There is no cookie-cutter approach to divorces. Every relationship is different, and every couple has a unique relationship and unique needs during this very difficult time. However, despite the complexities and subtleties of each divorce case, there are some things that are a sure bet.

Read on to learn about what you may expect from the divorce process and how you can best prepare yourself emotionally.

1. Both you and your spouse will determine what kind of divorcing (and future parenting) relationship you have.

In popular culture divorcing couples are often represented as bitter, angry, and even openly hostile, but the dynamics of your relationship with your spouse are entirely up to each of you. It is easy to express only anger and hostility towards one another, but this complicates your future if you have children together. Remember, if you have children with your spouse, you will be forever linked to that person — regardless of whether you are still married to that person. If you are each willing to put in the work necessary to be congenial or to be caring and attentive co-parents, then you can avoid being enemies and your children will be all the better for it. If that does not work for you for whatever reasons, you can also choose to communicate with each other primarily via your attorneys in order to avoid conflict or heated exchanges with one another. While this can add a layer of complexity and expense, it is much better for your children if the relationship you share with your “future ex” is not toxic. No matter what approach you choose for your divorce, you have the power to make that choice.

2. You will have mixed feelings.

Your experience with divorce will likely be some shade of grey rather than solely black or white. In other words, your divorce will not be an entirely negative or entirely positive experience. Try not to let the positive, joyful aspects of your life be snuffed out by the stress of divorce. Focusing on the parts of your life that make you happy will make the divorcing process that much easier.

Conversely, even if you are, overall, accepting about your divorce bringing a welcome life change, and a new chapter, to your life, allow yourself an opportunity to grieve the end of the marriage as well. A correct life decision can still be difficult choice. So, embrace your emotions as they come and let yourself feel the process, even if those feelings are contradictory and confusing. Most of all, if the process is feeling overwhelming to you, seek emotional support from friends, family members and/or a good therapist.

3. Your post-divorce life will be very different.

It is inevitable that much will change during, and after, your divorce. Change can feel terrifying, but in the end it may be a positive thing for you — even if it does not feel like it at first. Divorce will alter relationships with mutual friends and acquaintances, but that may be the best thing that happens to you. Perhaps more importantly, if you have children, the amount of time spent with your children is going to also change. You may have more time with your children as a result of divorce or have a little bit less time with them. Once again, this may feel frightening at first, but it could give you an opportunity to focus on the quality of your relationship with your children and/or provide you some small amount of time and attention to other aspects of your life. Prepare yourself for these and other developments and be sure to turn to those close to you for emotional support during this difficult time.

Have any questions about this topic, please call me 202-872-0400.