By Guest Contributor Donna F. Ferber, LPC, LADC   |   October 27th, 2012

10 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Taking Divorce Legal Action

divorceThe dissolution of their marriage offers the opportunity for each partner to stand up for themselves in a way they had not before. Bravo! Finding your voice and learning assertiveness skills can create better relationships with others while assisting you in getting what you need.

Sometimes though, in our desire to not let ourselves be hurt or abused again, we may become inflexible and unwilling to give in on anything. If we become rigid, we cross the line into aggressive behavior. This new contentious behavior can backfire. In the realm of divorce, it can create additional problems such as higher legal bills, increased acrimony with our ex, tension with our kids and conflict in our daily lives.

Rolling over and acquiescing to everyone and everything isn’t the answer either. We must learn to choose our battles; it’s old advice, but good advice. In reality, divorce is not about winning, you will have to compromise. During the divorce process, it is critical to reflect before you react. Here are 10 questions to ask yourself before taking legal action:

  1. Do you really know what happened?So many times, we jump to conclusions or make assumptions and then are ready to “have it out” before we know all the facts. Because we share a history with our estranged spouse, we make assumptions that we always know how s/he will act. Avoid making those assumptions.
  2. How much does it really matter?Think long range: will this issue impact you a year from now or even a week from now? Frequently, we take a stand when it isn’t really necessary or appropriate. We just feel so enraged at the moment and are vigilant in defending ourselves against further pain!
  3. Will it get you what you want?  Sometimes, we take a stand on an issue with hopes that the victory will help us feel better about something else. For example, demandinghe show up on time for visitation is unrealistic. Of course, you know you can’t really control this, but you may have felt so powerless for so long that you forget – You can’t MAKE anyone do anything.
  4. Do you just want to be heard? Do you really care about what you are fighting about or is it more about a need  for validation? Sometimes it feels if we agree with the opposition, we are condoning their bad behavior. The legal system is not going to affirm your emotional pain.
  5. What are your options?Are there things you can do to work this through on your own? An example, if he refuses to change the visitation schedule to accommodate your trip out of town, can you find someone else to watch the kids?
  6. Do you want a positive outcome?Make sure your stand isn’t just about “getting back” or venting your anger. This is important. Sometimes we want to keep the fight going just for vengeance.
  7. Have you thought it through carefully? What considerations are there in taking a stand on this issue? Will there be “Collateral Damage”? Are you likely to achieve your goal? How important is that goal? The couple who spent thousands of dollars fighting over an old tea pot really didn’t think it through.
  8. Will you have regrets if you do nothing?Years from now, how will this decision feel?
  9. Are there any risks?For example, if you wage a war against your ex due to infidelity or tax evasion, will there be consequences to you when your soon-to-be ex fights back? Are there certain aspects of your behavior that you would rather not reveal? Know your own vulnerable spots before you begin something you might regret.
  10. Will taking a stand here really make a difference? For example, if your husband truly has no money, going after him for lots of alimony is not going to prove fruitful. On the flip side, insisting your wife go back to work when her entire salary won’t cover the cost of day care is just wasting your precious resources of time, money and energy. Be realistic about your goal and the possibility of achieving it.

Use Assertiveness Skills Appropriately During The Divorce Process

Think of all the assertiveness skills you have learned, and affirm your ability to speak up for yourself. However, be mindful to not misuse these skills in a way that would just create havoc and resentment in your life. As you go through this process, learn that having assertiveness skills is important but using them appropriately is critical.

donnabio.jpgDonna F. Ferber, LPC, LADC is a psychotherapist in Farmington, CT, and is the author of the award winning From Ex-Wife to Exceptional Life: A Woman’s Journey through Divorce now available in Kindle format for $9.99 as well as in paperback. To purchase Click here or visit www.donnaferber.com

Published with permission from Ms. Ferber’s blog article, Choosing your Battles: Managing your Divorce, posted on September 3, 2012.

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Guest Contributor Donna F. Ferber, LPC, LADCAbout The Author: Guest Contributor Donna F. Ferber, LPC, LADC
Donna F. Ferber, is a psychotherapist in private practice for 28 years. She is a licensed professional counselor, a licensed alcohol and drug abuse counselor and an educator. Donna works with individuals and in groups. Her office is in Farmington, Connecticut.

Divorce: How To Choose And Manage Your Battles
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