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Article by listed attorney: Fawzia Khan

Our divorce rate in this country continues to soar. This seems to be in keeping with similar trends globally. Even though divorce is today commonplace, (well certainly more so than it was fifty years ago), it’s no less painful to all those affected by it. Ask any person who has been through a divorce and they will most likely tell you of feelings of rejection, loss of trust and loss of self-confidence which they experienced. That, coupled with the fear of the unknown, can be devastating even debilitating. Not good especially when you have to make important decisions that will have a major impact on your life and those around you. Add to the mix, protracted litigation as well as how the divorce impacts on your loved ones, (particularly the children) and you pretty much can see why going through a divorce would rank as on of the most stressful experiences in a person’s life.

There are ways however to minimize the stresses usually associated with divorce. I share with you some tips, which I have gained in my years as a civil and divorce litigation attorney. One of the first things I would recommend is to find a good divorce attorney, to guide you through the legal processes, explain what your rights are and give you excellent legal representation. Your attorney should have a thorough knowledge of the intricacies of all the relevant and related laws and case law around divorce, be empathetic to your situation and needs whilst being able to maintain some degree of professional emotional detachment. You want your attorney to be able to objectively highlight both what is achievable and what is not, insofar as your “wish list” for the divorce is concerned, and to be able to find workable solutions for you to achieve your objectives.

Secondly seek out professional help such as a psychologist, therapist or life coach to you help you through the gamut of emotions you will most certainly experience during the divorce process. Your attorney is there to offer you legal advice and representation. Attorneys do not, and should not offer counseling and therapy to their clients. This is best left to a professional in that field. By taking charge of your life, you will find the strength to make informed decisions about your future and how to cope with the changes. Find someone whom you trust to give you emotional support to help you when you have to make difficult decisions. This can be a family member or close friend. Definitely not the children, tempting though it may be! Your ex will always be the children’s mom or dad, regardless of how much of hurt he or she may have subjected you to.

Once you have the emotional baggage under control, you will feel more empowered rather than be paralyzed by fear of the unknown. With this in mind, you can tackle the contentious issues like where the children will live, what contact will be allowed to the non-custodial parent with some degree of emotional detachment. The law relating to children has fundamentally changed. The Children’s’ Act does not focus on the needs and wishes of the parent, but rather what is in the child’s best interest.

Consider appointing a mediator even before litigation starts. It’s not a sign of weakness to do so. Some aspects in which mediation is extremely beneficial relates to the children of the divorcing couple, for example what their living arrangements will be. By taking control of at least the aspect of the childrens care and contact arrangements post divorce, can go a long way in helping the whole family come to grips with all the changes the family faces. Consider putting together a parenting plan, preferably by also roping in the children (if they are old or mature enough to do so) to input as to their wishes in this regard. The voice of the child is taken seriously in the Children’s’ Act, which talks of giving due consideration to the wishes of the child. Thus it would be far more preferable for the divorcing couple themselves to agree on who the child lives with, what kind of contact times work for the non-custodial parent, rather than leave that decision to be made by a stranger (i.e. the judge).

There’s nothing to stop you from still actively pursuing, through litigation, for example all the monetary parts of the divorce, such as the value of the estate of the spouses, amount of maintenance payable and so on, if mediation is not successful on those issues. Recognize that the journey at this stage of your life may be bumpy but with the right professional help, as well as a positive mindset, you will get through it. As the saying goes “This too, shall pass”.

 Know your rights! The Law Desk of Fawzia Khan & Associates. Giving You the Power of Attorney. Email or call 031- 5025670 for legal advice at competitive rates.