Unfortunately, divorce is all too common these days. While the statistics vary, most sources say that 40-50% of the people who get married will eventually call it quits. There are many reasons for this, but I want to talk about some of the things that a lot of people don’t remember when going through a divorce.
1. Know the divorce laws-Hire the Right Attorney for You
Obviously, most people are not attorneys. Even if they are, they might not be an expert in divorce laws. Divorce laws are constantly changing. For instance, in New Jersey, we were required to go to a co-parenting class once the Complaint for Divorce was filed. If you had a heart problem, you would go see a cardiologist. Same holds true for divorce attorneys. You do not want to a retain an attorney who handles all type of legal cases. You want to retain an attorney who strictly handles matrimonial law. You will also want to know the difference between a divorce, a dissolution, and an annulment. Arming yourself with correct legal information will be very helpful when you are going through this process. Your communication with you attorney is one of the most important aspects of your divorce. You absolutely must feel comfortable with your attorney-client relationship.
2. Be rational
I have known way too many people who seem to lose their mind when they
are going through a divorce. Seemingly normal, rational human beings can
suddenly turn very selfish. Try to keep your emotions “in check”.
Couples will fight over ridiculous things, which in the long run, means
nothing once your divorce is final. So it’s important make sure
that you keep your head on straight and act like a mature adult.
3. Take ownership of your part
When people get divorced, it’s their instinct to blame the other person. I have a friend who, upon the day of separation from her husband, she asked him, “Do you blame me for how we got to the point of divorce?” And he responded, “Of course I do! Everyone blames their spouse.” And then she responded with, “But I don’t blame you. I take my half of the responsibility for our marriage.” And he said, “Well, I guess you’re just a better person than me.” That was part of why they were getting divorced — he didn’t take any personal responsibility for his actions. If both people own up to how they contributed to coming to the point of divorce, then everyone will be able to act a lot more rationally. Try to take a good look at yourself – whatever may have caused your divorce, may be brought into another relationship when your divorce is over and you start dating again.
4. Keep the kids out of it
I’ve also seen way too many parents to use their kids as pawns. Sometimes
they make their kids do the talking to the other parent (such as, “Tell
your dad to be at the courthouse at 10:00 tomorrow!”) It’s
not the children’s fault that your marriage didn’t work. Kids
should be dealing with kid problems, not adult problems. There is a lot
of research that shows how children can be really messed up from their
parents’ divorce. But that’s mostly because the parents did
not handle the situation well and put the kids in the middle. If this
is happening in your divorce at present, this can effect your children
harshly for years to come.
5. Put the kids’ best interest before your own
By keeping the kids out of the divorce, you are putting their needs before your own. For instance, instead of not letting the dad see the kids because you are bitter because he cheated on you, realize how that is affecting your children. Just because you are angry at your spouse doesn’t mean that you should “punish” your kids. Everything you say and do should start with you thinking, “Will this harm my child?” If the answer is yes, then don’t say or do it.
6. Don’t talk badly about the other parent to your kids
This is another sub-set of “put your kids interest before your own.” For some people, it is instinctual for some people to talk poorly about their spouse. I suppose it’s natural to have negative thoughts (after all, you are getting a divorce). But that doesn’t mean you have to let them come out of your mouth — especially around your children. It’s important that the kids love and respect both parents, even if one or both of them have been a jerk to the other. Again — it’s not the children’s business. It’s yours. So as the saying goes, “if you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all.”
7. Get counseling if necessary
It always helps to have an objective third-party to help you see more clearly and resolve issues. Counseling is always a good choice. Family counseling will also help the children cope with the divorce as well.
Divorce is never easy. No one gets married thinking, “Hey, maybe someday I’ll divorce this person!” Well, maybe some do, but most people don’t. It’s a painful process, but if you keep some of these things in mind, it might just be a little easier on everyone.