There is absolutely nothing fun about divorce. While some may choose to celebrate once the divorce is final, the road to a decree of dissolution can be a long and bumpy one. These tips may help you secure your seat belt for the roller coaster ride ahead of you.
1. Talk to your spouse before you do anything else. You once loved each other; you may even still love each other. Find a way to speak to each other respectfully when it comes to the terms of the divorce. Attorneys will promise you the world in their ability to obtain a divorce settlement, but in the end, most attorneys stir the pot and make the process longer than needed. If you and your spouse can work out at least a partial agreement the divorce process will be more smooth and cheaper. If you can’t work it out at least you tried.
2. Jump off the diving board. This tip doesn’t apply to everyone. It really only applies to those who know with 100% certainty that their marriage is over. Take the leap of faith, and call things what they are. The longer you wait to file, the longer it takes to get through the process, and into the spot in your life where you can finally move on.
3. Don’t try to do it alone. Divorce doesn’t need to be a dirty little secret that you hide from friends, and family. While the specifics of what is causing the divorce don’t need to be put out in public, admitting what you are going through can be very helpful through the process. Don’t be afraid to lean on people.
4. When dealing with your spouse, try your hardest to do so pragmatically and remove emotion. No not villainize your spouse in front of your kids. Emotions are annoying things that cloud our brains at the best of times, and at the worst of times. Anger and sadness may cloud you into agreeing to a settlement you never would agree to.
5. Set some goals and game plan with an attorney. It is very easy to get sucked into the bitterness that divorce causes. Even easier to get sucked into the drama and unnecessary fighting that happens when kids and money are involved. Avoid these at all costs and focus more on your future and what you want. Where do you want to live, where are the kids going to live, where do you want to retire? The difference between a good divorce attorney and a bad divorce attorney is how they focus on your case and situation. Are they only focused on the now? Has your attorney not even mentioned the future? Try and set 10 achievable goals, this shifting of your thoughts should help you keep a clear mind and help move the case along quickly.
6. Know that the court doesn’t care who did what to whom. If you are looking for sympathy or to make him/her pay for their moral sins (cheating, neglect, etc) this will never happen in front of a judge. Judges don’t care about infidelity and it will have little to no impact on your case. I am aware how harsh this sounds but unfortunately, it is true. Weather he or she cheated has no direct impact on who gets custody or parenting time, has no impact on who is awarded what in the settlement, and has no impact on things like spousal maintenance (alimony) or any other details of the divorce settlement.
7. Have a good support team including therapist if needed. Prepare yourself, you will more than likely have friends and family members who feel it necessary to choose sides. You might even loose longtime friend who were yours pre-marriage. Divorce is one of those times in life when you find out who your friends truly are. Know what you want and need from a friendship, and make sure you are only investing your time and energy into friends who are truly there for you. Talking to a therapist is never a bad idea. Especially if your marriage was a long-term marriage. Going from a family setting to being alone is a very hard transition. Friends, family, and a good therapist will help keep your mind on track.
8. Go over your finances before the divorce settlement is agreed on. At this point you should be close to reaching a settlement with your spouse. You need to protect yourself first and not just assume your spouse is being honest about debts and assets. Have you pulled your credit report to make sure every debt is included? Too often, a spouse will open a secret joint credit card, make sure you have all of the information so you can make an educated decision when it comes to how the debts and assets will be divided. Have you double checked your budget alone to make sure you can afford the debt to income changes? All of these minute details can affect your financial future. Make sure you look at everything before you jump into a settlement.
9. Do not lose your mind if your spouse starts dating before you. WOW. Just reading that screams the word, OUCH! But it’s true. Acknowledge again, the marriage is over and moving forward is part of the process. One of you will date before the other. Unless there’s some strange double date that occurs on the same night and all the stars line up making it possible for you both to become involved with new people on the same exact date; one of you will move on first. Breathe, do not Facebook stalk, do not become a green monster of jealousy. Talk to your friends and family (away from the kids) and perhaps a therapist about how you are feeling and get it out. Do not allow the anger to fester.
10. Treat yourself to something special. Take a trip, go to a ball game, have a spa day or treat yourself to a round of golf at that new course you’ve been dreaming about. Whatever it is, make it something that is just for you, and something to make yourself smile. You are about to start your new life, find out who you are now, and what really makes you happy. Don’t be afraid to try new things. You may have been afraid to try kayaking 20 years ago, but now you might find it exhilarating. You won’t know until you try.
Divorce is the death of a marriage. Not of the people who were married. It sucks, there’s no doubt. There will be days when you are absolutely fine, and others where you won’t want to get out of bed. Time helps, and while it doesn’t necessarily get “easier”, it gets different. Those differences in your day-to-day life are what makes it easier, and eventually better. I can tell you that the friends I’ve had who’ve gone through it all went through terrible periods but have become much happier than they were.