If you are embarking on the journey toward ending your marriage, you might have nightmarish visions of angry court battles, years of arguing over trivial matters, and enough legal debt to keep you up at night worrying about how you will pay it all off. The good news is that while some divorces do end up being very difficult, many divorces are uncontested. This means that the husband and wife come to agreements on their own (or mostly on their own) on topics such as how to handle custody, child support, allocations of assets, and so on. Depending on your state, this type of divorce could be accomplished within weeks rather than in months or years. Are you wondering how to keep your divorce clean, easy, and uncontested? Read on for our best tips.
Know Whether an Uncontested Divorce Is Right for You
For some divorcing couples, an uncontested divorce is not the right option. If your spouse has been abusive, including financially abusive, this type of divorce is not going to work. Another red flag is if your spouse has a problem with compulsive lying or an addiction. In order to make a civil and amicable divorce work well, you both have to be honest, open, and ready to accept compromises. If one spouse is not willing to compromise or one is taking advantage of the other, that is a factor that will mean an uncontested divorce is likely not the best option.
If, however, the two of you can accept the circumstances that led to the divorce and put your feelings of hurt and betrayal aside to work together, then there is a good chance that you can accomplish a clean and simple divorce.
Communicate Openly With Your Spouse
You are likely feeling a range of emotions, but you will need to set them aside and strive to communicate openly with your soon-to-be ex if you want an uncontested divorce to work. You will need to lay your cards on the table, so to speak, which might be against your better judgment, particularly if you are feeling hurt and upset with your spouse. He or she will need to do the same.
Talk about what is most important to each of you and see what compromises and collaborative decisions you can make together. For example, it might be very important to you that you take the dining room set, and it might be very important to your spouse to take the living room set. That is a simple example, of course; you will also need to make decisions about property that you own together, child custody, debts that you owe, and so on.
Get Legal Advocacy Help If Needed
Having an uncontested divorce does not necessarily mean that you have to do it all on your own. A legal resource group can help you and your spouse figure out your divorce without costing you the thousands of dollars that a private attorney would cost. National Family Solutions can work with you as you navigate child custody, spousal support, visitation, splitting up your assets, and so on.
A mediator is another option; that is a professional who will sit down with both of you to help you come to a fair compromise on issues that you are having trouble working through. In some states, a mediation is required of all couples who want to pursue an uncontested divorce.
Help Your Children Through the Divorce
If you have children, the two of you will need to come up with a plan for co-parenting them. Children almost always do better when both parents are involved in their care (some exceptions to this rule are when a parent is abusive or when a parent has an untreated addiction that threatens the child’s safety and well-being).
Coming up with a co-parenting plan will allow you to determine who will have the child when as well as how you will tackle some common issues together. For example, it’s best if the child knows that some of the bigger rules (such as expectations for school performance and when the child is old enough to start dating) are the same at both parents’ homes. Smaller rules (like bedtime or what time homework is done) can be different.
You will also want to be sure that neither of you is speaking poorly of the other parent in front of the child. This can lead to parental alienation and it is not fair to the child. Stick to the facts that impact your son or daughter and don’t drag in the adult business of what went wrong in the marriage and whose fault it was.
Work Out the Financial and Tax Implications
Most divorcing couples need to figure out how they will handle finances. This will vary depending on whether the two of you will still live together while going through the legal separation, if one will move out and get an apartment, or if you will sell the house and each get your own house or apartment. If one member of the couple stayed home while the other worked, some spousal support might be necessary for the short or long term.
It is also a good idea to sit down with a tax expert to learn about how your tax situations will change. Being prepared will help make tax time less stressful and can help you make decisions that are in your best interest.
Take Care of Yourself
Finally, be sure to take care of your own physical and emotional needs. Going through a divorce is stressful, so do what you can to reduce some of the stress. Eat well, exercise daily, and get enough sleep. Make time to do things that you enjoy doing. If you have children, be sure to have plans for the days that the kids are with their other parent. If you need counseling to get through this time, schedule yourself an appointment. Taking good care of yourself will allow you to evaluate your divorce process with a clear head and it will also help you to be a better parent to your children.