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FS-Keep Emotions In Line During Divorce
Jan L. Warner & Jan Collins

Question: My husband and I are in the midst of what I consider to be a nasty divorce. I believe he has changed psychologically as he seems cold and uncaring toward me and our two children (ages 13 and 17).

On the other hand, I am very emotional and have been seeing a counselor and psychiatrist who prescribed medication for me. It seems everything is coming down to money, and I can't seem to cope. My lawyer and counselor tell me I must come to grips with the situation. Are my feelings unusual, and how can I get out of this abyss?

Answer: While your feelings are not unusual for someone committed to a relationship, the first issue to overcome is to understand that when matters are out of your control (your husband bailing out of the relationship), you must deal with the aftermath to attempt to preserve you and your children's financial interests. Too often, folks who allow emotions to drive the decision-making process end up adrift.
In this and subsequent columns, we will give you and our other readers our take on how to deal with these important matters:

1. DON'T MIX MONEY AND EMOTIONS. In divorce, mixing money and emotions is like trying to mix oil and water. They don't blend, and trying to meld the two can cause a real mess. Granted, divorce is emotional, but it is still a business negotiation in the end. You must be prepared to talk in a businesslike manner in your lawyer's office. Do your crying outside of the office with a friend, family member or therapist. In matrimonial breakups, money can be used as a weapon. Everyone wants his or her fair share, but don't be vindictive. This attitude will hurt your case and increase the cost of your divorce. If your marriage must end, try to make your divorce a success and engender the second chance you and your children need.

2. DEVELOP ALTERNATIVE SOURCES OF INCOME. The financially dependent spouse -- often the wife -- may have put aside her own career development in favor of raising the family, never suspecting that divorce would come along. And many are not aware that the divorce process may well force them into the workplace, even though they lack the training or their credentials are out of date. Unless there is a disability involved, this is a great time to get some career counseling and go back to school. Try to get a settlement that includes money for tuition, books and living expenses while attending school and getting a career on track. There's nothing like knowledge and a fulfilling career to bolster self-esteem and get your mind in focus.

3. GET GOOD PROFESSIONAL ADVICE. When you are going through a divorce, you need all the help you can afford. If you hire an attorney at a bargain price, nine out of ten times, you may wind up getting less than you deserve or paying more than you should. Hire professionals to help advise you on the settlement and its tax consequences. And if you and your spouse can still talk, but simply can't agree, think about using a mediator or arbitrator to help you work out some of the details. Seeing an experienced therapist to help you through the emotional crunches that always accompany divorce can be a good idea, as well. But most importantly, be patient because the divorce process takes time. Be prepared to take as much time as necessary to plan your life after the divorce. This is your opportunity for a new beginning.

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Suggested Reading:
Separation and Divorce Guidebook
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FS-Be Wary of Credit Issues with Ex
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FS-Becareful of Bargaining Away Alimony As Child Support
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FS-Lawyer Tells Me to Lie & Pension Double Dipped
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FS-On and Off Again Reconciles Can Create Agreement Disasters
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FS-The Dangers of Family Loans
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FS-Transference of Affection & 10 Tips of Divorce
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