How Can I Make my Divorce Less Stressful: Tips From a Family Lawyer
Melissa Salfi, Vancouver Collaborative Family Lawyer, Fertility Lawyer
Research tells us that divorce is the second most stressful event that can occur in a person’s life.
In the 1960s, two American psychiatrists, Holmes and Rahe, studied the relationship between life stressors and physical illness and devised a list of the 43 most stressful life events. Divorce is #2 on the list, after the death of a spouse or a child. Marital separation takes the third spot on the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale. To put things into perspective, divorce and marital separation were found to be more stressful than imprisonment. Apparently, going to prison requires less personal readjustment than divorce!
In most cases, separated couples face a choice in how they approach their separation and divorce. Divorce can rapidly escalate into an all-consuming battle between you and your spouse with a devastating financial impact. The psychological and emotional consequences of a high conflict divorce are equally grave. Research tells us that the likelihood of negative outcomes for children of divorce is 50% higher. Importantly though, maladjustment is linked to high conflict. Clinical child psychologist, Joan B Kelly tells us that it is the level of parental conflict, as opposed to the divorce itself, which causes significant negative consequences for children. High parental conflict can not only cause psychological, emotional, social and academic difficulties for children, it has been shown to impact brain development.
The good news is that you can make a divorce less stressful for you and your family. Here are a few tips from a family lawyer:
Ditch the Win/Lose Terminology
Divorce is not a game to be won. We are dealing with your future and your children’s future. If you take a win/lose approach, you will most definitely lose a lot of time, money, and possibly your sanity. Approach it instead from the mindset that you will work collaboratively towards a resolution that works for your family.
Be proactive: See a lawyer early on
Don’t wait until a dispute arises in your post-separation relationship to see a family lawyer. Be proactive and consult with a lawyer soon after you and your spouse separate. Even if you are just contemplating separation, it is helpful to know your legal options, rights and obligations early on so that you can be able to make more informed choices and avoid common mistakes. Meeting with a family lawyer may even motivate you to work on your relationship instead of separating or divorcing.
Choose a dispute resolution option like mediation
Don’t race off to Court unless you really have to. Remember that 95% of cases settle before trial. Don’t use mediation only as a last-minute chance to avoid a trial. Enter a dispute resolution process like mediation early on in the separation process to avoid the stress, delays, and legal fees involved in Court. Make sure your lawyer can educate you about the various options available including mediation, negotiation in 4-way meetings, collaborative law, and Mediation-Arbitration. If your lawyer does not do mediations, don’t use them as your family lawyer.
You may disagree with your spouse, you may feel angry, betrayed, devastated, and more. But, you can still feel all those things and remain respectful. Respect is underrated and often forgotten in the family law process, but it will go a long way in resolving a dispute efficiently and with the least impact on your children.
Seek help for the past; be future focussed
Divorce should be tackled holistically. Seeing a mental health professional during this process is often as important as addressing the legal issues. The past can be very painful and can impact your reasoning and decision-making during the divorce process. The stress from a divorce can be overwhelming. Working through these emotions with a therapist, divorce coach or counsellor can help you navigate the legal issues more effectively.
Remaining future focussed rather than casting blame makes the process of separation less stressful and more productive. Divorce can lead to successful co-parenting, new relationships and career opportunities. Make sure you are in the right mind frame to build the path to a more positive future.
The Vancouver family lawyers at Crossroads Law recognize the impact that divorce can have on individuals and families. We work hard to alleviate the stress our clients are experiencing by actively educating them about their options, with a caring and fresh approach to divorce. If you are looking for mediation, collaborative family law or a new perspective on your divorce case contact us to set up your free consultation.