difficult divorce decisionsOne of the hardest conversations I have with my family law clients is helping them accept the fact that the person they’re fighting against – be it their soon-to-be former spouse, or their child’s parent – is someone they’ll be dealing with for a very, very long time. While “making him/her pay” may seem like a great idea at the start of the process, this approach can do a lot more harm than good in the long run.

Sometimes it’s hard for clients to get past their own anger, hurt, or betrayal and think clearly about the decisions that will shape their family’s future. In the heat of the moment, amid a perceived crisis, thinking about the next week, the next month, or five years down the road is impossible.

As an attorney, it’s important for me to help my clients take a step back, take a deep breath, and discuss solutions that don’t necessarily involve filing another motion and going back to court. “Is this the hill you want to die on?” is a question I ask clients when it is clear they’re letting their emotions override their good judgment. Like many lawyers, I enjoy a good courtroom battle, but sometimes the best thing I can do for my client is keep them out of court and working instead toward resolving the issue without judicial input. When I help my clients prioritize their issues and goals, and help them reach an agreement where they can, they tend to feel more in control of the process – and happier with the outcome – than clients who are always looking for ways to make the other party suffer, no matter the cost.

It’s important to remember that after you’ve hired an attorney to fight like a lion for you, long after the divorce decree or custody order is entered, you will still have some involvement with your former spouse or child’s parent. There will be birthdays, graduations, weddings, funerals, etc. The decisions you make during your breakup have long-lasting consequences. Keep your perspective: what may seem impossible right now is likely not going to mean that much in the future.  

Tips to Reduce Conflict During a Virginia Divorce

Here are some additional tips to help you reduce conflict during the divorce process:

  • Protect your children. If children are involved, prioritize their well-being and shield them from adult conflicts. Maintain a united front as parents and create a stable and supportive environment for them.
  • Manage your emotions. Recognize that emotions will arise during a divorce, but try not to let them dictate your actions. Seek support from friends, family, or a therapist to process your feelings.
  • Respect boundaries. Give each other space and time to process the changes. Respect each other's boundaries and avoid unnecessary confrontations.
  • Stay informed. Educate yourself about the divorce process, your rights, and your responsibilities. Knowing what to expect can reduce uncertainty and anxiety.
  • Choose your battles. Avoid fighting over every small detail. Focus on the most critical issues and prioritize what truly matters to you.
  • Be flexible. Be open to flexibility and creative solutions when working towards agreements. Rigidity can often lead to increased conflict.
  • Practice self-care. Divorce can be emotionally draining, so take care of your physical and mental health. Engage in activities that bring you joy and help manage stress.
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