There are rules that govern divorce.
These divorce rules are not “the law.” You won’t find them written anywhere.
If you ask your divorce lawyer about them, she’s likely to just roll her eyes and change the subject.
Yet, these rules embody the real truth about divorce.
These are the divorce rules that no one tells you when you start your divorce.
But, these are also the rules that, once your divorce is over, you will wish that you had known from the beginning.
10 Divorce Rules You Need to Know
1. Divorce is not fair. It’s not fair that your marriage didn’t work out. It is not fair that your kids will suffer. It’s not fair that you are going to lose half or more of everything that you own. It’s not fair that you are going to be alone. Nothing about divorce is fair. I don’t mean to be cruel, but the sooner you stop expecting your divorce to be fair, the sooner you will start making better decisions.
2. The law doesn’t always make sense. Divorce laws are “one size fits all.” That means that they usually don’t fit anyone well. But, just because you might not agree with the divorce laws does not mean that you can ignore them. Violate the law and you will have some judge getting all up in your business and forcing you to follow rules that don’t even apply to married people. How can that be fair? See Rule #1.
3. Going to court is the riskiest decision you will ever make. Do you really want a total stranger in a black robe, who has never met you, your spouse, or your kids, deciding when you can see your kids, what you are going to do with your house, and how much money you will get to live on for years?!!! You can never predict what a judge will do. Unless you have no choice, avoid litigation like the plague.
4. Unless you are one of the 5%, your standard of living will go down after your divorce ... a lot! When you divorce, you are taking the income and assets that used to support one household, and stretching them to support two. If (like so many people) you were living above your means before your divorce, your lifestyle is going to go down even more after your divorce. Yes. That sucks. See Rule #1.
5. Your divorce will take longer and cost more than you expect. Divorce is a giant untangling of everything that you have been building with your spouse for years. It won’t be done in a few weeks, or a few months. It may not even be done in a few years. The sooner you understand that, the less frustrated you will be.
6. The longer you keep trying to control your ex, the more miserable you will be. The only person you can control is yourself. Period. You can make yourself crazy trying to control how your spouse parents your kids after your divorce, what your spouse does when you are not around, and how your spouse spends money. Or, you can let it go and start focusing on rebuilding your own life. It’s your choice.
7. Trying to go through your divorce alone is nuts. It doesn’t matter if you are male or female, rich or poor. It doesn’t matter whether you are the kind of person who can “take care of yourself,” or not. If you want to not only survive your divorce, but thrive afterwards, you need legal advice, financial guidance, and emotional support. You will also need a strong network of supportive friends and family. Just like raising a child, surviving a divorce takes a village.
8. You need to get a handle on your emotions as soon as possible. Getting divorced is a full time job. You will be expected to gather information, analyze your finances, make a budget, change your living arrangements, divide up your stuff, make a schedule to see your kids, learn how to be a single parent, help your kids deal with their new reality, and more. You can’t do all that when your head feels like it is stuffed with Jello and your heart has a giant ice pick stuck in it.
9. You can’t outsource your divorce. Divorce is not a spectator’s sport! Even if you don’t want the divorce, you can’t close your eyes and pretend it’s not happening. You also can’t just turn everything over to your lawyer and hope that your life turns out okay. If you want to get the best result possible you need to research your options, understand your choices, and make your own decisions.
10. You will not necessarily stop fighting with your spouse/ex just because you are divorced. This is the secret that most divorce lawyers never tell you. If you start a war with your spouse during your divorce, you are almost guaranteeing that you will continue to battle long after your divorce – especially if you have kids. Once you understand that divorce doesn’t end your relationship with your spouse, it only changes it, you will start to act differently during your divorce.
Understanding the Divorce Rules Will Change Your Divorce
Divorce has rules. But, it is not a game. It is your life.
Yet, if you think of divorce as a game just for a moment, you will immediately understand that not knowing the rules before you start to play can have serious, and usually disastrous, consequences.
If you are going through a divorce, you have to understand the rules. Once you know do, you will be able to get through it with much less pain, and a lot fewer problems.