Getting a divorce is a process. You don't make the decision to separate and then sign the paperwork ending your marriage the next day. Instead, you go through a series of stages on your journey to becoming single once again. This journey is different for each person. Occasionally love is still involved. Sometimes there is no love left. Regardless of your unique situation, there are important points to keep in mind as you move forward.
No one wants to separate and then be embroiled in conflict for years to come. Not only is that financially devastating, but it is emotionally harmful as well. In addition, if children are involved, continued conflict can harm them in many different ways. However, you can change the course of your divorce proceedings. It is possible to gain control and take charge, so that you don't have to hire an attorney and set a court date.
I've worked in this industry for fifteen years, as both a Certified Family Law Specialist and the founder of Hello Divorce. My goal is to help people proceed with as much information as possible (and with as little expense as possible). Divorce is often fraught with conflict, but having the information you need can reduce some of the issues that are present. We focus on making sure our clients know what their options are and assist them in coming up with a plan for how to proceed. It's not always easy. Redefining the way you look at your family can be extremely difficult. However, in general, it is best for all parties to stay out of court, which is why having a strategy is crucial. This doesn't have to be a situation where everybody loses. With thought and care, both parties can get some of the things that matter most to them and then be able to move on.
If you want to move through the divorce with the least amount of conflict, the following tips are useful.
1. Be Informed
Divorce is difficult. Not having the information you need to proceed is terrifying. It is not unusual to feel scared at the start of this process. However, it is important to remember that if you take things step by step, you can feel more in control of what is happening. Take a look at Hello Divorce's flow chart that describes the legal process. There are a number of other materials posted that are useful as well. Once you get a handle on what you are dealing with, you'll be able to make a plan and proceed with a clear mind.
2. Determine How To Proceed
You need a strategy. That doesn't mean you need to be dishonest with your former partner. A strategy simply gives you a way to proceed that is clear for both parties involved. Having all the answers is unnecessary (and unlikely) at this point. However, you can acquire the information you need to make this easier, and a strategy helps you accomplish that goal. You may need to be flexible with your strategy, as your needs could change as the divorce progresses. For right now, though, the best thing you can do is get this started off on a positive note.
3. Don't Start With The Hardest Tasks
Immediately after a separation, emotions are at their highest level. Many people don't react logically during settlement talks because they are hurt. That is why it is important to begin with procedural information and then progress to harder topics when things have cooled off. In general, you need to go through three stages during the divorce. It is only once you reach the third stage that an agreement needs to be formalized. As you make your way through the first couple of tasks, you are able to start mentally preparing for what it is to come. However, you also need time to understand what you need and what you will need in the future. You may initially separate with the idea that keeping the house is important to you, for example, but you may realize as time goes on that it simply isn't possible.
4. Decide What Type Of Help You Need
There are a number of ways to secure help as you work through the divorce process. Hiring a family law attorney is extremely expensive but may be necessary in some cases. However, the vast majority of people are likely to find that a "do it yourself" service meets their needs. For example, Hello Divorce is available to help individuals as they separate and proceed with divorce proceedings. There is a modified "do it yourself" formula as well as a legal coaching option. Think through what you are most comfortable with and go from there. If you aren't ready to make a decision yet, there is an option to secure a free membership, which allows you to proceed with a number of resources and tools. As you look through those materials, you can then determine what you need going forward.
5. Start The Process Now
The vast majority of divorces only proceed after women have considered and debated taking action for five or more years. You are the best expert on your marriage. If you don't think you can salvage the relationship, it is important to move on rather than delaying the inevitable. Speaking with a family law attorney may be in your best interest, particularly if you think there will be conflict. Remember, waiting too long can affect you emotionally and possibly financially as well.