SO, YOU’RE GETTING DIVORCED…
It has probably taken a lot to get to the point where you’ve admitted that to yourself and your spouse. Unfortunately, this is only the beginning.
Anyone can amicably get divorced within a couple of weeks for a nominal fee if you set up your divorce proceedings to smoothly get the job done. Does that happen? Sometimes, but not often because emotions can run high.
The first thing that you need to understand is that there are no “winners” in a divorce. If you’re trying to win, you’re going to lose financially or emotionally. So do the best to cast your emotions aside, for now at least, follow these helpful suggestions, and you may get through it without breaking your child’s hearts or the bank.
(1) Accept that Your Marriage Is Over (and Make Sure Your Spouse Knows)
Not sure if you should get divorced? Considering counseling? Great. You’re not getting a divorce yet. Don’t straddle the line of divorce and reconciliation while you figure it out. If one or both of you is filing for divorce, it should be over.
On that note, make sure that your spouse knows that the marriage is over. Sure, it’s easier to quietly hire and attorney, have them served, etc., but if you’re truly trying to make this easy, give your spouse a heads-up in person or in writing. Give them some time to make their own arrangements, and maybe you can come to a happy medium before you ever file.
(2) Set Your Priorities Before You Take Action
What is important to you? The well-being of your children? Being able to support yourself and your children? Maintaining the marital home? Paying off debts? Keeping your 401(k)? Keep those in the forefront of your mind so that you can clearly hear the advice of counsel when they advise you how to accomplish that goal.
(3) Know What is Possible
You need to get real. You may hold onto the advice of people who tell you what you want to hear, or those who have “been through it before.” Don’t stick your head in the sand and don’t let anyone sell you a dream. Do NOT let your spouse manipulate you with false information, if you have an attorney, rely on them!
The best way to know what is possible is to find a great attorney who practices Family Law. (I repeat – find an attorney who practices Family Law). Do what you can to afford the best, but if you cannot afford the best, be sure to find an attorney that you feel comfortable with and that you have done your research on.
(4) Build Your Support Group
Your attorney cannot be your line of support. They bill by the hour. We understand that there is a level of embarrassment that comes with this process. My dear friend who lives far away from me got divorced. I found out because her ex-husband posted photos of himself with someone else on social media. I asked her “why didn’t you tell me?” She said she didn’t know how to pick up the phone and tell her friends “my marriage failed.”
However, remember that few people can be truly objective, and fewer still are marriage or divorce experts. Yet, there are plenty of opinions and judgements. And if you really don’t have anyone you can trust, consider a counselor or therapist. Their job is help you through this process while keeping it confidential.
(5) Be the Best Version of Yourself
You’re going to go through a lot of emotions that may or may not get the better of you. Always do your best to rise above the emotion and keep a clear head.
Moreover, take the time to remember who you are as an individual and be the best version of that person. The most responsible person, best employee, most loving parent, most cooperative co-parent. Document, document, document. Why? Because sometimes spouses get a wild hair (maybe from a friend or an attorney) and they start “building their case” against you. They may not yet understand the reality of the divorce and they may need to rely on dirty tricks to “win,” but remember what I said about winning.
(6) Get Organized
You need a lot of information to get divorced. Gather all of your financial information for the last several years. Haven’t opened mail in a while? Time to sort through that. Birth certificates, military records, retirement accounts, deeds and titles…. all of it. Just get a $5 plastic storage bin and start gathering everything.
And if you don’t know what you and your spouse have start researching. Figure out what you have. Dig deep! Dividing up assets is a huge part of a dissolution and if you don’t know what you have, how can you be on an even playing field? Get organized and level the playing field.
(7) Pick Your Battles
You probably heard this when you got married. The same applies now. Focus on those priorities. Do what you have to do. Get through it. You can do it.