Thinking about getting divorced is scary. Knowing that you’re going to get a divorce is terrifying. Going through the process of divorce is difficult and sometimes confusing, but, ultimately, a total game-changer.
There’s nothing worse than living in what feels like a battle ground. Constant fighting, verbal and emotional abuse, loneliness, emptiness, sadness, frustration, and neglect should not be the order of the day every day. That’s not normal, that’s not healthy, and that’s not going to allow you to be the wife, mother, or woman that you want to be.
If you’ve reached the point where you feel like you just have to recognize that your marriage is over, you’re not alone, and you’re definitely not without support. You’re definitely in tricky waters, though, and I’ve put together this list of six things you need to do to try to make your divorce run as smoothly as possible.
1. Set aside money before you separate.
Your divorce will run much more smoothly if you plan ahead of time. Sometimes, it’s hard to know exactly what kind of situations will arise beforehand, but it’s pretty safe to say that money will be an issue. You will need lots of money—to move out and establish a new household, and to hire an attorney. Before you separate, it’s a good idea to take money out (in cash) and keep it somewhere your husband won’t find it (like at your parent’s house or a friend’s house). If you go to the grocery store, get $20 cash back. At Target, get $30 cash back. Wherever you can hide a little bit of extra money, take it out in cash and save it for when you’ll need it later on.
2. Speak with a therapist.
It’s really worth the time. Divorce is difficult, and you’ll have a much easier time if you have someone to talk to about it. Your friends and family want to help, but they’re not trained to actually help you, and they’ll eventually grow tired of hearing about divorce.
3. Hire an attorney who practices family law exclusively.
Family law is a specific area of law, and it’s important that your attorney be well versed in Virginia law. An attorney who practices different types of law can miss things that an attorney who is dedicated to domestic relations does not. Don’t hire a criminal law attorney to get your divorce. You may pay a heavy price.
4. Meet with more than one attorney before you make a decision.
Yes, I know, it costs money to meet with an attorney. But when you’re making a decision as important as who will represent you in your divorce, you want to make sure you’re hiring the right person. Hire someone who you feel comfortable with (because you’ll be sharing some intimate details with him or her) and someone who inspires your confidence. You don’t want to be promised the sun, moon, and stars, but you want someone who paints and optimistic picture about your future and has a plan for how to accomplish your goals. Find that person, no matter how many attorneys you have to meet with first.
5. Don’t bad mouth your ex husband.
I know, it’s hard. He’s a jerk, and he’s done mean things. You want (no, need) to talk about it, but it’s not a good idea to talk to his friends, family, or co-workers. (Trust me, whatever he’s done, you don’t want him fired. He can pay more in child and spousal support later if he’s working.) If you talk about him in front of his children, you can do irreparable damage. (You know that, but it’s still hard to not slip up sometimes.) See point #2, and talk to a therapist when you get the urge to talk about your husband.
6. Prepare for the holidays.
One of the hardest times for women going through divorce (or women who have been through divorce) is at the holidays. If you’ve got children and they’ll be spending a holiday with their dad, plan ahead of time. Even if you don’t have children but it’s looking like you don’t have any big holiday plans, make a plan. Find something else to do, whether you go visit family, take a trip with a friend, or volunteer at a soup kitchen. Keep yourself busy with meaningful activity, and you’ll feel better (and avoid the pint cartons of Ben & Jerry’s).
Remember, too, that although the process of divorce is incredibly difficult, it’s also freeing. If you’ve been living in an unhappy, unsatisfying, or unfulfilling marriage, you’ll have a brand new chance to get things right, make choices for yourself, and craft a future that makes you happy and excited. In almost every single case, the woman that I see at the end of the divorce is an entirely different person from the woman I met in the beginning. You will be, too.
To meet with one of our divorce and custody attorneys, please call (757) 425-5200 to set up a confidential one hour appointment.