If you’re considering a legal end to your relationship in the form of divorce, take a step back and think about what you’re about to do. Divorce is a long and complicated process that has no “winners” at the end. Many couples that enter into divorce view it as a war they must win. They feel they must fight to keep their property, children, pets, and anything else they feel is theirs. With each spouse feeling the exact same way, it’s practically guaranteed that two people who were married for a significant amount of time will never agree on what belongs to whom.
Weigh Your Options
Even when there’s not a lot to divide up, and without child custody issues, the tension caused by divorce is great, and it will affect all people involved—not just the couple divorcing. The lives of both adults and their children will be forever changed, and some of those involved may experience a life less grand than they’ve grown accustomed to over the years. Extended family and friends will also be affected by a break up, but there are things you can do to make it less painful for everyone involved.
Before deciding to divorce, make sure you have done all you can to improve your relationship, and make sure you’re certain that there is no alternative, such as a reconciliation or a longer separation to ensure that divorcing is the right thing to do. Many couples find that going to couples therapy and counseling can help save the marriage. Some couples discover that time alone without children and work to distract can save a marriage. Other couples find that time apart to work on individual issues can save their marriage. It does not matter what you decide to do to help reconcile; it simply matters that you at least try before starting a painful process that will cost a lot of money, a lot of time, and possibly a lot of tears along the way.
If Divorce is the Only Answer…
If you have made the effort to weigh your other options and one or both of you decide that divorce is the only answer, there are things you can do to minimize the contentiousness of the divorce. While divorcing amicably is everyone’s goal, the reality is that divorce can get ugly. It almost always leads to fights over children, money and property, and divorcing partners often find themselves behaving in a way they never thought possible.
You may argue over a set of dishes you got as a wedding present, or you may fight for a coffee table because it has sentimental value, or you may try to hide money you earned from a small business that your spouse wasn’t a part of during the marriage. You may be surprised at how underhanded someone you once loved can become during the divorce process.
Make the effort to have calm, civilized conversations about money and property before hiring a lawyer. Once you hire a divorce lawyer, your best interests are going to be in the hands of someone who is supposed to be a “shark”—someone who will fight to the death to get what you think you deserve at the end of your marriage. Work with your spouse before lawyers are brought into the picture to see what can be divided up amicably prior to the dissolution of your marriage.
Try to avoid the triggers you know will set your spouse off, and never forget that divorce is emotionally, physically, and mentally exhausting for everyone involved. You once loved the person you’re divorcing, and if you keep that in mind throughout the divorce proceedings, you may avoid a great deal of the tension that often accompanies divorce. If there are children involved, do everything you can to put them first and remind them as much as possible that the divorce has nothing to do with them and it’s not their fault.