Emotions in California divorce: Why managing them is critical

It is said that death, divorce, and moving are the three top stressors we can have in our life. There is no question that experiencing a family law case is stressful, difficult, and certainly emotional, sometimes extremely.

Many family law clients get a little confused at least once during their case – understandably so – and start to believe that their lawyer is also their therapist and general counsel on all things. While it is absolutely possible, and perhaps desirable, to get close to your family law counsel, you still have to draw the line.

Attorneys are not trained to counsel you on emotional issues. In fact, I counseled most of my clients that we needed to put the emotions aside and treat the case as much like a business transaction as possible.

Attorneys are also much more expensive than therapists, sometimes by three or four times. It is in your best interest to talk to a professional – a professional counselor – to help you with the emotional aspects of your family law case. Not only will your wallet benefit, but you will be able to deal with your case in a better way – which can also lead to better decisions.

The stages of divorce

Divorce is one of the top five most difficult life experiences, up there with the death of a loved one.  In a sense, it IS a death – the death of a marriage.  Because it is like a death, most divorcing individuals go through some form of the stages of grief as outlined by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross in her well-known book, On Death and Dying.  Someone going through divorce should be familiar with these stages to be able to recognize them and get through them.  You don’t want to make a critical decision in your divorce when you’re going through anger or bargaining or depression – best to let it pass and don’t make rash or hurried decisions.

An article I read recently talks about the Stages of Divorce: Break-Up, Breakdown,. Breakthrough, and Breakover.  This article is an interesting take on the stages of divorce that I thought you might enjoy.

California divorce: when did you know it was over?

Here are some comments from Huffington Post readers on the moment they knew their marriage was over. In California divorce, this is a critical issue because of the importance of the date of separation, so I frequently hear about these moments. When did you first realize your marriage was over?

Getting through your California divorce

There are many aspects of California divorce: there are the legal aspects, obviously, and the financial aspects. But there are also the emotional aspects and the lifestyle aspects that are too often overlooked. Divorce is, above all, a process and an adjustment, and we need lots of support, in various manifestations, to get through it.  Here is some advice on this very topic.

Emotions of child and spousal support – for recipient and payor

One of the hot button issues in divorce is child and spousal support. It’s a hot button because it involves money, and money is the leading cause of divorce. Many couples are already tense about money, and when you add in the support issue, things can blow up. The problem is one of simple math:

You have one household surviving on the income of two parties. You take that household and divide it in two when the couple separates, and you have the same amount of money (not enough) now supporting two households instead of one. Ouch.

Regardless of who moves out and who is the spouse paying for child and/or spousal support, it hurts both parties. The one paying can see in his or her paycheck that the amount being brought home is, in some cases, actually smaller than the amount being paid for support. The one being paid just looks at the money coming in and the bills to be paid, and can’t quite see how to resolve the disparity.

Arguments, often heated ones, ensue. The key is to recognize that not only is this going to happen, but to catch it early and address it. It isn’t going to be easy for either of the spouses, and they had better be prepared. Both spouses, in most cases, are working hard to maintain their lives while they go through the difficult time, and a small amount of understanding goes a long way.

Being thankful for your divorce. Wait, what?

One week past the Thanksgiving holiday, and I wonder if we’re able to continue the feeling of gratitude from that day.  Are there reasons you can think of to be thankful for your divorce?  Here are some reasons to be thankful for divorce.

Things you need to know about California divorce

I always tell my clients that divorce in California takes longer than they ever imagined and will be more difficult and expensive than they could hope.  There are no easy divorces, and divorce in the best of circumstances is still difficult because it is the breaking up of a family.  Here is a list of one author’s advice on divorce, which I found to be very helpful.

Emotions in California divorce

It is said that death, divorce, and moving are the three top stressors we can have in our life. There is no question that experiencing a family law case is stressful, difficult, and certainly emotional, sometimes extremely.

Many family law clients get a little confused at least once during their case – understandably so – and start to believe that their lawyer is also their therapist and general counsel on all things. While it is absolutely possible, and perhaps desirable, to get close to your family law counsel, you still have to draw the line.

Attorneys are not trained to counsel you on emotional issues. In fact, I counseled most of my clients that we needed to put the emotions aside and treat the case as much like a business transaction as possible.

Attorneys are also much more expensive than therapists, sometimes by three or four times. It is in your best interest to talk to a professional – a professional counselor – to help you with the emotional aspects of your family law case. Not only will your wallet benefit, but you will be able to deal with your case in a better way – which can also lead to better decisions.

Keeping your sanity in divorce

I have represented hundreds of clients in hundreds of family law issues, both big and small.  I have been through my own divorce.  In most divorces, there comes a time where my client wants to just get back at his or her ex, and there comes a time when my client just wants it all to be over, at any cost.  These are normal ups and downs, and I consider it part of my job to help clients through the transition and make sure they don’t agree to or do anything against their interests in the heat of a transitory emotion.

But there are ways to manage these emotions, and in fact keep your own sanity and power in the divorce process. Here are some tips I have learned:

  1. Focus on what YOU can do in the process and stop worrying about your ex, your ex’s lawyer, the judge, and other professionals or friends/family members.  Blaming others for the difficult process is not going to make it move faster, or be less expansive, or easier.
  2. Referring to #1 above, the process is always more time-consuming and expensive than you thought it would be.  Accept this, make sure you’re working with an attorney who is on the same page with you (and not working against you in terms of time or cost), and who helps to educate you about the process in reality instead of promising things that are impossible to get, and try to move on the best you can in the context of the process.
  3. Examine your own motivations.  The law does not allow you to use it to get revenge or hurt your ex, and ultimately these tactics hurt everyone, prolong the process and cost you more money.
  4. Don’t make decisions based on emotion.  If the new request from your ex has you seeing red, take a day or two to calm down before responding. Talk it through with your lawyer and make a reasoned decision about how to respond instead of a knee-jerk reaction that may hurt you in the future, or embarrass you when you’ve cooled down.
  5. Keep both your boundaries and your wits about you.  If you get down in the trenches and play dirty with your ex, then you’re just stooping down to their level instead of maintaining your own sanity and dignity. Does s/he try to bait you by pushing your buttons in court, at your child exchanges, or in meetings? Don’t rise to the bait.  Keep your cool and you’ll move on and be happier sooner.
  6. Try not to obsess.  Your divorce is a huge part of your life and a big transition.  But it’s not your whole life.  Spend some time on the things that make you happy and help you to get over the trauma of divorce.  See a therapist.  Spend time with friends.  Find hobbies that make you happy.  The more you move on, the more you move on and can get through the process.

What helped you through your divorce?

If divorce is like a death, where’s my food?

No one is going to disagree with me when I say that divorce is awful.  It’s emotional, it’s taxing, it’s expensive, it’s time-consuming, it’s frustrating,…it’s just awful.  Psychological studies have likened it to a death, and divorce and moving are up there with death of a loved one as the top most stressful life events.  What’s odd, however is that we as a society don’t treat divorce like a death.  When someone dies, we worry about the loved ones left behind, and feel a need to take care of them by bringing them food, sending cards, posting thoughtful and heartfelt messages on Facebook, and visiting to help ease the loneliness.

When it’s divorce, it’s a different story.  It seems many friends will scatter, as if the divorce “bug” is catching.  The terms or the process are talked about in hushed tones.  Nearly half of all marriages end in divorce, though we talk about it as if it’s still a shameful secret to be hidden.  We have websites to track a loved one’s illness and to be able to donate to their cause and keep up with the ins and outs of treatment.  Where’s the divorce tracker?  How can someone donate to your divorce fund?

As one writer notes in a fantastic article, where’s your casserole?