Anyone who has navigated the rough waters of divorce will tell you it can make the Australian Outback look like a day in the park. It takes all the grit you have to turn emotions like anger, fear and sorrow into positive energy to manage your divorce successfully.
Lorna Wendt knows these challenges firsthand. When her husband of 32 years asked for a divorce, she became an unwilling partner in one of the most public and controversial divorces in recent history. Lorna went on to start The Equality in Marriage Institute to provide support, information and resources to men and women before, during and after marriage. From personal experience and advice from her team of legal, financial and spiritual advisors, Lorna and the Institute have developed six steps to help you survive your divorce with knowledge and dignity — creating a strong foundation for your new life.
- Get Out of Bed. These steps won’t do any good if you don’t get off the couch. Yes, divorce is an extremely emotional time and it’s all too easy to get overwhelmed. But the most important thing to remember is that YOU are the manager of the process. Sitting on the sidelines and watching the lawyers play your game might seem appealing, but the stakes are usually too high for you to be a spectator. Most successful business people have learned the art of balancing the emotional aspects of family and social life while still running a thriving venture. Take that mentality with you and be the active CEO of your divorce process.
- Lean on Someone. Balance is another powerful tool in this process. Even as you work to keep the divorce machine running effectively, don’t forget you need emotional support. Utilize friends, family, spiritual advisors and, if needed, a therapist to help you deal with the myriad of feelings that accompany this major change in your life.
- Go To Kinkos. Don’t wait until lawyers or the court ask for financial and legal documents to start digging through file cabinets and desk drawers. You ARE going to need copies of any documents related to bank accounts, investments, debt, tax returns, etc. Save yourself time and energy by making copies of all these items as soon as divorce seems a possibility. Start a filing system with these documents and continue to keep records of all meetings, phone calls and financial transactions related to your divorce.
- Become an Expert. You can’t possibly make wise decisions as the manager of your divorce if you don’t understand the terrain. The library, local bookstores and the World Wide Web provide a wealth of information. The Equality in Marriage Institute’s Web site at www.equalityinmarriage.org is an excellent place to start. Examine all the options from mediation to arbitration to court trials. Realize that laws differ from state to state and become familiar with the legal precedent where you live.
- Hire the Best. Whether it’s a lawyer, financial advisor or a therapist, you’ll be looking for professionals to join your team. As the active manager of your divorce, it’s your job to build the best team possible within your resources. Research lawyers or advisors carefully. Ask for references. Constantly monitor the effectiveness of your team and have honest discussions at the first sign of problems. When all is said and done, you can’t blame your lawyer, or anyone else, for a poorly run divorce.
- Dream a Little. Some days it will seem like the world is ending. The fact remains, there is life after divorce. If the future seems bleak, start drawing a picture of what you’d like life to look like. We’d suggest that you avoid making any drastic decisions about career, relocation or lifestyle in the heat of the divorce process, but certainly let yourself imagine the kind of future that will make you comfortable and happy.