There is little that isn’t difficult when it comes to ending a long-term relationship. There are things that you can do to make the process easier, whether it’s relieving pressure on the people involved or softening the blow to the wallet.
Communication is important, whether it’s with your soon-to-be ex or your attorney. Working out an agreement between the parties in conflict will save time, money and acrimony. It’s a tension-filled environment. Even if you aren’t at each other’s throats, you may benefit from mapping out what you want and planning ahead before you speak. If things are so bad that face-to-face communication won’t be helpful, try to communicate by writing.
Be clear with your lawyer on what you want to come from the divorce proceedings. Be honest about events that occurred during the relationship between you and your spouse and children. In California, you don’t have to prove someone did anything wrong to get a divorce; however, your attorney may need to pry to work out what is best for you.
Communication is especially important when children are involved and there is a conflict over post-separation custody. It’s best if the couple can work out an agreement between themselves prior to judicial intervention. If there is no meeting of the minds, your attorney needs to have a complete picture of the family life.
Look at your finances. Take an honest stock of your assets, liabilities and any joint accounts or insurance plans before entering into a divorce action. Recall, or get proof of, when you acquired an asset and how. Think about what it would take for your spouse to become self-supporting, or what would be a reasonable support payment to last about half as many years as you have been together. Try as much as possible to remove enmity and emotion from your consideration of finances.
Considering the financial situations of you and your spouse will help you avoid surprises and promote healthier negotiations.
Be aware that in California, you’ll have to come clean on everything you own when you get a divorce. Once the process gets rolling, you won’t be able to make any changes in finances without telling your spouse first.
Think about seeing a counselor. A psychologist, psychiatrist or social worker can help you work through the rampant emotions that occur during a divorce. You may be better able to come to terms with the reality of your current situation and have a more clear-eyed view of your future.
Keep the outside outside. If you have close friends, many of them will flock to you offering support. In cases when you and your spouse share friendships or have other married friends, avoid establishing a support group in your community that’s going to take your side. It’s inevitable that some will feel protective of you, or feel you are being done a disservice. Yet, it may be you doing the disservice by ruining other relationships or making friends feel uncomfortable. Worse, you may be creating more discord between you and your spouse. When children are involved, you may end up harming their relationships as well.
Hit the ground running. You’ll have a life after divorce and you should be ready for it. You may need a new place to live, a new job or adjust to a newly empty household. You should give yourself time to adjust, take a moment to breathe, then start your new life.