9 Divorce Expectations vs. Reality

You’ve decided to divorce. You know it’s the best thing for you, and you’re ready to move on. You probably have a limited frame of reference when it comes to the divorce process. You’ve probably read stuff about media personalities. You’ve probably heard a few stories from friends or family. But you may have no firsthand experience yourself.

The truth is, divorce can be full of important life lessons (and some surprises) you weren’t fully expecting. 

1. You never expected to get divorced

Reality: You got divorced

The reality is that nobody expects to get divorced. You went into your marriage knowing the divorce odds, but you were sure that wouldn’t be you. And yet, here you are. Welcome to the club. 

2. You expected your divorce to be a friendly one

Reality: It got ugly

You never really know how much resentment and anger can build up over time until you decide to get a divorce. 

But that doesn’t mean you have to act on it. There is no winner or loser when it comes to divorce. If you and your spouse can agree to take a collaborative approach, your divorce will be not only more friendly, but it will also be less time-consuming and expensive. It also sets the stage for better future communication, especially if you and your ex-spouse are planning to co-parent. 

Suggested: Common Parenting Time Schedules: Which Is Right for You?

3. You expected the court to punish your ex at least a little bit for their behavior

Reality: The court did not take your ex’s behavior into account whatsoever

The court’s job isn’t to punish either of you for bad behavior. Its job is to make sure you and your spouse come to a fair and legal settlement agreement and hold you to that if one of you strays from it. In fact, divorce laws and divorce court can be frustratingly impartial.

An uncontested divorce may be possible, even if you and your spouse don’t see eye-to-eye. Learn about mediation, a method of dispute resolution that can help you work out marital property division, child custody, and alimony issues here.

4. You expected your family to understand and support your decision

Reality: Some family members did, but some questioned and downright disagreed with your decision

Family members, in all their love and concern for your well-being, won’t always understand your decisions, especially when it comes to divorce. And that’s okay. This journey is yours, and you won’t be able to make everyone happy. 

When it comes to divorce, your happiness is your ultimate priority. Your family will get over it.

Read: Tips for Boosting Your Mental Health

5. You expected mutual friends to stick by you

Reality: Some did, and some drifted away or felt torn between you and your ex

Unfortunately, divorce isn’t just the end of a marriage. It’s often the end of other friendships and relationships as well. 

After a divorce, mutual friends may “pick a team,” and yours may not be the one they pick. This can add flame to the fire as you go through an already difficult time. Although some mutual friendships will end, the friends who remain will continue to support and value you, which can make these friendships even more vital. 

Read: Other People You May Need to Break Up with after Divorce

6. You expected you and your ex could remain friends

Reality: Your ex is not ready for the “friends” thing

In fact, they may never be. 

Divorce is an emotional ordeal for everyone, and it takes time to grieve. Everyone does that in their own time and in their own way. If you keep communication open, you may someday be able to be friends with your ex, but you can’t rush that.

7. You expected to be okay with your ex moving on

Reality: You’re not okay

In fact, you hate to admit it, but you feel hurt and even a bit betrayed. 

Give yourself a break. You spent a significant amount of time with this person. They’re the one you planned to spend the rest of your life with. Feelings can get complicated and downright perplexing, especially with something as emotionally complex as a divorce. It’s natural to be conflicted when you see someone you loved move on. 

Suggested: A Mediation Expert Shares the Secret to Keeping Divorce Amicable

8. You expected you could do it alone

Reality: Going it alone has been isolating and lonely

You were going to prove how strong and independent you were. Instead, you feel lonely and confused. 

Reach out to family, good friends, a therapist, or a support group. This is no time to push through your feelings and trudge on by yourself. A support team, even an informal one, can make all the difference as you try to heal and move on.

9. You expected to find happiness right away in your new life

Reality: It’s taken you a while to get used to this, but you’re learning to love it.

You thought you’d feel relieved and happy once you had your divorce decree in hand, but that didn’t happen immediately. 

Even if you were the one who initiated the divorce, it’s still an emotional process, and grieving that loss takes time. In fact, it can take an average of a year or two before most people can emotionally move on after their divorce. On top of that, you can count on a few setbacks sprinkled in here and there just to keep you on your feet. 

Read: The Emotional Stages of Divorce

Your life doesn’t immediately change once you get the divorce papers. It takes time to heal after divorce. But there’s light at the end of the tunnel and a whole new life waiting for you. 

At Hello Divorce, our goal is to support you through and beyond your divorce so you can embrace that new reality. We offer online divorce plans, related professional services, and a library of informational resources to help you navigate the journey. Schedule a free 15-minute call to learn more. 

Divorce Content Specialist
Mediation, Divorce Strategy, Divorce Process, Mental Health
Candice is a former paralegal and has spent the last 16 years in the digital landscape, writing website content, blog posts, and articles for the legal industry. Now, at Hello Divorce, she is helping demystify the complex legal and emotional world of divorce. Away from the keyboard, she’s a devoted wife, mom, and grandmother to two awesome granddaughters who are already forces to be reckoned with. Based in Florida, she’s an avid traveler, painter, ceramic artist, and self-avowed bookish nerd.