When you get married, you plan on being in it for the long haul and the last thing you’d expect is to get a divorce. Unfortunately, 40 to 50% of couples in the United States get divorced, according to the American Psychological Association, so it’s not uncommon. Not only can it be heartbreaking, but it’s not always cheap and can feel incredibly overwhelming trying to navigate. If you don’t know where to start, here are a few things to consider when you want to get a divorce.
Be Sure You Want to Get a Divorce
If you’re contemplating getting a divorce, make sure it’s something you’re absolutely ready for. While some divorces can go smoothly, they can also get ugly fast if both parties aren’t on the same page. It can be incredibly taxing mentally, emotionally, and financially, so it’s important to be 100% sure.
However, if you’re on the fence about getting divorced, you can go to individual or marriage counseling to work out any issues you’re dealing with internally and as a couple. With 62.34 million married couples in the United States, there are bound to be disagreements or issues in a relationship, some that can be resolved and many others that may lead to divorce. According to one study, the most common reasons for divorce are lack of commitment, infidelity, too much conflict or arguing, marrying too soon, and financial problems. By understanding and being able to spot common reasons for divorce, you may be able to work through marital problems and avoid the process altogether.
Consider What Kind of Divorce Process You Want to Go Through
In a perfect world, couples would be able to divorce and split amicably, but that’s certainly not always the case. While the type of divorce process isn’t always up for debate, there are a few routes you can consider when it comes to getting a divorce.
Legal Separation vs. Divorce
For starters, you can consider getting a separation over a divorce. In a separation, a couple is still considered married on paper, but each person lives their lives separate from each other. Whereas in a divorce, the marriage is formally ended and you are able to legally get married again if you choose to.
Getting legally separated can be a first step in getting divorced officially if it’s something you’re contemplating. It can also act as a trial period to work through any differences. And if you choose to stay married, you don’t have to go through any potential stressors of a divorce. However, legal separation still involves paperwork and can be similar to a divorce in terms of making decisions about dividing assets, child custody, and more.
Divorce Mediation vs. Litigation
There are a few ways to work on divorce settlements, including divorce mediation or litigation. In divorce mediation, a neutral third party called a mediator helps the couple communicate and agree on the terms of the divorce. It can involve discussing and settling on issues from property distribution to child support. Divorce mediation may not be completely stress-free but is typically more cost-effective than taking a divorce to court. However, it may not be the best for all couples and can be more beneficial when both parties are in agreement with the divorce.
On the other hand, litigation involves settling the terms of your divorce in family court and is typically used when a couple can’t reach an agreement on key issues. While this may be the only solution to some cases, it can be more costly, especially the more disagreements there are on the divorce.
Consult With a Divorce Lawyer
If you’re committed to getting a divorce, you should consult with divorce lawyers to help you figure out your best plan of action. Whether you want to meet with a divorce lawyer to review any documents if you want to file a divorce on your own or to work with you throughout the process, it’s important to seek professional legal advice and guidance as requirements and divorce processes can vary from state-to-state.
You’re also going to want to make sure to find a divorce lawyer that best suits your needs. At the minimum, seek out a lawyer with experience in family law. If you’re expecting a messy divorce over particular assets, you should do your research on lawyers that have more experience with those cases to better prepare you for the divorce process.
Get Your Finances and Documents in Order
Getting a divorce isn’t cheap and involves a lot of paperwork. According to Bankrate, the average cost of a divorce can set you back approximately $15,000 but the price tag can vary on a case-by-case basis. In a traditional divorce where the case is taken to court, you can expect to shell out money for court filing fees, attorney fees, and mediation fees, at the minimum.
As for documents, you’re most likely going to need to gather paperwork about your income, joint finances, shared accounts, and real estate, to name a few. Gathering essential documents beforehand is also needed for the divorce petition, a legal document filed in court that requests legal separation or divorce.
Take Care of Yourself
No matter where you and your significant other stand, getting a divorce can take a toll on your mental health. Finalizing a divorce can take months, if not years, and can be a major stressor even if you’re on good terms with your soon-to-be-ex. During your divorce, it’s important to have a support group to help you through a potentially difficult time.
Continue to Stay Informed
Whether you were expecting the divorce or not, it’s important to protect yourself throughout the divorce process. Through the help of a local divorce lawyer, you can stay up-to-date and informed throughout the process and be wary of any divorce laws or requirements that can vary from state-to-state.