Divorce is one of the most stressful periods in your life. In my years of experience as a Wisconsin divorce lawyer, I’ve noticed that clients who follow the below guidelines seem to make it through the process with far less stress.
1. Hire a lawyer. The legal system can be frustrating, complicated, and confusing. An experienced Wisconsin divorce lawyer will explain the process to you and ease your burden so you can concentrate on other areas of your life.
2. Lean on counselors, friends, family, clergy, support groups, and your lawyer for support. This is a difficult time, and it is natural to seek comfort from those closest to you.
3. Focus on the future. The past cannot be changed. Put your energy into making the next stage of your life happy, healthy, and comfortable.
4. Shield the children whenever possible from parental conflict. Divorce is hard on children too. Let them know you understand that, and that you will do everything possible to ease their stress and worry.
5. Know your post-divorce goals, and focus your actions on achieving them. Your lawyer should understand your goals, and pursue a strategy based on them.
6. Identify what is really important, and what you can let go. Don’t sweat the small stuff. It is emotionally draining, and expensive.
7. Communicate with your lawyer. Your lawyer should explain what is going on, every step of the way. You should also inform your lawyer of changes in your life, or questions you have. Two-way communication is key to a smooth relationship and lower legal fees.
8. Discuss reasonable expectations with your lawyer. Neither you nor your spouse will get everything you want. Keeping expectations realistic avoids later disappointment and stress.
9. Monitor your legal fees. Evaluate each step in the process to determine if it (for example, a motion, extended negotiation, etc.) is worth the cost. Leaving the divorce with a large unpaid legal bill makes it that much more difficult to start with a clean slate.
10. Follow court orders. Your lawyer will inform you if the order can be changed. Defying a court order usually causes more stress, court appearances, distrust from your spouse, and higher legal fees.
11. Try not to compare your divorce to the divorce of your friends or family. Every situation, and every judge, is different. What worked for your family member may not work for you. And that is ok. Focus on what feels right for you.
12. Cooperate with your spouse, if possible, particularly when children are involved. However, if cooperation is difficult due to abuse, etc., do not place yourself in an inappropriate situation. Sometimes placing clear limits on contact is the best option. Discuss your comfort level with your lawyer. There is nothing wrong with needing some breathing room from a spouse.
13. Take care of yourself. If at all possible, continue your hobbies, exercise, and interests. Activities help keep your mind off the legal and emotional process, and keep your life as normal as possible.
14. Realize that you will get through it. The process almost always takes longer than you hoped. But it will end, and you will be OK afterwards.