Going to Court Is Stressful

You won't realize the stress of litigating a divorce until you do it. Going to court requires careful, time-consuming preparation. The time you have to spend preparing papers and documents for court is time away from your children and your job. Every time you have to see your spouse in court you will ride a roller coaster of emotions that will drain you physically and emotionally. Being in court is stressful because you're on unfamiliar ground dealing with your spouse, the person who you loved and trusted for years who is now acting like a stranger — and an angry stranger at that. You don't know the rules, and you don't know what a judge will do. When you're in court you can't do anything else but sit, wait, and avoid the stare of your angry spouse.

Waiting for a court order is stressful, because once again you're not in control. Getting that court order at long last can be stressful, too, because you may be very unhappy with it. Often it feels as if the judge didn't read your papers, didn't listen to your lawyer, or simply didn't believe you. Once again, your spouse is the winner and you are the loser. The court's order can turn your whole world upside down.

Let Reason Prevail

As you navigate the emotional waters of your divorce, let reason be your guide. Don't let your lawyer's goals become your goals. If you know what you want, stick with it even when your spouse makes you so angry your blood boils. Be reasonable and realistic. Your spouse is not going to magically become a different person because you are now getting divorced. If she couldn't keep a clean house before, she probably won't be able to now. If your children have survived so far with clutter around them and dirty dishes in the sink, chances are they will be fine even when you're not around.

Divorce is a very traumatic experience, especially if you spend a lot of time in the courts. You will undoubtedly suffer several ups and downs throughout the process, so you may want to join a support group to help you cope. Others in your situation can offer advice, relay their own experiences, or just be there to listen.

If your lawyer says you can get custody of the children by showing your spouse is emotionally unstable, think about whether this is what you really want. Would it be good for your children for you to drag their other parent through a battle about mental health? Whether you are successful or not, your children's opinion of you could be permanently altered. For example, what if you are the husband and you claim your wife is emotionally unstable or unfit in some way? If you are successful in proving this, the children may blame you for their mother's problems. It may cause your children to be more supportive and protective of their mother and more critical of you. If you are not successful, your children may hate you for lying about their mother. If your spouse truly has problems, you must act to protect your children, but make sure your actions are based on facts and not the desire for revenge.

Suppose you actually got custody of the children. Are you prepared to take time off in the middle of the day to go to the doctor or the dentist or get your child to soccer practice? Are you prepared to stay home from work on days that school is cancelled or when your children are too sick to go to a babysitter? Be careful what you ask for and make sure you are asking for the right reasons.

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