If you are facing a divorce, it is likely that you are entering an unfamiliar process. You have seen television shows about divorce and known other people who got divorced but did not expect to be completing the process yourself. As you embark on this process which will impact your future, consider these pieces of advice from those who have been there about what they wish they would have known when they started their divorces.
- “It won’t happen overnight”: Robert heard from his attorney when he filed for divorce that Indiana has a waiting period of 60 days between filing for divorce and finalizing a divorce. When day 60 came, Robert expected that something would happen. He was surprised to learn that 60 days is the shortest that divorce can be in Indiana. It is not actually the typical length of a divorce. Because Robert and his ex-spouse couldn’t agree on temporary custody and parenting time, they had to wait for a court date which added weeks to the divorce process. Robert wishes he would have considered this time delay when he was considering the short term arrangements for his children. He might have been more inclined to make an agreement in order to keep things moving.
- “There is a lot of homework”: Sharon felt relieved after she hired an attorney to help her with her divorce. She expected that her attorney would take over and complete the process largely without the need for Sharon to be involved. Sharon was surprised when her attorney put her to work gathering financial records and filling out financial declaration forms. Sharon felt that some of the documents that her attorney wanted were too personal – like her checking account records which showed everything she spent. She was surprised to learn that she was required to share those records during divorce when they were formally requested by her spouse’s attorney and that if she refused, she could be in trouble with the court. While she was initially hopeful that having an attorney would shield her from the divorce process, she ended up realizing that having an attorney was more about guiding her through the process in which she still had to be actively involved.
- “The more we fought the more expensive it got”: Rita was angry and hurt when her husband filed for divorce. She started her divorce set on giving on nothing to show her husband how much he was hurting her. As she began to fight over the children’s schedules, child support, and every piece of property down to the silverware she started to notice how expensive the process was getting. Both she and her husband were having to pay large attorney fee bills because nothing was ever agreed. As Rita began to worry about the money she was spending, she realized that the advice her attorney was giving her to consider making an agreement was not her attorney being on her husband’s side. It was her attorney trying to keep her from wasting lots of money because she was angry and hurt. Maybe every single small battle didn’t matter as much a she first thought.
- “Life after divorce can be happy”: John was devastated to learn that his wife wanted a divorce. They had been married for a long time and were still raising kids together. He tried and tried to convince his wife to reconcile with him, but it didn’t work. Feeling depressed and hurt, he was convinced that divorce meant the end of happiness. A year after his divorce became final, John feels very differently. He has set up a new home after he and his ex-wife sold the former marital residence. His house is smaller, but nice and is easier on his budget. He has made new routines and traditions with his kids, and he prioritizes his time differently to be more available during his parenting time and to focus his social, work, and other activities during the time that the children are with their mom. Without the pressure of a failing marriage on their shoulders, John and his ex-wife have each been able to move their relationship into a friendly co-parenting relationship. While John still wishes they could have made their marriage work, he takes comfort in the fact that they are both committed to making the one and only childhood of the kids a happy one. John has settled into the next phase of life and there is a lot to be happy about.