Separating from your spouse legally is never an easy process. Divorce is a complex situation that can catch you off guard both legally and emotionally. If you’re going through a divorce, you might face some of the following unexpected situations.
- Residency requirement problems
Depending on where you live when you file for divorce, there will be different residency rules. Before filing, it’s a good idea to check on the residency requirements first.
For example, to get a divorce in Ventura, California, one spouse must have resided in the state for at least the last six months and in Ventura County (or other counties) for at least the last three months.
Before filing any paperwork, talk to a divorce attorney in your area to make sure you satisfy this basic requirement. Cases get backed up in the system for months and you don’t want to wait to find out you don’t meet the residency requirements for getting a divorce.
- Your children may not be doing as well as you think
Kids have an especially tough time when their parents go through a divorce, not just because they witness arguments, but because it disrupts their stable foundation. For example, most kids don’t see both parents with the same frequency after a divorce, and some never see one of their parents ever again.
Sometimes, kids become suicidal, attempt suicide, turn to alcohol or drugs, and even blame themselves for the divorce. All of this happens while their parents believe they’re handling things well. The truth is, kids hide their true feelings from their parents and even when they seem okay, looks can be deceiving.
You might be surprised somewhere down the road with how your children are behaving. What looks like a problem at school might stem from your divorce. Kids tend to act out and many have a lot of misdirected anger as a result of a divorce. It’s wise to consider getting your child into counseling as early as possible to help them cope with the situation.
- You might be ordered to pay alimony
Alimony is something traditionally paid by a male spouse, but anyone can be required to pay this to their former spouse. It’s something a high-income partner pays when ordered by the court.
If you earn a decent amount of money compared to your former spouse, you might be ordered to pay alimony to them for a set period of time. This can range from a few months to several years.
- Child support payments
When kids are involved in a divorce, there is usually some kind of custody battle between the parents. Not every family can manage an even 50/50 custody split, and when one parent gets the majority, the other might be required to pay child support even if they’ve already been financially supporting the other parent by choice.
An order to pay child support doesn’t happen as a direct result of the divorce, but rather, when one parent files a lawsuit to seek child support payments. The purpose is to make sure the primary caregiver has enough money to care for the child in the absence of two incomes. If you’re not prepared for this, it can catch you off guard.
- Emotional distress
Getting a divorce is a hard decision to make, and even when you know it’s the right choice, that doesn’t mean you’ll feel good. It’s normal to grieve the loss of your spouse even when things aren’t workable. You’ve built a life with them and it’s natural to feel sad, confused, depressed, and angry.
It’s important to allow yourself to feel the emotions that come up and take care of yourself by seeing a therapist. Talking to a counselor can help you process the depth of intense emotions that come from this experience. If you don’t process your trauma as it happens, it could end up hurting you more in the long run.
Expect the best, but prepare for the worst
The best thing you can do is prepare yourself for these and other unexpected situations that may happen during or after your divorce. Everyone will face different situations and feel a different level of emotional impact, so you may not have to deal with everything on this list. However, keep these surprises in mind so you don’t get blindsided if they happen to you.