Divorce is an intense process, and no amount of second hand experience can adequately prepare you for it; it is best to approach divorce with realistic expectations concerning what it can and cannot do for you.
Divorce can help with:
-Division of property: The divorce court will do its best to divide the property in an economic manner. Property acquired before the marriage or by gift or inheritance is usually excluded. In some states the property is divided in half; in other states it is based upon financial situations, financial plans, and other relevant issues. The results of the division are difficult to predict and consequently, if you strongly desire a certain piece of property, you should have your attorney negotiate for it and settle the division of property ahead of time.
-Support Obligations: The court will determine the support obligations of the couple, whether this be child support or spousal support (alimony). This, as with the division of property and the custody and visitation schedule, is quite unpredictable.
-Custody and Visitation: The court attempts to make this decision with the best interest of the child in mind, but what is “best” is obviously based upon the person of the judge. Negotiation can also be very helpful here, and obviously a cooperative arrangement is better for the children.
Limitations of Divorce:
-Guarantee Equal or Exact Division: A divorce cannot accomplish an exact or mathematically equal division of property and time with children. No two situations are the same, and consequently, the judge who enters a divorce order must make the best decision with the limited time and information available. It may not always be the fairest possible decision that could have been reached, and it is certain not to favor you individually in every possible way. Divorce courts often have to make the best of terrible circumstances.
-Ensure Civil Relations: Even though a court can set custody and visitation arrangements, it will not be present every weekend when it is time for one parent to drop off the kids, and it will not spend the weekend with the other parent, making sure he or she does not make derogatory comments about the ex-spouse around the children. A court order is just a piece of paper, so ex-spouses will STILL have to civilly deal with each other to carry out the terms of the custody and visitation order. Divorce does not take away your responsibility towards your children, and this includes dealing with their other parent, because divorce does not make your ex-spouse any less your child's parent (one exception being cases of abuse).
-Maintain Your Standard of Living: A divorce court cannot increase your salary to prevent your standard of living from declining once you divorce. From an economic standpoint, it is simply much cheaper for two people to live together and share expenses than it is to maintain two separate households. Divorce will change your standard of living and there is little, if anything, the court can do about the change.
-Resolve Emotional Issues: A court will not be able to punish your ex-spouse or morally vindicate you for all of the bad things that happened while you were married. The divorce process will not heal your emotional wounds or even take away the necessity of grieving the failed relationship. That is your job, although you can seek assistance through therapists and support groups.