No one files for divorce and expects the proceedings to be filled with wine and roses.
Divorce is one of the harder experiences most people have to go through in their lifetimes. Even though the divorce rate is declining as people get married later in life, divorce is still strikingly common and often emotionally brutal.
If you’ve just started down the road of the divorce process, you may be curious about what it is exactly you have ahead of you. No matter what ideas you have about divorce, the legal process can still find many ways to surprise you.
What kind of things should you expect between your filing and eventual uncoupling? Read on and we’ll walk you through everything you need to know.
1. Every Divorce Is Different
What are you basing your ideas about divorce on? Where are you getting your expectations about how the process will go? It’s important to interrogate these ideas and your expectations in general before the process really gets going.
Many of us learn about divorce between media depictions of the process and then later on, through friends and family members who have gone through the process. It’s possible that your own parents have gotten divorced and you experienced it as a child growing up.
It’s important to remember that your divorce is your own. It’s not going to be the same as anyone else’s. Divorces can vary wildly in all sorts of different ways.
So, if your divorced friends give you advice about what should happen and what you should do, take their advice with a grain of salt. The information that you can get from others can often be wrong or ill-advised.
It’s never a good idea to base your decisions on the experiences of someone else in a different set of circumstances. Instead, it’s better to turn to an attorney, therapist, or other professionals who can look at the specifics of your situation and move from there.
2. Custody Battles Are Very Difficult
Divorce is difficult no matter what. However, if you have children with your spouse the process of divorce can be even more challenging.
First, there is the matter of child custody to be sorted out. If you don’t see eye to eye with your partner about matters of custody, there could be a very long legal road to determining who will get to see your children and when.
During this process, you might have to make a case against your former spouse and they might have to do the same to you. You’ll need to list out reasons why they might be seen as a bad parent and why you’d be more responsible with the children.
You will have to hear reasons from their side why you shouldn’t get to spend more time with your children. Safe to say, things can get very ugly very fast. You’ll need to steel yourself emotionally for this journey.
Even if you think you and your spouse are on solid emotional footing, things can become unglued during this part of the process. It’s important to retain the help of an attorney when fighting for custody as the laws can be quite complicated.
You can look into help from firms such as Freedom Law to ensure you get the representation you deserve.
It Will Be Tough On Your Kids
During this emotionally trying time, it’s easy to get caught up in fear, anger, and stress. However, you need to remember that when you have children, you’re in this relationship for the long haul, married or not.
You might be removing your spouse from your daily life, but your children will not be. As such, it’s important to do your best to maintain the best possible relationship with your former partner.
The more parents fight during a divorce, the more difficult the process can be for the children trying to come to terms with the change. You’ll need to exercise great patience and avoid doing or saying anything to hurt your former partner during this time.
The last thing you want to do is try to interfere with your partner’s bond with your children (unless they somehow pose a legitimate threat). It’s important for children to maintain a bond with both parents so as to continue to develop and grow as adults.
It’s easy to get jealous, angry, and possessive. You might want to cut the other parent out of their lives, however, you should avoid this urge at all costs.
You’re getting a divorce, not your kids. Keep their well-being in mind during the divorce process and you’ll be better off in the long run.
3. There Are Alternatives to Court
We all have the idea of the divorce process happening in court. It’s possible that we’ve picked up this assumption from movies about the process. However, there are plenty of ways to move through the divorce process without the need to go to court.
One of the more popular ways to resolve a divorce case without going to court is known as mediation. In mediation, a professional and neutral third-party individual sits down with both members of the marriage.
They facilitate face-to-face negotiations with the former spouses and attempt to work out mutual agreements. Both parties can still talk with their attorneys during these proceedings to ensure they are getting proper legal counsel.
However, mediation allows for a potentially more peaceful resolution to the various disputes that led to the end of the marriage itself.
There is also something known as a collaborative divorce. In collaborative divorce, both parties hire a special collaborative attorney. The goal is to resolve the divorce case without the need to go to court.
Often, different professionals are called in to help, such as mental health professionals, financial consultants, and so forth. Their testimonies help to push along the negotiations in a way that should benefit both sides.
Avoiding court can help to save money and give more power to the spouses to decide the shape of their post-marriage life. When a divorce case goes to court, a judge will make a ruling and one member of the marriage might not get much of a say in how things will play out.
These methods allow for a process that is much more mutually beneficial.
4. You Will Fight Over Furniture
You accumulate a lot of different items over the course of many years of marriage. When it comes time for a marriage to draw to an end, all of a sudden there are a great many belongings that you and your former spouse might have equal claim to.
This can really set the ground for a lot of fighting. It’s best to prepare yourself for this kind of battle as something of an inevitability. You will fight over furniture and hopefully, you’ll get through the process without too much vitriol.
There are some things you can do to help lessen the stress of this splitting of items. Taking an inventory of your home at the beginning of the process of getting a divorce can be very helpful.
You can take photographs of items around your home and create a master list. You can then work through the list with your spouse in an organized manner, agreeing to who gets what.
This can at least prevent the sense of chaos that erupts over the course of many months as items start disappearing without discussion.
Having conversations about items or belongings that are important to you as early as possible can help to ensure that you have a reasonable and level-headed conversation about their future home.
5. Your Ex Might Start Dating
You never know what’s going to happen over the course of months of divorce proceedings. The divorce process is very long, after all. If your marriage had already been on the rocks for a while, there’s a very good chance your former partner might be very ready for something new.
It is not at all uncommon for former spouses to begin to start seeing other people during the divorce proceedings. This can be emotionally difficult but you do need to prepare yourself for the chance that it could occur.
You might even find that you’re surprisingly jealous or possessive. It can be quite jarring to see someone you’ve been with for such a long time start a relationship with someone new.
You might not want to be with this person anymore, but that doesn’t mean that you’ll be emotionally ready to see them with someone else either. It can help to talk to a therapist or mental health professional during this time.
They can walk you through the emotions you’re feeling and help you to come to terms with the new life your spouse might start leading. You’ll need to draw your own lines, of course, about when it feels alright to get back out there.
6. Money is Going to Become a Challenge
You’ve likely gotten into the routine, over the course of the past few years, of being a home with two working parents. This is the normal reality for most households across the United States.
When you get divorced, all of a sudden you’ll be on your own in terms of your finances. This can be shocking and difficult to stomach. Even if you’ll be getting some form of child support, it’s easy to feel as if it isn’t enough to cover your needs.
It’s important to prepare for this reality as soon as possible. You might need to start making changes to your spending habits as the divorce begins. Think about life living on your income and your income alone.
‘What changes might you need to make and how best can you adjust to this new quality of life? It might be a good idea to speak to an experienced financial planner during the beginning of your divorce process.
A financial planner can help map out a transition plan for you that will keep your money situation in check. It’s also not a bad idea to rely on the help of family and friends when your divorce is first unfolding.
This is an important time to have a support system to rely on and they can make the financial burden of post-marriage life a little easier to manage.
7. Divorce Takes a Long Time
How long is the divorce process? If you’re at the beginning of the road when it comes to your divorce, you may be curious how many months of emotional turmoil you have ahead of you.
The unfortunate reality is that a divorce can take quite a long time to work through. At a minimum, you’re looking at about six months of legal requirements to work through before your marriage will be officially done.
That’s a best-case scenario where you don’t run into any big disagreements that might delay the case. That’s simply a minimum amount of time that most states require before a divorce will be finalized.
There are some states, such as Nevada, with shorter minimum waiting times. Still, it’s very rare for a case to get through all the needed steps in less than half a year’s time.
However, if you need to battle over custody, finances, or other such matters, a case can drag on even longer. The more a former pair can’t see eye-to-eye, the more legal trouble they are going to have to work through. All of this negotiating takes both time and money.
Generally, there’s not much a person can do to speed up the process besides hiring a competent attorney who will do their best to get you through it.
What to Expect From the Divorce Process
There are few things more difficult in life than getting a divorce. If you’re just starting to go through the divorce process, the above information can help you adjust to what to expect from the next few months of your life.
Need more legal advice and information? Keep scrolling our blog for more.