Today, around 40-50% of first marriages in the U.S. alone end in divorce; the rate for further marriages is even higher. When a marriage comes to an end, both spouses and any children involved tend to be faced with a storm of stressful and emotional events that can have a lasting effect on their future.
Divorcing your spouse is no easy task; coming to an agreement about property and other assets that you may own together, deciding on custody of your children and finding new living arrangements can quickly take its toll, especially if you have been unable to keep things amicable with your former partner.
However, divorce is sometimes unavoidable, and going through the process can lead to a better life for both yourself and your children. Learning as much as possible about the process beforehand will help you know what to expect; going through a divorce can be much easier if you’re fully informed about it. With that in mind, we’ve put together some top tips to help you get through this difficult time.
Tip #1. Find the Right Lawyer
Today, many divorces end up in court. Whether you can expect to be summoned to the court house depends on a number of personal factors, for example, if you own a house with your partner and cannot agree on what to do with it, or if you are unable to come to an amicable agreement about child custody or future maintenance payments from you or your spouse.
With the right lawyer by your side, you will be supported throughout the process and have access to the best advice about the decisions that you make. A good divorce lawyer will ensure that you and your children come first, and will fight to ensure that you get what you need from the process.
Tip #2. Consider Mediation
In some cases, there’s no need to go to court when divorcing your partner. Even if things aren’t very amicable right now, you may be able to benefit from going for mediation instead. This process is less formal as it is carried out separately to the courthouse, and allows divorcing couples to come to amicable agreements with the help of a mediator, who’ll work with both of you to help ensure that you both get what you want or find a suitable compromise.
However, mediation is not recommended for every type of divorce. If you are going through the process of divorce due to domestic abuse or another crime committed by your partner, this might not be the best option.
Tip #3. Look After Your Mental Health
Divorcing the person that you once thought you’d be together with forever can be a heart-wrenching process that leaves you feeling like your whole life has been turned upside down. Suddenly finding yourself as a single person once again, perhaps even a single parent, is a huge transition to make. So, it’s not surprising that divorce can sometimes lead to mental health problems such as anxiety or depression.
Throughout your divorce, seeing a good therapist or counselor will help you to gain control over your emotions and make better decisions for yourself and your children. Cognitive behavioral therapy is ideal for helping you make positive changes to your behavior, thoughts and feelings.
Tip #4. Be Honest
When going through a divorce, keeping information back from your lawyer or your ex-spouse in some cases can cause delays and further problems when getting things finalized. When you hire a lawyer to represent you throughout your divorce, you will need to provide them with all the key facts so that they are able to analyze your case as well as possible.
Depending on the state that you live in, it could be against the law to withhold information. For example, in California, spouses who fail to disclose complete information regarding their income, expenses and debts could be met with a severe penalty.
Tip #5. Prepare for the Future
During a divorce, it’s completely normal to find yourself thinking or even obsessing about everything that went wrong in your marriage. You might have even started to internally beat yourself up about everything that you think you did wrong, or didn’t do that could have prevented this from happening.
The truth is, there’s no point in thinking about the past now. If a marriage ends, then it’s likely there’s a very good reason for it. Ask yourself honestly, is there really anything that you could have done to prevent this outcome? Even if you had, do you think that the divorce was likely inevitable? Putting the past behind you and planning for the future is in the best interests of both you and your family; you will all be much happier for it. If you think you are struggling with this, therapy will help.
Tip #6. Protect Your Children
Divorce can damage children psychologically more than we realize. When there is disharmony and upset in a home, children can quickly pick up on it, even if you try your hardest to shield them from the arguments and disagreements.
When you’re going through a divorce, it can be easy to forget that whilst you may be divorcing your spouse, they are still the parent of your child. Saying nasty things to your spouse in front of your children can have a long-lasting effect; psychological studies show that children who witness their parents fighting a lot during a divorce are more likely to suffer themselves both in childhood and in later life. In addition, it’s also important to ensure that your child maintains a healthy relationship with their other parent, where possible.
Tip #7. Every Divorce is Different
With the divorce rate so high, chances are that you’ve got friends or family members who have been through a divorce of their own. However, it’s important to try not to believe everything that you hear from them about the process. Remember that everybody is different, so what worked well for one couple could turn out to be disastrous for you, and vice versa.
Although it can be very helpful and even therapeutic to turn to friends and family for advice and support during your divorce, you should never base your decisions solely on what they tell you about their own experiences. Before you come to any firm arrangements, it’s a good idea to consult with your divorce attorney.
Tip #8. Create an Inventory
Disputes about your property, furniture, appliances and other items around the home can delay divorce proceedings and lead to additional stress and worry that you don’t need during this stressful time. Taking a complete inventory of your home before you begin your divorce can help you to avoid this.
The best way to do this is to take photographs of every item or sets of items around your home. If you are worried that your spouse will try to claim that the photo was taken at an earlier date, you can use a newspaper from the current date or ensure that the timestamp is switched on when using a digital camera. In addition, it’s also a good idea to create a list of all items in your home, including information such as where they are located and their estimated value.
Tip #9. Don’t Make Impulse Decisions
When you are going through a divorce, you are likely to be in a state of mind that’s more emotional and stressed that usual. Because of this, you’re at a higher risk of making impulse decisions that could cause issues for you and your family in the future.
During a divorce, you will likely need to make a number of life-changing decisions, for example, you may need to determine whether it’s necessary to sell the family home, or move to a different area to enable your children to continue seeing their other parent after the split. It’s important to resist the temptation to make a quick decision; getting plenty of advice and taking the time to think things through will pay off for you in the future.
Tip #10. Don’t Go It Alone
Divorcing your spouse isn’t really something that most people like to shout off the rooftops about. However, trying to do it all by yourself without turning to anybody for support is a really bad idea, and can lead to all sorts of issues for yourself and your children, including health issues caused by stress and worry.
To achieve a successful and quick divorce that doesn’t consume your life, you will need an expert team by your side. You need legal advice, education, financial guidance, and of course, emotional support. Don’t be afraid of turning to others when you need somebody to lean on during this tough process.
Getting divorced isn’t something that anybody wants to do when they say, ‘I do’, but over time, people change and it’s not always possible to stay married forever. In some cases, getting divorced could be the best thing that you ever do for you and your family.