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How hard is divorce?

Getting a divorce is often an emotional and stressful experience for all involved parties. However, the difficulty of the divorce process can vary greatly depending on your situation.

Factors That Affect How Difficult Divorce Can Be

There are several key factors that impact how straightforward or challenging a divorce may be:

  • Whether the divorce is contested or uncontested – Contested divorces where major issues like asset division or child custody cannot be agreed upon are often much more difficult.
  • If you have children – Divorcing when children are involved requires making arrangements regarding custody, visitation rights, child support etc which can add complexity.
  • Length of the marriage – Generally, the longer the marriage, the more intertwined finances and assets become, making the separation process trickier.
  • How reasonable and cooperative your ex is – An amicable, respectful divorce is simpler than one full of anger and disputes.
  • If abuse was involved – When domestic violence or abuse exists, the legal and emotional challenges compound.
  • Your emotional readiness and resilience – Your mental health and coping abilities impact your ability to handle the demands of divorce.

These factors and others influence what a divorce involves practically and emotionally. Every divorce is unique, but some general challenges tend to come up repeatedly.

Common Difficulties and Challenges of Divorce

While each divorce has its own circumstances, there are some common hurdles that many people face during the process:

Emotional Difficulties

  • Grieving the loss of the relationship – Even in acrimonious divorces, people often still feel grief at the death of the marriage, dreams, and family unit.
  • Anger – Anger at your ex for their actions is common, especially surrounding hurtful events like infidelity.
  • Fear and uncertainty – The unknowns about the future post-divorce fuel anxiety and worries about finances, the kids, and being alone.
  • Guilt – Many feel guilty about the divorce impact on their children or for not trying hard enough to save the marriage.

Working through these difficult emotions with self-care, counseling, or support groups can help immensely.

Logistical Challenges

  • Dividing assets – Negotiating who gets the house, cars, bank accounts, retirement funds, and other major assets can be complex and contentious.
  • Alimony – In some cases, lengthy court battles ensue over whether one spouse should receive spousal support payments.
  • Child custody arrangements – Deciding physical and legal custody is often exhausting. Visitation schedules, kids splitting time between homes, school enrollments, etc. require navigation.
  • Changing legal documents – Names on insurance policies, deeds, wills, and other legal records will likely need to be modified.
  • Getting paperwork in order – Collecting all records, documents, and forms needed for court can be daunting and time consuming.

Consulting financial experts, mediators, and lawyers can assist in managing the logistical red tape.

Interpersonal Challenges

  • Negative communication/arguing – Hurt feelings and disagreements often erupt, requiring patience and skills avoiding destructive fighting.
  • Co-parenting conflicts – Former spouses must establish new boundaries and dynamics with each other as co-parents, which brings challenges.
  • Disapproval from others – Family, friends, and community may express objections or judgment about the divorce, sometimes creating strain.

Counseling, developing empathy, and setting boundaries are useful when navigating interpersonal struggles.

How Costly Is Divorce Financially?

The financial costs of divorce can vary tremendously based on the individuals involved and complexity of the proceedings. Some average estimates of key divorce costs include:

Divorce Cost Average Range
Attorney fees each $15,000-$30,000+
Mediation $2,000-$10,000
Filing fees $300-$500
Therapy/counseling $100-$200 per session

Additional expenses like finding a new place to live, dividing possessions, child-related costs, alimony, and taxes can also quickly add up. It’s wise to be prepared for divorce to impact you financially in both the near-term and long-term.

How Does Divorce Impact Children?

Divorce affects most children in the short term. However, research shows that with the right support, kids can thrive after divorce. Here are some important considerations about divorce’s impact on kids:

Potential Negative Effects

  • Acting out behaviorally – Some kids lash out with anger or rebellion.
  • Plunging grades – School performance and concentration may suffer.
  • Loss of interest in activities – Withdrawal from sports, hobbies, and friends can occur.
  • Anxiety/depression – Kids may develop sadness, low self-esteem, or emotional turmoil.
  • Physical symptoms – Headaches, stomachaches, changes in appetite or sleep can result.

Factors Influencing Effects on Kids

  • Child’s age and maturity level – Younger kids generally have a harder time.
  • Degree of conflict – Frequent, intense parental fighting causes more harm.
  • Quality of child’s relationship with each parent – Closeness is protective.
  • Disruptions to daily routine – Moving, changing schools magnifies impact.
  • Co-parenting dynamics – When parents clash over custody or regularly criticize each other, damage worsens.
  • Presence of abuse or addiction – These exacerbate negative consequences.

Methods to Help Children Adjust

  • Provide stability and nurture self-esteem
  • Encourage open communication and emotional expression
  • Arrange counseling to process feelings
  • Don’t criticize the other parent
  • Help kids stay connected with extended family and friends
  • Involve kids with parents’ permission in decisions like custody arrangements

With care and support, most children are able to adapt successfully over time and avoid lasting damage.

How Can I Get Through My Divorce as Smoothly as Possible?

These self-care strategies and tips can aid in navigating divorce in a healthier, more positive manner:

  • See a counselor – Professional counseling provides vital support. It can help address both the emotional pain, and practical behavioral changes needed to cope and move forward.
  • Enlist mediation help early – Mediators facilitate compromise which can minimize conflicts that otherwise end up in court.
  • Learn coping techniques – Stress management skills like mindfulness, exercise, positive self-talk, and relaxation practices strengthen your resilience.
  • Spend time with uplifting people – Good friends, family members, and support groups buoy you during this tough transition.
  • Consult legal and financial experts – Getting professional advice protects your interests related to divorce proceedings, agreements, and costs.
  • Explore all options before litigation – Court should be a last resort since it’s public, time-consuming, expensive and you lose control of the outcome.
  • Be responsible with social media – Avoid airing grievances or divulging private details online.
  • Keep talking to your kids – Ongoing age-appropriate conversations help them process this disruption.
  • Focus on the future – Once decisions are made, work on building your new life rather than dwelling on the past.

Making self-care and personal growth top priorities goes a long way in emerging from divorce in a healthy state.


Divorce is often extremely difficult and emotionally painful, especially with children involved. However, being prepared for the common legal, financial, family, and personal hurdles can help mitigate the stress. Seeking support through counselors, lawyers, friends, and family is key, as divorce fundamentally transforms lives. With time and intentionality, though, most people recover and establish a new normal. Despite the challenges, divorce does ultimately pave the way for adults and kids alike to adjust and thrive again in the future.