How can I prepare myself mentally for divorce?

I will answer your question based upon the presumption that you have already gone through the agonizing process of determining that you need to divorce. In other words, I will not treat your question as asking how you determine whether you should divorce.

How to prepare yourself mentally and emotionally for divorce:

1. Talk to people you know and trust who have gone through a divorce themselves, so that you can innoculate yourself somewhat against the ordeal ahead of you.

  • Listen to what they say of their experiences. Pay attention. Believe their stories. Apply them to your own situation.
  • Ask questions (no matter how stupid you fear they may make you look; better to look stupid in the eyes of people who care about you than in the eyes of your spouse or the court).
  • Most divorced people are happy to talk to you about it. They feel good knowing that sharing their tales of divorce misery might help you avoid some of that misery or help you deal better with the misery yourself.

2. Accept that it will get worse before it gets better. Make your peace with this fact. If you go through divorce bemoaning how regularly shocked you are at hard and unfair it is, you’re just wasting your emotional capital.

  • Know (know!) that legal system doesn’t work as well as you believe. Not every attorney is competent or industrious. Not every judge is a silver-haired sage.
  • Even if your jurisdiction has dedicated family courts, your judge is not an expert on all things divorce law (it’s impossible to be). I know that may come as a shock to many of you reading this, but it’s true. If your judge is not a dedicated family court judge, he/she hears all kinds of legal cases, divorce being just one of them, and divorce is a subject judges almost universally hate, so they are not the most enthusiastic about them. And your judge can get jadged–fast–by hearing divorce cases all day every day and can quickly burn out.

3. If you can (and not everyone can), find someone you can confide in, someone who you can trust with your life. You may need to lean on this person for moral support, even possibly financial support.

4. If you’re a believing member of a religion (even if you have some doubts and questions), go to your church services.

  • See if they help you cope.
  • Church services give you messages of direction, correction, truth, and hope. Church can help keep you grounded.
  • Church services and your ministers can help you make sense of the world when divorce turns your world upside down.

5. Find a good therapist that you can use when needed.

  • Not because you’re too weak to handle this on your own (you might be), but because you want to be prepared and know where to get help if divorce strikes a blow you did not anticipate and cannot take. You’ll be glad you took this step in advance.
  • Know that just because you find a good therapist does not mean you must go see the therapist every week. You can see the therapist as needed.

6. Don’t take at face value anything anyone tells you about divorce. Do your homework. Be skeptical.

  • There are too many divorce lawyers, so the competition for clients is fierce. And so some divorce lawyers will tell you whatever they believe you want to hear so that you will give them your money. They will thus give you a warped and rosy picture of divorce, which will lead to you being deceived and fleeced. Buyer beware.
  • Your friends, no matter how well-meaning, generally do not know divorce law or procedure, and if you listen to their legal opinions or take their legal advice, you will, more often than not, be led painfully astray.

7. Be mentally and emotionally prepared to have very little free time between having to juggle the demands of your life and the demands of your divorce.

Your divorce is going to be, at best, a part-time job and at worst a second full-time job. But take heart in remembering it will only be temporary.

8. Think about and determine what really matters to you in your life. Nothing helps distill your values quite like divorce.

Divorce can break you or remake you. Divorce will hurt you, but you’ve been hurt before and you have recovered. You will recover from divorce too, so make sure that when you do you come out with your integrity intact. I used to think making a lot of money was vitally important. I sacrificed a lot in the pursuit of making lots of money. It didn’t happen. I wasted a lot in the pursuit too. I learned the hard way that while having enough money is vitally important, having a lot isn’t. I wouldn’t turn down a lot of money, but it’s not my life’s purpose anymore. I know what matters more. I learned from my greed and mistakes. I’m a better man for it. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? (Mark 8:36 KJV) Don’t let divorce leave you broken and bitter. Divorce may rob you of some things, but don’t let divorce rob you of your decency and vision.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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