I want a divorce! What do I do now?
It can be a disturbing realisation that your marriage has come to an end. There are so many emotional and practical things to deal with. Before you take action, think through the following questions and make sure you are both mentally and practically prepared for what lies ahead.
I want a divorce! Are you sure?
First off, ask yourself if you are sure you want a divorce. Yeah, yeah, you’ve probably heard this a few times already if you have confided in friends and family as they gently say “but are you SURE?” However, it is worth really thinking it through, as an astonishing 50% plus of divorcees have regrets about separating from their partner. It is worth considering therapy, counselling, addressing other areas of your life where you are dissatisfied before pushing the go-nuclear button on your marriage.
HOWEVER, having said that, we are also advocates of being able to part ways without judgement, so if separating is really right for you, go onto the next question.
I want a divorce! Have you thought through what will happen next?
It’s worth thinking through what the fallout from your divorce will be and mentally preparing for it. If you have children, will you and your partner be able to tell them together? Will you be strong enough to support them through it and if not, what help will you need? Who are your support network going to be? Mentally line up your go to friends. Who is likely to side with your ex? Think through how it will feel to lose them and make peace with that. What about family? Who will you tell first and is there anyone you think will react badly? Prepare you reactions to people who may judge because everyone has an opinion and some are less diplomatic than others.
I want a divorce! Are you on top of your financial affairs?
Before you initiate proceedings or even discuss divorce with your partner, make sure you know what the lay of the land is financially. Divorce almost always leaves everyone worse off than they wanted to be but if you are not prepared you are starting on the back foot. By “prepared” we are not talking about doing anything underhand – just make sure you have a grip on what there is in the pot – whose names are on the deeds of the house, what savings are in both your accounts, how much is in both your pensions, what debts both of you have. If you are the higher earner, you may have to pay maintenance, if you both own your home you may have to sell it so both of you can find somewhere new to live, if you don’t currently work, you may have to retrain and get a job. Knowing what there is to share out is the first step to being able to agree on a settlement.
I want a divorce! Who is going to help you?
Unless you are tough as old boots, divorce will affect you in all sorts of ways and can be very tough to navigate. If within your means, research solicitors, mediators, therapists and home help. Some therapy may be available via the NHS, so bear this in mind if you need it. Work out who your speed dial friends are and as soon as the news is out, ask for their help and don’t be afraid to lean on them. You will find some friends really rise to the occasion and new ones too. You’ll also be surprised how helpful people are who have already been through it, so don’t be afraid to contact people online or at our meetups.
Lucy Davis is a co-founder of divorceclub.com and a TV Producer. She divorced 7 years ago. She is a passionate advocate for exploring the potential for change and creativity that can result from the trauma of divorce.