The mere prospect of divorce can be overwhelming, lonely, isolating, and confusing. And figuring out where to get the best divorce help, regardless of whether and when you decide, can be daunting.
Sometimes the most difficult part of a task is simply getting started. And that’s especially true with something as life-altering as ending a marriage.
Where do you even begin?
How do you strategize the pragmatics while navigating all the messy emotions and relationship issues?
Do you explore the process of divorce on your own, or share your thoughts with your spouse?
Do you separate or stay in the same home?
What about the kids? What about income?
What about…? What if…? How? When? Who?
You may be nagged by your inner voice telling you that something isn’t right. Something hasn’t been right for a long time. You can’t live like this anymore, but you don’t know what to do about it.
And so the clock ticks and the calendar pages turn…
And then you finally reach a fork in the road. You realize you have been overthinking leaving your husband, but haven’t taken any action. And you can’t keep living this way.
At the very least, it’s time to get answers, even if those answers lead you to stay in your marriage.
No matter what the outcome of your exploration is, the only way to deal with your fears is to move through them.
There are so many aspects of divorce, and no one but a divorce attorney goes into marriage well-versed in them.
What’s important to remember from the start of your journey is that divorce is a whole-life, whole-person experience. The approach to it, therefore, needs to be just as holistic.
We frequently discuss the transactional nature of divorce on this site, primarily as a caution not to lead or make decisions from your emotional place. Too often, women will back down when it comes to finances and assets, or they don’t think ahead to the future. This is an area, for example, that warrants a compartmentalizing of thought, emotion, and action.
But emotions are a huge component of both marriage and divorce. And they need to be acknowledged, dealt with, and supported, too.
For purposes of this article, we’re going to focus on four main areas of your well-being as you think about or begin divorce.
The smartest approach is the village approach. It involves strategizing the various areas affected by divorce and finding the best help, advice, and support possible for each area.
In essence, your first job in thinking through divorce is to build your village, your trusted circle of experts, friends, and support.
There are four common categories of support that you may require:
1. Clarity and Encouragement
It’s important to remember to think in terms of the big picture. Who has the familiarity, expertise, personal experience, and resources to guide and support you through this?
Perhaps you have a sister or best friend who has gone through the divorce process. She can be a tremendous source of comfort and been-there-done-that support.
You will also want to include expert professional help that can bring objectivity and strategic guidance to the table.
There are therapists who specialize in marriage and divorce issues. Finding one early in the process can be an emotional and procedural anchor for you, even after a divorce.
Some of the best divorce help you will find is from a divorce coach.
You may not have even known that profession existed. However, a divorce coach could be your greatest asset while navigating a divorce or a legal separation.
A divorce coach knows the process from start to finish. And a big part of her job is pointing you in the right direction at each stage of the process, based on your specific story and needs.
She will have access to resources you may not otherwise know you need. She will have experience working with other professionals in the area of divorce. And she will be able to steer you toward quality divorce help.
Think of a divorce coach as the ultimate guide and concierge for your varied divorce needs. A divorce coach had perspective, knowledge, resources, guidance, and support, all bundled into one person.
If you can’t afford to work one-on-one with a professional at this time, consider joining a group coaching program. You will not only receive guidance, but also you’ll receive support in the context of camaraderie with others going through the same process.
2. Emotional Stability
Sometimes the best divorce help is right inside you.
Your emotions are messengers, loaded with information that can lend insight and direction to your decisions.
I mentioned earlier that we often talk about separating your emotions from certain decisions. In no way does that mean that you should disregard or sacrifice your emotions.
Finding emotional support during the divorce process is of paramount importance.
You will need a place to “let go”—to vent, cry, stomp, question, and speak freely. You will also need safety and the assurance of like-minded, compassionate people who can help you discern the messages in your emotions.
All that fear, self-doubt, anger, sadness, grief, worry, exhaustion—you’re not the first to experience that cauldron of emotion. And you won’t be the last.
Sometimes the people you turn to for clarity and support—fellow divorcees, a counselor, coach, or support group—can help prop you up emotionally.
There is also an element of emotional stability that is often overlooked.
Self-care and good survival skills have never been more important than at this time.
We hear certain advice so often that we become numb to it, but now is the time to listen. Get plenty of sleep. Eat nutritious foods. Have a self-care routine. Exercise. Get out into nature. Meditate. Pray. Have a hobby. Create. All of these bits of advice are common for an important reason: they work!
The divorce itself, involved and exhausting as it is, is just the beginning of your new life. We need you healthy, strong, and encouraged for the journey ahead!
3. Legal Options
The time to have a legal consultation with a divorce attorney is before you tell your husband you want a divorce. And, regardless of your intended style of divorce (e.g. DIY, mediation, uncontested, contested, collaborative, etc), it is always best to have a legal consultation first.
If, however, you find yourself on the receiving end of divorce papers, you will want to find an attorney immediately for an understanding of what you should and should not be doing. This is where a divorce coach can be a diamond on a rough path.
Every state has its own divorce laws and procedures, and a divorce attorney will spell those out for you.
He or she will also walk you through the best- and worst-case scenario so you can be prepared and put yourself at the best advantage.
Whatever you do, don’t rely on Google for your legal advice! Sure, you can do some cursory research to generate questions and gain general familiarity about divorce laws in your state (alimony or custody laws, for example). But learn what the law says about your circumstances, and what you should optimize, from a lawyer who is looking at the details of your marriage.
4. Financial Choices
Yes, your divorce attorney can walk you through all the legal steps and their possible outcomes. But a huge part of any divorce is the division of assets. And that can get messy, depending on the length of the marriage and its accumulated investments and assets. Having a smart financial expert as part of your “village” is absolutely essential.
As a woman, you can’t afford to not find out what would be the best LONG-TERM plays for you because research says it’s harder economically for women after divorce compared to men.
So, don’t rush to get through the negotiation just because you want to be done. Be sure to learn what your must-haves are.
A good financial advisor (meaning one who has been in the business for more than 15 years and has seen various markets come and go) will be able to tell you about what’s in your interest in the near and LONG run. For this, SAS for Women adores Ronit Rogoszinski at Women + Wealth Solutions because she speaks plainly, educates, and clearly understands what women go through when they divorce. (And no, SAS received no “kick backs” from Ronit. We share her name openly because she’s impressed us with her service to our diverse — both, economically and geographically — female clients.)
Divorce is something no one needs to tackle alone. There is help available in every area of this painful (but liberating) journey—emotional, legal, financial, parental, etc.
The best divorce help starts at the center and works its way out. Establish your core supporters and allow them to help you expand your village from there.
By making a few wise choices at the foot of your journey, you may very well create a support system that sees you through life.
Since 2012, SAS for Women has been entirely dedicated to the unexpected challenges women face while considering a divorce and navigating the divorce experience and its confusing afterward. SAS offers six FREE months of email coaching, action plans, checklists, and support strategies for you and your future. Join our tribe and stay connected.