THE BLOG
01/26/2016 01:55 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

What to Do When You Get Blindsided by Divorce

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My wife hates surprises. Imagine what would happened if one day I just moved out and she got served with a complaint for divorce? (Honey, if you're reading this... I'm just saying this for illustrative purposes).

Whether you like surprises or not, getting the news that your spouse wants a divorce hits you like a ton of bricks.

At first, you sort of ignore it, like it was dream and go on with your daily routine. Then, you get a notice in the mail that you need to appear in court for something and it becomes real. COURT!!??

You don't even have a lawyer!

This scenario has happened to a lot of my past clients. The last thing you want is to feel overwhelmed, confused and have a pending court date with no lawyer. Heck, even with a lawyer, you still feel anxious and not sure what to do. Tip: it's normal to feel that way.

The Positive Side of Divorce

Yes, you read that correctly. Divorce isn't always all negative. Sometimes, life gives people opportunities they would have never had if not for divorce.

Don't believe me? Let me give you an example.

One woman, after 20 years of marriage, at the age of 43, got blindsided with divorce when her husband filed and turned her world upside down. She hadn't finished her schooling to become a nurse and had to find a way to pay the bills.

Instead of withering and becoming a victim of circumstance, she did what she knew and it turned into a life-altering opportunity that has her flourishing in a new and unforeseen career.

To make ends meet, she began selling smoked turkey legs using an old family recipe. After some initial success, she borrowed money from a friend and opened her own food truck. Today, she operates multiple food trucks and is a small business owner.

Who knew?!

She was on track to be a nurse before her husband filed for divorce. Owning a business, let alone a food truck business wasn't even on the radar! Yet, look at her today. What's my point?

Divorce Opens Up New Opportunities -- Take Advantage!

This article isn't about trivializing divorce, or the effects it can have on your lifestyle, emotional health and your overall well-being. It's about what comes next, after the divorce and the possibilities that lay ahead for you.

We've all heard the saying, "think outside the box." I'm sick of it myself, but it's applicable here. You're getting divorced... that's not going to change. How you deal with it and move on is within your control.

Divorce = opportunity.

What are you going to do with this opportunity?

Ask yourself, what did you want to do when you were younger, but never had the opportunity to do? Can you do it now?

We all have talents. Yes, it's true, even for you. Divorce is the perfect time for some serious self-reflection and to identify those talents (if you haven't already) and ask yourself if you can use them to make money. I think you'd be surprised by how often the answer is yes to that question.

I'm not talking about quick fixes, or overnight success. I'm talking about taking this newfound opportunity in your life to follow your passion and try something you never thought of trying, or always wanted to try. Like the woman who was studying to be a nurse, but now operates a successful food truck business.

Now, you might already be a seasoned professional who doesn't need to find a way to make more money and pay the bills. This is for those of you who feel like the rug was pulled out from under your feet and you don't know how you are going to financially survive in a post-divorce world.

Thriving After Divorce Is Possible

Don't count yourself out. As a divorce attorney, I often become numb to the whole process because I do it every day. But, I refuse to let my clients, and others I come across, sit there in pity because they are getting divorced. I will tell you what I tell them: Consider yourself lucky you don't have to spend more time in an unhealthy marriage and toxic environment.

You deserve better! Now, go get it.

If you're in a contentious divorce, I promise it will eventually be over. It may not be tomorrow, next week, or a year from now, but it will end. Now is the time to figure out who you are and who you want to be in your post-divorce life. Now is the time to thrive, not wither.

Jason Levoy, a/k/a The Divorce Resource Guy, is an attorney who coaches people without a lawyer how to get through the divorce process and represent themselves like a professional. He moderates a Private Divorce Facebook Group where people going through divorce can be part of a supportive community.