The divorce process sucks no matter how you slice it. You’re thrust into a system you likely didn’t want to be in, where decisions are made by others and often are difficult or impossible to control. The one person you thought you could count on forever is now your adversary. The attorneys see your case as a game they play with each other, oblivious to the cost, and seemingly unaware that this is your family on the line.
The most maddening part of divorce is the lack of control over your own life. Support obligations arise that eat huge chunks of your paycheck, leaving little for daily living. You may be relegated to being a weekend parent to a teen who seems to hate your guts, who can’t see the sacrifices you have made as a parent.
You may be dealing with an ex that is always trying to twist things their way, trying to alienate the children, trying to avoid paying support or having their lawyer bury you in a pile of paperwork.
As a Carlsbad divorce lawyer, I have represented hundreds of people in your situation. And, as a divorced lawyer I have faced and risen above this crapstorm.
The biggest key to success when you divorce or have child custody issues is to get out of the habit of blaming others.
Most people in family court make the same mistake. When things aren’t working out for them they look for someone or something to blame. It’s the judge who doesn’t understand what kind of person the father really is. It’s the ex, poisoning the kids’ minds against you. It’s her new boyfriend overstepping his role as the kids’ stepfather. It’s the unfair system. It’s the unfairness of divorce law.
Whatever the problem is, you’ll never solve it as long as you point to a cause outside of your control. Here are some of examples of what’s outside your control:
- How the judge perceives you or your case and what she ultimately orders;
- Your ex’s parenting style;
- The behavior of her new mate;
- Your teen’s rebellious and surly attitude;
- The amount of your divorce lawyer’s bill;
- What your ex says about you to the kids;
- Your ex’s house rules.
Is there anything about your post-separation family life you can control? Absolutely. How about these:
- Your cooperation with the judge’s orders;
- Your parenting style;
- Your response to your ex’s new mate.
- Your joy even when your teen is rebellious and surly;
- How you use attorney services to get the most bang for your buck;
- Your support for the other parent’s parenting
- Your house rules.
Don’t forget the serenity prayer: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Here’s a clue regarding that difference-knowing wisdom: The things we can control are usually internal to us: our attitude, our effort, our drive, our behavior.
The things we usually can’t control are conversely external to us: our ex, our children’s behavior, the amount of support ordered, opposing counsel, our expenses. Remember the wisdom of St. Paul when he wrote: “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.” Phil. 4:11b. Paul was writing from a Roman prison!
When you achieve mastery over your inner state, your attitude, you can walk into court with a smile on your face that makes your ex wonder what you’ve got up your sleeve. Your attitude will win over your surly teen. Who knows? Maybe even your ex will start being nice.
When it comes to joy, I am reminded of something Brendon Bruchard said: “the power plant doesn’t have energy; it generates energy.” In the same way you can be more joyous, be more patient, be more cooperative, be a better parent.
Don’t waste your energy trying to change things that are outside of your control. When you start doing that, you’ll start doing better in family court and you’ll be a much happier person. Until next time,
Love your family,
Protect your finances, and
Reach for your future!
Thomas D. Ferreira, Esq.