I know how stressful the divorce process can be. Getting a good divorce decree is the last thing on your mind. You just want it to be over! You’re tired of the threatening calls and messages from your soon-to-be-ex, sick of all the legal documents, weary of trips to the lawyer…
You really just want this to be over…..Or even better, you want to wake up and find that it was all a dream, a really bad dream. That your house is still standing…that the foundation of your castle hasn’t crumbled.
Sigh. I’m sorry….so very sorry.
When I was going through my divorce, I remember feeling the exact same way. I remember wishing every night that I’d wake up the next day and it would all have been a bad dream. I remember the fear I felt in the beginning, every time I received a new letter from my soon-to-be-ex-husband’s attorney. What did he want now? I just wanted to roll over and let him have whatever he wanted. I wanted the nightmare to be over!
But then, my brain switched back to the “ON” position. I became determined to not sign away anything that I would regret later.
At this point, I had done everything that I could do to save the marriage. But nothing I (or those who loved us) did or said made a difference, I had no choice in the matter. The decision was made for me, like it or not, I was about to become a divorced single mum.
However, I wasn’t about to roll over, play dead and sign a divorce decree that would bind me to an agreement that I would regret. Where I live in the United States, a person doesn’t have to give any valid reason for wanting a divorce. And if I didn’t participate in the process, the judge would decide without me and I would end up with a divorce decree that would make the hell that I was going through feel even hotter.
So, I wiped my tears, squared my shoulders and engaged in the process to ensure that I was treated fairly. And you should too.
Cry if you must. Scream! But take your brain along as you go through the divorce process. It’s difficult and expensive to change agreements in a divorce decree so it is imperative that you don’t agree to terms that will make your post-divorce life even harder.
You may not want the divorce, but if it’s going to happen, you need to engage in the process for your sake and for the sake of your children. You really want to end up with a good divorce decree!
Here are some tips that helped me end up with a good divorce decree that I’m truly satisfied with…no one gets everything they want in a divorce but I must confess, I really like mine.
If you need one, hire a good divorce lawyer
You and your soon-to-be-ex-husband may be able to avoid the expense of lawyers by working things out on your own. Good for you! You will save a bunch of money! However, in an unwanted, surprise divorce, this is rarely the case. Lack of trust is often the major reason why (no kidding, right??)
A good divorce attorney can save you a lot of future heartache by making sure that you end with a legally-enforceable decree. Ask around for referrals. You need an attorney who will be a good advocate for you. If you can’t afford to pay an attorney, see if your contacts know one that will work pro bono. Do your own research by asking others questions about what they included in their divorce decree and what they regret leaving out.
Make a clean cut
Avoid agreements that bind you to your ex financially or in any other way in the future. Of course, if you had children during the marriage, you will have to deal with your ex regarding custody but avoid any unnecessary entanglements.
Pay attention to the restrictions in your divorce decree
Depending on where you are getting divorced, there may be some standard restrictions that can have a significant impact on your life, including your career. Ensure that you are truly fine with any restrictions in your divorce decree. Everything is negotiable before you get to court.
Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate!
You do not have to accept the first offer that comes from your soon-to-be-ex-husband. Read, read and read it again. Make sure that you fully understand everything in the offer, counter if you need something changed. Choose your battles wisely, no one wins in these things.
What are the things that are valuable to your soon-to-be-ex-husband? If those are not the same things that are valuable to you, you may have some bargaining chips at your disposal. Ask your lawyer lots of questions. This is your life!
Sounds harsh? Too matter-of-fact for you?
Unfortunately, divorce is like the dissolution of a company. Assets and liabilities get split, everyone goes their own way. Make sure you don’t end up liable in the future for another’s issues. Your divorce decree will impact your life for a long time. You want to end up with a good one. Make sure the words it contains are right for you.
P.S. If you are further along in your healing journey, do share your tips for how you survived the “divorce crazies” below! If you’re just starting out, share your questions and concerns.