Like many things in life, a successful divorce just does not happen by chance. You have to plan for it, manage the process and keep a steady aim, without getting distracted. This article tells you how to.
You should plan for a divorce the moment you marry. This may sound harsh, since marriage is all about commitment for life and no one, least of all the couple getting married, will feel right in planning for a divorce. But, like a partnership and a contract (and marriage, stripped of all of its surreal, heavenly connections, is just that, a contract between two humans), you must have an exit plan, even if you never have to go through with it.
The exit plan should ideally be consensual, that is have a buy-in from both. This is different from a pre-nuptial agreement, although some elements are interchangeable. An exit plan from marriage consists of three things: 1. terms under which either party can file for a divorce (e.g. one spouse cheating on the other, or one spouse committing a felony) 2. Minimum period of conciliation or grace period during which both partners will try in good faith to preserve the marriage and 3. Financial settlement. 4) Legal retention–under what circumstances will both parties engage lawyer and for what purpose–see the bullet point below about lawyers. 5) desired length of divorce proceedings. Ideally, the exit plan should be drafted by the couple and there is no need to have it looked over by a lawyer although I strongly advise one to review it–not for legality, since it is not enforceable unless it is written as a contract, but for commonsense.
Once you have the exit plan and have determined that you two can live and be happy together, forget the exit plan—if you keep thinking about it, you will both have miserable life. Live the married life like it is meant to be lived—giving each other love, trust and selfless dedication.
One other important document you must have is the one you draw yourself. This is your “A” plan. This is more strategic and is designed around the Exit Plan buts gets implemented the moment divorce proceedings are even being thought about amongst the international human rights lawyer two of you. The “A” plan contains your desired outcomes from the divorce. What is the best case but realistic scenario. Are you willing to part with half of your income? The “A” plan can be divided into financial, social and post-divorce objectives.
Do not let any one meddle in your affairs unless you have permitted them to. People you would not normally turn to for advice have no business “advising” you or inviting themselves to be counsel or mediators or offering “guidance”. There are two reasons people who are going through a divorce allow themselves to be manipulated in such a way. One, they are too polite to just say no, thank you. Second, they think the more they listen to other people’s opinions, experiences etc. they more knowledgeable they will become.
Have a good attorney on the stand-by, but do not let the attorney counsel you on becoming a trial lawyer anything other than legal matters. This should be spelled out in the Exit Plan.
Never approach any discussion or meeting with emotion. This is a killer of amicable divorces. If the other party engages in emotional warfare, walk away and calmly say that is not your preferred style to discuss things. Do it as many number of times as it takes. Refuse to talk to the other attorney on anything but legal matters.
Since Divorce law is different for each state, do some homework yourself. Study the divorce law particularly in its key elements—financial settlement, child custody, trust accounts set up for children, personal vs. real property, community law provisions etc. This is where paying a good attorney for advance spadework will help immensely.
Once proceedings start and one of you has made a final decision to go through the divorce, do not retract. Very few people who drop divorce proceedings and aim to get together live long happy married lives. The stats are stacked against this situation, so do not become another statistic. This is where dealing with divorce with your mind vs. with your heart helps.
Always keep your children’s interests above your own, and force the other party to do the same.