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Becoming Bully-Proof During The Divorce Process. 5 Survival Tips
by Lizzy Smith
April 24, 2015
I have two friends who are at opposite ends of the divorce spectrum.
"Kristen" and "Chad" have been married for 28 years and have four children together. Kristen is a stay at home mom and hasn't worked a day in her life. While Kristen acknowledges that her marriage had gotten boring for the past many years, there was never a hint of real trouble or unhappiness. Chad never once mentioned a separation or divorce until he came home one day and told her he just bought a home, he was moving out, and their marriage was over. Kristen was completely blindsided. Three weeks later, Chad moved out, handed her a divorce settlement, and said that she had 24-hours to agree to it and if she didn't, she would get a lot less with attorneys involved.
I begged her to not sign, get an aggressive attorney, and let the process play itself out. Kristen didn't want to fight. Maybe he'll reconsider. Even if he doesn't, he has her and their children's best interests at heart and would never try to screw them over. She wants to just sign the papers. She feels broken, afraid, and already tired.
"Shari" and "Ronald" have been married for ten years and Shari has wanted out of the marriage for several years. She has mentioned divorce to Ronald but somehow, they are both still hanging on, hoping that they will be able to fix the relationship. Always the planner, Shari is taking nothing for granted, however. She has already interviewed several attorneys "just in case." She knows what steps she must take if separation becomes a necessity. She wants to stay living in their home while the divorce moves forward and if Ronald refuses to move out, she knows exactly what steps she must take to request a move from a judge. If that fails, Shari has already scoped out rentals. She has made a budget to ensure she can afford life without Ronald, and she is as mentally and emotionally prepared as she can be.
...And then there's me. Like Shari, I wanted a divorce from my husband from just months into our marriage. When I finally discovered that his bizarrely explosive and unpredictable behavior stemmed to alcoholism (I was totally unaware of his addiction while we were dating, call me stupid), I knew that our marriage was on borrowed time. Over the course of our marriage, I interviewed attorneys, maintained a good job, and knew exactly where I was moving when I finally pulled the plug. When I finally left my husband, it was chaos and something I could not have predicted. I was diagnosed with cancer and just days later, packed things into trash bags and moved two states away and into my parents' basement. I then hired an attorney and started fighting the husband and cancer at the same time.
While divorce and splits are never pretty or perfect, being mentally and emotionally prepared is essential. In my case, I ended up hiring my husband's ex-wife's attorney. I had interviewed her before and I liked her. I knew from first-hand experience that she was aggressive and knew her stuff. When my husband battled his ex-wife, she won every single time and Rob (my husband) was terrified of her. When Rob tried to bully me during the divorce and get me to sign and agree to things that were to my detriment, I cut off all contact with him. It took almost two years to finalize our divorce and I was prepared for the long battle.
Divorce can take a long time. Know that. Take a deep breath. Go to yoga if you must. Be calm. And then let the process play itself out. If your ex is trying to speed it up, or never stops screaming at you, or is promising that the two of you might get back together if you'll just be reasonable and sign your rights away, STOP. Do NOT listen to him.
Whether you are in the divorce process, are considering it, or perhaps are just feeling in your gut that things aren't ok in your marriage, getting prepared is in your best interest. Here are 5 ways you can do just that:
1. Interview attorneys