Loving Life After Divorce

by Divorce Attorney in Houston, Sam M. “Trey” Yates, III

Note: This article was originally published in the July 2013 issue of Change Magazine.

As a board certified family law attorney practicing in the area of divorce and related family law matters since 1986, I have had the professional and personal pleasure of working with many women as they face one of life’s greatest challenges—divorce.

At a time when many feel they have lost control over almost every aspect of their lives—financial, emotional, and spiritual—they are thrust into an unfamiliar legal maze and are called upon to make important, irreversible life changing decisions.

The sense of security they once knew is yanked out from beneath them and the loneliness of their journey can be overwhelming. I have found that some women going through the transition known as divorce fare better than others.

Those who see divorce as a catalyst to propel them into their next best life can emerge stronger, wiser, and in more control of their destinies than ever before.

One of my clients, Pat P., was unhappily married for more than 25 years. For many of those years she expected to someday be divorced. When the time came, Pat faced a variety of challenges and fears about her future.

“The very moment divorce was a certainty, fear appeared,” Pat told me. “I don’t scare easily, but the intensity of it got my attention. I dealt with it by identifying exactly what the fear was and then deciding how to manage it.”

Not unlike many of my clients, Pat’s concerns were primarily about money and her changing identity. Would she have enough to live on after the divorce? Would she need to rely on her new business that was just barely up and running? Who was she now that she wasn’t half of a couple, or someone’s wife?

“To address my money fears, I made a conscious decision that I would do my best to ensure I got everything that I was due by law,” Pat said. “I didn’t want any more than my fair share, but I absolutely wouldn’t take a penny less. This meant I had to completely understand the financial part of our community property.”

It wasn’t easy, but Pat worked hard and sought the help of others to fully understand her legal and financial rights while going through divorce. She engaged in the process and believed in herself and her capabilities. I saw a dramatic transformation in Pat as she took control of her life.

“I started running again,” she told me one day. “I used to love running and now I am back into it.”

She soon announced she was learning to eat better to get the results she wanted from running. Pat was changing right before my eyes.

“I feel better, look better, sleep better, and deal with stress better,” Pat told me further into her divorce process. “I also started playing the piano again, meditating, spending more time with good friends, and reconnecting with some I had lost touch with. I have even updated my wardrobe.”

Pat’s story is just one of many I have witnessed over the years as my clients work through the divorce process. In fact, their stories have been so inspiring to me, I now lead seminars for women to assist them in collectively finding the tools, or keys, they need to find the same success Pat and others have found post-divorce.

Called The Guide to Good Divorce, our seminars are designed to empower women to successfully navigate through divorce toward a fuller, healthier, and happier life. The program focuses on The Five Keys I believe can unlock the door to a woman’s best life following divorce: securing expert legal representation, sorting out finances, refreshing life skills, attaining wellness, and making new connections.

At the seminar, attendees have access to experts on the law of divorce in Texas, divorce financial planning, life skills, and physical and spiritual wellness. In addition, they can meet and share with others facing similar challenges in order to start building new communities of support.

I often remind my clients about the story of the butterfly. Once a humble caterpillar crawling around on the forest floor, the butterfly emerges beautiful, graceful, soaring above the trees, above the forest itself—free, unrestricted, and fulfilled as her true self. What was discomfort for the caterpillar was a divine discontent—the need for a better life. Her instincts told her that where there is true desire, there will be fulfillment.

Sam M. “Trey” Yates, III is a Houston-based Board Certified Family Law Attorney and creator of The Guide to Good Divorce seminars for women. Our next Guide to Good Divorce seminar is Saturday, July 20, 2013, from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Unity of Houston; to register, visit our seminar page or call 713-932-7177.

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