Resolutions From a Family Law Attorney
It’s that time again, time to think about what went well this year, what went wrong, and what you want from the year to come.
2022 starts in a mere 11 days!! What are you going to do differently in 2022? What did you do well in 2021, that you want to carry forward into the year ahead?
I am going to enjoy the next few weeks because so many people decide to file for divorce when a new year begins. I know I’m going to hit the ground running as soon as I’m back in the office after new year’s.
So I thought I’d offer a little insight here for those who are resolving to start over, end a relationship, and embark on a next phase of their life in 2022. For those seeking to split in the year ahead, here are some things you can resolve to do:
Explore Your Options
There are many ways to divorce, and I help people through them all. If you know me at all, you know my preference is always Collaborative Divorce, whenever possible. That’s because Collaborative Divorce compiles a team of dedicated professionals who are committed to being on the same page and helping a couple end their marriage with dignity, agreement and mutual respect.
But if a Collaborative Divorce is not in your realm of possibility, consider Mediation or Litigation. In Mediation, I facilitate a conversation between divorcing parties, so that they can come to agreement on the principles of their split.
As I recently added the Our Family in Two Homes workbook to our offerings, this is a resource that I will give to each Mediation client to help them prepare to be effective in the conference room, to navigate difficult conversations and achieve acceptable outcomes. This workbook is part of a resource package I offer to people considering divorce – they pay a fee to get the workbook and three consulting hours with me, so we can walk through their values and priorities and help them identify if divorce is right for them and how to go about it.
In Litigation, we build our best case with an eye toward the courthouse. There is often research, discovery, and lots of negotiation (well, this is true in all modes of divorce), but ultimately in Litigation, when negotiations fail, a judge decides the way forward.
Whichever path you choose, know that you have options! Explore the different approaches to divorce on my website or let’s set up a call to explore together.
Educate Yourself About Your Finances
In many couples, one person manages the money, which can be nice when you’re in sync. But when you decide to split, the person who knew nothing about the numbers is often left feeling vulnerable and unaware – and that’s not good!
If you are the person who allowed your spouse to take care of the finances, you’d be wise to get up to speed on what you have, what you owe, and what your monthly obligations are. Speak to your financial professional – be it an accountant, financial planner or advisor, or investment consultant – and make sure you have all the documents, access to your accounts, and a clear picture of your financial situation.
Crucial to this conversation, of course, is a sense of your earning potential. If you’re working, that’s easy to figure out, but if you have been the primary homemaker, you’ll want to start thinking about how you can bring in money once you’re on your own. Don’t be afraid of finances!! Knowledge is power.
Take a Deep Look into What You Value and What’s Important to You
Now is a great time to consider what you’ll want when you divvy things up with your partner. If you have children together, how will you want to manage parenting time? Will there be any sticky points, and if so, what are you willing to give up to get your top priorities?
Businesses often articulate their corporate values as part of their mission and vision. It helps clarify their work, and communicate to customers what they stand for. It’s a good idea for everyday individuals to do this, too. Once you know what you value (which the Our Family in Two Homes workbook can help identify), you can make conscious decisions about your next steps.
Think About How You Respond in Stressful Situations
Are you a yeller? The strong, silent type? Do you avoid conflict? Create it? Will you be tied in knots when the negotiation gets tricky? Will you lose your appetite and want to take to your bed rather than confront the discomfort of a divorce?
Knowing how you handle stress is super important as even the most amicable divorces come with built-in hardship and challenge! One client was constantly tied in knots during the six months of her divorce and ended up dropping two dress sizes. She even developed migraines for the first time in her life during the divorce as the stress overtook her rational mind and seeped into her body. Fortunately, she had a good support system of family and friends and also sought counseling to help her through the tough times.
Have an honest conversation with yourself before you embark on a divorce, so that you can be prepared and realistic about what lies ahead – and know how you’ll manage all the emotions that are likely to arise.
Commit to Dignity
No matter what happens next, dedicate yourself to being dignified every step of the way. Divorce can get ugly because people feel hurt and angry and all sorts of uncomfortable emotions. Knowing that the road may be rocky is the first step toward navigating it with ease. When you promise yourself, and the memory of your marriage, that you will remain dignified and respectful, both to your soon-to-be-ex and to yourself, you have a good chance of sticking with dignity the whole way through. And you’ll be so happy you did!