If you’re in the midst of divorce during December it can be hard to summon any Christmas spirit. As well as getting all the presents bought and wrapped, you’ve got hearings to prepare for. Getting festive and taking time off is the last thing on your mind. So how do you prepare for court hearings at Christmas? Here’s everything you need to know to rescue your divorce, Christmas, and your wellbeing.
Get Clear On Your Timelines
The first thing you need to do is get clear on what’s happening and when. If there are deadlines set by court dates, of course you need to meet them. But, like the rest of society, the UK court system slows down in December. Court officials and lawyers also stop for Christmas! So there is no point in panicking over getting everything together if it’s not needed right now. Contact your lawyer’s office and find out about their availability. They will be away from the office at some point over December, that’s for certain. If they’re on holiday, it’s ok. You don’t need answers immediately. You can pick things up when they are back again. If you need to find out when your closest court or tribunal is open during the Christmas period, you can do that here. Remember, you can only control what you do. Not what anyone else does. Dates set by the court system, or the actions of your soon-to-be-ex are out of your hands. But it’s powerful to know them anyway, so you can plan and respond in the wisest way.
Stick to what’s necessary
If there was ever a month to take your foot off the pedal when it comes to divorce, December is it. Repeat after me: it’s ok to put your divorce down in December. Take half an hour for this exercise in the next 24 hours. Give yourself the gift of planning ahead. Schedule it in your diary.
Here’s what you need to do:
- Write out everything that’s on your mind about your divorce – just scribble it out into your notebook
- Now, read over everything you’ve got down on paper. And, with a mug of tea (or glass of wine) and a calm mind, put everything into two lists: things that NEED to happen in December, and things that can wait.
- Put everything that can wait into a folder – real or virtual. Remind yourself you’ve already done the hard work, you’ve mapped out what needs to happen. It’s safe to pick it up again in January.
- Now, look at what needs to happen. Are they all things that are within your control? Is the next action within your control? Perhaps you need more information on something. In which case – ask for it, along with a sense of urgency, and let it go. Schedule a time to chase it up. But in the meantime, let it go.
- If the actions are within your control, take each in turn and break them down into their smallest possible parts. So rather than ‘complete form E’ break it down into tasks like: find bank statements, work out your budget, call the pension company, book a chat with Emma to talk through it.
You will find that your list suddenly becomes a lot more manageable. Even if it’s longer than you’d like, you will have turned it into something you can tackle, rather than a big overwhelming monster that growls at you every night at 10pm when all the children are finally asleep, but your brain is too exhausted to do anything.
Get The Support You Need
The festive season is all about giving. And if you’re in the midst of a divorce and things need to happen – it’s the season to ask for help. Allow people to give. If your divorce is at mission-critical point, and you just can’t find the time to get everything ready, get help. Ask a neighbour to take the children for an afternoon (it’s December, there’s enough on Netflix to keep them entertained). Delegate the Christmas buying and wrapping as much as you can. Over in The Absolute Academy, we have a swap scheme in place this Christmas to help with the shopping gift list. Are there people who you could agree to have a ‘no gift’ Christmas with this year, to save you both hassle and money? You could have a get-together in new year instead. Ask a friend to sit with you and hold your hand as you tackle the paperwork. If you can’t see the wood for the trees, contact me. Together we can sift the must-dos from the red herrings and you’ll leave our call with a plan and a massive boost to your divorce confidence.
You Are Not Alone
Christmas can feel like the loneliest season if you’re getting divorced. All the Christmas adverts showcase happy family gatherings, with all the glitz and glamour on top. Friends complain about visiting their in-laws, and while you might be pleased not to have to do that anymore, a part of you is in pain that they’re no longer part of your Christmas routine. Maybe you won’t be with your children this Christmas, or it won’t be the same as it used to be. You are not alone. The Absolute Academy is full of women who get it. They know what it’s like to feel at rock bottom. And they know what it’s like to need more – to have faith that the future holds so much more. The Absolute Academy is open right through the holidays. I’m even opening a zoom room on Christmas Day. You don’t need to be alone. It’s ok to be sad – it’s a normal response to a difficult time. But believe me, it’s so much easier to be sad with others who understand. If you’re wondering what to get yourself as a present this Christmas, come and join us. Yes, you’ll get answers to your divorce questions and a road map to save you so much time and energy. But, right now, perhaps the most important thing is you’ll know what it’s like to be part of a community of women who are riding the divorce wave, just like you. Who want to make smart choices for their future, just like you. And who know how to relax and have fun, just like you (even if that feels low on your agenda right now). Come and join us. You won’t regret it.
Emma Heptonstall, the Divorce Alchemist is the author of the Amazon best-selling book How to be a Lady Who Leaves, the Ultimate Guide to Getting Divorce Ready. A former lawyer, Emma is a family mediator and founder of Get Divorce Ready the online self-study and group programmes. Emma has been featured on BBC Radio, The Telegraph, the iPaper and in Marie Claire Magazine. Emma is also the host of The Six Minute Divorce Podcast. To find out more visit www.emmaheptonstall.com