You’ve gone through it. The rollercoaster of marriage, the ups and downs, the disagreements, the uncomfortable conversations, the hurtful words, the “entanglements,” and in some cases, the abuse. Things have been said that you can’t take back, loving words were left unsaid, and resolutions never happened because there was no compromise.
You may have tried counseling with a licensed therapist or religious leader. You may have tried to deescalate, avoid, or even stepped outside of the marriage in an attempt to feel loved. But the time has come to admit the truth: this relationship that you held dear for so many years has become toxic and run its course. Our attorneys at the Mazaheri Law Firm have seen just about every scenario that leads someone to our office and we have come up with our top 10 tips for surviving a divorce.
- Find a Trusted Attorney – Step one in any divorce is finding an attorney you can trust. Now is the time to figure out your options, and an attorney can be your pillar of strength in this storm. This is one of the most difficult times a person will face in their life, and you MUST find someone you can trust to go through this process with you. In your most vulnerable time, you need an attorney who carries confidence, knows the law, and is ready to fight for all you’re entitled to. If you have children, you’ll need an attorney that will look objectively at what is in the best interests of your children.
- Get Your Finances in Order – Many clients need assistance with this part. In a divorce, your attorneys will look at both your assets and your debts. The property you have (personal property and real property) and any assets you may own (retirement accounts, pensions, a business, etc.) will need to be assessed for its value and equitably divided.
Pro tip: Watch the mail. Are there any statements from banks or accounts that you are unaware of, indicating that there may be a separate account where your spouse has been stashing money? Are there unexplained expenses on credit card statements that raise questions? All these things may be relevant and are important to make your attorney aware of.
- Analyze Your Debt – When talking finances, I always suggest running a credit report so you know what outstanding debts there are. Start with big items like your marital home: What is the mortgage? Can you afford that payment with your income? Is there any equity in the home? Pull your credit card statements and your tax records for the past 3 years. Your lawyer will need to evaluate all debts for a divorce, so a list of all your bills and outstanding payments can help prepare a marital balance sheet.
- Work Out Your Expenses – This is crucial in figuring out what you will need to move on and raise your family moving forward. At our office, we provide a worksheet for clients to determine current living expenses and summarize what they will need to ensure financial stability after the divorce is finalized. Once you figure out what you need, we can determine if alimony/spousal support is a possibility. You will need to verify your current income (if any) with pay stubs and tax records, as well as the income of your spouse to be able to calculate child support if children are involved. Start collecting those records for your lawyer.
- Set Realistic Expectations with Your Attorney – What does the ideal situation look like and what areas are you able to compromise, if needed? A good attorney will not tell you what you want to hear, but will guide you to set realistic goals in line with Oklahoma law. They will analyze the facts with case law in mind to find creative solutions that prioritize your goals and keep your expectations realistic.
- Indulge in Self-Care – No matter who wants the divorce, there are years of emotions that need to be released. It is so important to find someone close or a counselor to bear the emotional brunt of divorce with you. A counselor can guide you to evaluate your emotional triggers and equip you with healthy coping skills. This may also be the time to reward yourself with small things: a mani/pedi, a massage, a bubble bath, getting fit, or something that is just for you. Set aside time for your individual passions. Make sure that you are balancing the hard work you are doing on yourself with small rewards to remind you that you are worthy!
- Think Before You Act – In a divorce, people do and say the most hurtful things that later can come back to bite them when making a case for custody, visitation, or spousal support. It’s best to keep in mind that all your texts and emails to your ex may be read by the judge. Social media can be your enemy and be used against you. Keep your posts to a minimum and DO NOT bad mouth your ex or discuss details of the divorce on social media. Call your counselor or your lawyer before you hurt your chances in court.
- Reframe Your Image of Divorce – Naturally, divorce may feel like a failure. From a religious standpoint, you may not feel like you’ve honored your vows. But after assisting many people through this life transition, I realize that it can actually be transformative. An unhappy marriage is like dry soil to a plant. The plant cannot flourish, grow and show its true beauty to the world if it is not watered. This is an opportunity to start fresh with new soil, nourish your soul, and grow into living your best life. Divorce can mean you are free from the negativity that has been stunting your growth all these years. It can mean freedom and new beginnings.
- Patiently Visualize Your Phase 2 – Divorce is a process, and it can take months or years to finalize. It’s frustrating when court dates are continued, or when your ex does not respond to discovery timely. Be patient, stay the course, and keep your “Phase 2” in mind. Phase 2 is envisioning: What does your life look like when you are free of this divorce? Who do you want to be when you come out of this dark time? If you have devoted your life and identity to this marriage, who are you without it, how will you emerge stronger, and how will you create an even better life? Get together a vision board, journal, or find inspiration on what your Phase 2 looks like and reflect on it when times get tough. Keeping your goal in mind will help you not get sidetracked.
- It Is All About the Kids – If you are going through a divorce with children, remember first and foremost it is all about the kids. Do you want them to carry trauma for you or do you want this transition to be positive? What do they need to come through the other side of this and minimize the scarring? Therapy? More visitation? Joint custody? The ability to maintain relationships with extended family? Supervised visits due to abuse? Think about the things that could make this process easier on your children. Remember that your children did not ask to be put in the middle of this transition in your family and protect them from the negativity you may feel towards your spouse.
At Mazaheri Law Firm, we know that you likely thought you would NEVER be in this situation. We are here to walk with you, support you, and advocate for you in this difficult transition. If you’d like to discuss your options, call us at 405-414-2222.
Katherine Mazaheri-Franze is an Oklahoma City “law mom” of 4 children of a blended, multiracial, and multilingual family. She has 5 year old boy/girl twins, a 7 year old, and a step-daughter currently attending the University of Oklahoma.
During the day, she works full time as Founder and Managing Attorney of the Mazaheri Law Firm and at night she’s an insta-pot home chef, boogie-monster eradicator, and trying to stay awake long enough to occasionally be the tooth fairy.
A portion of Katherine’s trial practice is devoted to assisting families in times of crisis. She assists clients with divorce, custody and visitation, property division, victim protective orders, and step-parent adoptions. Along with divorce, she assists couples in negotiation of pre-nuptial agreements and protection of assets.
Her heart for social justice has influenced her passion for employment litigation involving claims of wrongful discharge, sexual harassment/assault, employment discrimination (based on race, age, gender, sexual orientation, pregnancy, national origin, and disability), retaliation, as well as disputes involving wage and hour matters, medical leave, confidentiality and non-compete agreements, employee handbook and company policy violations and breaches of employment agreements. As the Founder and Managing Attorney of the Mazaheri Law Firm she is proud of leading an all-female team of attorneys who for over a decade have gained a powerful reputation for taking on cases that attack various social injustices leading to extensive recoveries for clients with compassion and integrity.