You have been wrestling with the idea of divorce for months, even years. It’s a big thing to consider because a marriage break-up is devastating; you’ve committed to each other, and now you’re going to break it. It isn’t an easy decision to come to, and it can often take a very long time and a lot of trying to get to this part. If you have finally decided that you are ready to go for it, the biggest question is – now what?
Deciding that you’re ready for divorce is one thing, but actually being able to go through the process and come out the other side? That’s no picnic. Divorce is huge. It’s as life-altering as marriage was in the first place and figuring out what to do once you decide to divorce is hard. It would have a considerable effect on almost every area in your life, from your career to your children – if you had any. The reason that divorce is such a big deal is that everything is connected. For example, if you’ve decided divorce is what you want, you have to work out how your job will fit in with being a single parent. If you know you are going to have to move out of your home (because they won’t leave), then you have to decide when to sell the house, how to save up the rent on a new place and when to move out. This is the biggest challenge to overcome during a divorce because there’s just so much to do and no real guide about where to begin.
The unfortunate thing is that most people misunderstand about the differences between separation and divorce, causing themselves extra stress where they really don’t need to. Reflection on whether divorce is genuinely what you want while wondering how to divorce is hard. Even when you are the instigator of the process, it’s an intimidating one to handle.
We’re going to look at how you can handle divorce, as well as what to do first and the subsequent steps to take – particularly if you’re not sure how to manage your divorce in the first place.
Getting your own emotions under control when you’ve come to your decision is tough. It’s likely you’ve already tried to have several conversations to fix the cracks in your marriage before you came to this decision, which means that you can feel like you’ve done your best but now is the time to get things finalised.
The sooner that you start to get into a stable place, the better of you will be in the long run. You don’t need to harden your heart to the point that you are emotionless; you do need to prepare yourself for some emotional backlash, though, and you have to be able to think straight. There are hundreds of small decisions to go through in your divorce process, from what to tell the children to when to take off your wedding ring. You can’t decide any of this if you are being ruled by your emotions, though.
The more you know about how divorce works, the better mindset you will have as you wade through the process. Knowledge is power in your divorce and here are some of the critical things to understand:
- Divorce takes time. You will have a few months ahead of you without any clarity in your future, and this can be stressful. However, it’s better to steam ahead and get to the other side than dwell in a place you are unhappy.
- It’s not just one process. You don’t just decide to divorce, and that’s that. There will be lawyers meetings about how to divide assets and cash. There will be the fact you have actually to end the marriage to begin the process. Then there is the exhausting and worrying task of arranging childcare. It’s three processes rolled into one, heartbreaking situation.
- Life is not TV. Fighting a legal battle isn’t as easy as the TV shows make it out to be, nor as it as feasible. You may not have the cash to hire a divorce lawyer, and battling out in court is very much a last resort anyway.
- Family mediation is vital. It’s the time that you can use to agree – calmly – on how to handle your divorce, your joint assets and your children.
- There is no guarantee on who gets what. You need to agree between you, with the help of an external mediator if possible, who gets what regarding money. You can talk about what you need, but if you go to court, there’s no guarantee you’ll get it.
Ultimately, you have to decide what is going to matter to you most, as well as what you want from this divorce. It’s an emotional process that requires you to think – so decide this before you approach your partner.
Tell Your Partner
This is likely going to be the toughest conversation that you have ever had with your partner, and it’s in this moment that you’re going to change everything. Take your time and think about the fact that this decision hasn’t just come to you on a whim and that you’re not acting on impulse. Remember that you have tried, and it hasn’t worked.
First and foremost, you are not in this divorce alone. Once you have decided to call time on your marriage, you must inform your spouse. Sit down when you both are in a right frame of mind; so, avoid doing this after a long day at work when stress is high, and it’s likely to be an even more fractious and challenging conversation. Be open and honest about your feelings and where things have gone wrong in your marriage and make a joint decision about your living arrangements and childcare.
Remember that this decision hasn’t been an easy one to come to and it’s not all your problem, but do your best to respect your spouse and their emotional reaction. Unless they have been displaying signs that they are also in the same unhappy frame of mind, it’s likely you’re going to come up with some difficulties. For some people, a divorce is never an option, and while you are finally coming to terms with your decision, this isn’t the choice that they made.
Expect a level of shock, but be smart about your news. For example, if you are a woman and you worry about his reaction, and you think that there could be a chance that you would be in danger, make it easier. You should avoid asking for a divorce until you have a conversation with a local women’s shelter so that you have some support waiting for you. Announcing that you want a divorce may also cause a scene, so it makes sense to ensure that you have this conversation peacefully and calmly. It could be a good idea to begin in a public place.
The whole discussion should be respectful, but it’s not always the case, and you must be prepared for that as much as you can.
Tell The Kids
One of the hardest parts of a divorce is telling the children. Children always picture their parents as being together forever, and all they usually have as an example is the TV relationships that they witness on movies. Unfortunately, life is not like television, which means that this is real and your children need to be informed as gently as possible.
The key to telling children about your impending plans for divorce is to come together as parents. No matter how you feel about each other as a couple, you still came together before to create these children in love, which means you need to come together and handle this news delicately and with respect.
Children will blame themselves – it’s a natural reaction – but it’s your job as a couple to emphasise that this isn’t their fault and that you will both continue to love them and care for them in equal measure. The best way to have a full and healthy relationship with your children is to show them that you still respect each other in this process. Children will pick up on how you speak to – and about – their other parent, and this is toxic for them. You mustn’t forget that whatever issues you have between you two, your child is half of your ex, which means that you need to set a great example from the outset.
Gather Your Financial Ducks In A Row
Finances in a divorce can be especially complicated. The paperwork involved in a divorce can often be measured in feet, and not inches. The sooner you put your paperwork together, the more likely your divorce process will go. Financial information from all bank accounts, savings accounts, assets and homes are essential, and you need to put all of this together as soon as you can. Without it, the process can go on for longer.
In cases where there is a high net worth involved, it’s not unusual to believe that there are hidden assets and income, which can be hard to prove. Usually, the accusation of hidden assets is aimed at the spouse running their own business, or the one in charge of the family finances. It isn’t uncommon for assets to be hidden, especially if a divorce is looming, but there are plenty of services that can help you to discover any assets your partner may have protected.
The process of finding hidden assets is complicated, but if you are in any way familiar about the way your partner moves their assets or finances around, then you are at a significant advantage.
The cost of this discovery has to be weighed against the benefits, but if it means that your divorce is fair and equal, divorce asset checking services such as this can really help. There are a lot of reasons a spouse could be hiding things, but the smartest thing that you can do is discover it, lay it all out on the table and make your divorce fair and equal.
Putting Together A Team
To be able to give yourself the best chance at an equal divorce and getting through it without destroying yourself or your spouse, then you need to put together a team that will see you through to the end. They will be there to help you, support you, advise you and generally ensure that you can come out of the other side of your divorce with dignity and grace.
Your divorce team isn’t just made up of professionals such as lawyers, therapists, financial professionals, and even divorce coaches. It’s also got to include your close friends, relatives, family members and colleagues. Anyone who can be there to support you through a difficult time is someone to lean on, and you should make sure that you only lean on those that you have no doubt are on your side.
No matter how large your village is, no one should go through a divorce without support. Even if you are the person who has asked for it, it doesn’t mean you’re happy about it!
Handling The Future
Finally, you are in the driving seat of your divorce. Life beyond this point is going to feel fragile and fraught, and the only correct way to handle this next stage is to be kind to yourself. You should take the time for self-care, using the child-free time that you have to do things that fill your soul with joy. You should feel happy, secure and content that you have made the best decision for you.
It’s never easy to go through a divorce where children are involved; mainly because you feel a sense of duty to stay and make it work regardless of your own happiness. However, you deserve to be happy, which means that you need to believe in that happiness and find strength in your decisions to power through. Divorce is only the end of this part of your life, not the end of life altogether.