, it may be boundaries around your co-parent’s access to your home, or how your ex-in laws will spend time with the kids.
TIP: How do you know where your boundaries actually are? Experts suggest taking note of when people elicit emotions like anger, frustration or resentment in you—this is likely where a boundary violation has occurred.
5. Aim to be empathetic and open
It’s certainly very hard to “rise above it” when you are going through divorce and suffering from emotional pain. But it will help you if you approach dealings with your ex with civility and even kindness. This can have the added bonus of “taking the wind out of their sails” if they are fixing for a fight and you are actively de-escalating things.
6. Assume positive intentions
One strategy is to assume positive intent on the part of your ex. In other words, assume your ex is behaving a certain way for a good reason as they have good intentions. Reframing the situation like this can help defuse emotions like suspicion or resentment. Of course, only assume positive intent unless shown otherwise…
7. Consciously spend time with your kids
Dealing with the paperwork and the angst that comes with separation and divorce means that sometimes, parents can get caught up in their own problems to the detriment of spending quality time with the kids. But it’s crucial to put aside time to spend with the children with no distractions, so that you can debrief how they are feeling and keep the lines of communication open.
8. Take a break from social media
Easier said than done, but worth it if you want to control the flow of information more effectively. Never discuss details of your separation or divorce in public. First there’s the danger of breaking the law–not only defamation laws, but family law in Australia demands that details of proceedings involving children are not published. Then there’s the danger of impacting your divorce negatively. For example, posts with any sexual or financial aspect could come back to haunt you. There’s also the potential to escalate conflict.
9. Steel yourself for sorting sentimental items
Dividing household contents isn’t made any easier thanks to the fact that you will likely need to wade through plenty of sentimental belongings that will trigger memories of your relationship, good or bad. Rather than bin everything that brings back unwanted memories, consider storing items until further down the track when you feel less emotional. You don’t want to throw away anything you may regret or could have passed on to the kids. Should this process feel too traumatic, you could always try hiring a professional organiser to help.
10. Gather your tribe
Establishing a solid support network is ideal, but of course never guaranteed. However, making the effort to find support (from family, friends, therapists, support groups etc) is psychologically better for you than withdrawing and isolating as you ‘lick your wounds’.
11. Don’t be afraid to accept help
Especially from the more positive-minded people in your network. Just being around positive people can do wonders for your own mindset.
12. Engage a family lawyer
Staying positive also means looking for professionals to help you achieve the best result. Don’t wait until you need to respond to problems –engage a family lawyer early on in the process to start the process on a positive footing, looking for constructive and mutually beneficial ways to resolve your matter. Aside from ensuring you are informed of all your legal rights and responsibilities and helping map out a strategy, having someone else act as your representative reduces tension if there are difficulties communicating directly with your ex.
TIP: Take advantage of the no-obligation “free first conference” offered by our firm to sound out your situation and potential game plans.
13. Look at your alternatives to litigation
Thinking positive about your divorce might mean exploring alternatives to litigation, which is usually a much more negative experience. The alternative dispute resolution option of collaboration helps parties achieve resolution of their disputes in a constructive, cooperative way, without ever-present threats of going to court. (Give us a call if you would like to explore a collaborative divorce, as our firm specialises in collaborative family law.)
14. Practice self-care
Work on maintaining or improving your physical health, including regular exercise, good sleep habits and limiting alcohol.
15. Create a Zen corner
Finally, why not set up a designated private space at home for you to retreat to? Find a comfy armchair in an uncluttered, sunlit corner and hygge it up with candles, blankets and fresh flowers. It’s a place to rest, recharge your batteries and forget all about your divorce.
Are you going through a divorce or separation? For legal advice, please contact Canberra family lawyer Cristina Huesch or one of our other experienced solicitors here at Alliance Family Law on (02) 6223 2400.
Please note our blogs are not legal advice. For information on how to obtain the correct legal advice, please contact Alliance Family Law.