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Sheltering in Place When You're Not On the Same Page

Part Two Planning an Exit Strategy

Even in the best of times, getting divorced is awful. But being cooped up with someone you no longer want to be with is a painful and possibly combustible situation.

If you know that divorce is your next step, and you haven't told your spouse, take a deep breath, and use this time to prepare for the best possible outcome. Discretely work on your exit strategy. You'll want your eyes wide open on the road ahead. Here are some pointers:

  • Create your best self-avatar to anchor your behaviors during the process. What kind of role model do you want to be for children, loved ones, and significant relationships? You can find a quick and easy exercise to develop your avatar here.

  • How you communicate with your spouse will have a lot to do with the amount of time, money, and damage created during the process. Criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling will escalate a problem. Avoid saying:

You always

You never

Anything insulting or acting superior

  • Research what type of divorce process you want to use. You can opt for mediation, do-it-yourself, collaborative divorce, or litigation. Recognize that your spouse may have their thoughts. You'll want to understand how each method affects cost, children, time, and the pace of the process, privacy, and emotional damage. If you're able, begin to interview professionals. For a list of questions to ask attorneys, click here.

  • Each state has different rules and regulations. You can use resources like Legal Zoom or go directly to your state's judicial branch to learn more about the legal process.

  • Get organized for the procedure of divorce. You may not have the privacy to compile all the information you'll need, do the best you can to create a budget, gather financial records, make a note of property in the home that is important to you. If you are able, copy any documents related to finances, property, and retirement.

  • If you're concerned about being found out, clear your browser cache, and be discrete.

  • If you feel threatened, go to a safe place in the house or leave. Call 911 if it is an emergency. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is open 24/7, 1-800-799-7233. Most shelters are open. For more information on safety plans for you, children and pets go here.

I wrote earlier about families in awaiting a decree while sheltering together. For additional resources on keeping things calm, remaining in control, please go here.


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