Divorce will bring out the worst in people. It will reveal your base emotions and fears. You'll quickly find out how you deal with this life altering time and you may not like what you see.
Throughout this process, you'll crave a sense of normalcy. You'll want it all to just be over so that you can finally move on.
If you're smart, you'll also realize that the terms of your divorce agreement negotiated now, will legally rule your life for years to come.
If you're smarter, you'll do something about it.
Divorce can take as little as a few months to as much as a few years like my divorce did.
You won't know what you needed most until you have the benefit of hindsight, but here are the three things I needed most. Maybe this can help you.
1. An Advocate
Yes, I had a lawyer and an accountant help me throughout my divorce, but I didn't have someone to guide me along the way. I had my lawyer as my only guide and that cost me a fortune.
What I needed most was someone who had been through a divorce to help me manage my costs and even my expectations.
Through their experience, I could have known what to ask for, what to expect and what to avoid.
I could have saved thousands in billable hours and a lot of stress. In fact, my future could have been completely different had I known ahead of time where I should fight and where I should have given in.
Never underestimate what you can learn from those who have been there before you.
2. A Friend
We all have friends, either through work or personal connections, but just how many can be counted on? You'll find out quickly just how strong those friendships are as you go through your divorce.
You may find that your friends choose sides against you because they were your spouse's friends first.
You may find that your friends avoid you because they feel uncomfortable about the whole thing.
You may find out that your friends are feeding information to the other side.
Don't be surprised if your family takes sides against you as well. Ouch!
People will shun you and judge you without even knowing the whole story. You have upset the balance of their lives.
Finding a good friend that will listen and support you through this trying time is gold. Even if that friend simply remains neutral, they are a godsend when you need it most.
3. A Counselor
Even if you do have a friend you think you can trust, I recommend a counselor. Be aware that even a trusted friend may try to intervene on your behalf and possibly make things worse.
As well, they may suffer fatigue from constantly having to hear all your divorce problems. You could and up pushing away the few friends you have left.
A counselor is an unbiased third party that has your best interests in mind. They don't know you or your spouse and will not judge you.
They can help you sort through your sorrow and anger with the added benefit of confidentiality.
Most importantly, they can help you figure out what went wrong so you don't repeat any familiar patterns in the future.
Be aware that your lawyer is not your friend. Your lawyer is not your therapist. They will gladly fill these roles at a very handsome price to you.
Keep it all business with your legal team and let the conversations flow with your counselor. You'll be glad you did.
Only time will tell what you needed most when going through your divorce, but some things are universal. I'd safely say that every divorced person wishes they had done things differently.
There are terms you'll wish you hadn't agreed to and there are ways you could have saved money. Stupid mistakes will be made and regrets will be born.
Of the three things I needed most when going through my divorce, not having an advocate was my biggest mistake. An advocate take can the form of a personal friend who has been through a divorce or information gathered through research.
But either way, you must know where others have failed and won in order to successfully shape your legal future. Don't just leave it in the hands of your lawyer. No one will care about you as much as you will.
You are the team leader and it's your responsibility to manage the costs and outcome as your team legally guides you. Understand the impact of what you sign and the ramifications 1, 5 and 10 years from now.
Hindsight is 20/20 and I hope you can benefit from my experience before you regret yours.