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Navigating through the Emotional Turmoil of the Family Court Process


When relationships end, it is normal to feel a myriad of emotions: hurt, anger, sadness, resentment, guilt, etc. We all have a constant flow of feelings percolating within us. Generally, particularly under the extreme stress of family court litigation, we do not choose how to feel these raw emotions, but we do have a choice in how we respond to them. If we act out of emotion then we will certainly regret it. Each of us has said something we did not mean when we were upset, so we know how emotions can affect our behavior and decision-making.

There are two sides of the coin with the end of a relationship – an emotional side and a legal side. The challenge is that the two sides are polar opposites – they do not mesh. If you are not able to control your emotions during family court litigation, they will impede your sense of reason and you will make poor choices. These poor emotional decisions can lead to emotional, financial, and legal hardship. When emotions are ramped up and you are dealing with the prospect of family court litigation, you cannot afford to let emotions affect your ability to reach a positive resolution.

You should never ignore your emotions. They are very real and healthy responses to stressful events in your life. But remember, there is a time and place to express your emotions. You cannot make sound decisions when you are overwhelmed with emotion as they may lead you to make misguided or outright disastrous ones. If you permit your emotions to overtake you the result could be a situation that is not in your or your family’s best interest.

Keeping your emotions in check is a challenge, but with some strategies and practice, you can avoid regrettable situations. Here are some tools that will help you successfully control your emotions.

1. Be Ready

The Initial foray into the world of Family Court is replete with angst over the unknown and unexpected; it’s common for your emotions to direct you. This is particularly true during a divorce or separation when you are flooded with so many negative emotions. Family court litigation is horribly stressful and a positive outcome requires you to manage stress effectively; otherwise, you will regret the outcome for many years.

You need to be prepared before you start the family court process. You need to know what you want – based on what is the most likely outcome. You also need to consider what your ex might want and what they will do to get it. Most of all, you have to try to think about what is best for your children. That’s a huge weight on your shoulders. It can be difficult on your own without proper guidance.

Be prepared to always respond politely and calmly, no matter how aggressively the other party is behaving. Be aware of what your triggers are so you can avoid losing control of your emotions during the process. In every situation remind yourself what might cause you to be emotional and write down the toughest, most unnerving questions or topics that might come up. Think about how you will cope with the worst aspects of your case in a calm fashion. We have to be prepared to face the most unpleasant aspects of our case and be able to discuss them without becoming emotional.

2. Avoid Conflict and Avoid Stress

You can always avoid a confrontation or a difficult subject. There is no excuse in allowing yourself to lose control of your emotions during the family court process. The consequences are too severe.

Be smart with your communications. Practice radio silence; you need not communicate in any form unless it is entirely necessary. Too often emotionally-laden texts and emails end up in court filings and they are always harmful to your case. If you cannot be reasonable and measured in your communication, then do not send it.

Do not broach an emotional topic that would inevitably lead to a break-down in communication and a needless waste of emotional energy. If you want to reach an agreement and avoid trial, you want the communications to stay on point, and not become mired in bitter conflict.

It’s never worth bringing up the baggage of a relationship that is now in the past as it only leads to worthless conflict. Sometimes you might need to ask yourself: “Is it worth it?”

If seeing your ex riles your emotions, then avoid in person communication and have uninvolved third parties screen your emails and texts.

Sometimes to make progress in a negotiation, you might have to let go of things that have upset you and forget how that person may have wronged you. That is part of being a grown-up in the family court arena. If you are hell-bent on getting revenge on an ex that has done you wrong, then the family court process will end in shame for you.

“Adulting” is hard and requires you to focus on the end game and not that person that you no longer share a bed with.

3. Exercise and Live Your Life

Ruminating over negative emotions associated with family court is harmful. Instead, find something else to do. Distract your attention and refocus. Get a new hobby or start learning about family law. Defog your head by focusing on other things that can help you avoid a downward emotional spiral. Exercise is a necessity to release caged up emotions. Go for a bike ride, hit the gym or hit a punching bag. Don’t abuse substances and avoid going down a self-destructive path.

4. Talk to Someone you Trust, Maybe a Therapist

There is nothing like a sharp friend to converse with about your case who can be brutally honest. This is no time to engage with bootlickers who will agree with you before you finish your sentence. If you are short on friends, go find a competent therapist who can help talk you through your family court emotions. If you think there is a stigma associated with seeing a therapist, then get over it. Think of therapy as the opportunity to talk with someone for an hour and they won’t change the subject. Sometimes our friends, or significant others, are sick of hearing about our family court drama.

5. Get Help from a Professional Negotiator

You will always make bad decisions when you are emotional. Never make important decisions or sign anything in an emotional state; otherwise, you will regret it for the next decade.

When it comes to love, three is a crowd. However, when it comes to hashing out complex issues, having a third person in your corner can help settle a negotiation on favorable terms. There are third parties who can facilitate tough discussions between you and your former spouse. It can even be someone, like Pro Se PROS, that can guide you in an advisory role. Hiring an attorney to facilitate a settlement has its advantages, least of which is the exorbitant cost. In a perfect world, you could dispatch John D. Jones Esq. to hammer out an amicable settlement between you and your ex, but the associated cost is beyond the reach of most who are involved in the family court process. Nonetheless, guidance grounded in wisdom and experience is essential for a positive outcome in family court.


Dealing with your emotions and responding properly is hard and can challenge the most stoic among us. We have all said regrettable things in a fit of emotion and self-control in the heat of battle is not something that you can master overnight. You must be disciplined and focus on the end game. If you cannot control your emotions throughout your family court experience, then you will saddle a huge financial and emotional burden. However, if you can effectively manage your emotions then you will be more likely to be satisfied with the outcome and not be burdened with regret.

- Sean

Sean Abid is a Contributing Member of Pro Se PROS, LLC. Reach Sean directly at

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