Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt frustrated during your divorce. Keep your hand up if you’re feeling that way now. 🙋♀️
I see you. Because if divorce isn’t already hard enough, the process itself can be torturous.
Frustration is different from the other emotions that accompany divorce, like sadness, regret, and fear. Frustration comes from a feeling that you have no control. It happens when you feel like you’re “following the rules” of the divorce process but they’re not working (or your spouse isn’t playing by them). When you feel like you’re just spinning your wheels.
And though frustration is different from these other emotions, it can lead you to them. Symptoms of frustration include getting angry, feeling like you want to give up, loss of self-esteem, stress, feeling sad or anxious, and engaging in self-destructive behavior.
We don’t want the divorce process to do that to you! Likely you’re going to feel one or all of those things at times. But before any of them get too far, let’s look at some of the common sources of frustration, and what you can do about them.
Which one of these have you felt? · It’s taking SO long! When is this ever going to be over?
It’s true, unless you settle quickly, the legal process of divorce takes a long time. As in several months to a year or longer. To understand more about why this is and how to navigate through it, check out our video Crash Course: The Legal Process.
· I’m spending a fortune in legal fees but it feels like nothing’s being accomplished.
Girl, I get it. And I’ve experienced it personally. Both as the lawyer sending bills, and as a client receiving and paying them. It’s really hard to write those checks month after month and feel like you’ve barely made a dent in moving things forward. According to statistics, the average cost of a divorce is $15,000 per person. For many couples, that’s more than the cost of their wedding!
· I can’t get a court date (or, my court date is months away)!
The court system is slow. It was slow before Covid-19; it will be slow after it. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are over 782,000 divorces per year in the U.S. (that figure is based on 45 states and D.C. reporting, so the total number is higher). Even though most cases are settled outside of court, every single divorce has to be processed through the court system. And most judges handle matters besides just divorce, like other civil and criminal cases. It’s no wonder you can’t get into court as quickly as you need to!
You have more say and more power in the divorce process than you may realize.
Maddening as these things are, you can’t control the process. It’s a system that’s been in place for a long time and your divorce case isn’t likely to change it (though if you aspire to be the next Susan B. Anthony or Notorious RBG, go for it!)
But there are a few tactical things you CAN do to lessen your frustrations, help to move the process along, and maintain a little of your sanity:
· Ask your lawyer what can be done to move your case forward.
Lawyers are busy, and sometimes cases seem to plod along. You know the saying the squeaky wheel gets the grease? Well if your case feels like it’s stalling, and no one is doing anything about it, you’ve got to be the squeaky wheel! There are always things that can be done to move a case along - like making a settlement offer, taking someone’s deposition, or scheduling a court hearing. Ask your lawyer for a strategy meeting. Tell her you want an action plan of specific steps that can be taken today, next week, and next month. It doesn’t mean you have to take all of them, but having a game plan can do wonders to lessen your frustration. It puts you in the driver’s seat.
· Know what you can do to lower your legal fees.
Fees feel out of control? Newsflash: the way you handle your case and how you communicate with your lawyer can have a huge impact on the size of your legal fees.We estimate that you personally (yes, you) can impact the size of your legal bill by as much as 30% up or down. Whoa! For that kind of moolah, it’s worth spending a few minutes to understand the role you’re playing in the size of your bill. We’ve got some great tips on how to lower your legal bills without harming your case.
· Look at alternatives to the court system, or how to get into court faster.
If you can’t seem to get a hearing or it’s months away, look at your alternatives. Trying to settle is always a good one. But if you’ve tried and that’s not working, consider arbitration. Arbitration is a private process where you agree for someone other than the judge to decide your case (make sure it’s allowed in your state in divorce cases). It’s quicker and less formal than court, which often means it’s cheaper overall. It’s not without disadvantages though, so do your research before deciding. But if you still need to get to court, think about how you can get in faster. Longer hearings take longer to get to court, so can you have your issue heard in less time? Or can you carve out the most important issue into a shorter hearing, to have it heard sooner? If you have a lawyer, these are great questions for that strategy meeting you’re going to have!
Finally, above all, practice patience and acceptance. This is a trying, enduring process. It takes a lot of mental strength. We’ve got some strategies you can employ to increase yours.