Making the decision that your marriage is over is one of the most challenging moments in life. It’s a time filled with emotions, uncertainties, and a myriad of decisions to be made. So, what should you do when you realize that your marriage is over?
First and foremost, resist the urge to panic. Regardless of whether you’re the one initiating the end of the marriage or receiving this news, the initial step is to gather information. Seeking legal advice is crucial, especially if you’re the one starting the divorce process. Equally important is seeking support from a mental health professional to guide you through conveying this message to your spouse. For couples in counseling, involving the therapist in the conversation can provide insights into the best way to approach the situation. If you find yourself on the receiving end of this news, seeking support from a mental health professional is just as important to help you process your emotions.
Seeking help with how to communicate this news to your children is paramount. Children should be told in an age-appropriate manner, and preferably you and your spouse will tell the children together. Tell the children in a calm moment when there is ample time for the children to process the information. For example, don’t tell the children ten minutes before you must leave to go to work or drive them to a soccer game. Seeking guidance from a mental health professional to help you and your spouse craft an age appropriate “divorce story” to tell your children is a best practice. Mental health professionals understand how children of different ages understand and process information. The children will have questions in the hours and days after they learn you are divorcing, so being available to address their questions is also important.
The next step involves information gathering about the divorce process. The Divorce Options program, presented by member groups of Collaborative Practice California in various counties, offers valuable insights into the different divorce processes. You and your spouse should each attend one of these workshops or consult with lawyers experienced in various divorce processes to make informed decisions.
When it comes to selecting a divorce process, communicate openly with your spouse. If you’ve done your research and prefer Mediation or Collaborative Divorce, share this information with your spouse. These processes require mutual agreement, unlike litigation, which is the default option when consensus isn’t reached.
Remember, the path to divorce is a personal journey, and each situation is unique. Take the time to process your emotions, seek professional guidance, and make informed decisions that align with your family’s needs. The road ahead may be challenging, but with the right support and information, you can navigate it with resilience and grace.
Lisa R. Murray is an experienced Collaborative Divorce and Mediation Attorney. She can help you determine the goals for your divorce and work to a settlement that allows you to achieve those goals.
You can reach her at 650-297-0367