In a perfect world, every “I do” would be for life, and everybody would live happily ever after. However, because life, unfortunately, isn’t a fairy tale, divorces do happen, and they bring a series of question with them. What do I do now? Do I get an attorney? What happens with the house? Who gets the dog? What do I tell the children? In what is possibly the most uncertain period of your life, here are some pieces of advice to help you see it all through.
“I used to think that divorce meant failure, but now I see it more as a step along the path of self-realization and growth.” – Zsa Zsa Gabor
Even though this is an emotionally trying stage for you, you have to be able to think clearly. There are a time and place for everything, so while it is perfectly reasonable and even beneficial to express your emotions and lament your losses, you need to make a point of not letting your feelings cloud your judgment.
Think about divorce as any other kind of business – your marriage is essentially a contract that you want to terminate. You need to be objective about it and find the best way to do it. To be able to go through the process in the easiest way possible, you need to educate yourself on the laws and regulations regarding marriage and divorce in your jurisdiction. Use all resources at your disposal to gain as much insight as you can – the internet is overflowing with useful info, and you can always ask for help in any law clinic, free of charge.
You can deal with the divorce itself in several ways: by settling it with your ex directly, without any lawyers involved; you can go through a mediation process, or you can go to court if all else fails. If you and your ex, are still in an amicable relationship, and you still trust them, the cheapest way is to do it yourself. However, because the law systems are never simple, you and your ex might want to get attorneys even if you’re still in a good place. For example, in Australia, you can’t get divorced unless you’ve been separated for 12 months, but there are family mediation services in Sydney that can explain your options to you if that is too much time for you to wait. Every jurisdiction has its own separate set of rules, and sometimes it can be difficult to navigate them without a professional at your side. In any case, you need to choose the preferred method for yourself, based on your own unique situation.
Of course, there is more than just that. You need to consider the ways to share your property. Start collecting financial evidence of your and your partner’s situation, in case of necessity. Talk to your ex about dividing the household items. Make a list of everything that you mean to keep, and everything that you can live without, to make the negotiation easier. In other words, prepare yourself as well as you can, because a tiring process is before you, and you’ll be thankful for any head start you can get.
“There’s nothing like a family crisis, especially a divorce, to force a person to re-evaluate his life.” – Michael Douglas
If you have any children, the things are only going to be more complicated. It this case especially, it’s crucial to be level-headed and to try and be as civil as possible in all dealings with your former spouse.
The most important thing is not to let the kids be dragged into the dispute between their parents. Their parent’s divorce is already extremely traumatizing for them, so the last thing you want to do is add more stress to their lives by bad mouthing your ex or making them choose between the two of you. Regardless of your feelings, you have to make sure that the children feel as safe as they can possibly be, and you need to show them that you and your partner will love them, no matter what. Always remember, your ex is your ex, but they are a constant in your children’s lives, as much as you are.
…That are not your ex. The bottom line is that you need to feel secure. If your friends and family are giving you that sense of security and you don’t feel a need for a therapist, that’s great! If that is not the case, however, and you feel that everything is too much for you to handle, don’t be afraid of asking a professional for help. If it’s the emotional baggage, see a therapist. If the law is too complicated, find an attorney. If your attorney is a problem, you feel that they don’t understand you, or you’re getting the feeling that they’re playing you against your ex to prolong the process, fire them immediately and look for a better professional.
Even though it may seem that somebody has cut the ground from under your feet, try to hold on to the idea that every end marks a new beginning. You are starting the next chapter of your life, and no matter how scary it is, it can also be wonderful. In the process of divorce, try to secure a better head start for yourself and your future. Do not agree to anything that can be harmful to you in the long run.
Remember, the divorce only happened because the downsides of your marriage outweighed the upsides. That means that, by terminating your marriage, you’ve rid yourself of a toxic aspect of your life. However hard it might be, try to adopt a positive perspective. Try something new. Do that thing that you’ve always wanted, but never did because you didn’t want to upset your ex. Find the strength in the new beginning and don’t be afraid to change.