Sadly, it is my own experience with divorce that has helped me understand the emotional side of what my clients are going through, and I try to share some stories with them to make sure they realize what they are going through is actualy quite normal. The fact is, if I am allowed to do my job properly, the legal aspects of the divorce can be dealt with quite quickly– we just gather up all the relevant information, generate options for a solution, and try to reach an amicable settlement that everyone can live with, preferrably without resorting to court except for an uncontested hearing. Picking the right attorney to perform this amputation in your life is the key to coming out with a nice clean cut that can heal quickly versus going to a butcher that will leave you scarred for life. The emotions I see cover a whole spectrum– some are in complete denial, or so detached that they are void of any emotion. Some are incredibly immersed in sadness or anger. Many are anxious, mainly because there is a complete loss of control in the beginning of the process. Separations raise a lot of fears: fear of the unknown; fear of being alone; fear of being poor; fear of losing your identity. It is such a scary time for people, which is why they need to find an attorney they can trust, who is not going to try and rape and pillage the family while encouraging a “War of the Roses” scenario. Knowing your rights and obligations is the first step to reducing some of the fear of the unknown. Coming up with a plan also tends to reduce stress. Understanding what kind of budget you have to work with and setting realistic expectations of what kind of process you can afford is critical to a successful outcome. Don’t let the fees get out of control– don’t ask for services outside your budget. Know that every call, email, letter, court appearance and meeting is going to be charged– attorneys are service providers, and we charge for our time. As a result, you have a huge incentive to not drag things out, to try to be reasonable in your proposals, and to let us wrap things up quickly for you– but that is separate from dealing with the emotional divorce. To be honest, it took me years to recover from the disappointment of a failed marriage. There is probably no greater public admission of defeat, and many do not take it well. Also, towards the end of a marriage, it is quite common for there to be a complete lack of intimacy, and this can leave you feeling quite empty and wondering if anyone else will ever find you interesting again. So my non-legal advice is this: after you have wrapped up your legal affairs, go have some fun. Enjoy going on dates and racking up compliments. Buy some fun lingerie, travel and let people put you up on a pedestal. You need to feed your ego for a bit– it is a normal and necessary part of the healing process. Don’t let others pass judgment– do what you need to do to rebuild your self-esteem. Unless you are a public official or nun, who cares what you do when you are not on duty as a mom or dad? As long as you don’t break the law, mislead or intentionally harm others in the process, get out there and find fun ways to get over a divorce hangover. 🙂
Normalizing The Divorce Process
About the Author: Regina DeMeo
Nationally recognized matrimonial attorney & legal commentator based in DC and MD since 1998.