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Deciding that you want to divorce your spouse is a big step, and one that involves a lot of soul searching and heartache. Now that you’ve made that decision, one that has undoubtably taken all of your mental processing for some time, what do you do?  How do you move forward?

A lot of people close to you will give you practical advice about the divorce process when they learn you are getting divorced, such as information gathering strategies and schedules for your children.  This is not what you need to do first.

The first thing you need to work on: letting the past go. Your decision to divorce your spouse took a lot of weighing your past against your future.  You’ve spent a lot of time reviewing the past: your past actions and your spouse’s past actions. However, in making the decision to divorce, you’ve decided that you want a new future.  A significant number of people get stuck in the past and let the past color their decisions as they try to shape their future through the divorce process. The most important first step you must take after you decide to divorce is letting the past go in order to build the better future you want.

When people get stuck carrying their past around, they focus on the things their spouse did wrong in the past: how they never spent time with the children before, how they never wanted to go to the children’s medical appointments before, or be involved with school.  They look at how they never wanted to save for retirement or go on vacations.  However, just because they were never interested in those activities before, doesn’t mean that they can’t be interested in those activities now. Once you decide you want to divorce, you have to let go of the past behavior of your spouse during the marriage. You’ve decided you want a new future.

The key is to not think about the past but think about your future and how you want your spouse to be with your children in the future.  Would you like your soon to be ex-spouse to help your children with their homework and projects? Would you like your soon to be ex-spouse to be active with your children’s extra-curricular activities?  Then, you have to let the past go, and give your soon to be ex-spouse the time and the opportunity to develop the relationship you would like them to have with the children. Letting go in this way also gives you the chance to have friends again and have a life outside of your children.  (Obviously, this advice does NOT apply to situations of abuse or neglect. In those situations, you should protect your children above all else, as past behavior predicts future behavior in these grave instances). The time to focus on your future and your children’s future is now.  Give them the gift of having two involved parents, assuming your soon to be ex-spouse wants to take on that role.  Give yourself the gift of time alone, discovering (or rediscovering) hobbies you love, and spending time with your friends.

Keep your eyes on the future you want and make decisions in your divorce based on your best future, not the mistakes or shortcomings of your past.  When you search for an attorney to represent you, pick one that has the same goals in mind for you and can help you meet those goals.  When you’re ready to take that step, give our firm a call.

Dodie Sachs, CBJ Family Law Attorney

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