When couples get married, they often have big plans for the future. Once the marriage ends, those plans change. Divorce requires a new plan for life. You need to revisit where you want to live, what kind of house you can afford and what you are going to do with the kids, pets or valuables you acquired during your marriage. Since your new plan starts with a divorce, the results of that divorce critically influence the rest of your life. You can make divorce easier through positive collaboration and alternative dispute resolution. You also need to prioritize your objectives, organize your resources and anticipate drastic changes.
Prioritize Your Objectives
The physical, mental and emotional demands of a divorce leave many spouses feeling out of control. It can be beneficial to understand what you can control and what you cannot control throughout the process, so you can focus your energy on the things in your control. You cannot control your spouse's emotions, your spouses' lawyer, the assigned judge or the prolonged schedule of the divorce proceedings. However, you can control how you choose to express your emotions, whom you confide in about your divorce and how you communicate with your spouse. As you prepare for divorce, you want to choose your battles. If you write out your top 10 objectives and focus on those priorities, you can compromise easier on everything else.
Organize Your Assets
Dividing marital assets increases the stress in the divorce process. You may not want to fight over money or property, but your future quality of life might require it. How hard you need to fight depends on your age, number of dependents, earning potential and savings. Do not move out of the house unless the court orders you to. Use your time at home to collect important documents, copy credit card statements, find pension papers and compile a list of assets. Photograph valuable property so you have these supporting materials easily available when it is time to go to court.
Anticipate Drastic Changes
Both spouses need to prepare themselves and their children for the drastic changes. Try to stagger any major changes over the course of a year. Don't sell your house, move, switch schools and start a new job all in the same month. A divorce calendar can help you schedule court dates, mediation and parenting time. Use a separate financial planner to monitor household expenses incurred before, during and after the divorce. Be honest about financial hardships the divorce will cause. Don't be afraid to ask the court for temporary support or alimony if you need it in order to care for the children or to seek employment.
A Collaborative Divorce
A healthy divorce is possible. It requires positive collaboration between the divorcing spouses and the legal professionals who represent them. A collaborative divorce means that both spouses work together to achieve the best for everyone involved, including the children. The two parties do not need to share a lawyer or waive any legal rights; however, they may sign a legal stipulation to resolve their divorce outside of the courtroom. Firms that specialize in collaborative divorces often work with family law attorneys, divorce coaches, financial advisers, mental health professionals and family law mediators. They can also hire private judges to oversee divorce negotiations and expedite the divorce process.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
Alternative dispute resolution offers divorcing spouses the opportunity to settle their divorces in private, without the formalities of the courtroom or prolonged scheduling delays. Professional mediation allows the couple to meet with a neutral third-party mediator to negotiate child custody, visitation schedules, division of assets, assumption of debt and other financial concerns. Mediators can provide flexible schedules, with an opportunity for you to be heard on personal issues. Another type of ADR uses private judges to hear divorce cases in private and issue binding judgments. This option increases the cost of the divorce, but guarantees the privacy of the parties and reduces the stress of going to court.