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What To Expect During Your Divorce, Custody Dispute and/Or Property Division Battle

The following is an excerpt from Louisiana Divorce Handbook (Available on Amazon.com), with Express Permission of Author Louisiana Family Law Attorney Stephen Rue. @ All Rights Reserved, Stephen Rue 2014.

CHAPTER 1

WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN GOING THROUGH A DIVORCE

OR A BATTLE OVER CUSTODY, MONEY AND PROPERTY

I am very straight forward with my clients. I always inform them of what to expect while they are going through a divorce proceeding or related matters of child custody, support and the like. Simply put, getting a divorce and its aftermath is a very emotional experience. Expect stress – it is very normal.

Divorce brings concerns about children, money, property, and being single again. There are no Louisiana laws that directly address the emotional stress associated with the divorce process. Although temporary restraining orders and injunctions can eliminate much stress and anxiety regarding potentially volatile confrontations with your spouse, stress will exist.

We should not allow our emotions to guide us to act and make decisions that are irrational and that are not in the best interests of our children and ourselves.

1. EMOTIONS WILL ARISE

Realize that sad emotions will arise. Transcend and separate your emotions from the decisions that affect your finances and your children. The more that emotion becomes involved in your divorce proceeding, the more your divorce process will likely last and cost. As you start to take control of your emotions, you also will start to gain control of your divorce proceeding. Regain inner peace and enjoy your new life. One step towards peacefulness is in knowing what you may encounter in your litigation. This handbook will provide you a framework for your expectations.

You may encounter a series of emotions that many refer to the emotional lifecycle of a divorce proceeding.

2. NORMAL EMOTIONAL LIFE CYCLE OF A DIVORCE

  • Denial or Surprise
  • Anger
  • Depression and feelings of despair
  • Desires to negotiate with your spouse
  • Sadness
  • Acceptance and understanding
  • Pursuit for further happiness

3. YOU ARE NOT ALONE

AND YOUR EXPERIENCE IS NOT UNIQUE

Each year over two million people divorce. Remember that each year over two million people divorce and encounter some form of anxiety, doubt, denial, depression, loneliness, guilt, anger, sadness, feelings that overwhelm, forgetfulness, and/or frustration. They also may feel a sense of relief. It is unlikely that you will be able to avoid these pressures. What you can control is your body and your mind. Remember that divorce no longer carries a stigma of shame.

You are not the honoree at a Louisiana jazz funeral – you are getting divorced – Life goes on!

4. DIVORCE STATISTICS

We have all heard that the divorce rate is at an alarming fifty (50%) percent of marriages. Society is beginning to look at marriage as a contract. As a result of this sterile view of the union, judges are becoming more dispassionate towards particular litigants. Today many have considered that a divorce is like going to the dentist and getting a tooth pulled. It may be painful; and it may be quick or last for a considerable amount of time. but it also can be quick.

Approximately 95% of divorce proceedings do not result in a contested trial. (Source: American Bar Association) Each year, approximately two million people get divorced. The divorce rate hovers around 3.4 per 1,000 in population. In the seventies and eighties, the divorce rate climbed from 2.5/1000 in 1966 to highs of 5.3/1000 in 1979 and 1981. The divorce rate has leveled off since the 1981 peak.

The average length of a first marriage is 11 years. A woman remarries for an average of 7.1 years, while men remarry for an average of 7.4 years. The average duration of an American marriage is 9.8 years. The average age for a woman who marries and divorces several times is 33 for the first divorce, 39 for the second, and 42 for three or more. The average age for men of multiple divorces is 35 for the first, 42 for the second, and 46.5 for subsequent divorces.

Divorces are more prevalent during the time when men are, on average, 30-34 years old and for women 25-29 years old. A female’s divorce rate is highest between the very young ages of 15 and 19. A male’s divorce rate is highest between the ages of 20 and 24.

At the time of their first marriage, the median age for women is 21.0 years and 23.1 years for men. The median age of spouses at the time of the first marriage divorce decree is 35.1 for women and 33.2 for men.

Women start the legal proceedings in more than 90 percent of all divorces.

5. YOUR OWN EMOTIONAL AND PHYSICAL WELL BEING AFFECTS YOUR CHANCES
OF GETTING CUSTODY OR VISITATION OF YOUR CHILDREN

As an attorney, I advise my clients that they must control their emotions. How a client acts often is a basis for the court to rule for or against them in custody matters and similar circumstances.

LA C.C. Art. 134. Lists the factors that are used to determine the child’s best interest for custody and visitation decisions. Two of the factors directly involve your physical and emotional well-being.

The court shall consider all relevant factors in determining the best interest of the child. Such factors may include:

(1) The love, affection, and other emotional ties between each party and the child…. (7) The mental and physical health of each party.
Art 134 stated in pertinent part.

Art. 136. addresses an award of visitation rights to a parent and considers

(4) The willingness of the relative to encourage a close relationship between the child and his parent or parents.
and (5) The mental and physical health of the child and the relative.

6. GOOD TO YOURSELF

Celebrate each day in your life. Take good care of yourself. Eating healthy and exercising regularly will allow you to be physically and mentally prepared for this time of inherent stress and uncertainty. Anger and bitterness eat at you if you let them. The person most hurt by your rage is you. Don’t forget, don’t regress, but do forgive your spouse for your own sake, and for the sake of your children. This is not to say that you should forgive and reconcile, but rather, forgive for the sake of being happy. Forgive for the sake of being healthy. Forgive for the sake of moving on. Get what is just and fair to you and the children. Forgive and live. If you feel overwhelmed, consider seeking advice from a mental health professional and/or religious and spiritual advisor. Also seek help for any substance abuse problem. Remember that your lawyer is not a therapist. Other professionals are better equipped to handle your emotional needs. If time permits, reading books regarding divorce and related issues also will reduce your level of stress.

  • It’s O.K. to cry and express your feelings as long as you quickly regain your composure and are able to act in the best interest of your children and of yourself.
  • Talk to supportive friends that do not flame the fire of your anger or grief.
  • Read books that help you get through the divorce process.
  • Consider joining a divorce support group.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Eat healthy.
  • Resist destructive temptations
  • Consult a counselor or religious advisor.
  • Focus on your career or potential career
  • Refrain from sending your spouse emotionally driven notes, emails or texts. they can be used against you.

TALK TO YOUR CHILDREN

Take time to talk with your children and explain that you are getting a divorce. Tailor your statements to the age of the children. Emphasize that the break up is not their fault and that your decision to divorce is made and that they cannot change it. Do not speak badly of the other parent. Frequently reassure the children that both of you are still their parents and that they are loved and will not be abandoned. Tell them that you will take care of them and keep them safe. Everything will be all right!

8. SUMMARY OF TIPS TO HELP CONTROL YOUR BODY AND MIND DURING A DIVORCE

1. Remember that you are not alone.

2. Eat Healthy.

3. Exercise Regularly.

4. Seek help for any substance abuse that you may have.

5. Resist destructive temptations.

6. It’s O.K. to cry and express your feelings – regain your composure quickly.

7. Talk to supportive friends that do not flame the fire of your anger or grief.

8. Consider joining a divorce support group.

9. Consult a counselor or religious advisor.

10. Focus on your career or potential career

11. Read books about divorce and related issues.

12. Remember that your lawyer is not trained to be a psychiatrist, use the lawyer for your legal problems.

13. Talk to your children and let them know that they are loved, not abandoned, and that the break up is not their fault.

14. Forgive and live. Remember the emotional lifecycle of a divorce. Be Happy.

15. Do not let your emotions drive your conduct that may work against you in a divorce or custody proceeding.

16. Stop and think before you act.

17. Always consult with your divorce attorney before making any significant decision and communicating that decision to your spouse.

The above is an excerpt from Louisiana Divorce Handbook(Available on Amazon.com), with Express Permission of Author Louisiana Family Law Attorney Stephen Rue. @ All Rights Reserved, Stephen Rue 2014.

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