Divorce is one of the most difficult life transitions that you can experience as an adult. It creates a major disruption, which requires change in many areas of your life. One of the best ways to help you and your children—during and after divorce—is to reach out to the many resources in your community. You are not alone as you navigate the process of divorce. These resources will provide support, answers to your questions, and information to make the best decisions possible for you and your children.
Below, you will find important resources to make the transition smoother for you and your children. Although there is an implied order of importance to the listed resources below, all of them are vital to helping you survive and thrive during and after the divorce.
1. Find a Good Family Lawyer.
Every state has different requirements in terms of how to complete a divorce. You want to find an attorney who limits his or her practice to family law and is an expert on related matters. Also, when you select an attorney, make sure he or she has your best interests at heart, and you feel comfortable with him or her. Ask questions and talk to at least two lawyers before you make a final decision. Don’t hesitate to check an attorney’s credentials at: American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and The International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.
Although most people think all divorces end up in court, there are alternative ways to resolve divorce cases. One method is “mediation” in which a mediator (neutral third party specifically trained to work in divorce cases) facilitates face-to-face negotiations between divorcing spouses and helps them work out mutual agreements. In a “collaborative divorce,” each spouse hires a collaborative attorney, and all parties agree to resolve the case without going to court. A team of professionals is assembled to assist in the decision-making process.
2. Select a Good Counselor/Therapist.
It also is important to find a health care professional you can talk to. This can be a religious advisor, counselor, therapist, physician, psychologist, or a practitioner at your county mental health agency. By harboring bad feelings about the divorce or former relationship and not letting go of the past, you’ll bottle up your emotions and increase your chances of becoming physically ill. My research also shows that negative emotions are like a giant magnet, pulling and attracting even more negativity into your life. A good therapist or health care professional can help you process the divorce, work through the past, and manage your emotions. It’s essential to work through your feelings and learn effective ways to cope with the changes during the transition.
Ask your friends for good recommendations. Check out agencies that list accredited therapists, such as American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (aamft.org), or Psychology Today (psychologytoday.com). Again, I encourage you to interview at least two therapists before you make a final decision. Good therapists don’t mind being asked questions, such as what approach they take to working with clients, what degree they hold (and when and where they got the degree), and how many clients they see each week.
3. Consult Financial Advisors.
When a marriage ends, the financial assets, debts and property also need to get divided. One piece of advice I always tell my clients is to be sure to make copies of important financial documents as soon as you decide to file for divorce. Also, take a complete inventory and document all of the property the two of you own together. My research shows that even after a marriage ends, money issues tend to stick around: 49% of those who divorce worry often about financial issues and challenges from the former marriage. During and after divorce, it can be extremely beneficial to consult a financial advisor, a nonprofit credit counselor, or an accountant as you manage the process of dividing assets, debts and property.
4. Reach Out to Friends and Family.
As you experience divorce, be sure to also talk to friends and other family members about the resources they’ve used in the past. You’ll be surprised at how many of your friends have reached out to community resources to get the support and help they need, whether it be because of divorce or other challenging transitions in their lives. Friends and family can also help you relax, go out, and meet new people. It’s vital to surround yourself with people who love and support you. You definitely want to remember that you are a fantastic person.
5. Turn to Good Books/Internet.
It also can be very beneficial to read good books and articles about how to survive and thrive during and after divorce. These reading materials are valuable because they are typically written by experts in the field or by people who have experienced the same or a similar transition. In my opinion, here is a list of some good books to read: “The Smart Divorce” by Deborah Moskovitz; “The Truth About Children and Divorce” by Robert Emery; “The Divorce Remedy” by Michele Weiner Davis; “Divorce Demystified” by Henry Gornbein; “Winning Your High-Conflict Divorce” by R. Shelly Loomus; “He’s History, You’re Not” by Erica Manfred; and my book: “Finding Love Again: 6 Simple Steps to a New and Happy Relationship.”
Dr. Terri Orbuch (aka The Love Doctor®) is a relationship expert for OurTime.com, as well as a professor, therapist, research scientist, and author of 5 best-selling books, including “Finding Love Again: 6 Simple Steps to a New and Happy Relationship.” Learn more about her at: DrTerriTheLoveDoctor.com.