Cold and Hard Reality: After your divorce, it will be difficult to maintain the lifestyle you had during your marriage.
How can this be true? What about alimony? Yes, alimony was designed to support women who were dependent on their spouse’s income in maintaining the standard of living they enjoyed during the marriage. However, persuading a judge to award alimony is sometimes easier said than done, and actually making your spouse pay alimony after it has been awarded can be equally challenging. If you are fortunate enough to get alimony it may not be enough to live on. If you didn’t work during your marriage, you may be forced to get a job; if you worked one job during the marriage, you may need to work two.
There is more to life than money. Maintaining your lifestyle should not be your primary consideration in whether or not you will maintain your marriage. Peace of mind is your most valuable possession. You can be happy with less stuff.
Cold and Hard Reality: Divorce is expensive.
Divorce lawyers charge anywhere between $150 to $400 per hour. That means every time your attorney picks up the phone to return your call, meets with you about your case or writes a letter on your behalf, the clock is ticking and their fee is growing. Since it cost nearly nothing to get married, why does is cost so much to get divorced? The divorce laws (which were written primarily by lawyers moonlighting as legislators) are more complicated than marriage laws.
The more reasonable you are in your demands, the less your divorce will cost you. It doesn’t make must sense to spend hours fighting over a $50 painting when you are paying your lawyer $225 per hour. If your matter is fairly simple and you are willing to do the work, there are lots of things you can do yourself.
Cold and Hard Reality: Divorce may be the most emotionally painful experience of your life.
Research a list of the most stressful events in life and you are likely to discover that divorce is at the top, somewhere in the neighborhood of death of a loved one, serious illness or loss of a limb. Since divorce results in broken hearts and fractured families, it should come as no surprise that it is an event that on good days can be described as extremely painful and on bad days as excruciatingly painful.
Pain is a powerful teacher. The only way you can gain confidence in your ability to survive painful experiences is by going through painful experiences.
Cold and Hard Reality: You may judged unfairly after your divorce.
Some people may question your decision to end your marriage. Your parents may wonder why you couldn’t stick it out, since they have been married for thirty years and cannot understand why you can’t do the same thing. Your single girlfriends may talk about how crazy you are for ending your marriage when it is so hard to find a husband. Your co-workers may question your decision to break your wedding vows.
Everyone is entitled to an opinion. However, your life is not a democracy in which everyone you know gets a vote. You alone decided to say “I do” and you alone have the right to decide when it’s time to say “I don’t anymore.”
Cold and Hard Reality: Winning doesn’t mean you will get everything you want.
The legal system was designed to divide your stuff and to resolve legal issues regarding who should get what and who should be forced to do what. However, the fallout from divorce goes way beyond your stuff. Divorce involves fractured families, broken hearts and shattered dreams. So, even if the judge awards you the house, $10,000 a month in alimony and full custody of the kids, the underlying issues will remain to be addressed.
Recognizing that there will still be lots of work to do after your legal case is closed may make you mindful of not wasting all of your emotional energy over the stuff. Save it for the heavy lifting that needs to be done after the courtroom drama ends.
Cold and Hard Reality: It may take years to resolve your legal issues.
The legal system moves very slowly. This should come as no surprise when you consider that thousands of people file for divorce at the same county courthouse where your divorce is filed and they have only a handful of judges assigned to the cases. And a single alimony trial, for example, could take several hours or several weeks to resolve. The more complex your case is (e.g., the more stuff you have) the longer you can expect the case to take. Lawyers have little incentive to expedite the case, because the longer it takes the more they get paid.
You have to approach the process one day at a time. You can’t stress out over things you can’t control and you can’t control the legal process.
Photo Credit: Visual Hunt