Nobody gets married planning to get a divorce. However, divorce is extremely common. Approximately 42% to 45% of first marriages end in divorce. If your relationship reaches this point, you’ll need to decide how to handle it. Most likely, you’ll want to end the relationship with grace. Both you and your former partner can walk away with your assets and dignity intact, as long as you follow these guidelines.

Communicate Civilly

For anything short of a dangerous situation, be civil with each other. You don’t need to like each other in order to communicate effectively. Think of your ex as you would a colleague. You have the same end goal here and if you want to end your marriage gracefully, you need to be respectful and cooperative. Listen to each other’s concerns and work together to find solutions to everything that comes up in the divorce process.

Know the Laws

Different places will have different divorce laws. For example, divorce requires a 60 day waiting period in the state of Kansas. Before you make any plans, take some time to learn about your local laws. They will help you to set a timeline for the process.

Take Care of Your Children

If you have children together, you both need to care for their needs during this time. No matter how amicable and graceful your divorce is, it is still a traumatizing experience for your children. The world as they know it is changing permanently. They’ll likely be living between two houses for the remainder of their childhood. Make sure that you assure them that none of this is their fault and that you both love them very much. And never badmouth your ex in front of them. Even if you aren’t a couple anymore, you’re still going to be their parents and you’ll have to work together to raise them.

Take Care of Yourself

You’ll be in a much better headspace to act gracefully during your divorce if you’re taking care of yourself mentally and physically. Make sure that you’re eating healthy food and getting enough sleep. By caring for your health during this stressful time, you make sure that you’re feeling as good as possible. This will make it easier to deal with situations where you might otherwise act less gracefully than you want to.

Stabilize Your Finances

Whether you have children or not, you need to make sure you’re both financially stable before your divorce. Sit down together and go over all of your debts, assets, and responsibilities. Consider your futures. Are you both able to support yourselves? If one spouse has been a stay at home parent for years, this can impact their ability to make money. While finances are another stressful thing to discuss during divorce, you’ll want to make sure that you’re open and honest with each other about it. Both of you are going to need money to support yourselves after the divorce. And if there are children involved, your finances are going to remain somewhat intertwined for a long time. It’s important that you work together if you want to navigate your divorce gracefully.

Divorce is never a fun prospect. However, for your own sake and for the sake of your ex and your children, you’ll want to go through the process gracefully. Make it as easy and painless as possible for everybody involved. Take care of yourself and do things correctly by following all of these steps. It will make your divorce easier to manage and set you up for success in the future when it comes to co-parenting and dealing with situations where both of you are present.