By Jennifer M. Paine
But if you are like most guys, you are waiting for the holidays to pass before filing for divorce in those ripe weeks between New Year’s Day and Valentine’s Day when divorce filings are at their highest.
However, even if you do want to wait for 2012 to divorce, now is the time to plan. My other article discusses taking care of your finances (“Financial Planning For Divorce In 2012“), but first, here are five steps you should take now to make the divorce process easier:
1. Find a Confidant. Find a trustworthy family member or friend to confide in during your divorce. There will be good days, but there will also be bad ones, and you will want someone other than your divorce lawyer to talk to when those bad ones come. Go with your gut instinct.
2. Increase Your Parenting Time. If you have children, enjoy this holiday season with them doing all the normal things you would do if divorce were not on the horizon. Go sledding. Make dinner. Watch movies and play video games, etc.
Keep track of what you do and when. This will have many benefits. First and foremost, it’s time with your children; in addition, you have a record of the everyday things you do with them, which the judge will consider when issuing a decision for child custody and parenting time if you and your wife cannot agree.
So, get in the habit of keeping a journal now. It does not have to be like your daughter’s diary that is updated everyday with pages and pages of notes. But it should include the date, place, event and people who were present. Cordell & Cordell clients are even able to use the firm’s child custody calendar to organize their notes and documentations.
3. Interview Divorce Lawyers. The choice you make is an important one, because what we as mens divorce attorneys do will affect the rest of your life.
It is perfectly acceptable to interview several divorce lawyers before making your selection; in fact we expect it. Look for someone who is articulate in the law and procedures in your area.
Consider these divorce questions to ask: How knowledgeable is this attorney? What is the attorney’s track record? Is the attorney easy to understand? Do you like the support staff? And so forth.
You can begin with online research in your spare time (such as the DadsDivorce.com mens divorce attorney referral directory), but always speak to the attorneys, too.
4. Write Down Your Goals, and Monitor Them. DadsDivorce.com has an excellent Men’s Divorce Source app that features a divorce goals section. It walks you through the different aspects of a divorce, asks you what your goal is for each issue, and then prepares you for your divorce. Being prepared and knowing your expectations will help alleviate the anxiety and stress of your divorce. Everything from the house to student loans to children to pets is included.
There are a lot of things to think about and it can seem overwhelming. Write down your goals, organize them, and then talk about them with your divorce lawyer.
The simple process of writing down what you want will take away most of that stress you have just thinking about filing in January.
5. Consult a Mental Health Professional and/or Clergy. That’s right; this divorce attorney is recommending you talk to a mental health professional or clergy member, or someone else you trust, about options other than divorce.
Divorce can be, and often is, a difficult process, and if reasonable alternatives exist that can make you and your wife a happily married couple again, you should consider them.
This may include couples’ therapy, individual therapy, family therapy, religious education, or something as simple as planning a weekly date night.
For marriages that feel irretrievably broken and hopeless, divorce attorneys often discover mental health issues, substance abuse issues, or both are the culprits. Medical treatment may be necessary and the support of a spouse can make recovery easier. Even if it is just to prepare mentally for the divorce process, consulting with a professional is a must.
Take these steps to prepare now, and you really could have a brand new, better year – divorce and all – in 2012.
Jennifer M. Paine is a Michigan Divorce Lawyer with Cordell & Cordell. She is licensed to practice in Michigan, and has been admitted pro hac vice in Illinois, Ohio, and the United States Court of Federal Claims.
Ms. Paine received her BA in English and Mathematics from Albion College and graduated Summa Cum Laude. She received her Juris Doctorate from MSU College of Law and graduated Summa Cum Laude.