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What to Expect After You File for Divorce

Getting divorced feels different for everyone, but there are some things everyone experiences. Here’s what to expect after filing for divorce – whether this is your first, second, or third time getting divorced.

what to expect after you file for divorceIf you haven’t read any books on getting divorced, check out Getting Up, Getting Over, Getting On: A Twelve Step Guide to Divorce Recovery by Micki McWade. She adapts the best techniques, information and life lessons of long established “after divorce recovery” programs and offers a concise and comprehensive guide to a fulfilling life after divorce.




“The second you decide to divorce, you are giving up control over your child,” writes M. Gary Neuman in Emotional Infidelity: How to Affair-Proof Your Marriage. “You are also giving up control over your finances, and perhaps even where you will live.”

That’s one thing you can expect after filing for divorce: lack of control over your finances and children. If you’re dealing with financial issues, read How to Manage Money After Divorce. Don’t let the divorce steal your future.

What to Expect After Filing for Divorce

The divorce process doesn’t affect affect everyone the same way. I know a man who is moving back to his marital home, even though he and his wife have been divorced for six years. She has multiple sclerosis, and he is moving back to help her take care of their kids and the house.

He didn’t expect this after filing for divorce…but sometimes the “til death do us part” vow means what it says even after you get divorce.

Grief that your marriage is over

Maybe you pretended the divorce wouldn’t actually happen when he moved out, when he started talking about custody and alimony and child support payments. You put off seeing a divorce lawyer because it made things too “final.” You kept hoping he’d change his mind or come to his senses, or that you’d wake up and it’d all be a bad dream.

But now that the divorce papers have been filed, you can expect to feel sadness. Or maybe a bit of relief as you finally start thinking about transitioning from marriage to divorce.

Unexpected triggers that cause pain

“Divorce, perhaps the greatest loss a persona will ever experience besides the death of a loved one, has its own unique set of grief triggers,” writes Susan Pease Gadoua in Stronger Day by Day: Reflections for Healing and Rebuilding After Divorce. “This is primarily due to the fact that the person from whom you are parting does not go away completely.”

Another thing you can expect after filing for divorce is feeling the stabbing pain of grief at odd times. For instance, you may be driving down an unfamiliar street and suddenly see a restaurant that you and your ex-husband visited long ago. This may bring an unexpected wave of pain – especially if you felt relieved that the divorce papers were filed.

Serious considerations about your financial future

Knowing what to expect financially after filing for divorce is crucial to your future well-being. Do you have enough money to support yourself and your children, now that the papers are served? Will divorce create financial hardship, or do you have enough to live on?


Divorce is one of the primary causes of poverty among women and children in North American (and around the world, no doubt). If you don’t know how you’ll support yourself or how to manage money after divorce, you need to start taking care of your finances immediately.

The disappointing loss of friends or family members

Divorce is hard on everyone, even friends and family members. Sometimes they take sides, and you’ll be crushed if they don’t side with you. It’ll be easier to cope with the loss if you expect to lose loved ones after – or even before – you’re served divorce papers. Divorce scares people, and creates allegiance that you’d never expect. Unfortunately, one of the things you can expect after filing for divorce are feelings that are intense, and which can break relationships that you thought would last a lifetime.

If you’re having trouble thinking about the future, read How to Make a Life After Divorce.

The need for professional, objective advice

Have you talked to a divorce mediator, real estate agent, lawyer, or financial planner? It’s important to start thinking about this as soon as possible.

What to Expect After Filing for Divorce

What to Expect After Filing for Divorce

After filing for divorce may be a bit too late – but late is better than never! You might have to make decisions about suing for full custody of your children, or selling the house. What bit of advice have you been scared to take? What have you most dreaded doing? Now that the divorce papers have been served, maybe it’s time to take that step.

When you realized your marriage was over, you may have been shocked, confused, and disbelieving. Now that you’re learning what to expect after filing for divorce, you may be faced with a fresh tidal wave of grief. The trick to bouncing back after getting divorced is to grieve the divorce your own way. Crying? Writing? Screaming? Working? Traveling? Getting a new house? Seeing a counselor? Dating? Throwing yourself into motherhood?

Grieve, but challenge yourself to move forward in your life. What does this mean to you? After filing for divorce is the perfect time to start taking steps towards your own answers.

Are you re-evaluating your career? Read 5 Tips for Going Back to School After Getting a Divorce.

I welcome your comments on what happens after you file for divorce below. I can’t offer advice or counseling, but it may help you to share your experience.





If you wait, all that happens is you get older. – Larry McMurtry

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