If you’re thinking about divorce, this article is for you.
I am always surprised at some of the responses I get when I ask, “what do you wish you knew before you got a divorce?” That goes to show the value of really getting in there and asking, instead of assuming you know.
Yesterday, I had a post that asked that question. Along with the answers from there and some research, here’s wisdom from those who’ve gone through the fire:
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- I could fire my attorney. One person said that she didn’t feel that her lawyer was representing her interests. She didn’t realize she could fire her attorney in mid-stream of her divorce. Many people are reluctant to change lawyers because it means finding enough money again to pay a sizable retainer to the new lawyer and telling that new person all of the embarrassing, hurtful details of why you’re getting a divorce. But I believe it’s worth the headache to make sure your interests are being protected as much as you can afford to do so.
- Get an iron clad separation agreement. One of the most frustrating things in a divorce is when you think you have a solid agreement and you rely on it, only to find out that your spouse wants to change what you agreed on already and gets away with it. It makes you lose faith it the process and in the court system. Make sure your agreement is clear and not open to interpretation. You may be getting along now, but that’s not likely to last always.
- Agree on as much as you can before you get lawyers involved. This is the flip side of number 2. It’s a great idea to work out an agreement on as many things as you possibly can. It literally saves you thousands of dollars. But if you’re going to go that route, make sure you have an attorney write the formal agreement that both of you will sign and abide by.
- It’s likely you’re gonna eventually want to move. I can’t tell you how many times people agree on 50/50 custody, where no one is named as the person who has primary custody and no one pays child support, then one of you want’s to move far enough away where this won’t work anymore. Most often, this happens when one of you gets remarried or takes a new job. The bottom line is this: you’re going to have that fight now or later, when it’s a lot more expensive. It’s up to you.
- When your ex gets a girlfriend. You may have negative zero feelings for your ex. But it can still be hard when he wants to introduce her to your kid. You’re likely to feel safety concerns for your child or question where your kid is emotionally ready. Prepare yourself for what that may feel like. And if you can, talk to your ex about whether it’s a good idea to introduce her at this stage of their relationship.
- Pick your fights with the “day after divorce” in mind. Sit down and take a hard look at what your finances are likely to look like after your divorce. This will really help you to pick your battles. Some people fight to stay in a house they won’t be able to afford after the divorce. I know that maybe very important if you’re trying to keep things stable for the kids, but you’re likely to end up being more angry and bitter if you have to move because you’re forced to. It’s much better to do things on your own terms and not allow things to be stripped from you because you can no longer afford them.
- Set healthy boundaries after you separate. I always recommend going to counseling, either as a couple or individually, before you separate. Going back and forth emotionally (even physically) can be so emotionally damaging and confusing for your kids. Unless you feel that there is a strong chance you might reconcile, it’s best to set healthy boundaries so you can move on as quickly as possible.
- You’re not going to get everything because he cheated. Even in states like Texas, where you can still get a divorce on the grounds of adultery, unless you can show that the affair caused you a lot of mental anguish, to the point that you suffered costs of therapy for you (and possibly your kids), or you can show that you’re in dire straights financially because you now lost the benefit of staying married (having to give up a family business, for example), then most judges really don’t care much about the affair. They care more about what’s safe and healthy for your kids.
- It’s gonna cost more than you think. Talk to anyone who’s gone through a divorce and they’ll tell you it’s going to cost a lot more than you think. Like, add 1/3 to what you think it might cost you. So, it’s so important to be as helpful to your attorney as possible with getting documents and other information. Write down your questions and call only when you have to (unless you have a urgent problem).
- Talk to divorced people. This is the best way to get a good idea of what to expect for your life after divorce.
No matter how long you were married, divorce is a hard thing to walk through. I hope that you’re able to stay married, but if you don’t, I hope this article helps to prepare you for the road ahead.
Disclaimer: This article is intended for informational purposes only. It is not intended to give legal advice. It is not a substitute for legal advice. If you need legal advice, please talk to an attorney in your area.