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Four Things No One Tells You About Divorce (and What You Need to Know Now) Part 1 by Rachel Alexander

Four Things No One Tells You About Divorce (and What You Need to Know Now) Part 1

Rachel Alexander Dec. 22, 2022

{5 minutes to read}  There are many things that no one tells you about divorce. This article – an article in four acts – concerns itself with four major, often overlooked problems with the divorce process. Bringing attention to them can help you prepare and adjust your expectations accordingly. Consider yourself forewarned. And hopefully forearmed.

I. Delays – a multifactorial problem

In the divorce process, hurry up, rev up, and then wait. Divorce, especially if you are litigating, is replete with delays. You are expecting something to happen on a certain date, and then one of the attorneys whose attendance is mandatory gets Covid. Now you are rescheduling the event and all participants – i.e. two attorneys, two clients, and maybe one mediator. Availability is complicated not only by your parenting and personal obligations but by the common scheduling complications and commitments of each participant. Plus, any ancillary professionals needed — psychologists or actuaries providing forensic reports, for example — require coordination, timing adjustments, follow-ups, and patience. It can take a couple of weeks simply to schedule a meeting; it can take weeks to months to receive reports.

Why is this worth mentioning? The amount of preparation required for most divorce-related meetings requires reviewing and refamiliarizing yourself with documents, and historic events, refreshing intentions and desired outcomes, and organizing and digesting material — bringing it all forward into short-term memory so it is ready for the upcoming meeting. Often preparation requires rehashing triggering events and reacquainting yourself with the unfriendly subject matter. Timelines of events that call custody into question; budgets, asset, and debt data – topics and material that were difficult during the marriage present new complexities in divorce. Delays are problematic because preparation requires such an investment of time, work, expense, and emotional energy; the mere thought of having to set everything down only to pick it up and reprepare is daunting. All of this can be emotionally triggering and psychologically taxing. When the meeting is delayed, that preparation typically won’t hold exactly as is but will need to be revisited and reviewed again prior to the new date. This is tiresome, unfair, and exhausting of mental resources.

Importantly, delays exact a physiological toll. Just like gearing up for a race that is subsequently delayed or canceled, you are left at the starting gate with all the adrenaline and nervous energy, all of which was meant to be expelled through participation in and conclusion of the event. When a meeting or hearing is delayed, participants are often stuck with all of the energy and no apparent way to process or expel it.

With so many factors and human beings involved in the divorce litigation process, delays happen. A lot.

So, what can you do?

Manage expectations; practice self-regulation; keep breathing

As soon as you are notified of a delay, make a one-page summary of the issues and topics you expected to cover at the meeting. If there are any unresolved items or questions outstanding, put them in an email to your attorney (copying yourself) so those unfinished items aren’t abandoned. Number documents, and put them in order. Make a quick table of contents of all the documents you have in your stack, then put it all in a folder. Enter a tickler on your calendar and block some time a couple of days before the new date when you will review the file. In the reminder, make a note of where you put the file — it’s one less thing to track in your overtaxed brain.

Get some physical exercise, even taking short walks helps to relieve stress and regulate your system. Take some deep breaths, often. This is a marathon. Above all else, care for yourself throughout the process.

Rachel Alexander

Rachel Alexander
Alexander Mediation Group

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