- Get A Lawyer - I cannot emphasize this enough. I thought we were on good enough terms to negotiate a fair divorce, but found myself unprepared for the demands and theatrics she put on in front of the mediators. I would still recommend a mediated divorce over a court one if you can manage it, but do so with proper representation.
- See A Therapist - The only way to get what you want out of a divorce is to understand just what that is. A therapist can help you find the balance between getting what you need and going after everything just to screw the other person. Feeling guilty for what I had initiated in the divorce left me vulnerable to losing a lot of what I was entitled to.
- Don't Rush Just To Get It Over With - Don't concede to demands or terms you are uncomfortable with in order to end the process. It is really hard to get through. But caving in order to finish it up might result in you having to go through a similar process later just to set things right. And it's harder to change once it's written up and signed by you.
For example, I was working long hours with a long commute at the time of my divorce. I knew I could not take care of the kids during the week. I expressed a desire for 50/50 custody during mediation, but accepted 70/30 based on my work schedule -- even though I had plans to switch jobs to one more amenable to a 50/50 split. If I had it to do again, I would most definitely add verbiage to that effect. Once I had that new job, Yzma admitted 50/50 was fair, but refused to make a change to the agreement because "she liked it as is". If the divorce agreement had a clause saying the job situation was temporary and the split would change to 50/50 when we were working similar hours, it would have enacted automatically.
I truly believe most people know what is fair and what is not. Do your best not to cross that boundary yourself, and fight fiercely if your soon-to-be-ex-spouse does. You don't have to be a jerk in the process, but you need to see this person as an adversary, no matter how agreeable they may seem on the surface. Otherwise, you might be shocked at just what a narcissist will try to pull when one catches you unprepared.