Going through a divorce involves more than just filling out a bunch of paperwork submitting it to the court, and waiting for approval. The paperwork process is involved and mistakes can set your case back, but the emotional aspect can hit just as hard. Despite knowing it’s not going to be easy, many people are surprised by certain things during the process.
Here’s what people wish they knew before filing for divorce.
1. Divorce counseling is helpful
Oftentimes, divorced couples don’t seek counseling until long after their divorce is complete and they’re struggling to cope with the aftermath. Some people never seek therapy because they don’t realize they need it or don’t think it can help.
You don’t have to go through the stress and heartache alone. Divorce counseling can guide you through the pain and uncertainty that comes with divorce, and help you find ways to resume a healthy post-divorce life. A good counselor will also help you understand why your relationship didn’t work so you can create better relationships in the future.
One thing many people don’t account for is the loss of friendships after a divorce. This can be just as devastating as losing your spouse, and therapy can help you get through this experience.
2. Kids are negatively impacted
Divorce has a negative impact on kids for many reasons. Not only do they have to watch their parents split up, but it can be distressing to have to be the focus of a custody battle, especially when they have to testify in court. For kids who need stability and routine, having to live in two different homes every other week is extremely distressing. Intense, emotionally charged arguments in the home only make that stress worse.
There are plenty of studies that say it’s a myth that most kids are negatively impacted by divorce, but those studies rely on self-reporting. The problem with that is many people suppress their trauma and don’t realize their parents’ divorce is the cause for many of their issues until they’re well into their 30s and 40s.
Never underestimate the potential for your divorce to impact your kids negatively. Proceed with the assumption that they will be affected and do what you can to mitigate the impact, like getting them into therapy as soon as possible.
3. Complex assets can make a divorce hard
For most people, they can just file their paperwork and wait for the court to make a determination. There are steps in-between, but it’s not hard to ensure assets are split fairly in most cases. Dividing standard marital property isn’t hard.
This isn’t how it works for complex divorce cases.
Complex divorce situations involve higher value assets, like:
· Stocks and bonds
· Bank accounts
· Joint business ownership
· Real estate property
· Offshore accounts
· Deferred compensation
If you have any of these high-value assets, you’ll need to negotiate with your spouse to create a fair distribution. What’s fair won’t necessarily be a 50/50 split, so be ready to negotiate based on your individual net worth and earning capacity.
Keeping organized books can make dividing high value assets easier, but it’s still going to be an involved process.
4. Red flags are legitimate reasons to bounce
For some, divorce is a crucial step in exiting an abusive relationship. Before getting married, they saw some red flags but brushed them off or thought they could change their partner. This is almost always a mistake because people only change when they want to, and abusive people aren’t usually self-aware.
By the time these people file for divorce, they’ve lived through the experience of all the red flags they never heeded and plenty more. In the end, they wish they knew that red flags are a valid reason to end a relationship and it doesn’t mean they’re giving up on the other person. There’s a difference between having a partner who is actively willing to work on their flaws that impact the relationship, and someone who waves red flags without accountability.
Hindsight is 20/20
Navigating a divorce is tough, but it doesn’t have to be emotionally draining. If you’re in the process of dissolving a marriage, surround yourself with a strong support system and don’t wait to see a counselor. The sooner the better. Hindsight is always 20/20, but don’t beat yourself up for not seeing things sooner. Wanting to keep a relationship together isn’t a bad trait, it’s just better spent on someone who is willing to put in equal effort.