It’s not easy to get divorced. Every corner of life seems to be turned inside out and upside down. We may want to ignore the truth of what’s happening, or hide in work or leisure instead of dealing with the situation head on. You can make it a lot easier on yourself by keeping a cool head and following these 7 important divorce tips.
Communicate openly with your spouse
The complexities of relationships, marriage specifically, and of divorce, are many. Divorce affects us deeply, in ways that are easy to see, and others that reveal themselves only with time and self-reflection. Divorce also creates considerable difficulties among loved ones and a great deal of conflict. Emotions run high, feelings get hurt, and the need for clear, level-headed, transparent communication is key, not only for everyone’s peace of mind, but to ensure that the divorce process, something already quite difficult, is not made more so by poor communication.
Whether you or your spouse are initiating the divorce, sharing with one another about what you feel, think, and need out of the process is vital if you want to make it through relatively unharmed. You both need time to process the situation, to put your individual lives in order to prepare for the new season ahead, and each of you needs calm, open dialogue to facilitate the best outcome possible for both of you.
There will undoubtedly be times of disagreement and conflict. There’s no way around it. But this difficult season will go much smoother if you both communicate clearly as you move forward. It is a great idea to get a professional counselor or mediator during this time to help you two uncover better ways to communicate with one another and to work through the profound changes you both face individually.
Research the process
As with anything important in life, you should never go into a divorce blindly. Divorce is a very involved process, one that interacts and often changes many aspects of life. It is important to do your research. Read up on your state’s divorce and separation laws, financial matters such as property and asset division, required paperwork, legal proceedings and court appearances, custody rights and parenting plans, choosing the right attorney, name changes, and all other legal or financial requirements.
The internet is a great place to start. Get a general feel for your state’s divorce laws. You can find books on divorce, hundreds, even thousands of articles on the subject, divorce support groups, and state and local educational resources for those walking through the legal process of divorce or separation. You don’t need to obsess, worry, or try to make yourself into a virtual encyclopedia of divorce knowledge. Your divorce lawyer will be your primary source of direction. But it is good to carry a healthy level of knowledge yourself, and to seek additional support from counselors, mediators, and trusted friends and family members.
Prepare yourself mentally and emotionally
Divorce can be one of the most stressful life events imaginable, and the best way to get through it is to prepare yourself mentally and emotionally. Many people prepare legally and financially, but they don’t pay enough attention to their own heart and mind. Divorce tends to affect most of us not only for months, but often for years in more subtle ways. We are forced to reorient our perspective on life, to make new plans, make peace with the separation and with the fact that life is different than we’d expected it would be.
Linking up with a great personal counselor is always a good idea, both for you and your children. While your lawyer will give you the tools you need to navigate this path legally, your counselor will equip you with the tools needed to navigate your internal path with greater understanding and wisdom.
It is good early on to make the choice to not evade, to look at your situation with your eyes completely open, not hiding or denying. Prepare yourself for handling shifting levels of emotional pain, for dramatic changes in life direction, and complicated interactions with those you love. Be good to yourself. Allow yourself to feel exactly what you need to feel whenever it arises. But don’t feed thought patterns that cause you to dwell on blame and negativity constantly. Don’t repress the truth of your experience or diminish that of your spouse’s or children’s experiences.
Continue to pursue activities and passions that satisfy and bring you confidence, peace, and joy, hobbies, artistic endeavors, social events, outings and travel, wellness habits, and any other life-affirming activity. Grab a few well-reviewed books about emotional health during divorce. Choose to honor yourself and the road you’re now on by readying yourself for the emotional and psychological journey ahead.
Prepare Your Kids and Family Members
One of the most important things you can do is prepare your kids and the rest of your family for what’s coming. We often want to feel like we’re protecting them, shielding them from further pain, by hiding the truth. But when you divorce, it’s not just one person who has to adjust to a new normal. It’s everyone in your life.
When you’re preparing your children and other family members, be honest with them about what’s happening and how it might affect their day-to-day lives. Make sure they know that this isn’t their fault and that they shouldn’t feel guilty or ashamed. Acknowledge their feelings and help them understand why the divorce is happening so they don’t carry any resentment or misconceptions. Encourage them to ask questions and talk about it when the need arises.
Discussing divorce with your kids is never easy. In their mind they have a lot to lose. They are on the brink of family separation, the loss of the stability and comfort of a whole family unit together which they’ve known their entire life. They often feel betrayed, as if the rug is being pulled out from under them. They blame themselves, wonder if life will ever feel the same, worry they won’t get enough time with each parent, and may have to face changing homes, schools, and other things in their world.
Children need our unconditional love, no matter what. They need to know that our love and care for them will never change, even if it changes between you and your spouse. They need to know that they can ask questions and talk about the separation and how they feel whenever they need to. Kids need stability, a continuity with extra-curricular activities and friends, and an understanding that even with things changing, they will continue to have a safe, happy home, or two, where each parent will lead and guide them.
Organize Your Finances
One of the most important things you can do as a divorcing man is to stay on top of your finances. A huge part of divorce is making sense of community property, dividing up assets and debts, and that can be easier if you know what you’re dealing with. If you’ve been keeping track of your money for some time now, it will be easier to estimate how much each person is getting and how much they owe. It also makes it easier to figure out what needs to happen next.
Getting a firm grasp of your finances isn’t just about preparing for the division of property, possible alimony payments and child support that comes with divorce, it is also about smart financial planning. It is an opportunity to make a plan and create new and better habits for budgeting in your new life, saving more, investing the way you want, paying down outstanding debts, planning ahead, and teaching your kids about money.
Stay up to date on your credit score. Decide where you want to go with your medical benefits. Figure out how monthly expenses will look after the divorce is final. Review your bank accounts, loan payments, social security, disability benefits, credit card payments, retirement plans, and all pertinent documents. Divorce presents an opportunity for you to make significant positive changes to the way you spend, manage, and invest your income and other assets. It is a good time to discuss with a financial planner or accountant any tax consequences or benefits that may result from your divorce.
Make sure to discuss all financial matters with your attorney. They will help you make sense of assets, retirement accounts, and give you an idea of what to expect from the divorce. Don’t hide any income. Don’t slip some here and there in accounts where you don’t think anyone is looking. Don’t withdraw a bunch and try to “gift” it to a friend or relative. In divorce, money always has a way of getting discovered. It is best to be entirely truthful from the start. Not only will it smooth things over with your ex, but it will keep you in good standing with the courts.
Hire a Great Lawyer
This is probably the most important step as you prepare for divorce. You want a divorce attorney who is knowledgeable and experienced in family law. This may cost you some money up front, but it will be well worth it. The last thing you want is to end up with an inexperienced or otherwise unqualified lawyer who can’t offer the support that you need, or worse, no lawyer at all.
Excellent lawyers provide an invaluable service that pays off in so many ways. They protect you legally, help you get the most money you can, fight for your child custody rights, coach you through complex legal documents, help you get organized, counsel you on the divorce process and how to present yourself, and give you additional resources and recommendations for other professionals who can support you and your kids during the divorce.
Some people try to do it all on their own without a lawyer. This usually doesn’t go well, especially if their ex is combative or has a lawyer themselves. Whatever it costs up front, you’ll get back in abundance in legal protection, an equitable financial split, parental protections, and good advice.
Respect Your Ex and Yourself
One of the key things to remember during divorce is to be respectful of your ex and to take care of yourself. It can be tempting to settle scores, tell them what you think they should know, or share opinions about how they should live their life. But people are usually sensitive during this time. If you want to save face and end the process on good terms, it’s best not to say anything that will hurt your ex’s feelings. This kind of antagonism only makes things worse. It can spur on your ex to be ruthless, and reach for more money, more time with your kids, and even lie about you. Show respect, even when they don’t respect you. This will set you up for success during your divorce proceedings and in parenting.
Speaking of good parenting, be sure to respect your ex in front of your children. They learn from our behavior. Seeing and hearing you show kindness toward your ex shows them that what matters most to you is their well-being and happiness.
Also, respect yourself. Being kind doesn’t mean letting others push you around. Hold your head high. Present yourself with dignity and maturity. Have confidence in your informed choices, your parenting, and the plans you have for the future. If unbearable conflict arises between you and your ex, discuss this with your attorney, your counselor, and your mediator. They will give you options to help you cool things down and maintain healthy communication.
And it goes without saying, but you need to take care of yourself as well. Maintain a healthy lifestyle which includes eating right, exercising regularly, pursuing your hobbies and passions, getting enough sleep and spending time with friends and family regularly.
Divorce is a difficult process, but it doesn’t have to be an overwhelming one. If you’re expecting a divorce, start out by finding a great lawyer. Do your research, work toward healthy communication with your ex and with others. Take care of yourself. Be fully present for your kids, get your finances together, and remain hopeful about the future. There are a lot of good things ahead for you.
Torrone has been helping individuals, for years, find satisfying resolutions to their divorces and families realize wholeness through a range of dedicated family law services. We’re here to walk with you during this season. Connect with us today to learn more about partnering with us.
For answers to questions about divorce, check out our frequently asked questions below.
Why is preparing for divorce important?
Going into divorce unprepared will get you in trouble. Without the right information, mindset, organization, and legal counsel, you’ll be exposing yourself to considerable risk. You’ll risk losing out on money or property and time with your kids and make the entire legal and financial process of divorce longer, more difficult, and less advantageous for you.
What are the most important things to remember when divorcing?
The list is long but some of the most important are hiring a great lawyer, doing your research, communicating in a healthy manner with your ex, your kids, your family, and your friends, getting your finances in order, and reaching out to any counselors or mediators that will help you process, heal and navigate this ordeal.
Who Can I Find to Help Me During My Divorce?
Finding some allies is definitely a must. Divorce is difficult, financially, emotionally, and in many other ways. Make sure to partner with an excellent attorney, get a good counselor to help you during this difficult time, choose qualified mediators to help you through communication and negotiations, and gather your most trusted friends, family members, and mentors close. They will be a valuable resource and amazing support during this time.