Every divorce is unique and can be very complicated. Nevertheless, there are some points that can be useful in general and can be applicable in almost every divorce case. Often people ask me, "what you would avoid in a divorce procedure?" I have to say that I could easily make a list of at least 25 things. But after some thinking, I ended up with 10. I hope they can be useful for you too. And promise me, in case your relationship ends up in a divorce, remember the below suggestions I wrote down for you:
1. Never start without considering mediation
If I ask couples how they would settle their divorce, the answers are always surprising. The majority tends to feel safe to have their own lawyer with 'street-fighter' image and not many couples prefer to opt for mediation. I could recommend everybody at least to consider choosing for mediation. This more sensible approach is 'hands-on'; it means you are able to control the process. That's why it often goes faster. Because it goes faster and only one mediator is involved, it is much more cost effective.
2. Do not delay your divorce procedure
Divorce procedures are directly connected to the hourly fee of professionals. This means if the spouses, the professionals or other parties delay the process the financial frustration of them grows each and every day and so does your bill. However, this usually also means that the gap between you and your partner can grow bigger, rapidly, which tends to make the procedure even more complicated.
3. Stop looking back and start to look forward
If you do decide to divorce, it is very normal that you need time to digest and process what has just happened. Some take longer to do this than others, but in general, after a healthy grieving time, it is time to move on. Forgive yourself, forgive your partner and start looking ahead and not down. Know that the sun does come out, no matter what you do, so make sure you shine just as bright, regardless of what happened in the past... keep moving, keep going and trust things will work out for you and your (ex) partner.
4. Do not involve family and friends
It may sound illogical, and even counter intuitive, but your family, best friends or colleague, really shouldn't be your first choice of a counselor. Of course a divorce is an emotional time and it definitely feels safe and familiar to rely on your mother or best friend, but know that they will have strong opinions, most likely will choose your side (which you may like at first), but it can hinder the process to be neutral and thus productive. Again mediation is a good way to have neutral council and support in decision making.
5. Do not abuse social media!
Today more and more people share carelessly a lot of information on Twitter, Facebook and other social media. It can be very seductive to share your divorce frustrations with family and friends. But let's not forget your posts can reach a huge audience and also people you reach unintentionally. Last year I regularly experienced social media conflicts that got out of hand during divorce procedures, which lead to expensive new lawsuits.
6. Do not talk about your new relationship
Sometimes it makes people feel better to speak about their new relationship... about how much better it is right now than it was in the past with your "soon to be ex". It is only okay to start to talk about new lovers and dates after the divorce procedure is successfully finished.
7. Do not think your lawyer is able to fix everything
You started this together and you have to finish this together. Your lawyer or mediator should only be a guide who leads you through the divorce procedure. So do not lose yourself! You and your soon to be ex have to do the work and are the main characters. Just realize if your lawyer is becoming the main character in your divorce procedure, the risk is high that you just started a never ending story.
8. Don't be selfish
According to an old Dutch saying, people who can't 'divide' (capital) are not able to 'multiply' either. This is so true in divorce procedures. If you are able to wish each other a bright new future and you are not selfish, there will be two winners in the end! It will be difficult in the beginning but satisfactory later on and that is where your new future starts!
9. Do not accept decisions without understanding the context
It's important to understand every decision and agreement made during a divorce procedure. Be certain you understand every word in the divorce agreement you will have to sign. It's exactly here were a good lawyer or mediator can make the difference. Question your lawyer until you totally understand it!
10. Do not act cheap, it's expensive!
Never forget a divorce is the final collaboration in your relationship before you go apart. Please be aware you need each other for the last time. Do not engage in new conflicts and it is really, really not only his/her fault! Sometimes just bite your tongue, but feel free to express yourself calmly and make sure to wish each other a bright new future. Your last collaboration is your ticket to a positive new start as well, so use it correctly!