According to statistics, 40% to 50% of married couples file for divorce.
Getting a divorce is a complex affair. Not only are you encountering immense emotional distress, but you also have to think over logistics and other issues to look out for your children.
Knowing what to expect is critical to help you weather the storm. Otherwise, you’ll flounder and take your kids down with you.
Keep reading for six fundamental things you need to keep in mind before filing for divorce.
1. Alternative Options to Court
In most people’s minds, a divorce is directly linked to going to court. However, that is not the case. There are alternative approaches to processing a divorce that you can tap into.
Mediation in divorce is an option that many people pondering divorce may not know about. Here, a neutral third party (known as a mediator) who is trained in working with divorcing couples helps manage the process.
Through the mediator, divorcing couples can put together a mutually acceptable agreement. Often, the mediator will advise each spouse to consult an attorney.
But, these attorneys don’t attend mediation sessions. Their role is to only advise on thorny issues such as at what age child support ends, alimony, child custody, etc.
Another option outside of court is collaborative divorce. In this scenario, the spouses hire collaborative lawyers who help the couple arrive at a mutual separation agreement.
Additionally, collaborative lawyers will work with other neutral, third-party specialists to iron out thorny issues touching on the divorce.
Seeking alternatives to going to court helps a divorcing couple end the marriage on more agreeable terms.
If, for example, a judge has to allocate child custody, they will likely use a time-tested arrangement. When a couple decides to take an alternative route like mediation, they develop a plan that better fits their dynamics, which the court may not be as privy to.
2. Your Kids Aren’t Getting Divorced
Few things can trigger your sense of hurt and need for justice than divorce. Often, divorce tends to bring out the worst in people, and in the heat of the moment, it’s easy to lose objectivity.
Part of this temporal lack of objectivity is in handling issues related to the children during a divorce. To begin with, you need to remember a harsh but helpful truth—your children aren’t getting divorced, only you are.
As such, trash-talking the other parent in front of the children only sets them up for a harder healing process later on. The more parents in a divorce fight, the more damaging the process becomes to their children.
Purpose to give more thought into your words and actions as you prepare to wade into divorce. Even though it will be a painful process, you still need to go through it gracefully to help your kids have a relationship with the other parent post-divorce.
You can also work with a seasoned mental health practitioner to help your children cope with the process.
3. Let Go of the Past
Despite the reasons for filing for divorce, there’s likely some residual anger and pain brought on by past hurts. Even though you may be the aggrieved party, holding tightly onto issues that have led up to the divorce may cloud your judgment.
You’ll keep circling back to what the other person did, which triggers a fresh wave of anger. Soon enough, this becomes a vicious cycle keeping you from making prudent decisions for yourself and the kids.
Furthermore, focusing on the past can lead to you and your spouse fighting over trivial points for victory. That can quickly draw out the process, which drives the legal bill higher than it ought to be.
If you approach the divorce with a willingness to seek the best way out for you and your children, it will be helpful in the long run.
4. Honesty Is Still the Best Policy
Many people heading for divorce get shocked when they learn they still need to be honest with their spouse. The fact of the matter is, the law is dead serious about lying over issues that impact the divorce process.
For example, in California, you are required by law to disclose all documents and information during a divorce voluntarily. Whether it regards your income, debts, assets, or expenses, you risk legal retribution if you lie about it.
If you think that’s where the court draws the line, you’re in for a surprise. Aside from complete and voluntary disclosure, you are also obligated to keep updating your spouse with new information on these issues as they change.
Honesty in divorce applies not only to your spouse but to an attorney. Yes, sharing deeply personal details with a stranger is uncomfortable. But guess what? Lying to your divorce lawyer only hurts your case.
Therefore, you must hire an attorney with whom you feel comfortable sharing personal details on your case. The more you share, the better insight your attorney has to help you handle your divorce successfully.
5. Deciding to Stay or Move Out
The decision on moving out or staying comes with a lot of push and pull. Unless you are leaving an abusive marriage, you should wait until the proceedings are final before moving out.
If you move out and your spouse continues paying the mortgage during the entirety of the proceedings, it can impact the court’s decision. A judge may take that into consideration when deciding on property distribution.
At the very least, consult your lawyer before deciding to move out or stay. In some cases, the court can consider a motion for temporary possession of the marital home while the divorce is ongoing.
6. Take Inventory of the Home
One way to manage disputes over marital assets in the home is to record everything you have for reference. Whether big or small, you should take photos of important items.
When taking each photo, include the front page of that day’s newspaper to act as a ‘date stamp.’ That helps you avoid charges that you’ve doctored the photos should the divorce become contentious.
Know What to Expect When Getting a Divorce
Getting a divorce is to walk a tightrope between level-headedness and emotional turmoil. To better manage the process, you need to identify what to expect to navigate the process for you and your kids successfully.
Ending a marriage is never easy. Our website publishes lifestyle articles full of information on how to navigate divorce to help couples cope. Check out more of our content to learn how you can process your divorce without losing your mind while protecting your kids.