You’ve been waiting for this moment for months. The second you get
word that your
divorce is finalized. You’ve been mentally preparing for this and now the
moment is finally here – and you react differently than you expected.
To help you navigate your next steps and the year ahead, we wanted to
give you some “post-divorce advice.”
1. Embrace the next chapter in your life. If you feel a little weird or a little sad even though you’ve been
dreaming about divorce for some time – it’s not unusual to
feel a sense of loss, or a sense of failure after divorce. Once it’s
finalized, there’s no going back. There are no plans to “save
the marriage.” There’s no more room for second thoughts.
If the day you receive your divorce decree in the mail, you don’t
feel as cheerful as you had expected, that’s okay. There is nothing
wrong with being present in the moment and honoring the end to that chapter
of your life. If you need to shut off your cellphone, take a day off work,
or focus on your kids, then by all means do it.
On the other hand, if you’ve never been so happy, go ahead and invite
your closest friends over and have a divorce party. There isn’t
a right or wrong way to acknowledge that an era has ended, just be sure
to embrace the next chapter in your life. If you have yet to open your
divorce decree, we recommend doing it alone, in a quiet place, but have
a trusted friend or family member on call if you need them.
2. Encourage open communication with your kids. Remind your children that the divorce does not change the fact that you
are still a family. Remember, the divorce is probably hard on them too,
so encourage them to be open and honest with you about their feelings.
Tell them it’s okay to vent their emotions, it’s okay for
them to express how they feel and share their opinions, even if it’s
hard to hear.
Don’t forget about your children’s school. Contact the school,
speak with teachers and guidance counselors and let them know about the
divorce and how your children are handling it. Pay close attention to
your children’s grades, behavior and social interactions. The goal
is to be sensitive to your children’s needs and watch for any signs
that the divorce is affecting their studies and emotional well-being.
If so, pay extra attention to your children at this time and give them
loads of love and support.
3. Celebrate what you’ve achieved so far. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who said that divorce was easy,
a piece of cake. If severing the financial ties were easy, we’d
probably have even more divorces on the books. That said, once your divorce
is final, carve out some time to pause, reflect and celebrate the fact
that it’s over. You can do this alone, or you can do it with a close
friend or family member. In the past six to twelve months, you’ve
probably been through the wringer. You went through your share of trials
to get where you are today.
If you’re like most people, ending your marriage was not a peaceful,
“unconscious uncoupling” experience, even if it was amicable.
Instead, it was probably a slow, painstaking process that involved a lot
of ups and downs. So, take a moment or a whole evening to reflect on how
far you’ve come. Consider the possibilities and the bright future
ahead. Yes, your marriage and divorce taught you some painful lessons,
but you’ve also grown as a result of the experience. You deserve
credit, and congratulations are in order because you made it through.
It’s all downhill from here.
4. Reach out to your attorney after the dust settles. A lot of people want to put the divorce behind them and out of their minds
and that’s not hard to understand. But unless a divorce does not
involve children or the division of marital assets, it’s usually
not 100 percent over. Once you receive the divorce decree in the mail,
you should schedule a follow-up meeting with your divorce lawyer. Was
the retirement account divided? Was the house sold and the proceeds split?
Was your name taken off your spouse’s auto loan? Is child or spousal
support being paid?
Often, there are loose ends after a divorce and just because a divorce
decree says that a spouse must do certain things, that does not guarantee
that they will get done. Suppose your spouse agreed to pay the mortgage,
but your name is staying on the loan (we do NOT recommend this). What
are you going to do if your spouse fails to pay the bank? Essentially,
when you have the follow-up meeting with your divorce attorney, you need
to address all of the “what ifs.” You need to be proactive
and on the defense in case anything was to go wrong and your former spouse
fails to hold up their end of the divorce agreement.
5. Focus on your financial health. Almost all of us have room for improvement in the financial department.
Whether you’re going to be paying or receiving
spousal support, or nothing at all, you want to shift your focus to improving your financial
health. You want to take control of your financial future. What does this
mean? It can mean many different things, such as working towards a promotion,
going back to school, freelancing, staring your own business, switching
careers, or becoming more valuable at your current job. It can also mean
cutting back on expenses, downsizing, or starting an IRA – but it
almost always includes
increasing income. So, start taking a look at your finances and how you can improve them.
No matter how bad a marriage is, divorce is usually a very difficult experience.
If you’re feeling off or down, give yourself some space and realize
that it will soon pass. It’s okay to feel anger, grief or a deep
sense of loss. Don’t fight it. The sooner you allow yourself to
grieve the loss of a failed marriage, the sooner you can move on to a
brighter, more rewarding future.
For divorce or
family law representation in the Greater Los Angeles Area,
contact Claery & Hammond, LLP for a free, confidential consultation.