1. Call a Mediator
If you are contemplating a divorce or are in a period of separation, it can be a scary time in your life. There are many uncertainties: What about the kids? Who gets the house or car? How will I be able to live? How does all of this work? In the past, it has been the case that a divorcing couple would each seek a lawyer, and go out to battle. A long, expensive, painful battle. It does not have to be this way. Many divorcing couples these days use mediation as a dignified, reasonable and affordable way to divorce, without war and disaster. You will be keeping your costs down (mediation is only a fraction of the cost of litigation), you will be keeping your conflict down, and together with your mediator you will both be able to make good decisions about your finances and your kids.
2. Get as Much Information as You Can:
It is important to take informed decisions. Read about the divorce laws in your state. Go to consultations with attorneys and mediators, ask questions, and make sure that you have enough information to take good decisions. It is sometimes easy to let someone else (your judge, your attorney) take decisions for you. You may feel exhausted and overwhelmed and be tempted to just let someone else handle it. Big mistake! Getting advice from professionals- yes. But letting other people act on your behalf and take decisions for you- not a good choice.
3. Stay Calm:
Once you are entering a divorce process, there are very big decisions to take. What to do with the house? What to do with the kids? How to split your assets? You may need to negotiate on some of these things with your soon to be ex. Your friends and family may be pulling you in different directions. You surely have a lot on your plate. The only reasonable way to deal with it all, is first of all, to breath. You cannot take good decisions from a place of anger and hurt feelings. As angry or upset as you may be, set that aside for a little while. Think about your kids. Think about keeping your job. Think about keeping your sanity and what is really important to you. When you deal with your divorce, think it terms of the future, not in terms of what happened and what you can prove in court. Just standing in front of a judge to make a point about your unfair spouse is going to cost you a fortune. Anger belongs in therapy, not in divorce negotiation, if you want to have a sensible divorce.
4. Focus on Your Kids:
Your kids need, with the exception of acute abuse cases, both of their parents in their lives. As much as you may dislike your soon to be ex, that is your co-parenting partner for the rest of your life. Think about your soon-to-be ex as a coworker that you have a project with: you may not want this partner for this project, if you could you would probably choose a different one, but that is the partner, and that is the project, and you do not want to lose your job. Same thing: work with your soon-to-be ex, set an atmosphere of flexibility and collaboration when it comes to your kids. Your kids will transition better, and so will you.
5. Don't Say Anything that You May Regret Later:
In the context of divorce, anything you say may make your soon-to-be ex hit the roof and run to start a litigated process against you. Any small match can start a huge fire that is then very hard, if at all possible, to put down. Watch what you say, even if your soon-to-be ex has said something that they should not have. Do not let your friends and family fuel the fire. Do not be quick to make allegations of abuse, stealing, or abandonment if it not really there. Do not tell your soon to be ex how unworthy they are. There is no need for that. If you did say something that you should not have -- apologize. Remember, you used to love that person. You do not have to stay with them, but there is no reason to shatter them to pieces in order to justify the breakup. Be civil and move on with your life.