Divorce is serious. It’s not to be taken lightly or entered into without the proper understanding of what is required. Unfortunately, many couples go into the process unprepared and, as a result, have to deal with avoidable consequences for years to come.
5 Things You Should Know About Divorce
The current divorce rate is right around 41 percent. If it’s a second marriage, the divorce rate is north of 60 percent. And for third marriages, there’s a 73 percent chance that the union will end in a split.
While your situation is certainly painful and frustrating, you are not alone. Nearly 1 million couples get divorced each year. And while there’s no such thing as a “successful” divorce, the smoothest ones are the ones that adhere to these principles:
- There Are No “Winners”
The first thing to know is that there are no “winners” in a divorce. Everyone loses something. If you go into this situation looking for a way to “beat” your spouse in court, you’re probably going to end up getting the short end of the stick. With so many different variables in play – including custody of children, finances, assets, businesses, etc. – you’ll have to compromise.
The smoothest divorces with the best possible outcomes for all parties involved typically have a healthy amount of give and take. Spouses are willing to give up certain things (even when they don’t want to) in order to keep the things that are most meaningful to them. This is the posture you need to adopt.
- You Need Your Own Attorney
You and your spouse might be on fairly good terms. But no matter how amicable the situation is, you should always hire separate divorce attorneys. This is not somewhere you want to try to cut costs. You each need your own attorney who will look out for your own best interests.
When hiring a divorce attorney, look for someone who is local and knows how divorces work in your specific state, county, and city. Rules often differ across different jurisdictions. So if you’re getting a divorce in Ventura, California, you want a divorce attorney in Ventura, CA. It’s as simple as that.
- Consider What’s Best for the Children
You’re getting divorced – not your kids. So while you might harbor a lot of hatred and bitterness toward your spouse, you can’t let this impact your children’s relationship with them.
Unless there’s an awful history of abuse or neglect, your children have a right to continue having a relationship with both you and your spouse. Trying to interfere with this, or discourage a healthy parent-child bond with your soon-to-be ex-spouse, is not a wise decision.
Every choice you make should be filtered through the lens of what’s best for your children. Their needs come first and yours come second. You’ll recover from this divorce and eventually move on to the next chapter of your life. Your children will deal with the ramifications of this decision forever.
- Update Your Will
Now is a good time to update your will. (And if you don’t have one, you, your spouse, and your attorneys should create one during the divorce process.)
A lot changes as a result of a divorce. Make sure any changes to your wishes are reflected. For example, if your previous will has all of your assets going to your spouse upon death, you’ll probably want to change this so that your assets go directly to your children. However, there will need to be an executor to see that the assets are properly distributed.
- Create Healthy Separation
Divorce is overwhelming and, at times, all-encompassing. It’s important that you create healthy separation during this time. Begin to take a step back and regain some of the independence you’ll need as a single person. Spend time with healthy people who are an encouragement to you. Do healthy things to take your mind off the divorce. This might look like starting a new hobby or going to therapy.
Proceed With a Plan
Nobody ever plans ahead for a divorce. But when it becomes clear that you and your spouse are going down this road, it’s important that you come up with an intentional approach that allows you to create the best possible outcome for your kids (while also protecting some of your own needs and interests). Use this article as a launching pad for developing your proactive plan.