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Surviving divorce in Ohio, and elsewhere
by William H. Hunt, Esq.
The first step in surviving divorce in Ohio—or anywhere else—is to give yourself a break. Be gentle on yourself.

The key is balance. You may feel like you have been dumped on your head. You need to get yourself right side up. Avoid indulging in a gigantic pity party. Don't be unnecessarily harsh either. You're not the only person who has gone through this.

Your attitude should be, "I'm OK." To feel that way, do what works for you: spiritual or religious writings, self-help books or tapes, the counsel of a professional or a friend and so on. Don’t look for fault. It’s unproductive. The conventional legal system will do much of that for you, unfortunately not for free.

Seek a process that works for you

Once you feel under control on a consistent basis, look for a process that will achieve resolution for you. This is where the counsel of friends and family may serve you poorly.

Divorce is personal. No one answer fits everyone. Don’t choose a direction merely on the advice of somebody at your office, at your club or on the bowling team. What worked for them will not necessarily work for you. What they cared about may not coincide with what is really important to you.

Identify what is in your best interests and the interests of those you care about. Choose a course that gets you to those interests at the lowest total cost: emotional, financial, familial, societal and personal. Anyway you cut it there will be a price to pay. Why pay more than you have to?

Before you decide to fight, make peace with yourself

You may be asking yourself, "Do I want to move on with my life now? Or do I want to stay in place to try to exact a little revenge?"

I suggest no right or wrong answer to this question. Some people detest conflict. Others thrive on it. For those who think they enjoy the good fight, beware. A divorce is most often not a good fight. The victims include more than just the combatant spouses.

Make your choice carefully. Understand that your decision-making abilities are probably not at their best. This is why making peace with yourself first may be the most important first step you will ever take. Divorce ranks as one of the top two in stressful life experiences.

Determine your real interests

This is not easy. Interests are different from goals or even acceptable outcomes. Sorting out your interests will help not only you, but also help whichever professional you choose to get you a good result.

Interests are what you really care about. Putting them into words can be difficult. To sort out interests - "I want my kids to be OK" - from outcomes -"I want $500 per month in child support," ask yourself: Why? Why do I care about this? Will pursuing this improve or damage the new life that begins when the divorce is final?

Keep asking why until you have answered the question as completely as you can. At that point, you have probably successfully identified what is important to you. Now repeat the process, until you have defined all your key interests. When you are done, your attorney will be better able to help you choose a path more likely to create the outcomes you seek.

One short article can not cover all it takes to survive divorce. It does provide a starting point. As for the rest, volumes have been written about coping with divorce, keep looking until one speaks to you.

Attorney William H. Hunt of Hunt & Cook, L.L.C., in Westlake, is trained in collaborative approaches to divorce. He can be reached at 440.892.0400 and 

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