With between 40-50 percent of marriages ending in divorce, it seems that splitting up is almost as common as getting married itself, but unfortunately, the parties aren’t as good. Separation and divorce bring many emotions to the surface, this can make navigating the split more difficult and it can be a tough journey for all involved.
If you’re considering divorce, there are a few ways that you can prepare yourself to make it easier, especially if there are children involved.
What to Do First?
Create a plan before you rush headlong into anything. This is a big decision and even though you may feel at the end of your tether, if you start the process right, you’ll be prepared for the lengthy and emotional process ahead. Here are some things you can do:
Learn What to Expect
Talk to any of your friends or family who have been through a divorce; even approach a counselor together if you and your spouse agree that this is the best thing. If you can’t do that, speak to your family attorney, they can advise you on books or websites that might help. Find out the legal terms that you need to understand ahead of any hearings. If you have children, learn more about custody and child support.
Put Down Your Phone
Social media isn’t a good place to air your grievances. Put away your phone and get off your laptop. Be aware that your electronic communications can be used against you in court and you don’t know who may gossip or not really be on your side.
Posting innocuous photos may seem ok, but your spouse may draw into question who you were with and what you were spending. It’s simply better to just take a break from it during this time. Also, refrain from texting or emailing your soon-to-be ex any more than necessary – context can be lost over text and arguments can easily arise.
Get Your House in Order
Financially speaking, that is. If you can sit down with your partner and go through your debts and shared assets, that will be helpful; you should have this information before approaching a divorce attorney. Try to have at least one account of your own to protect yourself in case your spouse attempts to cut you off or won’t support you financially. Divorce can be an expensive process.
Make Sure the Kids are Alright
Children need routine and normality during times of change. Spend time with them and focus on their needs before breaking the news. Watch for any changes in behavior. Speak positively of your partner and be supportive in front of them; don’t talk down about your spouse. Prepare for any questions that they may have and understand that your children may all react in different ways.
Choose Your Attorney Wisely
When you’ve decided that divorce is the only option don’t rush to the computer to type in ‘family attorneys near me’ and blindly click on the first one that comes up. Do some research and find a good fit. Your attorney will be by your side during this painful and difficult time, so you need to be comfortable and trust them.
Find someone that you are comfortable to divulge all your personal information to—from finances to extramarital affairs. Don’t worry about shocking them: they’ve probably heard it all. What matters is that they have a good reputation and that you can trust them to help you through this milestone.
- Divorce doesn’t solve all your problems; in fact, it will likely create a few more before it’s through.
- Both of you are the best people to decide what is best for your children (together) unless one party is abusive. If you can’t agree, it’s likely that the courts will impose a ruling that makes no one happy, least of all your children.
When the Process Begins
Listen to Your Attorney
Be honest with your attorney and listen to what they have to say. They’ve seen a lot of divorce cases and it’s probably nothing they haven’t heard before. Tell them everything and take their advice, as it’s specific to your situation.
Friends and Family are not Objective
The people around you are necessary for emotional support through your divorce but take their advice with a grain of salt. They aren’t objective about your situation, particularly if they have been through anything similar. Accept their soothing words and their shoulders to cry on, but for solid, helpful information, speak to a professional, whether that be your legal team or a therapist.
Be Your Best Self
You don’t show your true colors when you’re feeling up; you show them when the chips are down. Although there will be times that you want to scream or pummel your ex into the ground, take a deep breath and try to smile. Keep your emotions in check and keep the tantrums for the therapist’s office. Divorce will make you bitter or better, so choose wisely. Ultimately, you’ll feel vindicated if you have kept your cool throughout.
Doing it for the Kids
Studies have shown that staying in a bad marriage affects children worse than divorce. Most children will experience some stress or grief, but this generally passes quickly, and it’s certainly better than living in a household at war. Reassure your children that they are not the reason for the split, listen to their needs, and try and maintain their schedule as much as possible. Co-parent, lay down the rules together, and agree on everyday decisions so the children know they can rely on both of you and not play you off against each other.
Look to the Future
Prepare properly and keep your head high during divorce and you’ll make your way through it in one piece. Focusing on your future happiness and managing your fear will make you stronger, more positive, and ready for the next chapter of your life.