Category : Divorce Issues

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Dealing With Blindsided Divorce

200227110-001Most people have been through unwanted breakups and more or less quickly recover, but what about unwanted divorce? What is the best way to cope with being so traumatically blindsided? Actually coping with it is a good start. The hard fact is, the divorce process will usually progress whether you want it to or not, if it’s what the other spouse desires. No amount of denial or pleading will change that, unfortunately.

While if there is indeed a legitimate chance to salvage the marriage, it may be worth a shot, it’s important not to postpone the inevitable. Doing so would only serve to make cutting ties more of a hassle, both emotionally and financially. The quicker and the more smoothly you can maneuver through the practical proceedings, the easier it will be in the long run to find relief from the emotional pain and find a happier future.

Step by Step, Day by Day

Family lawyer and author, Alison Heller, explains the importance of blindsided divorcees to both deal with their conflicting feelings and take proper action, instead of sticking their head in the sand, ostrich style. Referring to a client who didn’t want his divorce to happen, she warns about the results of delaying legal steps: “Greater litigation costs and the racheting up of acrimony between them, which would undoubtedly increase tensions for their two children, as well as leave less money for their savings and household budgets.” As for helpful emotional steps, she advises:

  • Salvage, if reasonably likely: The end of marriage is never something to be taken lightly, especially if it is indeed salvageable. If there is any reasonable doubt the marriage is not over but redeemable, it’s important to allow the possibility to unfold. To allow it, it’s also important to allot space for you and your partner to weigh which path is best, reconciliation or moving forward with the end.

  • Find out the why’s of your resistance: If the end is inevitable, it helps to find out exactly why you are holding on to something that has already slipped away. Sometimes you may think the love is salvageable when it’s not, so it’s important to face the fact and the heartbreak that comes with it.  Otherwise, reasons could range from religious beliefs to wanting to stay together for the kids. Understanding why you are fighting the divorce can help you take steps to address those concerns, find ways to alleviate them, and let go of your spouse.
  • Move Forward: Assess what your immediate actions should be regarding the legal and financial steps to safeguard your interests. Like the emotions involved, the external ramifications of divorce are very real and pressing, needing equal attention and care.

Finally, the blindsided can find peace in the way time can only heal, once they have moved forward. Dealing with the hard reality of filing for divorce is a test of both personal resilience and faith that things will get better.

Love at Any (St)Age

Let’s just acknowledge this right off that bat: Just because you’re divorced does not mean you’re dead. Although at times during the divorce process you might feel like a fine specimen of the living dead, you are not. Just repeat that to yourself in the mirror a few times a day and maybe you’ll actually start to believe it.

But this blog is about the post-divorce stage when trips to the grocery store becoming a grazing ground, in more than one way (if you catch our drift). For some, this stage approaches faster and with more ease than for other divorcees. But we have a sneaking suspicion one of the contributing factors to the time and ease at which a divorcee re-enters the dating scene is whether they come in a multi-pack.

The More the Merrier?

It’s difficult for a divorcee to re-enter the dating world, let alone for a divorcee who also holds the title of parent to re-enter the dating world. The statistics overwhelmingly shout that children of divorce are scarred for life, do poorly in school, might be suicidal, don’t seek healthy relationships, and for some reason are not math whizzes. So it’s no wonder a newly divorced parent’s head explodes at the thought of what dating would do to their children.

We are all for independent thinking, and let us emphasize no one knows what’s best for your family other than you and your family. But in case you were wondering, popular opinions on this topic range the entire spectrum. On one end of the spectrum, we have people who believe dating and children should be in totally separate spheres; at on the other end of the spectrum, we have people who believe they can be mixed healthily.

Finding Your Comfort Zone

In a HuffPost Live segment, host Marc Lamont Hill invites divorced parents/ HuffPost bloggers Ed Housewright, Emma Johnson, Jena Kingsley, Jessica Solloway, and Robin Amos Kahn to discuss the topic of single parents dating. The diverse group shares ideas about how to approach dating after divorce, and shed light on all the beautiful points of the spectrum.

Here are the arguments behind the two opposing sides of the issue, as brought up by the HuffPost bloggers:

  • Slow and Steady: The first concern dating parents under this philosophy have is their children’s emotional and mental state. Divorce presents a horrible upheaval for children and their families, which can cause confusion and emotional instability. Dating parents fear introducing romantic possibilities to their children will open the gateway to further feelings of abandonment and pain, should the relationship not work out. Parents operating under this belief promote only introducing a romantic partner after about 6 solid months of being in an exclusive relationship.

  • C’est La Vie: The opposing camp believes dating parents can approach dating with their children in a positive, balanced manner. As stated by one of the HuffPost bloggers, teaching your children about the ebbs and flows of life can prepare and strengthen a child to handle all of life’s curveballs. Age-appropriate communication about dating is the key to going this route, especially explaining the role (or lack of a role) dates have in the child’s life.

Wherever you may fall in the spectrum, don’t forget the players in the relationship. As Housewright said in the HuffPost discussion: “It just depends on your child. You need to know your child, and know their make-up. I don’t think you can make across the board rules. I wouldn’t give any advice to anybody else.”

Where do you fall on the spectrum and why? Sound off, Readers.

Lessons In Letting Go: Do NOT Follow This Couple’s Lead

DIY Divorce...or court...foreverThe case for a do it yourself divorce becomes more compelling when you look at examples of how holding on too tightly to spousal aggression and placing too much emphasis on material possessions can consume a person’s life.

Take, for example, the case of law professors Christo and Sharlene Lassiter, an Ohio couple that has been in and out of state courts for more than 17 years. USA Today recently featured the couple, who have tested the patience of judges throughout their state since 1996 when they first decided to file for divorce.

Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Leslie Ghiz had this to say to the couple during one of their recent actions: “I am really shocked, because when I was in law school my professors were outstanding. They never would have told me that behaving the way you all have, both of you, over the past 20 years, is acceptable behavior.”

In an opinion, Ghiz elaborated: “Both parties ought to be admonished by the State Bar of Ohio. Both are law professors and officers of the Court. Each has a duty to behave in a proper manner, particularly with regard to legal filings, and each has more than pushed the envelope with regard to abusing the court system. It is frightening to this Court that either is teaching current law students the boundaries and ethics of our profession. Both should be thoroughly embarrassed and ashamed of their behavior.

Cincinnati’s 1st District Court of Appeals judges weighed in as well. Excerpted from an opinion: “This court has not seen many domestic relations cases more contentious and acrimonious … than this case. The parties, who are both law professors and who ought to know better, engaged in thoroughly inappropriate behavior that was detrimental to the resolution of their case and to the welfare of their children for which both claimed to be primarily concerned.”

(The Lassiter’s children are now 20 and 17.)

Why Are The Judges So Livid With The Lassiters? 

Christo, 56, and Sharlene, 52, had more than 1,400 entries in their case over the last 17 years. While most divorces take anywhere from six months (with no kids involved) to one year (with children) and amass a comparatively paltry 400 entries on average, the Lassiters have not been able to let go of the tension.

After spending five years on the actual divorce, they have continued to sue each other for 12 years in a total of 28 separate actions. Two of those actions even went to the Ohio Supreme Court, which refused to hear both cases.

Is It Really Worth It? 

Imagine being strapped to a partner from a failed marriage from your thirties clear up until retirement. The Lassiters are well on their way. While they’ve spent much of their careers teaching law, the only lessons you should learn from them are these:

  • If at all possible, get a DIY divorce. Whatever there is to gain from 17 years of litigation isn’t worth the peace of mind that comes in moving on with your life.
  • If doing it yourself is out of the question, commit to mediation for any issues that are contentious.
  • Realize what your own personal animosities are doing to your children. There have been numerous studies that show the negative effects of divorce on children. Now consider what the Lassiters’ children have gone through. From the time they became conscious of the world around them, their parents have been at odds with one another, teaching them that “normal” relationships need a judge to bring about conflict resolution. That’s a horrible message.

When do you think the time is right to draw the line on divorce-related conflicts?

Pets And Divorce: How To Handle Saying ‘Goodbye’

Pets and divorceWhen my first marriage ended, it was very hard for me. Not because I had to say goodbye to my ex. She made that pretty easy on me with the whole adultery thing. A few months after our do-it-yourself divorce, I was fine, and the anger had effectively dehumanized her enough that moving on with life was pretty simple. But I did have to say goodbye to one living thing that absolutely hurt: our dog Gracey, a Chinese pug I’d helped take care of since my ex brought it home as a puppy.

Gracey was a great dog. She snored something terrible and acted like she was going to kill me whenever I went near her food dish, but she was all bark, no bite, and a whole lot of cuddles. It’s almost impossible to live with a small dog without it becoming your kid. That happened in my situation, and it didn’t make the decision to file for divorce easy, even if our process was without a great deal of legal conflict. How was I going to make it without this little thing that slept rammed up against my side every night while snoring under my reassuring hand?

It was rough, but I did get over it. Here’s how.

I Realized The Person I Was Had Died.

It didn’t matter how hard I tried to be “me,” there was no going back to the person I was. That didn’t mean something better couldn’t emerge. Seven years after the divorce ended, my new life is worlds better than my old one ever was. But if there was going to be recovery, I had to rid myself of the remnants. Unfortunately, Gracey was one of those remnants.

I Put Away The Past. 

Deleting old pictures of the dog was difficult, and it didn’t happen right away. But the moment came when the courage was there, and once the decision had been made and the button had been pushed, there was something oddly liberating about it.

I Lived With An Eye Toward The Future. 

Replacing Gracey seemed impossible at the time I left, but the very day that I moved in to my new apartment, I came across a nice black cat who hung around the pad wanting to be pet and fed on occasion. I never let him in — didn’t really even check if he was a he — but he provided enough companionship to bridge the gap into human contact whenever I was outside my apartment.

I Realized Animals Are Animals And People Are People. 

Nothing made me realize this more than when I discovered over Labor Day that I would be a father in less than a year. Hearing my little replacement’s heartbeat for the first time and seeing him/her — five weeks to go before gender reveal — melted me and really put the human-pet thing in perspective. It’s not that I haven’t loved every pet I’ve ever had. It’s just that I find more fulfillment now in my human relationships. Seeing my unborn child has taught me that this is one loved thing I could never walk away from. Obviously, I couldn’t say the same of Gracey.

Need help filing for divorce? Want to keep conflict and costs to a minimum? Let us help you through your DIY divorce today.