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C. Eric Schmidt - Attorney at Law

Marilyn Gale Vilyus - Founding Attorney - Semi-retired - of counsel to C.E. Schmidt and Associates, Attorneys at Law

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Divorce Survival Guide

By: Marilyn Gale Vilyus

Often a husband and a wife decide at about the same time that their marriage “is over!”  However, sometimes one spouse emotionally leaves the relationship a long time before the other spouse does, and, sometimes, the other spouse may not even realize that anything is wrong!

Either way, the same questions frequently come up:

How was I supposed to know that my spouse really “meant it” this time?

Why didn’t we talk about it?

We have been married for so many years –- why are we getting a divorce now?

Why didn’t my spouse ask me to go to counseling?

Is there a chance we can still get back together?

Of course, the answers will be different for different couples.  As a general rule, if you don’t want the divorce, you should let your spouse know how you feel as soon as possible!  Your willingness to “work on your marriage” could be the response your spouse was looking for!

Other times, though, it may be too late!  If this is the case, you will probably be headed for a roller coaster ride of emotions during the divorce process.  Please know that these constantly changing feelings are normal and to be expected –- even if you were the one who wanted the divorce!!!

Will We Ever Be Able to Trust Each Other Again?

If a couple does decide to work on their marriage, it is expected that they will face “trust” issues.  Did your spouse have an affair?  Did he or she run up bills or credit cards?  If there was physical or emotional abuse, it will take time for your spouse to believe that your actions will follow your words – even though your promises to change may be genuine!

You might want to delay the finalization of your divorce to see if you really are able to reconcile your marriage.  If so, the Court will usually be receptive to granting your Motion for Continuance on this ground –- but not if you filed your motion just because you were trying to avoid trial!

Another option you have is to “nonsuit” your case.  In this instance, you stop your divorce case completely, and if you change your mind, you would need to file a brand new “original petition for divorce.”  The Court requires both parties to sign this "nonsuit" document.  Be aware that if you have a trial date and you do not have a continuance which was heard by the Court and granted –- or you do not have a signed “nonsuit,” you had better show up at Court for your trial setting!

If your spouse goes to the trial and he or she either had a signed Waiver of Service from you or he or she had papers served upon you, the Court could divorce you even if you do not come!  This means the divorce is granted, your property is divided and if there are kids, child support, conservatorship, visitation and all the “kid” issues will also be decided without you or any imput from you!

You might be surprised to know how many of these “default” divorces happen every single day!

What Should I Tell My Family and Friends?

The dilemma here is that you need the support of your family and friends at this difficult time.  However, you don’t necessarily want to share all the messy details –-particularly if you really want to reconcile and you think that there may be a chance that you can!

Be aware that you should tell your employer that you are going through a divorce.   Unfortunately, even if you do advise your "boss" about "what is going on,: the divorce process could put you at risk for losing your job!  Following are some “tips” to help you out:

Try to stay “focused” on your job responsibilities.

Don’t miss work deadlines.

Come to work on time and try not to take days off.

Don’t have “screaming” phone calls that can be overheard by your co-workers.

Tell your spouse not to meet you at work.

Try to avoid too many phone conversations with your lawyer.  (Ask your lawyer to call you after work hours or while you are at lunch.)

Don’t start drinking alcohol in excess or using non-prescription drugs or mis-using prescription drugs.

Don’t take your frustration and anger out on your co-workers or your customers or clients.

Should We Tell the Kids?

Yes, of course, and it is best if you can tell them together (without blaming each other)!  Let your kids know that you are sad.  It is important for your kids to know it is okay for them to show their emotions, so that they do not have to “act out” their emotions in an unhealthy manner!  Not being honest about how you feel is confusing to them and hurts their ability to express how they feel which is not healthy for them and will inevitably cause problems.

Visit your kids as much as you can.  They need to know you intend to stay close to them and involved in their lives.  If the kids are living with you, encourage them to visit with their other parent.  That continuing bond is important for their continuing healthy development.

Don’t discuss the terms of the divorce in front of your kids.  Pick-up and drop-off times are not the time to “spar’ with your spouse.

Keeping these tips in mind will help your family get through this difficult time and will help you heal so that you can experience a new, healthy beginning and future after your divorce.

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