You’re Getting a Divorce. You’re Getting a Divorce. You’re Getting a— Why Divorce Can Feel So Much Like Groundhog Day (And What You Can Do About It)
February 1, 2022
BY: Lesnevich, Marzano-Lesnevich, O'Cathain & O'Cathain
Why do we feel like we’ve written this blog post before? Because Groundhog Day comes around once a year— February 2nd— and divorce can feel a lot like this dubious holiday.
Groundhog Day refers, of course, to both the practice of allowing a groundhog— be it the most famous one, Puxsatawney Phil, or the tri-state area’s own Staten Island Chuck— predict whether we will have six more weeks of winter, or an early spring. It also refers to the now-classic 1993 Bill Murray comedy in which a man is forced to relive the same day, repeatedly, until he learns the lessons of his past.
And that’s what divorce can seem like: an endless slog, in which you are reliving the worst days of your marriage, over and over again. The simple fact is, oftentimes divorce, as a process, lasts much, much longer than we want it to, and can feel like the same day, over and over: haggling over alimony or parenting time; appearing before the same Judge, time and time again; dealing with your soon-to-be-ex-spouse and his/her/their attorney, day after day, week after week, month after month. We get it: as in the movie, it can feel infuriating, depressing, and downright negative.
But it doesn’t have to be. Let’s look at three ways in which you may be able to avoid the Groundhog Day-esque feeling of divorce:
- Set realistic expectations. In the film Bill Murray’s weatherman thinks he’s going to get in and out of Puxsatawney, Pennsylvania, after doing a remote stand-up weather piece. However, a snowstorm traps him in. A lot of clients think they are going to simply obtain a divorce, but oftentimes even the simplest of divorces requires more time than you might think to process. When you add in profound disagreements over the division of assets, potential parenting time, or any one of a host of issues, the divorce process can get bogged down. Like Murray’s character of Phil Connors in the movie, ultimately one needs to remember the virtue of patience, and that processes usually run the course of the time they need to take… whether that’s escaping a small town in Pennsylvania or signing your divorce papers.
- Work honestly with your attorney. We’ve written before on ‘Tips to Work Effectively with Your Divorce Attorney’ and the initial steps of ‘Consultation with a Matrimonial Attorney,’ and we can’t overstate this enough: the more transparent you can be with your attorney, about your finances, your goals, your mental health, the easier the process will be for you. If you’ve organized your documents, keep your financial records, and prepared properly for that first consultation, even better. In a way, this goes together with attempting to be as civil as possible with both your soon-to-be-ex (who may still be your co-parent for years to come) and their attorney. Remember, Phil doesn’t leave Puxsatawney until he learns to treat others— from his colleagues to the townspeople— with empathy and respect.
- Be true to who you are. Marriages don’t last because of a reason— often because one partner felt they could change the other, or because a partner didn’t grow with their partner. Everyone evolves over time and being true to who you are in the moment is crucial. Ask yourself: What do I really want out of this divorce? How is it different from my marriage? What are my priorities? If you’re true to yourself as you leave your marriage, you’ll be true to the process, which will streamline it. For some people, that might mean not settling for anything but joint custody; for others, it might mean a fresh start while losing the marital home. The point is you won’t waste time (or money) arguing over issues not important to you in your divorce. Phil Connors is only able to move forward with his life— to stop repeating the mistakes— when honest about what he really wants from life.
We hope you have a good Groundhog Day, whether that’s re-watching the movie and/or taking a positive step forward in your divorce journey.
Feel like your divorce is stuck on repeat? We can help. Reach out to the Family Law Department at Lesnevich, Marzano-Lesnevich, O’Cathain & O’Cathain, LLC at: (201) 488-1161 or visit: https://lmllawyers.com/family-law/.