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The New Year is a great time to change your habits and make new beginnings.  If you are thinking about a divorce or already in the midst of one, add these tips to your New Year’s Resolutions for a happier New Year and less stressed divorce transition.

1) Choose the Right Attorney:  If you are getting ready to divorce, understand how important it is to choose the right attorney for you.  This may or may not be the attorney your friend used or a family member recommended.  Interview several attorneys to learn their interaction methods, rates, and approaches.  Good attorneys are teachers, guides, and experts in their field who can help you understand your choices and realistic outcomes.  A good attorney is a strategic ally who will tell you the truth even if it is the truth you do not want to hear, who will use “honey” as effectively as aggressive advocacy, and who will make you feel like someone truly has your back.

2) Resist the Lure of Negative Emotions:   It can be easy to feel negative when you are in the midst of a divorce.  But negativity can be like a poison that slowly destroys you.  Focusing on changing your thoughts about what a divorce means in these three key areas will help you be healthier and happier.  Lie #1:  Divorce is the source of your unhappiness.  Actually, divorce is what will get you out of your unhappiness. When you look honestly at what was happening in your marriage, you will likely see that moving on is best for you.  Lie #2:  Finding someone or something to blame will mitigate the pain of your divorce.  Wrong.  When blame is your focus, the hurt and pain of your divorce will linger.  Lie #3:  Divorce will ruin your life.  The truth:  Divorce does not define the rest of your life.  You will.

3) Reject Old Patterns from your Marriage:  Many people find themselves falling into their old habits of acting out when it comes to dealing with their soon to be ex in their divorce.  But repeating old patterns will do nothing to help your divorce or help you move on to the next part of your life.  Think about the qualities you have that make you proud of yourself and make a list of them.  Are you honest, smart, self-reliant, sympathetic?  Those are the behaviors and qualities you need to bring to your divorce.  Crises typically bring out the best or the worst in people.  Divorce is one of those crises in which we reveal a lot about ourselves.  Are your good traits better than your worst?  Bring your best “you” to your divorce. 

4) Attract Good Communication Karma:  Poor communication almost always contributes to a divorce.  Healthy communication always creates good karma for your divorce.  Engaging in a strategic divorce calls for healthy communication in three areas:  how you talk to your soon to be ex and your children, transparency with your attorney, and minimizing negative dialogue about your divorce with friends, family, and acquaintances.  Communication starts with your thoughts, which get translated into words, which are conveyed in your actions.  Think hard about what you want to say and to whom.  Practice a speech in your head so your words are ready when you feel challenged by your soon to be ex or are interacting with your children.  Tell your attorney everything, good or bad.  If you don’t they can’t help you.

5) Put Your Kids First:  People often say their kids come first.  But many divorcing parents don’t put those words into actions.  If you truly want to minimize the effects of divorce on your children, then make sure to focus on co-parenting, showing the children you are still a family, and communicating a sense of security to your children.  You need to separate your own feeling of loss at not seeing your children as often as you are used to from what will make their transition into separate households a success.  Treat the children’s other parent as a partner in raising the children you both created.  Attend birthday parties and activities with your ex instead of not going because it is his or her “time”.  Find that space where you and your ex can agree to love and support your children together.  And never ever communicate conflict between you and your ex to your children.  They will remember what they saw and heard during the divorce.  Make it as positive as possible!