The start of a new year often brings with it reflection, goal setting, and tough decision making. For many people, this includes the decision to begin the divorce process. While coming to this realization is in itself an incredibly hard and emotional event, the rest of the journey is not necessarily any easier. In fact, if not handled well, the coming months (or years) can be some of the most emotional, difficult and traumatic in one's life. What follows are some steps you can take to make the best of this tough situation.
First and foremost, it is important to get informed about the law. Knowledge is indeed power when it comes to divorce, as without accurate information, one can start to be controlled by fear and anxiety. This can also lead to one spouse feeling threatened or bullied by another, more informed (or ill informed) spouse. Find a local, experienced and knowledgeable attorney who can go over Massachusetts Domestic Relations Law and how it applies to your situation.
Second, get informed about your finances. Make a list of your assets and liabilities. Get copies of your 3 most recent tax returns. Check out Zillow or another online site for an idea of what your home's fair market value could be. Look through past bills to determine what your expenses are. In summary, create a complete financial picture so that you can give that information to your attorney. If you don't usually handle the finances, get involved and learn how to access all of the above information.
Third, explore the different divorce options available to you. Not all divorce has to be litigious, bitter and drawn-out, especially if both parties are in agreement with ending the marriage. Learn about Mediation and Collaborative Law as alternatives to litigation, and schedule your consultation with an attorney who is supportive of Alternative Dispute Resolution.
Last, be kind to yourself. People don't enter into a marriage hoping to divorce one day. Regardless of the cause of divorce, it is still a sad, disappointing and often devastating experience for everyone involved. Remember that divorce does not reflect on who you are a person, and it does not signal failure. Especially if there are children involved, a divorce could signal an end to a tense and unhealthy environment for them, which will be alleviated by eventually living apart.