Few people walk down the aisle preparing for divorce. But over time circumstances and people can change and divorce becomes the best (or the only) option that makes sense. In my experience mediating and litigating divorces, here are 6 things people wished they knew before filing for divorce:

1. Communication dynamics shift in unexpected ways:  It is all to common for communication to deteriorate in a marriage. When a marriage becomes troubled beyond repair and divorce proceedings have been initiated this is even more prevalent.  Unfortunately, from my experience, this is a stage nearly all divorcing parties go through.  Your marital problems don’t magically disappear simply because you’ve made the decision to get a divorce. You will still need to work with your former partner, especially if you have children together.  It is important to go into the divorce prepared to work through the communication roadblocks. Many clients report that after they’ve reached an agreement or after some time has passed from the Court’s orders concerning their divorce, they are able to communicate effectively again.  In summary: Be prepared for communication to be strained and know that it doesn’t have to stay that way forever.

2. It’s very hard on your children:  DO NOT put your children in the middle of your divorce.  You are divorcing your spouse, your kids are not. This is no easy task, especially if the other parent doesn’t honor it. Throughout this stressful process, it is paramount that you put your children’s needs above your own. If at all possible, keep your children out of discussions about legal issues with your spouse. When presented with the opportunity to slip in a jab about your spouse’s character, resist the temptation. When it is all said and done you will be glad you chose the high road. The dangers of placing your child in the middle of your divorce can be detrimental to your child; potentially impacting how they perceive social interactions and develop relationships throughout their lives.  Place the needs of your child ahead of your own, you will not regret it.

3. You will feel vulnerable:  When you or your spouse wants to move forward with a dissolution of marriage, you enter into the unknown, which can be scary.  It is normal to feel afraid and vulnerable.  While I do not recommend for you to bring your friends and family into your divorce but it is important to have a community that you can lean during the difficult times.  I  often recommend  that my clients make sure to schedule time to do the things that make them happy, whether that be a long run or dinner with friends.  Many of my clients also seek therapy for themselves and their children during the process.  Even if you are the one who wants to divorce, you may often feel sadness, loss, grief, fear, and anxiety.  Divorce is a difficult process and what feeling down is normal.

4. With new partners comes new emotions: Just because you don’t want to be with your former spouse, doesn’t mean you won’t have emotions when they partner up with somebody new. Especially when the other parent wants to introduce the new boy/girlfriend to your child, it can be difficult to accept that a stranger will be around your child.  Even more, if you have an amicable relationship with your former spouse, a new partner could change things in ways you hadn’t expected.  Change isn’t always bad and you can expect to have an adjustment period with each new phase of your new single life.

5. You may need to go back to work: This is a little-known aspect of many divorces that is meant to keep both parties shouldering their part of the financial burden. If one party is the homemaker or works part-time, the Court will likely impute, or assign a higher salary to that party for purposes of child support and maintenance (spousal support) calculations.  The imputed salary can be based on that person’s earning potential or, most commonly, the Colorado full time minimum wage, i.e. $8.31 at 40 hours per week. So, in other words, if you are the homemaker or work part-time, it is time to begin your search for full time employment or look into education/training programs that will yield you a higher income.

6. There is a light at the end of the tunnel: After your divorce is finalized and you have enforceable court orders concerning support, division of assets/debts, and parenting time, you may feel like a weight has been lifted.  During the pendency of your divorce, it may feel like it will never end, but when it does you have a whole “new” life that lies before you! A life that is free of the emotional exhaustion created by the burdens of relationship challenges that you were previously dealing with day in and day out.

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