One of the things I have learned over the years; “change is stressful.” Likewise, a divorce case or paternity case can be stressful as several changes can be occurring at once; living arrangements, finances, relationship with significant other and in some cases, access to your child(ren). Clearly, that is a lot of change to be occurring at once – the question is how best to deal with all this change and the stress that often accompanies the change.
When I have a client I attempt to get them to realize the impossibility of dealing with all these changes at once. Most clients initial response is to attempt to race to the finish line (how will this all end). While the better approach is to take on each step of the divorce/paternity case as it presents itself.
After you hire an attorney the first step is to draft a petition or counter-petition which sets forth the relief being sought. Second, obtain discovery; to wit; what are the assets, debts, and income of the parties. Third, research any unique legal issues. Fourth, meet with the client to discuss what they would love to see happen at mediation and their bottom line. Fifth, attend mediation; and if not resolved at mediation, prepare for trial.
Now I am not saying that focusing on the step at hand will eliminate stress – but it will certainly reduce it. Typically you need to resolve the prior step before you and your attorney are ready to tackle the next step.
Of course, the pressures of each step should be dealt with in the same manner – break into little chunks. What do I need to get done this week? What do I need to get done today? What do I need to get done in the next few hours?
Back in the 80’s when I was a treating masters level psychologist I felt one of the best ways to help clients was to reduce their stress level. Same is true as a lawyer. In both cases, the key is don’t overwhelm yourself – deal with today what must be dealt with today – then stop.
Till Next Time,
Chet E. Weinbaum, M.S.J.D