Hindsight is 20-20 as the saying goes. When it comes to ending a marriage, a little foresight would go a long way to making smarter, more rational decisions. Although every divorce is different, if you’re embarking on the dissolution of your marriage, consider these seven insights from those who have been there.
Take What’s Yours …
If you’ve initiated the divorce or your soon-to-be-ex is hurt by your actions, you may want to agree to any terms just to “get it over with” and avoid more unpleasantness. But will you later regret leaving your mother’s fine china or walking away from your share of the 401(k) once you are settling into your new life? Rely on your attorney to help guide you towards getting what is rightfully yours. Don’t depend upon verbal agreements. Your attorney can include an itemized list in your divorce agreement.
… But Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
Although you should both receive an equitable share of your marital assets, don’t get so hung up on the small stuff that you lose sight of the big picture. If your divorce becomes contentious, a skillful attorney can guide you towards the best possible solution. If you hit an impasse, consider seeking the help of a divorce mediator.
Ensure the Welfare of Your Children
Although you may both be young and healthy at the time of divorce, you never know what may happen in the days, months and years to come. What you would do if you or your spouse became chronically or terminally ill, or was in a fatal accident? If you have minor children, it’s a wise idea to request that your ex has a life insurance policy to provide for their welfare should the worst happen. Likewise, you should maintain a life insurance policy benefiting minor children, as well as a long-term disability plan. And remember to update your will after your divorce and request that your ex do the same.
Don’t Fan the Flames
It might feel great to write a scorching essay about your ex and post it on your Facebook page, but when you’re negotiating your divorce agreement, you may regret airing that dirty laundry. With whom can you share all the dirt? Your divorce attorney. He or she can use it in the appropriate manner when handling your divorce. You can also seek the help of a licensed therapist who can help you work through your feelings of anger and resentment.
Hold Yourself Accountable
When you’re unhappily married, it’s easy to justify your actions. No matter how miserable you are or how much your spouse ignores or cheats on you, resist the desire to jump into another relationship before you are legally separated or divorced. If you are married and considering cheating on your spouse, that’s a sign there is something wrong in your relationship that should be addressed. Seek the help of a therapist or marriage counselor before hopping into bed with someone else. Once you’ve had an affair, you can’t take it back. The relationship may be used against you down the road should you end up divorcing.
Don’t Rush It
Haste definitely makes waste when it comes to divorce. Although you may want to be free to start your new life as soon as possible, rushing the process of divorce may create more opportunities for missteps and regrets in the future. Experts advise waiting until you’re emotional stable to make important financial and personal decisions, such as buying a new home or getting into a new relationship. Plus, there’s a lot to be learned about yourself as you are going through the process of divorce. Use the time to discern your needs, wants and hopes for the future.
It Won’t Feel Like This Forever
The early stages of a split can be fraught with anger, resentment, and sadness, but (in most cases) these emotions will pass. Whether you or your spouse is the initiating the split, ending a marriage is a loss and should be mourned. How long you grieve is up to you and your desire to move on. In time, the intense feelings will subside — if you allow them. When you’re going through the initial “tough time,” keeping in mind that this phase will not last can help you maintain perspective and make smarter decisions for the long-term.