Getting divorced is a difficult process. Many couples spend months, if not years, fighting against divorce, even when they know deep down it is the best option. At the same time, divorce is not something you want to rush into. There are many factors to consider, both emotional and practical, before getting divorced. There are no solutions that make divorce painless, but you can alleviate some of the stress by properly researching and understanding exactly what happens during a divorce.
There are many misconceptions and myths about divorce. A common statistic that gets mentioned is half of all marriages in the United States end in divorce. Some individuals even report the divorce rate is steadily increasing. As of writing, the opposite is true. The claim likely comes from rising divorce rates in the 80’s and 90’s, which hit a peak of 41%. Since then, the divorce rate has steadily decreased. Listed below are 10 important divorce facts and clarifications every couple should consider.
Age of Divorce
Another common misconception about divorce relates to age. Some couples believe divorce is rare over the age of 30. While this seems like a harmless belief, it leads to many couples using their age as an excuse, believing their marital problems will disappear after the couple turns 30. Like the divorce rate, this misconception is partially based on fact. Couples who impulsively marry are more likely to get divorced, and younger couples are much more likely to rush into a marriage.
Another reason the divorce rate used to be higher among younger couples is cultural views. Previous generations were raised to never consider divorce an option. As times change, divorce became less taboo, with the younger generation finding divorce acceptable. In 2021, both young and old couples will divorce. In 2021, the divorce rate for couples over the age of 50 doubled. This is known as a grey divorce.
The Money Factor
While there are many reasons a couple gets divorced, money is a common cause. Divorce is rarely caused by a single issue, but with the majority of couples, financial trouble is listed as one of the top three reasons the marriage failed. Financial problems does not always mean a lack of money. In some divorces, one partner feels stress over being dependent on his or her partner. He or she may even feel powerless because he or she is no longer self-sufficient. This can lead to bitter resentment. It is also common for partners to disagree with how the other spends money, feeling left out of the loop whenever a purchase is made. Others feel like their partner is not contributing or doesn’t care.
Relating to finances, your wedding can also contribute to marital stress. Your wedding sets the stage for the rest of your relationship. Planning a wedding is difficult, and the more elaborate the wedding, the more stress it puts on the couple. Elaborate weddings are also expensive, which can cause couples to start their marriage in debt. If the process leading up to your wedding is filled with stress and fighting, this is likely to carry over after the wedding and increases the chance of divorce.
Divorce Isn’t a Competition
During the divorce proceedings, many clients believe the goal is to beat the other party. After a divorce, some individuals even boast about winning the divorce. It is fine to be happy with the results of a divorce proceeding, and you should fight for what you want. However, you do not want to get into a competitive mindset about divorce. Divorce proceedings are about amicably splitting from your spouse and setting the groundwork to avoid future conflict. If you treat it like a battle, you are more likely to end up getting into fights with your ex, which may even result in greater challenges, like changes in custody or spousal support.
No Smoking Guns
Another common mistake during a divorce is one partner trying to catch the other doing something wrong. This often involves snooping into your partner’s accounts, gathering texts or emails as evidence. It may even involve hiring a private investigator to try and catch your partner doing something incriminating. In divorce proceedings, this evidence often backfires, especially if you obtained it illegally. To a judge, it gives the appearance you were trying to sabotage your partner, or it implies you never trusted them in the first place. It also sets a negative mood and increases the likelihood of fighting during the proceedings.
Divorce is Slow
Your ex does not disappear the moment you file for divorce. Divorce is a long process, on average taking between six months to one year. If children are involved, the process is even longer, taking one to two years and requiring multiple court visits, especially if there are custody challenges. In longer relationships, it may also take time for you and your ex to fully disentangle from one another’s life. This is another reason why divorce court focuses on peaceful mediation and not fighting with your ex.
Another reason divorce takes a long time to resolve is the financial implications, with both partners having to separate their finances. There are also complications if you and your partner were in debt. If you accrued debt as a married couple, both partners are still responsible for the debt. Even if one partner agrees to take on the debt in the divorce proceedings, creditors can target you for collection.
Not all divorce cases go before a court, even if both sides hire an attorney. Divorce court is considered a last resort option after all other negotiation attempts fail. The majority of divorce agreements are reached in mediation. Going to divorce court is expensive, stresses out both sides and takes even longer than a traditional divorce to resolve. In many cases, neither party feels satisfied after divorce court.
Who is Affected
Many divorced couples underestimate how many individuals are affected by their divorce. When you are married, your social identities are intertwined. Many friends feel forced to pick a side during a divorce, with some abandoning friendships completely because of the stress. While you should never base divorce decisions around what your friends think, it is important to prepare yourself for all the changes that come with divorce.
Children and Divorce
Getting divorced becomes more complex when children are involved. Many couples are afraid what divorce will do to their child, with some couples even insisting on staying together solely for their children. Adjusting to divorce is difficult, but not impossible. You are not bad parents if you want to get divorce, nor are you causing irreversible damage to your children.
There are some issues which can make the divorce harder on your children. A peaceful divorce is much more important when children are involved. Try to minimize fighting with your ex, both during and after the divorce. Never drag your children into the fight, and do not badmouth your ex or try to turn your children against him or her. Make sure your kids feel comfortable discussing how they feel about the divorce. If you or your ex cannot openly speak with your child about the divorce, consider therapy, either on an individual or family level.