Tonight’s post on keeping calm in family law was written by one of our Atlanta divorce attorney’s Dina Khismatulina.
Today I want to step into Dr. Phil’s shoes and discuss the non-legal side of divorce. Being a family law lawyer, I see so much pain and emotions, and some really sad situations. I can attest that going through a divorce is never easy. It affects you financially and emotionally, takes a toll on your family, friends, and children, steals your sleep and confidence. There is no way to sweeten divorce – everything changes, from your income and health insurance to when you can see your children. I have a number of clients who did not care that they would not have access to fat paychecks of their husbands for much longer, but just the thought of sharing kids with their ex-spouses during holidays and school breaks would make them go bananas. I am not a therapist or a medical professional, but I have numerous clients, men and women, going through divorce, and wanted to share some of the things that seem to be helpful.
•1. You don’t know what is going to happen next and adjusting to a life without a spouse could be more difficult than you imagine. Plan ahead – as much as you can. Financial planning is essential: can you afford your house after the divorce, would it make more sense to move to a different school district or closer to your family, etc? Consult with your financial adviser and your CPA about the tax consequences of your divorce. The majority of the time, it is better to file taxes jointly with your husband for the year prior to the divorce. Make arrangements and make it happen even if you don’t want to see your ex-husband or wife ever again. Be rational and make the best financial decisions possible.
•2. Reach out to your friends and family. The larger your support system is, the easier things will be for you. Make sure you have people who can pick up your kids in case of emergency and are authorized to do so without additional correspondence with the school. Line up babysitters and have their numbers on speed dial in case you need help and your usual sitter is not available. Make friends with other parents in your kids’ school -maybe you can carpool and take turns picking up and dropping off the children.
•3. Find a support group in your area. They are free and can help tremendously. You will meet diverse individuals from different background with different perspectives. Remember, that you are not the first person on this planet to get a divorce, even if it feels like that. I hear a lot of good things from my clients about Visions Anew support groups – they have different locations throughout the Atlanta area, and they use professionals to lead support sessions. Visions Anew have both women’s and men’s support groups. www.visionsanew.org
•4. Do not suffer from anxiety and depression in silence. Go to therapy and talk to a specialist. Going to therapy does not mean that you are crazy and do not deserve primary custody. Professional therapy sessions will help you come up with a plan of action to address your emotional issues during divorce. It is especially helpful if you feel like you cannot discuss all aspects of your divorce with your friends and family. Some people think that if they do not have health insurance and cannot go to the in-network therapy specialists, therapy is not an option. Fortunately, there are a number of places that provide a quality therapy for free or at a very low costs. The ASPIRE Clinic at McPhaul Center (UGA) has a great reputation and provides holistic counseling at a very low cost. www.aspireclinic.org
•5. Exercise, eat right, and drink more water. Taking care of yourself is your investment that cannot be split by the settlement agreement. Now is the best time to join that neighborhood ALTA team or sign up for a 5K race. It will take your mind off everything that is going on and make you look good!
•6. Find an experienced family lawyer to help you navigate through the legal issues. Follow his or her advice and do not procrastinate no matter how painful it is. Not answering discovery responses or not showing up to hearings can potentially cost you opposing party’s attorney’s fees and can irreperably hurt your case.
So, keep calm and carry on with your divorce. I hope this helps.