Marriage is not an easy thing to simply walk away from. In fact, it almost seems like our legal system — as it applies to marriage — makes divorce feel difficult, complicated and scary on purpose. Perhaps it does. After all, the notion of “until death do us part” is a historical concept that has been hardwired into the fabric of our beings — even if it’s a fantastical notion that is only possible for certain well-paired spouses.
But divorce doesn’t have to be such a difficult experience if you and your soon-to-be ex are willing to work with one another peacefully and respectfully. Here are a few ideas to get your mental gears moving in the right direction in this regard as you consider the possibility of divorce:
1. Figure out what’s essential for you in your divorce
Take a piece of paper and divide it into three sections, which you will label “I want,” “I need” and “I can let it go.” Be as honest and sincere as you can possibly be when creating this list. Cover topics like asset division, child custody, spousal support and the family pet. You can always adjust this list at a later time, but having it handy will be essential to your ability to stay clear about your objectives during the divorce process.
2. Figure out what’s essential for your spouse in your divorce
Do the same exercise described above, but this time create the list for your spouse. You might even want to have a chat with your spouse about the list, if you believe you can carry out such a conversation in a respectful and mindful fashion.
This will also be helpful to your negotiation process because now you know where both you and your spouse are coming from. You might even decide to adjust your own list after you hear from your spouse on the matter.
3. Remember to view your divorce as a “strictly business” affair
Your emotions are going to come to the surface — throughout your divorce process — but it’s vital that you keep those emotions from affecting and controlling your decision-making process. Consult with your attorney, and even a mental health counselor, on a regular basis to ensure that you maintain an even keel.
Look at the numbers, understand the complete picture of your family’s finances and study up on the law. This will help you make sound and rational decisions based on the reality of the situation — and what is actually possible — rather than your emotions.
The more you understand about the law, the better you’ll know how a judge will likely decide different matters in your case. This will help you to stay rational, stay out of the courtroom and give you a better chance of reaching a fair settlement in your out-of-court divorce negotiations.