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Featured Article | When Divorce Hits A Snag…Don’t Panic!


Written by Featured Guest Blogger Melissa Cohen, LCSW, CPC, IEC Therapist & Life Strategist

For some of us, once we decide on divorce, it could not happen quick enough.  Whether you decide on an uncontested divorce with it’s over easy or not, sometimes the law gets in the way of us moving forward.

Take the example of Darla and Keith. They moved to New York for a fresh start.  They had been having problems for a few years and decided that a change of scenery would be best for their marriage.  They would each be able to pursue their careers and build a life together without the burden of the issues from the past staring directly at them.  They began working together on their marriage and making joint decisions that they both benefitted from.  It was working just fine, until it wasn’t.  They tried everything, had ups and downs, went through every emotion until after four months, they decided that divorce was their best option.  Once the decision had been made they immediately felt better and plotted out a course for action.  They each made appointments with their respective lawyers and were relieved that they were moving forward.

That is, until they met with those lawyers.

It turns out that each state has different requirements for divorce and when you can file.  Whether you decide on your own or with your partner, most states have some sort of residency requirement.  This means that one or both of you need to be able to show proof that you have a legal or financial connection to the state that you live in. In New York, the residency requirement is 12 months and in California it is just 3 months.  Also, while there is no separation requirement in CA there is a 12-month requirement in NY.  Because you can’t file for a divorce in a state where you do not have current residency, you now must begin the process of setting up for divorce instead of the actual divorce.

For Darla and Keith, this meant that they were actually at the very beginning of the process not at the end.  Their divorce was on hold until they met these requirements and they had to put the breaks on their hopes of moving forward quickly.  They had to make a mental shift or run the risk of panic taking over.

Suddenly, where you once had an answer, you find yourself in limbo.  You may feel stuck and ask yourself - how do I spend the next year or more being me?  It is at this point where we can lose our confidence or may start to panic as we even question our choices.

There may be some days, when you may feel secure and on other days, you may not.  There may be a constant replay in your head where you will be thinking of every possible scenario or you may experience moments of pure, plain panic before committing or approaching even the smallest thing or topic.  When this happens, something that was once pretty small and insignificant can suddenly blossom into a full–blown oversized obstacle that is really scary and overwhelming, and we may find ourselves paralyzed and unsure of what to do.

This type of thinking can be destructive to your self-esteem and confidence at a time where you should be thinking about the future and keeping positive.

Here are 6 simple ways to make the most of an unforeseen obstacle and not get discouraged, or panic:

Ask yourself “What’s the worst that could happen?”  If you can’t come up with a really good answer, then just make the decision and move on.

Don’t ignore the positives.  If you are going to overthink things, then for each negative item balance it out and come up with a positive one to counter it.

Give yourself permission to make mistakes.  You can’t control everything, and you can’t always make the right choice.  Some choices will be good and some bad. Accept what you don’t like, learn from it and do it differently the next time.

Set a deadline and stick to it.  If you know that you are going to agonize over something, then do it but set a limit and when you reach it, stop and commit.

Take a break.  Take time to do something you enjoy and clear your mind.  It might just be what you need to move forward.

Spend time with the people who you love and care about.  Not only will this take your mind off whatever is bothering you, but it will help you focus on others, giving you a brighter perspective.

So, the next time your life hits a snag, don’t panic, just focus on being the best version of you that you can be.

Stay in touch with Melissa on Facebook and Instagram @ARedefinedYou


Go to this page about online divorce to learn more.