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Divorce: Keeping control of emotions

No-one wakes up and says, “I am going to run a marathon tomorrow!” Such a strenuous task requires both emotional and physical preparation and, in that respect, divorce is no different.

At Keystone Law we understand the financial and emotional turmoil involved during a separation or divorce – the process can often be lengthy with stress levels running in overdrive. Our firm’s Family lawyers are experts in law, and while we want to get you the very best legal result, we also care deeply about making sure you feel supported emotionally throughout.

In this article, leading Keystone Law Family law expert Hilary Pennington-Mellor and Coaching and Development specialist Jess Strachwitz Hamilton of Valiamo discuss five top tips to help you handle the emotional stress of divorce, and get you through the process in the most positive and constructive way possible.

There is a pause button!

The range of emotions that come into play during a divorce is vast. Frustration, panic, anger, fear, uncertainty, insecurity and sadness can all get in the way of rational, pragmatic thought and good decisions. Managing those feelings well is vital in helping you remain calm and in control. Having a ‘Pause’ button that you can press when things start getting too much is essential. This is where the support of a coach can be very useful – helping you with practical techniques for ‘stepping back’ and regaining control before you do or say things you might later regret.

You don’t need to invest in boxing gloves

Once you are deep in the legal complexities of divorce, it is very easy to get caught up in a battle-like mindset – with a sense that you constantly need to fight your corner. Bitter experiences of friends and the media’s sensationalism of celebrity break-ups only add fuel to the fire.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Maintaining a focus on your own values and priorities is the key. Negotiations around finances and assets can be particularly fraught, and can overwhelm our best intentions to maintain goodwill and positive relationships with those around us, particularly where children are involved. Without diligence and care our instincts for benevolence can often be lost. Coaching will help you keep your values ‘front and centre’, keeping you focused on what is important.

You can speak to your ex

Remember, it is OK to speak to each other without the lawyers being involved! Sometimes there can be a complete breakdown in communication between partners (other than through an exchange of lawyers’ letters) because there is a fear that anything said could be used against you. If in doubt, you can always ask your lawyer’s advice. Being aware of all the pros and cons enables you to be more relaxed in your ability to communicate amicably, without running up needless costs from unnecessary legal correspondence. Together, your lawyer and coach can help you keep positive communication channels open, without compromising either the legal process or your own interests.

What to say to children

Children are particularly vulnerable in situations like divorce, and it’s essential that they feel they are able to express their opinions and fears. It is all too easy to fall into the trap of not knowing what to say, and staying silent. Coaching can give you powerful techniques for knowing how and when to have those difficult but ultimately beneficial conversations with your children.

Being open and honest about the situation and the reasons for it, and having confidence in yourself and the team around you, will help you avoid potential communication breakdowns.

You are not alone!

It is sad but true that over 40% of marriages now end in divorce. But there is a positive side to this statistic. It means that you are certainly not alone in what you’re going through. Marriages end for all sorts of reasons, and it doesn’t mean that you (or your marriage) are a failure, even though it can often feel that way. Many people grow and flourish through divorce. With the right mindset and support, both legal and coaching, you can be one of them.

To discuss divorce, or any area where you require legal advice, please contact Hilary Pennington-Mellor.

This article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. It should not be used as a substitute for legal advice relating to your particular circumstances. Please note that the law may have changed since the date of this article.

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