Living happily ever after is every newly married person’s dream. No one marries with the specific purpose of ending it a few years later. Sadly, separation and divorce are a fact of life. One in three marriages ends this way. It can be a traumatic experience with long-term implications, particularly if there are children involved. People struggle to know what to expect and how to proceed. This article is designed to prepare one for the days ahead.
Making the decision
There may have been major issues for many years, or an affair suddenly jumping out of the blue. It is really important to make sure the marriage cannot be saved, particularly if there are children involved. A number of organizations provide marriage and couple counseling to help identify the problems and find a way forward.
Sadly some marriages pass the point of no return. Expert legal representatives agree that going through a divorce and a divorce case can be the hardest experience a person can have. They also say it is rarely a streamlined process, which is why personal representation is usually recommended.
People may hold back from making the decision to divorce because they don’t want to be the one initiating the process. This involves a fear of what other people will think. Another reason for the delay is that the decision will have huge implications. Usually, one individual is keener to divorce than the other.
Whether to involve a lawyer
Some divorces are easier than others. If the agreement is amicable and there are no issues over why the marriage ended and how to sort out the finances, the whole thing may be sorted within half a year.
Mediation is a process where the two parties meet in the hopes of reaching an agreement before the legal cogs begin to turn. It’s cheaper to reach a solution or compromise this way than to involve expensive correspondence from one lawyer to another at a later stage. Most divorces are based on the issue of disagreements between the parties, so they have the potential to become acrimonious.
Lawyers take some of the stress off each party as they know the details to collect, and what to submit, and when. If the matter has to go to court to reach an agreement, the lawyer will be the one representing. The legal professional will be in full understanding of how to prepare a petition and a summons, and how to file the case with the court. They will also serve notice on the other party.
Sadly, children often blame themselves for the marriage breakdown. The issue is really how the couple relates and deals with challenges. Young children don’t always understand what’s going on, while others think ‘about time!’ because of the sustained tension. Other children believe they can save the marriage, but sadly they are wrong, if well-intentioned.
Another thing to think about is what will happen to the children. Will they be with one partner, and will there be a legal order sought to keep one partner away? Will the children spend weekdays with one party and weekends with the other? These decisions can be highly charged and challenging to resolve for both the parents and the children themselves.
Money issues feature highly among marriage disagreements, and the same applies to the divorce process. It’s okay if a couple was renting and agreed to go halves over their savings. In other cases, the matrimonial home will have to be sold. A financial settlement will have to be reached either before or after it goes to court.
Forms will have to be filled in detailing all the assets held, and salary and savings information. A monthly budget will have to be detailed. This will be used for defining the settlement, and also any child support payments that will need to come from one partner’s salary each month on an ongoing basis.
People’s reactions and emotional support
People will either be shocked or unsurprised by the news of what’s happening. Hopefully friends and family will be understanding and supportive during this difficult time. It may be easy for others to judge the situation, but they are not in your shoes and don’t know how it has been for you.
It’s important to be supported and seek counseling either during or after the process of divorce. There may be the tendency to be hard on oneself, feeling guilty and ashamed or feeling rejected.
Once the decision has been made to divorce, it’s important to have lots of support and to include a lawyer in the journey. The divorce process is a very difficult time for most people, but longer-term there will be a new normal. Lives get rebuilt and children can be very robust. People can remarry and many discover happiness again.