Going through the divorce process is hard no matter how you slice it. I know, I know, I'm not exactly breaking the atom with that statement, but I always wonder;
Should getting divorced be so difficult?
If you don't have an attorney and are representing yourself, the process is overwhelming and confusing. That's easy to understand. You're not an attorney. Why would you know how the court system works and what the law is regarding determining alimony on a 8-year marriage with one income earner?
The legal system is not like you see it on television.
Judge Judy is entertaining and knows her stuff, but most of what you see on her show is for dramatic purposes and ratings. (Don't get me wrong; I would not have looked forward to appearing before her in court when she was on the bench...she's one tough cookie!)
What makes the divorce process so stressful?
Now, we've all heard stories about either a friend's divorce, or their friend's divorce, or the neighbor's divorce. But, no two divorces are exactly alike and each one is determined on a case-by-case basis based on the facts and the law in effect at the time.
For example, I would bet that a marriage of 4 years with no children will probably be less difficult, stressful, etc. than a 24-year marriage with three children, multiple properties, investment accounts, etc.
What's the difference?
Length of the marriage and number of assets that have to be divided in the divorce.
However, I would say that the number one reason why the divorce process is so difficult, no matter how long the marriage was, or how many assets have to be divided, is the simple truth that it's hard to separate out the emotions of the marriage and relationship from the business of getting divorced.
If I've said it once, I've said it a hundred times...
Getting divorced is a business transaction. Plain and simple.
It's getting people to treat it as such that is the problem.
Should Divorce Be Considered Happy?
When people come to me seeking my help in their divorce, they are not in their "happy place." Unfortunately, in the divorce business, I only get to see people when they are at a low point in their lives.
That's why I try to add a little levity and humor to my writing and divorce talk. Because, I believe if we lose our sense of humor...we've lost it all. Laughter and some mild self-deprecation can do wonder to your state of mind. And, people tell me it also relieves gas "(an added bonus?!)
I'm not trying to make divorce a "happy" occasion, but I do believe that if you were/are in a toxic marriage, a divorce can be a happy occasion. Both people deserve to be happy. If you and your spouse have put in the work and it still hasn't improved the marriage, then divorce may be the answer.
I often hear one spouse say, "I didn't want the divorce." They are sad, depressed and don't know why this is happening.
If one spouse is not happy, then the marriage is not working. Even if you didn't want the divorce, you deserve to be happy too, even happier than you think you are now if you thought the marriage was fine.
People like to rehash everything that went wrong in the marriage during the divorce. That's the real problem and the reason why it takes so long.
That's really what therapy should be for, not attorneys and judges. But, it's hard for people to separate the two. That's just the reality.
If emotions were taken out the divorce process, almost every divorce would be completed in no time and for a lot less cost to the parties. If people didn't fight over their children like they do now, wow...I can't even imagine.
Yes I can! It would be GREAT!
No custody evaluations, experts, or parent coordinators. That would shave down the time it takes to get divorced by half, if not more right there. One can dream...
Having an attorney represent you in your divorce should make it less stressful, but also makes it more expensive. However, sometimes the attorneys are the problem and instead of making things better, make them worse.
Choosing the right divorce attorney can mean the difference between a divorce that lasts six months, or one that lasts two years.
For example, if your attorney is a "litigator," which basically means someone who prefers to fight it out in court, then strap in and open your wallet; it will be long and expensive. If one side in a divorce wants to proceed that way, it's unfortunately hard for the other spouse to stop it.
My best advice to client is: treat your divorce as a business transaction and don't get caught up in the emotional drama of it all. Easier said than done, yes. But it will save your mental health and hopefully your wallet.
Jason Levoy a/k/a The Divorce Resource Guy is a divorce attorney, coach and advisor who assists people who can't afford an attorney how to navigate the divorce process. He runs a FREE divorce support group where people going through the divorce process can meet others going through the same issues and ask questions.