Divorce and regret go hand in hand. From the regret of getting married in the first place to the regret of an affair to the regret of not trying harder and everything else in between.
There is so much I would change if I were able to. I feel safe in saying that every single divorced person would make changes, given the opportunity.
I don't regret the divorce itself. I knew I was in a marriage that needed to end.
What I do regret are all the mistakes I made on my way out.
No one is prepared for divorce. We aren't taught in school what to do if we separate or divorce. We used to take Home Economics in high school not Home Reck-O-Nomics.
So what do most of us do? We immediately hire a lawyer.
(A quick note--get a matrimonial lawyer that practices in your state. Avoid a lawyer that doesn't specialize in divorce, even if he's cheaper.)
Now don't get me wrong. When it comes to the dissolution of a legal contract, your marriage, you want legal representation. But, you need to be your own advocate. You have to look out for yourself.
You must educate yourself about the divorce process and what lies ahead.
I had no idea what to do. I've never been divorced before, so I let my lawyer lead the way. This mistake cost me a fortune. It isn't that my lawyer was bad, quite the contrary. What cost me so much was my lack of knowledge on the topic and the process ahead of me.
I didn't question, I didn't fully understand, I merely accepted what I was told and what was placed before me.
Had I been better prepared with my case and documents and knowing from the beginning what my goals were, I could have saved money back then. A lot of it.
Had I fully understood the ramifications of the terms placed in before me I would have fought to change them and I would have suffered less in the years ahead.
This is what a friend who was divorcing recently told me:
"I'm getting divorced for the first time. My lawyer has performed hundreds of divorces. Shouldn't he have known what was coming up and protected me?"
So many divorced people say something similar to this. I mean we hire lawyers to protect us, because they're supposed to know everything, right?
So why are so many dissatisfied with their outcomes?
It's because we blindly put our future lives in their hands but no one cares as much about your future as you do.
More importantly, no one fully understands your situation and what you and your ex are capable of.
I believe that in divorce there are key points that lawyers know to deal with and key issues they will help you resolve but each divorce is very unique.
There are no cookie cutter templates that will cover all circumstances of all divorces.
Because of this, it's up to you to go over your divorce agreement and question everything. Make sure you fully understand what you are signing.
If there is a point in the draft of your agreement that is open to interpretation, fix it. Specific is your friend. Vague will end you up in front of a mediator or back in court somewhere down the line and that will cost you a fortune.
I should have spoken to people who were divorced and asked them what mistakes they made and where were they smart during their negotiations.
I should have asked for their advice on how to save money during the process and what were the terms they wish they could change.
I should have put the time in and done my homework.
How different my life would be.
Think about it, if you had a good friend that was divorced wouldn't you ask their advice to see the pitfalls coming your way? Wouldn't you want to know where they were smart and what mistakes they made during negotiations?
Think of the advantage you would have. Think of the time and money you would save. Think of all the frustration and anguish you could avoid.
For more on advice from those who have gone before you, see this HuffPost article.
Get out there with a list of questions to ask every divorced person you can get a hold of. You'd be surprised how eager they are to tell their story.
Now take all those experiences you acquired, and go get a lawyer. You will better be able to manage your divorce attorney, your costs and your expectations.
You'll know what to expect in the coming months and can plan for it.
You'll know what you're willing to give in on and what is important to you.
You'll know what to ask for and what to look out for during the negotiation of your lifetime.
Don't be fooled. What you negotiate during your divorce will legally rule your life for years to come.
Don't agree to divorce terms just because you want out. So many make this mistake. Think, "How will this decision affect my life in 5, 10 or even 15 years from now?"
You don't realize how little you know. That's why I strongly suggest you do your homework and speak to as many divorced people as you can.
Get 'street-smart' and learn from their costly mistakes. It's a free education you can't afford to pass up.
Al writes more on the things you've got to know about divorce on Divorce Candor