8 Ways to Smooth the Divorce Process and Ease the Pain
by Heather King
Any divorce lawyer will tell you — the best way to avoid divorce is to stay unmarried. But, marriage and family are a wonderful life experience that many people look forward to. Texas is a no-fault divorce state, meaning that in order to get a divorce, you only need to prove that the marriage relationship is not working and that you cannot reconcile. Only one party to the divorce needs to feel this way to obtain a divorce. Going through a divorce is never a joyful experience, but it does not have to be acrimonious. So, if it comes to the point that divorce is inevitable, here are a few things you can do to make the process as painless as possible.
1. Your spouse does not control you.
One of the best things you can do is to remember that you are in control of your emotions. It only takes one to file, but it takes two to tango. If your spouse wants to kick and scream, that does not mean you have to kick and scream. If your spouse says mean things, that does not mean you have to say mean things. And, it also does not mean that you have to take offense at what they are saying. Refrain from having to have the last word or proving your spouse wrong. This is probably one of the most traumatic experiences you or your spouse have ever gone through. Do not let your spouse’s reaction to the divorce control you or control your emotions.
2. Maintain a proper perspective.
Divorce involves change. The people we marry are not the same people we divorce. Your time together has made you into someone else. The same is true for your spouse. And entering into this phase of your relationship, a phase that neither of you may have ever experienced before continues to drive that change. Remembering the person you married as you move through the process can help keep perspective and reduce animosity. That perspective helps to compartmentalize the issues in your divorce so that the rest of your life can continue to function. This is a transitioning period in your life and also in the lives of your children. Understand that your and your children’s daily routines will have to adapt. And never forget, you can do hard things.
3. Emotional closure does not come when the judge signs the divorce decree.
Do not expect to get emotional closure. At least, do not expect it anytime soon. The one person you trusted more than anyone else is no longer there for you. It hurts. And it will take much longer to overcome that pain than the divorce process will, or should, take. But remember, you control your emotions, and you can do hard things. As part of that, separate the business of divorce from the personal, emotional evolution you are beginning. Emotions are strong when it comes to family, and the process of divorce only amplifies those feelings. They will not go away easily.
4. Do not talk badly about your spouse in front of the kids.
Resist the urge to speak ill of your ex in front of your children. In fact, never do it. Dad is always going to be Dad, and Mom is always going to be Mom — not Dad’s ex-wife or Mom’s ex-husband. Respect your children’s relationship with their other parent and encourage it — that is actually part of the public policy of Texas written right into the Texas Family Code. Your children will love you more for it. And, if you end up having to go to court, the judge or the jury will too, which works to your benefit.
5. Compartmentalize the issues.
Get the kid stuff settled, then delve into the financial decisions. If you have children, prioritize your kids and securing their best interest first. Figure out what is best for them before money ever comes into play. In Texas, there will generally be four things you need to consider with the kids: (1) rights and duties of each parent; (2) possession of and access to the children; (3) child support; and (4) medical support. While everything is decided together, these are separate issues from the division of assets and liabilities. After your children are taken care of, all that is left to do is make business decisions. This will allow you to compartmentalize your case and keep emotions out of the business decisions.
6. Avoid going to court unless it is necessary.
Avoid unnecessary, adversarial court hearings. Keep an open dialogue and mind in terms of a settlement. Going to court is always an option and even necessary at certain points in certain cases. But always consider the cost: both financial and emotional. A court appearance may be absolutely necessary for matters of law but not emotion. Remember, your spouse’s actions do not control yours. You do not always have to have the last word. As you continue to keep that open mind and are willing to negotiate, court appearances are minimized, costs are down and emotions are easier to control.
7. Be creative.
Both you and your spouse want something. Sometimes, that may be the exact same thing. But, most of the time, there are at least some differences. Be creative in resolving the problem. Brainstorm. Think up different possession schedules or divisions of property. Talk with your attorney or the mediator about coming up with ideas to resolve these issues. Look at it from different angles. One thing you can do is to ask yourself why you want what you want and then understand why your spouse wants what he or she wants. If you are splitting an orange, maybe one person wants it for the zest from the peel, while the other person wants it to make orange juice. You can each accomplish your goals.
8. This is your divorce.
You are the one making decisions about what happens. This is not your parents’ divorce. This is not your best friend’s divorce. They have their thoughts and opinions about what you should do, but you are in control. If you are happy with a settlement offer that comes to you, do not let someone talk you out of it. If you do, you should at least ask them to pay your attorney’s fees and court costs because that is where it will lead.
Ultimately, divorce is an unhappy time. Even if you are getting out of a bad situation and there are better days ahead, it can be stressful, it can be scary and it can be hard. But you can do hard things. You can also do things to make this process go as smoothly as possible.