In many people’s minds, marriage is one of the most important societal institutions that has ever been invented. It not only confirms and manifests an emotion (love) into a physical incarnation, but it provides a foundation for the creation of the family structure that is widely seen as the basis of our entire civilization. While this is true for a large number of individuals and families, a casual glance at the statistics would indicate that more than 40% of marriages also end in divorce. With approximately 827,000 happening each year, it would seem that there is also a sizable amount of the population that prefers being single than hitched. If divorce becomes your reality, try not to fret too much: there is such a thing as a “better divorce.”
Divorce, despite getting many people out of bad situations, loveless relationships, and much more, is still heavily stigmatized in many societies. Throughout history, laws have been written to make it either impractical, illegal, or downright socially ostracizing to perform. That is no longer true in most developed countries around the world, and thankfully if you’re diligent enough to pay attention to the economic trends happening around you and conscious enough to watch your own emotional state, you really can have a better divorce than most. Certainly, every person can conjure up at least one image (real or imagined) of what a spousal separation looks like and how it could go wrong, but it doesn’t have to be like that. For lack of a better term, you can still have “the divorce of your dreams” with an affordable divorce attorney if you simply channel your best self and think through important decisions.
In this article, we’re going to discuss how to get a better divorce than most people think is possible. Even if you’re not of certain economic or social means, there are basic steps you can take to ensure that your divorce goes as smoothly and swimmingly as possible and creates the least amount of havoc or damage. This may include attorney fees and separation costs, moving, emotional tolls, and a whole lot more. If you’re willing to put in the effort to analyze your unique situation and face your fears, you too can get through divorce.
Before It’s Over: Recognizing You Might Need a Divorce
Before you go about thinking how to have a better divorce, or start looking for the perfect divorce attorney, take a step back emotionally and mentally to figure out if this is what you really want. Some divorces are initiated by the spouse without the full knowledge of the other, and you can imagine what a surprise this must be. Even if your marital relationship is lackluster and passionless, you and your spouse owe it to each other to voice your concerns about an impending divorce that is being considered. Since communication is the foundation of a healthy relationship, it’s best to air out these concerns sooner rather than later.
If you don’t feel that you have a safe or healthy environment to discuss your marital problems before you consider divorce you may want to query your spouse about seeking couples counseling. There are many qualified marriage and family therapists that have clinical experience trying to help people manage their marriages when they get rocky or sidetracked. It is not a sign of defeat, incompetence, or laziness to seek professional help with a counselor. In fact, it may just save your marriage and prevent you from getting divorced in the first place.
The last helpful tip to consider before you formally establish proceedings to leave your spouse is to look within and ask yourself the important questions. Did you get married because you love your spouse, or because you were expected to? Are you part of a religion or belief system that instructs you to get married, and so you felt you had no choice? Are you afraid to be alone and thought this was the best compromise? Did it just seem like “the thing to do” at a certain stage of your life? Once you answer these particularly relevant questions for yourself, you will be on firm ground regarding how you feel about marriage, divorce, life, and love.
The Law and You
When thinking about specialized law, one tends to think of the criminal legal system and all its complexities. But in reality, the civil legal standards are just as (if not more) complex with how they intertwine and dance through the social codes of our society. Ask someone at a family law firm what can go wrong in families or relationships and they will most likely have a book full of stories to pull from. It’s a tough thing to parse and deal with, but rest assured that all of these people have nothing but your satisfaction in mind. It is truly rare to see someone derive pleasure and success from other’s pain, and you should always feel comfortable discussing your “better divorce” with your attorneys and how it can work for everyone.
When money is an issue, don’t be afraid to ask around for a lawyer that works on a sliding scale. There are many lawyers that are not only enthusiastic, but would consider it a privilege to help someone get a quality divorce that cannot afford it. However, they do not usually advertise themselves because they are busy doing other things or working on other cases. Sometimes, they are even doing charity legal work for causes that you may want to be involved in. You should always be upfront about your budget, time, and various concerns with any lawyer that you meet with so that you waste as little time as possible and that everyone is on the same page. Divorce is tough, but it doesn’t have to be as draining as you think.
If you have children, you will also have to come to agreements with your former spouse about custody rights, child support, and a whole host of other issues. If you need support from your former spouse but they refuse to pay, then you may also have to hire a child support lawyer to seek damages and make you whole. Obviously, if you don’t have children, you are free from having to think about these burdens. Hopefully, you have a civil and productive dialogue with your former spouse that allows you to negotiate everything in a peaceful and satisfactory manner.
Keeping Your Kiddos Happy and Thriving During Separation
If you have children with your spouse, you may end up shifting some of the emotions that you’re feeling onto them with incessant thoughts of their well-being and health. This is perfectly natural as a distraction from any emotions that you might not be able to deal with in these stressful moments, or as a healthy respite from the legal overload of having to formally separate from your spouse. Dealing with child custody attorneys can be exhausting, but so is making sure that your little ones aren’t experiencing undue anxiety or sadness during this stressful time.
Some people find that a key to a better divorce is to preserve the best aspects of family time from years past while being open to creating new ones. This can mean sticking to holiday traditions, special memories/inside jokes, or even weekend getaways that maximize the time you spend with those family members who matter most. Just because one spouse is no longer sharing the picture does not mean that the picture turns old and gray with memories of a better time. Memories are always able to be created and their vibrancy is boundless, with spark and color to boot. If you love your children and want to continue to foster positive relationships with them, think of things that you can do together to grow in harmony. They need not be expensive or flashy, and quality will most often win out over quantity.
Depending on who’s gained custody (or if you share child custody) of your children, there is also the issue of housing. Rarely do spouses continue to cohabitate in the same house after divorce, and if you are the one who needs to find housing you may consider many options. If you’re looking to downsize, you may look at purchasing a condo, renting an apartment, or many other types of smaller living situations that preserve the intimacy that you can have with your children. If you’d like to preserve the home situation that you have now, you may start looking for a new home builder to create the dream house you always wanted in a new part of town.
Perspective, Health, and Quality of Life
While your “better divorce” is being finalized and granted, don’t neglect to take care of yourself. Just because you’re in the middle of a complicated legal process does not mean that you have a free pass to neglect your health, physical or otherwise. In fact, you’ll only be doing yourself a disservice in the end by not recharging your batteries and facing this stressful situation with your full vigor. Eating right, sleeping the required amount, and avoiding negative stimuli or bad habits will all benefit you in the long run when you’re faced with deadlines, fees, pesky lawyers, courts, and more.
Just because you’re separating from your spouse doesn’t mean that your family is over. If your mother or father is alive, this can be a renewed time for you to connect and discuss the problems in your life or marriage with someone that is more experienced. If your parents are divorced, this can be an interesting time to discuss family dynamics and why marriage has not seemed to work out for the people in your family. These conversations don’t have to be painful, they can be inquisitive and lively with dashes of optimism. Your mother or father may not have felt they had a choice in being married, especially if they grew up during a time period or place where it was illegal. You can not only learn from their mistakes, but affirm if you continue down certain paths whether you admire where they are or want something else.
It is also immensely important to keep perspective during this time. Even if you’re one of the lucky ones that are getting a better divorce than most, separating from a spouse can seem like the end of the world. In some ways, it is the end of a small world (that you shared with one particular person). But luckily, statistics and the large human population are on your side. The cliche “there are plenty of fish in the sea” is a cliche for a reason, and that’s because there are an immense amount of people on planet Earth. You never have to get married again if you don’t want to, but there should be no lack of healthy or fun connections you can make. Keep some perspective!
After It’s Over
Getting divorced, even if it’s a better divorce than most, is a tough thing for anyone to go through. When you got married to your former spouse, you probably never imagined that one day both of you would be debating what assets should be split among your separate residences or who would pay the tuition to your child’s performing arts school. Most people get married intending to stay married, and so this comes as a very real shock to the human emotional system that takes a toll on people’s health and psyche.
You may be tempted to downplay the entire situation, insisting that you got “a better divorce” than most and that the worst of things are over. If that’s true, then rejoice in your good fortune and start making plans to keep progressing with your life onward and upward toward your best self. But if that’s false, don’t lie to yourself in order to placate others or a hidden wound. Let yourself feel your feelings and process the legal and emotional separation that just occurred. It may even take years to fully recover from, but it is worth starting the journey now rather than later. It’s OK to cringe when you see wedding flowers and receive invitations to bridal parties, as they remind you of what once was, but unless you want to avoid human relationships forever you will have to make some sort of peace with your life and situation.
While it may take a long time for you to consider getting intimate or close with another human, don’t let that stop you from living your life to your fullest actualization. The symbol of love for your marriage may have been bought in a jewelry store, but there are countless actions you can take to represent and confirm that you do indeed love yourself. Doing the activities that make you happy, taking care of your remaining family (or even your former in-laws, if you still like them), and remaining vibrant/healthy are all acts of self-love that mean just as much (if not more) than a diamond ring. Never forget that you are a worthwhile human being who deserves to find fulfillment and happiness after your divorce and separation, even if it was a better divorce than most.