Most people go into marriage with a clear set of expectations about what they’d like to see happen in their lives — and that makes sense. However, most people don’t approach a divorce the same way — and that’s a huge mistake. If you’re approaching a divorce, you need to take a calculated approach to the entire situation to come out happily on the other side.

1. Understand that divorce is more like a business than a breakup.

If you’ve “loved and lost” in the past, you may have endured your fair share of breakups. But the ending of an informal relationship isn’t nearly as complicated as the ending of a marriage. Marriage is as much a business contract as a social one — with all of the complex legal ties that such contracts entail.

The better you understand the laws surrounding issues like the separation of your marital debts and assets, support and child custody, the better you can set realistic goals and hope to achieve them.

2. Know your financial situation inside and out.

Most divorce attorneys will tell you that you should always do a thorough review of your financial situation before you head into a divorce. That’s advice worth repeating because you have a lot of financial decisions to make and steps to take in the near future.

Aside from getting your financial documents in order, you should also track your expenses, open a new bank account in your own name and close out the joint credit cards. Establishing (or building) credit of your own may also be an essential part of your plan.

3. Figure out what you need (as opposed to what you merely want).

One of the biggest problems with divorce is that few people have clearly defined goals when they start the process. Emotions often get in the way of good sense.

While you should take stock of both your needs and your wants for the future, it’s time to get brutal with yourself about the difference. Knowing what you genuinely need and focusing on those issues first will help you recognize where you can be flexible.

If you’re able to work through these issues, it may be possible to achieve a mediated end to your divorce — instead of going through a drawn-out battle with your spouse.