Divorce can be complex and emotionally charged, but it is often in everyone’s best interest to resolve it as quickly as possible. Here are eight reasons why settling your divorce as soon as possible is best.
1. Reduced Stress
A divorce that drags on for months or even years can be incredibly stressful and draining on both parties. Settling your divorce as soon as possible reduces the time you have to deal with the stress and emotional toll of the process.
2. Better Outcome
The longer a divorce drags on, the more complicated and contentious it can become. Settling your divorce as soon as possible means you can resolve the key issues and move on with your life rather than engaging in a long and drawn-out process that may not result in a good outcome for either party. Once a divorce goes to trial, you and your spouse lose control over the outcome, as the court will now decide what happens. Where you and your spouse find it difficult to agree to the terms of the divorce, you must consider mediation to try and resolve your issues. Although mediation remains a voluntary process, you will be penalised by the court if you unreasonably refuse mediation – the court can show its displeasure by ordering you to pay the other party’s costs, especially if an expensive trial could have been avoided had the issues in dispute been mediated.
3. Lower Legal Costs
Divorces can be expensive, and the longer the process takes, the more you will likely have to pay legal fees and other expenses. Settling your divorce as soon as possible reduces the time and money you must spend on the process. One must also consider the costs of expert witnesses that you might need in your trial, such as assessments and forensic reports from professionals such as a psychiatrist, financial statements from an accountant or auditor, etc. These experts must be paid for their assessments, the report, and a witness fee when they have to appear in court to testify for you. In South Africa, the costs of a contested divorce can go up to one million rand – money you could have used for your children and rebuild your new life post-divorce.
4. Improved Relationships
The longer a divorce drags on, the more likely it is to cause damage to the relationship between the two parties. This is concerning especially if minor children are involved, and you are still expected to co-parent during and after the divorce. Settling your divorce as soon as possible can help preserve your relationship and make it easier to co-parent or maintain a civil relationship after the divorce.
5. Quicker Closure
Settling your divorce as soon as possible allows you to move on with your life quicker and with greater peace of mind. The quicker you can resolve the divorce, the sooner you can start to rebuild your life and move forward. In South Africa, a contested divorce can go on for years, sometimes up to 5 or 6 years – during this time, you will find it hard to focus on new endeavours and new friendships, as the sword of impending litigation will always hang over your head.
6. Better for Children
Children can be significantly affected by a long and drawn-out divorce. Sooner or later, the effects of the divorce on you as the parent will flow over to your children. Settling your divorce as soon as possible helps minimise the impact of the divorce on your children and provides them with a more stable and predictable environment. Children often are caught in the middle, feeling guilty for loving the other parent or happy to spend time with the other parent after the initial separation. Children do not care who “wins” or “loses”; they want an environment without tension and turmoil and to spend time with the people they love most, even if separately.
7. Improved Mental Health
A long and drawn-out divorce can affect your mental health and well-being. Settling your divorce as soon as possible can help to reduce the emotional toll of the process and improve your overall mental and emotional health. The anger and disappointment you are likely feeling are related to the reasons for the breakdown of the marriage; however, depending on the circumstances, the reasons for the breakdown of the marriage seldom has bearing on the divorce and the terms of the divorce. A quick settlement is highly likely if you separate your emotions from the divorce process.
8. Ability to Focus on the Future
Settling your divorce as soon as possible allows you to put the past behind you and focus on the future. You can start rebuilding your life and move forward, free from the stress and uncertainty of a long, drawn-out divorce process. Nobody can (re)build on a weak foundation, nor is fighting over the reasons for the divorce conducive to the divorce process. Once a couple, depending on the circumstances, has decided to get divorced, then the reasons for the breakdown of the marriage become irrelevant; now, the focus should be on dividing the matrimonial property and making arrangements in respect of your minor children that are in their best interests.
In conclusion, settling your divorce as soon as possible is often in everyone’s best interest. It reduces stress, leads to a better outcome, saves money, improves relationships, provides quicker closure, is better for the children, improves mental health, and allows you to focus on the future.
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