Stress Makes People Stupid
It does. Stress impedes clear thinking and causes us to act on our hearts, rather than our heads. It makes us sick, as our blood pressure rises, our weight increases, and our adherence to our good exercise habits decreases. We engage in more harmful behaviors, like smoking, drinking, drugging, and eating poorly. Stress headaches afflict us, and we are more likely to become ill, even with serious diseases like cancers and tumors.
Stress gave me Juvenile Diabetes. But that’s another story. . . .
It has been my experience that it is wise to avoid making important life-changing decisions when stressed. But certain circumstances require that such decisions be made, despite the anxiety we suffer from at the time. Like divorce, during which spouses are required to make decisions that truly impact every facet of their lives.
Divorce and Stress Go Hand-In-Hand
Divorce is stressful. In fact, it’s one of the top ten stressful events in life, ranking right up there with the death of an immediate family member. Especially when combined with an additional top tenner, relocation, which one, and sometimes both divorcing partners are required to do, to move out of the marital home.
Some divorce processes are inherently more stressful than others. Did you know that you have process options for your divorce? You do, but more often than not, divorce attorneys don’t offer their clients all of their options.
You Have Options
You may not even need an attorney. Perhaps you have very few issues, and your ex refuses to respond. You could petition for divorce, your ex could fail to answer, and you could get a default judgment against him, in which you are awarded everything you requested in your petition.
Or, if you and your ex have decided on your own what is fair for your divorce and are comfortable preparing the paperwork on your own, you could download the forms online and complete your divorce on your own.
That being said, it’s wise to at least have an attorney review your documents to make sure that nothing is missing or conflicting, even in the simplest of divorces. One of you could hire the attorney, who only represents that one of you, to review or draft your agreement for you. If your spouse wants an attorney too, he may retain another attorney to review the agreement for him. Some negotiation may be required as well, and the attorneys are there to help.
If your divorce is a bit more complex, mediation may work for you. You can mediate with or without having attorneys with you. A neutral party, the mediator, helps you and your spouse to draft an agreement. The agreement could be full if you agree on everything, or partial, if there are a few issues on which you are unable to agree, like alimony. Mediation is required if you litigate instead, so you may as well give it a try before opting for that stressful, expensive choice, litigation.
In litigation, attorneys argue for each side, and experts are pitted against each other until the judge rules one side a winner, and one side a loser. But really, both parties lose as the process tears families apart, both emotionally and financially. Although litigation is popular and most often the only option offered to clients by family attorneys, it is not in the best interests for a vast majority of families who don’t really belong in the courtroom.
Collaborative Attorneys Are Invested In Success
Another option is collaborative divorce. A team of professionals assists the spouses in reaching an agreement that meets their most important interests. The team includes an attorney for each spouse. The attorneys both agree to withdraw if litigation becomes necessary. This way, they are invested in making the endeavor a success.
In collaboration, a mental health professional is also included to act as the team facilitator. The facilitator ensures that the process moves along smoothly.
Depending on the issues, a financial professional can also be included to assist with the division of assets and liabilities and to help with the budget.
Other experts might be invited to the team if the team deems it necessary. Thus, a collaborative team is unique for each family and its results are customized to that family.
As you can see by the array of choices, some options, like litigation, are more stressful than others. Therefore, some processes enable spouses to make smarter decisions. Isn’t that what you want for your divorce or family law dispute?
Make the smart choice. Call Open Palm Law for the less stressful, smarter alternatives. We can help.
Learn more about collaborative divorce. Follow Open Palm Law.
Need advice now? Contact Joryn!
About this week’s author, Joryn Jenkins.
Joryn, attorney and Open Palm Founder, began her own firm here in Tampa after a 14-year career in law, two of which she served as a professor of law at Stetson University. She is a recipient of the prestigious A. Sherman Christensen Award, an honor bestowed in the United States Supreme Court upon those who have provided exceptional leadership in the American Inns of Court Movement. For more information on Joryn’s professional experience, take a look at her resume.