An article we read recently informed us that actor Kevin Costner’s divorce includes allegations from his wife that he is trying to humiliate her in the process. Allegations are easy to make and often tough to prove, of course, but our hope for Mr. Costner is that he rethink any idea of “humiliation” and using emotion to control and instead focus on the important aspects of the case and what steps he can take to work towards a good outcome. While many divorcing spouses feel anger and frustration (and often with ample justification) during a family law case, there are better ways to handle this kind of emotional turmoil. We have a few tips on how he (and you) might better conduct himself through this difficult process.
Here are four “best practices” we urge you to consider:
- Communicate simply and with civility. Family law cases contain bundles of wide-ranging emotions. Divorcing partners are frustrated and angry at each other, at the legal system, and even at their lawyers. Lashing out in writing is the least productive way of dealing with this frustration. Don’t write something you wouldn’t want a judge (or your mother) to see. If you are angry or upset, hold off on sending that email for 24 hours. Or send the email to your lawyer to get their review and suggested revisions. Knee-jerk anger translated into writing too often will come back to bite you. Simple, civil communication will never hurt you. It may even help your case.
- Surround yourself with a resource team to support you. Your emotions will inevitably run high from time to time, and you may find yourself angry, upset, and frustrated. Surrounding yourself with friends, family, and a therapist is important. Family and friends can listen and offer you moral (and sometimes financial) support. Unlike family and friends, however, a therapist can be objective and offer you candid and helpful advice. In those moments when you experience anger or the desire to humiliate, seek help and support to determine what actions and statements will help you work towards a successful result in your case.
- Keep notes. It can be difficult to remember all of the details you need to hang onto in a family law case, especially when you are overcome with emotion. Making legible notes in a notebook or file dedicated to your case will allow you to refer to important points when you need them. You can also provide your notes to your lawyer, as they have not lived through this litigation in the way you have. Having a resource for them to refer to can be extremely helpful.
- Exercise patience. Family law cases are difficult, long, and often expensive. They generate a lot of negative emotions and feelings. But keep the faith: the case will eventually end. How you feel at the end of the case will be different from how you feel a year from now. Patience is your best ally. Allow yourself to be angry, to vent, and to be frustrated (and take those emotions to your therapist), but remember that you won’t always feel this way.
The family law attorneys at Paule, Camazine & Blumenthal can help you with these and other best practices to work towards the best possible outcome in your case.