No matter how many people you talk to, lawyers you consult, research you do or articles you read, there will still be surprises during the course of a divorce that make you think, “I wish you had known that before…”
Since divorce is completely subjective to unique circumstances and laws that vary by state and local jurisdiction, it is nearly impossible to anticipate everything that will come your way.
Here are some points from attorneys, Reddit and around the Web that can give you some examples of the types of surprises you may have in store during the arduous divorce process.
How long a divorce actually takes
Depending on many different variables, divorce can take just a few short months to well over a year — and even then, there still may be issues that must be settled. Hopefully, you can work out most of the contentious issues before you reach court; otherwise, you’re in for the long-haul.
Court isn’t what TV makes it out to be
The dramatization of court on daytime TV has probably planted a very unrealistic image of what court is actually like for the vast majority of divorce cases. Even if you make it to the courthouse, most cases reach a settlement before ever stepping foot in front of a judge.
Be prepared to wait
In most courthouses, your case will not be the only case scheduled for a hearing, so don’t be surprised if you have to sit and wait for other cases to be heard before yours.
Things will get rescheduled
The courthouse is a slow moving machine, and you should expect your court dates to be rescheduled for cases that take priority in your jurisdiction, such as criminal trials. You cannot insist upon a court date just because the court issued it; be prepared for rescheduling, and roll with it.
Everyone has an opinion
When you are getting a divorce, everyone has an opinion. Ignore most of them because each case is unique, and no one can give you divorce advice better than your attorney.
You will likely lose friends you never expected
It can be difficult for people to process such a drastic change in your life. If you have been friends with other married couples, they may find it awkward to hang around you now that you are single — or even feel threatened by you. They will sometimes find it easier just to sever the ties than to adjust.
Rational people can act completely irrationally
The heightened emotional state of divorce creates a situation where even the most sensible person, including yourself, can do things they would never think about in a normal state of mind. Keeping up on your mental health is important for making sure you do not lose it and cause your case any unnecessary damage.
Replacing half of a household’s possessions isn’t easy
Many people simply give up on the little things when they divorce because they feel like trying to divide them is too difficult or they have an “I just want to get this over with” attitude. Realize that replacing everything you left, from sofas to silverware, isn’t cheap and will be a pain when you need something that you don’t have.
QDROs take a long time
Do not expect your case to be done when you are divorced. For most couples, there is still retirement to be divided. This can take 90 days or longer due to federal laws that allow retirement plans to require a state court judge’s signature on changes in orders, even after you, your ex and both attorney have already signed off on it.
The expense can still be a total surprise
You may hear it or read it all over the place, but the total cost of a divorce can be a completely shocking number.
Between court fees, attorney fees, the occasional need for multiple expert witnesses and the costs for appealing or modifying agreements, the price tag for ending a marriage can be staggering. Hope that you don’t have too many contentious issues that need to be litigated — the final total may be much more than you ever imagined.
This list could be endless. Every divorce is so unique that it is impossible to properly prepare for every little detail that might arise. While you may have an awesome game plan ready to go, understand that nothing is set in stone.
All the research in the world cannot account for the circumstantial variables that are bound to spring up, so go into the divorce process with an open mind, and be prepared for anything.