Let’s be honest. Divorce is hard. Really hard. But sometimes, the smallest things can make the biggest difference. When you are going through a divorce, getting a few good divorce tips can save you a ton of time and money, not to mention untold amounts of grief and aggravation.
The problem is, the best divorce tips are likely to come from divorce professionals – and getting their advice costs money!
To help you out, I’ve put together a list of 17 divorce tips to help you navigate through your divorce with less pain and problems.
1. Stay out of court.
No matter how much you might want to “tell the judge your story,” you do NOT want a total stranger in a black robe deciding what will happen to your kids, your finances, and your future. Unless you have absolutely no choice at all, settle your case outside of court.
2. Get a therapist.
Divorce is hard. When you are going through a divorce you will be making decisions that will affect your life and your kids’ lives, for years to come. You can’t make good decisions when you can’t think. You can’t think when you are an emotional basket case. Working with a therapist will help you deal with how you feel, so that you can think more clearly.
3. Decide HOW you want to divorce first, THEN hire a divorce lawyer.
If you want to use mediation to resolve your divorce, but you hire a shark divorce attorney, your mediation will fail. If you need to litigate because your spouse is being a jerk, and you hire an attorney who is more comfortable in a conference room than a court room, you are going to get hammered. You have to decide which divorce process you want to use, then hire an attorney who is comfortable using that kind of process.
4. Be careful which lawyer you hire.
This is not the time to hire your grade school friend who is now a real estate lawyer. You need to get a lawyer who is experienced in handling family law cases, and who is familiar with the judges and the court system in your area.
5. Take care of yourself.
Divorce is a marathon, not a sprint. If you are going to make it through your divorce without having a breakdown, you need to take care of yourself. Eat healthy. Exercise. Do your best to get 8 hours of sleep a night. The better you feel physically, the sharper you will be mentally.
6. Do your best not to overindulge in anything.
Sure, it feels good to numb the pain with alcohol, drugs, food, shopping, sex, or whatever your vice of choice is. But, in the long run, all of those behaviors only bring you down more. Right now you need to engage in activities that build you up, not tear you down.
7. Circle the wagons.
Do not try to go through your divorce alone. This is no time to try to be a super hero or a martyr. That doesn’t mean you need to publicly announce your divorce to everyone you know. It does mean you should put together a tight group of family and friends who can support you and pick you up when you are feeling really down.
8. Take ownership of your divorce.
Don’t think you can offload all of your divorce issues on your lawyer. Yes, your lawyer will try to protect you. But, this is your life! You need to pay attention to what is going on, ask questions, and actively participate in your divorce if you want to get the best result
9. Ditch the drama.
If you want to have a more peaceful divorce, you need to consciously walk away when your spouse wants to fight. Don’t engage. It may take every ounce of energy you have, but when your spouse starts pushing your buttons, resist the urge to take the bait.
10. Decide from the start whether you would rather be right or be happy.
If you are waiting for your spouse to apologize for his/her horrible behavior during the marriage, you are going to be waiting a long, long time. Your spouse is not likely to wake up one morning with a burning desire to admit that you were right and s/he was wrong. You may never get an apology, or even an explanation, for what has gone on in the past. You can either fight for years for something that you are not going to get, or you can just let it go.
11. Stop trying to control your spouse.
You can’t control what your spouse does, where your spouse lives, who your spouse associates with, or even how s/he parents your kids. You couldn’t control your spouse while you were married. What makes you think you are going to do it now that you are getting divorced?
12. Keep your kids out of the middle.
Do not use your children to deliver messages or money to your former spouse. Do not interrogate them about what your former spouse is doing, who s/he is dating, or what his/her new home is like. It is none of your business, and that kind of behavior puts your kids right in the middle of your mess.
13. Don’t discuss the issues you have with your ex with your kids.
Don’t rob your children of their chance to have a great relationship with both of their parents. Your kids love both you and your spouse. They are a part of both of you. When you badmouth your ex in front of the kids, the kids feel like you are badmouthing them.
14. Set boundaries.
Once you and your spouse start living in separate houses, it’s not okay for either of you to invade the other person’s space anymore. It doesn’t matter if you both still own the marital home. If you don’t live there, you can’t just walk in whenever you want.
15. Don’t have sex with your (soon to be) ex.
Talk about blurring the lines of your relationship! Having sex with your spouse while you are going through a divorce will only confuse everything even more! Resist the urge to have “one last fling,” and don’t kid yourself that one night of hot sex will fix all of the problems in your marriage. It won’t.
16. Before you agree to refinance the house, make sure that it’s possible for you to get a mortgage.
Do NOT assume that you will be able to refinance your home (now or in the future) until you have checked with a qualified mortgage lender first! You want to do that BEFORE you agree on a settlement. Otherwise, you may give up a lot just to get a house that you end up having to sell soon anyway.
17. Remember that your divorce doesn’t end the day that your judgment is signed.
If your divorce judgment requires you to split up retirement accounts, or refinance the house, or take your spouse’s name off credit cards, all of that still has to be done after the judgment is entered. Your natural tendency will be to try to put your divorce behind you as fast as possible. That’s okay, as long as you make sure to actually divide your assets and debts according to what your divorce judgment says. Remember, “it ain’t over til its over.”
Divorce is Hard
Divorce is hard no matter what you do. But, following these tips can help make your divorce a little bit more manageable.
Karen Covy is a divorce attorney, advisor, mediator and coach who is committed to helping couples resolve their disputes as amicably as possible. She is also the author of When Happily Ever After Ends: How to Survive Your Divorce Emotionally, Financially, and Legally. Karen has been featured on the Channel 7 News, WCIU You and Me This Morning, WGN Radio, MarketWatch, The Goodmen Project, and numerous other radio shows, publications, and podcasts. You can find her articles on The Huffington Post, Divorced Moms, Divorce Force, GUYVORCE, and Your Tango, as well as on her own website at karencovy.com. This article was originally published on Karen’s blog.