How do you find your way through a difficult divorce?

Some divorces are actually amicable, and the parties work as a team to arrive at a mutually acceptable settlement agreement. However, many divorces are difficult from the very beginning.

In a contentious situation, there are emotions and a variety of attitudes to manage. Here are four suggestions to help you remain sane and in control of yourself if you face a difficult divorce.

1. Identify your goals

What do you want from this divorce? What are your goals and priorities? Create a list of desired outcomes; for example, a solid parenting plan or a fair distribution of assets. When conflict comes up, determine what effect it has on the goals you have set. Remaining focused on the big picture helps keep you from engaging in trivial, hurtful disputes.

2. Establish your “divorce-free zone”

If you feel bombarded from every side about divorce issues, set your day up to include a divorce-free zone during which you live your life free from emails, text messages and voicemails. If you only deal with divorce-related information twice a day—an hour in the morning and an hour at the end of the business day, for example—you will have created boundaries, time for yourself and time to deal with the divorce.

3. Find ways to unwind

In making time for yourself, include moments for unwinding and calming down. Read. Listen to soft music. Join a yoga class. Learn how to meditate. Take a walk.

4. Proceed in a businesslike manner

Look at your divorce as a business move through which you intend to achieve the goals you set. Treat your soon-to-be-ex as a colleague you must work with in a professional manner. A business-like attitude can help you curb some of those raw emotions that usually accompany a contentious divorce.

Looking ahead

A divorce is one of the most intense, stressful events you will ever face in your life, one that impacts your life in more ways than one. Staying in control of your emotions and remaining calm helps you emerge from a difficult divorce with confidence and the expectation of a brighter future.

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