Divorce is never easy. Even when things are amicable, it’s still a stressful experience. When things are difficult, however, it can be overwhelming.
There are plenty of factors that can play into a difficult divorce, from the reason the marriage is ending to finances, and especially children. It’s important to know when you’re ready for a divorce, because it can often be a long, drawn-out process.
You might never be fully prepared to go through a contentious divorce. But, there are things you can do to navigate the waters and make things easier on yourself.
Make Sure It’s the Right Time
As of 2018, about 40% of all marriages in the U.S. end in divorce. That’s not exactly an encouraging statistic, but no one gets married assuming they’ll fall into that category. Unfortunately, divorce has become a relatively easy process when there are no kids involved, so it’s not uncommon for people to divorce more frequently and get remarried several times.
Still, it’s a big deal. If you’re considering it, you’re likely already having problems with your marriage. But, it’s important to know if you’re truly ready. Asking yourself some difficult questions about your marriage and relationship can be the first step in the process. Some clear signs that can help you determine if the marriage is over include:
- Loss of respect in your relationship
- Loss of attraction and intimacy
- Deception about finances
- A significant change in habits
- Lack of empathy
Filing for divorce is easy, on paper, but can be the hardest thing you ever have to do in your head and your heart. Make sure you’re ready, and that the marriage is truly over before you make such a big decision.
Know How to Handle Your Finances and Assets
One of the ugliest aspects of a divorce is splitting things up. It can feel like a life you’ve built together with someone is being torn into pieces and divvied up in a courtroom. When it comes to dividing assets, it’s important to know what to expect so you aren’t surprised by what you might gain or lose.
The best way to go about dividing your belongings is to work out an agreement with your former spouse. You might determine who gets what by considering factors like:
- Financial situations
- Who uses each item the most
- Who needs each item the most
- Splitting multiple items evenly
Couples that can navigate these waters on their own can expedite the divorce process so it doesn’t seem so long and ugly.
Unfortunately, if you’re not able to work out an agreement, you may have to hire an attorney to help you get what you deserve. That can get expensive very quickly. So much so, that you may need to divide your assets quickly — including the marital home — so you can sell it fast for cash to pay your lawyer. Know the value of your home before you decide to “split” it, so you can ensure you’re getting a fair share when it sells.
Consider What’s Best for Your Kids
When children are involved in a divorce, things become much more complicated. You have to remember that you aren’t the only one dealing with this separation — they are, too.
While your children aren’t property, the best thing you can do is to create a schedule and agreement with your former spouse when it comes to spending time with them. You should consider things like where the kids want to live, whether they would have to change schools, who is staying in the marital home, and who has more availability.
If you cannot come up with an agreement, a court will likely require a “standard” one that may be fair on paper, but not necessarily what’s best for the kids in your situation. Trying to be amicable and agreeable to a discussion is your best option.
No matter what schedule you decide on, being a good co-parent should be your top priority. Call a truce with your ex when it comes to your children, and agree to focus on what’s best for them while putting your own feelings aside. Some quick co-parenting tips that will make things easier on everyone include:
- Never badmouth your ex to your kids
- Only speak to your ex about the kids, not about personal matters
- Never make your children “choose” between you or your ex
- Don’t use your children to fill your need for companionship
Navigating a difficult divorce doesn’t have to overwhelm you. Plan and prepare as much as possible, and do what you can to reach agreements with your ex. The less time you have to spend in court, the less stressful things will be. Most importantly, though, make sure to take care of yourself throughout the divorce process. Making your physical and mental health a top priority will make it easier to manage stress and not get overwhelmed by the situation.