Divorce is an exhausting experience and you don’t want to go through it alone. This is why building a support team for divorce to help you navigate the emotional, legal, and financial aspects is so important at the beginning of your journey.
Just like a sports team has individual players who fill different positions, your divorce team will be made up of not only professionals, but people who can also support you personally. The following article discusses who you should consider having on your team.
By: Jania Mkunga
At the beginning of the journey, it might look like your divorce will go smoothly because you both know you want to divorce, you both want to sell the house, and you have agreed that he can take the TV, ping pong table, and the truck. Inevitably though, there will be unexpected twists and turns in your divorce. So putting together your support team for divorce will help you sort it out during the turbulence that's sure to arise.
The spirit behind the phrase that “it takes a village” has been used to refer to child rearing, where the efforts of everyone in the community are needed for the child to thrive.
This phrase is synonymous to what happens in a divorce situation. You need people you can rely on who will help you through the quirky stages of divorce. To help you thrive during the divorce, we have put together a list of people who can part of your personal support team for divorce.
They are usually the best to turn to for support! (While for some, they could be the worst!) You know your family and who would support you when discussing your divorce. It might become tricky at times on what to share and what not to share. What you feel about this is normal.
Sound out a few things with those family members you trust and strike out those who will not be part of your team. While family members who aren't part of your divorce support team will likely hear certain aspects of your divorce second hand (perhaps all twisted and exaggerated), that is okay. After all, it's “all in the family.” Don’t sweat the small stuff! You can set the record straight at uncle Jo’s funeral or little Becky’s wedding!
True friends are a very resourceful bunch! Since they weren't raised in your family, they can provide a different point of view. With each friend, consider yourself having an instant multiplier of 10 opinions! (Their family, friends, friend of a friend, husbands, adult children, co-workers etc., etc.). You can’t go wrong with this bunch. You get to pick and choose which advise to take. You just need to do your homework and you will pick the right advice to take.
This one is tricky, so think it through long and hard. Depending on your faith, your pastor, and your church family, study how your church handles these matters before approaching anyone. The fact of the matter is, your marriage has failed and your prayers to keep it together were not answered, perhaps for a reason. Having a practical person to help you figure it all out is key.
By the way, it's important to remember that even pastors get divorced. Don’t forget, no one in church is a saint and not everyone can be mother Teresa! Choose someone who is willing to support you.
There is something to be said about how differently people act while they are at work as opposed to when they are at home in their private lives. If you have had the same job for a while, you will know who you can approach to ask for advice, and who not to even say a word about it to. You will find that many women in the office have been through a divorce themselves. And they are a valuable and immediate resource as they are easily accessible at the office. Pick one or two co-workers you trust and periodically check to make sure they aren't feeling compassion burnout.
Although there is this thing called “do-it-yourself” divorce (self-represented litigants), this does not mean that you can do it without the judiciary system. Part of your team will include a judge. Just hope the one you get is an impartial judge who can detect any party who can lie under oath! Even if you never have to appear in court, a judge’s signature on your divorce papers gives you the ultimate authority to go your own way!
They know everything about the legal side of divorce! This knowledge comes with a hefty price tag though, so shop wisely. Who you pick can mean the difference between achieving the best results to your rightful share of the marital estate, or being left more financially and emotionally bankrupt than before you divorced. And an attentive attorney can find your spouse’s hidden financial accounts. This is especially important if your soon-to-be ex is not helping you with temporary child and spousal support orders!
Like any other legal process, divorce is document intensive! If you are doing your own divorce and hate completing forms, paralegals can come to your rescue! They will happily do your paperwork, and in some cases they will file them for you with your signature. Most attorney offices hire a paralegal to work in their practices. Many paralegals also work independently with a disclaimer that they don’t have the authority to provide legal advice. So, please don’t plan to ask them legal questions thinking that they are a low-cost alternative to hiring an attorney!
If there are kids involved in your divorce, the court will appoint a child advocate who will act on behalf of the interest of the child/children. Parents can can sometimes become so entrenched in court battles that the best interest of the children is often overlooked. A court appointed advocate is a valuable member of the divorce process. Most of the advocates have a JD background and know how to protect kids from the parental squabbles and give the judge an objective opinion.
Find fiduciary-focused financial advisors… those who will put your financial interests first, not theirs! Depending on the value of your estate, find a financial advisor who can lay out a game-plan for making the most of your money, as opposed to someone who will string you along for their own personal gain in the long run. This includes credit card companies and general banking institutions as well.
This is truly a group of angels! Most have been through their own divorce and have chosen a vocation to help those who are now going through it! Listen to their advice, take good notes and know that you are in good company and in a safe place!
There is an abundance of mediators who often partner with family courts. Mediators are trained to help two spouses come to an agreement when settling a divorce. When your budget is limited, you will find that a mediator could be your mostly likely go-to ally in the divorce process.
You can search meetup.com to find local groups that support women going through divorce. Depending on your city, do a wide search and you will find one which will meet your needs. For starters, attend one meeting and draw your conclusion whether it fits or not. Keep looking, new groups are always springing up!
If you own property, you can begin to collect realtor business cards. Use caution on what you share with them so you are not bombarded with listing emails and specials for all the holidays of the year! If you visit random open houses alone, don’t mention your divorce, as you will surely be targeted (aka email stalked)! Also, be aware that selling a house with your soon to be ex is so much different than when you are not. It’s complicated, but a realtor can help!
Be cautious before you sign up, subscribe, like, agree, or click on the link! You know the drill! It’s a zoo out there! Familiarize yourself with reliable sites like womansdivorce.com which offer professional advice. Social media discussions (while entertaining and in some respects well meaning), are often not based on factual opinions. During this phase of your life, you need your family, friends and professional advice from the people you know! (Here are some more tips on social media during a divorce.)
Divorce is an intensive process and you don’t want to go through it alone! As you can see from the list above (not an exhaustive list by any means), these are the people you can count on to help you through your divorce! While there were no surprises here of the people who can make up your support team for divorce, the goal of this review is to give you an overview of the ones who can be most conducive to your success.