Advice & Features Articles

How to Take the Heat Out of Divorce

By Paula Bennett | Contributor

Try as we might, it is seemingly impossible to stay cool in the heat of a Texas summer. But over time, we’ve all learned the little tricks – time at the pool, trips to our favorite sno-cone stand, hanging out at the ice skating rink, or just cranking the air conditioning down several degrees – to help take the edge off. 

These tricks, however, just help with the physical discomfort. The summer also tends to shorten the emotional fuses that lead to temper meltdowns. For those going through a separation or divorce that can lead to disastrous outcomes, so finding a way to dial back the anger and vitriol in your interactions is imperative. 

As a family law attorney, I have seen first-hand how stressful the process is on my clients, especially in high conflict cases. Emotions roil out of control without warning, particularly when children are involved. And while every divorce is different, you owe it to yourself to learn to anticipate and cope with emotional triggers so that you can brace yourself for what lies ahead. When issues during the divorce often lead to disputes, there are practical methods to follow in order to take the heat out of the divorce.

Communicate Nicely

Whatever comes your way, try to stay calm during communications with your soon-to-be ex. It won’t always be easy, and there will unquestionably be challenging moments during your interactions, but avoid raising your voice and throwing insults. If you feel your spouse is acting cruel and manipulative, there is no benefit to responding in kind. Stay on course, and don’t change your character to respond to their negative treatment of you. Remember, your response will likely be shown to a judge at some point during the case.

You will have many conflicting feelings to sort through, but it will be most beneficial if you can work through them yourself. Getting mad at your former partner will not help you heal. Never take your anger or disappointment out on your children. Seeking professional guidance can also help with the emotional toll that comes with divorce.

Be prepared

When you know that your marriage is truly ending, and you hope an amicable end to the union can be reached, you still need to prepare yourself for the process ahead. Become familiar with the steps of divorce. Some of the questions to consider are: 

• What should I expect? 

• How will our property be divided?

• Can I get alimony?

• What will happen to our children?

Know Your Attorney

Find an attorney who you trust. When choosing the right lawyer for your needs, do your research. Is the attorney board certified in Family Law? What is the billing structure? Other questions to consider: 

• How long does the divorce process take?

• What do I need to do to protect myself now?

Keep in mind that information presented and discussed in an attorney-client consultation is confidential. The more information you provide to your attorney up front, the more it will help with the process. 

Know Your Financial Situation

When going through a divorce, knowing your financial situation and keeping a record of all your bills are essential. If you are not the person in the marriage who was responsible for the monthly budget, that’s okay. Start building a budget that will give you a clear forecast of your monetary expenses with the expectation that you will need to take a deeper dive sooner rather than later. 

Child Custody 

Your children’s well-being will likely be your primary focus throughout the entire process. They will be impacted by every decision made in the divorce. Talk to your spouse about what you both need to keep the best interests of your children at the forefront of everything you do. If you are not communicating with your spouse, then take that discussion to your lawyer to determine the best custody arrangement for your children.Try not to discuss the divorce in front of your children. You want to contribute to a positive, emotional state and set a good example of how to cope with negative situations.

Remember, divorce is a part of life that you can, and will, get through. It’s not the end, but possibly the beginning of a better chapter in your life. 

Editor’s Note: Paula Bennett is a partner in the Family Law boutique Orsinger, Nelson, Downing & Anderson, LLP. She can be reached by calling (214) 273-2400

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