When divorce becomes a reality, most people feel scared, vulnerable and unprepared. It’s as if the life you knew has been hijacked and blown up into little pieces. In the midst of dealing with the emotional rollercoaster, the pieces of your life need to fit back together in a different way. It’s challenging for sure but the good news is that divorce does not have to be a nightmare…and it’s not rocket science.
It may sound cold but divorce boils down to a financial event that requires a cool head, an education as to your legal rights specific to your state and a good understanding of your financial situation. Dealing with this major life transition while your feelings and emotions are in crazy time is difficult. However… you never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have. In order to keep your sanity and make good decisions the best strategy is to build a team of friends and professionals that have your best interest at heart. This will help you achieve the best settlement and powerfully move on into a new life.
Here are a few things you must know about the emotional, legal and financial aspects of divorce:
The Emotional Hangover
Whether you are the dumper or the dumpee there will be strong emotions to deal with. Feeling depressed is normal and natural as long as it does not become serious, which is hard to know when you’re the one in it. Find a therapist that specializes in the divorce transition that can provide not just an opportunity to vent but also tools and coping strategies to deal with the grief while dealing with this major life transition. Regular exercise and being out in nature will provide an important natural boost to your mental health and self esteem so make it a priority at least three times a week.
*If you have children your anger might tempt you to talk badly about your spouse. DON’T DO IT! Children are the victims in divorce, they didn’t ask for it and it’s their birthright to have both parents involved in their life in a healthy way. If you do talk badly about your soon to be ex you can expect your children to resent you. Remember each child is half you and half the other parent, so you would be basically insulting your child. So, zip the lip and vent to a friend or therapist.
The Legal Three Ringed Circus
Finding the best legal representation is critical. Like in any profession, there are great lawyers and some that are only interested in padding their pockets by working the system. Get referrals and do your own research to find a good match for your situation. Mediation and collaborative law are options to minimize the emotional and financial factors but can only be effective and fair in very specific circumstances. Going to actual court to have your case decided in front of a judge may be your only option if a settlement can’t be reached between the parties. If spouses can come together in a civil manner to compromise with professional counsel, it can be a better option than having a judge decide your fate. Keep in mind every divorce is unique and has it’s own thumb print. There is no one size fits all.
Financial -Your New Personal Economy
Start thinking like a single person and consider your needs and wants as you start to get a handle on the future of your finances. As your work your way through the division of assets and settlement options, consider what arrangement will work best as you move into your single status as a one income family. Take into consideration the equitable distribution so you are comparing apples to apples while taking into account the tax implications. Your lawyer may or may not be able to advise you best, so having a financial advisor or accountant review options might be worth the extra money to help you stay in charge of the best possible outcome for your future and new personal economy. Once the legal divorce is over, your financial advisor can help you maximize the resources you now have. Getting a reality check on your new lifestyle budget, retirement and insurance needs will help to ensure your financial health going forward.
*On a personal note, when I began my own divorce journey my therapist said “the process is like throwing a stone in middle of a calm lake. The ripple effect moves through the entire body of water and effects everything in it.” She was right, some of the ripples were and still are a manageable challenge, other changes turned out to be more positive than I could imagine. It wasn’t an easy transition but with hard work and taking an active role in my future I began again and created a new life I love.
Life goes on after divorce and you can make it amazing if you pay attention to the details and keep an open heart.*