When you are going through a divorce or facing a custody or parenting time dispute with your spouse, you should be sure and make your voice be heard so that a meaningful result can be achieved. This is different than arguing back and forth with your spouse so that neither one of you is hearing the other or understanding where the other is coming from. Keep in mind the following regardless of whether your case has yet been formally initiated in court:
1. Clarify your voice. Determine what you want for yourself and your children. Set your intention on the result that you want and be as specific as possible. Write it down if you prefer. For example, in determining what you want for your children, you might look to how you and your spouse parented them during the marriage and ask what will most naturally flow with the least amount of disruption to your children’s lives. You should also meet with a good certified financial planner who will help you define your short-term and long-term financial goals.
2. Seek out a good mediator and/or a collaboratively trained attorney to help you facilitate a mutually satisfying agreement out of court. If you engage the services of a mediator, be sure that you and your spouse each consult with your own attorneys during the process. You are likely to have valuable resources and other trained professionals available during these processes that will help you gather important information that will help to broaden the range of options available to you.
3. Listen to your spouse and really hear what he or she wants too while listening for his or her underlying concerns. Your spouse’s reality is likely to be very different from yours. Reality typically differs from person to person based on the filters that are in place. See the issues to resolved as specific problems to be solved by both of you, rather than a dispute between two polarized positions.
4. Take care of yourself in order to minimize stress and harmful negative thoughts. Remember the rule on airplanes where there is an emergency that you are to put the oxygen mask on yourself first before your children. Similarly, you will be far more valuable to your children as you engage in the divorce process when you are caring for your own needs. For instance, eat well, exercise, engage in activities that you enjoy, and consult a mental health therapist or coach as needed. Continue to envision how you want this “problem” to be solved and see yourself doing it!
Please feel free to contact me with any questions on this topic. I welcome comments and will address them in subsequent posts.