Thinking About Divorce? Some Questions to Ask Yourself First
If you are facing or considering divorce, you’re likely contending with powerful emotions that flicker in intensity. One minute you might feel furious. The next minute, you might feel depressed. You might then go a few hours or days feeling neutral or numb (or relieved, angry, and then confused). It’s totally normal to have strong but vacillating emotions. The key is to pause and reflect mindfully before you choose a divorce process.
Avoid making decisions about your divorce impulsively. For instance, you may be so angry (perhaps your spouse cheated on you or blindsided you by saying that he “fell out of love”) that you might want to leap to litigation to punish the other person and exact maximum vengeance. Avoid metaphorically cutting off your nose to spite your face. Impetuous actions can exact costly and far ranging consequences. Here are some factors to weigh:
- How much will the divorce cost, and how long will it take? Litigation tends to consume more money and time than either mediation or Collaborative. If you can work together as adults with the help of appropriate professionals, you will likely save both money and time.
- How important is privacy to you? Both Collaborative and mediation can keep the process closed off to the public. In litigation, any court proceedings are open to the public. It’s amazing who you see in the divorce part of the courthouse.
- What professional support do you need and why? Would it be resourceful for you to work with people like a coach, a financial advisor, a parenting expert … or not? Divorce is the untangling of a complex relationship. There are many aspects to the process— external and internal. What kind of support does your family need to transition as smoothly as possible?
- What do you want to feel, during the divorce and afterwards? Litigation might be analogous to the game of chess, where you are constantly trying to crush or checkmate the other side, and you strategize and engage in tactics to that end. Chess, particularly at the tournament level, can be quite a bloodsport. Using Collaborative or mediation, meanwhile, is more like putting together a puzzle. You both work towards the same end. The more of the “puzzle” you complete, the closer you are to resolving lingering issues from the marriage.
Do you have further questions about starting your divorce process?