How to have a healthy and effective divorce for you and your family
No-one plans to get a divorce and certainly, no-one anticipates just how much of a detrimental effect the process can have on your wellbeing. Not only that but the wellbeing of your family, too. Divorce strategist Suzy Miller has offered us this comprehensive, step-by-step plan for ensuring that your divorce is as effective as possible, without too much impact on your mental, physical, financial and emotional health.
Step 1: Accept that you might go a little crazy
It’s OK, we’ve all gone a bit mad during one of the most stressful and emotionally gruelling experiences known to man – family breakup. The trick is, don’t let your insanity destroy your finances, your family relationships and your health. All three are at dire risk – so take out your anger and emotional pain on inanimate objects. Shout and cry a long way away from the children. Counsellors can offer a totally non-judgemental ear which is useful for a time – but don’t get locked into a ‘victim-mindset’ and just use therapy as a way to feel temporarily better.
This is a very good time to learn about meditation, to take up yoga – and kickboxing.
Step 2: Create resilience in your family
Your family is NOT broken. It is evolving into an extended family. Hold that thought – even when the ex-in-laws are ‘taking sides’, even when your spouse is transformed into a monstrous narcissistic ogre, even when you just want to get on a plane and get as far away from it all as possible.
Don’t pretend the kids aren’t suffering. Give them access to counselling/play therapy/happy times.
Most of all, give them YOUR time. And never, ever (unless there is GENUINE physical or emotional danger) deny them access to the other parent. Even if that has to be in a contact centre, or with mutual friends acting as guardians. The kids didn’t choose this divorce so don’t make them pay the full price for it.
Children want you to be happy. Both of you. So it’s your job to find a way to be happy again – and that is not in the arms of another person. It’s about doing some self-development work on yourself – or spending more time at the local spa or on holiday.
Life Coaches can also help to keep you focused and sane.
Step 3: Stay as far away from courtrooms as you possibly can.
Your imagined ‘Day In Court’ will get delayed and cut short and the judge may be a fantastic authority on Conveyancing but somewhat busking-it on the financial wranglings of Family Law. And they are busy and don’t really want you to be there, and you need to have tried to access mediation first – so why not just try a little harder to make that work because you’ll lose less time off work, less sleep stressed out (going to court is no picnic) and YOU will both be in control of the divorce – not some judge who doesn’t know you or your family. Why hand over the power of the decision-making to a complete stranger?
Get some guidance. Have a Divorce Strategy Session (100% refund after the session).
Step 4: Don’t dive into the financial aspects of divorce before you have done some homework.
No need to panic – you really don’t need to suddenly do some online accountancy training. Just have a free no-obligation conversation with a financial planner. No, they aren’t the IFAs who just do mortgages and insurances (though they can help you with that as well) – Financial Planners help you cashflow forecast into the future and make intelligent financial decisions for you and for your family.
Step 5: Keep focused on what really matters
I’ve known people cite the Miele hoover as part of the spoils of war in a divorce battle. Seriously. And we all know people fight over their pets (even kidnap them if they think the judgement might go against them). Yet they will sometimes forget about the impact of a parental war on their children (self-harming amongst kids whose parents are adversarial is not uncommon), or they will fail to do their sums and not notice that the legal fees have soared above £30,000 is a matter of weeks – and maybe this isn’t the best way to go?
Don’t listen to negative people who encourage you to be adversarial – focus on what really matters.
Step 6: Stay off the drugs – and that includes sex
Yes, it’s very tempting to drink away the misery, party every night and find solace in the arms of someone as traumatised as you are. But just don’t do it.
What you really need are long hot baths, crying whilst listening to sad music (very therapeutic – but real big sobs and possible wailing. No self-pitying blubbering) and long calls on the phone to patient friends who just listen and don’t give advice.
Allow time to process and heal – and cry. It’s OK – it’s normal.
Step 7: Hold the space
A peaceful route for divorce is not ‘fluffy’. It takes vision, guts and determination. But every time you look at your children, or wider family and those affected by your divorce on all kinds of levels – it will be worth it for them.
And one day you will wake up to realise that you saved at least £65,000 by not fighting it out in court, and you have the skill to negotiate with your Ex on an ongoing basis, because whatever water may be under that bridge as far as you are both concerned, you made it through without destroying the last shreds of mutual dignity and potential for respect that lies ahead of you.
And what’s the biggest gun in your divorce arsenal to help you ‘hold the space’ for a more peaceful divorce?
Suzy Miller is a Divorce Strategist who helps to prepare divorcing clients for a more peaceful journey through divorce. Suzy has collaborated with the MOJ in promoting dispute resolution, she is an affiliate member of the Family Mediators’ Association, has written for the Daily Mail and been featured in many national magazines and appeared on BBC Breakfast TV, Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour and C5’s The Vanessa Show.
Free divorce resources are available for download at BestWayToDivorce.