Regret is a perfectly natural emotion to feel whenever you make any big change in your life—even a positive change or a transition that you thoughtfully chose. So if you’re feeling twangs along the lines of “should we really be doing this?” about your divorce, appreciate that you’re far from alone.
A notable study from the UK law firm Seddons found that only one in five divorcees lacked any regrets whatsoever regarding their dissolution. Many wished they’d approached it differently, or hadn’t ended their marriage at all. The following are a few of the most common divorce regrets:
Not Divorcing Soon Enough
Far too many couples stick out bad marriages, simply because they believe that divorce would harm their kids or their reputation. In reality, remaining in the wrong marriage can be deeply traumatizing for children, who do not appreciate being at the center of their parents’ ongoing fights.
Divorcing Too Soon
Why wait to divorce once you realize that the marriage will inevitably end? One reason could be military retirement benefits. The golden number for military divorce is ten years: after this point, ex-spouses become eligible for a myriad of benefits, assuming their partners have served long enough and in the correct capacity. Thankfully, spouses can still work towards these benefits while legally separated.
Not Trying Legal Separation First
Military spouses are not the only prospective divorcees who should consider legal separation. This approach is also advisable for those who remain unsure of the wisdom of dissolution, but wish to give it a test run. Some jump straight into divorce before trying a period apart, and ultimately regret this decision.
Not Trying Mediation
Many states mandate that spouses try mediation before pursuing a court-based divorce. Others, however, allow spouses to go straight to the courtroom. Some do so with the mistaken belief that they’ll land better child support or alimony resolutions. Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee of a favorable outcome, and what’s more, litigation can be costlier and more stressful.
Choosing Mediation Despite Having a Manipulative Spouse
Mediation can pave the path to an amicable dissolution, but it’s not appropriate for all spouses. A more adversarial approach may be advisable for those in relationships featuring a clear imbalance of power. Unfortunately, spouses may be manipulated into pursuing alternative dispute resolution, even when they feel that goes against their best interests. Those who wish to avoid the messiness of litigation but feel they cannot advocate on their own behalf may prefer collaborative divorce, an adversarial middle ground that still provides room for compromise.
Effective legal counsel can ensure that your divorce regrets are kept to a minimum in the aftermath of divorce.