On your wedding day, it feels like nothing could ever go wrong in your relationship.
But what if it does?
Marriage can be tough and, unfortunately, not every happy couple makes it. It’s difficult to talk about the dreaded “D” word—divorce—but it’s something some married couples will have to face.
If you’re not prepared for it, divorce can knock you off your feet, so it’s best to do your homework so you can have a fair and equitable break-up. Here are seven things you should know about divorce so your eyes are wide open if you do split up with your spouse.
1. Be Prepared To Divide Up Your Stuff
Though you may be super angry at your spouse, be fair. Don’t agree to a lopsided division of your assets just because you want out fast, according to The Week. Men in particular may feel the need to give their spouses a better deal financially in divorce, especially if they had the higher paying job. Bottom line: Don’t give your spouse too much, but don’t be ridiculously stingy either. Come up with a split that makes sense and is fair to both sides.
2. Keep It Classy
You might be tempted to express your frustration at your spouse in some extremely unhealthy ways—throwing their stuff out on the lawn, setting fire to your wedding photo album, taking off with the kids. But remember, every step you take could factor into a judge’s decision about how to split up your assets, who gets custody of your kids and other significant decisions, according to Forbes. Instead, focus on some healthy stress busters—take up yoga, train for a marathon, meet up with friends or visit a therapist.
3. Don’t Forget About Debt
When you break up, you split up your assets—retirement accounts, your family home, any vehicles. But did you know that debt also gets divided during divorce? Even if your spouse signed up for his or her own credit card, in some states, you may be on the hook for a share of the bill, according to D Magazine.
4. Update Your Resume
If you’re used to staying home with the kids or if you’ve been working at a lower-paying job because you had two incomes, divorce is going to be tough on you. Before taking the plunge, it’s a good idea to freshen up your resume, take classes at a community college and start looking for a way to support yourself, says The Huffington Post. Don’t rely solely on court-mandated support from your spouse.
5. Divorce Doesn’t Have To Be Expensive
Sure, you could hire the most expensive attorney in town. But you don’t have to. Many states allow couples to go through the divorce process without an attorney. Divorce can range from $500 to $20,000—the choice is yours. According to The Week, most couples forget that the more money they spend on the divorce, the less money they have to spend on other, more important things, like the kids, a new house or to rebuild their savings. That’s not to say that you should avoid hiring an attorney—if your divorce is messy, they can be well worth the money.
6. You’re Going To Be Sad—Even If You’re Ending It
There’s pretty much no way around it—divorce stinks. Even if you are the instigator, you may feel fear, anxiety and sadness, according to TODAY. That’s because your whole life is being turned upside down. Chances are, this is one of the biggest transitions you’ll go through in life. Plus, when you let go of a spouse, you’re also letting go of other relationships—mutual friends, family members, etc.
7. It Takes Time
The average divorce takes about a year, sometimes longer, divorce lawyer David Ruck told Cosmopolitan. In other words, prepare yourself for months of logistical decisions, emotional meetings and long conversations. Keep in mind: Once the divorce is finalized, you may still have to interact with your spouse on a regular basis, particularly if you have joint custody of the kids. Just because you’re getting a divorce doesn’t mean your spouse will be completely out of your life.