How to Avoid the Drama and Have a “Good” Divorce
We all know the statistic: about half of all marriages in the US end in divorce. And while no relationship’s end is exactly pretty, is there such a thing as a good divorce? While some parties would claim a good divorce is one where they get everything, a divorce lawyer would say it’s one with minimal drama, where the couple is able to split up without either of them suffering complete emotional or financial devastation.
Unraveling, But Not Unraveled
Fear, anger, resentment and grief are all natural feelings. But couples who split up feeling only that are actually considered “the lucky ones.” Others have their self-esteem crippled, their friendships strained and their finances ruined. So when a marriage unravels and doesn’t entirely unravel the lives of those involved, that’s a “good divorce.”
1. Get Good Legal Advice
Find a lawyer whose practice is dedicated to family law and divorce, even if you can’t afford a board-certified family law attorney. This person will know divorce law better than someone who is not devoted to its practice.
2. Get Smart About Money
Divvying up assets is complicated no matter what tax bracket you’re in. It’s not as simple as splitting everything down the middle because, when it comes to divorce negotiations, all money isn’t equal.
Be acutely aware of your finances. Understand exactly which assets are community property and which aren’t. Part of having a good divorce is not asking for more than you entitled to, but knowing how to ask for every penny of your fair share. You can only do this when you understand your finances and know exactly what your fair share should be.
3. Get Reliable Support
While our friends want to support us and they generally mean well, they won’t always give you the best advice. So lean on them when you need to, but don’t feel like you have to share every detail of your divorce – or any at all for that matter. It’s generally better if you let them support you in other ways, with fun nights out and delicious dinners in.
Instead, consider joining a support group designed to help you through the divorce and move one when it’s over. Share your stories, your worst thoughts and your fears there. The group is designed to help you systematically put your life back in order when you’re feeling low and wondering what you’re going to do with your life.
4. Get Untangled Peaceably
Instead of ending the marriage with unresolved feelings of anger, resentment and bitterness, try to work with your spouse to end things in a way that is healing for you both. A “good” divorce isn’t about vilifying the other person, or beating yourself up because you feel like a bad person. It’s just coming to the realization that one or both of you aren’t going to be happy in this marriage, accepting that fact and deciding you want to change that for yourself, and maybe even for them.
When you realize that neither of you is inherently bad, even if you’ve done some bad things, and that you’re just two unhappy people doing their best to get by and make things better, it becomes a lot easier to forgive and settle things amicably.
Out of all the things on this list, this is the one most people will balk at or feel uncomfortable with, but making amends with your ex-spouse is an incredibly effective way to heal, move on and enjoy life. Leaving a relationship rife with mental or physical abuse is an obvious exception to this tip.
5. Get Reborn
When you’ve been married to someone for decades, it’s easy to lose track of who you are without that person in your life. Starting over can be seem extremely overwhelming and dreadful. How do you get back into the workforce after being a homemaker for 30 years? How do you start dating?
How you choose to think about your divorce will affect how it plays out in your future. The only thing that’s real is now. And what you have right now is possibility. What do you want to do? Who do you want to be? You don’t have to answer these questions immediately, but keeping them in the back of your mind and thinking about them every so often will open you to all the opportunities that surround you.
Whether you cut your hair or take up a new hobby, move where you’ve always wanted or stay right where you are, find something to change that makes you feel in control of your life and happiness. Times of upheaval and change can be absolutely terrifying, but they’re also full of regrowth and possibility.
“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.” – Rabindranath Tagore