Let’s be real, divorce sucks.
It’s a lot like childbirth and if someone told you what it would be like, you might not ever do it. But then you’d regret it for the rest of your life. Sure, there are a few of those amicable divorces and the “conscious uncouplings,” but they are few and far between.
I was divorced in 2010. I asked for a divorce in 2008, but it took two years actually to get it done. And don’t think it’s because we were arguing over some tremendous fortune. Quite the opposite, we were arguing over tremendous debt.
It was ridiculous and took an emotional and physical toll on me. No one in my family had ever gotten a divorce, and my only friend who had divorced did it when she was in her early 20’s, and there were no kids involved. I was in uncharted territory. While I never expected it to be easy, I had no idea of some of the issues I would face.
Below are a few other things that no one ever told me about divorce that I wish I had known:
1. Family court is a horrible, toxic place.
The greatest piece of advice I give to people is that at all costs, avoid going to family court. You’ll end up spending money that you could have saved for retirement or your kid’s university fund. On top of that, a courtroom is one of the worst places I can imagine. It’s kind of like a zombie apocalypse.
Seriously, I was in court about 48 days over the course of two years. I witnessed the ugliest side of people coming in and out of various legal cases. I would literally come home and take two showers after being there because I felt dirty. If you’re thinking of getting a divorce, visit a courthouse and see what it’s like. You need to steel yourself to the toxic environment.
2. The friends you’d least expect to abandon you, will.
You can assume you will lose some friends, but amazingly it’s sometimes the people you’d least expect. It’s hurtful beyond belief, and you’ll spend years agonising over what happened. Ultimately, you need to accept that you might never understand why a friendship ended but cherish the relationship you once had and lovingly let it go.
3. If you have kids, you’ll never be truly divorced.
The reality is that you’re going to have to deal with your ex forever. If you have children, you will see him at every visitation pick-up and drop-off. You will have to negotiate medical issues, school issues and anything involving your under-aged children.
As they grow up, you’re going to be at graduations, weddings and eventually interacting with grandkids. It will be a lot less stressful for you and your kids if you find a way to make peace. I’m fortunate that my husband and his ex-wife are good friends. In fact, we’ve had dinners together, and she’s taken my daughters shopping with her and my step-daughter.
4. Material possessions become way less important.
Pre-divorce you’re worried about your kids having to move out of the house they’ve lived in and not being able to afford school holiday activities. You might be used to having a housekeeper, getting weekly manicures and going on shopping sprees.
Then, you find yourself wrapped up with divorce lawyers, and your money gets wiped out. Suddenly you realise that none of the stuff being fought over matters as much as you and your kid’s happiness. I ended up declaring bankruptcy after my divorce. It was devastating.
It was also a fresh start and felt like a tremendous burden had been lifted off my shoulders. The reality is while one of the scariest things about divorce is worrying how you will make it financially, you do find a way. The added benefit is that my kids have become grounded and understand the value of a dollar. They save, and they appreciate when we do have special treats.
Divorce is tough, and it’s almost never amicable. One of the best pieces of advice is to consider it a business matter. The faster you can take the emotion out of it the easier it will be. Simply ask yourself what’s really important and get it done as quickly and cheaply as humanly possible. Do not let your ego get in the way.
What did you wish you had known before getting a divorce?
This post originally appeared on Divorced Moms.
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