After 25 years of practicing exclusively divorce and family law, I have repeatedly heard client say, “I wish someone had told me that sooner.” Some things are inevitable when divorcing, but many of the most troubling aspects can be avoided with a little advance knowledge and planning. Here are five of the most important:
1. Emotions: Divorce is not a quick fix for anything, especially the emotions attached with the dissolution of a long term relationship. Even if you are the one who wants to get divorced, you may often feel sadness, loss, fear, and anxiety. Try to let go of your anger and resentment toward your spouse, this can only hurt you and your children and no good can come from it. The past can not be changed.
2. New Problems: Divorce may be the best option, but it is not a magic wand. Ending your marriage may be completely necessary, but just because you are divorced, doesn’t mean that all of the underlying problems just disappear. Untying the knot of a marriage can take a long time as your lives are intertwined in many ways you may not even be considering. Once the divorce papers are signed, the real work of moving on begins.
3. It Takes Time: If you litigate your divorce it may take up to a year, or even more, to complete. The very large majority of cases eventually do settle by agreement (over 90%), but that too may take time. An average divorce takes around 6 months in the courts. As difficult as it may be, be patient. A proper resolution takes time and the process can be part of the emotional healing as well.
4. Change is Inevitable: I can’t count how many clients have said to me, “but that’s not how we’ve always done things,” especially when it comes to parenting or holidays. The reality is that things have now changed and the old ways may not be sustainable. Holidays can be difficult, especially in the first few years. You may lose some friends and gain new ones. The relatives you thought would be there for you may not be, and vice versa. Accept and embrace the idea that things will be different in many ways. That’s not always a bad thing.
5. Your Children Will Be Ok: Spare your children the pain of being put in the middle by bad-mouthing your spouse no matter what. Allow them to adjust to the new normal, and encourage them to embrace all of the new aspects of the new dynamic. They may brood or mourn the loss of their old family form, but most studies have shown that kids adapt to divorce and end up no less productive or emotionally stable later in life as a result of divorce.
Drew Molotsky, Esq. is a shareholder and partner at Adinolfi, Molotsky, Burick & Falkenstein, PA. Drew successfully completed the requirements for certification in matrimonial law as set forth by the Supreme Court of New Jersey’s Board on Attorney Certification and as a result has been certified as a Matrimonial Law Attorney by the Supreme Court of New Jersey. Drew is also a Court-approved Rule 1:40-4 mediator and is included on the Family Court’s roster of mediators for economic aspects of family law cases in Camden, Burlington, and Gloucester Counties.