Miller Family Law Group - Southern California Divorce and Family Law Lawyers
“ What we call the beginning is often the end and to make an end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from.” – T.S. Eliot
PLANNING TO LEAVE
Stage one of leaving begins when one or both partners become more detached, less engaged, or connected. This lack of connection may begin years before the legal divorce, but often one partner is already beginning to create emotional distance. Eventually, the situation can become so frustrating that at least one spouse takes action; either by saying the relationship is over, by “acting out” and having affairs.
A second stage while planning to separate is the financial one, in which partners list and then divide their joint property and settle their debts before reaching a final agreement. The best thing to do is to work together to gather and record all your financial information. Such gathering with save time and money once you begin the process of divorce.
Tally the worth of your assets. Notice overall what is owned by you alone, what is jointly held by the two of you, and what is solely owned by your spouse. It is also a good idea to assess your credit card debt as well.
Immediate Economic Goals
The following steps would be helpful to complete as part of practical planning, before or during discussion of a separation:
- Pay off your bills and set up a payment plan for your debts.
- Open your own checking and savings accounts as well as establish good credit
- Place as much as you can into your savings account beginning today.
- If you have money in savings, place the funds into a money market account with better interest.
- Make sure your car is in good condition; if not, schedule repairs or look into buying another car.
- Increase your income at work or begin looking for another job. Remember, it will cost you more to live in two separate households.
- Learn everything that you can about your bank accounts, investments, insurance, taxes, and the value of your current home. Make copies of all documents and take them with you to your appointment with an attorney.
- If you need counseling, medical attention, dental work, or anything else, see professionals right away. Your mental, emotional, and physical health are very important. Do this while you still have two incomes.
- Begin investigating the housing market if you are the one leaving. Begin looking today.
- Safeguard heirlooms and liquid assets. Seek appraisals of artwork, antiques, and other collectibles. Make sure you revoke any powers of attorney your spouse may have.
Future Economic Goals
Psychological Stages During Separation
- Look at the list of your accumulated assets and write down the amount you estimate to be yours, that you can count on each month. Include your monthly salary and any other income coming only to you.
- Prepare a list of your monthly expenses and determine how much you would spend just on yourself.
- Make decisions about your current job, whether or not you want to remain there. If not, begin thinking about and research a future career. This change may necessitate a return to school.
- Denial: “This is not happening to me. It’s all a misunderstanding. It’s just a midlife crisis. We can work it out.”
- Anger and resentment: “How can he [she] do this to me? What did I ever do to deserve this? This is not fair!”
- Bargaining: “If you’ll stay, I’ll change” or “If I agree to do it [money, childrearing, sex, whatever] your way, can we get back together?”
- Depression: “This is really happening, I can’t do anything about it, and I don’t think I can bear it.”
- Acceptance: “Okay, this is how it is, and I’d rather accept it and move on than wallow in the past.”
Understanding these stages can be very helpful when it comes to talking about divorce and decision making. It’s important to know that when you are in the early stages of this grief and recovery process, it can be challenging to think clearly or to make decisions at all, much less to make them well. Identifying your present stage of grief and being aware of it is an important step toward ensuring that you will make the best choices you can.
The first conversation with your spouse about divorce is one of the most important conversations anyone can have, yet most people handle it badly, impelled by powerful, unexamined negative emotions. You cannot dictate how your spouse will behave, but you can choose to behave in ways that are more likely to elicit a calm, considered response from your spouse.
Before talking with your spouse, prepare yourself by reflecting on how he or she will likely to react. Things to consider:
- How prepared is the spouse for the news?
- Have you ever talked about or threatened divorce?
- Has he/she ever suggested to you that he/she was thinking of divorce?
- What is his/her style of handling difficult conversations?
- Does your spouse tend to be highly emotional?
- Does your spouse fly into a rage?
- Does your spouse respond with silence?
- Does your spouse appear to handle things and than fall apart later?
Once you know how you might expect your spouse to react, you can plan accordingly so that you can avoid causing needless distress to others. If you have children, be sure they are not around and that they will not come home unexpectedly. Decide if you need to have this conversation in a public or private place.
When it is time for the conversation, take some time to prepare. First, you must pay attention to relax yourself because you must think clearly. Second, once your body and mind are relaxed, you’ll need to focus on the positive, reflect on your options, anticipate likely problems, decide how to express yourself in the best possible way, and practice doing so before the conversation.
Reflect on the values that you want to invoke during this important conversation, and write them down. Preparing yourself in orderly steps like these gives you a strong foundation to rely upon even if your spouse becomes upset or argues about what you have to say. Think about the following questions:
- What values are most important to you? Think about the ethical, philosophical, spiritual, and/or religious values that you consider most important as touchstones for resolving differences with others.
- Rely on your past expriences. Recall a distressing incient that has occurred in your marriage in which you had a choice about how to behave. Relfect on how well your behavior during or after that incident matches those deeply held personal values you noted.
- Consider the “ripple effects” of your behavior during that incident. How did your behavior affect the other person/people involved? If you have children, how have they been affected by what happened during or after the incident?
- Doing things differently. If you could “rewind” the incident, would you choose to behave diffirently? If so, how would you choose to act?
- Work out several ideas. Think of several possible ways you could express important ideas, paying attention to word choices and tone.
MYTHS AND FALSE MESSAGES ABOUT DIVORCE
False messages about what’s normal in marriage and divorce are everywhere, drowning out clear thinking and making people going through divorce less able to
- Understand their own feelings and put them into perspective
- Behave with integrity
- Make healthy, well-considered choices
- Recover from the trauma of divorce
- Raise healthy children
- Recover the children’s optimism
- Get on with their lives.
False and exaggerated beliefs/myths about divorce set by society include:
- You can’t expect good behavior or generosity form yourself or your spouse during a divorce
- Divorce always means war
- It is foolish to extend trust or good faith in a divorce
- If she/he has hurt you, you must retaliate
- The only smart course is to expect the worst, look out for number one at all costs, and strike first for greatest strategic advantage.
The best protection against damaging myths about divorce is to feed your mind every day with positive information about handling divorce with grace, dignity, and creativity.
10 Ways To Make Your Divorce Easier
By Richard A. Shulman, Ph.D.
Divorce is a very stressful event in your life and only you have the power to decide its impact on your future. The following are 10 ways in which you can make divorce easier:
- Change Your Point of View - The divorce does not have power over your thoughts, perceptions, and choices; you do. Instead of staying sad or angry, look at this phase as a new beginning.
- Look At the Good Things About Your Decision - Since the divorce proceedings have already begun, regardless of who initiated it, remind yourself of the reasons that this is a good choice.
- Open lines of communication with your ex-spouse - Put your negative feelings aside, ESPECIALLY when children are involved. Regardless of how you feel about the other person, amicable divorces are less stressful, cheaper, and promote better results.
- Take Care of Yourself - Divorce is very stressful and creates a lot of wear and tear on your body. Remember to exercise, eat right, and get plenty of sleep.
- Don't Be Afraid to Ask For Help - Develop a social support system. Create an arena of people that you can turn to during your dark periods.
- Don't Speak Negatively About Your Ex-Spouse to Your Children - If you have children together your ex-spouse will most likely be a part of important decisions, family events, and celebrations. This will also help prevent you from putting your children in the middle and making them your sounding board.
- Maximize Your Time - Look for opportunities to make a life for yourself. Create new hobbies, new interests, and plan getaways. In addition, if you are busy you will spend less time thinking about the divorce.
- Utilize the Help of Trained Professionals - Many services are available to you during this time of need including mediators, attorneys, therapists, and financial planners. By enlisting the help of trained professionals you will maximize your resources effectively. (link to resource page)
- Don't Get Discouraged - Divorce is a very stressful period in your life. With it come many ups and downs. Understand that the divorce process will only last a limited time and as with everything else, will eventually come to an end.
- Be Assertive - Don't be afraid to stand up for yourself. Ensure that you get everything that you are entitled to including access to your children, spousal support, child support, property, and a say in all matters concerning your children. This ensures that when you look back on your decision, you can honestly say to yourself that you got your fair share and what you deserved.
10 Ways To Build Resilience
The Road to Resilience” by The American Psychological Association (APA).
Whether going through a divorce, loss of a job, serious illness, or other difficult times, how we respond to these experiences can enable us to more effectively manage these situations.
What enables people to deal with hardship? It involves resilience, an ongoing process that requires time and effort and engages people in taking a number of steps. Resilience is "bouncing back" from difficult experiences. The following steps can help people build resilience.
- Make connections - Good relationships with close family members, friends, or others are important. Accepting help and support from those who care about you and will listen to you strengthens resilience. Some people find that being active in civic groups, faith-based organizations or other local groups provides social support and can help with reclaiming hope. Assisting others in their time of need also can benefit the helper.
- Avoid seeing crises as insurmountable problems - You cannot change the fact that highly stressful events happen, but you can change how you interpret and respond to these events. Try looking beyond the present to how future circumstances may be a little better. Note any subtle ways in which you might already feel somewhat better as you deal with difficult situations
- Accept that change is a part of living - Certain goals may no longer be attainable as a result of adverse situations. Accepting circumstances that cannot be changed can help you focus on circumstances that you can alter.
- Move toward your goals.
Develop some realistic goals. Do something regularly -- even if it seems like a small accomplishment -- that enables you to move toward your goals. Instead of focusing on tasks that seem unachievable, ask yourself, "What's one thing I know I can accomplish today that helps me move in the direction I want to go?"
- Take decisive actions - Act on adverse situations as much as you can. Take decisive actions, rather than detaching completely from problems and stresses and wishing they would just go away.
- Look for opportunities for self-discovery - People often learn something about themselves and may find that they have grown in some respect as a result of their struggle with loss. Many people who have experienced tragedies and hardship have reported better relationships, greater sense of strength even while feeling vulnerable, increased sense of self-worth, a more developed spirituality, and heightened appreciation for their life.
- Nurture a positive view of yourself - Developing confidence in your ability to solve problems and trusting your instincts helps build resilience.
- Keep things in perspective - Even when facing very painful events, try to consider the stressful situation in a broader context and keep a long-term perspective. Avoid blowing the event out of proportion.
- Maintain a hopeful outlook - An optimistic outlook enables you to expect that good things will happen in your life. Try visualizing what you want, rather than worrying about what you fear.
- Take care of yourself - Pay attention to your own needs and feelings. Engage in activities that you enjoy and find relaxing. Exercise regularly and eat well. Taking care of yourself helps to keep your mind and body primed to deal with situations that require resilience.
Additional ways of strengthening resilience may be helpful. For example, some people write about their deepest thoughts and feelings related to trauma or other stressful events in their life. Meditation and spiritual practices help some people build connections and restore hope. The key is to identify ways that are likely to work well for you as part of your own personal strategy for fostering resilience.
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