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5 Ways to Take Control of Your Divorce Before It Takes Control of You

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Divorce can feel like a roller coaster with its twists and turns and lack of control. But unlike a carnival ride, divorce isn't fun.

Feeling out of control during divorce is not only unpleasant -- it can be detrimental to you and your children if it prevents you from making sound decisions during divorce proceedings.

So if the divorce roller coaster is throwing you for a loop, here are five ways to take control:

1: Be Mindful of Your Emotional and Physical Well-Being

Everyone knows by now that exercise, eating healthy and getting plenty of rest is good for us. So naturally, you're at the gym every day, eating fruits and salads at every meal and getting eight hours of sleep each night, right?

You're not? Why is that?

Because you're not being mindful of your choices.

Since mindfulness begins with an awareness, start by keeping a notepad on the fridge and writing down everything you eat for a week. Purchase an exercise program on DVD and workout at home and track your progress. Dim the lights and turn off the smart phone 30 minutes prior to bed.

By paying attention to the food you eat, the exercise you get and your sleep, you'll start to become aware of how choices affect your life.

2: Release Toxic Emotions

When we're hurt, our natural reaction is to get angry.

In a divorce, these feelings are perfectly normal and may come from betrayal of trust, broken promises, rejection or fear of an uncertain future... just to name a few.

And while anger has its place and can even be healthy, when it gets out of hand, it can cause considerable damage in divorce proceedings. Remember what we said about exercise, eating healthy and getting plenty of rest? The same rules apply when it comes to releasing toxic emotions.

Choosing to stay hurt or choosing to let go are just that -- choices.

Using the legal process to retaliate against your spouse will invariably leave you -- and the family resources -- depleted and will hurt you and your children emotionally and financially. That's why it's critical to not let the toxic emotions of divorce cloud your judgment and the ability to make sound decisions necessary to safeguard your financial well-being.

Instead of exacting revenge on your spouse using the legal system, choose to release the toxic emotions of divorce. In turn, you'll greatly improve your ability to make wise decisions and safeguard your children's future. Get a coach. Meditate. Take a walk. Wherever you find peace, go there -- and go there often.

3: Understand Your Marital Finances

This is your divorce and you need to take an active role in it.

Start with your accountant or financial advisor as they can provide you with information on your income and assets. Then, download your credit reports to view credit cards, mortgages, balances owed and payment history. Finally, take a household inventory and pictures of items both valuable and common. That bedroom furniture might not be much to look at, but if you have to replace it, there is a cost to do so.

Things sometimes have a way of disappearing once a divorce starts.

Start that list now.

4: Separate Money and Emotions

There's an inherent danger in taking an emotionally charged topic like money and combining it with an emotionally charged process like divorce.

If you're not careful with how you go about reconciling the two, you can find yourself bankrupt -- financially and emotionally.

In your divorce proceedings, you may feel the need to make demands to get what you believe you're entitled to. But when it comes down to it, are you really interested in the things you're fighting for or do you just not want your spouse to get them?

By choosing to separate the money from the emotions, you can objectively examine the reasons behind those things you are seeking so you can focus your efforts on getting what's truly most important to you.

5: Learn How To Effectively Negotiate

One of the biggest challenges you'll face while going through a divorce is making sure you get what you want, need and deserve.

Perhaps, in your marriage, you weren't the one who handled the household finances. Or maybe you were just so used to compromising and not getting what you wanted that it's become your "new normal."

In the classic book on negotiation, Getting to Yes, authors Fisher, Ury and Patton introduce readers to the concept of "interest-based" versus "position-based" bargaining, asking us to not only think about what we want but why we want it. You don't have to go all "guns-a-blazing" and fight over every last point.

Instead, determine what you really want, why you want it and be willing to collaborate and give some to get some.

Learning how to effectively negotiate is key to a successful settlement outcome and will save you money and stress in the process.