This blog post topic may not impact your life directly if you are not a doctor. I will tell you that upfront. I realize that very few people out there are doctors, and even fewer of them are going through a divorce. This is not surprising- doctors don't just grow on trees, you know. However, I think this topic-advice for doctors who are going through a divorce- is relevant for many of you who may not have the letters MD after your name. Stick with me until the end of today's post, and you'll see what I mean.
We all know that going through a divorce isn’t any fun. Even if you have never gone through a divorce before, you likely know a person who has; your spouse may even have gone through a prior divorce before they married you. My point is that it doesn't take an entire divorce for you to figure out that a divorce is not going to be an enjoyable experience. Whether you are older young, Richard poor, or have been divorced once or three times, the result of divorce is that your life will be changed in some regard by the process. It is up to you to prepare as well as you can for your divorce, considering the circumstances involved in your life and that of your family.
Physicians have their concerns when it comes to getting divorces that many of us don't have. For instance, doctors may earn more money and have higher incomes than most of the rest of us but with the higher income comes responsibilities such as the need to take care of extended family, ensure that Community property is divided fairly, and the possible need to pay spousal maintenance or contractual alimony to a spouse after the divorce comes to an end. Many doctors had to take out student loans to pay for college and medical school. Those loans that are likely to be part of the divorce can be fairly substantial in terms of the total size and dollar value.
The children's physicians face challenges, as well. If you are going through a divorce as a doctor, then you have to balance your desire to spend time with your children, attend to your medical practice and seek to keep your children safe during this pandemic. If you are a doctor who regularly comes into contact with patients, then you may have taken to self-isolation to prevent your children from getting sick. And while this may be a responsible and prudent measure, it does not make it any easier on you. Going through a divorce and not seeing your children is an incredibly tough circumstance for doctors to endure.
This doesn’t even begin to mention the issues that you will face if your children are under 18 and subject to having their time divided between you and your spouse in your post-divorce lives. Even as we begin to anticipate our lives after the pandemic, a doctor’s time is typically busier than the average person’s. Figuring out a plan to divide up your time effectively so that you can maintain a strong relationship with your kids while also being able to devote the necessary time to your patients is crucial.
Consider the emotional implications for the divorce.
Doctors like yourself are knowledgeable, analytical, and objective in approaching problems in their professional lives. However, these traits that have helped you become a success in the professional world are not necessarily the keys to helping you find success in a divorce or a post-divorce life. I have found that the people who have Ben most comfortable with the divorce and most comfortable identifying their emotions in light of the divorce are the ones who come out of the process most successful from a mental health standpoint.
If I can judge doctors generally speaking, and I realize how generalizations can get you into trouble, I think that doctors will do their best to assess a scenario and provide a diagnosis based on the objective factors and markers of a case. What that tends to leave out is any consideration of the emotional factors that may impact the way you approach your divorce. It is OK to feel beaten down by divorce. It is OK to feel like you made a mistake at some point in your marriage that led to this divorce. It is also OK to feel like you could have done more to save your marriage. Driving past these emotions and feelings in hopes of surrounding yourself only with the objective-based is a mistake.
Like anyone who goes through a divorce and is not stopped to assess where you are from a mental health perspective, I think doing so for doctors is especially harmful. Most notably, because your day is spent doing your best to help and heal people, if you have a foggy mindset because of problems associated with your divorce, you cannot do your job to the standards and level that you expect or your patients expect. I would ask that physicians like yourself consider the implications of divorce and be prepared to have someone in your life to talk to you about these implications and how they have impacted yourself in your family. Choosing to ignore or downgrade the importance of these considerations is a mistake, in my opinion.
Wanting to have control over every step in the process is not possible in a divorce.
Part of what makes you a successful physician is your ability to take control over a client's condition and put into place mechanisms and a plan of action that stands to benefit them. I can imagine that there is no better feeling than being able to say that a diagnosis you made or an observation you made in treating a patient contributed to their getting well. This is especially true if your patient had been struggling with a condition for a long time and your intervention made a huge difference in their life. You took the bull by the horns in another person who benefited from your actions.
The trouble with being in a position to take control of another person's life is that you may tend to think that you can do so all the time. In a divorce, however, you share control over the case with your spouse. That you may disagree or have adverse interests is typical in a divorce. What you need to be able to understand is that while there are aspects of the divorce or you can chart your course and create your destiny, there are times where you will need to negotiate and accept that you cannot change everything within a divorce to the way you want it to be.
There are many moving pieces in a divorce such that your attorney will have their hands full, helping you stay abreast of all the issues that pop up from time to time. When you think you have one issue taking care of or resolved, another will pop up and then another. This would be like a situation where a patient has a problem of 1 sort, and when you think you have it under control, another issue pops up unrelated to the first issue. Then, when you finally have the person's medication and treatment down to what you want it to be, another issue pops up, resulting from changes made.
You are left in a position where you have to play defense when so much goes on in such a short period. To avoid putting yourself in a position where your spouse can take advantage of your constant response to issues created by them, my advice would be to create an intentional path towards achieving your goals at the beginning of your case. It would help if you worked with your attorney over those areas of your case that you can have direct control over and where you can solve problems relatively quickly.
Once you have resolved the issues later quickly solvable, you can shift your attention towards those issues that may be more longstanding or difficult to sort through. Remembering that it is not possible to have direct control over every area of your case but that it is possible to negotiate well towards fair outcomes would be good for you to keep in mind. Being goal-oriented and engaging in planning within your divorce is a great idea, but you should stop short of believing that you can control every aspect of your case at all times. This is not a realistic expectation and will harm you rather than disappointing you in the long run.
Ask for assistance, advice, and an explanation where necessary.
One problem that I have seen doctors experience in a divorce case is that they are unwilling or unprepared to ask for advice or help during stages of the case. Doctors are usually the ones who people go to for advice and assistance insignificant matters. Doctors may also have difficulty going to others for advice due to a history of excelling in the classroom and in the professional environment they inhabit. However, I would caution any of you physicians reading this blog post that the world of family law may not be as complex as performing open-heart surgery. Still, it has its complexities and its intricate processes all to its own. This means you should not hesitate to ask for advice or perspective if the need to do so arises.
Another area that I have seen doctors like yourself suffer in divorces is not taking the time to slow down and understand that you will go through difficult emotional periods just like the rest of us. Even if you were to focus a great deal of your time and energy on our new medical practice or other pursuits outside of medicine during your divorce, the fact remains that you will not be able to avoid the heartache and transition that comes with a divorce. Even if you don't feel like near life will change all that much due to the divorce, your child's life will likely have substantial differences after the divorce has been finalized.
Physicians sometimes have trouble focusing on a post-divorce life
in being fortunate enough to work with many people in our community who have gone through a divorce, I can tell you that the first thought most folks have when their divorce is close to being finalized is what their life will look like after the divorce. I refer to this as the post-divorce life. This not only considers your life about raising a child with your Co-parent but also how to transition into being a single adult. Some of you reading this blog post may have never been a single adult given that you married young and are now thinking about your life after the divorce when you are a single person.
One thing about doctors is that you all will sometimes focus so intensely on your career that you cannot look past the divorce and enjoy the thought of creating an independent life for yourself once your case is complete. Being so results-oriented has served you well in many regards but not being able to enjoy the thought of branching out on your own to accomplish new things and develop new relationships with your children as a parent takes away much of the possibility of a new life for yourself after the divorce.
My perspective is that you should not get so bogged down in the details of your divorce and the negatives associated with a post-divorce life that you cannot consider the positives better out there for you once you have your divorce finalized. Do not underestimate your mental health when thinking about what your life has in store after the divorce has come to a close. For better or worse, this divorce will come to an end, and when it does, you will have many possible outcomes for yourself and your family. Why not consider the positive outcomes while your ongoing case to put yourself into a better headspace and give yourself some perspective into the future?
Keep an eye on your finances but don't lose track of yourself within them.
As a physician, you likely earn a salary that is many times more than the average American. Considering the extent to which you had to sacrifice and so many areas of your life to attend college, medical school, residency, and pass many exams along the way, I think it is entirely appropriate that you earn a great salary. That salary is likely opened many doors for your family that otherwise would have been closed.
Therefore, it is completely understandable to have concern over what is going to happen with your family now and in the future from a financial perspective. On one end of the Ledger, you may have taken a great deal of effort to plan out your financial life along with your spouse for the past few years. Now, you are concerned that with the divorce on the horizon, all that planning would go out the window; there's c; their sport and spousal maintenance arises definite possibilities in your case.
On the other hand, if you have not built up a substantial amount of wealth but have rather accumulated a large amount of student debt and other types of consumer debt, this may be a concern of yours as well. How will you afford an attorney? What kind of hope will you ever have of paying off those student loans when you may have to take a hit financially as a result of this divorce?
I am not telling you to ignore your finances completely or to put them on the back burner. Rather, I would talk to your attorney about the issues that concern you most and allow them to provide you with feedback. At the same time, you can reach out to your financial advisor or another financial professional to learn what you can do in the short and long term to protect yourself and your children financially if you do get divorced.
Questions about the material contained in today's blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
if you have any questions about the material contained in today's blog post; please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law and the individual circumstances facing you and your family.