There are few times in your life when you will feel as "out of control" as when you are going through a divorce. Our firm handles divorces for all types of people in South Carolina, but we focus our practice in the Greenville and Spartanburg areas. We help people from all walks of life navigate through the waters of their divorce and one of the common threads that runs through each and every case, is the sense of being "out of control". Whether it's a feeling that last the majority of the case or is only felt at certain stages of the case, the fear it creates in most people is common and should be expected to some degree since there are many things during a divorce which are certainly outside of your ability to control them. For example, you can't control how long it takes to get your case on the Family Court docketing schedule; you can't control which attorney your spouse will hire; you can't control what that attorney will do to try to make the case more difficult; and you can't control which judge you will get at either your Temporary Hearing or any other hearing that may be required in your case.
However, there are a lot of things that you can control that will make the process of separation and divorce (and even child custody cases) a lot easier to manage for you - and may help save some of your emotional energy for more important things in your life. Here's just a short list of advice we often give our clients:
- How Kind You Are to Other People: This may seem like a no-brainer, - in fact, many things on this list are "no-brainers" - but hear me out on these. There's not much about divorce that is fun while you're going through it. That's just a fact. However, if you are simply kind to those you come across during the process, and even kind to your soon-to-be Ex, the karma-points you'll gain on your side will benefit you more than you know. For instance, during any of your hearings in Family Court, judges have a keen eye for spotting which spouse is the bitter one and which one is the reasonable one and they have a tendency to lean more favorably in their rulings towards the "reasonable" party vs. the bitter, "out-for-blood" party. They aren't being biased when they do this - it just happens to work out that the more reasonable party is typically the one who isn't using the "scorched earth" litigation approach, which Family Court judges know is almost never in the best interests of a divorcing couple - especially when children are involved.
- What Your Priorities Are During the Case: As stated above if your priority is "scorched earth" at the end of your Family Court case, you will undoubtedly experience a very stressful divorce and feel "out-of-control" the majority of the time. The goal of any Family Court is never to decimate a family's relationship, but rather to legally untangle the connections between two parties who no longer want to be married, but also maintain the threads which must be preserved when either children or property exists that still must be cared for by the parties. You are in complete control how you set your priorities from the start of the case. Have thorough conversations with your divorce attorney and make a list of all the issues in your case which must be dealt with by the family court. Review that list and make a decision from the start which issues are going to be where you focus most of your time and energy. For most people, those things are Children and Finances. Now, make a decision that your priority will be to focus on healthy, equitable ways to handle those issues. For example, if you make it your priority to focus on having sole custody of the children and for the other parent to have as little time with them as possible, unless there are legitimate legal reasons for such restrictions, the "control" you seek likely won't be given to you by the Court. However, if you focus on finding the right parenting schedule which allows your children to experience as much time as possible with each parent, the court will most likely be willing to approve whatever schedule you and the other parent can agree on. Focus on the right priorities, in the right ways, throughout the case and you will have more control in the end to determine the overall outcome of your case.
- How You Take Care of Yourself: Okay, so we're divorce lawyers, not nutritionists or doctors, but we'd be remiss if we didn't touch on this area, too. Divorce and child custody cases are stressful and we will watch many of our clients either gain weight or lose too much weight over the course of their cases due to that stress. They either stop eating due to worrying all the time or they tend to reach for all the unhealthy foods to try to comfort them when everything in their life seems to be turning upside down. I get it. I've been there! (Ice cream, Cheetos, and Reese's Pieces were my vices - what are yours?) Controlling how you take care of yourself during this process is vitally important and will, I promise, distract you from all the things that aren't within your control. Is your Ex being a jerk about how split Christmas vacation this year? Go for a long walk around the neighborhood to cool down before you respond, instead of stopping by McDonald's while screaming at your attorney exactly what he can tell the other attorney. Are you blaming yourself for the end of the marriage, regardless of whether the fault was yours? Stop focusing on the past and talk to your healthcare professional about your feelings and whether he or she recommends a new plan to deal with these feelings in a healthy way. Some of our clients feel like they lose a lot of their social network when a break-up happens. If that's how you feel, think about joining a gym or a new yoga class. Not only are those great ways to start meeting new people, you can work in some fun exercise, too.
These suggestions are just some of the ways we tell our clients to focus on things that are within their control, instead of always dwelling on things we can't control in their cases. There is no way to avoid all of the stress a family court case will produce in your life, but there are ways to counteract the stress that's created. If you have a story about things you did that helped you during a family court case, we'd love to hear about it in the comments below.
The Stevens Firm, P.A. - Family Law Center has provided exceptional legal counsel and support to families throughout South Carolina for over two decades, handling all matters of family law, such as child custody, child support, and divorce. We are well-equipped to handle all divorce and family law matters, no matter your circumstances. Contact us at (864) 598-9172 to schedule an initial consultation.