Divorce can get quite ugly and messy, especially without a prenuptial agreement.
For some, divorce can turn into an all-out war, so here are 10 tips to make divorce less painful for everyone involved.
1. Keep calm
Many couples bring up the D-word in the midst of heated arguments. However, before deciding to get a divorce, think through it carefully and calmly. Divorce is very painful process, especially for those with children.
If you decide to proceed with the divorce, don’t make any decisions in anger. For example, do not threaten to take your child away from your spouse as this can really frighten your spouse if he/she has a close relationship with the child, which may cause him to take drastic actions. The early stages of the divorce process can be a highly emotional time when people say things they do not mean out of fear or spite and act rashly and irrationally. Things get blown out of proportion when one party responds to anger with more anger, creating a vicious cycle that could otherwise have been avoided.
Don’t allow your anger to be translated into words and deeds that will make the divorce process more expensive, infuriating and longer than it needs to be.
If your spouse provokes you, do not respond immediately. Allow some time to pass before you do anything and with a clear mind, you can react more rationally and maybe even decide to compromise. This way, the process will be able to continue.
2. Understand how divorce proceedings work
This gives you an upper hand and prevents you from getting pressured or manipulated by your spouse.
There are two parts to a divorce proceeding. The first is the dissolution of marriage while the second concerns ancillary matters such as custody, care and control of the children and matrimonial assets.
Find out all about divorce proceedings here.
Familiarize yourself with the basics so you know what to expect.
3. Talk to your children
If you have children, it is good to talk to your child. If he is too young to understand the situation, explain it in a way that will not make him feel that his parents no longer love him or that he is the cause of the divorce. This is because children often feel that they are responsible for the divorce. This whole process can be very traumatic for children so ensure this does not emotionally affect your child too much.
Usually, younger children react to divorce by either becoming more attached to the parent or by showing anger to siblings and peers while adolescents might react by becoming more rebellious. If your child’s behaviour becomes too extreme, consider bringing them for counselling.
Slowly ease your children into the changes, ask them how they feel about it and be sure to shower them with additional attention so they do not feel neglected.
4. Hire a good divorce lawyer
Lawyers can determine how smoothly the whole process goes. Be careful not to hire divorce lawyers who focus only on churning fees as they will simply manipulate situations so that they can charge you more. The result is couples who fight over every little thing and in the end, wind up in court and chalk up lawyer fees by the thousands. A lawyer with integrity makes sure that he has your best interest at hand and will explore all avenues for settlement.
Hire a lawyer who is experienced in the practice of family law as this can make the whole process smoother.
Find a divorce lawyer in Singapore here.
5. Be willing to compromise
Always try to negotiate before you litigate. Compromise is the essence of divorce negotiations. It is normal to look out for your own interest but be flexible, be the bigger person. Don’t try to hurt your spouse by threatening to take everything.
Do not feel like you have to “win” the case and refuse to back down. After all, the aim of the proceedings is to enable both sides to move on with their lives.
6. Keep legal documents confidential
Make sure your spouse cannot access your emails or letters, especially those which contain legal advice from your lawyer, and keep any confidential documents away from your spouse. In fact, you may even find it necessary to keep these documents in a safe.
Remember, you are entitled to your own privacy and it is illegal for your spouse to access your confidential documents.
Divorce Tips for Women
7. Figure out your future living expenses
This is especially for those who are not working – your financial well-being should be your top priority as any mistake can have a lifelong effect. Firstly, think thoroughly to understand your current cost of living before the divorce proceedings start to get a gauge of future cost of living.
Secondly, give allowances for unexpected costs because something surprising may happen. For example, if you were previously under your husband’s medical insurance, he might decide to take you off his insurance and you will find yourself with extra medical costs.
8. Keep good financial records
Keep track of where money is going. Have on hand salary slips, credit card bills, in case the court suddenly asks for them to see how much is your expenditure every month. Be conscious of where you spend your money each month. If you are given care and control of the child, be prepared to produce evidence that details your child’s monthly expenditure.
Divorce Tips for Men
9. Have a plan for your assets
This is especially so for the husband as your wife might ask you for maintenance.
Think about your different matrimonial assets, including all property acquired during marriage, such as the matrimonial home as well as businesses, cars, and shares and how you want to divide them. If you own a private company, get it valued and consider drawing up a valuation of your own.
10. Ask for a clean break
Even if your wife is not working, you do not have to support her for the rest of her life. Some judges prefer to order a clean break settlement and this allows you to move on to lead separate lives. If your wife is currently not working, consider her previous work experience and her qualifications, and, if possible, argue that she can well support herself after some time.