Marriage is a sacred institution, they say. But the fact is that some marriages simply do not last, despite the couple involved doing everything they can to make it work. And so divorce is contemplated; divorce sometimes happens.
Divorce is certainly not a walk in the park for most couples and becomes especially complicated when children are involved. Divorce is also not a decision that couples make quickly or take lightly. What are the things you should consider before going for a divorce?
Mum Laura Lifshitz shares some valuable tips from her own divorce experience.
1. How it will affect your children
Divorce can affect different kids in different ways. Think through ways of how you will help your child cope, should she encounter anxiety over your split.
When Laura and her husband divorced, her daughter was just three years old. At the time, there wasn’t much information on how to help a toddler cope with her parents’ separation. Laura and her ex-husband decided to try therapy, which actually worked.
Laura explains that while it is hard to predict how divorce will impact each individual child, it’s still good for parents to research options.
Here are some more tips on helping young children cope with divorce:
- Create schedules in which your children can spend equal amounts of quality time with each of you.
- Be alert at bedtimes, as kids often show their fears when going to bed, and while asleep via dreams/ nightmares.
- If your child’s anxiety is interrupting their sleep, it’s okay to welcome them to your bed until they feel comfortable enough to return to their own bed.
2. Don’t involve your friends in legal matters
Laura explains why based on her own experience:
“Don’t use friends for legal advice — meaning, don’t hire a friend to handle the divorce even though your friend will cut you a break financially.
“My ex and I started out this way, and the friend was truly lovely and magnanimous at heart to want to help two broke people divorce, but we ended up switching counsel (to mediators) for various reasons, which derailed finalizing the divorce. It’s been 20 months, and it’s still not final. Lesson learned!”
It’s always best to hire a lawyer who is not emotionally connected to you, to ensure maximum objectivity and speed in the process.
3. Lay it out clearly
Laura mentions how shocked their mediator was when he saw their divorce agreement. “Everything was completely vague and open to interpretation,” she says.
She strongly recommends that you don’t make this same mistake. Everything should be written out and explained in detail, and no topic should be left untouched, especially if kids are involved.
4. Give yourself time to get used to the change
Yes, you decided to go your own ways, but you will still need time to get used to all the changes a divorce brings, especially if you had been with your ex-partner for a long time. Some of the changes to expect might include a new partner (perhaps), new homes, new routines and so on.
If you are prepared for changes, then it becomes easier to tackle them when they happen. At some point before the divorce is finalised, list down all potential changes you think you might encounter, and how you will handle them, too.
5. Spending time together might not be nice
Keep in mind you might not enjoy spending time together after the split, even if you do it for the sake of your child.
Some settle into an amicable relationship after divorce, more often than not for the sake of the kids. But forcing yourselves to do things together when really, you just don’t want to see each other again, might actually backfire when it comes to children.
“When we separated, my ex and I didn’t want to miss out on milestones, traditions, and activities, so we did stuff together now and then, thinking it would be great for our daughter.
“Our intentions were truly altruistic and wonderful, but it didn’t help our child. It only confused our little one, who was too young to comprehend what divorce really means. Make things clear in developmentally appropriate ways for your children so they understand that mommy and daddy’s marriage is over — for good.”
The experience of divorce is unique for each couple and individual. But if you choose to go down that path, then we hope these tips will help you make the process as smooth as possible.