While the media loves a good story of a thorny divorce rife with dramatic allegations and prolonged fights for custody and assets, most couples that are parting ways simply want the issues resolved. Divorce is an expensive and depressing process. Even if you’re parting on the best of terms, a divorce forces you to confront the reality that one chapter of your life is ending. Before you can move forward with your life, completing your divorce is a necessary step. There are several best practices that have been developed in the last couple of decades to help minimize stress and strife associated with the process. Here are five tips for a stress-free divorce.
The inability to separate your anger over the failed relationship and the business aspects of handling custody and asset distribution creates a significant amount of tension in divorce proceedings. For most couples, everyone benefits if feelings such as anger, frustration, resentment, sadness, and depression can be set aside. There’s a time and a place for separating spouses to discuss their feelings. But the ability to process that outside the courtroom or not at the negotiating table will save everyone significant anxiety. Consider engaging a therapist to help you work through your emotions, and develop productive habits to bring to discussions.
Failure to disclose your assets in a divorce can lead to infighting and have serious legal consequences down the line. Documenting your financial life thoroughly and accurately goes a long way toward establishing credibility and good will. See if you and your partner can decide on an equitable distribution of assets. If there are questions, learn about your state’s laws and how those are likely to impact the final settlement. Don’t forget to take special factors into account, such as one spouse’s disabilities or other significant issues.
Discuss your Options
Not every divorce is anchored around a major conflict. In some cases, you’ve simply drifted apart and agreed that it’s time to go your separate ways. If everyone is on the same page, agreeing to the Uniform Collaborative Law Act can save you time, stress, and money. The Uniform Collaborative Law Act and similar provisions allow couples and their attorneys to sign an agreement to act in good faith on all matters related to the divorce. It’s possible to minimize interventions and fast track the proceedings so everyone can move on.
Consider the Children
If you have children, one of your biggest concerns in the divorce will be custody and fiscal arrangements for them. Will someone have primary custody, or will you have shared custody? What will your schedule look like? How will vacations, holidays, and special occasions be handled? If you make these decisions with your children’s health and happiness in mind, everyone comes out ahead.
Don’t be Afraid to Sell
If the emotional or sentimental value of certain items is dragging you down, don’t be afraid to sell it. As you move onto the next phase of your life, divesting yourself of a property or expensive assets such as art or jewelry can help everyone move on. When a past partner can’t let go of a specific item or property and it’s preventing things from reaching a natural conclusion, consider whether or not selling it could be your best option.
Divorce is typically a stressful experience. But couples can take several steps to help eliminate negative feelings. Focus on what you’re trying to accomplish, play above board, and keep your needs and your children’s need central at all times. You won’t regret limiting the fighting and disagreements that can often accompany divorce.
About the author: Robin Rettig is a paralegal from Michigan. She specializes in family law.